Background: I recently realized how many books I keep laying around my house in piles that are begging me to read them. I decided to make a monthly blog based on this fact where I pick ten of the books sitting on my table that I want to read and I write about them. When I finish reading one, I will write a review about the book and call that segment “What’s In My Queue-Review Edition” Here is the first W hat’s In My Queue.

Mainly, I want to help people find books they have never heard of before that might interest them.

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Okay guys. I have a confession to make.I have not been reading as much as I normally do. I do have a good reason, though, if that counts for anything. I’ve been deep in NaNoWriMo. And I’ve spent the time not writing my novel writing articles for the paper-a great deal more than previously because of the oncoming holiday season-so by the time I have hit my 3-5000 words for the day and have written my articles for the paper…I just don’t feel like sitting down and reading. I want to move and do stuff.

I know. Excuses excuses. I have read some, though.  My first review is here

For the moment, though, here is the December edition of “What’s in My Queue” (There are no Christmas books except in the honorable mentions unfortunately)

-M-

1)Inkheart-Cornelia Funke

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Synopsis(via Amazon): One cruel night, Meggie’s father reads aloud from a book called INKHEART– and an evil ruler escapes the boundaries of fiction and lands in their living room. Suddenly, Meggie is smack in the middle of the kind of adventure she has only read about in books. Meggie must learn to harness the magic that has conjured this nightmare. For only she can change the course of the story that has changed her life forever.

I love Cornelia Funke. I really really do. “The Thief Lord” is absolutely amazing. I’ve read most of “Reckless” and then somehow got distracted and haven’t finished it. Not because it wasn’t good, but I’m easily distracted by new books sometimes. I’ve read Inkheart partially through and then I stopped. I don’t know why. But I stopped. So I am going to reread it! A book about books coming to life! Yes please.

P.S. I have never seen the movie. Is it worth watching after I read the book?

2)Powerful Writing Skills-Richard Andersen

Writing Skills
Synopsis (via backcover): Most of what we find dull in business correspondence isn’t what we say but how we say it. Just because we work for an institution is no reason why we have to sound like one. The most effective business correspondence, like the best writing anywhere, is short, clear, and personal

I am always trying to better my writing skills. That might surprise some cynics among you because I am very pro “whatever you need to do, do it. It’s your art” But I also am pro knowing how to do things properly. You can break rules. Youshould break rules. For art it’s a requirement. But you have to know the rules first. I’ve said it for years and I will continue to say it. Though “Powerful Writing” is mostly about writing essays and memos, the skills can be applied to fiction.

3) Cloud Atlas-David Mitchell

Cloud Atlas
Synopsis(via Amazon): A postmodern visionary who is also a master of styles and genres, David Mitchell combines flat-out adventure, a Nabokovian love of puzzles, a keen eye for character, and a taste for mind-bending philosophical and scientific speculation in the tradition of Haruki Murakami, Umberto Eco, and Philip K. Dick. The result is brilliantly original fiction that reveals how disparate people connect, how their fates intertwine, and how their souls drift across time like clouds across the sky.

I will admit I had never heard of this until my mom randomly called me one day and asked if I wanted to see this movie. A movie I had never heard of until she brought it up. I said yes because why not? I liked the movie. More than my mom did, anyway. I don’t know that she knew what to make of it. For those who are in the same boat, it is better the second time around. You can catch connections you likely missed the first time.

Doing some research later, I discovered the book and then went to Target and bought it. And now it has been sitting on my shelf. I’m skeptical of it. I don’t know why. Perhaps because it is met with such acclaim and I usually dislike literary books that critics love. Just by happenstance. I don’t hate them because critics like them or anything.

But I am intrigued to see the parallels that were left out of the movie. To find connections. I love the idea behind it. That one single seemingly small act by a human being-in this case helping a slave-can ripple throughout time to create a revolution. There is a symmetry and poetry to it that intrigues me. It’s the same reason I liked the ending to Bioshock:Infinite where many people hated that there weren’t multiple endings. At this point all I can do is hope the idea is well executed.

4) Swordspoint-Ellen Kushner

Swordspoint
Synopsis (via Amazon) On the treacherous streets of Riverside, a man lives and dies by the sword. Even the nobles on the Hill turn to duels to settle their disputes. Within this elite, dangerous world, Richard St. Vier is the undisputed master, as skilled as he is ruthless–until a death by the sword is met with outrage instead of awe, and the city discovers that the line between hero and villain can be altered in the blink of an eye.

I had the pleasure of meeting and briefly speaking with Ellen Kushner(and accidentally embarrassing my friend. My mouth runs unchecked when I am uncomfortable or nervous) at the Sirens conference I have written about before. I had never heard of her but she seemed really nice, intelligent and funny. Closing night, I watched her perform from Thomas the Rhymer She read from it, sang songs that inspired it etc…

In the bookstore at the conference, Swordspoint was there. A friend of mine, one of the few people I know who loves to read as much as I do, recommended this book to me as well as this author. All of those things combined made me pick up this book, which does sound interesting if not something I would have picked up on my own.

5) The Divine Comedy-Dante Alighieri

Dante
Synopsis (via Amazon) The Divine Comedy, translated by Allen Mandelbaum, begins in a shadowed forest on Good Friday in the year 1300. It proceeds on a journey that, in its intense recreation of the depths and the heights of human experience, has become the key with which Western civilization has sought to unlock the mystery of its own identity.

Sadly, I have not read this before. I read Terry Pratchett’s Eric which is an abridged, satirical version but I have never actually read it myself.
I bought this for research on another book that I am going to write that is going to cover Dante’s Inferno. My characters go on their own journey through Hell and, while it will be different, there will be parallels I hope to draw. Plus, this is considered a classic right? I need to at least read some of the classics.

6) Magic Kingdom For Sale-Terry Brooks

Magic Kingdom
Synopsis(via Amazon) After Ben Holiday purchased Landover, he discovered the magic kingdom had some problems. The Barons refused to recognize a king and the peasants were without hope. To make matters worse, Ben learned that he had to duel to the death with the Iron Mask, the terrible lord of the demons–a duel which no human could hope to win….

Need I say more? I like Brooks-I have a thing for authors named Terry, remember? And I like the idea. Someone buys a kingdom from the newspaper and inherits all of its problems. I have heard mixed reviews on this book but I look forward to drawing my own conclusions.

7)Eye of the World-Robert Jordan

TheEyeOfTheWorld
Synopsis(Via Amazon) The Wheel of Time turns and Ages come and go, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth returns again. In the Third Age, an Age of Prophecy, the World and Time themselves hang in the balance. What was, what will be, and what is, may yet fall under the Shadow.

I’ve written about how I ended up initially picking up the Robert Jordan books before. I wrote about it in, I believe, my last “What’s In My Queue” I wrote a lot about it in “Epic Fantasy Authors Have the Best Fans” and I wrote, more or less, about it in “For My Brother” So I’m not going to go into it again. Basically, when my brother moved out he left a bunch of books that managed to migrate into a little white Honda we had in our backyard. I went through the books one day, found five of the first nine in there along with many many others and now Wheel of Time is calling for me. I started Eye of the World a long time ago. I think I got a good portion through as well, but until recently Epic Fantasy was never my thing so I couldn’t stay focused on it. Since I have increased the amount of Epic Fantasy I am reading ten fold this might actually work for me.
Listen to the concept. It’s amazing

8) Alloy of Law-Brandon Sanderson

Alloy-of-Law-
Synopsis (Via Amazon) Three hundred years after the events of the Mistborn trilogy, Scadrial is now on the verge of modernity, with railroads to supplement the canals, electric lighting in the streets and the homes of the wealthy, and the first steel-framed skyscrapers racing for the clouds.
Kelsier, Vin, Elend, Sazed, Spook, and the rest are now part of history—or religion. Yet even as science and technology are reaching new heights, the old magics of Allomancy and Feruchemy continue to play a role in this reborn world. Out in the frontier lands known as the Roughs, they are crucial tools for the brave men and women attempting to establish order and justice.
One such is Waxillium Ladrian, a rare Twinborn, who can Push on metals with his Allomancy and use Feruchemy to become lighter or heavier at will. After twenty years in the Roughs, Wax has been forced by family tragedy to return to the metropolis of Elendel. Now he must reluctantly put away his guns and assume the duties and dignity incumbent upon the head of a noble house. Or so he thinks, until he learns the hard way that the mansions and elegant tree-lined streets of the city can be even more dangerous than the dusty plains of the Roughs.

If you haven’t read the Mistborn Trilogy  that last paragraph is probably pretty off putting. But you probably shouldn’t read it if you haven’t read Mistborn anyway. You can, because this is a separate timeline, but the magic system isn’t explained as well. At least not in the first couple of chapters that I’ve read so far. Maybe it is later.
I really liked the first Mistborn book, though Well of Ascension and Hero of Ages were not nearly as good in my opinion. But I was told Alloy of Law is just as good as Mistborn was. I bought it while reading the trilogy and then realized I had read them too quickly and wanted to explore a new world for a while. So on my Kindle it has been sitting. I am excited to see what happens. How accurately the people three hundred years in the future have recorded history and if it has been manipulated for the purposes of the powerful.

p.s. If you are in the U.S the above cover is probably not what you will find. That is the U.K cover…but when I did a search for images I liked that cover much better.

9)Iron Angel-Alan Campbell

iron-angel
Synopsis (Via Amazon) After a destructive battle, the ancient swaying city of Deepgate has been overtaken. Most of the chains that suspend it have given way, and the temple now dangles upside down above the once-uncharted abyss. The victorious Spine have initiated martial law and are ruthlessly pursuing all who attempt to leave. But amid the turmoil, two captives are returned: the young angel Dill, now toughened by war, and traitor assassin Rachel Hael.
Incarcerated in the crumbling temple, the prisoners await their fate—while ghosts rise through the abyss from the open gates of Hell. But as the city teeters on the brink, plans for vengeance are set in motion. And in the coming battle between gods, it is the world of men that is at stake.

I have read the first of this series, Scar Night, twice. I read it once, thought it was okay, tried Iron Angel got to a certain point and put it down. About a year or more later I decided I wanted to finish it but I wanted a refresher. So I reread Scar Night and then picked up Iron Angel. I got to the same point and then put it down again. So this will be my third attempt.
I really liked what I was reading, I was intrigued by what was happening but didn’t care enough to keep going when something else came along. There haven’t been a lot of books like that for me because I usually push through, but the more unread books I have to read, the harder it is for me to keep reading a book I’m not invested in. I am genuinely excited for this, though. Third times a charm, right?

10) Clan of the Cave Bear-Jean M Auel

The_Clan_of_the_Cave_Bear_cover
Synopsis(Via Amazon): This novel of awesome beauty and power is a moving saga about people, relationships, and the boundaries of love. Through Jean M. Auel’s magnificent storytelling we are taken back to the dawn of modern humans, and with a girl named Ayla we are swept up in the harsh and beautiful Ice Age world they shared with the ones who called themselves the Clan of the Cave Bear.
A natural disaster leaves the young girl wandering alone in an unfamiliar and dangerous land until she is found by a woman of the Clan, people very different from her own kind. To them, blond, blue-eyed Ayla looks peculiar and ugly–she is one of the Others, those who have moved into their ancient homeland; but Iza cannot leave the girl to die and takes her with them. Iza and Creb, the old Mog-ur, grow to love her, and as Ayla learns the ways of the Clan and Iza’s way of healing, most come to accept her. But the brutal and proud youth who is destined to become their next leader sees her differences as a threat to his authority. He develops a deep and abiding hatred for the strange girl of the Others who lives in their midst, and is determined to get his revenge.

This is another book that has been on my shelf for a loooooong time. My cousin gave it to me the first time I visited Arizona on my own. I was interested in it, but I never managed to pick it up. It is another one that is not really something I would normally pick up if I saw it on the shelf at a bookstore. But that is what friends and family are for, right? I am interested to see what happens and how the series progresses.

Honorable Mentions:
Christmas Carol-Charles Dickens: (Currently free on the Kindle at the time of this writing)It’s a Christmas Tradition. I read it every year and can quote it more or less accurately. It is also tradition to watch the movie every Saturday after Thanksgiving after decorating the house listening to Manheim Steamroller and Trans-Siberian Orchestra. This blog will go up after all that has happened…but still.

The Christmas Box-Richard Paul Evans-I love this book. I have read it before, but I look forward to reading again. It is the story of a family who moves in with a widow and, true to Christmas story form, learn what Christmas is all about. But it’s very good. It’s short (87 small pages) but it is touching. If I recall correctly there is also a movie based on the book that is worth seeing.

The Christmas Shoes-Donna VanLiere-Everyone knows the story of the Christmas Shoes. It is an over played song at Christmas. But I have never actually read the book. It is a short read as well so I’m going to give it as shot this month.

Fragile Things and Smoke and Mirrors-Neil Gaiman
These are two short story collections I want to read. They aren’t “full” books per say so I didn’t want to include them above, but I do love Gaiman and I’m looking forward to reading the short stories of his that I haven’t gotten to yet.

 

-M-

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