Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Top Ten Hidden Gems

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.

Disclaimer: I don't actually know how hidden these are but I do want people to come talk to me about them. It's possible I was just going through one of my "living under a rock" phases (they happen periodically) when these were being hyped.

1. Airborn by Kenneth Oppel: Okay I know this one is hyped in Canada and is also a decade old but. I WANT EVERYONE TO READ IT. Kenneth Oppel has a talent for crafting flawed characters who you still root for and also. This is the best integration of a steampunk-y concept into a story that I've personally read. It doesn't feel forced at all. It's part of a trilogy and also it's on Book Outlet (in the nice cover! This book has gone through a series of... less than ideal covers but this 10th anniversary cover is stunning.)

2. Dark Life by Kat Falls: Underwater society in a post-extreme sea level rise world! I just really enjoy this for a lot of reasons. It's a climate-change sci fi that isn't completely bleak, it's an adventure that really feels like an adventure, and the world feels unique. 

3. The Alchemyst by Michael Scott: Well. Technically this whole series. In a way one of the most bizarre concepts I've read, and definitely one of the most gigantic casts. Stunning covers! Alchemy! Scented magic! Time travel! Joan of Arc! There's a lot going on in these.

4. East be Edith Pattou: just the familiar story of a girl going to rescue her husband (who is a bear) (long story) from an evil queen. (Not seriously it's a retelling of East of the Sun, West of the Moon which is a Scandinavian folktale. It's like Beauty and the Beast but better. And almost nothing like that. This has troll queens and dangerous journeys and magical boots.) AND IT'S GETTING A SEQUEL, because sometimes when you're an intrepid folktale heroine, your weird folktale husband just can't stay out of trouble. I've posted the old cover here but the repackaging is lovely too. 

5. The Supernaturalist by Eoin Colfer: This one isn't so much underrated as... lesser known? While Artemis Fowl definitely takes the cake for my favourite work from this author, I really liked The Supernaturalist as well. (Where is my sequel?)

6. Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine: More the later books than this one but. Let's start with the beginning of the series.

7. The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow: post-climate wars world being held hostage by an AI with a strange and terrible sense of humour and the nuclear codes.

8. Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse: This is a recent release that I read and really enjoyed, and I'd love the hear about more people reading it!

9. In Other Lands by Sarah Rees Brennan: Halfway between portal fantasy and portal fantasy parody this one plays with genres. And has a grumpy pacifist main character. It's great.

10. A Spy in the House by Y. S. Lee: I feel like there are always a lot of Canadian authors on my hidden gems lists. I guess I just really like Canadian authors? 

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Series Review: Modern Faerie Tales

Tithe by Holly Black
Goodreads        Chapters        IndieBound

This one I partly picked up because a few of the characters make a cameo in The Cruel Prince and it reminded me that I still hadn't read it... Overall it is very much what is says on the package, very much a faerie tale feeling. Holly Black's writing has definitely gotten more nuanced since this one came out. It was nice to get more background on the world (which this book does provide, along with Ironside). Reading through all of Holly Black's stuff really does give the impression that her faerie world is either constantly in a state of chaos or undergoing a period of VERY EXTREME chaos for the past couple decades...

I think the main function of this book for me was to give me more of a foundation in Holly Black's fae world, but I did also enjoy it on it's own merit although it wasn't quite as nuanced as her more recent books.

Valiant by Holly Black
Goodreads        Chapters        IndieBound

This one was definitely my least favourite of the Modern Faerie Tales companion novels, less due to any sort of writing flaw than simply because the content was much less up my alley than the other two. (Some of it is, in fact, content that I generally tend to avoid with my personal reading, just because I don't really find them to be terribly edifying topics... but anyway.)

The real strength of this one was seeing the urban fae taken to the next level, and also establishes more of the world and the nature of the fae. (Including half-fae, and how the exiled fae survive (or don't) in the big city.)

Ironside by Holly Black
Goodreads        Chapters        IndieBound

This was my favourite of the three! This one was definitely in terms of plot. It also felt like the characters were more settled, which also made the story more enjoyable. Ironside brings together the casts of Tithe and Valiant (definitely more strongly focused on the cast of Tithe, which I found more compelling overall, so that worked out okay for me).

The plot itself was more complex and engaging, and this book was all the more enjoyable for it. I've overall quite enjoyed reading these three books (if only in part so I could read Ironside and fully understand what was going on, in the case of Valiant... not that Valiant was necessarily bad, just not as much my thing as the other two books). It was interesting to see what had stayed the same and what had developed in Holly Black's writing style, and I think it'll be useful for continuing with Folk of the Air

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