Top Ten Tuesday – “sequels I can’t wait for…”

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the wonderful folks at The Broke and the Bookish

“Top Ten Sequels I Can’t Wait to Get my Hands On” I haven’t done one of these in a while, so I thought I’d better make an effort to “keep my membership current” :-A) Then I saw this topic and thought, “No way I can come up with ten. I don’t read series!” Looking over my “Read” list on Goodreads, though, I realized that more accurate would be “I don’t finish series!” There are some I wouldn’t mind continuing with, and a few that I’m re-reading, so although I think the spirit of this week’s topic is meant more to be ‘sequels that haven’t been published yet that I’m waiting on,’ I’ll go ahead and be a rebel. In fact, that’s the only way I’d come up with ten anyway… 🙂

Here we go, from least anticipated to most anticipated:

10. The Madness Underneath (Shades of London #2) by Maureen Johnson

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I found the first book in this series, “The Name of the Star,” surprisingly good. Good enough to recommend to a few friends who have now also read it and proceeded on in the series. Maybe I will too…

9. Siege and Storm (The Grisha #2) by Leigh Bardugo

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The first book, “Shadow and Bone” was one I read after a gushing NY Times review by Laini Taylor (author of the confusingly similar – to me, anyway – titled, “Daughter of Smoke and Bone”). It is somewhat standard YA fare, but I found the setting intriguing, with all the Russian-sounding names and places. This one I’ll likely read, but not sure when it will reach the top of the batting order.

8. Speaker for the Dead (Ender’s Game #2) by Orson Scott Card

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Probably gonna see the Ender’s Game movie here this upcoming weekend. I hadn’t gotten around to reading the original Ender’s Game until this year, but thought it was very good. Somewhat afraid that a weaker sequel might “ruin” it for me, but we’ll see. Other trusted reader friends have enjoyed the whole series, but I’m not generally a Sci-Fi/”space wars” kinda guy…

7. Catching Fire (Hunger Games #2) by Suzanne Collins

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Yes, I’ve already read this series, but re-read the first one before the movie and want to do the same with book 2. Plus a gang of friends is organizing a group outing to go see the movie soon, and I’d like to be able to remember what the heck is going on… 🙂

6. Insurgent (Divergent #2) by Veronica Roth

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I liked the first one well enough and am kind of curious where things end up for Tris and the Dauntless (and the other factions). Like a lot of other series on this list, this is one that I’ve recommended to some of my friends who are “recreational readers.” It has been well-liked by all so far.

5. Scarlet (The Lunar Chronicles #2) by Marissa Meyer

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The first book, “Cinder,” was perhaps my favorite YA read of the year (not that I read that many), but I found the premise of having the protagonist be a cyborg to be fascinating. I even forgot she was in just a few pages! I’ve recommend this to others too and it’s been popular with them, so why not press on with the series?

4. Taran Wanderer (The Prydain Chronicles #4) by Alexander Lloyd

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Another re-read. The Prydain Chronicles were a favorite of my junior high reading years. Earlier this year I started re-reading the 5 books and only made it up to book #3. I’d like to go on, though, and I remember that number 4 was a favorite back in the day… The Prydain Chronicles are kind of like a younger person’s Lord of the Rings. Fun reading for any age, though. You should check them out. THe picture above is of the actual old edition I have from the 70s(?)

3. The Daylight War (The Demon Cycle #3) by Peter Brett

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The first two books were awesome. I don’t often read this genre, but I found the characters in this series to be very well done. And the world plagued by demons was awesome. I couldn’t wait for this one to come out when I finished #2, but when it finally did, I didn’t get to it right away and still haven’t. I have no idea why. I wrote an earlier post praising this series. You can find it here.

2. The Shift Omnibus (prequel to the Wool Omnibus) by Hugh Howey

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Are “prequels” allowed for this list? I’m assuming they are – as long as they are published after the original. The Wool Omnibus was a surprise favorite read of earlier this year for me. I always meant to write an epic post praising it, but never have (story of my blogging life). Maybe it’s time to do that too. I’ve kind of been waiting for the opportunity for a significant stretch of uninterrupted reading time/days where I could read this one in just a few days, like I did the first one…

1. Whatever “new” J.D. Salinger work comes out…

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This is the only one on the list that I really “can’t wait” to get my hands on. This was BIG news  when it came out recently that previous unpublished works will be released. Salinger’s “The Laughing Man” was one of my favorite short story reads of 2013.

Well, that’s it for me. What are you unable to wait for?

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Top Ten Tuesday: Top of The Summer To Be Read List

Each Tuesday, the book blog “The Broke and the Bookish” hosts a “Top Ten Tuesday” meme. Hundreds of fellow book bloggers participate. It’s a great way to discover and connect with new blogs and bloggers. This week’s topic: “Top Ten Books at the Top of My Summer To Be Read List.” Here are mine, not in any particular order:

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1. The Windup Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami

I count Murakami as one of the great “discoveries” resulting from my joining the book blogging community over three years ago. I’ve wholly enjoyed everything I’ve read by him thus far. This is one of his most acclaimed books. I just bought it and can’t wait to get started.

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2. St. Patrick’s Batallion by James Alexander Thom

This will be my second Thom read of the year, after finishing the wonderful “Panther in the Sky” (fictional biography of Tecumseh) in January. I was already aware of this title (published in 2006) but became further intrigued a couple Fridays ago when the author was at the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library, which had a “birthday party” for him and his wife Dark Rain Thom. The book covers a little known story from the Mexican American War.

3. Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather

Recommended by many, set in the American Southwest, and by another new favorite author. How could I go wrong with this one?

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4. Driving Alone: A Love Story by Kevin Lynn Helmick

Not generally well-known, but I read about this one in the New York times book pages. Sounded really good. More of a novella at just over 100 pages, it only has 12 reviews so far on Goodreads…

5. The Daylight War by Peter Brett

I wrote about Peter Brett’s “Demon Cycle” books quite awhile back.  Not my normal genre, but I thoroughly enjoyed the first two, as have many of my reading friends. Shout out to the Borough of Books blog too, where I first learned of them.

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6. Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury

Long on my list, I finally obtained a copy this year. Tonight at the last meeting of the season of my Great Books Foundation reading group, I’ll propose this as a candidate for our summer novel to read before the next meeting in September. I’ll still read it either way…

7. A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki

Heard of this book through a coworker, Jeri, and have since seen it mentioned on many other book blogs. An intriguing premise with the 2011 Tsunami as a backdrop, it sounds irresistible.

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8. Who Owns the Future? by John Lanier

This non-fiction book will likely be one that causes me to lose some sleep. About the digital revolution and its consequences, it’s another one I first heard about via The New York Times.

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9. The Brotherhood of the Grape by John Fante

A friend has been nudging at me to read this for awhile now, even gifting me his second-hand copy. This summer will be the time I get it read.

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10. In The Devil’s Territory by Kyle Minor

This one will satisfy my short story sweet tooth. Highly acclaimed, I’m really looking forward to reading these. I learned of this book through the blog of The Missouri Review

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11. The Shift Omnibus – Hugh Howey

Prequel to the self-published e-book blockbuster, “Wool” (which I read and thoroughly enjoyed earlier this year), this may be the one I’m most looking forward to. You better not disappoint me, Mr. Howey… 🙂

Sorry, I guess that’s eleven. I must have mis-counted in my prep work. I don’t want to bump any of these, though. 🙂  Is it too nerdy to say that just coming up with this list makes me want to take the day off and start reading NOW?  I hope not.  I can’t do that anyway… <sigh>

What about YOU? What’s on your list? Will we be reading any of the same books this summer? Tell me all about it. 🙂

It’s Top Ten Tuesday!

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme sponsored by The Broke and the Bookish.  This week’s top ten – in recognition of BBAW (that’s “Book Blogger Appreciation Week”) is:

” Top Ten Books I Read Because Of Another Blogger.”

I don’t always do these top ten lists, but they’re always fun and this one also is a good list to give a nod to some fellow book bloggers, so here goes…

9. Oh, yeah.  I forgot to say I only could come up with nine… This one (and the next few) are books that I don’t know where specifically I first heard of them, but I do know I read them because I learned of them within the blogging community.  So for number 9 I’ll go with Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games.  Yes, it’s intended for a little younger reader than me, and yes it’s a little out there, but it was a great story (actually a trilogy, along with the follow-ups Catching Fire and Mockingjay) and a fun, diverting read.

8. The Ubiquitous The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson (book and series).  A towering best seller, I think driven by the great character of Lisbeth Salander.  I’d like to meet her.  I think.

7. The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan.  Another book outside of my usual genre, but an entertaining, diverting read for me.  Here’s what I had to say last year.

6. Beastly by Alex Flinn.  I can’t remember which blog I first heard about this modern retelling of the Beauty and the Beast story.  I did download it at about the same time as my blogging colleague, Jade, at Chasing Empty Pavements though, so I’ll give her a plug.  This book became a pick in my book club as well and we all enjoyed it.  My original post about the book may be found here.

5. Under the Skin by Michel Faber.  Learned about via The Literary Nomad.  An interesting concept for a book blog, where the blogger “visits” a country by reading a book about it or taking place in it.  This book was creepy but a real page turner.  A beautiful alien (reported to be portrayed by Scarlet Johansson in an upcoming movie adaptation) picking up hitchhikers in Scotland.  How could I resist? My original post is here.

4. Gullivers Travels by Jonathan Swift.  I read this one because Allie at A Literary Odyssey hosted a read along.  Like other read alongs I’ve participated in, I started off with great intentions only to fall behind the schedule.  I did finish it, though, and I’m so glad I did.  I took a lot out of it that I am ‘carrying around in my head.’  Truly a classic work, and I can’t believe I waited until I was so “old” to finally get around to reading it.

3. Two on a Tower by Thomas Hardy. I learned of this previously ‘unknown’ Hardy book at Chris’s blog, “ProSe.”  A great, lesser known work by one of my favorite authors with a predictably intricate plot.  Great 19th century literature!  My original post about this book was written back in November 2010.

2. After Rain by William Trevor.   Heard about at one of my favorite blogs, Ana the Imp.  Not exclusively a book blog (lots of politics and history too), but I take her book and movie recommendations seriously.  This is a collection of short stories by an recognized master of the form.  I posted about several of them this year.  Lost Ground, After Rain, and Gilbert’s Mother.  The first two were my favorites.

1. The Warded Man by Peter Brett.  Heard of through Borough of Books. My friends and I have all enjoyed this book and its sequel, Desert Spear.  We are eagerly awaiting the third book…  My praise of the book was written this past May.

In Praise of Peter V. Brett’s “Demon Cycle” of Books

I recently completed the second book of this series, Desert Spear, and am looking forward to when the third book will be published. The first book, The Warded Man, was one of my great ‘discovery’ books last year. I’m not sure if I even would’ve learned of this series in my pre-blogging days, but I randomly happened upon a gushing review of it at Borough of Books last fall and figured I’d give The Warded Man a chance. I was not disappointed and have since recommended the books to several friends, and they were well received by them as well.

***very minor spoilers may follow***

This type of book (fantasy) is admittedly not my normal, preferred genre, but it comes alive for me because the main characters are so well conceived and heroic, and not necessarily heroic in the traditional sense. The basic setting is a (possibly) post-apocalyptic world which is plagued by demons on a nightly basis. These are not the “demons” of our familiar religious tradition, however. They’re not trying to possess humans (although the introduction of a “mind demon” in the second book may be a similar concept, I guess). They rise in a mist at nightfall, searching for prey, but they are destroyed in the presence of daylight. They come in different forms: wood, fire, rock, sand, wind, etc., to plague humanity on a nightly basis.

So how has humanity survived? Well, in this fantastical world, the demons are held at bay and helpless in the face of “wards” – magic symbols drawn or painted on the walls and doors of dwellings, drawn in the sand or dirt by those left out at night, and so on. “Warding” is naturally a much honored and valued skill in this world. Myths also abound of a prior time, where demons (often called “corelings” since they live at the world’s core, and return there nightly after their ravages) had been defeated by humans using “battle” wards and other mysterious technology only hinted at. Somehow, this knowledge has been lost to time though, and the nightly demon plague is once again upon the world.

This cycle of stories centers around the concept of a “deliverer,” who will lead humanity out of the plague and defeat the demons. The main character (and the title character of the first book) is Arlen, a young human who “has had enough” and is dedicated to fighting against the demon plague rather than cowering behind warded walls, as he disgustedly watches his father do. He becomes a “messenger,” one of a hearty breed who travels between the towns in spite of the obvious danger. Other great characters are Leesha, a “herb gatherer” who becomes a leader in her village, and Rojer, a “Jongleur” (a kind of traveling entertainer or jester) who is able to charm the demons by playing his violin and protects his fellow humans that way.

Add to the mix the “Krasians,” a warlike desert people who have always fought the demons in a nightly ritual of “alagai-sharak,” which is costly in lives but has led to a complex society where prowess in battle is revered to an amazing degree. Among these people we meet another of our main characters, Ahmann Jardir, ambitious and convinced that he is the “deliverer” of myth. Great minor characters also abound as author Brett has created a tidy, functioning fantastical world for which it is easy for the reader to become immersed.

What about you? Have you read – or even heard of – either of these books? You may want to check them out, even if on first blush you suspect they aren’t your cup of tea. I did and am glad…

(above: Author Peter V. Brett)

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April Reading – The Month Ahead

I’m a little behind schedule here with what has become a traditional monthly post, but here’s what’s on tap for me in April:

“Obligatory” reads: I have two. My book club is reading I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith. I am actually the one who put this book on our club’s “bookshelf” after reading so many great things about it from my blogging colleagues last year. Someone else picked it to read, but in a sense it is “my” book. The way my club works, usually every three or four meetings you’re either reading a book you added to our shelf or a book someone else added but you picked. I like that, as members have a “connection” with double the books than a normal club where everyone just takes turn picking a book they recommend. In our club, you have to pick a book someone else recommends. My other book club, the KVMLBC, is reading Slaughterhouse Five this month. It’s the second month in a row we’re reading a book I’ve already read, but I plan on reading it again to refresh my memory for the meeting.

Other books? Well, I’m about 200 pages (out of over 600) into Trollope’s The Small House at Allington now, and have gotten more into the characters and more used to the writing style. I’m likely to finish this one in the next couple weeks. I’ve also started and paused Desert Spear by Peter Brett, the sequel to one of last year’s more pleasant surprises, The Warded Man. I’ve also started the depressing book, The Fear, by Peter Godwin. I heard about this on NPR on the way home one day, and it sounded interesting. It’s a non-fiction book about Robert Mugabe’s “reign of terror” in modern Zimbabwe. (A lot of unpleasant material in it, but hard to put down)

Let’s see… What else? Oh, a former boss gave me a copy of a non-fiction book his sister wrote about hiking the Continental Divide Trail. I’m really looking forward to this one as well, since I have hiked a lot in the mountains myself. Another non-fiction book I hope to get to is Dr. Richard Gunderman’s book about the nature of philanthropy, We Make a Life by What We Give. This book is a little out of my comfort zone as far as reading genre goes, but Gunderman happens to be a former college roommate of mine and one of the smartest people I’ve ever actually known personally.

Well, I’m sure I won’t get to all of those this month, but probably four or five will be completed. I also have my ongoing short story reading project. I drew a new card Saturday, and it turned out to be Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily,” but I haven’t read it yet. I’ll have that one and probably three more stories to be randomly determined as the weeks unfold.

What about you? What are you reading in April? Are we reading any of the same things? Is there anything you’d recommend I consider for my may list?

Oh, I almost forgot: Go Butler Bulldogs!!

December Reading- The Month Ahead

I have a lot of reading “obligations” this month. So many I’m not sure if I’ll get done with them all. I am currently working on a book called The Warded Man by Peter Brett. Yet another in a recent bent of “post-apocalyptic/dystopian” novels for me. I’m a little over halfway through this one and am enjoying it immensely. I heard of this book through a fellow blogger.

I also have a Project: Civil War book I’m just getting started with, The Class of 1846: From West Point to Appomattox. This is my eleventh Civil War book of the year, and I don’t see how I’ll get through it AND another one to make it to my goal of twelve for the year. Another incomplete project .

As far as book club books go, my main club, The Indy Reading Coalition, is reading Greg Iles’s The Quiet Game. This is “due” by 12/23 and rather long too. I really need to knuckle down and get reading if I hope to finish it. Then, on top of all that, the KVMLBC (Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library Book Club) is meeting on 12/16 to discuss Player Piano. I had to miss last month’s meeting due to some training classes for work, and I may have to miss this one to as next week we are implementing the system that the training classes were for. A curse on system conversions and upgrades! :-). I plan to read the book nonetheless, as I did with Mother Night (the KVMLBC’s November selection).

Oh, and I also just bought an interesting, very short book titled The Bed of Procrustes by Nassem Nicholas Taleb. A great book of thought-provoking aphorisms. Only 68 pages, but very deep.

What about you? What are you reading this month? Do you find you get more reading in during the holiday season or less?