Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Top Ten Books I Picked Up On A Whim That I Still Haven't Read

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.

I'm...a little odd. (Though I'm guessing most of you probably already knew that.) Most of the books I read are not recommendations. Occasionally I might pick up a book that everyone else liked - but seldom do I like them. Even less often do I actually get a book recommendation that appeals to me. Partially, I think, because a good majority of the blogs I read and the bloggers I follow are predominantly contemporary readers, while I'm mostly speculative fiction - with some historical thrown in.

So I decided to go a slightly different route, and talk about those books that I thought sounded awesome, even though I knew very little about them, and snapped them up - but that are still waiting for me to read them. (Maybe suggest to me which ones I should start with?)

Once Upon a Scandal by Julie Lemense
Caught up in a scandal of her father’s making, Jane is now an outcast in the society that once prized her refinement. When Lord Benjamin Marworth offers to help redeem her good name, she leaps at the chance.

Too bad his plan requires her very public demise.

To the ton, Benjamin is a dandy and a rake, but that’s merely a convenient disguise to spy for the Crown. Can he save both England and Jane by faking her death and reincarnating her as a French cousin who can ferret out the stolen war secrets he needs? Or will she discover Benjamin’s own dark secrets in the end?

It’s a proposition steeped in scandal if they’re caught — but love just might be worth the risk.

Notes: The whim was threefold: 1) it was cheap 2) I was wanting a spy story and I was disappointed Ring of Secrets by Roseanna M. White turned out so disappointing 3) I was craving romance. And I haven't read it.

Libriomancer by Jim C. Hines
Isaac Vainio is a Libriomancer, a member of the secret organization founded five centuries ago by Johannes Gutenberg. Libriomancers are gifted with the ability to magically reach into books and draw forth objects. When Isaac is attacked by vampires that leaked from the pages of books into our world, he barely manages to escape. To his horror he discovers that vampires have been attacking other magic-users as well, and Gutenberg has been kidnapped.

With the help of a motorcycle-riding dryad who packs a pair of oak cudgels, Isaac finds himself hunting the unknown dark power that has been manipulating humans and vampires alike. And his search will uncover dangerous secrets about Libriomancy, Gutenberg, and the history of magic...

Notes: This was a Jim C. Hines shaped whim. I've read the first two books in his Princess series and adored them, thought this book sounded cool, bought it and didn't truly realize until I later that it's actually an urban fantasy. And I think I've disliked every urban fantasy book I've read. (At least, the ones that weren't also historical.)

Thorn by Intisar Khanani
For Princess Alyrra, choice is a luxury she's never had ... until she's betrayed.

Princess Alyrra has never enjoyed the security or power of her rank. Between her family's cruelty and the court's contempt, she has spent her life in the shadows. Forced to marry a powerful foreign prince, Alyrra embarks on a journey to meet her betrothed with little hope for a better future.

But powerful men have powerful enemies--and now, so does Alyrra. Betrayed during a magical attack, her identity is switched with another woman's, giving Alyrra the first choice she's ever had: to start a new life for herself or fight for a prince she's never met. But Alyrra soon finds that Prince Kestrin is not at all what she expected. While walking away will cost Kestrin his life, returning to the court may cost Alyrra her own. As Alyrra is coming to realize, sometime the hardest choice means learning to trust herself.

Notes: I actually had wanted this book for ages but when I bought it, it was a total whim because I needed something to fill my order out to get free shipping. Then when I got the book, I discovered it's got a really crazy writing style (at the very least, first person present tense, but there's a wonky style to go with it) so I haven't even come close to reading it yet.

A Tyranny of Petticoats by Assorted
From an impressive sisterhood of YA writers comes an edge-of-your-seat anthology of historical fiction and fantasy featuring a diverse array of daring heroines.

Criss-cross America — on dogsleds and ships, stagecoaches and trains — from pirate ships off the coast of the Carolinas to the peace, love, and protests of 1960s Chicago. Join fifteen of today’s most talented writers of young adult literature on a thrill ride through history with American girls charting their own course. They are monsters and mediums, bodyguards and barkeeps, screenwriters and schoolteachers, heiresses and hobos. They're making their own way in often-hostile lands, using every weapon in their arsenals, facing down murderers and marriage proposals. And they all have a story to tell.

Notes: Much like the last one, I bought this when I did because I needed something to fill my order to get free shipping and none of the books on my TBR sounded good. So I checked the recently released list and found this one. Really, I should have spent a little more time thinking about it, because as much as I love the idea, I seldom much care for anthologies.

The Lion of Cairo by Scott Oden
On the banks of the ageless Nile, from a palace of gold and lapis lazuli, the young Caliph rules as a figurehead over a crumbling empire. Cairo is awash in deception. In the shadow of the Gray Mosque, generals and emirs jockey for position under the scheming eyes of the powerful grand vizier. Egypt bleeds and the scent draws her enemies in like sharks. Yet, the Caliph has an unexpected ally—the Old Man of the Mountain who holds the power of life and death over the warring factions of the Moslem world, and he sends his greatest weapon into Egypt. He sends a single man. An Assassin. The one they call the Emir of the Knife.... Like the works of Robert E. Howard and Chabon’s Gentlemen of the Road, Oden masterfully blends history and adventure to create a rollicking tale of intrigue and thunderous battle set against the true jewel of the Arabian Nights, medieval Cairo.

Notes: Possibly the most whim-y-est whim on the list. I saw this book at Book Depot, read about it at Goodreads and bought it the same day. And even for as awesome as it sounds, I'm a little frightened of it, because it's so different than what I usually find myself reading. (And, in truth, I don't want it to fethishize Egypt or, conversly, read like it could take place anywhere.)

Villains by Necessity by Eve Forward
With the banishment of Evil from the realms, the final victory of Good is assured-unless a few stalwart antiheroes can save the world from a serious and potentially fatal imbalance. First novelist Forward explores the complications that arise from a surfeit of "goodness" in the world. The result is a skewed version of the epic fantasy that features an assassin, a thief, an evil sorceress, a dark knight, and an implacable druid as the villains-turned-heroes who must restore the delicate balance of opposing forces before their world disappears in a blinding flash of Goodness and Light. -- Library Journal

Forward's first novel gives the concept of the balance between good and evil a most ingenious twist: What if good were so totally triumphant that it became a worse danger than evil, and a band of unemployed evil characters had to go on a desperate quest to find the means of putting the saving bit of evil back into the world? The result of this twist is an almost straightforward quest tale, with numerous well-drawn characters (including a centaur who starts off as a secret agent for good and eventually joins the side of evil), great ingenuity about magic, very creditable world-building, and considerable wit. Although bearing its share of first-novel flaws, it has many more virtues, which include an underlying, serious examination of the good-evil dichotomy that is the basis of so many role-playing games. -- Roland Green

Notes: While it's true that I wanted this book for ages, it's out of print so is crazy expensive. Finally, I saw it at a reasonable price, ordered it, USPS ate my package - or lost it, maybe - and had to buy a replacement book for me. Even after I finally got it in, I still haven't read it. Totally because my expectations are too high. Like into space, high. ANd that would not be fair to the book.

Caught in the Middle by Regina Jennings
The train to Garber, Texas, is supposed to bring life's next victory to Nicholas Lovelace. Instead, it gets held up by robbers who are thwarted by the last person Nick ever expected--Anne Tillerton from back home in Prairie Lea.

Anne’s been hiding away as a buffalo hunter. She’s only in Garber to find their runaway cook, but the woman flees--leaving Anne with her infant son. With Nick the only person Anne knows in Garber, the two form an unlikely team as they try to figure out what to do with the child.

But being in town means acting and dressing for polite society--and it's not going well for Anne. Meanwhile, Nick's work is bringing new pressures, and being seen with a rough-around-the-edges woman isn't helping his reputation. Caught between their own dreams, a deepening relationship, and others' expectations, can the pair find their way to love?

Notes: I actually can't even remember why I bought this book. It's one of only two books I still have from the very first time I made a TBR Jar - which is like 14 months ago, now - so I think it's a pretty safe assessment that I bought it on a whim.

I could have a few more, but then I'd have to stretch what I'm considering a whim, and I don't want to do that. So you get seven instead of ten. (Which is a pattern I'm starting to notice.)

Anyway, let me know which of these I should drop everything else for and read, please. Or if you also want to read one of them!