Quarantine Book Tag

This is like the third or fourth post I’ve done recently with “quarantine” in the title, as well as the second book tag I’ve done in a month.  I don’t usually do book tags so frequently, but it’s been a fun change of pace for me.

This book tag was created on Youtube by Our BookNook and I found it once again on Madame Writer’s blog.  In keeping with the theme of quarantine, today I’m going with only books that I own.

Must-Have – A book you *have* to have with you while quarantined.

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Pride and Prejudice

This is my go-to book for any mood or season; it never fails to entertain.  It was the only paperback I took with me during my study abroad in Spain.  I actually own two copies: the one I read for class in high school, and one that is part of a very large Jane Austen anthology.

Isolation – A book where the MC spends most of their time in the book alone.

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Into the Wild

I had to read this for some class in high school, I don’t even remember why.  It is the true story of a young man who ventured alone into the Alaskan wilderness and eventually died there.  I did not particularly enjoy it; I could not really relate to the main character.  To me it seemed he had some kind of undiagnosed mental illness, rather than being some kind of tragic figure or icon of freedom.

Binge Read – A long book series you’d recommend to someone who has a lot more time on their hands.

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The Dresden Files

This is one of the few series I can think of that just keeps getting better and better as it goes.  There are 15 books, with 2 more on the way soon, plus a lot of short stories.  The first book is decent, but the series starts to hit its stride around book 3 and never looks back.  If you like urban fantasy, complete with wizards, mythical creatures, and detective noir beats all centered in Chicago, this is the series for you.

Toiler Paper – All the TP is gone! What book are you using?

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The Crystal Star

This book is widely considered the worst of the Star Wars Expanded Universe.  I can’t say I enjoyed it; frankly, I can’t say I remember anything at all about it.  I also might pick Barbara Hambly’s Children of the Jedi series, because Callista is my least favorite character in the entire EU (and Daala is in the running, too, for that matter).  The only reason I keep these books now is because I enjoy having a collection of EU books; I realllllly doubt I will ever waste my time re-reading them.

Actually, I would probably just use some of the books on my shelf I haven’t read, because then I wouldn’t even know what I was giving up.  Ignorance is bliss.

Anti-viral – A book that went viral that you have avoided or not read…yet.

I’ve got two books sitting on my shelf that fit for this one.

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Wicked Saints

I picked this one up after I met the author last year; it was a hyped dark fantasy debut.  I read the first page and it didn’t appeal to me.  I’ve been meaning to get back to it, and maybe now is a good time?

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A Brightness Long Ago

This is one I got from my Jolabokaflod book exchange at Christmas.  I was so excited to read it, got through the first chapter, then put it down and never made it back into it (I rarely read physical books nowadays).  I am hoping to get back to it soon, because I love this author.

Super Binge – What book and TV series combo would you recommend?

8855321The Expanse (TV Series 2015– ) - IMDb

The Expanse

This is currently one of my favorite sci-fi series, with a liberal mix of space opera, detective noir, politics, and some thrills thrown in for good measure.  It has a very believable view of the future, with some fascinating science and technology.  The TV series is one of my favorite book adaptations; the cast is stellar (no pun intended) and the effects are great.  They have changed a few things, but they’ve remained faithful to the books and changed things in a way that works better for a TV series.

My 5 Favorite Sci-Fi/Fantasy Swear Words

I typically try to not swear much on my blog so as to not offend anyone, but today we’re going to make an exception.  Part of the fun of fantasy and sci-fi worlds is having slang words unique to those worlds, and that includes expletives.  I have a lot of favorites from genre TV and books; here are some that you might actually catch me using in real life…

Honorable mention: Slag (Batman Beyond)

The Batman Beyond universe has a whole range of fun slang words; the most used (also my favorite) is schway, which basically means “cool.”  The closest thing to a swear word in the show is slag, which seems to be used in several different contexts.  Terry says, “I’m slagged” to mean he’s exhausted, but it’s also used in the phrase “slag it,” being more akin to “damn.”  Slag is easy to pronounce (it’s already a real word, and a naughty one at that in the UK), and is obviously versatile.

5. Goddy (Legend)

Goddy always seemed to me to be a nice combination of goddamn and bloody, so it’s easy to get some feeling behind it, and it just rolls off the tongue so well.  This futuristic dystopian series also uses the word trot as an insulting term for a person, but it seems less a political thing and more just another word for tool.

These two words are used frequently by main character Day, who has a unique way of talking that is fun to imitate.

4. Gorram (Firefly)

Firefly has several inventive swear words, but I can’t pronounce Chinese, so we’ll stick with this one, a popular choice of Browncoats everywhere.  Presumably it’s a corruption of goddamn, as it sounds quite similar, so it’s very easy to substitute into normal conversation.

3. Hell’s bells (The Dresden Files)

This one is not made up, it’s just more likely to be used by your grandmother than your friends.  It has the benefit of sounding quaint and British rather than offensive, though it’s much more recognizable as a swear to the average person due to the word “hell” being in there.

2. Sithspawn (Star Wars EU novels)

There are lots of hilarious swear words that have been made up for the Star Wars universe, but my favorite is Sithspawn, which you can parse as equating to “son of a bitch,” though it’s used primarily as an interjection.  It’s a favorite expletive of X-wing pilot Corran Horn, as well as some other Corellians.

1. Frak (Battlestar Galactica)

This word originated with the 1970s Battlestar Galactica series, generally spelled “frack.”  The 2004 rebooted series increased its usage and altered the spelling slightly to “frak,” making it a four-letter word while conveniently avoiding confusion with the now-hot topic of hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”).  

While some have found its use a little contrived, I find it to be genius.  The BSG writers basically found a way to drop multiple f-bombs every week on cable television.  It’s close enough to “fuck” that your mind automatically translates it, but distinct enough to feel like it’s a part of the sci-fi BSG universe instead of ours.  

This word has become huge in popular culture, making referential appearances in other fictional media as well as being used regularly by fans.  I have been known to use it myself, especially in geek circles.  So, in short, it’s pretty much the perfect sci-fi curse word.

Seasonal Reads: Dead Beat

Do you ever find yourself coming back to a certain story at a certain time of year?  I often re-read books during a specific month or season that I feel is inextricably tied to the book.  Here’s what I’m reading right now to get in the spirit of the season.

 Dead Beat, The Dresden Files #7 (Jim Butcher)

17683Harry Dresden is the only wizard in the Chicago phone book, and it’s his responsibility to keep his city safe from werewolves, vampires, necromancers, Fae, and other assorted magic users looking for trouble.

You should definitely be reading The Dresden Files because they are great books that actually get even better as you go.  What makes Dead Beat in particular so special that I would re-read it?

First of all, it’s set at Halloween, featuring a vampire, several necromancers, and Herne the Hunter as antagonists.  So perfect for getting in the Halloween spirit.

It also introduces some really great characters.  Harry has many allies that help him along the way; my favorite is cop Karrin Murphy, but she’s barely in this book at all.  Don’t let that deter you.  Instead, Harry’s sidekick is Waldo Butters, a small, cowardly, polka-loving medical examiner.  He is awesome and he only gets more awesomer in later books.

Like all the Dresden books, Dead Beat stands on its own well while still fitting in well with the rest of the series.  It ties up some loose ends of books that came before it and also sets up some things for future installments.

But if you’re looking for what really makes Dead Beat amazing, this image says it all:

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Enjoy!

2014 Reading Review

I read approximately 50 “new” books (including a few graphic novels) this year.  Here are some that stood out:

leviathan wakesSci-Fi:

Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey

This book, the first in The Expanse series, is summer blockbuster sci-fi at its finest.  Here’s my original mention.  I am looking forward to reading the other books in the series (which is being adapted for TV) in the upcoming year.

I recently played Eclipse Phase, a tabletop RPG, which reminded me greatly of Leviathan Wakes.  The setting has some similar elements, and the Ego Hunter one-shot we played really had some of the same concepts and themes.  Definitely recommend it if you are a fan.

YA series:

The Thief by MW Turner, The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson, Legend by Marie Lu

This year was for me the year of YA series.  I had a lot to catch up on (and still do) because there’s been an explosion of YA fantasy and dystopian series in the past few years.  These were 3 that really stood out to me as adding something to the genre.

The Queen’s Thief (now a 4-book series) is definitely the most intelligent of the lot. Some of the best YA writing I’ve read recently, and you must be a careful reader.  The characters feel like dear friends at this point.  Here’s my original review.

I was ready to write off The Girl of Fire and Thorns as being slightly above average when I gave the second book, The Crown of Embers, a chance and was blown away.  If you like YA fantasy romance, look no further.  Here’s my original review.

While I had some issues with the stupid science writing in Champion, it did not detract from my appreciation for the exciting Legend series.  There were some really nice sci-fi elements that elevated it from other dystopias, and the two main characters, June and Day, have really stayed with me.  Here’s my original review.  I recently read Marie Lu’s The Young Elites and I look forward to more books from her.

Parkour!Latest installment:

Skin Game (The Dresden Files) by Jim Butcher

I can’t believe these books are still this amazing at number 15 in the series.  Here’s my review.

countofmc“Literature”:

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

A very very long book, but there’s a reason it’s a classic.  I began reading this one when I went to Europe way back in 2012, but finally got it finished over a long weekend early in 2014.  If all you know is the 2002 Jim Caviezel movie (which I admit is good), then I highly recommend you pick up an abridged copy.  Hint: the book ending is different.

Fellow bloggers:

Not surprisingly, many of my fellow bloggers are authors.  Two standouts this year:

  • Benevolence Archives by Luther M. Siler, a humorous series of short stories in kind of a Star Wars/D&D mashup world (my review)–it’s FREE at Smashwords
  • Kiss of the Fey by Charlotte Cyprus, a quick fantasy romance (my review)

Saga1Graphic novel:

Saga by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples

Just got volume 4 and I’m still in love.  Here’s my original review.

Harry Dresden, patron saint of bad decisions (Skin Game review)

Parkour!*SPOILERS ahead for all Dresden Files books leading up to (but NOT including) Skin Game.*

Harry Dresden is feeling pretty low.  He’s basically indentured to Mab, Queen of Air and Darkness.  His friends won’t come see him on his creepy island.  Plus he has some bad headaches, that are probably about to kill him.

In fact, Harry’s not even sure if he’s one of the good guys anymore.  He wonders if his bad choices have put him beyond saving.

That’s when a friend tells him: “You wouldn’t be twisting yourself into knots like this, Harry, if you didn’t care….Monsters don’t care….The damned don’t care, Harry.  The only way to go beyond redemption is to choose to take yourself there.  The only way is to stop caring.”

This was a perfect week for me to read Skin Game.  I managed to make two huge mistakes (one professional, one personal) in the course of 5 days, and while they may not be in the same league as committing vampire genocide, abandoning a daughter, and making deals with the Fae, I was not feeling too great about myself, and I was looking to Harry Dresden to show me how to keep going.

One of the strengths of the Dresden Files series, and Skin Game in particular, is that Harry, as well as Murphy, Molly, and others on Team Dresden, do falter and make mistakes, and there are always real consequences.  But they care about doing the right thing, they accept the consequences, and they have faith–in themselves, their friends, even in God–that everything will work out.  They keep fighting for some small bit of good, in whatever way they can.

But now I’m making this book sound all serious–pay no attention, because it will actually have you laughing out loud all the way through.  It is just an enjoyable read from start to finish.

Skin Game, as you may already know, is basically a heist story.  Harry is on loan from Mab to Nicodemus, who’s collecting a crew to steal a powerful artifact from the Nevernever vault of Hades (yes, that Hades).  I loved getting a wider view of the supernatural criminal underworld–“grey” characters are my favorite, and there’s many to be had here, both new and familiar faces.

The plot does get a little convoluted, keeping track of who’s backstabbing whom, but that’s also half the fun.  There are also two instances where Butcher misleads readers by withholding information, a tactic he has used before regarding Harry’s “death” and his deal with Mab.  I did not think these two uses were as effective as that previous one, but they did keep the story interesting and moving.

Oh, and those Star Wars references I mentioned before?  Be prepared for a whole new level of awesomeness on that front.

I can’t think of another series that carries a story for fifteen books and is still going so strong that I can’t wait for the next one.  I don’t know if Jim Butcher had a plan when he started, but at this point he absolutely knows what he’s doing.  Even people who hated the direction taken with Changes may appreciate this installment, as we get Harry back in Chicago, using his regular staff-magic, facing a familiar villain, with a couple familiar sidekicks in tow (particularly Murphy, who will always be my favorite).

Tl;dr The greatness continues–5/5 stars

If anyone wants to talk spoiler-y stuff, leave a comment and I will happily geek out with you down there.