My Favourite Fantasy #2

orangutan list

I’m so excited for this post, cos it’s been *ages* since I talked about my top ten favourite fantasy, and I’ve been wanting to do a follow up for years! Now I’m finally doing it and *bonus* I’ve added in some sci fi this time round (yes, I could have done a separate post, but I don’t have such a long list for it). I feel like this will be a bit like my favourite classics and romance lists- I’ll just keep adding to it more and more 😊 Without further ado, let’s talk about some of my *new and shiny and glorious* faves:

bear and the nightingale

Bear and the Nightingale– I mean, you all knew I was going to include this, didn’t you? This sumptuous Russian fairy tale retelling stole my heart from the second I stepped into Arden’s world. Atmospheric and so-darn-beautiful, I will never cease to be amazed by how magnificent this book is.

strange the dreamer

Strange the Dreamer– well, duh, Laini Taylor had to be on this list! Her writing is exquisite, her worlds sensationally unique and her romances to die for!

circe

Circe– this is by far and away one of the most exquisite books I’ve ever read. And on top of that, it’s a perfect retelling of the Odyssey. I. am. in. awe.

hazel wood

Hazel Wood– another book I have endless admiration for. For me, what makes this so special is how it balances the gothic and fairy tale elements just so. As a lover of both genres, this book bowled me over, transporting me far away into the Hinterland.

Neverwhere

Neverwhere– bringing me closer to home, Neverwhere tells the story of a hidden London, steeping the streets in mythological imaginings. A truly magnificent work.

charmed life

Charmed Life– I know there are probably a lot of other Diana Wynne Jones’ books with more renown, however, this one for me brings me such joy. Perhaps I’m being a little sentimental, it’s just this one hits all the right emotional notes.

poison chris wooding

Poison– I had to triple and quadruple check that this wasn’t on my last list- because I ADORE THIS WONDERFULLY WEIRD BOOK. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, it may make you feel like you’ve hopped down the rabbithole in terms of plot, yet it’s undeniably a unique read.

warrior heir

Heir Series– I read this fairly recently and it still manages to make me oddly nostalgic- because the characters and relationships and stories have a way of clinging to your soul. Yes, Chima Williams is another author making a repeat appearance on this list- that’s just because she’s another author who never fails to knock it out of the park.

red sister

The Book of the Ancestor Series– I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, this is the kind of series that reminds me why I got into fantasy in the first place. There’s so much to love about this- from the world to the sense of sisterhood to the romance. I just adore this series and can’t wait to read more from the author!

Red Rising Pierce Browns

Red Rising– well, when I mentioned sci fi faves, I bet you all guessed this would be on here. Many of you will already know my love for this *prime* series, so I’ll be quick in saying for the millionth time: this is gorydamn good! I mean, it’s Romans in space- need I say more?!

shades children

Shade’s Children– I’m never quite sure what genre this is- but it doesn’t matter, cos I will always love this twisty standalone.

the martian

The Martian– who’d have thought that a book about a guy stranded on Mars would be so much fun? That’s because Mark Watney rocks. Funniest protagonist I’ve ever read- and he makes this race-against-time sci fi so spectacular.

And that’s all for now! I have a few more I’d like to add, but I like to give it some space after I read books before declaring them *favourites*. Are any of these your favourites? Do you have any favourite fantasy books you’d like to recommend? Let me know in the comments!

Gateway Sci Fi Books

 

When it comes to sci fi, I hardly consider myself an expert. I’ve just not been reading it all that long and haven’t ventured that deep into this space yet… which is (funnily enough) why I do think I’m in a good position to tell you what worked as gateway books to get me into the genre! Here are some of my first forays sci fi and the books I think newbies will get the most out of:

the martian

The Martian– this was one of the first books I ever read in the genre where I thought “huh I could really get into this”. Led by a strong voice and plenty of humour, this “oh shit I’m stuck on Mars let’s plant potatoes” book was a very pleasant adventure into outer space. While it will satisfy diehard sci fi fans with its scientific accuracy (or so I’m told), I personally was blown away by this character driven story and fell head over heels for the protagonist Mark Watney. From there, there really was no going back!

ender's game

Ender’s Game– after that I realised I had to try this classic bad boy and I wasn’t disappointed. If you’ve not read much of the genre, this classic is a great place to start. It definitely helped me find my footing (which is pretty hard to do when there’s less gravity about 😉 )

war of the worlds

War of the Worlds– okay I’m not exactly going in order of when I read them now, cos this might have been the first sci fi I picked up. Admittedly, I think this is very light on the scientific elements, but it more than makes up for that in its (rather advanced) philosophical musings.

shades children

Shade’s Children– going back in time further to a childhood favourite, this futuristic setting features kids just trying to survive in a bleak landscape… annnnd I don’t want to tell you anything more than that, because the twists and turns of the plot really make this story magnificent. But of course, it’s by the master himself, Garth Nix… so who’s surprised?!

scythe

Scythe– speaking of great concepts, the world building for this series has totally blown me away. I always appreciate a good dystopia and this is a particularly interesting take. Aside from great characterisation and plot, this does the job all speculative fiction should do by really making you think!

cinder

Lunar Chronicles– on a lighter note, these retellings are perhaps more in the fantasy realm… which is why I think they make the perfect gateway drug for more YA fans. Plus, there’s loads of adventure and romance- can’t go wrong!

illuminae

The Illuminae Files– I think this series is single-handedly responsible for opening up the YA doors to a lot more sci fi- which is fantastic! Writing duo Kauffman and Kristoff really knocked it out of the park with this one- the layout alone is one of the most unique and brilliant experiences I’ve ever had with a book series. Totally worth the hype!

aurora rising

Aurora Rising– at this stage, I can’t really talk about one series without giving a mention to the other. For me, the more traditional format allows for some *out of this world* characterisation- I ended up completely digging the new gang! Plus, the story is action packed and explosive and everything you’d want in a space opera!

Red Rising Pierce Browns

Red Rising– on the topic of space adventures, you can’t go wrong with Brown’s series! Also, gonna point out it’s ROMANS IN SPACE- what more could you ask for?! I live for this series and cannot wait to read the next one!!

skyward

Skyward– this is one of the newest books on the list and I’m SO EXCITED to talk about it! I loved the first instalment and have such high hopes for where it’s headed! I also can’t stop singing the praises of the lead- Spensa is one of the best protagonists I’ve read in a long time- she’s such a knockout character! After this, I think it’s high time I read more Sanderson!

one word kill

One Word Kill– this is another newer series- but fortunately (for us fans) there are two books out already (and another set to come out in autumn- *squeeess*!!!) I’m loving every second of this dungeons and dragons themed time travel romp- not just for the characters and plot but for the complexity! It’s definitely opened the portal for greater interest in time travel books!

dark matter

Dark Matter– now this is quite similar with its time travel theme- and yet it’s handled so differently- it really does represent how multi-versed this subject is! And that leads me onto why sci fi is so great in the first place: there’s endless potential for something new out there!

So, what do you think about this list? Are you tempted to try any gateway sci fi? Have you got any books of your own to recommend? Let me know in the comments!

Exploring Endless Worlds

endless-worldsHi all! So moving away from Italy- let’s take a trip into space and talk about the awesome collection of sci fi stories I read while I was away! As you may (or may not) know I’ve been trying to read a bit more sci fi lately- and this was an excellent place to start. I came across this collection through Matthew Wright, a blogging star, who wrote one of the stories! (you should check him out!!!)

Now in the interest of fairness, I think it’s best to rate the individual stories- so without further ado:

The Trees – E. R. Robin Dover

What a fabulous place to start!! It was super sinister and intriguing. It was full of cultish creeps and was tinged with philosophical discussions. It was oddly (and unsettlingly) easy to see parallels with reality.

Side note: I’m guessing the author really hates pecans.

4.5/5 bananas

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The Unconnected – S. J. Bryant

I wasn’t sure about the second one at first, but when it got going my heart was racing. Loved the idea and the layers of reality, playing with the idea of “is this even real”? Very cool!

4/5 bananas

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Carbon to Carbon – James Peters

I liked how this one was about finding humanity and recovering parts of yourself you might have thought were lost. There was a lot of good world-building here for such a short piece, but the plot was a little obvious and it didn’t get me as excited as some of the others.

3.5/5 bananas

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Missionary – Matthew Wright

Missionary was a technically very well written, had a great story and a compelling main character. The best thing about it was the mystery behind it. I won’t spoil the ending- but I will say that it made me break my “no aliens” rule – because the use of extra-terrestrial activity gave rise to some brilliant questions about humanity.

4/5 bananas

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Ravens Nest – Ken Mann

Okay, so here’s a heads up: calling something cliché doesn’t mean it’s not a cliché anymore.  And this one was as clichéd as they come. That said, it kept me entertained for all the graphic gory descriptions- perhaps because of them. (I’m guessing this is why people like the Saw movies?)

3/5 bananas

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The Awakening – K. C. May

So I really liked this one… until the end. The plot started off interestingly enough with a patient being treated for amnesia. It was going swimmingly well until they cured him of his schizophrenia (*watch out I’m gonna get ranty/spoilery*) which then made him kill himself. Now the idea that someone suffering from a mental illness is so defined by their condition that they wouldn’t be able to live with a cure was frustrating enough- without the doctor saying “If [he] wanted to keep his imaginary friend, who would it have harmed to let him keep it?” *Facepalm*- do I need to answer that? I know the author means well, but it just shows a phenomenal amount of naivety and a fundamental misunderstanding of mental illness. I bloody hate this kind of misguided moralising.

2/5 bananas

half bananahalf banana

Dusted Dreams – Peter Koevari

This last one was truly a rollercoaster ride! Again, I had to break my “no aliens” rule for this one- because Dusted Dreams was out of this world! I loved the main character and his voice was especially compelling- it was just a shame about the cliffhanger!

4/5 bananas

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Overall I highly recommend this collection for sci fi lovers and people who are just dipping into the genre (boldly going where loads of other readers have gone before!!)

So will you be giving this a go? And what are your thoughts on sci fi in general?