My guest today is TJ, the chick behind the fab blog, Dreams and Speculation. You may also know TJ from her previously named blog Book Love Affair, but recently she had a name and design make-over and I think they both sound and look fab!
I enjoy TJ’s blog as she reads the kinds of books I don’t – High Fantasy is a genre I would love to get into, but the complex world-building and, more often than not when dealing with HF, the 600+ pages, always makes me put these books on the back burner. And if I decide not to read them at least I can read the very well thought out and in-depth reviews by TJ to let me know if the book is worth the time or not.
Thank you, Carolyn, for giving me the chance to put some of my favorite books out there to your readers! But I have to say, there is nothing quite as hard as choosing just a few books to recommend. I want to make huge lists with genre-specific notes: “If you like literary fiction, you must read Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko. Or do you prefer awesome science fiction? Then you must go to Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness! Urban fantasy? Easy! Seanan McGuire’s Rosemary and Rue or Stacia Kane’s Unholy Ghosts are both gritty and made of awesome…”
Well, after a lot of consideration, I decided to narrow it down to three books.
Kindred by Octavia Butler
Octavia Butler is considered a “classic” science fiction writer for a reason. If you read her Kindred then you can see why. She’s incredibly sensitive to the issues she wants to write about (in this case, the treatment of women and the effects of slavery) and makes it so easy to access that even a person who hates science fiction would probably enjoy the story. It’s a rollercoaster of a ride from beginning to end, but the most thoughtful and beautiful rollercoaster you can imagine.
Pump Six and Other Stories by Paolo Bacigalupi
I suspect almost every fan of science fiction has heard the incredible buzz that has followed Bacigalupi’s The Windup Girl. However, his short story collection has gone a little under the radar. It’s titled Pump Six and Other Stories and is just incredible. It’s sort of like Ray Bradbury if he were incredibly depressed and on crack. In other words: amazing. Now, the hardcover copies have gone out of print, but in December the book will be re-released in paperback. Until then, I advise getting a taste of the awesomeness of Bacigalupi’s short fiction by heading to his website and sampling the stories he has up for free. I especially recommend “The People of Sand and Slag” and “The Fluted Girl,” because both are utterly creepy and powerful. The rest of the book is just as good, too!
Graceling by Kristin Cashore
I was a little torn about whether I should put Cashore’s Fire or Graceling up as my recommendation. They’re both fantastic, but I decided to go with Graceling because I think that it’s better to read it first, before Fire. Anyway, what Cashore has going for her is that she creates female protagonists with unconventional views of marriage and family. Not only that, but each protagonist is incredibly consistent in her beliefs and just wonderfully developed. Cashore is one of the reasons that I could never give up reading young adult books.
I hope that I’ve intrigued a few of you with these excellent authors and titles!