Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme created over at The Broke and the Bookish that allows us to list our top ten answers to a different question each week.

This week’s theme is: Top Ten Books for People Who Like X Author

I decided to mix it up and interpret this week’s theme a little bit differently.

1. If you like Neil Gaiman, try Tim Powers.
Powers is a master of his class, yet unfortunately his name isn’t nearly as well known as it should be. His works take work, though; Powers is quite the ambitious author, often utilizing existing cultural figures to construct alternative histories replete with lamias, psychotic serial killer clowns, werewolves, time travel, and the gods.
2. If you like John Green, try David Levithan.
So this won’t come as a shock to many of you, especially since these two authors have actually collaborated before. (If you haven’t read Will Grayson, Will Grayson, do so immediately). Still, for those of you not in the know, Levithan’s writing often reaches the exhalted heights of wry youthful optimism that Green is so famous for.
3. If you like Ilona Andrews, try Seanan McGuire.
The Toby Daye series exhibits some of the best worldbuilding and characterization in urban fantasy today. For those who love Kate Daniels’s toughness and capability coupled with a quick wit and unbearable sexual tension, you’re missing out if you’re not reading about Toby.
4. If you like Holly Black, try Rob Thurman.
Though I’ve mentioned this before, I’ll say it again: Cassel Sharpe and Cal Leandros would be best buds. Though the worldbuilding in each series is starkly different, they share an easy and sarcastic narration that strikes a chord with my cynical nature.
5. If you like Diana Wynne Jones, try Megan Whalen Turner.
These two remarkable ladies drew inspiration from each other’s writing, and it shows in both of their most ubiquitous narrators. I would have loved to read a crossover book starring Gen and Howl.
6. If you like Kristin Cashore, try Sherwood Smith.
If you’re a fan Cashore’s lush prose and mixture of romance, political intrigue, and fantasy, you’ll find all that and more in the Crown Duel duet. Mel is a great heroine, and while there is slightly less magic in Smith’s work, the feel is very similar to that elicited by Cashore’s series.
7. If you like Karen Marie Moning, try Anne Bishop.
While Moning’s Fever series and Bishop’s Black Jewels series have little in common, they will forever be linked in my mind since I discovered them (and fell in love with both) in a short two-month period. Despite their differences, I believe that fans of Moning’s dark fantasy tone will be able to appreciate Bishop’s world and the ambiguously drawn characters that inhabit it.
8. If you like Stephanie Perkins, try Cath Crowley.
Perkins is undoubtedly one of the hottest names in young adult contemporary, due mainly to her remarkable ability to write main characters who seem all at once too good to be true yet utterly believable. Crowley’s work is eminently relatable yet a little grittier than Perkins; still, fans of Perkins work will likely adore Crowley’s writing as well.
9. If you like Maggie Stiefvater, try Liz Berry.
I’ve adored Berry’s The China Garden for nearly a decade now. It’s lovely and unique and criminally unrecognized, especially considering the recent surge in interest for young adult paranormal. Fans of Stiefvater’s lyrical writing will recognize the same quality in Berry’s.
That’s all I’ve got this week. Happy Fourth, all ye readers!
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Shipping Saturdays

I’ve decided that since Saturdays are so lonely and memeless, I would create one of my own. It seems like many bloggers (including myself) can’t help but swoon and sway over the character  relationships that comprise many of our favorite books and series, yet we often overlook those who aren’t front and center. Shipping Saturdays is a weekly meme dedicated to highlighting all of our favorite pairings that are non-canon, unpopular, unnoticed, and unrequited. It’s not limited to books, so feel free to share those film and television couples whose ship you would readily go down with, yet don’t get the attention they deserve.

It’s no secret that I love a good slowburn romance, and Seanan McGuire has produced

Toby and Tybalt- Shadows by Irrel

one of the best in her Toby Daye series. From the first shadowy verbal crossfire in the opening chapter of Rosemary and Rue, I knew that Toby and Tybalt would become one of my favorite UF couples. McGuire has strung readers along for five novels now, and while Toby is seemingly warming up to the idea of letting Tybalt into her life (subconsciously at least), nothing is certain yet. It’s the best kind of torture, for the ever-decreasing distance between Toby and Tybalt doesn’t feel artificially prolonged. These two have history, the kind that won’t be swept away by a fleeting moment of lust. This just underscores one of the many reasons why Toby is one of my favorite female protagonists; she thinks before she acts, and usually does so wisely. Unfortunately, it appears that all this thinking will keep fans waiting for a while longer, but as long as the tension remains so delicious, I won’t complain.

See more of Irrel’s artwork at the deviantart gallery here.

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme created over at The Broke and the Bookish that allows us to list our top ten answers to a different question each week.

This week’s theme is: Top Ten All Time Favorite Characters In Books

My favorites all seem to come in teams or packs (though not all romantic). I guess it’s another testament to how invested I become in the relationships that form among characters.

1. Jane and Rochester, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Jane is the indomitable woman with a will of iron and a gentle spirit whom I fell in love with just as much as I did her brooding counterpart.

2. Alec and Seregil, Nightrunner series by Lynn Flewelling

Within a few pages of the first book, Luck in the Shadows, I knew I had come across a lifetime favorite in this cunning, ebullient pair.

3. Daemon, Saetan, and Lucivar, The Black Jewels series by Anne Bishop

While Jaenelle stands at the heart of the stories set in a world where women are politically dominant, it is the family dynamic among these three men that made me fall in love with Bishop’s books.

4. GenThe Queen’s Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner

Gen is many things, but he is never what you think he is. The one quality you can depend on seeing in Gen is resilience (though thankfully his trademark wit isn’t usually far behind either).

5. Cal, Neko, and Robin, Cal Leandros series by Rob Thurman

While it was the innovative worldbuilding and Cal’s sarcastic commentary that initially drew me into this series, the steadfast bond that has formed among this trio is what catapults these books onto the top of my urban fantasy list.

6. Toby and Tybalt, Toby Daye series by Seanan McGuire

Toby is a rare breed of urban fantasy heroine: she’s smart, appealingly pessimistic, and asks for help when she needs it. In short, she’s a heroine easy to root for, and her tangled relationship with the King of Cats has sustained the perfect balance of love, hate, and heat for five books now without growing tedious or gratuitous.

7. Neville and Luna, Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

I am always drawn to the oddballs, and these two seem to epitomize that role at Hogwarts. Never mind the fact that I am firmly in the non-book canon camp who believes that these two were meant to be; they are both fantastically atypical characters in their own right.

8. Simon, the Disillusionists series by Carolyn Crane

From his first meeting with Justine, I knew there was more to Simon than met the eye, and his progression throughout the series demonstrates that in spades.

9. Jo March, Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Jo exemplifies everything that I wish to be: tough, passionate, confident, loving, and fully immersed in the world of words. I still might not have forgiven her for rejected Laurie, but that does nothing to lessen her strength of spirit.

10. Howl, Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

A vain, arrogant, whiny wizard whose improbable exterior conceals the brilliance within. What I love about Howl is that, while he truly is a genius, none of his flaws are manufactured or exaggerated. He is who he is, and that’s fantastic.

“Waiting On” Wednesday

“Waiting On” Wednesday is a meme created at Breaking the Spine to spotlight upcoming releases that we can’t wait to read.

After months of waiting, we finally get to see the wonderful new Chris McGrath cover art for Ashes of Honor by Seanan McGuire.

Ashes of Honor by Seanan McGuire

There’s no summary available yet, but it’s a Toby Daye book, so it will inevitably be one of the best urban fantasies of the year.

This title will be released on September 4, 2012.

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme created over at The Broke and the Bookish that allows us to list our top ten answers to a different question each week.

This week’s theme is: Top Ten Books I’d Recommend To Someone Who Doesn’t Read X

I’m going to cheat a bit, since I can’t decide among the genres I usually read, and do five books each for romance, fantasy, and young adult.

Top Ten Books I’d Recommend To Someone Who Doesn’t Read Romance

1. The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery

This one might not be considered a romance in the strictest sense, but it is simple and innocent and so lovely.

2. The Madness of Lord Ian MacKenzie by Jennifer Ashley

This novel defies romance reader expectations, going against the grain to deliver a hero unlike any I’ve seen in the genre before.

3. Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie

Crusie infuses her novel with enough humor and palpable chemistry between her leads to win over even the harshest critics.

4. Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase

Considered one of the seminal historical romances, Chase’s dialogue  is highly engaging and the plot substantial enough to pique picky readers’ interest.

5. When Beauty Tamed the Beast by Eloisa James

James creates a relationship between her two characters that is sustained by mutual equality and respect rather than misunderstanding and manipulation.

Top Ten Books I’d Recommend To Someone Who Doesn’t Read Fantasy

1. Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

Any Gaiman work could win over fantasy-wary readers; Neverwhere just happens to be my favorite.

2. Enchantment by Orson Scott Card

Card effortlessly weaves Russian folklore into a tapestry of fairy tale, horror, romance, and coming-of-age triumph.

3. Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder

While not an urban fantasy, Snyder’s writing has all the accessibility of the genre along with a unique plot and a heroine to root for.

4. The Native Star by M.K. Hobson

Part steampunk magic, part romance, and part western adventure, Hobson’s world is unlike any I’ve encountered before.

5. Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire

Each book in the Toby Daye series is better than the last. This is one of the best urban fantasies out there, with fae, folklore, romance, a genuinely relatable and capable heroine, and humor to spare.

Top Ten Books I’d Recommend To Someone Who Doesn’t Read Young Adult

1. Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

It does a disservice to Marchetta’s writing to limit it to young readers. The complexity of her stories can appeal to young and mature readers alike.

2. I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak

A lesser known work by the author of the much lauded The Book Thief, this coming-of-age story is thought-provoking and highlights the beauty that can be found in even the most dire circumstances.

3. The China Garden by Liz Berry

Sadly overlooked amidst the masses of paranormals, this is a quiet modern fairy tale that treads new ground without abandoning its simplicity.

4. The Realm of Possibility by David Levithan

A novel in verse that explores the divergent yet resonant voices of high school students.

5. Beauty by Robin McKinley

This Beauty and the Beast adaptation transcends generations. It remains one of the best and most beautiful iterations of the tale.

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme created over at The Broke and the Bookish that allows us to list our top ten answers to a different question each week.

This week’s theme is: Top Ten Books I’m Excited To Read in 2012

1. Lover Reborn by J.R. Ward

2. Doubletake by Rob Thurman

3. Ashes of Honor by Seanan McGuire

4. Mind Games by Carolyn Crane

5. Black Heart by Holly Black

6. Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley

7. Lothaire by Kresley Cole

8. Once Burned by Jeaniene Frost

9. Froi of the Exiles by Melina Marchetta

10. Endgame by Ann Aguirre

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme created over at The Broke and the Bookish that allows us to list our top ten answers to a different question each week.

This week’s theme is: Top Ten Favorite Books I Read in 2011

1. The Black Jewels Trilogy by Anne Bishop

There are two series that have shown up consistently on every favorites list since I started blogging. The Black Jewels Trilogy is one of them. Bishop’s world might be dark, convoluted, twisted, and heavy-handed, but it’s engrossing nonetheless. I adore Daemon, Saetan, and Lucivar, with their family dynamic that was both hilarious and heartbreaking at times.

2. Fever series by Karen Marie Moning

The second perpetual resident of my favorites lists, Moning’s Fever series was nothing like I expected it to be. I had avoided it for years, having heard it was very much angst with very little joy to be had for the heroine. Thankfully, I decided to ignore those reviewers this year, and was immediately swept away into Mac’s world of fae-infested Dublin. In a year of great character discoveries, Barrons is definitely one of my favorites.

3. Blackout by Rob Thurman

I’ve been following Thurman’s Cal Leandros series for years, yet for some reason, I always manage to forget just how great it is before reading a new installment. Blackout likely cured me of that habit for good, for as great as the series had been until this point, the sixth book is her best by far. Blackout is like a love letter to fans who have stuck it out since the beginning. I won’t explain how that’s the case for fear of revealing too much, since the reward lies in piecing together each bit on your own.

4. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

It was with reluctance that I purchased this book at the start of the year. Everything about it seemed too young to resonate with me: the inane title, the saccharine cover, even the description failed to truly appeal to me. Yet it was receiving such rave reviews that I knew there had to be something deeper lying beneath the surface. What I found was one of the most charming, realistic, and sympathetic love stories I’ve read. Anna and the French Kiss captures utterly what it is like to be in the beginning stages of crushing, friendship, and love. Its characters aren’t perfect, but Anna is such a relatable and likable narrator that your devotions and hope never sway.

5. Hunt the Moon by Karen Chance

I believed that I had given up on the Cassie Palmer series, having read and been slightly annoyed by Cassie’s incessant whining in Curse the Dawn. While Cassie’s relationship with Mercea was interesting at the start, I didn’t really care for the direction it was going in, and Cassie herself wasn’t compelling enough as a heroine for me to stick with her story. Yet after several years’ hiatus, the series returned this summer with Hunt the Moon, and the excellent reviews prompted me to pick it up despite myself. The fifth installment returned to the action-packed, high-speed storytelling of the first novels, yet for once Cassie seemed confident and competent. She still did her fair share of whining, but it no longer came across as petulant. Shockingly, as I became engrossed in the story, I realized a faux pas of my own that I rarely make, yet that will affect how I view the series going forward. It’s not often that I jump on the wrong ship at the start, but suffice it to say my affections have shifted, and having reread the series with that perspective in mind, I’m now fully on board.

6. Secret Society Girl series by Diana Peterfreund

This series is so far outside my comfort zone that I expected to set it down within the first twenty pages. I care nothing for chick lit, especially when the heroine is a rather self-absorbed, promiscuous college student being sucked into the underbelly of secret society life. Yet while I never managed to warm up to Amy fully, I fell in love with the camaraderie she shared with her fellow Diggers and with the unusual courtship she shares with one particular Rose and Grave member.

7. Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie

Despite my love of romance, I tended to stay away from pure romance novels, particularly contemporaries. Yet this title showed up so frequently on Best Of lists that I had to give it a try. Bet Me wound up being a rare one indeed, one in which I was consistently surprised yet never disappointed. I hugged it when I finished, which is a rare honor.

8. The Wolves of Mercy Falls series by Maggie Stiefvater

I made it halfway through Shiver in college before putting it down, having determined that the instalove romance was nice yet not intriguing enough to take time away from the other books in my TBR pile. After winning a copy of Forever this summer, I decided to give the series one more chance, and while I had the same initial impressions, by the end of the book, I realized that Stiefvater’s lovely writing and the conviction with which she writes Sam and Grace’s relationship elevates this series above its peers despite its questionable premise.

9. The Piper’s Son by Melina Marchetta

After months of searching for this title, I finally found an arc for a dollar in a thrift store. While I hadn’t read Saving Francesca in a while, I remembered having liked Tom’s character in the previous novel and was interested to see how Will and Francesca were faring. As with every Marchetta novel, I was captivated by the storytelling, yet The Piper’s Son took me to a place that Saving Francesca only hinted at. I’m confident that adults and teens alike can enjoy Marchetta’s novels, yet this was the first that I felt really deserved a spot in the general fiction section. Tom’s story is frustrating, heartbreaking, and ultimately uplifting, yet it wrings your emotions out several times before it achieves its ultimate goal.

10. The Queen’s Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner

While reading this series, I knew I was enjoying it, but I wasn’t sure whether I found it merely entertaining or compulsively readable; since I rarely start a book without finishing it in the same day, I wasn’t able to set it down and answer that question. It wasn’t until I had completed the third book in this series that I realized how brilliant it is. As Turner follows Gen through triumph and tragedy, she shifts perspective in each novel so that, even with Gen as the narrator, no one is ever as they seem. Thus, even those revelations guessed ahead of time taste all the sweeter.

 Honorable Mentions

Ravished by Amanda Quick, When Beauty Tamed the Beast by Eloisa James, and The Proposition by Judith Ivory

I read at least a dozen Beauty and the Beast-inspired novels this year, and of them all, these three were my favorites.

What My Mother Doesn’t Know by Sonya Sones

A quick, easy read, this novel written in verse tells one of the sweetest love stories I read this year. Unfortunately, you have to wade through quite a bit of teen melodrama to get there, but the payoff is worth it.

The Curseworkers series by Holly Black

White Cat and Red Glove are the first two in a trilogy of young adult urban fantasy novels that introduce a world unlike anything I’ve read in the genre before. Throw in a male narrator reminiscent of Cal Leandros, and my love for this series is sealed.

The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

This young adult book about love and loss managed to take multiple tropes that I despise and work them is such a way that I loved the story and the characters anyway.

One Salt Sea by Seanan McGuire

Every book in the Toby Daye series is golden, and the latest upped the game in such a way that my expectations for Ashes of Honor are ridiculously high.

Aftermath by Ann Aguirre

This penultimate book in the Sirantha Jax series was hard to read, yet it cemented my dedication to the characters. Sirantha has displayed one of the most pronounced character developments in any series that I’ve read, and while her ending has no guarantee of happiness, I have no doubt that Aguirre will give these great characters a worthy finale.