I Made A List…-Part One

This is the Stockholm Public Library in Sweden. Picture from:http://www.bestdesignbooks.eu/best-libraries-around-the-world-cont/
This is the Stockholm Public Library in Sweden. Picture from:http://www.bestdesignbooks.eu/best-libraries-around-the-world-cont/

You know those books that always show up or are always being recommended by friends when you go searching out new material? For some reason or another you never pick those books up or it takes you years to get to them and then you regret you never read them?

Yesterday, I made a list of those books. Books that show up in the book threads on Reddit or book blogs on Tumblr. Books I’ve thought about reading a hundred times but have never actually picked up. I decided that I am going to get samples on my Kindle of all of these books and see what the fuss is about and try and determine what (if anything) I’m missing.

There will be four parts in this blog series. This one will be the first 10 on my list, the second will be the review of the samples and whether or not I intend to buy the whole book. The third part will be the second 10 on my list and, obviously, the fourth will be the review of those samples.

All the links and synopses come from Amazon.

1) Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Synopsis: Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. . . .

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

This books is EVERYWHERE. I go to any book store and I see it with “you like _____ so try Cinder!” On book blogs it’s constantly a prize you can enter to win. It sounds a little more sci-fi than I normally read and, honestly, not something I would pick up on my own except for this experiment. But we’ll see.

2) Angel Fall by Susan Ee

Synopsis: It’s been six weeks since angels of the apocalypse descended to demolish the modern world. Street gangs rule the day while fear and superstition rule the night. When warrior angels fly away with a helpless little girl, her seventeen-year-old sister Penryn will do anything to get her back. Anything, including making a deal with Raffe, an injured enemy angel. Traveling through a dark and twisted Northern California, they journey toward the angels’ stronghold in San Francisco, where Penryn will risk everything to rescue her sister and Raffe will put himself at the mercy of his greatest enemies for the chance to be made whole again.

I have almost picked this book up three or four times. The base premise, I think, has the ability to be amazing. Kind of like YA Supernatural. However it also has the potential to be mind boggling-ly bad. And the line between the two is very very thin. So I haven’t picked it up. Hopefully the sample will give me a good idea of which direction this is going to go in.

3) Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Synopsis:Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grown dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real; she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious “errands”; she speaks many languages–not all of them human; and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.

When one of the strangers–beautiful, haunted Akiva–fixes his fire-colored eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?

Confession time: I already have the sample of this on my phone. I made it about four pages in and nearly threw my phone across the room because I hated the writing so much. It was stiff and awkward and the dialogue between Karou and whatever little demon/vampire boyfriend that bothers her is painful. BUT the reason it is on this list and the reason I will try finishing the sample is because a) this book is another one that is EVERYWHERE ALL THE TIME and b) One compliment this book is given constantly is the “beautiful writing” While I have a hard time believing that the writing is ever beautiful, I am going to give the rest of the sample a shot. I like the synopsis-though it is another one that has the potential to be amazing or just absolutely terrible.

4) Mazerunner by James Dashner

Synopsis:

If you ain’t scared, you ain’t human.

When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his name. He’s surrounded by strangers—boys whose memories are also gone.

Nice to meet ya, shank. Welcome to the Glade.

Outside the towering stone walls that surround the Glade is a limitless, ever-changing maze. It’s the only way out—and no one’s ever made it through alive.

Everything is going to change.

Then a girl arrives. The first girl ever. And the message she delivers is terrifying.

Remember. Survive. Run.

It’s kind of another Hunger Games by the sound of it. I started reading the first couple pages in a store one day and it didn’t capture my interest enough to override the six books already in my hand (that I knew I was going to have to weed down to three or four) This is, yet another one, that is going to walk the tight rope between really good and really bad. Given that it’s movie will be out in just a couple of days (one I honestly doubt I will see in theaters unless the book blows me away) I figure I should get on this one now.

5) Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

Synopsis: In a land without magic, where the king rules with an iron hand, an assassin is summoned to the castle. She comes not to kill the king, but to win her freedom. If she defeats twenty-three killers, thieves, and warriors in a competition, she is released from prison to serve as the king’s champion. Her name is Celaena Sardothien.

The Crown Prince will provoke her. The Captain of the Guard will protect her. But something evil dwells in the castle of glass–and it’s there to kill. When her competitors start dying one by one, Celaena’s fight for freedom becomes a fight for survival, and a desperate quest to root out the evil before it destroys her world.

I actually really love assassin books when they are done right-which, similar to vampires, werewolves and zombies, is not often. I would also really love to see a strong female protagonist who doesn’t go from strong and independent to weak in the knees when a cute guy smiles at her. I really loved Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers for those exact reasons. If this book is similar to that then I will love it. If the main character starts to forgo her assassin training and independence because of the prince mentioned in the synopsis I’ll be out right there.

6) Bone Season by Samantha Shannon

Synopsis: Enter the world of Paige Mahoney, a gifted clairvoyant, a “dreamwalker,” in the year 2059. Her natural talents are considered treasonous under the current regime. Snatched away to a secret prison, she encounters another race, the Rephaim, creatures who wish to control the powers of Paige and those like her. One in particular will be assigned as her keeper, her trainer. But his motives are mysterious. To regain her freedom, Paige must learn to trust, in the prison where she is meant to die.

The synopsis on the back of the book is actually more convincing than the ones on Amazon right now. I was in a local book shop the other day and I came so close to buying this because it really has the potential to be great before I ultimately decided to pick up Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay and Sabriel by Garth Nix because my best friend recommended them both to me. Of the books on this list so far this is the one I have the most hope for living up to it’s hype. I guess we’ll see.

7)Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Synopsis: Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.

Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.

Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha . . . and the secrets of her heart.

I think the quality of this book will come down to how well the politics and the magic systems are put together. I have a feeling the main character of this book will be more a conduit to experience things through than a character I’m really going to root for. I could be wrong. I hope I’m wrong. But the phrase “Alina Starkov has never been good at anything” makes me wary. I’m fairly tired of characters who are useless until magically they’re not anymore. I get the appeal of the character, I suppose, but I’m tired of it. Everything else will have to be pretty strong or the character will have to be better than I’m imagining. However, this is another book recommended time and time again. So it made the list.

8)City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett

Synopsis: The city of Bulikov once wielded the powers of the gods to conquer the world, enslaving and brutalizing millions—until its divine protectors were killed. Now Bulikov has become just another colonial outpost of the world’s new geopolitical power, but the surreal landscape of the city itself—first shaped, now shattered, by the thousands of miracles its guardians once worked upon it—stands as a constant, haunting reminder of its former supremacy.

Into this broken city steps Shara Thivani. Officially, the unassuming young woman is just another junior diplomat sent by Bulikov’s oppressors. Unofficially, she is one of her country’s most accomplished spies, dispatched to catch a murderer. But as Shara pursues the killer, she starts to suspect that the beings who ruled this terrible place may not be as dead as they seem—and that Bulikov’s cruel reign may not yet be over.

Probably one of the few non YA books on this list (which is actually weird as I don’t read that much YA) I’m really hopeful for this book. I had seen it available for pre-order a while back and meant to remember to look more into it once it was released. I forgot about it until Brandon Sanderson’s assistant who does semi-regular book recommendations on Sanderson’s Facebook recommended it on it’s release day. Since then I’ve kind of held back because I don’t want it to not live up to my hope for it. But I guess you have to dive in sometime, right?

9) Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Synopsis: Kristin Cashore’s bestselling, award-winning fantasy Graceling tells the story of the vulnerable-yet-strong Katsa, a smart, beautiful teenager who lives in a world where selected people are given a Grace, a special talent that can be anything from dancing to swimming. Katsa’s is killing. As the king’s niece, she is forced to use her extreme skills as his thug. Along the way, Katsa must learn to decipher the true nature of her Grace… and how to put it to good use. A thrilling, action-packed fantasy adventure (and steamy romance!) that will resonate deeply with adolescents trying to find their way in the world

I kind of don’t think this will make it past the sample round. I’m not interested in a “steamy romance” nor am I thirteen years old trying to find my way in the world. The character may resonate with people beyond the adolescent age range because I don’t think most of us ever truly feel like we know our place in the world however, unless she is one of those strong girls I was talking about earlier who doesn’t suddenly start questioning her life and choices and skills because a guy walks in the room, I doubt this one will hold much interest.

But this is another one that is filling up my dash so I feel I should have at least some knowledge of the writing itself before I criticize to heavily.

10) The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima

Synopsis:One day Han Alister catches three young wizard setting fire to the sacred mountain of Hanalea. Han takes an amulet away from Micah Bayar, son of the High Wizard, to ensure the boy won’t use it against him. The amulet once belonged to the Demon King, who nearly destroyed the world a millennium ago. With a magical piece so powerful at stake, Han knows that the Bayars will stop at nothing to get it back.

Meanwhile, Princess Raisa ana’Marianna has her own battle to fight. She’s just returned to court after three years of riding and hunting with her father’s family. Raia aspires to be like Hanalea, the legendary warrior queen who killed the Demon King and saved the world. But it seems that her mother has other plans for her-plans that include a suitor who goes against everything the Queendom stands for.

The Seven Realms will tremble when the lives of Han and Raisa collide in this stunning page-turner from best-selling author Cinda Williams Chima.

I have almost bought this box set at Barnes and Noble twice now. But not for any good reason. The box set has great art and has the first four of this series in it for $30.00 However, on the outside of the boxset there is no synopsis so I never bought it and I actually never found The Demon King outside of it.

I think this has the potential to be a YA version of Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth series just based on the synopsis. Which could be a great thing or a terrible one. I’ll let you know.

So what do you think? Have any of my readers read any of these books? If so what did you think about them?

I’ll get back to you with the reviews as well as the next ten on my list very soon. Also be on the lookout next Sunday or Monday for my video reviews of the following books:

The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson
Elantris by By Brandon Sanderson
Black Prism&Blinding Knife by Brent Weeks
Sabriel by Garth Nix

-M-