Top summer books

Seemed to me that there was a lot on this blog about writing, and since I just completed the 2017 Goodreads challenge, it seemed like a good point to write a bit about what I like to read. I am, absolutely, one of those authors who tends to stare at people in confusion when they say they don’t read books. I tend to get that head-tilting look of ‘are these people quite all right?’

This may because I’m an addict who will read the bus timetable if there’s nothing else around.

In my defence, I could argue that the Vancouver Translink timetables may be one of the only true works of fiction in the universe…but I digress.

In terms of books I’ve read and re-read so often I’ve had to buy myself copies that haven’t been loved to pieces – this year I re-read my way through Dorothy Dunnett‘s Lymond series. Historical fantasy isn’t always my cup of tea, but I’m on my second set of these books. (True story.) I have a feeling that pieces of my first set are strewn across several continents. In case there aren’t enough clues, I love these books. I have since I stole them from my parents’ bookshelves when I was twelve or so. The writing is fantastic – Dunnett is educated enough to use words even I have to look up, which makes me very happy, and the characters are so incredibly well-developed that they seem a great deal more real than most of the people I interact with. Lymond, especially, is a brilliant character. I’m pretty sure that this series was responsible for giving me my complete inability to resist an intelligent anti-hero. They’re still to this day my favourite type of character.

Another series I particularly enjoyed this year, by an author I discovered much more recently, was the Sunless World series, by Rabia Gale. Quartz and Flare, and their companion, Flux, were books I read through pretty much in one setting, and then went nosing around in the back matter in disappointment when they ended, in case there was more. Gale’s genre is a slippery one to define – you could call her a fantasy writer, or steampunk, or even sci-fi, but none of those are quite right. Either way, since I enjoy all three genres, these books win. In addition to the originality, and in case I’d needed more, the characters hooked me. They’re complex, rude, and there isn’t a stereotype among them.

Yes, I know I said top summer books, not series. I lied.

And, hey, there’s another series I’m going to rave about. They’re also way out of my usual tree: they’re sci-fi romance. I’m a known cynic on the point of romance; I generally find that the pheromones end up hijacking any plot the book might originally have had, at which point my interest switches off like a light. The Dock Five Universe books manage to have both actual characters, rather than mobile sets of genitalia, and actual plots as well. Bonus. I read my way through all of these with enjoyment and am currently intermittently stalking Linnea Sinclair’s website in case she decides to write some more. The sci-fi is believable and well-constructed, the pacing is excellent, and hey, interstellar rebellion. These books had pretty much everything it takes to make me happy.

Another series that falls outside my usual stamping grounds, but had me spellbound anyway: the Detective Kerri Blasco series. My general gripe with crime stories, or crime TV shows, is that by about five minutes in I’ve guessed the ending and I’m hanging in there with only half my brain, waiting to see if I was right. Not so with this series – J. A. Schneider’s plots are sufficiently twisty that I was still guessing right into the finale, and the pacing in all three of this series had me, metaphorically speaking, bouncing in my seat with excitement. I can only imagine how happy they’d make crime enthusiasts.

And hey, finally, I’m going to manage to recommend a book. An actual book. There is a second one, but frankly I much prefer the first, so about the first I will rave, and actually live up to my post title with a single book. That book is Warrior by Marie Brennan, and it’s spot in the middle of my favourite book types – a fantasy with an amazingly well-developed world and unique magic system, and characters I can relate to. (I truly hate helpless heroines, and Mirage is about the least helpless heroine you could hope to meet.) This is another book I’m going to end up re-buying at some point, when the cover falls off and the spine comes apart…it’s one of my comfort books, and shows up in my read list at least once a year.

Anyway, there’s my top five picks from this year. Some old things, some new things, and some blue things. Give some of them a try – I’ve had some of those books longer than I’ve been married, after all, so they definitely offer a stable relationship.

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