Friday, October 2, 2009

I've been dared

Smugglers Ana and Thea have laid down the gauntlet and dared me to read a book out of my comfort zone. What me? Have a zone? Be picky? Surely not!

These are my bookish prejudices. Or at least the sort of books I tend to avoid
, by design or serendipity.

  • Urban fantasy. Too edgy. Too urban. I want to get out of the concrete jungle when I read.
  • The women on said urban fantasy novel covers. They're agressive and oversexed and look like a lads' mag wet dream.
  • Epic fantasy. These books are about as gripping as someone reading aloud the Old Testament. "And then Nathaniel begat Oroc, and Oroc begat Farameer, and Farameer begat blah blah blah, and they all live on the edges of the Sunderland, which is north of the Caracas, which is somewhat southerly to Vilok..." ie. Too many people and place names that nanna here can't keep straight so she just gives up.
  • Sci-Fi. People who read sci-fi belong to the Realm of the Giant Nerds. I'm known to take a daypass and have a look around, say hi to my brother and old man (who are Giant Nerds), but I don't stay long. Dystopias don't count. People who read dystopias are way cool.
  • Stream of consciousness/experimental writing. Go away Mrs Dalloway. Just go away and come back when you can construct a sentence that doesn't make my head explode.
  • Stuff by men/male protagonists. Now, I don't have anything against writing by men, or male protagonists. I rather like men, it's just what I read mostly tends to be by women, about women.

So the Smugglers have come up with a list of books they love that normally I wouldn't pick up in a pink fit and dared me read one and review it for them. They are:

Urban Fantasy/Oversexed chicks on the covers:
Succubus Blues, Richelle Mead

Dead Witch Walking, Kim Harrison

Moon Called, Patricia Briggs

The Warrior's Apprentice, Lois McMaster Bujold

Epic Fantasy:
Kushiel's Dart, Jacqueline Carey

Experimental/stream of consciousness:House of Leaves, Mark Z. Danielewski

By men/male protagonist:Good Omens, Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman

I'm leaning towards The Warrior's Apprentice because it sounds cool and is both sci-fi and has a male protagonist. Do you guys have any thoughts?


  1. My picks from that selection would be "Moon Called" or " The Warrior's Apprentice". Both are great books - but totally different from each other.

  2. First of all, sci-fi is awesome, and you should totally give it more of a chance! :-)
    My suggestion, though, is "Good Omens," because it is fun and cute and funny. . .maybe even hilarious. Really, it's just a GOOD read, and I don't see how anyone could dislike it. So maybe, just maybe, it would be something you actually like.

    I think that you would HATE "Elric: Stealer of Souls," the book that I am reading right now.

  3. Oh, and I forgot to mention - I gave you an award, so go check it out!

  4. Hmmm, if I were YOU, I'd read Kushiels Dart, House of Leaves or good omens....

    I hate to judge - but the covers of the others are a little, dare i say it....trashy*?

    (*in the coolest way, of course) eep!

  5. We obviously have the exact same (dis)taste because ALL of those books would send me running away screaming. I have been told Ms. Carey is excellent though, and I even have Santa Olivia on my shelf. Maybe I should give it a whirl and we can wallow in misery together ;)

  6. I'm sure they've all got merit as the Smugglers have such excellent taste. I'm especially keen on the last three and will probably try them all. Always liked Pratchett (Mort and Soul Music are favourites of mine). Thea says House of Leaves is REALLY freaky-scary, and I'm a pussy, so maybe one to read midsummer in the middle of the day, which is how I first watched The Shining :D

  7. I think you have some really great choices there. Patricia Briggs is one of my favorite authors… I think I've even collected all her books. I haven't read much of Bujold, but I've heard only very good things about her scifi books (and I've really liked her fantasy). Carey is another excellent author, but it's worth noting that Kushiel's Dart contains a lot of sexual content. I snagged House of Leaves through BookMooch earlier this year, but I haven't had a chance to read it yet (I was a bit strung out on Hal Duncan's duology when it arrived). Good Omens is utterly fantastic, but it took me until my second (or maybe third) read to really appreciate it.

    I would have suggested the male author Jim Butcher's Dresden Files, which has a male protagonist. (I also love the short-lived TV show of the same name.) It starts off with Storm Front, although I found the later books in the series to be better. For a scifi book, I would have suggested John Scalzi's Old Man's War (which I suppose would also qualify for as a male author/ male protag. book). And my favorite epic fantasies are authored by Melanie Rawn—Her Dragon Prince novel kicks off a series, but it could double for a stand-alone novel in a pinch.

    Can't wait to hear your review of whatever you read!

    —Cywrain (comment via LJ login inexplicably malfunctioning)

  8. One of these things is not like the other. Most of those are paperback trash (nothing wrong with that, but you know what I mean). Good Omens, on the other hand, is a great book. I frankly can't believe you haven't read it. Oh, or try Nevermore, which is sort of British urban fantasy, but not the way you're thinking, and is also by Neil Gaiman. Seriously, Good Omens is easily the best thing you've got posted here, by miles.

  9. downtown guy - do you mean neverwhere? I recommend that one too, tis nice.

  10. *lets out an evil cackle*

    Well, Ana and I are definitely pleased that we're persuading you to give at least one of these books a try. Honestly, I love every book on this list (well, no kidding, we wouldn't recommend them if they weren't good books). It seems that GOOD OMENS has the most fans (which isn't surprising, considering the two authors are writing legends).

    Although I do have to say in defense of the so-called paperback trash novels, you know that old adage, 'never judge a book by its cover' really does apply. Admittedly some of these covers are hideous (the UF and KUSHIEL'S DART covers in particular make me cringe), but the stories within them are fantastic, intelligent, and well-written. I would argue that KUSHIEL'S DART in particular has world-building, flawless prose, and a rich alternate mythology that puts even GOOD OMENS to shame. (Yes, it should be mentioned though that this book does have sexual content - but it's not a "boddice ripper" or a romance. It's simply part of who the protagonist is as a character.)

    If anyone here has never tried Patricia Briggs or Kim Harrison in general, you really should get on board! Briggs in particular is a masterful storyteller who also writes traditional fantasy, and Kim Harrison is also "Dawn Cook" (author of the First Truth fantasy series). If that helps sway anyone to give the Urban Fantasy genre a try!

    And I could go on for DAYS about the brilliance of Lois McMaster Bujold's Miles Vorkosigan books.

    Seriously - give these books a chance. Read them before judging them for some crappy marketing team's poor choice of covers!

  11. Awesome (and hilarious) post. Looks like we share the exact same bookish predujices. That said, I actually read a Kim Harrison book two years ago and really enjoyed it. I'm leaning towards House of Leaves or The Warrior's Apprentice out of those.

  12. Totally, positively HAVE to recommend you read Good Omens. :) I loan it to my hardest-to-win-over friends, and get nothing but raves. Neil Gaiman is THE MAN. Happy reading!

  13. Rhiannon -
    You will probably want to start at the beginning of the Bujold series - Strong female character, easy to read, good...stuff.
    If you decide to go that route I will link you to the reading order on Goodreads! Its a huge space opera. I am currently reading Warrior's Apprentice the third in the series. Highly recommended.

  14. It's the third, Shellie? What's the first? I'll have to look it up. And yes looks like Good Omens is an automatic buy now, even though I don't think I'll pick it for the challenge. If it's so easy to like, where's the challenge in that!

  15. Good Omens, everything from Terry is GREAT!

  16. That's funny, many of your "book prejudices", are part of my favorite readings! I have to say though, that I just love your interpretation of epic fantasy! It's true, sadly, that many of them sound like collections of names...

    On your list of possible reads, I read Mooncalled and loved it. I found Mercedes to be a strong, independant character!