Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Blogging 'Bout Some Books

As an avid reader, face to Nook almost constantly, a lot of friends and family ask for recommendations.   I have a very specific taste in books which I call "Super Fiction" or "Super Fantasy.  The farther away from reality, the more likely I am to enjoy it.  Lately it seems I've been stuck in YA steampunk fiction, but I do have broader taste.  Here is a list of some of the best series I've read in the last few years, both YA and Adult fiction included.

THE ALL SOULS SERIES

This is an Adult book series is Deborah Harkness' first venture into Fiction.  Harkness originally wrote historical non-fiction, focusing her studies on magic and science in Europe from 1500 to 1700.  Using her knowledge, Harkness built a character much like herself.  Except she's a witch.  Diana Bishop is a historian who, while researching her dissertation, calls up an enchanted manuscript from the Bodleian Library.  Having been lost for centuries, the scent of this manuscript reappearing brings all magical creatures to Bishop's doorstep.  In the world Harkness created, we have vampires, witches and daemons living in secret among us.  Bishop is a witch who wants nothing to do with her powers and supernatural upbringing.  She especially does her best to stay away from vampires.  But when one protects her from all the things that go bump in the night, well....  It's time for her to except her witchiness and figure out what's so important about this manuscript.  Both of these books are not only beautifully written, sexy, funny and exciting but superbly researched.  When I read these books I was not only was I entertained, but I had actually learned something.  Needless to say, I cannot wait for the next and last book of the series to be released   Unfortunately Harkness is still working on it so who knows when it will be out!

THE DIVERGENT SERIES

You listen to me.  These books are amazing.  Did you like The Hunger Games?  These books are better.  That's right.  I said it.  In another dystopian future, Chicago has been divided into 5 factions, Candor (honesty), Abnegation (selflessness), Dauntless (bravery), Amity (Peacefulness) and Erudite (intelligence).  When you turn 16 you are given the chance to choose the faction that you will then devote the rest of your life to, possibly leaving your family and whole way of life behind forever.  Before you choose, you are given a test to see which faction will be your best fit.  Abnegation girl Beatrice has dreamed of a life outside her faction.  When given her test, she finds that she actually doesn't fit well into any faction.  She is divergent.  This fact is covered up, and when the time comes Beatrice chooses Dauntless, a choice which could end her life.  These books are fantastic page turners with tons of action and even a bit of romance.  Beatrice is an amazing character, she is tough, smart and no matter how desperate her situation she never complains and never gives up.  The reason I like these books better than Hunger Games is that (so far) each book gets better.  Insurgent is an incredible read, where you spend most of your time yelling "NO!" or "OH MY GOD!"  Book 3 comes out in the fall.  Can. Not. Wait.

THE MAGIC MOST FOUL SERIES

Set in New York during the 1880s, this book hearkens back to Oscar Wilde's "The Picture of Dorian Gray." Young Miss Natalie Stewart lives with her father, and helps him with his work at the MET.  Poor Miss Stewart has been mute since the death of her mother when she was just a child.  While looking at a prospective portrait of a one Lord Denbury she notices the painting moves... calls out to her even!  And then she falls through canvas and the magic and mystery begins.  These are wonderfully written YA books from the unique perspective of the diaries of a mute girl living in a time when having a disability was debilitating.  To be fair it should be noted that the author, Leanna Renee Hieber is a friend of mine, but friend or no I would have found my way to these books and devoured them anyhow.

THE STRANGELY BEAUTIFUL SERIES

This is another fantastic series by Miss Hieber.  Victorian London was a dangerous place to be!  Not only is Jack the Ripper hunting streets, we have ghosts and possessive demons to deal with!  Not to fear, a group of men and women with divine powers are here to protect the living from the dead.  But when their leader Alexi becomes wrapped up in an old proficiency he becomes obsessed with finding the fated last member of the Guard, tensions in the group rise.  Besides fighting ghouls and ghosts, two of the guards run Athens Academy for boys and girls.  Enter a strange young albino woman named Persephone Parker, she has a knack for language and other strange talents.  Immediately Alexi is drawn to her... but is she friend or foe?  The Guard isn't so sure.  There is one more book left in the series and I am anxiously awaiting it's release.  These books are full of beautiful imagery and heart pounding mystery.  Ghosts in Victorian London... really how can you say no?

THE PARASOL PROTECTORATE SERIES

I just finished Heartless in this series and I cannot get enough!  Thank God Timeless comes out next month!  Gail Carriger you are a hilarious and imaginative genius.  These books take place in a steampunk London, where dirigibles float through the air and the supernatural mingle with the common man.  Alexia Tarabotti is a unique woman, she is half Italian, unmarried, outspoken, smart and one of the supernatural... well actually she is the opposite.  Miss Tarabotti is soulless.  Her touch can turn the supernatural human.  Though she is registered with the Bureau of Unnatural Registry (BUR for short) Alexia keeps her soulless state quiet among the regular humans.  She's shocking enough as it is.  That is, until she kills a vampire in self defense and gets tangled up in BUR nonsense.  Now she is forced to work with Lord Connal Maccon, head of the London BUR, werewolf, and all around pain in the ass.  These books are hilarious, smart, creative and super sexy.  A supremely entertaining read.

THE STEAMPUNK CHRONICLES

I told you I've been really into steampunk lately.  These books are action packed and have some seriously kick ass female characters.  It's been a while since I read these books so I'm going to cheat a little and add the publisher's blurb so I don't accidentally give an important plot point away:  "In 1897 England, sixteen-year-old Finley Jayne has no one...except the "thing" inside her.When a young lord tries to take advantage of Finley, she fights back. And wins. But no "normal" Victorian girl has a darker side that makes her capable of knocking out a full-grown man with one punch.... Only Griffin King sees the magical darkness inside her that says she's special, says she's one of "them." The orphaned duke takes her in from the gaslit streets against the wishes of his band of misfits: Emily, who has her own special abilities and an unrequited love for Sam, who is part robot; and Jasper, an American cowboy with a shadowy secret."  The next book in the series comes out in March, and after the excitement and romance of Girl with the Clockwork Collar I cannot even wait!

BEAUTIFUL CREATURES SERIES


Please world... PLEASE do not judge these books by the movie trailer.  WHY MUST THEY TURN ALL GOOD THINGS INTO BAD MOVIES!  Just based on casting alone I have to say NO!  These books are fabulous, with maybe the exception of the final book of the series which was a little disappointing.  These books take place in the small southern county of Gatlin.  Unlike most supernatural YA books, this series is from a male point of view.  All Ethan Wate wants to do is get out into the world as far away from Gatlin as possible... until a new girl comes to school and turns his world upside down.  Lena Duchannes isn't like the bottle blonde pageant girls of Gatlin, she is dark, she is intelligent and she is beautiful.  Little does he know, she is also dangerous.  She is a witch and on her 16th birthday she will be chosen for either the light or the dark and she has no idea which due to a family curse.  No matter how much she wants to push Ethan away for his safety they are drawn to each other and he is determined to give her a choice.  These books are beautiful and oh so romantic.  They may not be Shakespeare, but they are entertaining and good for an "awww".

Hope you check out some of these books and I am always looking for recommendations.