A-Z Bookish Tag

I wasn’t tagged in this one, but I came across it on Steph from Lost Purple Quill’s blog and couldn’t resist!

A. Author you’ve read the most books from

As an adult, I believe it’s Lois McMaster Bujold. I’ve been slowly picking away at her Vorkosigan Saga space opera series when I have a gap between books, and have also read the first in her fantasy series, The Curse of Chalion.

B. Best sequel ever

I have to go with Steph here and say Maggie Stiefvater’s The Dream Thieves. As much as I enjoyed the first book in the series, The Dream Thieves was so much better and focused on showing Ronan Lynch’s depth. It’s a wonderful book. OH actually, also Sarah Monette’s The Virtu. One of my favourite books of all time (although her Doctrine of Labyrinths series is heavy on the trigger warnings), and improves upon the first book in the series, Melusine.

C. Currently reading

33958230
Forest of a Thousand Lanterns
by Julie Dao. Its an East Asian-inspired fantasy re-imagining of The Evil Queen legend. So far I love the world building and I find Xifeng really interesting.

D. Drink of choice

If I could only drink one thing for the rest of my life it would be cold water. I am such a fan of plain, cold water. While reading though I love a cup of flavored black tea!

E. E-reader or physical book

I prefer physical books.

F. Fictional character you probably would have dated in high school.

I was too shy to date anyone in high school. I definitely had a crush on Elijah Wood’s Frodo though.

G. Glad you gave this book a chance

7937843

Room by Emma Donoghue. It’s not something I would have picked up if my book club hadn’t chosen it, because the subject matter just does not appeal to me, but I wound up really loving it. The narrative voice of a five-year-old was perfect, and just when the routine of mama and Jack’s days was getting dull, Donoghue changes it up.

H. Hidden gem


I’m honestly so baffled that Robert Jackson Bennett hasn’t received the sort of attention that some fantasy authors have. I didn’t love the third book in the series as much, but City of Stairs and City of Blades are brilliant. They feature intelligent, courageous WoC protagonists, exquisite world building, and engaging plots that deal with the lasting impact of colonialism. I highly recommend this series!

I. Important moment in your reading life

The moment when I finished the last course of my English degree in University. I read a few really excellent books during my degree, largely due to a wonderful professor who taught a Science Fiction and Fantasy course, but I also read a lot of really meh or just plain bad books, and picking them apart to analyze took away from my enjoyment of books. After I graduated, I rediscovered reading for pleasure and read voraciously. Also, when I worked at Chapters, the major bookstore chain in Canada, and met people who were similarly passionate about reading and recommended books to me.

J. Just finished

The Blood of Flowers by Anita Amirrezvani, about 17th century Persian carpet weavers. I really enjoyed the flowing prose, sensory world building, and the storytelling aspect to it.

K. Kind of book you won’t read

Horror.

L. Longest book you’ve read

24280

Yes, you guessed it, it’s still Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables. Despite the length, and Hugo’s occasional digressions, it’s very much worth reading and moved me deeply.

M. Major book hangover because of…

When I finish a series that I really love, it’s so hard to move on and say goodbye to the characters I’ve loved so much. Sometimes the desire to just re-read immediately is overwhelming. I had a really hard time finishing and moving on from Crooked Kingdom, A Conjuring of Light, The Raven King, and Checkmate.

N. Number of bookshelves you own

Just two in my apartment (each with six shelves), and I also have one in my bedroom at my parents’ house holding some of my additional books. I’m trying to avoid expanding to a third by only buying keeper copies of books I love and new copies of books I can’t wait to read, and by periodically weeding my collection.

O. One book you’ve read multiple times

112077

I’ve read The Game of Kings three times? I think, and I’m beginning it for a fourth in 2018!

P. Preferred place to read

It depends on the season! I do a lot of pool-side (outdoor) or balcony reading when it’s warm enough in Toronto, but this time of year I love to read on the couch beside my Christmas tree!

Q. Quote that inspires you

I’m really not one for inspiring quotes, but I do like Rowling’s “It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.” 

R. Reading regrets

Why oh why did I read The Dark Forest by Cixin Liu this year? What a taste of time. 500 dense pages of so misogynistic it’s hard to believe people praise this book at all. The first book had redeemable qualities but this one just didn’t.

S. Series you’ve started and need to finish

I have a few historical fiction series like this, so I’ll say Sandra Gulland’s Josephine Bonaparte trilogy and Sharon Kay Penman’s Welsh Princes series.

T. Three of your time favorite books


U: Unapologetic fangirl

I tend to be all-in when it comes to fandoms, but especially Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows duology, Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven Cycle, and Dorothy Dunnett’s Lymond Chronicles.

V. Very excited for this release more than others

There aren’t many upcoming releases that I’m excited about actually – but longer term I can’t wait for the Nikolai series promised by Leigh Bardugo, as well as the Dreamer Trilogy that Maggie Stiefvater is working on!

W. Worst bookish habit

Returning books late to the library! I’m really bad for that and end up having to pay down my fines periodically.

X. X marks the spot: Pick the 27th book from the top left shelf

None of my bookshelves are wide enough for this!

Y: Your Latest Purchase

It’s been awhile actually, possibly An Arrow’s Flight which I bought second-hand on Steph’s recommendation.

Z. Z snatcher–book that kept you up way too late

I read A Little Life in a matter of days despite it being 700 pages because I just COULDN’T PUT IT DOWN.

I wasn’t tagged so I won’t tag anyone in turn, but feel free to do this tag if you’re interested. It’s a lot of fun!

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Five-Star Read Predictions

Rachel of pace, amore, libri challenged me to choose five books on my TBR that I think I will be 5-star reads, and I’ve accepted… with one caveat! Since I use half-stars in my ranking system, fewer of the books I read are wholeheartedly 5-star choices. For this reason, I’m choosing books that I think will either be 4.5 or 5-star reads.

The challenge was started by Mercedes on booktube. To participate, you pick out 5 books on your TBR that you think will be 5-star reads. When you finish, you can come back and make a post letting everyone know how you got on.


My 5-Star Predictions:

The Absolutist by John Boyne
Nothing makes me add a book to my TBR quicker than Rachel and Steph, my book blogging partners in crime, giving it five-stars! After we all read and loved and cried over John Boyne’s brilliant The Heart’s Invisible Furies (one of, if not my absolute, favourite books this year), it was a given that I would read more by Boyne in the future. Back in October I saw a copy of The Absolutist in a Toronto used bookstore and picked it up, and then went back for a second copy to gift to Rachel when we met up in Vermont. She read it first and offered this endorsement by text:

painful

Rachel, Steph, and I have a penchant for painful books that hurt the heart, but in the best possible way, so I can’t wait to pick up The Absolutist later this month!

Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier
The first book of this trilogy was recommended to me by a former co-worker from my days working retail in a bookstore. We have similar tastes in books and bonded over fantasy titles like A Song of Ice and Fire and The Name of the Wind at the time. Although I don’t see her very often, we continue to share recs through goodreads and have both flailed over the Shades of Magic series, Six of Crows, and The Bear and the Nightingale. She LOVED this one, a fantasy novel inspired by Celtic/Gaelic mythology, and it sounds right up my alley as well!

Swansong by Vale Aida
I fell in love with Elegy, the first book in this fantasy duology, last year and immediately wanted more! It’s plotty and political fantasy fiction filled with multi-faceted, flawed characters, from enigmatic actor-turned-soldier Savonn Silvertongue, to precious Cinnamon Roll Emaris. I loved the world building, the queer representation, and the prose, and I can’t wait to read Swansong later this month!

Fire From Heaven by Mary Renault
Mary Renault feels like one of those foundational authors in the genre of historical fiction. I’ve known about her, primarily classical Grecian-set, novels for years now and have always meant to give her work a try, but never quite got around to it. As a huge fan of Greek myths, and someone with an interest in ancient Greek history, I fully expect to love Fire From Heaven and her other novels though, especially since they come highly endorsed by a close friend of mine.

Of Human Bondage by W. Somerset Maugham
I’ve never read any of W. Somerset Maugham’s works, but I went to see a play adaptation of Of Human Bondage earlier this year and I adored it. Rarely has my heart hurt like that after a show. I know the book was a favourite of Rachel’s, so I’m sure it’s something that I will love as well.

Have you read any of these books? Let me know what you thought in the comments! If you make a 5-star prediction post of your own, please ping back so I can read your choices!

T5T: New to Me Authors in 2017

Top 5 Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the wonderful Bionic Book Worm.  This week’s topic:

DECEMBER 12TH – Top 5 (OR 10!) new to me authors in 2017

In an attempt to branch out of my comfort zone, I read a lot of works by authors I hadn’t previously discovered. Here were my top five favourites of the year, and another bonus five authors that I was also happy to discover:

253532861. Ann Leckie
As someone who keeps, at least vaguely, tabs on what’s happening the world of science-fiction and fantasy books, Ann Leckie’s name has been on my radar for ages. Each year, her Imperial Radch trilogy seemed to be on my TBR but I never quite got around to reading them. So this year I finally picked up Ancillary Justice. I loved it. The world building was exquisite, different from anything else I’d ever read before, and the use of default female pronouns through me for a loop. Two of Leckie’s books, Ancillary Sword and her standalone novel Provenance, will make my Top 10 List of the best books I’ve read in 2017, which makes her my favourite new author discovery of the year!

332532152. John Boyne
I’ve only read one of Boyne’s novels so far (I’m planning to read The Absolutist before the end of the year), but what a novel it was! From its first page The Heart’s Invisible Furies hooked me with its black humour, cynical criticism of the Catholic Church, and flawed but fascinating characters. I loved The Heart’s Invisible Furies so much that it’s in contention for my favourite book of the year! I can’t wait to dive into The Absolutist and have my heart broken by John Boyne once again, and I will definitely be going through his back catalog and reading the rest of his works over the next few years.

2qir5w73. Becky Chambers
I don’t read much in the way of science-fiction, I really prefer fantasy, so it says a lot about the caliber of the authors’ work that there are two science-fiction writers in my Top 5 this week! Becky Chambers’ cozy sci-fi novel The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet is a character study in which very little actually happens, but you don’t even care because the characters are so damn enjoyable. It reads more like a series of vignettes that concentrate on the relationships between crew members on a rundown spaceship than it does a novel with any overarching plot. It works surprisingly well, but I was even more taken with her sequel. I found something empowering in reading the parallel narratives in A Closed and Common Orbit about young women who are shaped by tragic pasts, but who start over, gain autonomy, and shape their own identities. I was genuinely moved by both novels in her Wayfarers series and look forward to reading more by Chambers in the future.

Pachinko4. Min Jin Lee
Although I’ve only read one of her novels, I loved Pachinko so much that I would pick up any new novel she writes based on the strength of it alone. A multigenerational novel about an ethnic Korean family living in Korea under Japanese rule and then in Japan itself, it’s an evocative beautifully written book that I would recommend to absolutely everyone. Lee has a way with words, and although the book appears daunting due to its length, it’s a quick read with prose that is simple, yet elegant. Where Pachinko really excels though is in its depiction of characters who are kind, flawed, and hard-working. I look forward to seeing what else Min Jin Lee can do in the future.

255288015. E. K. Johnston
I absolutely loved Exit, Pursued by a Bear. I’m so sick of stories where rape is used as plot device or to show how dark and gritty a world is, but Johnston’s story is focused on the girl impacted by sexual assault. She refuses to be a victim, and the narrative empowers her at every turn, putting the decision about how to move past what’s happened to her and what to do about the assailant in her hands. Exit, Pursued by a Bear also gives protagonist Hermione a rock solid support system. It’s absolutely brilliant. I was less impressed by That Inevitable Victorian Thing, but the creativity in concept and diversity in the novel was terrific to read about. Of course I also love that she’s a Canadian author!

Honourable mention to:

Lisa See – I’ve only read The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane, but I really enjoyed it and have been told that it’s not her best work, so I will definitely read more of her books in 2018.

Adam Silvera – I often find YA a little light and fluffy for my tastes, so what a relief to find Adam Silvera’s work! I adored More Happy Than Not, which is unusually bleak for the genre, yet fascinating to read. I wasn’t as taken with the other book of his I’ve read, History Is All You Left Me, but I still solidly enjoyed it and intend to read more of his works.

Katherine Arden – The opinions I’ve read about The Girl in the Tower are more mixed, so I’m cautious about putting her on my list, but The Bear and the Nightingale was such an unmitigated delight. Atmospheric with a protagonist who is brave and intelligent, yet kind, I loved it from the first page.

Anita Amirrezvani – I read The Blood of Flowers, a historical fiction novel about carpet weavers in 17th century Iran (Persia), recently and loved the flowing prose and the elegant world building. The setting was a completely unique one for me, and such a refreshing change from the usual England and European-set hist fic novels. I see she has another novel about Persia, which I intend to read next year.

Kathryn Ormsbee – Tash Hearts Tolstoy resonated so much with me for its positive asexual representation. I don’t know if this is a one-off, or if more asexual characters will appear in her work, but it was also a charming YA novel in its own right. I would definitely pick up future work by Ormsbee.

Have you read books by any of these authors this year? Which new (to you) authors did you discover in 2017? Let me know in the comments!

The Fall for Books Tag

FallForBooksTag

THE RULES

  • Please link back to this post so I can see your answers!
  • Have fun!

One of the first books you fell in love with

11181070My favourite picture book is a gorgeously illustrated book called The Balloon Tree by Phoebe Gilman. When Princess Leora’s father, the King, travels to a neighbouring kingdom, he tells Leora to signal him by sending up balloons if anything goes wrong. But her uncle, the archduke, is plotting to take over the kingdom. He locks Leora in her room and orders that every balloon in the kingdom be popped. With the help of a wizard, a boy, and the last balloon in the kingdom, she plants a balloon tree that blossoms into thousands of balloons and saves her kingdom from the evil archduke.  Funnily enough I actually don’t like balloons and the popping noise makes me flinch, but I love this book anyway! As an adult working in a kids section of a bookstore, I often recommended this classic to customers and I hope other little girls and boys enjoyed it as much as I did!

A book you knew you were going to love from the first page

JonathanStrangeI knew instantly that Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell would be my kind of book from the sense of humour on the first page. The book opens as follows:

“Some years ago there was in the city of York a society of magicians. They met upon the third Wednesday of every month and read each other long, dull papers upon the history of English magic.

They were gentleman-magicians, which is to say they had never harmed any one by magic – nor ever done any one the slightest good. In fact, to own the truth, not one of these magicians had ever cast the smallest spell, nor by magic caused one leaf to tremble upon a tree, made one mote of dust to alter its course or changed a single hair upon any one’s head. But, with this one minor reservation, they enjoyed a reputation as some of the wisest and most magical gentlemen in Yorkshire.”

This is still one of the best opening pages I’ve ever read. I love how it sets the scene by introducing the state of magic in the world and the type of people who practice it, and I adore the wry humour in this book. The fact that it begins in my favourite historical period, Georgian England, certainly doesn’t hurt either!

A book you didn’t think you would love as much as you do

112077Believe it or not, when I read The Game of Kings by Dorothy Dunnett for the first time in 2012 I wasn’t sure if I would read the rest of the six book series until I was about two-thirds of the way in. Fast-forward five years and I’ve re-read the book two or three times and am planning a full series re-read starting in January! The Game of Kings was Dorothy Dunnett’s first novel and it’s a dense read, but so incredibly worth persevering through. Part of the reason why it’s a more difficult read is that Dunnett lets us see the protagonist, Francis Crawford of Lymond, only through the eyes of other characters, most of whom don’t have the full story. Re-reading the novel, when you’re aware of what Lymond’s motives and goals is a really interesting experience.

The character who will always have a place in your heart

TheVirtuI will always have a soft spot for Mildmay the Fox from Sarah Monette’s Doctrine of Labyrinths series. A former kept-thief and assassin, Mildmay suffers an injury that permanently damages his leg, ending his burglary career and crippling his already low self-esteem. This isn’t helped by a fraught relationship with his half-brother Felix, a wizard, who puts Mildmay down further based on his grammatically incorrect and lower-class method of speaking, or by the sexual and appearance issues he has from his upbringing. Although Mildmay can’t see it, he’s also loyal to a fault, more intelligent than he gives himself credit for, kind, and shy. The Doctrine of Labyrinths series is, in short, a series about two incredibly damaged people who try to get better but the journey is more one step forward, two steps back than a straightforward march.

Character you love on the page, but would never want to meet in real life

351198Don’t get me wrong, I love Francis Crawford of Lymond from Dorothy Dunnett’s Lymond Chronicles a lot. He is one of my favourite literary characters of all time, but I would NEVER EVER want to meet him. Okay, maybe I’d like to catch a glimpse of him from a distance and see what those cornflower blue eyes, yellow hair soft as a nestling, and long fingers, look like in person, just don’t introduce me!

Literary couple you will ship until the day you die

17378508I have to go with Ronan Lynch and Adam Parrish from Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven Cycle, one of few slow-burn romances where I physically made squealing noises when they kissed and had to remember to breathe. I love this relationship so much and I think they complement each other so well.

An author whose writing style you fell in love with

186074I have my issues with the way that Patrick Rothfuss has written women so far in his The Kingkiller Chronicles series, but I adore his prose. There’s a lyrical quality to his writing and a sense that this is an author who loves telling stories. His world-building is often wonderful (particularly “sympathy”, the magic system he develops, and the communication system of the Adem in The Wise Man’s Fear) and I mostly enjoy the more modern dialogue used for characters in his world.

A book recommended to you by a friend/family member that you quickly fell for too

alittlelifeBook blogging friend Rachel of pace, amore, libri recommended A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara in a roundabout way. She was mostly posting to warn the majority of people not to read it due to the massive number of triggers contained in this book and the utter pain of it. Me, being me, read this and went ‘oooohh this sounds like something I’d like!’ Sure enough, I LOVED this book. It’s every bit as triggery and dark as I’d heard and I’d definitely be cautious in recommending it to others, but if it’s your type of book (heavy on the hurt), you will probably love it as much as we did. What an exquisitely written dark fairy tale with characters who mean so much to me!

Piece of book-related merchandise that you had to own

24a2aef2c094778d13ff4dc078db743cI have a large mug collection that’s threatening to take over another shelf in my kitchen, but I couldn’t resist this ‘No Mourners, No Funerals’ mug! It looks like the artist has changed the font since I bought the mug (and tbh I kind of prefer the version I have) but it’s still pretty great and her shop has a ton of other gorgeous book-related mugs too.

 

 

An author whose works you love so much that you auto-buy/borrow their new releases

34076952Appropriately enough after showing off my mug, the answer here is Leigh Bardugo. I’ve never been let down by anything of hers I’ve read (although I’m definitely glad I read the Grisha books before the Six of Crows duology). I thought The Language of Thorns was gorgeous, and I look forward to reading her Nikolai series(!!!) and anything else she chooses to write!

Tagging:
Rachel at pace, amore, libri
Steph at Lost Purple Quill
Hadeer at Hadeer Writes
Darque Dreamer Reads

As always, feel free not to do this, and if you aren’t tagged but think it looks interesting please go for it and link back to me so I can read your answers!

Happy Fall everyone!

5 Seasonal Stories

Although I tend to be more of a Halloween episode television watcher than someone who looks for seasonal reads, there are some books that have a distinctly autumnal, or at least slightly spooky, vibe. Looking for something appropriately seasonal? Here are a few suggestions:

21996The Devil in the White City by Erik Larsen
It takes a lot to get me into a non-fiction book, but Devil in the White City hooked me. Juxtaposing Daniel Hudson Burnham, the architect of Chicago’s world fair, with serial killer Henry H. Holmes, Erik Larsen shows both sides of nineteenth-century Chicago. The book drags a little in the middle, as Holmes’ crimes become repetitive, but is still very much worth reading. The Devil in the White City will make you both marvel at what mankind is capable of achieving and shudder at the depravity of Holmes’ actions.

10626594The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
“It is the first of November and so, today, someone will die.” reads the first line of The Scorpio Races. Admittedly I went through a prolonged horse phase as a girl, so it was obvious this would be right up my alley, but this atmospheric tale of beautiful, but dangerous, water horses and an annual high-stakes race on a vaguely Ireland-inspired rural island is sure to capture your attention. A moving story about the connection between man and beast, Stiefvater brings Thisby and its characters, especially determined Puck, quiet-spoken Sean, and Corr, the red stallion he loves, to vivid life.

30319086If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio
Exploring the boundaries between art and life, If We Were Villains focuses on seven young actors at an elite school, the Dellescher Classical Conservatory. Living in the enclosed bubble that the campus provides, the actors study and perform Shakespeare exclusively, playing the same roles onstage as off. When casting decides to shake things up in their final year, jealousy rears its ugly head and violence invades the make-believe, leading to tragic consequences. This atmospheric tale is undoubtedly a perfect fall read.

27190613And I Darken/Now I Rise by Kiersten White
Kiersten White’s gender-swapped historical fiction take on Vlad the Impaler is the perfect seasonal read. Reimagining the young Vlad as Lada Dragwlya, White tells the story of an angry, brutal princess wrenched from her homeland of Wallachia and abandoned by her father. With only her gentle younger brother Radu for company, she bides her time until she can return to Wallachia and claim her birthright. While Radu finds a home and religion in the Ottomon Empire. Lada’s plans are put into jeopardy by her emerging passion for Mehmed, son of the Sultan.

958158King Hereafter by Dorothy Dunnett
I haven’t actually read this standalone historical fiction novel yet (I’m planning to do so in December), but the subject matter certainly fits the bill! Set in eleventh-century Scotland, King Hereafter is the story of an Earl called Thorfinn, but his Christian name is Macbeth. Impeccably researched, this is a fictionalized account, based on fact, of the real Macbeth. Like author Dorothy Dunnett’s other novels, this appears to be a dense read, but one that is worth persevering through.

Are you a seasonal reader? What Halloween or autumn books would you recommend?

Favourite Lymond Quotes

Perhaps the hardest part of this week’s Top 5 Tuesday prompt, Top 5 Quotes, was choosing a single quote from Dorothy Dunnett’s historical fiction epic The Lymond Chronicles.

There have been many posts written about Ms. Dunnett’s influence on other writers, including this recent article in The Guardian. Among the factors that make The Lymond Chronicles such a captivating read are the main character himself, a sharp-tongued polyglot with a purpose, who I’m often torn between wanting to hug or slap, the author’s masterful use of tension to heighten the stakes, and, of course, the prose.

This is by no means a comprehensive list, but here are ten of my favourite Lymond quotes, organized by book. To avoid spoiling any friends or followers who may read this series in the future, I’ve left out a certain pair of scenes from The Ringed Castle, so Dunnett fans will note the absence of ‘Languish locked in ‘L”, and I’ve eliminated names from a passage that occurs in the last book of the series. Enjoy!

112077“You are the only person here who might discover he has something to gain by selling out. You are the only person who, whatever he does, is sure of a warm, moneyed niche waiting for him on the right side of the law. You are the only person with a shaky interest in ethics and the emotional stability of a quince seed in a cup of lukewarm water. Either you keep the oath you so dashingly pronounced last year, or I deal with you accordingly. I don’t propose to sit here like a pelican in her piety, wondering what you’re doing next.”
The Game of Kings


“Lucent and delicate, Drama entered, mincing like a cat.”
The Game of Kings


“It also brought him the admiration of Mr. Jonathan Crouch, whose temporary career as a prisoner of war, or a sort of promissary note on two legs, had brought him finally to lodge with Sir Andrew.

With Mr. Crouch came his tongue, his teeth, his lips, his hard and soft palate, his maxillary muscles, larynx, epiglottis and lungs: all the apparatus which enabled him, ne plus ultra, to talk. Like the enchanted garden of Jannes, tenanted by daemons, the keep of Ballaggan encased the ceaseless drone of Mr. Crouch’s voice. He droned through September until it and his captors were exhausted; then pounced on October with undimmed vigour and worried the blameless days for a fortnight.”
The Game of Kings


Queens' Play“Considering Lymond, flat now on the bed in wordless communion with the ceiling, Richard spoke. “My dear, you are only a boy. You have all your life still before you.”

On the tortoise-shell bed, his brother did not move. But there was no irony for once in his voice when he answered. “Oh, yes, I know. The popular question is, For what?”
Queens’ Play


The Disorderly Knights“As the soporific sunlight began to embrace his chair, Francis Crawford leaped to his feet with such force that the seat crashed to the floor behind him. He said, ‘Sorry Kate!’ without stopping  and flung away from her, the full length of the room.

There he halted, fighting for equanimity, and after a long difficult silence turned, with obvious reluctance. Kate, standing, had been going to speak. Instead she stared at him, thinking numbly about hot milk and blankets, and saying nothing at all.

His misread her face. He said quickly, ‘Don’t be frightened. You look as if you expected me to strike you …’ And then, his eyes widening with tired shock, ‘Did you? Did you Kate? Oh God, what does it matter then?’ he said, and dropping to his knees beside the stifling windowseat, pressed both hands hard over his eyes, his elbows buried in Kate’s old flock cushions.

Above the white voile of his shirt a pulse was beating, very fast, under the fair skin. After a moment he said, without moving, ‘Would you give me a bed if I asked for one?’

‘My dear, my dear,” said Kate but to herself, ‘I would give you my soul in a blackberry pie; and a knife to cut it with.'”
The Disorderly Knights


“‘Today,’ said Lymond, ‘if you must know, I don’t like living at all. But that’s just immaturity boggling at the sad face of failure. Tomorrow I’ll be bright as a bedbug again.’”
The Disorderly Knights


360455“Francis Crawford’s face in this fleeting moment of privacy was filled with ungovernable feeling: of shock and of pain and of a desire beyond bearing: the desire of the hart which longs for the waterbrook, and does not know, until it sees the pool under the trees, for what it has thirsted.”
Pawn in Frankincense


351198“What he wanted was very near. It was typical of the monstrous, egregious, laughable irony which dominated his life that with every dragging lift of his arms, he should be saying over and over, ‘Not yet.’”
The Ringed Castle


“I wish,’ said Lymond, ‘it would try a major key sometimes.’
‘Wind,’ Chancellor said, ‘is a melancholy creature.”
The Ringed Castle


Checkmate“‘As you say, I’m inexperienced. On the other hand, you are not always right. Please listen. Please think. Are you sure, when it matters so much, that you know my feelings better than I do?’

‘No,’ he said. ‘I’m not infallible. You might, without my crediting it, fall deeply in love and for ever, with some warped hunchback whelped in the gutter. I should equally stop you from taking him.’

She couldn’t speak. Her breath wheezed in and out. With extreme deliberation, and indeed restraint and moderation as well, [she] raised her glass and dashed it on the parquet. Crystals frosted the carpet between them, and the wine lay like blood.

Speech came back. ‘God in heaven,’ [she] said. ‘Do you think that I care?’

He looked up from the mess. ‘I know you don’t,’ Lymond said. His eyes were black, not blue; and there were red splashes on the white velvet. ‘But you must excuse the hunchback, who does.’”
Checkmate

 

T5T: Book Quotes

Top 5 Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the wonderful Bionic Book Worm.  This week’s topic:

OCTOBER 24 – Top 5 book quotes

Rachel and Steph can attest to the fact that narrowing down the multitude of favourite quotations to just five choices was a Herculean task. Asking a book lover to pick just five favourite quotes seems on par with selecting only five books to read for the rest of our lives! Nonetheless, here are some of my favourites (and I’ve only cheated a little bit this time!):

~ 6 ~

The leaves rustled, close and protective, pressing up against his ears, curled in his fists. They didn’t mean to frighten. They only ever tried to speak his language and get his attention. It was not fearsome Cabeswater’s fault that Adam had already been a fearful boy when he’d made the bargain.

“You think they’re gonna look at you and see an abused kid? Do you even know what abuse is? That judge will’ve heard enough stories to know a whopper. He’s not gonna blink an eye.”

The branches leaned toward Adam, curling around him protectively, a thicket with thorns pointed outward. It had tried, before, to cling to his mind, but now it knew to surround his body. He’d asked to be separate, and Cabeswater had listened. I know you are not the same as him, Adam said. But in my head, everything is always so tangled. I am such a damaged thing.

Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater

Have I mentioned that Adam Parrish is one of my favourite characters in all of literature?! Adam’s thought at the end of this passage always make my stomach clench in pain, but it’s such a beautifully written part and I love the development of his relationship with Cabeswater.

~ 5 ~

Jack: How you can sit there, calmly eating muffins when we are in this horrible trouble, I can’t make out. You seem to me to be perfectly heartless.

Algernon: Well, I can’t eat muffins in an agitated manner. The butter would probably get on my cuffs. One should always eat muffins quite calmly. It is the only way to eat them.

Jack: I say it’s perfectly heartless your eating muffins at all, under the circumstances.

The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde

The Importance of Earnest was my first taste of Oscar Wilde’s famous wit. I originally encountered the play in high school and now, more than ten years later, this ridiculous scene of frivolity between the anxious Jack Worthing and his rogueish friend Algy Moncrieff still makes me smile.

~ 4 ~

Cosette, though from another cause, was equally terrified. She did not understand; what she saw did not seem possible to her; at last she exclaimed, “Father! What can that be in those wagons?”
Jean Valjean answered: “Convicts.”
“And where are they going?”
“To prison.”
At this moment a the cudgeling, multiplied by a hundred hands, reached its climax; blows with the flat of the sword joined in; it was a fury of whips and clubs; the prisoners crouched, a hideous obedience was produced by the torture, and all fell silent with the look of chained wolves. Cosette trembled all over; she asked, “Father, are they still men?”
“Sometimes,” said the man of misery.

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

Hugo’s writing is such that there are several Les Miserables passages that could go here, but this often overlooked passage hits me right in the heart, as ex-convict Jean Valjean is confronted with a visceral reminder of his past, while adoptive daughter Cosette, who remains ignorant of his status as an escaped convict, is by his side. Fun Fact: This is actually the passage I chose to have printed on a custom book scarf several years ago!

~ 3 ~

“You’re Jude St. Francis. You are my oldest, dearest friend. You’re the son of Harold Stein and Julia Altman. You’re the friend of Malcolm Irvine, of Jean-Baptiste Marion, of Richard Goldfarb, of Andy Contractor, of Lucien Voigt, of Citizen van Straaten, of Rhodes Arrowsmith, of Elijah Kozma, of Phaedra de los Santos, of the Henry Youngs.
“You’re a New Yorker. You live in SoHo. You volunteer for an arts organization; you volunteer for a food kitchen.
“You’re a swimmer. You’re a baker. You’re a cook. You’re a reader. You have a beautiful voice, though you never sing anymore. You’re an excellent pianist. You’re an art collector. You write me lovely messages when I’m away. You’re patient. You’re generous. You’re the best listener I know. You’re the smartest person I know, in every way. You’re the bravest person I know, in every way.
“You’re a lawyer. You’re the chair of the litigation department at Rosen Pritchard and Klein. You love your job; you work hard at it.
“You’re a mathematician. You’re a logician. You’ve tried to teach me, again and again.
“You were treated horribly. You came out on the other end. You were always you.”

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

A Little Life destroyed me, as I suspect it does just about anyone who makes it through. Yanagihara’s prose is so devastatingly beautiful that again there are any number of quotes I could choose. I had enough distance from this book that a particular quote didn’t instantly spring to mind and I was leaning towards one on friendship (which I also love) but then I scrolled by this one and every single one of those feelings came rushing back. It’s such a beautiful passage. More moving in context, but still wonderful.

~ 2 ~

“Inej turned to go. Kaz seized her hand, keeping it on the railing. He didn’t look at her. “Stay”, he said, his voice rough stone. “Stay in Ketterdam. Stay with me.” She looked down at his gloved hand clutching hers. Everything in her wanted to say yes, but she would not settle for so little, not after all she’d been through. “What would be the point?”
He took a breath. “I want you to stay. I want you to… I want you”.
“You want me.” She turned the words over. Gently, she squeezed his hand. “And how will you have me, Kaz?”
He looked at her then, eyes fierce, mouth set. It was the face he wore when he was fighting.
“How will you have me?” she repeated. “Fully clothed, gloves on, your head turned away so our lips can never touch?”
He released her hand, his shoulders bunching, his gaze angry and ashamed as he turned his face to the sea.”
Maybe it was because his back was to her that she could finally speak the words.
“I will have you without armor, Kaz Brekker. Or I will not have you at all.”

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Gah! Do I really need to say anything more? All the building sexual tension, the reliance that these two characters have on each other and the feelings between these them, which have always been present, but never before voiced, and it comes to a head in this wonderful scene. Inej’s last line gets me every time.

~ 1 ~

“Go away and bleed to death,” said his onetime saviour sharply. “On behalf of the female sex I feel I may cheer every lesion.”

“Remember, some live all their lives without discovering this truth; that the noblest and most terrible power we possess is the power we have, each of us, over the chance-met, the stranger, the passer-by outside your life and your kin. Speak, she said, as you would write: as if your words were letters of lead, graven there for all time, for which you must take the consequences. And take the consequences.

Queens’ Play by Dorothy Dunnett

In my eyes, Dorothy Dunnett’s Lymond series is sheer mastery of the craft of writing. There’s a reason so many prominent authors (including Ellen Kushner, Leigh Bardugo, C.S. Pacat, and Guy Gavriel Kay) admit to being inspired by her works! I could easily create a Top 5, 10, probably even 50 Lymond quotes. I don’t think these are my favourites of all time, but they fit better out of context, and aren’t a page or two in length. The two I’ve chosen also complement each other well. Both quotes are words said by the same character in the same book. Margaret Erskine is a great underappreciated minor character who speaks plainly to Francis Crawford of Lymond. I would love to steal the words in her first quote to use against someone particularly heinous, but it’s the advice she gives in the second about the impact we can have even over acquaintances and people who barely register in our lives, and how devastating the impact can be should we abuse or remain ignorant of the power of our words, that stays with me, and with Lymond.

Those are some of my favourite quotes of all-time, what are some of yours? 

The Raven Cycle Book Tag

I was tagged by the wonderful Steph of Lost Purple Quill, who I was lucky enough to meet a few weeks ago and discuss these books with in person! I devoured the three published (at the time) books of The Raven Cycle in 2015. I had borrowed The Raven Boys, The Dream Thieves, and Blue Lily, Lily Blue from the local library all at once, and I experienced such a book hangover when I finished reading that I immediately started the series over from the beginning before the books had to be returned! Naturally I then progressed to buying my own copies and hoisting them on anyone who would listen, saying you HAVE to read these books. A few years later this remains one of my favourite series of all-time, so I’m so glad that Steph tagged me in this Raven Cycle inspired tag.

The creator of this tag is Inside My Library Mind! She’s also created a bunch of graphics for this, which you can see and use at her original post.

THE RULES

  • Mention the creator in your post.
  • Thank the person who tagged you.
  • If you want to use the creator’s graphics (check the link to her blog), just make sure to give credit!
  • Be sure to include the rules in your post.
  • Tag more people so we can all enjoy it!
  • And most importantly… HAVE FUN!


Blue Sargent: Your Favorite Quirky Character

“Blue was a fanciful, but sensible thing. Like a platypus, or one of those sandwiches that had been cut into circles for a fancy tea party.”

One of my favourite quirky characters remains Princess Eilonwy from Lloyd Alexander’s Prydain Chronicles. The “niece” of Queen Achren, Eilonwy speaks largely in quirky similes and comparisons, which fascinated me as a child. I love that she’s an unconventional Princess, who is forthright and practical about how she feels, yet brings a kind of blunt wisdom to situations. Here are a few of Eilonwy’s gems:

“It’s silly,” Eilonwy added, “to worry because you can’t do something you simply can’t do. That’s worse than trying to make yourself taller by standing on your head.”

“Prince Gwydion’s the greatest warrior in Prydain,” Eilonwy replied. “You can’t expect everyone to be like him. And it seems to me that if an Assistant Pig-Keeper does the best he can, and a prince does the best he can, there’s no difference between them.”

Gansey: A Leader

“Gansey was just a guy with a lot of stuff and a hole inside him that chewed away more of his heart every year.”

I think Gansey is actually a great answer to this question, but a few others I love are Francis Crawford,  of Dorothy Dunnett’s Lymond Chronicles, because he has to learn how to become a good leader over the course of the first three books in the series and discover how to wield the power he has over others responsibly, Kaz Brekker the criminal genius from Six of Crows, and Miles Vorkosigan, the precocious teenage genius of Lois Mcmaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan Saga, whose redeeming feature is that every time he gets himself and his friends into trouble, he manages to get himself out of it again.

Ronan Lynch: Your Favorite Character of All Time

“I am being perfectly fucking civil.”

I feel like this is one of those questions like asking a mother which child is her favourite! I have so many favourite characters, but contenders near the top of the list are, appropriately enough, Adam Parrish of The Raven Cycle, who is so complicated, and wounded, and yet perseveres with a dedication and ambition I could never hope to match, and Mildmay the Fox of Sarah Monette’s Doctrine of Labyrinths series. Mildmay suffers from chronic low self-confidence, particularly after he is physically disabled in an accident, but he’s fiercely loyal, smarter than he believes himself to be, and kind.

Adam Parrish: A Character You Disliked at First but Love Now

“If you combined these two things – the unfathomable and the practical – you were most of the way to understanding Adam Parrish.”

There are characters who I’ve disliked somewhat that I came around to, such as Richard Crawford in The Lymond Chronicles. He is kind of awful to his brother and very dense in the first book, although to be fair his brother (Francis) is baiting him into some of this behaviour, but I am now a card carrying member of the Richard Crawford Defense League.

However, the ultimate answer to this question has to be Gerald Tarrant of C.S. Friedman’s The Coldfire Trilogy. I mean, the first scene of the book is quite literally a flashback to him killing his entire family! It definitely takes a long time to build some grudging affection for the man, but much like protagonist Damian Fryce, over the course of three books of adventure and back-and-forth life saving, I grew to love Tarrant, as infuriating as he often is.

Noah: The Most Lovable Character

“Depending on where you began the story, it was about Noah.”

I’ve said this before, but one of the things I found most refreshing in Katherine Addison (aka Sarah Monette’s) standalone novel The Goblin Emperor was how *nice* the main character, Maia is. Maia spends his childhood exiled from the favored sons of his father, the Emperor, with no friends and watched over by an abusive guardian. But when an accident kills most of the royal family, Maia finds himself on the throne and attempting to navigate court politics and intrigue. Many characters would be bitter and vengeful after suddenly gaining power, but Maia is simply lonely and kind. He’s the kind of character you just want to give a big hug and a helping hand as his only agenda is to do the best he can and make choices that help others.

The Women of 300 Fox Way: Your Favorite Female Role Model

“You could ask anyone: 300 Fox Way, Henrietta, Virginia, was the place to go for the spiritual, the unseen, the mysterious, and the yet-to-occur. ”

One of the great things about reading is coming across so many fabulous female role models. I’m sure I could come up with a long list, but I’ll stick to two. I love Catherine in The Heart’s Invisible Furies because she’s bold and unafraid to stand up for herself and forge the life she wants without taking any crap from anyone, yet she’s also kind and looks out for others when she can. She’s firm, yet fair, as a boss, and even towards the end of her life she is living life to the fullest. I find that very inspiring and I admire her nerve and confidence so much.

One of my favourite characters of all-time is Philippa Somerville of The Lymond Chronicles, who grows from being a precocious child to an intelligent, educated woman who displays extreme courage in order to help others, and who is a grounding, practical presence in the series.

The Search for Glendower: A Book Series You Wish Had Never or Will Never End

“He was everything Gansey wished he could be: wise and brave, sure of his path, touched by the supernatural, respected by all, survived by his legacy.”

I definitely had a huge book hangover after The Raven Cycle and I hated to say goodbye to the characters I so loved, so how lucky I am that The Dreamer Trilogy is coming!

Mr. Gray: An Anti-Hero

“There aren’t terrible ideas. Just ideas done terribly.”

I love Ann Leckie’s unorthodox heroine Breq/Justice of Toren in the Imperial Radch series. An AI former ship who has been exiled to a single ancillary (‘corpse soldier’) body, she experiences pangs of loss for the multiple bodies she could utilize as Justice of Toren, and for the bond between ship and captain that she no longer has. I love that Breq is the kind of character who appears not to care about her crew and the common citizens but she actually feels a keen sense of justice and she secretly cares deeply for her people. Breq’s also blunt, sometimes relentless, and incredibly intelligent, although her motivations are not always clear until well into the story.

Psychics and Tarot Cards: Your Favorite Magic System

“It was impossible to forget that all of these women were plugged into the past and tapped into the future, connected to everything in the world and to one another.”

I think just about everyone in my generation feels some attachment to Harry Potter and wished we received our letter by owl post. However, I also love the Sympathy magic (a form of energy manipulation) described in Patrick Rothfuss’ The Name of the Wind series, which involves creating a sympathetic link between two objects, so what’s done on one object will affect the other. I don’t know that it quite counts as a magic system, but I love how magic materializes in C.S. Friedman’s Coldfire Trilogy as well, where a fictional planet is surrounded by an energy field called the Fae and some individuals have the ability to Work certain types of Fae (Earth, Tidal, Solar, and Dark).

Kavinsky: Your Favorite Unlikable Character

“Reality’s what other people dream for you.”

I have to steal Steph’s answer and go with Julian from The Heart’s Invisible Furies who is, appropriately enough, infuriating, but also hilarious. Despite his words and actions at times, I couldn’t help but like Julian, and feel sympathy for him at times in the story.

Cabeswater: Your Favorite Book Setting

“Cabeswater was such a good listener.”

Admittedly this is influenced by the first movie, which I saw before I read the books, but I love the pastoral cozy appeal of life in Tolkien’s Shire, especially Bag End, as well as the beauty of Rivendell.

I’m not sure which of my followers have read The Raven Cycle, so I won’t tag anyone in particular, but if you’re interested, please consider yourself tagged, and pingback to this post so I can read your answers!