Middle grade fantasy is supposedly one of my favourite genres, yet it’s one I don’t seem to get around to reading very often! That genre’s the theme of this list, though I’ve decided to add the term ‘speculative fiction’ here so I include a few books that aren’t quite traditional fantasy. (Last summer I wrote a blog on my understanding of the term spec fic.) Links to GoodReads, followed by a brief note on what about the book appeals to me.
I have historically been slow to read ‘new’ releases. I find there can anywhere from one to three years between me adding a yet-to-be-published book to my TBR, and actually getting around to reading it. One of my general priorities this year is to read more front list titles. 2016 gave us a lot of great releases that I have heard so much about, but still haven’t read. Here are 10 2016 releases I want to catch up on this year (links to Goodreads).
The prompt for this week’s Top Ten Tuesday is “books I’m looking forward to in the first half of 2017.” I don’t go searching for books that haven’t yet been released. My TBR is long enough as it! A book usually makes it onto my list if it’s received positive buzz from a blogger whose tastes match mine, or if it’s an upcoming release from a favourite author. Turns out I have seven books from 2017 on my TBR. Coincidentally, they’ll all be released in the first half of the year. 🙂
Minds of Winter by Ed O’Loughlin (Feb. 4) – Historical fiction surrounding the emergence today of artifacts from Sir John Franklin’s 1845 voyage (the one where everyone died and the ship was lost until a couple years ago).
The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee (Jun. 20) – I love these kind of covers… Best to just copy the description for this one: “An unforgettable tale of two friends on their Grand Tour of 18th-century Europe who stumble upon a magical artifact that leads them from Paris to Venice in a dangerous manhunt, fighting pirates, highwaymen, and their feelings for each other along the way.” I’m not really a romance person but this sounds like fun.
Are any of these books on your TBR? What 2017 releases are you looking forward to?
Books I’d Buy Right This Second If Someone Handed Me a Fully Loaded Gift Card
I amended today’s topic because I thought it was wee bit long for a post title 😛 My list today focuses on books related to Tolkien and his works. I don’t usually purchase books without reading them first, which means this list would probably be full of books I’ve already read…that’s no fun! However, that rule doesn’t apply to books from my Tolkien shelf. I usually buy a book from that shelf when I run into some extra cash for books.
A Secret Viceby J.R.R. Tolkien, edited by Dimitra Fimi and Andrew Higgins – Currently reading a copy borrowed from the library. A must have for my own library.
The Hobbit First Edition Facsimile by J.R.R. Tolkien – Including just this one preorder. I only heard of it yesterday and I must have it for my little collection! I often wondered if this would ever be published.
Aragorn: The Undervalued Heroby Angela P. Nichols – I’d like to read this book but it’s not in any of the libraries I have access to. I haven’t seen much commentary about it so I’m not sure how good it actually is. But, Aragorn is a fascinating character and I’d love to read an in-depth exploration of a Tolkien character.
The Power of Tolkien’s Proseby Steven Walker – This one has been languishing on my wishlist for ages because it’s $120. I did a quick Google search to see if the price has gone down and I found the ebook for $25. Much better!
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Chronicles IV: Cloaks and Daggersby Daniel Falconer – I have all the other Hobbit movie chronicles. Somehow I haven’t been able to get a hold of this one. Although there are things I dislike about the trilogy, I appreciate the creative work that went into everything. I love the seeing the designs develop and reading commentary from people who worked on the films.
Tolkien: The Forest and the Cityedited by Helen Conrad-O’Brian and Gerard Hynes – This collection tackles a unique topic that I’m not quite sure how to summarize here. Here’s the description:
Despite the popular and scholarly association of J.R.R. Tolkien with the natural world and literary world-building, Middle-earth as a landscape and a built environment has been relatively neglected as the background, the foreground, and the actor in his texts. This study presents new work by some of the finest scholars in Tolkien studies, as well as research from a number of emerging scholars, addressing this lacuna. The permeable interface between nature and culture, creation and sub-creation, within Tolkien’s world is of absolute importance to our understanding of Tolkien’s larger point in writing. From deforestation to the shape of a window, from Sam’s cooking gear to the origins of the party tree, this book surveys a world written to distill and intensify the realities of our own.
The First World Warby John Keegan – Bonus book from my Tolkien-secondary shelf. These are books that aren’t directly connected to Tolkien, but may provide useful context for his writing. I’m interested in learning about WWI to better understand its affect on Tolkien and influence on his writing.
What books would you buy this instant if money wasn’t a question?
Today’s topic stood out as a fun one for me – a chance to spotlight some under recognized books! Out of books I’ve rated three stars or higher, 20 have under 10 ratings and a further 38 have under 100 ratings. For this list, though, I chose not to really include non-fiction or picture books because I have so many obscure ones that I tend to rate highly because they’re great reads for a particular niche, not because I think they’re wonderful books in general. From most to least ratings:
In the Forest of Forgetting by Theodora Goss(615 ratings) – A magical, mysterious short story collection. I don’t remember much about it now, but I remember enjoying the prose and creativity of the stories.
Why I Hate Canadiansby Will Ferguson (607 rating) – This book, read in a high school history class, introduced me to Ferguson. A bit dated, but I think it’s still the book to read if you want to know about being Canadian.
The Swallowby Charis Cotter (449 ratings) – I especially enjoyed this middle grade ghost story because of the friendship, spookiness, and twist I didn’t see coming.
Throwaway Daughterby Ye Ting-Xing (320 ratings) – My grade seven teacher read this book to us, and I ended up writing a paper on it my third year university class on gender in Chinese literature! A good story about the one-child policy in China and how people reacted differently to it.
The Lost Flower Children by Janet Taylor Lisle (122 ratings) – For years, I often borrowed this book from the library, until the thought struck me one day that I should really just purchase it because I adored it so much. It doesn’t seem like the sort of fairy story I would usually enjoy, but somehow this one has stuck with me (much better than Afternoon of the Elves). I love the illustrations as well.
Half a Creature from the Seaby David Almond (111 ratings) – A genre-defying collection of short stories for young adults, or perhaps middle graders. This book is hard to classify but if the description appeals to you, I highly recommend it.
The Evolution of Aliceby David A. Robertson (55 ratings) – The first book I read this year. A great addition to the canon of Canadian Indigenous literature, set in my hometown.
The Dodecahedronby Paul Glennon (41 ratings) – I remember having vaguely heard of this book, then reading it because I found it at a used bookstore where I had credit. I enjoyed the concept and many of the stories.
The 1918 Shikoku Pilgrimage of Takamure Itsue translated by Susan Tennant (8 ratings) – This might sound like a super niche-y book but I promise it’s an amazing journal of a fascinating young woman undertaking a pilgrimage in Japan. Takamure writes in a crisp and modern voice that is at turns hilarious and melodramatic, yet moving and poignant.
What are some books you think deserve more ratings on Goodreads?