Posts Tagged ‘Books’

Wow, that’s quite a delayed post innit. Almost half of 2016 gone and this post comes up now. Well, between travel, a couple of personal changes and time to settle in, and of course, the reading for 2016 and also laziness (never forget that), the last few months have pretty much been a blur, leaving hardly any time to write.

 

There is this phrase being used called Peak TV. Basically there is so much television to watch across so many channels (the medium), that its insanely impossible to catch up with all the great television being produced. In a way that is true for genre fiction as well. There are just so many, so many books out there, no matter how much you read, you can barely put a dent in your TBR (To-Be-Read) Mountain. My personal tally was 90 books for 2015, no mean tally (in all modesty :P) and yet, there are books left by the roadside that possibly I will get to someday. On a side note, my TBR shelf has gotten so unmanageable, that I have had to create a subfolder called Priority Backlist to prioritize within TBR itself. The other side effect of having so many releases to catch up per week has forced me to be organized for the first time in my life. I started creating yearly lists to read and also to capture what has been read (My 2016 TBR Shelf, 2016 Read Shelf). As I have mentioned in my posts in previous years (here and here), my reading habits have become extremely contemporary, with almost 90% of what I read being something that is released in the current year. Only in cases where a later book in a series I do want to catch up comes out, do I go back in time to read.

 

Physical books seem to be making a comeback according to quite a few reports. If that happens, that’s quite the reversal when the death of physical books was shouted from everywhere once ebooks starts gaining prominence and relevance. It may be a temporary fightback since the future is pretty much going to be digital. From my side, I barely read 3 physical books. Else, it has all been ebooks. As I never get tired of saying, the sheer convenience of able to read a book anywhere using a device that is with you the most (the phone) and the ability to seamlessly sync across devices, makes ebooks a winner.

 

2015 saw an amazing number of fantastic releases on paper and to a great extent, they lived up to it. What I have below is my curated, supremely subjective, extremely unscientific list of the best 2015 had to offer. While I do have the books in no particular order below, some books in this list will remain very close to my heart and for various reasons that I will detail below.

 

1. Red Rising/ Golden Son – Pierce Brown : Read this: If you love fast-paced operatic tales of revenge , class struggle and brutal twists

Golden Son

Easily, the best read of the year. My review description for the book read as follows, “If Lord of the Flies, Ender’s Game and the Hunger Games had a ménage a trios (with a helping hand from The Count of Monte Cristo) and produced an offspring, that would be this book” and I see no reason to change the description. Both books are brutal. Fundamentally trying to engineer a revolution, the class struggle led by the hidden agent, the chief protagonist Darrow, is a brutal read. Pierce Brown crafts an absolutely fascinating world and an eternal timeless struggle. With an absolutely unputdownable pace, compelling storytelling and bloody brutal violent twists, The Red Rising series is well on its way to be rated as an absolutely brilliant modern great

 

 

2. The Liar’s Key (The Red Queen’s War #2) – Mark Lawrence – Read this: If you love complex characters who you love to hate but can’t. Also, for black humor-based one-liners

Liar's Key

 

Mark Lawrence has yet to write a bad book and it’s amazing how he manages to craft a compelling lead out of the dregs that humanity has to offer and humanizes then. Jorg was an easy character to hate and yet root for. But Jalan (the lead character here) is different. He is a coward, a womanizer, selfish, capricious, a lush and yet Lawrence adds layer on layer to him, making what on paper seems an uni-dimensional character, greater. That is not to say Jalan becomes a hero, fair from it but there is something underneath that is shaped by circumstances past and present. Humor is never far away but the undertone is always gallow.

 

 

3. Fool’s Quest (The Fitz and The Fool #2) – Robin Hobb – Read this: If you love reading highly emotional, beautiful writing and deeply flawed, human and complex characters

 

Fools Quest

This book is truly wonderfully special as it has THAT Fitz moment we have waited, 8 books and (since I read the Farseer trilogy in 2005) 10 years for. But with that moment comes the dread, as you know any moment of high for Fitz pretty much leads to a debilitating low and that’s pretty much what happens. Robin Hobb remains one of those authors who will use 10 words when 1 would suffice and that hardly matters. You could have her write down a shopping list and I would read it. Exquisitely beautiful.

 

 

4. Escape from Baghdad – Saad Hossain – Read this: If you love Catch-22 and Three Kings, and want a slightly more accessible, relatable book detailing a war from our times

 

Escape from Baghdad

The best stand-alone book of the year, Escape from Baghdad is a fantastic book that almost brings to the life the absurdity, the hidden political allegory and anger of the movie, 3 Kings and Brian K Vaughan’s The Pride of Baghdad. You don’t need to be a genre fiction fan to pick this up. The book combines black gallows humor with a dose of slapstick and buffoonery associated with the inept, bumbling characters and war profiteering and chicanery in the simmering cauldron of Baghdad. The city’s history and mythology serves as a fantastic supporting character in this fabulous madcap tale

 

 

5. Nice Dragons Finish Last/ One Good Dragon Deserves Another (Heartstrikers series) – Rachel Aaron – Read this: If you love dragons, fast paced stories and underdogs. Also, if you love dysfunctional families

 

Rachel Aaron crafts a fantastic and fascinating world where dragons exist and can take human form. In this world, she introduces Julius Heartstriker, the youngest of the clan, a lazy, cowardly dragon locked in human form by the Heartstriker matriarch as a punishment for being totally useless. What follows is a breathtaking journey of politics and betrayal amidst intricate world building. With a no-hold-barred plotting, selfish and mad matriarchs, madder seers, there is hardly a dull moment in this action packed, humorous tale

 

 

6. The Providence of Fire (Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne #2) – Brian Staveley – Read this: If you love dysfunctional families and old-fashioned epic fantasy

 

Providence of Fire

Who doesn’t love dysfunctional siblings trying to kill, for a throne, manipulated by outside interests? Staveley’s debut novel was pretty much old wine in a new bottle. What Staveley does right is to address the justified criticism of the 1st book where the female lead got the short shrift. Here, Adare gets an equal role to her brothers as she learns what it means to be a politician and a ruler. The overarching stakes are revealed even as the invisible puppet masters reveal themselves slowly.  Staveley has got an easy pace and style of writing. This is truly epic fantasy done right and in the new age style

 

 

7. The Aeronaut’s Windlass – Jim Butcher – Read this: If you love air battles, new magic systems, non-stop action and cats!!!

 

Aeronauts Windlass

Butcher writes for the fans in all of us and he doesn’t disappoint with his new series. Set in a steampunk setting in a world built on spires, the non-stop thrill a minute entertainer hits the ground running (bad pun given we have air ships here). He introduces a motley bunch, juggles the POVs well and even has time to indulge in cat dramatics. As always, packed with humor and thrills, this looks like another winner and a series to stay

 

 

8. The Autumn Republic (Powder Mage #3) – Brian McClellan – Read this: If you love Brandon Sanderson style of storytelling and bitter-sweet endings

 

Autumn Republic

An epic conclusion to the Powder Mage trilogy, the final book does not disappoint. The pace is as frenetic as ever but not at the expense of character development. The body count is high, the action is exhilarating and exhausting and the end is typically epic and satisfying. Gut wrenching and moving, even if you see the end coming from when the 1st book started. A tale that encompasses gods, mortals and privileged, the battle scenes are top notch and the politicking is clever.

 

 

9. The Prophecy Con/ The Paladin Caper (Rogues of the Republic series) – Patrick Weekes – Read this: If you love Ocean’s 11, Lies of Locke Lamora, large and non-homogenous cast, witty asides and sarcastic retorts

 

Clever, wonderful, cute and entertaining, this is one of those books that you pick up and read when you are alone. Because if you read it in a public space, you cannot stop laughing out loud and thereby earning quite a few concerned glances directed towards you. The cast is really juggled immensely well and everyone gets a chance to shine. The pacing is breathtaking (literally as well) and the series ends quite neatly as well

 

 

10. Knight’s Shadow (Greatcoats #2) – Sebastian de Castell – Read this: If you love 3 Musketeers, swashbuckling swordplay, first person narrative and humor

 

Knights Shadow

Knight’s Shadow forced me to think up a new genre – the grindark. There is just enough humor packed in the narrative to hide the darkness that permeates through the book. Continuing in vein of book 1, our intrepid band of Greatcoats try to fulfill their dead king’s wishes even as the country rebel against them and pretty much tries to go up in flames. The action sequences are details and fantastic. The swordplay sequences are quite intimate and in your face and fast. The character dynamics are supremely awesome and each character has such a unique voice. The betrayals are hard and deadly and make this an entirely compelling read

 

 

Almost in top 10 (in no particular order)

 

  1. Gemini Cell – Myke Cole :Read this: if you like military fantasy, unique magic systems and conspiracies

Gemini Cell

 

  1. The Rebirths of Tao (Tao #3) – Wesley Chu:Read this: if you are a desk-bound internet warrior who dreams of saving the world and if you like voices in your head

Rebirths of Tao

 

  1. Generation V/ Iron Night/ Tainted Blood/ Dark Ascension (Generation V) – ML Brennan:Read this: if you like non-Twilighty Vampires, The Godfather and dysfunctional families

 

  1. Dark Run – Mike Brooks :Read this: if you like Firefly, space operas and awesome fun team dynamics

Dark Run

 

  1. Wake of Vultures (The Shadow #1) – Lila Bowen:Read this: if you like the wild, wild and weird westerns and kick-ass non-conformist female leads

Wake of Vultures

My Goodreads shelf for 2015

 

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Its been over 3 years since I have come to Hyderabad & it quite tells a story, that in these 3 years, my worldly acquisitions have been: TV, Fridge, Washing Machine & Books. Just earning a salary meant that I had the license to actually go the whole way & buy loads & loads of books. Some of them absolute classics, some which I am sure, I would not even take a look at again, Impulse buys, Carefully planned purchases, special books, cherished books, leave-your-brain while reading book; Thriller, Action, Mystery, Non-fiction, History, Politics, Comics, Fantasy Fiction, Cricket books; All these & more.

Its always been one of my greatest desires to have a really awesome bookshelf, overflowing with books of all kind. The one which is spacious but is still sagging under the weight of the books it has to bear. So when I shifted to my new place in Hyd almost 1.5 years ago, one of the things that I really loved about the place was the wood worked showcase. It seemed to be calling out to me to be filled up with books. A challenge I took on gamely. Time passed & books filled it up. And after spending the best part of today morning & afternoon cleaning, ordering & sorting it out, here is the end result. Enjoy 🙂



Fantasy Fiction with a smattering of Sci-Fi


Indian Authors with 1 Pakistani & 1 SL author plus overflow from below shelf


Assorted


My pride & joy - Comics


Serious Stuff


Author-wise collection

Book Tag

Posted: October 12, 2010 in Books, Tag
Tags: ,

Tags are normally not my thing. I do end up avoiding most of it except when I am really need some blog material :). But then, books have always been my companion, through happy and dark times and I can always find time for a book tag. Without much ado, here it is

Warning: Long Post 🙂

1.Favorite childhood book? Treasure Hunters by Enid Blyton. So, I had basically been gifted this book by my cousin when we had to shift from Bombay to Madras, back in 1993. This book was the life saver and sole companion for a long time in Madras
2.What are you reading right now? Gardens of the Moon (Malazan Book of the Fallen -1) – Steven Erikson, Re-reading A Storm of Swords (A Song of Ice & Fire – Book 3) – George RR Martin, Legend – David Gemmell
3.Bad book habit? – Damaging the spine of the book by opening it and leaving it down upside down
4.Do you have an e-reader? – Nopes, use MS reader on laptop to read ebooks. Though thinking of buying a Kindle
5.Do you prefer to read one book at a time or several at once? I used to be a one book at a time person but nowadays its multiple at a time
6.Have your reading habits changed since starting a blog? I have become a far more discerning reader :)…. Nah, no change.
7.Least favorite book you read this year (so far)? Templar Cross. A total WTF book, with inspirations (and storylines) drawn from (the very worst of) Dan Brown, Jack Higgins & Alistair McLean, with an uninspiring lead character and clunky dialog. Total waste of 3 hours.
8.Favorite book you’ve read this year? (i) The Lies of Locke Lamora. Quite a brilliant storyline with a Venice like setting, a charismatic rogue as the lead, a strong supporting cast, Bluffs & counterbluffs, treachery & deceit, Blood, gore & violence, and a perfect introduction to the world of Locke Lamora. Scott Lynch, total respect. (ii) The First Law Trilogy (Joe Abercrombie). What starts off as a fairly run of the mill series evolves into a complex study of human nature. Hardened cynical fighter, Jaded cynical manipulator, Self centered obnoxious swordsman, Tortured Inquisitor, Blood thirsty, feral & wild barbarian yearning for revenge are characters that are thrown in a simmering cauldron of war, destruction, torture, pillage and savage revenge. Brilliant, cynical and cold hearted, the first law trilogy is quite amazing. The real success of Joe Abercrombie is that you love and loathe all characters equally and Superior Glokta has to be one of the most intriguing characters of the lot. The first book does tend to meander a bit but its worth reading
9.How often do you read out of your comfort zone? Authors yes. I basically do pick up random authors and have actually liked most of them BUT not in genres. I do not experiment much with genres.
10.What is your reading comfort zone? Fantasy Fiction, Action, Thrillers, Murder mysteries, Historical fiction/non-fiction, Political thrillers
11.Can you read on the bus? Hell ya, just give me a place that has enough reading light and some place. I will read
12.Favorite place to read? Sprawled on a comfortable bed with 2 extra lumpy soft pillows
13.What is your policy on book lending? Only to people whom I trust to return it back
14.Do you ever dog-ear books? Nopes
15.Do you ever write in the margins of your books? Sacrilege!!!!
16.Not even with text books? On text books, obviously. It would be filled with scrawls, random notes, etc
17.What is your favorite language to read in? English. Cant read competently enough in any other language
18.What makes you love a book? It was simpler earlier, fast paced story, conspiracies, quick pay-offs, loads of action; Nowadays, it’s the above along with stories that have great characterizations, morally gray and deeply flawed characters, and reward for long term readers
19.What will inspire you to recommend a book? Basically, if its unputdownable, I would recommend it to most. Mostly, recommendations are very person specific.
20.Favorite genre? Fantasy Fiction & Historical fiction
21.Genre you rarely read (but wish you did?) – Sci-fi
22.Favorite biography? Don’t read too many. I read one on Imran Khan, years ago. Loved it totally.
23.Have you ever read a self-help book? Never. Too many people to speak to, if I need help
24.Most inspirational book you’ve read this year (fiction or non-fiction)? I re-read Blue Horizon by Wilbur Smith. Inspirational in the sense, you just wanted to pack your bags and leave to explore Africa
25.Favorite reading snack? Potato Chips
26.Name a case in which hype ruined your reading experience – The Dark Tower series (Stephen King). I just was not comfortable at all with the book at all. Its not just this book. I have not been comfortable with any Stephen King at all.
27.How often do you agree with critics about a book? Hardly read critics review for books. I prefer my fellow Shelfari junta’s recommendations
28.How do you feel about giving bad/negative reviews? I am generally a very generous reviewer. I don’t really rate books very bad. At the same time, if I find a book bad, it must be really bad 
29.If you could read in a foreign language, which language would you chose? Not a foreign language, but I would certainly like to read in Tamil. My reading speed in Tamil is so slow that Inzy’s walk back to the pavilion when given out by the umpire, seems like an Usain Bolt 100m dash
30.Most intimidating book you’ve ever read? Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand). I have never struggled through a book as much as I did with that and after that decided, no more intimidating books (and certainly no more Ayn Rand)
31.Most intimidating book you’re too nervous to begin? Cloud Atlas (David Mitchell) – started once and gave up in 10 pages. Foucalt’s Pendulum (Umberto Eco) – again heard loads of good stuff about it but have tried twice and given up within 50 pages.
32.Favorite Poet? WB Yeats
33.Favorite fictional character? Really too many, Aragorn, Batman & Wolverine are, of course, on top of the list. Currently, it is Jimmy the Hand (Riftwar Saga, Raymond Feist) ,Locke Lamora (Gentlemen Bastards sequence, Scott Lynch), Captain Shane Schofield (Scarecrow, Matthew Reilly)
34.Favorite fictional villain? The Jackal (Day of the Jackal, Frederick Forsythe), The Joker, The Governor (The Walking Dead, Robert Kirkman)
35.Books I’m most likely to bring on vacation? Thrillers
36.The longest I’ve gone without reading. – Cant actually remember a time frame where I have gone without reading. Probably must be during the dark days of the 12th standard board exam types
37.Name a book that you could/would not finish.- Loads of them. Refer to 31 for a couple. Most of Rushdie’s works
38.What distracts you easily when you’re reading? Nothing. In fact, I am lost to the world when I read books. But then these days, you kind of multitask most of the times. I just don’t only read. There is something running on the TV or during dinner
39.Favorite film adaptation of a novel? Lord of the Rings, Jurassic Park
40.Most disappointing film adaptation? Without doubt, The Lost World. I mean the book was probably one of the best Crichton’s written (even better than Jurassic Park) and the movie was a total damp squib (despite Julianne Moore in it). The only thing retained was the fact that there was another island with dinosaurs. Apart from that, the book and movie diverged wildly away from each other. Ironical really, that the first movie was the best adaptation and the second movie was the worst.
41.The most money I’ve ever spent in the bookstore at one time? Somewhere around 2k. Hush, don’t tell mom now:)
42.How often do you skim a book before reading it? Not really, I pretty much buy it or I have made up my mind on what I am looking for even before entering the book shop
43.What would cause you to stop reading a book half-way through? If the story drags or is slow.
44.Do you like to keep your books organized? The only thing that I actually keep well organized. My bookshelf is grouped author-wise and then is further split into fiction, non-fiction and comics.
45.Do you prefer to keep books or give them away once you’ve read them? Never. Even if the book is crappy, I prefer to keep it. I have a habit of re-reading even crappy books 
46.Are there any books you’ve been avoiding? Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time. A fantasy mega series. I read the first book of the series and was not too impressed. But then I have heard so much good things from fellow fantasy fiction aficionados that I feel I should give it a second chance but kind of been avoiding it. World War Z by Max Brooks. Again fantastic reviews, amazing critical acclaim but while I am reading Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead, I really do not want to read any other post apocalyptic zombie fare
47.Name a book that made you angry – The Quest (Wilbur Smith) & The Fan Club (Irving Wallace) – Both of them heavily exploitative and pornographic. Not the kind of thing you expect from authors like those.
48.A book you didn’t expect to like but did? I wouldn’t say didn’t expect to like but a book I went with absolutely zero expectation but oh so totally loved it was the Reluctant Swordsman by Dave Duncan. One of the quirkiest books I have ever read. Starts of fairly arbitly but there is an overall sense of purpose and direction towards where the story is proceeding. Book 2, The Coming of Wisdom further drives the story towards the destiny of the lead character including the reason to why he is the chosen one. The 3rd book, The Destiny of the Sword is a fine conclusion though it offers a minor cop-out in the end.
49.A book that you expected to like but didn’t? Harry Potter & The Order of the Phoenix. After the massively phenomenal Prisoner of Azkaban & Goblet of Fire, it was a massive let down. Stephen King’s Dark Tower series; After hearing so much good stuff about it, it was a total “Bang head on keyboard” experience. Massive Fail. Most Robin Cook novels. They have really well thought out plots, thrills, spills, action but the worst ending possible in all cases.
50.Favorite guilt-free, pleasure reading? Alistair McLean, Agatha Christie, David Gemmel’s Waylander (all 3 books), C&H (anyplace, anytime), Jack Higgins & Vince Flynn