So this week, the Top Ten Tuesday is looking forward. Which books are the most anticipated books for 2013? I remember doing such a list in January 2012 – and I don’t think that I knew that both Salman Rushdie, J.K. Rowling and many many more great authors would publish books this year. So there’s no guarantees that these ten are my most anticipated books for 2013 – but they are the most anticipated that I know of! As always, the Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish and here is my list for this week.
Neil Gaiman: The Ocean at the End of the Lane. I’m falling in love with Neil Gaiman. I have liked the The Sandman and Death graphic novels for years. I liked The Graveyard Book a lot. And I just loved Neverwhere. So I’m so looking forward to not only reading American Gods and the other books I have yet to get around to but also this new one, coming out in June.
Stephen King: Dr.Sleep. This is the sequel to The Shining. Set about 20 years later, the protagonist of this book is the son from The Shining, Danny Torrance. Well, need I say more? It’s Stephen King for crying out loud. Definitely very anticipated!
Donna Tartt. Yeah. This was on my list of most anticipated books of 2012 as well. I haven’t been able to find a title or a publication date so I don’t know if there’s any chance it will be coming out in 2013 but I’m keeping my fingers crossed since her first two books – The Secret History and The Little Friend – were both so good.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: Americanah. I absolutely loved Half of a Yellow Sun. It was such an amazing novel and I learned so much about the history of the Nigeria-Biafra war 1967-70 by reading it, a war that I didn’t even know existed before reading this book. I’ve been waiting for a new novel from her and it’s finally here!
Khaled Hosseini: And the Mountains Echoed. I loved The Kite Runner! Again, such a great novel. I haven’t read A Thousand Splendid Suns yet but I have been told that it’s just as good. And now, finally, a new book from Hosseini, 10 years after The Kite Runner and 5 years after A Thousand Splendid Suns. I’m looking forward to this one too!
Joyce Carol Oates: The Accursed. Of course there’s a new book out from Joyce Carol Oates. Nothing surprising there. And of course I’m anticipating it. Nothing surprising there either!
Philip Pullman: The Book of Dust. A companion novel to the His Dark Materials trilogy. Count me in! I’m definitely looking forward to this one. Maybe I can squeeze in a reread of His Dark Materials before this one comes out? And maybe read Lyra’s Oxford too…
Brandon Sanderson & Robert Jordan: A Memory of Light (Wheel of Time #14). Finally. The last book in the Wheel of Time series. Will it come out? Will this series finally be finished? It has been dragging out for so long that I have to see it before I believe it and even though I have only made it through the first 4 novels in the series, this is one of my most anticipated novels, simply because I don’t believe it will actually be published but that the Wheel of Time curse will stop it instead…
Diana Gabaldon: Written in my own heart’s blood (Outlander # 8). I’m slowly getting into this series. I have really liked both Outlander and Dragonfly in Amberso even though I’m so behind on reading this series and therefore can’t pay too much attention to the publication of new books in the series, I’m still anticipating this one.
Adrian Tchaikovsky: War Master’s Gate (Shadows of the Apt #9). I’ve read the first 4 of this series and I’m so fascinated by the world, Tchaikovsky has created. I own 6 of these and I hope to get some time to read more of this series next year.
I couldn’t find anything about any Terry Pratchett books coming out in 2013 but I’m keeping my fingers crossed.
And I cheated and here’s a list of some other books I’m also interested in but not quite as much as those mentioned above:
Patrick Rothfuss: The Doors of Stone (Kingkiller Chronicles #3)
Marisha Pessl: Night Film
Charlaine Harris: Dead Ever After (Sookie Stackhouse #13)
Gail Carriger: Prudence (The Parasol Protectorate Abroad)
Jim C. Hines: Codex Born (Magic Ex Libris #2)
Paolo Bacigalupi: Water Knife
Freda Warrington: Grail of the Summer Stars (Aetherial Tales #3)
So yeah, I like series. I mostly read fantasy series and I love diving into a completely different world and explore it through multiple books. It all began with the DragonLance shared world series. I fell in love with both the world and fantasy while reading Tracy Hickman and Margaret Weiss’ books.
As usual, the Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. And did I mention this is the fifth week in a row I’m participating in Top Ten Tuesday. And there are a lot of us, check out The Broke and the Bookish blog to see the links to the other participant’s blogs.
So most of these series are fantasy series – but there are other series I enjoy as well. Here’s my top 10 – with a bonus at the end.
Adrian Tchaikovsky: Shadows of the Apt. A wonderful refreshing fantasy series set in a world with insect kinden. The praying mantis are assassins, the beetles are hardworking people, the mosquitos are vampires etc. It’s the usual story – band of unlikely heroes goes against the big bad. But the insect kinden makes all the difference and makes it interesting. I’ve read the first four in this series of ten and enjoyed them all.
Robert Jordan: Wheel of Time. Sighs. Every fantasy reader knows this series. And I think everyone agrees that it’s way longer than it had to be. I’ve read the first four and they are not great. They are okay but I have my issues with them – especially because Jordan repeats himself. Every time a character appears, he looks at his character description and says ‘oh yes, the girl with the braids’ or whatever and then he writes that. Every single time. I can’t really say why I keep reading them but I do. I plan on finishing the series – as far as I can tell the last books in the series, the ones not written by Jordan, actually get better…
Diana Gabaldon: Outlander. A woman accidentally stumbles upon an opening to the past in Scotland, goes back and has great adventures and falls in love. I’ve read the first two and really need to get more of these. I sort of tend to forget how great this series is but it is actually really good and I enjoy reading them.
Carlos Ruiz Zafón: The Cemetery of Forgotten Books. Just the name of this series is amazing. I’ve read the first of the trilogy and it was a very very good book. I want to read it again and then read the rest of the trilogy in succession. Luckily, I own all three.
Lev Grossman: The Magicians. Harry Potter, Narnia… This is kind of a mix-up between the two. I liked the first and I’m looking forward to the rest of the series. I have the second one, the third has not yet been published.
Anne Rice: The Vampire Chronicles. So everyone knows Lestat and Interview with the Vampire. And that’s what I know too. I’ve read that one and seen the movie. And then I didn’t get any further. I have The Vampire Lestat and I also have Pandora and Vittorio, the Vampire of the New Tales of the Vampires series. I enjoyed Interview with the Vampire and I want to read further into the series and see what I think.
Jean M. Auel: Earth’s Children. I loved these books. The first one, The Clan of the Cavebear, was so good. And the next two installments in the series were really great too. But the fourth one … The Plains of Passage was just so bad. It just went on and on and on – walking across the plains, detailing the plants, various tribes, sex scenes … But it was clearly just meant to get Ayla and Jondalar from A to B – and it was boring. Still, both Jean M. Auel and I took a break after that and I have the two last books in the series waiting on my shelves and I plan to read them later this year, actually. Hopefully, they will be as good as the first three books!
Gail Carriger: The Parasol Protectorate. I really like this series. It’s steampunk, it’s vampires and werewolves and it’s a a fun, light and very enjoyable read. I only need to read the last one in the series, Timeless. Luckily, Gail Carriger has more books coming out, also set in this world.
Jasper Fforde: Thursday Next. I read the first of these, The Eyre Affair, and I loved it. It was an amazing romp through Jane Eyre and it was so, so good. However, one of the things that made it so good was that I had already read Jane Eyre. So I decided that I wouldn’t read more of this series before I had read more of the classics, Fforde uses in his plots. And that’s what I’m sort of working on. I do look forward to reading the rest of this series!
Various authors: DragonLance. This is series of books based in a shared world. This means that a lot of different authors write these novels and editors are then making sure that chronology and everything else is correct. Or at least supposed to. This shared world concept unfortunately means that not all these novels are of the same quality. I don’t think I’m ever going to read the entire series but I am going to go back and read the main novels and my other favorites from the series again.
And as a bonus, some series I haven’t started but which I’m definitely going to read.
Patrick Rothfuss: The Kingkiller Chronicle. I own the two of these which has been published so far and I expect so much from them. And they look gorgeous!
George R.R. Martin: A Song of Ice and Fire. I’ve seen a few of the tv series episodes and I think that at the right moment, I will just love these. I don’t own any of them yet but I will!
Robin Hobb: The Farseer Trilogy. My best friend Henrik told me years ago that he thought I would love this if I could stomach it. I think these will be so good – if I don’t ruin them by tears…!
Deborah Harkness: All Souls Trilogy. I own the first of these and I think it’s going to be a really great read although I have read both good and bad reviews of it.
Edited December 30th – because I find out something HUUUUUGE. John Irving is publishing a new novel already! YAY! So that’s definitely something to look forward in 2012! And – the next one is coming in 2015 so we don’t have to wait too long for the next one either!!! The new novel is called ‘In One Person’. It’s about a 60-year-old man and is written in first person – Irving’s first novel in first person since Owen Meany. I can’t wait… Bu tI have to wait till June 2012…
This also means that my list now contains 12 books I’m looking forward to in 2012 – very fitting!!
So I’ve been doing a bit of research and I’ve realized that there’s a lot of really interesting books scheduled for publishing in 2012. I’ve compiled a list here of some of these – the ones, I’m most interested in reading.
Donna Tartt. I don’t know the title of this book yet but I’m so excited. Donna Tartt has so far written two books, I’ve read and loved one of these. I plan on reading her first novel next year and hopefully also the new one. The Little Friend, her second novel, was really a great book so I have high hopes for both these reads.
Joyce Carol Oates: Mudwoman. I love Joyce Carol Oates. She’s an amazing writer and I hope to make it through all her novels one day – a pretty hard task since she has written so many and keeps writing at least one a year. This one has been compared to Rebecca by Daphne de Maurier so how can it be anything but great?
Stephen King: The Wind Through the Keyhole. King is one of my favorite authors – he’s a master story teller. This book is an installment in his Dark Tower series, a series that I unfortunately haven’t started yet but I’m looking forward to it. I hope to start reading Dark Tower next year – just as soon as I’ve finished 11.22.63 …
Hilary Mantel: Bring up the Bodies. I’ve read Mantel’s Booker Prize winning novel Wolf Hall and liked it. I felt like my knowledge of English history was seriously lacking and that got a bit in the way of my enjoyment. Mantel is an excellent author, the writing is superb – but just as with The Satanic Verses and War and Peace, it helps if you know something about the subject before reading the novel.
China Mieville: Railsea. Mieville is one of those authors who has the potential to be one of my favorite authors. I’ve only read UnLundun which I really liked, but it’s a ya novel so it’s not necessarily a good one to compare the rest of his work to. So next year, I plan on reading at least one other Mieville novel (The City and The City) and maybe this one as well. Or Kraken. I’ve been meaning to read that one for a while.
Terry Pratchett: The Long Earth. This is a sci-fi series from Pratchett that he had written a lot of before Discworld took off – and because of that, The Long Earth was abandoned. So this is something completely different. I’m definitely looking forward to this!
Michael Chabon: Telegraph Avenue. Chabon is another author who has the potential to become a favorite (btw – a third author who has this potential is Jonathan Franzen!). Anyway, I’ve read a couple of novels by Chabon (Wonder Boys and The Final Solution) and I’ve liked them but they haven’t lived completely up to my expectations. Still, I definitely want to read more by Chabon so this one made the list as well.
Anne Rice: The Wolf Gift. It’s Anne Rice. It’s werewolves. What’s not to like??? Actually, I’m not that big a fan of werewolves and I haven’t read that much by Rice but still – it has potential!
Freda Warrington: Grail of the Summer Stars. This is the third novel in the Aetherial Tales series. I’ve read the first and loved it. It was new and refreshing so of course this one made it on the list.
Carlos Ruis Zafon: The Prisoner of Heaven. I’ve read The Shadow of the Wind and it was amazing. This is the third in that series so really looking forward to moving on to the second and third installment in the Cemetery of Forgotten Books series.
Adrian Tchaikovsky: The Air War. This is the 8th installment in the Shadows of the Apt series. I’ve made it through the fourth first novels and they are really interesting and fascinating so until I finish this entire series, I’m looking forward to each new novel.
Hm – I think this list really shows that I need to get a lot of reading done in 2012. There’s a lot of books and series that I want to read and books I look forward to but where I need to read some other books before I can read them… I need to organize my reading better in 2012! More on that later!
Adrian Tchaikovsky: Salute the Dark (Shadows of the Apt # 4). (Tor Books 2010).
As I’m closing the 4th volume of this series, I’m still very impressed with it. The newness and freshness of the insect kinden has faded now but in it’s place are instead a great story of how people react in times of trouble and a host of characters, each more interesting than the next.
This volume brings many of the story lines of the previous 3 volumes to their appropriate conclusions and no one is left the same, not any of the characters but neither the reader who has come to care for these flawed people.
I believe, it would have been more fitting if volume 3 and 4 had been put out as one single volume but I’m guessing that the publisher thought it to be too long for one volume. Just make sure then, that you have both volume three and four so you can continue immediately.
So far, all our main character has survived countless battles, sieges and even wars – but their luck ends now. Fates are forever changed in this book as our unlikely heroes once again set up from Collegium to various parts of the Lowlands and beyond, to fight the Empire. But not all of them return. Much of the book passes before the real trouble begins for our characters – but then, it doesn’t end.
This book sees Che and Archaeous together with Thalric leave for the home of the Moth Kinden, now under control of the Wasps – or so they think, at least. Here, they are after a cure for the wound Archaeous sustained while trying to control the Shadow Box. But Thalric and Che continues on to Myna to inform them on what’s happening in other places so that they can consider rebelling against the Empire while Salma continue on as leader of his own people, the mismatched group of slaves, fugitives, deserters and more – a group that nevertheless has evolved into an army, everyone has to consider.
Tisamon feels he has betrayed his Mantis kinden and race so he does what he has done before, sells his sword and his skills to the highest bidder. But something is different this time and both he and Tynisa tracking him, becomes pawns in a much more sinister game, a game they are not aware of being a part of – or even that it’s going on.
Meanwhile, Taki and Nero leaves to help free Solarno while Stenwell himself travels to the Commonweal to get them as allies against the ever-spreading wasps.
Meanwhile, the princess Seda is slowly emerging from her brother’s shadow and attracting more and more allies, and Totho’s master develops new, more deadly weapons that he is intent on seeing in use, no matter the cost.
As with all good fantasy, this series give us a mirror to hold up for ourselves and the world we live in. This book teaches us that there are decent people on all sides and there are reasons behind most actions. It explores more of the actions in war and the actions of a young Empire, keen on expansion, than many other books and it even dives deep into the power struggle in the Wasps’ secret service, The Rekef. Along with the exploration of the various kinden and their relationships with each other, the fragile truces now have to stand their first test.
Choices have to be made, hardship suffered, losses dealt with – and yet, everyone have to go on. Much has changed by the end of the book and although it is a natural conclusion to the first part of the story, I’m really looking forward to where the next books will take us.
Adrian Tchaikovsky: Blood of the Mantis (Shadows of the Apt # 3). (Tor Books 2009)
In this the third volume in Adrian Tchaikovsky’s fantasy series The Shadow of the Apt, we dive even deeper into several sub-stories of the overall storyline. Once again, Stenwold Maker sends his allies, his friends, family and students, out in the world to find out what the wasp Empire is up to.
We follow Cheerwell on a mission to the skater city of Solarno to try and tell them what’s going on, we follow Stenwold himself on a journey to the ant city of Sarn to try and create a unity against the wasps and we follow Archaeos along with Tisamon and Tynisa travel to Jerez, trying to find the Shadow Box containing the soul of The Darakyon, the former Mantis stronghold.
Alongside this, we also get a closer look at the Wasp Emperor’s attempt to avoid having to marry and have children and thus create rivals for himself by going along with his mosquito ‘slave’ Uctebri’s plan to give him eternal life – a plan, that involves both the Shadow Box as well as the Emperor’s sister, kept around partly so the Emperor always knew where the threat would come from but also for his amusement. But Uctebri is old, wise and sinister and has plans of his own. It is never certain if he is really a slave or not – even to himself – but it is certain that his powers extends far beyond his prison cell.
They extend so far as to create a revolution among the bees, the formerly so docile people suddenly rising against the wasps – thereby creating a for Uctebri most needed distraction for the Emperor.
But things are not what they seem in this book, we are not given many answers and things are definitely not always what they seem – and this book leaves us with the series’ first really cliff hanger.
Once agin, Tchaikovsky dives into subjects larger than just this fantasy story of unlikely heroes. He dives into the question of loyalty – even when you have been cast out, you might try to get back in because your loyalty is not gone – exemplified by Thalric’s storyline, former wasp officer and Major in the Rekef, now deemed useless because of inner Rekef power struggles. He is part of Stenwold’s group, all of a sudden, but will he be able to shake his lifelong loyalty to the Empire?
And what about war and power in itself? When is power right? “They put the brand of the Empire on yet another lesser people, and believed only that their ability to do so was all the right they needed.” (p. 357). Tchaikovsky has his black and white characters – where in former books, Thalric and Stenwold were the two opposites, Stenwold’s opposite now must be the Emperor himself – although so far away as to be fully unknowing about Stenwold’s existence. But Stenwold is the ringleader for the Lowlands, the center for the opposition against the wasps. But between these two poles, an area of grey exist where a lot of the rest of the characters in this series are. People switch alliance, they are not always what they seem, and even the good have bad sides. This makes the series seem very real and makes it interesting – alongside the insect kinden which is still fascinating enough to keep my interest – although I wouldn’t mind if we didn’t meet any new insect kinden in the next book but stuck to the ones we have already met. There’s plenty of action to come with the plots hinted at or started so far even if no new players are introduced and it would be nice to get some closures to some of these storylines.
Still, the book is really good once again and another solid 4 stars read.
Finally, I just want to applaud the artist who are creating the covers for these books. They are truly extra-ordinary and really captures the various insect kinden named in the titles as well as being just very aesthetically pleasing and engaging. They really draw you in and will definitely make many pick up these books when lying in book stores.
Adrian Tchaikovsky: Dragonfly Falling (Shadows of the Apt # 2). (Tor Books, 2009)
I really liked the first volume in this series – but what I liked the most, was the newness of the insect-kinden that made this book so very interesting. But the question of course was, if these kinden would hold up so that volume 2 would be up to the standards of the first volume. And the good news are – volume 2 is even better than volume 1.
So with how volume 1 ended, I expected that this one would focus on the Wasps military advances. And it did, to some extent, but more, the focus was on so many other things. Our band of heroes have split up so we jump around between them Some of the major points in this book is the battle for the ant city of Tark – a battle between the Wasps and the Ants, two very different kinds of kinden – and the battle between the Vekken Ants and the people of Collegium. Now, Collegium is an amazing city, with the College, the cultural and intellectual heart of the Lowlands. The Wasps know they have to take Collegium to prevent the Lowlands from putting aside old strife and uniting against them so they send Collegium’s old enemies to do so. An easy job – the excellent military against the old scholars and philosophers of Collegium. These two battles are very different indeed – and both showcase the differences between the kinden.
Another part of particular interest is Tissamon taking his half spider-half mantis daughter with him to the the most sacred part of the Mantis’ hold and letting her try out to become a weapon master. Mantis and spider hate each other so both face very uncertain destinies when Tissamon must face up to having betrayed his race by having a child with a spider woman and Tynisa, looking exactly as everything the Mantis hate the most.
But times are changing. Old strife and hatred have to be put aside to stop the Wasps.
This book again finds our heroes in dangerous positions – Salma and Totho are in Tark as the Wasps start attacking it and both find new paths in life, because of this. Stenwold of course, is very much involved in defending Collegium while Tissamon and Tynisa travel the before mentioned dangerous paths of the Mantis hold. Che and Achaeos suddenly find themselves on the battle line between the Sarn Ants and the Wasps – and Helleron falls to the Wasps. Even Colonel Thalric (Major Thalric of the Rekef) faces dangers he has never seen before – and new challenges and doubts.
One of my favorite things of this book was when Mosquito kinden was introduced. Naturally, the Mosquito we meet, is old and frail – but deadly and bloodthirsty.
And even though this is so-called light fantasy, he still manages to create fully fleshed characters with fears and doubts, gray areas in most of them – and he adds a bit of philosophy at times – like here: “/…/ there were the avatars of the kinden, the philosophical concepts that were the source of the Ancestor Art, but they were just ideas, aids to concentration. Nobody thought that they actually existed somewhere.” (p. 439) – somebody has read Plato. And there are some truths in this book: “There is no weapon so terrible that mankind will not put it to use.” (p. 286) – which especially Totho learns. And my favorite quote: “If we truly stand for what we believe is good, the betterment of others, the raising up of the weak and the lowly, then we must take a stand against those with opposing philosophies.” (p. 296). And so they do …
All in all, this is one exciting fast-paced book that picks up where book 1 left off – but does it even better. We’re not at 5 stars yet, but we’re closing in.
Adrian Tchaikovsky: Empire in Black and Gold (Shadows of the Apt # 1). (Tor Books, 2008)
So back in 2009 I bought three books by Adrian Tchaikovsky because they sounded very interesting … and I thought it was a trilogy. After they arrived, I realized these were the first three books in a series supposed to be 10 books. Finally, I got around to starting on this series – and I’m really impressed. This first book in the series is also apparently Tchaikovsky’s first novel and although the plot line is somewhat familiar from other fantasy series – and also, from some real life circumstances – he has managed to create something new.
This is solely because of the various insect kinden that populate the book. Each kinden has it’s own characteristics, each has their own special abilities. Beetles are solid, robust people – mantis are excellent fighters and killers.
The story in this book is about a small band of unlikely heroes who try to tell their city as well as other cities about the danger from the expanding Wasp Empire. The leader of our band is one Stenwold Maker, a beetle, who years ago has seen what the Empire is capable of. No one however pays any attention to Stenwold’s warning however and suddenly the Wasps are knocking on the door, all charming and diplomatic of course.
And suddenly, death knocks on Stenwold’s window and forces his hand, sending his niece Che, his ward Tynisa and their friends Salma and Totho out as agents. They are however followed and separated and various events occur that forces each of them to grow up and realize more about their potentials and abilities.
This book deals with issues that are very common in our world today. The Wasp Empire reminds me at the same time of Hitler’s Nazi Germany as well as the Empire in Star Wars, and the issues raised because of these are what all occupied – and soon to be occupied – experience. More interesting to me, though, was the issues between the various kinden, how hatred has been grown through centuries, how old old conflict still influence how we see each other, how our beliefs and religions make us look with suspicion on anyone with other ways of thinking.
If you want to look at it in that light, this book is about the conflicts we see in our world, the conflicts between Christians and Muslims, the everyday racism we experience, the unwarranted hatred that sometimes flares up. This book is about all this, but presented in another world – and it works.
The kinden all has their good and bad sides and even the big bad Empire shows it has individuals Wasps who aren’t either Nazi soldiers or storm troopers. This also add more depth to the story that there isn’t one individual kinden who’s just evil.
To me, this was a surprisingly good book. Even though the story is in some ways the same one we’ve read in the Dragonlance Chronicles, in the Wheel of Time series and in countless other novels, the insect kinden really give this a new twist that makes all the difference.