Favorite Book World

I’m not typically one for favorites. Not really. Most of the time if someone asks me what my favorite of anything is, I can’t answer because it is always subjective. Color? Depends on what we are talking about. If it is flowers, then I’m limited in choices. Clothing? I like what looks good on me. You ask about food, forget it. I’m a mood eater, just like I’m a mood reader. So if you ask me what’s my favorite book, I’m not going to be able to answer. I can give you a list of books I love, but I couldn’t pick only one. Or even 5.

I was thinking about book worlds and it seems that is a different ball of wax for me because it doesn’t cover just one book or one thing. It is a much bigger concept with lots of little pieces tied into it. It is because of those complexities that I can say I have a favorite. When I realized I actually had one, I sat and thought about why. What makes it a favorite?

When it comes to book worlds, I immediately go to fantasy because those tend to require a level of creativity and detail that realistic fiction doesn’t require because the larger aspects of that world already exist. All those different parts and pieces need to work together and they need to work in a way that sells the reader on that world. That it makes them believe in it. At least that is the way the best ones work for me. I’m sure other genres could work, but something contemporary that exists in the real world probably would never even come close for me.

One of the things that makes a book world truly compelling is that I can’t get the world and how it works out of my mind even when my nose isn’t in the book. It is something that consumes my thoughts, invades even my dreams, and sticks with me long after I’m done reading. So much so, I’m heartbroken every time I finish a book and have to wait for the next release.

While I have several series/worlds that come so close to hitting that coveted favorite spot, only one truly stands out. It’s kind of funny, but all of those series are written by the same author, Anne Bishop. I have other authors and book series I adore (guess what? I don’t actually have a favorite!), but when it comes to worlds, she takes top billing.

The runner up for me has got to be her Black Jewels world. This was probably the first book world that invaded my dreams. I remember the first time I read through the series, I had dreams throughout the entire time I was reading the series. This isn’t entirely uncommon for me as my brain doesn’t like to let me sleep anyway, but it shocked me at how much this world influenced those dreams. I still love this series, but it has to take second place.

Tied for that second place has got to be her Ephemera series. I think part of why this world was so fascinating is because it truly exists on the foundation of this singular concept of “be careful what you wish for, you just might get it.” It is a world that forces you to look a little deeper into yourself and I was at a point in my life where this had a huge impact on me. This didn’t invade my dreams or daily life so much as just really forced me to stop and think, to be a bit more mindful, to see the larger impact of my words and actions.

First place goes to all the books in the Others world. The biggest reason this gets the top spot is because I keep seeing things from that world tie into issues in today’s real world. There are so many deeper concepts in this outside of just an entertaining fantasy. Mostly from the very broad and generalized concepts of humanity, its arrogance, willful ignorance, and finding a balance with the natural world. I cannot tell you how many times I’ll be talking about current events with Hubby and I end up bringing up something from one of the books in this world. I find it utterly fascinating.

While it does have a lot of elements from reality, it is also so very not. I think it is that balance, combined with the level of detail that I really fell in love with. I also feel like it is really unique. Sure, there are certain elements that you see a lot of, but they are presented in such a different way that it makes them feel like brand new concepts that have zero ties to any of those other representations.

Anne Bishop is one of those authors that I’d love to spend at least a couple of minutes inside their head just to see some of the crazy that has to exist to be able to create the stunning worlds she does. I think she is one of those authors that most ideas start out with a “what if?” and it just explodes from there with a ton more of those “what if’s” along the way. You can almost see the path she takes from that question into the worlds she’s created. It is probably why the worlds she creates hold all the top spots for favorite book worlds for me.

Looking at all of these things I’ve brought up with regards to worlds, I think the things that I like the most and what really intrigues me is when they make me think, if it can bring in connections to real life even if the world is completely fantastical. They are all also extremely well thought out, highly detailed and feel utterly unique.

Do you have a favorite book world(s)? What about those worlds stick with you?

*Yes, I am aware that the image I used for this post doesn’t actually picture any of the books from my favorite world. That is because I only have those in ebook form, something I need to rectify. And soon!

 

Book Review – Pillars of the World: Tir Alainn, Book 1 (Reread)

Author: Anne Bishop
Book Name: Pillars of the World
Series: Tir Alainn
Order: #1
Genre: Fantasy
Rating:  Excellent/Favorite
5+stars

 

Blurb: Myth and magic combine in a superb dark fantasy of a world in danger of being destroyed by those who deny themselves and their heritage, and let evil loose in the world.

In Sylvalan, a witch hunt is in full force. As witches and innocents are brutally murdered, magic is disappearing from the land, and the roads between the world of humans and that of faeries are vanishing one by one. Ari’s family has tended one of the Old Places, places which hold the key to travel between human and faery lands, for generations, keeping the magic alive and the land lush and fertile. Ari unknowingly takes a Fae lover, the Lord of the Sun, and immediately becomes the target of the unwanted interest of the faery nobility.

To save their world the Fae must trust humankind, but with a few exceptions they do not believe Ari and her friends can help them. Against the Inquisitor and the arrogant Fae, Ari and those who believe in the world of magic and human unravel the secrets of the Old Places and discover that they all need each other if any are to survive.

This is a story which uses all the myriad stories of humankind, good and evil, to weave a breathtaking tale of action, romance and thought-provoking themes to enthrall readers.

With my kind of reading slump lately, I decided to pick up a book I read a long time ago and has been sitting on my favorites list forever. I was absolutely thrilled to find that it has held up to my memory of a really great book. I was shocked when I discovered that this wasn’t even in my personal book database I keep track of my books in, which I started in 2012. That means I read this long before that. Probably only a few years after it was published as I remember reading the entire series back to back.

Like so many Anne Bishop books, this has deeper themes running through it if you are willing to look past the surface story. When I read this for the first time, I was in a perfect place personally to read the themes that form the basis of this story. The concepts of using people’s fears to push them to do terrible things, often couched in the veil of good vs. evil or religion when in reality the base motive is greed; women being treated as objects or unworthy of basic respect and decency and fighting against that. Some of this is more subtle than others, but it is there. There is more within the series, but I’m attempting to stay with just this book for now. Those concepts made me really think and view my world a little differently, which is something I really needed at the time and sparked a huge personal growth for me at the time.

I no longer needed these themes as I did the first round, but they still speak to me, even if it is a little differently this time. I can see different parallels to the way the world is today and I find those kinds of stories fascinating. Especially the concept of driving fears against “other” or “different” for personal gain.

There are lots of different characters in this to follow and it is told from all those perspectives, which may be difficult for some readers. I enjoyed getting to see the story unfold from those various perspectives. I especially liked getting to see the thoughts from the Fae perspective and how they changed their views, or not, in some cases. While this is the first in a three book series, it ends cleanly without any cliffhangers.

The magic system in this seems to pull heavily from modern pagan/Wiccan practices and has a classic feel to it that I fell in love with the first time around and still held through this second reading years later. While I’m not surprised that I still loved this after all this time, it is Anne Bishop after all, I can say that it isn’t my favorite of hers. I’m not sure anything can top the Others series.

 

Wild Country: The World of the Others, Book 2

Author: Anne Bishop
Book Name: Wild Country
Series: The World of the Others
Order: #2
Genre: Fantasy
Rating:  Excellent/Favorite
5+stars

 

Blurb: There are ghost towns in the world—places where the humans were annihilated in retaliation for the slaughter of the shape-shifting Others.

One of those places is Bennett, a town at the northern end of the Elder Hills—a town surrounded by the wild country. Now efforts are being made to resettle Bennett as a community where humans and Others live and work together. A young female police officer has been hired as the deputy to a Wolfgard sheriff. A deadly type of Other wants to run a human-style saloon. And a couple with four foster children—one of whom is a blood prophet—hope to find acceptance.

But as they reopen the stores and the professional offices and start to make lives for themselves, the town of Bennett attracts the attention of other humans looking for profit. And the arrival of the outlaw Blackstone Clan will either unite Others and humans…or bury them all.

This! This, this, this, THIS!! This is more along the lines of what I expected from Lake Silence. Where Lake Silence is set in this world, it is almost entirely a stand alone book. Outside of the need to be familiar with the world, there is almost nothing that ties that into the original The Others series and can be almost be read by itself. While that is still an excellent book, it didn’t have any familiar characters or settings. This book, however, absolutely does!

Many of the main characters are ones readers got to meet in the original series and it is set in Bennet, a place readers are familiar with because of events in the original series. No, it does not have Meg and Simon, other than mentions (always going to be a tiny bit of a disappointment because they are some of my all time favorite characters).

The timing of this book runs a little in step with Etched in Bone. It actually runs along Lake Silence as well, but because that one is so disconnected from all the other books, it is irrelevant. I would almost call this book #6 in the original series, but because of the lack of Meg and Simon, it does mostly fall outside of that series.

I love the fact that you get to follow many of the characters that we met through the job fair in Lakeside in Etched in Bone. We get to see what happens with them once they  make it to Bennet and how that town, Prarie Gold and it’s characters settled in. This ties up a lot of threads that were left open at the end of Etched in Bone. It also bring into the front a new element, a concept that has been flirted with throughout the original series, with the introduction of Joshua Painter.

While it is truly doubtful this is the end of the World of books, this book does not leave a reader with an obvious sense of where the next book is going to take them. I think it is a real possibility we will see a Hope book, but that isn’t clear. Or maybe we get to see more of Joshua’s story. It is just as likely we will see another unattached book like Lake Silence.

As is always my biggest complaint (if you can even call it that) about any Anne Bishop book is that it had to have a final page. I am never ready to step out of the worlds that she creates.

Lake Silence: The World of the Others, Book 1

Lake Silence
Lake Silence

Author: Anne Bishop
Book Name: Lake Silence
Series: The World of the Others
Order: #1
Genre: Fantasy
Rating:  Excellent/Favorite
5+stars


 

 

Blurb: Human laws do not apply in the territory controlled by the Others–vampires, shape-shifters, and even deadlier paranormal beings. And this is a fact that humans should never, ever forget….

After her divorce, Vicki DeVine took over a rustic resort near Lake Silence, in a human town that is not human controlled. Towns such as Vicki’s don’t have any distance from the Others, the dominant predators who rule most of the land and all of the water throughout the world. And when a place has no boundaries, you never really know what is out there watching you.

Vicki was hoping to find a new career and a new life. But when her lodger, Aggie Crowe–one of the shape-shifting Others–discovers a murdered man, Vicki finds trouble instead. The detectives want to pin the death on her, despite the evidence that nothing human could have killed the victim. As Vicki and her friends search for answers, ancient forces are roused by the disturbance in their domain. They have rules that must not be broken–and all the destructive powers of nature at their command.

The last several days I’ve spent re-reading The Others series in preparation for the new release. I’ve been sitting on pins and needles since the newest book was announced. As usual, I dropped this in my wish list as soon as it was available to do so and have been anxiously awaiting the release date.

Note to self: Just because a book is from one of your favorite authors and appears to be in their current series and you have loved every single book ever written by said author does not mean that you shouldn’t still read the blurb. Silly me didn’t actually notice that this was a “World of…” book and not actually the next installment. Oh, I noticed pretty much on the first page and figured it out, but I had to try really hard not to be disappointed. I should have really known since the cover art for this one was so different from all the other books in The Others series, but I just thought it was decided to go a different direction. Again, silly me for making assumptions.

I did struggle not to be a little disappointed because the problem was mine, but I had spent months looking forward to another Meg, Simon, Sam, Vlad and all the rest of the courtyard’s residents book. This book didn’t have them at all, even as side characters. There are teeny tiny bits where a name is mentioned in passing, but you never see any of those characters in this book. It is a whole new location, new characters and even a few new types of Others that we haven’t seen before.

The other thing that I think was hard for me is that because I love all of those original characters so much, it is exceptionally hard to measure up to them and I just don’t think that anything can ever compare. I enjoyed getting to meet these new characters and learn about a new place. I love this world and will take anything I can get from it, but the original series will probably always be my favorite. This one is still stunningly amazing, but sits just below the level of amazing that the original series holds.

I hope like crazy that this doesn’t mean that Ms. Bishop is done with that original one because I am so not ready to say goodbye to all of those characters. Then again, that is kind of classic for just about anything that Anne Bishop has ever written and why I can continue to read those books over and over again and never begin to get sick of them.

Marked In Flesh: The Others, Book 4

Marked In FleshAuthor: Anne Bishop
Book Name: Marked In Flesh
Series: The Others
Order: #4
Genre: Fantasy
Rating:  Favorite
5+stars


Blurb:  For centuries, the Others and humans have lived side by side in uneasy peace. But when humankind oversteps its bounds, the Others will have to decide how much humanity they’re willing to tolerate—both within themselves and within their community…

Since the Others allied themselves with the cassandra sangue, the fragile yet powerful human blood prophets who were being exploited by their own kind, the delicate dynamic between humans and Others changed. Some, like Simon Wolfgard, wolf shifter and leader of the Lakeside Courtyard, and blood prophet Meg Corbyn, see the new, closer companionship as beneficial—both personally and practically.

But not everyone is convinced. A group of radical humans is seeking to usurp land through a series of violent attacks on the Others. What they don’t realize is that there are older and more dangerous forces than shifters and vampires protecting the land that belongs to the Others—and those forces are willing to do whatever is necessary to protect what is theirs…

Review:  Yes, yes, YES!  Seriously, you just can’t get much better than this.  I knew it was going to be good because I love Anne Bishop, but even going in knowing that, expecting that, I still got way better than that.

I also knew going in that this was going to be one of those intense books since this was the Humans against the Others collision that had been getting built up in the previous books, so that part wasn’t a surprise.  It isn’t often though that the book I’m reading forces me to get up and move while I’m reading because I just can’t sit still.  I was antsy all the way through this.

My biggest complaint with this is really the same one I always have with these books (not that is any kind of real complaint) and that is that there just isn’t enough.  I want more Meg and Simon and Sam and all the rest of the Lakeside Courtyard cast because they are my absolute favorite parts of these books.  I also want more story because I am never ready to hit that last page, knowing that I’m done until the next release.  Even giving myself the time to reread the first three books before this one came out, I’m still not ready to walk away from some of my absolute favorite characters.

Part of what kept me on edge was feeling like this had to end up being the last book in the series, because where can it go from here after such a huge shift, but just not ever really knowing for sure as there were possibilities either way all the way up until the end.  Thankfully, it doesn’t look like Ms. Bishop is ready to let this wonderful world go just yet.

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Coming in May and Update

Current reading stats
New: 138
Re-reads: 28

How I choose the next book to read often depends on how many books are on my To Read list.  The fewer I have available, the more time I have before they are due back (if they are checked out of the library) and I will often just pick the one I’m most looking forward to.  The more I have on that list, with some getting close to their due date for return, I will pick up the one with the closest due date.

After finishing a book the other day, I went to look at all the books I had checked out and on my To Read list to decide which one I wanted to start next. I had quite a few on that list and was really torn because the bottom couple just weren’t books I was all that excited about starting because I wasn’t thrilled by the previous book in the series.  I ended up just going with one that I was way more excited about, thinking I had a bit more time to get to the others before I had to return them.

After doing this a few times and looking at my Coming Soon list of books that are getting released in the next month, I realized that Michelle Sagara’s next House War book, Oracle,  was due out on May 5th.  It has been a bit since the last release in this series and I thought it might be a good idea to do some re-reading.  IF I could get my To Read list under control enough that I’d be able to have time to do that.

Unfortunately, I had a ton of books on that list and a whole crapton on my hold list that would be coming available at random times along the way.  I finally decided that if I kept skipping over those bottom list books, then maybe I should just not bother with them all right now.  I ended up returning a bunch of books to the library so I could focus on the ones I was actually really excited about.  If I get really bored, then I’ll consider checking them out again at some point in the future.  Then again, I may not.  Seems I’m having difficulty finding the time to read all the ones I’d really like to at the moment, so why waste that time with the ones I’m just not all that jazzed about?

Besides, a Michelle Sagara book will ALWAYS take precedence over any other book.  Well, unless it is an Anne Bishop book.  I honestly don’t have a clue what I’d do if those two authors ever released a book at the same time.  Fingers crossed that I’m never quite that lucky.

Even after pairing it down, I still seem to have too many on that list.  If I truly want to have the time to re-read all the connected books from the House War series (that is an awful lot of reading because it connects with both the Sacred Hunt books and the Sun Sword series), I’m going to have to pair it down quite a bit more.  I may have to settle for re-reading just the House War books for now.

No matter what I choose, there is going to be a lot of reading in my future.  As if that is any different than any other day.  😉

 

Vision in Silver: The Courtyard of the Others, Book 3

Vision in SilverAuthor: Anne Bishop
Book Name: Vision in Silver
Series: The Courtyard of the Others
Order: #3
Rating: Excellent/Favorite
Genre: Fantasy

Yet again, Anne Bishop has managed to bring us another stunningly rich book so full of character that you cannot help but be sucked in.  I cannot say enough good things about this new addition to the series.

Vision in Silver continues the story of the Others.  We get to see all our favorite characters along with meeting a few new ones, which is always fun because of how packed full of personality Ms. Bishop creates her characters.

For one of the main characters, Meg, we get to see her continue to learn how to interact and function in the world around her, emphasizing that even though she is extraordinary because she is a blood profit, she is also exceptionally ordinary and makes mistakes just like everyone else.  One of the things that I love about her is that while what she does and who she is has major impacts on the world around her, it is in a way that is indirect.  She isn’t out there fighting or killing the bad guys with her super awesome powers like you see in so many other books.  She does it by being an example to everyone around her of how to be a better person just by being who she is and what she does.  That aspect of her character really stands out in this book.

While we see a heightened degree of bitterness, ignorance and hatred from some humans towards the terre indigene and the humans that try to keep the balance and peace in this book, we also get to see the friendship between Meg and Simon continue to grow and evolve.  We are definitely left on something of a high note by the end of the story, but that high note is balanced on the edge of what is promising to be really ugly times ahead.

As is typical with an Anne Bishop book, I was so not ready for it to end by the time I’d finished reading.  I wasn’t ready to leave that carefully and beautifully crafted world.  I am beyond anxious to get to the next one, even though I don’t think there is even a title listed for it yet, so that I can sink back into it again.  This one most definitely is on my favorites shelf!

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Can’t Wait! and Update for February

March 3 is the release date for the newest book in the the Courtyards of the Others series by Anne Bishop, Vision in Silver.  I’ve already got this on pre-order and will be getting started reading it as soon as it shows up on my reader.  Still going back and forth on trying to decide if I want to re-read the other two books in the series before it comes out as a refresher.  Gonna have to give that some thought.

So far this year, my book count stands at 78 new books and 15 re-reads.  Apparently this is going to be my year to go back and read some of my favorites again as I still haven’t really found a new author to grab my attention.  Not that I have much problem at all re-reading my favorites, they are favorites for a reason.

Along the Anne Bishop theme, I’ve re-read all the books in the Black Jewels world.  I’ve actually had times where when reading a book again after a while I realize that I don’t actually like it as well as I thought I had.  That is so not the case with that series.  I have a feeling it will be the same with the new Others series, so maybe I will go through with the refresher read after all.