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Top Ten Tuesday List: Summer Reading 2015

Top Ten Tuesdays are a fun meme, hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. The idea is to  feature lists related to all things bookish–characters, authors, titles, and favorites. What a neat way to find new and interesting books on all sorts of topics. Good way to discover bloggers who love the sorts of books you do, too.

Check out The Broke and The Bookish for their top ten and lists of other bloggers who participate! And maybe give it a try, yourselves.

The subject for June 16 is:  Top Ten Books On My Summer 2015 Reading List. Since I’ll be home recovering from foot surgery through all of August and probably into September, I might actually make some progress on these. So without further ado, here’s my list:

blue lily

1. Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater. This is the third book in The Raven Cycle series, which I adore. The first two books were among my favorite reads of the last couple of years, but then again, Maggie Steifvater is one of my very favorite writers, too. I’ve been taunting myself with this one for weeks, but saving it for some quiet, uninterrupted reading time.

hollowcity

2. Hollow City by Ransom Riggs. This is the sequel to Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, a very creepy, totally bizarre book that I couldn’t explain to you if I tried. But don’t worry. There are photos. Really weird photos. Sort of like this one on the cover of Hollow City. I really liked the first story, and am looking forward to seeing what happens next.

kings mountain

3. King’s Mountain by Sharyn McCrumb. Most people who know me at all, know how much I love the Appalachian mountains. I’ve read nearly every Sharyn McCrumb book out there, because she writes about them so beautifully, and can’t wait to read this. They often have an element of supernatural to them, be it a wandering ghost or two, or a character with The  Sight. But not always. This one focuses on the Revolutionary War battle of King’s Mountain, a site I’ve visited, myself. I have no idea what the story line will be, but it’s Sharyn McCrumb. Good enough for me.

thewayofkings

4. The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson. I first discovered Brandon Sanderson with his novel The Alloy of Law. I enjoyed that book so much, I went back and read the earlier series it’s part of, The Mistborn Trilogy. Loved that, too. So I’m now working my way through all  of his books, and this one is Book 1 of the Stormlight Archive. I’m sold on Sanderson.

ink and bone

5. Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine. I loved Rachel Caine’s Weather Warden series, and the Outcast Season spinoff. I loved her YA Morganville Vampires series. Didn’t get into the Working Stiff one, but this book sounds like the start of something big. It deals with the great library of Alexandria, and the premise sounds loaded with possibilities. Can’t wait.

the veil

6. The Veil by Chloe Neill. I haven’t yet read a lot about this one, but frankly, Chloe Neill’s Chicagoland Vampires series is so darn good, I’ll give anything she writes a chance. Two words: Ethan Sullivan. Best vampire, EVER. So come August, I’ll be finding out what the Veil is all about.

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7. Make Me by Lee Child. Jack Reacher. Enough said

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8. Crucible Zero by Devon Monk. Started reading Devon Monk’s House Immortal series, and found it very entertaining. I won’t try to explain the complicated premise, except to say the main characters are made up of Pieces/Parts…kind of like  Frankenstein, or maybe chicken nuggets, whichever you prefer. 🙂 It’s not quite as icky as it sounds, and I’m quite looking forward to this next volume.

color of magic

9. The Entire Discworld Series by Sir Terry Pratchett. After discovering the  Wee, Free Men a year or so ago, I knew I wanted to read more of Pratchett’s famous Discworld series, and I’ve finally started. I’m on The  Wyrd Sisters, which is Book 6, and plan to keep on reading straight through. Yes, all 763 books. Or so. 🙂 Hilarious beyond belief. I’m very fond of Rincewind, Death, and maybe most of all, The Luggage. A concept that makes me laugh every time it trundles onto the page, using all it’s teeny-tiny feet. Not to be missed. (Not that I’ll finish the whole series this summer, you  understand. But I plan to make a good dent in it.

aeronauts windlass

10. The Aeronaut’s Windlass by Jim  Butcher. Saved the best for last! You can’t have spent much time around here and not know that Butcher’s Dresden Files series is my favorite Urban Fantasy series of all time. Jim Butcher RULES. And Jim Butcher plus Steampunk? I’ve died and gone to heaven! (Even though this new series has no doubt slowed down the next Dresden book. But if it’s as good as I’m guessing, I’ll try to forgive him. )

And there you have it. Hope you find something new and interesting to check out.

What Are You Going to Read?

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Yep, that’s what I asked…what are you going to read? What’s next in your To Be Read pile? Or by any chance, do you, like me, have a few extra special book treats you’ve been holding to one side to disappear into when you have some reading time that’s likely to be uninterrupted for a while? I’ve had several books that I’m DYING to read, but haven’t started on because I just didn’t want to keep getting pulled out of them by work, chores, or Life, in general. I kept telling myself to go ahead and start on them, because such a sweet stretch of uninterrupted time wasn’t likely to happen. But guess what? It IS going to happen. Sort of.

In late July–not really as far away as it sounds–I’m having foot surgery done on my left foot, involving several issues, to include putting in a steel pin, which, as it happens, means it will then match my right one. I’ll be setting off metal detectors everywhere! 🙂 The upshot of the surgery (besides ending some very significant pain) is that I will be pretty much out of commission for the better part of six weeks. Yes, I said SIX WEEKS!! The first two, I won’t be doing anything other than sitting in the Comfy  Chair with my foot propped on pillows all day long. After that, it will be a gradual transition to a wheelchair, and then to crutches.

Soooo….Reading Time, here I come!! And those extra special books I’ve been hoarding are going to be enjoyed to the max!  Things like Dean Koontz’s Saint Odd, the final installment in his wonderful Odd Thomas series. And Maggie Steifvater’s Blue Lily, Lily Blue, the third installment of her Raven Cycle series, which I adore, and which touches something in my heart to the point that I want no interruptions at all when I’m in that world. I’ve got Lee Child’s latest Jack Reacher book, Make Me, for some kick butt and take no names action, and Patricia Briggs’ newest Alpha & Omega offering, Dead Heat, for some Urban Fantasy with a power couple I thoroughly enjoy. And I’m finally going to start that massive first book of the Game of Thrones series, A Song of Ice and Fire.

Should I finish  all of those, I have dozens more, both in my TBR basket, and on my Kindle, I can move on to, so don’t feel sorry for me, stuck at home for weeks and weeks. I’ll actually be off on lots and lots of adventures, having a great time!

Do you have any special books you’ve been saving for just the right time to read?

My Top Ten Urban Fantasy Series

storm front

Was thinking yesterday about all the great Urban Fantasy series there are out there, and decided to make a list of my very favorites. I tried to list them in order, and then realized that they tend to shift up and down the list a bit, based on the latest book, or a current favorite plot twist, perhaps. All except one. I’m sure it’s no surprise to those of you who have been following this blog for a while. My number one all time favorite Urban Fantasy series has never changed. Why? Because none of the rest appeal to me quite as much, in spite of the fact that I love some of them like crazy. Here they are, in order from first to…everything else. 🙂

1. The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher: The best characters, good and bad, best plot lines, best adventures, best…and longest drawn out…love affair)

2. Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz: Yes, he’s a master of horror, but while the Odd Thomas books can be scary, they are so much more than that…funny, endearing, hopeful, and poised on the edge of redemption, since I haven’t read the last one yet. Been saving it for just the right moment.

3. The October Daye series by Seanan McGuire: Toby Daye’s world of the fae is filled with all the Celtic legends a person could imagine: selkies,  kelpies, mermaids and mermen, The Luidaeg or sea hag, barghests, trolls, and all the high Queens and Kings of the Fae, complete with their courts and the attendant political intrigue and discord. There are banshees and barrow wights, kitsunes and Tylwyth Teg, and best of all for a cat lover, the Cait Sidhe, led by Tybalt, King of Cats. And all set in  San Francisco! *sigh* It’s a world like no other!

4. The Chicagoland Vampires series by Chloe Neill: Talk about political intrigue…those obsessive, control freaks, the vampires, pretty much outdo every other supernatural being when it comes to mind games and power plays. I love how well it’s done in these books, but most of all, I love the liege of Cadogan House, 400-year-old vampire,  Ethan Sullivan. Best. Vampire. EVER. He and his house Sentinel, Merit, are a couple to be reckoned with, though it took them a few books to get to that point. A solidly entertaining and satisfying series.

5. The Alpha & Omega series by Patricia Briggs: This one is a spin-off of the popular Mercy Thompson series, mostly about shifters and skinwalkers, though a few other creatures pop in now and then for good measure. While I very much enjoy the Mercy books, I think the Alpha & Omega books are even better. I’m very partial to Charles and Anna, largely because angsty, somewhat frightening men are interesting (as long as they aren’t actually hurting innocent people or battering their women around, of course), and this was the first series to introduce me to the concept of an Omega wolf. It’s extremely well done and never fails to hold my interest to the last word.

6. The Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews:  This one has it all, too. Shifters and magic, horrible, totally non-sparkly OR sexy vampires, and all sorts of complex shenanigans going on. But mostly, it has Kate and her love, Curran, who just happens to be a lion when the mood strikes him. There’s a healthy dose of humor, which I love, and which Kate uses to keep; “his furriness” in line. I’ve enjoyed every single book in this series, and am always looking for the next one.

7. The Weather Wardens by  Rachel Caine: This one wrapped up a couple of years ago, but it was one of the most original concepts I’ve come across. The weather wardens keep the earth safe and spinning smoothly, controlling rain, storms, floods, fire, earthquakes, etc, to the best of their ability. They can’t eliminate these things, but they can shape them, soften them, steer them a bit, and otherwise try to blunt the trauma wrought by Mother Nature, who is always trying to scrape humanity off  the surface of the planet. And did I mention there are djinn? Oh, I love djinn. Especially David, who is the love interest in this series. It’s a fun, action-packed romp, and the 4-book spinoff series, The Outcast Season, is equally entertaining.

8. The Raven Cycle series by Maggie Stiefvater: This is a YA series that is profoundly moving and beautiful. Stiefvater’s writing is second to none to my mind. Lyrical, strong, and often heart-wrenching, without being maudlin, it will suck you in and wring you out! I’ve read the first two books, and have the third lying right next to the final Odd Thomas book. I’m torturing myself with them, daily, but soooooon. Sooooooon, my precious! I WILL read them, and mourn them when I’m done. If you’ve never read Maggie Stiefvater, I recommend starting with The Scorpio Races, a book so beautiful and dark, it will speak to your heart in shivery whispers you won’t soon forget.

9. The World of the Lupi series: Eileen Wilks: Shifters with intriguing pack politics, power struggles, and romance, all done better than most, by far. Interesting secondary characters, and complex plotting make this series a solid standout, book after book.

10. Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs: Mentioned above, this is a solid series featuring Mercy, who is a coyote skin-walker, and a host of other interesting characters, including the occasional vampire and troll. Some Native American lore here and there, and enough drama to make it all very interesting, and all of it, very well done.

Ooops…did I say TEN? Surely I meant FIFTEEN? And since they are ALL tied for second place after The Dresden Files, it doesn’t matter too much, anyway.

11. The Rachel Morgan series by Kim Harrison: This one is at the top of most lists, and I admit that I enjoyed it very much, and looked forward to each book, but I can’t put it at the top of mine because there were some things…and some characters…I just didn’t like. Don’t get me wrong…the series was still worth reading every single book, but I can’t quite rate it as highly as I have some others. I’ve reviewed enough of these books that some of you already know the things that annoyed me, so I’m not going into that here. But suffice it to say, no self-respecting list of good Urban Fantasy would be without these books. And Trent Kalamack will always be a favorite character of mine, as will the demon Algaliarept, and the obnoxiously funny pixie, Jenks.

12. The Leandros Brothers by Rob Thurmon: I’m adding a caveat to this series. It was one of my very top favorites…until it wasn’t. Things happened, and I found I wasn’t enjoying the new direction the books seemed to take. So I was hesitant to mention it in this list. However, if I’m honest, I got enough enjoyment, shivers, AND snarky laughs out of the first 7 or 8 books to warrant including it, even if I won’t be reading any more. Cal Leandros was a character I truly adored for a long time, and I won’t forget the books I loved, though I’ll try to forget the ones I didn’t.

13. Tales from the Nightside series by Simon R. Green: These quirky, off-the-wall, sometimes hilarious, sometimes horrifying books are like nothing elses out there. Noir meets Poe meets King, perhaps. Just bizarre, and filled with wonderful characters like John Taylor, Private Eye…who actually HAS a private…EYE. And Dead Boy, and Suzie Shooter. Oh, there’s no way to describe all of them. You’ll just have to visit the Nightside yourself…that world beneath London, where it’s always three o’clock in the morning, the hour of the wolf, when most people die, and most babies are born. You want shivers? Head to the Nightside.

14. The Morganville Vampires series by Rachel Caine: Another YA series, but one with such a well-done cast of characters, and entertaining plot lines, I just couldn’t leave it out. I devoured every single book, because…hello? Town run by vampires. You can get in, but you can’t get out. And yet, the good guys never give up, and their way of making it all work is totally believable. Assuming you’re the kind who can believe in vampires at all for the duration of a book. Solid writing, unexpected twists, and a very satisfying ending to the series.

15. Monster Hunters International by Larry Correia: Non-stop action from page one right through the series. This is serious, kick-butt and take no names stuff. A manly kinda supernatural series, with plenty of things that go bang and boom and give off a lot of smoke. Manly, yes, but I like it, too! 😉 Fun. That’s it in a nutshell.

And there you have it, folks. Fifteen terrific Urban Fantasy series, with something to please just about everyone. Hope there are one or two in the list you haven’t yet tried. Check ’em out! Tell ’em Marcia sent ya!

😀

Dean Koontz's Odd Thomas Cover

The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

thedreamthieves

My Rating: About 50…or Maybe 60…of 5!

After re-reading The Raven Boys, Book 1 of the Raven Cycle, I remembered all over again why I love Maggie Stiefvater’s writing.

After reading The Dream Thieves, Book 2 of the Raven Cycle, I have decided that I want to BE Maggie Stiefvater when I grow up.

There are no words to convey how powerful and moving her writing is. And I know a LOT of words. Just none that do the job adequately.

I enjoyed her Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy. It was sweet, and spooky, and an unusual take on werewolves. I LOVED The Scorpio Races, a dark, hauntingly beautiful tale of young love, unfolding on the backs of the capaill uisce, or water horses of Celtic legend. But the first two books of the Raven Cycle are simply beyond my ability to explain. With lyrical precision, and dark imagery, Stiefvater creates a cast of characters unlike any I’ve ever encountered. The four Raven Boys are a disparate, yet tightly bonded, group of young men who attend Aglionby Academy. They are at once admirable, flawed, driven by needs too complicated to explain here, and made alternately strong and weak by those same needs.

And then there’s Blue, the non-magic girl in a house filled with seers and diviners, and whose gift is amplifying the magic of others. Once Blue becomes part of the group of Raven Boys, things change in so many unexpected ways, it would be hard to keep up, without the skillful plotting of the author. Her lyrical turns of phrase aren’t the only thing at work here, though to be sure, it’s her writing that makes the tale as powerful as it is. Her story line is terrific, but her words are positively inspired. As I said in an earlier post, Stiefvater  can lay open a character’s soul more efficiently than a boning knife, and often, with equally painful results. Her words left me gasping more than once, because, quite simply, her writing has a kick like a mule.

I can’t recommend this series highly enough. Hands down, the best two books I’ve read in several years, and I’m counting the days until I can read the last book, Blue Lily, Lily Blue, coming October 21.

The Dream Thieves

What Are You Reading Today?

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It’s that time again…time to tell the world what you are reading. I’ll go first, shall I? 🙂

I just finished Book 2 of The Raven Cycle, The Dream Thieves, by Maggie Stiefvater, and will soon be doing a review on that. Assuming I can find the words to describe how powerful her writing is. She astounds me. I’m on the opening page, literally, of the final Rachel Morgan/The Hollows book, Kim Harrison’s The Witch With No Name. Been holding off on it for a couple of weeks, because I really hate to see the series end. I also have reviews coming up for Magic Breaks (Ilona Andrews), and The Winter Long (Seanan McGuire. Not to give away too much, but all of these rated 5 stars with me, so I can’t wait to get the reviews up for you.

Now it’s YOUR turn! What’s new on your Kindle, or your reading table? As always, inquiring minds wanna know, so share! I’ll be taking notes, here.

What Are You Reading?

Maggie Stiefvater's The Raven Boys Book Cover

It’s Friday again…LATE Friday, but still…it’s Friday, and Friday is What Are You Reading Day. Me, I’m about half way finished with Book 2 of The Raven Cycle, The Dream Thieves. I finished re-reading The Raven Boys a few days ago, and started right in on this one, and with every single page, I’m reminded yet again what a powerful writer Maggie Stiefvater is. Lots of folks write pretty good YA books and fun Urban Fantasy series, but very few people reach the level of writing Stiefvater does. She can lay open a character’s soul more efficiently than a boning knife, and often, with equally painful results.  I want to say more, but I’m restraining myself. I’ll be reviewing these two books soon enough, so no need to go farther at this point.

Your turn, though. What are you reading, and are you enjoying it? Let’s ask that, too. *tapping my foot, here, eager to know*

thedreamthieves

What Are You Reading?

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It’s Friday again, and time for What Are You Reading once again. I know I’ve been remiss for a couple of weeks, but you’ll have to excuse me. The last six weeks or so have been totally out of control. Travel, illness, family drama, and other pressing issues got in my way, but…to paraphrase a certain spooky someone…I’m baaaaaaaa-aaaaaack. More or less. 🙂 So on to the burning question of the day.

I’m re-reading Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven Boys, Book 1 in what I think is a trilogy. I have Book 2 waiting for me, but I realized I really wanted to revisit Book 1 before starting it. This is a complicated tale, and I had forgotten some bits and pieces. I also had forgotten how completely beautiful and compelling Chapter 1 of The Raven Boys is. Maggie Stiefvater is an enormously gifted writer. Not just capable of telling great stories, but of using words, phrases, and imagery like no other. She’s who I want to be when I grow up. Her words pull me into her books like no one else’s, and they just don’t let go. I can’t imagine anyone reading the graveyard scene in Chapter 1 and not being caught hook, line, and sinker. I’ve already reviewed this book here and as soon as I finish re-reading it, and then reading the second book, The Dream Thieves, I’ll be reviewing that one, as well.

Now it’s your turn. What are you reading? As always, inquiring minds want to know, so don’t be shy. Let me hear from you.

The Raven Boys

The Dream Thieves

And We Have A Winner!

Winner stamp

Two, actually. Congratulations to mergirl and marje on winning downloads of Maggie Stiefvater’s lovely book, Scorpio Races! I hope you both love it as much as I did! Stay tuned for next Monday’s giveaway, when I’ll be offering a free download of Jim Butcher’s latest Dresden Files book, Skin Game. See you then!

DON’T FORGET!

Be the first to email me today, after 3:00PM EST, and win a free download of Maggie Stiefvater’s Scorpio Races! FREE is GOOD! 🙂

Monday Giveaway!

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The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

Today starts one of my new features…Monday Giveaway Day! Be sure to make a note. Every Monday, I will give away a free download (or maybe more) of one of my favorite books. There will be many genres over the weeks ahead, so you’re sure to find something you’d like.

Today, I am giving away one that I dearly love by Maggie Stiefvater, Scorpio Races. It is a re-imagining of the Celtic water horse myth, told as only Stiefvater can. Scorpio Races is listed as a YA book, but trust me on this. It works for adults, too. The writing is lovely, the characters, touching and poignant, and the water horses…capaill uisce…are terrifying and beautiful at the same time.

A favorite quote of mine:

I don’t look away from Puck. “I think you assume too much, Dory Maud.”
“You leave nothing to assumption,” Dory Maud says. “You swallow her with your eyes. I’m surprised there’s any of her left for the rest of us to see.”

I know some of you would love this book as much as I do, so here’s what you do to win a free download for your Kindle: email me and ASK. That’s it. The first person to email me at mmeara@cfl.rr.com AFTER 3:00PM EST will win a copy. (I want to give folks on the west coast a chance, too, hence setting the time a bit later in the day.)

So…make a note. Set your timer. And email me after 3:00PM Eastern Standard Time. Be first, and you win. Be second…and you MIGHT win, too. I’ll think about it! 😀 😀 😀

Monday Lunch Time Giveaway….Late!

Yeah, I know it’s way past lunch time in my part of the world, but in other areas, I might still be in range. Sorry for the delay in today’s giveaway, but as some of you know, I have developed some complications from my cataract surgery and am having vision problems. Between having trouble seeing to work on the computer, and all the visits to my doctor, I’m behind on everything. But I’ll catch up, I promise. And I’m still offering some free downloads of books I love today.  All you have to do is email me with the name of the book you want. It would be a good idea to let me know what your second or third choices would be, too, in case someone beats you to the draw. You can find my email under the Contact Me link at the top of the page. Here are today’s offers:

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater: I have 2 free downloads available for this. Maggie Stiefvater is a truly gifted and beautiful writer, and of all her books, The Scorpio Races is my favorite. It is a haunting, magical, and dark tale centered around the Celtic legend of the water horse. This is a Young Adult book, but it is NOT young adult writing, believe me. Try it. You’ll be as in love with Stiefvater’s writing as I am. The Scorpio Races is a stand-alone book.

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater:  Okay, so I’m back to Maggie again, but really, any fan of Urban Fantasy, magic, Celtic legends, and beautiful writing should be reading her already. She’s one of the best. This book is completely unique in the way it approaches an odd assortment of characters whose lives become interconnected in unexpected ways. There is another Celtic legend at work in the background here, too, but I’m not going to give away any more than that. I’ve already got the 2nd book in this series waiting in my To Be Read basket, and I can’t wait to get started on it. Book One was utterly captivating. I have 2 downloads available of this book, too.

Killing Floor by Lee Child: The book that started Jack Reacher on his cross-country adventures. For those of you who have not gotten into Reacher’s stories yet, this is the place to begin. One of my favorite series. I have two downloads of this book available as well. 

And as always, anyone who’d like some bookmarks from my novel, Wake-Robin Ridge, need only email me with their mailing address, and I’ll send you some, for your own use, or for give-aways to friends and family. 

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So there you have it. I will run today’s offer through tomorrow afternoon, to make up for it being posted so late. Hope you’ll all forgive me, and be sure to tune in again next Monday for another Lunchtime Giveaway.

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Maggie Stiefvater's The Raven Boys Book Cover

My Rating: 5 of 5 Stars

Maggie Stiefvater has become my very favorite Young Adult Urban Fantasy writer in the world.  Period.  I don’t know another author, Young Adult or not, who can make my heart ache more deeply for her characters than Stiefvater.  Her writing is exquisite Read more…

Good Stuff Comin’! Sept/Oct Urban Fantasy Release Dates

Maggie Stiefvater's The Raven Boys Cover

Coming Soon!  Release Date:  9/18/12

For those who enjoy Urban Fantasy, like myself, there’s good stuff ahead!  Here are a few of the titles coming to a bookstore near you.  All are available on amazon.com, too. Read more…

Quote #9 – Maggie Stiefvater

“Dory is what Mum used to call a “strong-looking woman,” which means that, from the back, she looked like a man, and, from the front, you preferred the back”
― Maggie Stiefvater,  The Scorpio Races

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