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Books, Books, and more BOOKS!

After saying I would not buy another book in October, as I still have several yet to read. Especially after buying THE CITY OF BRASS last weekend, as I thought it would take me a while to read it at 530+ pages (it didn’t — my review will be coming next week). What did I go and do while we were out today? I bought two more books …

  • THE WHISPERER — Donato Carrisi
  • A MAN CALLED OVE — Fredrik Backman

I blame Norrie … I wrote several new names and books down on my list after reading one of her posts last week, and, as it happens, while looking over the shelfs at forbidden fruit, I saw one of the books she’d mentioned: A Man Called Ove. All this because I was looking for BEARTOWN by the same author!

Well, of course, I had to buy it. And I couldn’t buy just one novel. I had to buy two because, you know, you have to, right? Isn’t it written somewhere in stone … isn’t it?

So, how’s your weekend going, got any recommendations for me, I’m a sucker!

First Impressions Friday: THE CITY OF BRASS

It’s that time of week, again, which means, it’s First Impressions Friday. For those of you who are unfamiliar, #FIF is a weekly meme created by J.W. Martin. The goal is to talk about a book you recently started reading then share your first impressions, predict what you think will happen, and then say whether you think you’ll enjoy it.

By Stephen Garrett

I picked up a copy of THE CITY OF BRASS by S. A. Chakraborty, last weekend, but was only able to start reading it late Tuesday, so I didn’t get very far. But, oh my, have I been binge-reading ever since. So much so, I really, and I mean, really, don’t want to put this book down to eat, drink, or sleep!

I was sucked in from the very first pages and am hooked on Nahri, Ali, and Dara’s stories. This is an immense One Thousand and One Arabian nights kind of tale full of myth, magic and mystery. At once compelling and intriguing, brimming with action and adventure and yes, elements of horror too—ghouls that eat the living, and giant birds the size of a bus who find humans a tasty morsel to snack on.

I’m just at the halfway point, as Dara and Nahri find themselves stumbling towards the fabled city of brass: Daevabad. They’ve been racing across the desert, running for their lives, being chased by ghouls, monsters, and daemons alike and neither they, nor I, have had a moment to catch our breath!

I know, right now, that this one is only going to get better and, therefore, I feel more than a little confident in predicting that this will be a solid 9 out 10 rating, or higher.

This Persian carpet ride of a novel, is truly a magical one, and one I won’t soon forget.

Five Authors I Have Met

Either through work, or via conventions I’ve attended over the years, I’ve been lucky enough to meet a number of authors. It’s one thing to love an author’s work, and to rave on about this or that book. But getting to meet them, in person, and even have that extended moment with them long enough to say more than: ‘I love your work,’ is a huge privilege and yes, priceless.

MICHAEL MOORCOCK — Fantasy

Way back when I lived and worked in London, I met one of the biggest fantasy authors of his generation, Michael Moorcock, whose work (at the time) I was a huge fan of. If you haven’t read any of his work, you should try:

  • Elric of Melniboné and Other Stories
  • The Jewel in the Skull (Hawkmoon series)
  • The Cornelius Quartet (Jerry Cornelius Series)

All books I grew up reading back in the 70s.

Moorcock once wrote of himself, “I think of myself as a bad writer with big ideas, but I’d rather be that than a big writer with bad ideas.

BRIAN STABLEFORD — Science Fiction

Another fellow British author I also had the privilege to meet, was Brian Stableford — another prolific writer. I devoured two of his first series, the HOODED SWAN and DAEDALUS series, consisting of six books apiece. Though, given they were written back in the mid 70s, I’m not sure they are still available. The man himself was polite, helpful, and very knowledgable and happy to talk across a broad range of subjects.

J. MICHAEL STRACZYNSKI — SF, Fantasy & Comics

I bumped into Joe—as everyone and his mother call him—first at a Babylon 5 convention, where he generously gave every waking moment over to talking to fans in hallways, the lift, breakfast and dining rooms and anywhere else he encountered anyone wanting to learn more about writing, his work, and yes, his philosophy of writing.

You are probably aware of all the TV work and series he’s been involved in, but Joe has, over the years, also written any number of comics.

TERRY PRATCHETT — Fantasy

Yes, that Terry Pratchett, who created one of the best fantasy worlds ever thought up: DISCWORLD.

I wanted to literally escape there, and live amongst Pratchett’s crazy characters. I wanted Rincewind, Twoflowers, and Death himself, as friends, and have the Luggage follow me everywhere.

The man—and his hat(s)—were, again, an enlightening fountain of knowledge and generosity. No matter how long people kept him talking, he was kind and patient, and always made sure everyone got their moment to talk to him at length. I still have first editions signed by him.

LOUISE PENNY — Crime Fiction

Ms. Penny is another of those amazing authors who give generously of her time and knowledge, and with a lovely softly spoken voice that should be announcing the news on the radio. She shakes your hand, signs your book and chats about Three Pines as if we all know where it is. Hidden away in some forgotten corner of Québec. As real to her loyal readers, as Discworld is to Terry Pratchett fans.

If you haven’t read her Chief Inspector Gamache series, may I humbly suggest you start with STILL LIFE, the first book in the series. And then, read them all. Yes, they really are *that* good!

Vivre Gamache!

There Is A Time To Read …

And a time to buy!

And, as my To Buy list had gotten so unruly these last few months, I’ve had to go through it and pare it down to a manageable size. As a result, I know have three lists: To Buy, Am Considering, and, of course, the ever growing Wish List, which is almost 300+ books in total. Thanks in part, to all the recommendations from everyone out there. You’re killing me, people!

This weekend saw me create a new master—to buy list—over on Indigo Chapters, so I can also keep track of just how much money all these wonderful books might cost me. I can also decide, by reading the reviews and the back cover blurb, whether or not books are in the right list. Or if they should be moved back to the Wish List. You know how it is, procrastinating over what you think you want, and what in reality, you can afford.

Anyway, I can now play virtual shuffle board with books from one list to another, without sacrificing several trees in the process.

My To Buy list now consists of:

  • THE LOST MAN — Jane Harer
  • THE WEED THAT STRINGS THE HANGMAN’S BAG — Alan Bradley
  • THE SILENT GIRLS — Eric Rickstad
  • THE DEFENCE — Steve Cavanagh
  • THE READERS OF BROKEN WHEEL — Katerina Bivald
  • SAVAGE LIBERTY — Eliot Pattison
  • STAR OF THE NORTH — D.B. John
  • CHILD 44 — Tom Rob Smith
  • TATIANA — Martin Cruz Smith
  • THE OTTER OF DEATH — Betty Webb
  • THE HERETIC’S DAUGHTER — Kathleen Kent
  • THE LUMINOUS SEA — Melissa Barbeau
  • TH1RT3EN — Steve Cavanagh
  • QUEEN OF THE SOUTH — Arturo Perez-Reverte
  • THE OUTCASTS — Kathleen Kent
  • MURDER AT THE GRAND RAJ PALACE — Vaseem Khan
  • THE KINGDOM OF COPPER — S.A. Chakraborty

And what about you, what books have you go on your list(s)?

Top 5 Tuesday: 5 Tropes I Want More Of!

It’s Tuesday so it must be Top 5 Tuesday created by Shanah over at Bionic Book Worm, and this week’s topic is: 5 Tropes I Want More Of! Which means, for me at least, all my favourite SF tropes.

#1 : Robots

I love me a good robot story. I mean, who hasn’t read and loved Isaac Asimov’s robot novels? There are so many angles to this trope that are yet to be discovered, as science catches up with science fiction. Endless possibilities as we think artificial A.I. or humans becoming Cyborgs.

#2 : Interstellar Travel

The first books and series that comes to mind is Frank Herbert’s DUNE saga, and Isaac Asimov’s FOUNDATION series. Both galaxy spanning sagas that cover thousands of years of futuristic history.

#3 : Transformation

This can come in many guises, not least of which is the one and only original, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mister Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson, right on through to today’s super heroes like the big green Hulk. Transformations can be small and subtle or, right there in your face. How about the ‘Fly’? Who can forget the movie, it terrified me.

#4 : Parallel Universes

Anyone that’s seen an episode of one or other incarnation of Star Trek, will have seen at least one episode where the crew ends up in an alternative universe and as fast as you can say, ‘Mirror, Mirror‘ we are dealing with alternative time lines and characters. Always a great way to have a bit of fun!

#5 : Alien Invasion

Yes, we’ve seen it all, from Mars invading Earth in H.G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds, right on through to Arthur C. Clark’s Childhood’s End and Frederik Pohl’s Gateway, or Carl Sagan’s Contact. They’re out there and they’re coming for us!

Okay, so these are just some of my personal favourite science fiction tropes, what are your favourite tropes?