top 5 wednesday: sci-fi & fantasy on my TBR

Top Five Wednesday was created by Lainey from gingerreadslainey and is currently hosted by Sam from Thoughts on Tomes. Check out the goodreads group to learn more.

April 5th: Top SFF Books on Your TBR: Talk about the science fiction and fantasy books you want to read ASAP!

Now, it’s not a huge secret that I don’t read a lot of fantasy or sci-fi, so I initially assumed I’d have to skip this week.  After glancing at my goodreads shelves though I realized I do actually have more than enough to make a top 5 out of.  So without further ado…

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The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin: (from goodreads) “The season of endings grows darker as civilization fades into the long cold night. Alabaster Tenring – madman, world-crusher, savior – has returned with a mission: to train his successor, Essun, and thus seal the fate of the Stillness forever.  It continues with a lost daughter, found by the enemy.  It continues with the obelisks, and an ancient mystery converging on answers at last.  The Stillness is the wall which stands against the flow of tradition, the spark of hope long buried under the thickening ashfall. And it will not be broken.

This is the second book in N.K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth trilogy.  After reading and (really unexpectedly) loving The Fifth Season, I can’t wait to see where she takes this story.  I should probably get on this before I forget too many details from the first book!

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Dark Matter by Blake Crouch: (from goodreads) ““Are you happy with your life?”  Those are the last words Jason Dessen hears before the masked abductor knocks him unconscious.  Before he awakens to find himself strapped to a gurney, surrounded by strangers in hazmat suits.  Before a man Jason’s never met smiles down at him and says, “Welcome back, my friend.”  In this world he’s woken up to, Jason’s life is not the one he knows. His wife is not his wife. His son was never born. And Jason is not an ordinary college physics professor, but a celebrated genius who has achieved something remarkable. Something impossible.  Is it this world or the other that’s the dream? And even if the home he remembers is real, how can Jason possibly make it back to the family he loves? The answers lie in a journey more wondrous and horrifying than anything he could’ve imagined—one that will force him to confront the darkest parts of himself even as he battles a terrifying, seemingly unbeatable foe.

I’ve heard nothing but good things about this book.  Plus, since it was chosen for BOTM last year and they don’t really do heavy sci-fi, I think it seems literary enough that there’s a good chance I’ll enjoy it.

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The Queen of Blood by Sarah Beth Durst: (from goodreads)  “An idealistic young student and a banished warrior become allies in a battle to save their realm in this first book of a mesmerizing epic fantasy series, filled with political intrigue, violent magic, malevolent spirits, and thrilling adventure.  Everything has a spirit: the willow tree with leaves that kiss the pond, the stream that feeds the river, the wind that exhales fresh snow . . .  But the spirits that reside within this land want to rid it of all humans. One woman stands between these malevolent spirits and the end of humankind: the queen. She alone has the magical power to prevent the spirits from destroying every man, woman, and child. But queens are still just human, and no matter how strong or good, the threat of danger always looms.

With its generic fantasy title and generic fantasy cover this is the sort of book I’d normally never look twice at – but it comes really highly recommended by my friend Hadeer @ Hadeer Writes!  And I’ve read a lot of really positive reviews, so I’m definitely going to check this one out at some point.

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The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers: (from goodreads) “Somewhere within our crowded sky, a crew of wormhole builders hops from planet to planet, on their way to the job of a lifetime. To the galaxy at large, humanity is a minor species, and one patched-up construction vessel is a mere speck on the starchart. This is an everyday sort of ship, just trying to get from here to there.  But all voyages leave their mark, and even the most ordinary of people have stories worth telling. A young Martian woman, hoping the vastness of space will put some distance between herself and the life she‘s left behind. An alien pilot, navigating life without her own kind. A pacifist captain, awaiting the return of a loved one at war.  Set against a backdrop of curious cultures and distant worlds, this episodic tale weaves together the adventures of nine eclectic characters, each on a journey of their own.

I’ve heard a lot of people say that this is similar to Firefly… which isn’t exactly the best way to get my attention, because (unpopular opinion) I could never get into that show.  However!  I also keep hearing that it’s very character driven and not very Hardcore Sci-Fi, which is great for me, because I like my sci-fi as light on the sci-fi as possible.  I love stories that focus on groups of individuals and group dynamics, so this sounds like something I will (hopefully) enjoy!

25489134 The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden: (from goodreads) “At the edge of the Russian wilderness, winter lasts most of the year and the snowdrifts grow taller than houses. But Vasilisa doesn’t mind—she spends the winter nights huddled around the embers of a fire with her beloved siblings, listening to her nurse’s fairy tales. Above all, she loves the chilling story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon, who appears in the frigid night to claim unwary souls. Wise Russians fear him, her nurse says, and honor the spirits of house and yard and forest that protect their homes from evil.  After Vasilisa’s mother dies, her father goes to Moscow and brings home a new wife. Fiercely devout, city-bred, Vasilisa’s new stepmother forbids her family from honoring the household spirits. The family acquiesces, but Vasilisa is frightened, sensing that more hinges upon their rituals than anyone knows.

And finally, a historical fantasy novel that I’ve heard nothing but good things about, and which my friend Chelsea recently read and recommended to me.

Oh, and obviously The Winds of Winter, whenever the heck that comes out.

Also, I thought now would be a good opportunity to mention that if you like my blog but wish I read more sci-fi & fantasy, you guys should check out my friend Chelsea @ Spotlight on Stories.  We share a lot of opinions and review quite similarly, but she reads a lot more SFF than I do.  And she’s way nice and always down to talk books.  (And Chelsea, I totally forgot about Six of Crows while making this post and now I’m too lazy to edit it, but fear not, it’s at the top of my list!!)

I do try to read across all genres, so I’m going to make an effort to tackle this list by the end of the year.  What SFF would you guys recommend to someone who reads mostly literary fiction?  Comment and let me know!

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25 thoughts on “top 5 wednesday: sci-fi & fantasy on my TBR

  1. Ursula Le Guin is great if you’re more interested in characters and prose than the conventions of science fiction. I’ve had The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet recommended recently, also on the basis of a similarity to Firefly. But although I do like Firefly it’s not my favourite Whedon experience. I’m preferring Killjoys, more fun and fewer affectations. The universe it’s set in coheres better and makes more sense.

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    • Ohh great recommendation, I always forget about Le Guin! I had to read The Wizard of Earthsea my freshman year of high school and I didn’t like it at all, but then I also read Lavinia (not SFF – much more up my alley) and enjoyed it a lot. I’ve been meaning to try The Left Hand of Darkness for a while but for some reason I hadn’t added it to my goodreads TBR so I keep forgetting about it.

      I’m definitely curious to see how I’ll like TLWTASAP (that’s a mouthful) – with Firefly I think it also didn’t help that I’m really picky about TV series and films. I think there’s a good chance I’ll enjoy a Firefly-ish book more than I did the show.

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    • I had an extra BOTM credit this month and I was so close to adding Dark Matter as my second book, but then I switched it to Exit West at the last second. I’ve wanted to read Dark Matter for ages though so I am determined to get around to it soon!!

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    • Oh cool!!! I wish I were more of an audiobook person since I have such a long drive to work, but I always find myself zoning out. I can’t wait to read it though! I’m so charmed by the cover.

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      • I tried listening to The Odyssey audiobook read by Ian McKellen last summer and WITHOUT FAIL I would fall asleep partway through every chapter until I finally resigned myself to just reading it. I’m sorry, Sir Ian, I tried! I envy those who can listen to audiobooks easily because I think they’re so cool!

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      • *flips hair* Yeah maaybe I’m cool B) Haha kidding, but man The Odyssey is probably not the best to listen to the audio book, as it’s a pretty tough read. I prefer “lighter” books as audio books, like percy jackson etc. Also they become many times a lot funnier and on some occasions I had to cover up my laughter with coughs because I was sitting on some public transport 😂

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      • To be fair I’m a total classics geek – like I’m the sort of reader who finds The Iliad genuinely thrilling, so I’m a bit weird. But point taken, next time I attempt it I’ll definitely go for a thriller or something fast paced.

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      • No THAT is super cool. I haven’t read any ancient greek literature except some parts and I’ve found all of them so hard to read. But I do love almost all the classics I’ve read (of my own free will), from Shakespeare’s Hamlet to H.C. Andersen’s The Snow Queen. There’s something about the old (and beautiful) language and the knowledge that it was written in a completely different time with a different view and knowledge of the world. Or, when you realize that perhaps we are not so different at all from our ancestors.

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      • If you’re interested in the Iliad/Odyssey, the Robert Fagles translation is pretty accessible. For Greek tragedies, I think Medea (Euripides) and Oedipus Rex (Sophocles) are both fast-paced and easy to follow without having studied their context in a lot of detail. And the great thing about the tragedies is that they’re so short, so it’s not a huge time investment if you’re curious to check any of those out!

        But yes, that’s exactly what I love about them! I love the universality of classics; how they simultaneously represent a very specific moment in history, but also speak to all of humanity. But I totally get what you’re saying about reading them of your own free will – most of my favorite classics are ones that I discovered after I graduated college. The ones I was forced to read for school haven’t really stuck with me, only with a couple of exceptions.

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  2. Thank you for the lovely shout out! ❤

    I hadn't heard of Dark Matter before, but it looks really interesting so I'll have to add it to my list. I think I'm going to do an Obelisk Gate re-read this summer before the last book in the series comes out. This is such a great list, obviously three of them I loved and the other two I want to read!

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      • Haha, I feel you, I read The Fifth Season last year and was a little lost at first when I started this one XD It’s different, we lost some of the shock factor (you know) but I really enjoyed where the story went (also I love Hoa, and he’s there :D). I was scared to be disappointed but I really wasn’t :))

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      • It’s been a while for me too since I read The Fifth Season about a year ago, but I’m hoping my memory won’t totally fail me. And that’s great, I’m glad it lived up to the high bar she set with the first one!

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    • Ugh same, it is such a problem! I was tempted to buy Dark Matter now that it’s in paperback but I still have so many books I need to read first. But hopefully soon! Hope you enjoy it!

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