My Winter Reading List (2014-2015)

Here are the books that I’m planning to read this winter. Some of these are set in winter, or just remind me of winter, but most have nothing to do with it. For some reason, when it gets cold, I mostly gravitate towards children’s literature. I don’t know why! Perhaps the approaching Christmas reminds me of my childhood? Who knows!

This post is linked at “Top Ten Tuesday”, a weekly book list meme hosted by The Broke and Bookish. All the links take you to Goodreads.

Maija’s Top 10 Books from Winter TBR Pile

1. The Iron Trial (Magisterium #1) by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare
I will read anything that Holly Black writes, so I’m looking forward to reading this magical school fantasy. I think I’m going to buy this as a birthday gift for myself.

2. The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black
Also written by Holly Black, so a must read. This new release comes out on January 13th.

3. The Dark is Rising (The Dark is Rising #2) by Susan Cooper
The second book in the Dark is Rising series begins at winter solstice, so it is a perfect winter read. It is also about time that I continue with this series!


4. The Mad Ship (The Liveship Traders #2) by Robin Hobb
I want to continue on with this fantasy series and find out what happens to Wintrow, Althea, and Paragon!

5. The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman and Chris Riddell
Another potential birthday gift for myself. Neil Gaiman’s twist on the Sleeping Beauty tale is something I’d really like to read.

6. Ancillary Justice (Imperial Radch, #1) by Ann Leckie
I finally want to start this Hugo award winning series!


7. Foxglove Summer (Peter Grant #5) by Ben Aaronovitch
This is a quite new release, and I’m anxiously waiting for it from the library. If it takes too long, I might just cave and buy it as an ebook, even though I don’t own the other books in the series! I just really want to know what happens after book four!

8. Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos (Theodosia Throckmorton, #1) by R.L. LaFevers
I just bought this children’s book about museums and cursed artifacts, and I really want to get to it.

9. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
I’ve never read this Christmas classic, only seen adaptations of it. Might tackle it on Christmas day.

10. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke
I really, really want to reread this book, and for some reason I associate it with winter. Perhaps because of its length? Big books always feel like winter reads to me – something to curl up with on the sofa. Let’s see if I manage to get to it!

What’s on your Winter TBR list? Are there some books that you’ve been meaning to read for the longest time, or are most of them new releases?


Witches in Fantasy Books

Tough Traveling

Each Thursday, The Fantasy Review Barn uses Diana Wynne Jones’s The Tough Guide to Fantasyland, and tours the mystical countryside looking for adventure and fun (and tropes) from all over fantasy.

This week’s tour topic is Witches. All the links for the books take you to GoodReads. The artwork is The Wyrd Sisters by Paul Kidby.

Wyrd Sisters artwork
1. Granny Weatherwax
From the Discworld series, by Terry Pratchett
This no-nonsense witch is the unspoken leader of her community of witches, and probably even the most powerful witch in Discworld. She’s awesome and I love her. She just might be my favourite witch in literature.

2. Tiffany Aching
From the Discworld series, by Terry Pratchett
Tiffany is the main character of her own series of YA witch novels set in Discworld. Through the books, she is learning how to be a witch, and growing into her role as the defender of her village.

3. Professor Minerva McGonagall
From the Harry Potter series, by J.K. Rowling
My favorite witch and teacher in the Harry Potter universe, Prof McGonagall is a seriously powerful witch who specialises in transfiguration. She also has a sense of humour, though it is often hidden behind the respectable veneer.

4. Courtney Crumrin
From the Courtney Crumrin graphic novel series, by Ted Naifeh
This loner kid doesn’t get the awards for being the most loving people person, but she does manage to save the day on multiple occasions. Despite her cynical attitude, Courtney is still often surprised by the unfairness and everyday, practical cruelty of adults.

5. The White Witch
From The Chronicles of Narnia, by C.S. Lewis
An awesome, striking antagonist, the White Witch has made it eternal winter with no Christmas in Narnia. She also turns people into stone statues, so you wouldn’t want to mess with her. My favorite part from the book, animation, and BBC series as a kid was when the Witch conjures up the hot drink and Turkish Delights for Edmund.

There are some wonderful witches in fantasy. Those who didn’t quite make the list were Thessaly from the Sandman graphic novels, as well as Lettie Hatter and the Witch of the Waste from Howl’s Moving Castle. There must be tons of others whom I’m forgetting.

Top 10 Authors I’ve Only Read One Book From

Here is a list of authors from whom I’ve only read one book, but am excited to try more of their works.
I mention:
1) what I’ve read from the author,
2) why I loved that book, and
3) what book I would like to read from them next.

Some of these authors were also mentioned in an older post, Top 10 New-To-Me Authors I Read in 2013.

This post is linked at “Top Ten Tuesday”, a weekly book list meme hosted by The Broke and Bookish. All the links below take you to GoodReads.

Maija’s Top 10 Authors I’ve Only Read One Book From, and Need to Read More

Throne of the Crescent Moon A Room with a View

1. Saladin Ahmed
Read: Throne of the Crescent Moon
Loved: The fun, old-school adventure fantasy feel
To Read: Engraved on the Eye, a short story collection

2. E. M. Forster
Read: A Room with a View
Loved: Everything about it: the characters, the plot, the romance…
To Read: Maurice

3. Raymond E. Feist
Read: The Magician
Loved: It’s been a while since I read this, I just remember I liked it – perhaps the main character & the magic?
To Read: The Riftwar Saga

4. Oscar Wilde
Read: The Picture of Dorian Gray
Loved: The lush descriptions, that air of decadence, the heavy themes, the snarky dialogue, Basil
To Read: The Importance of Being Earnest

5. Catherynne M. Valente
Read: The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making
Loved: The fairy-tale like narrative voice
To Read: The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There

Rebecca All These Things I've Done

6. Jonathan Maberry
Read: Rot & Ruin
Loved: The characters, the zombie apocalypse, the questions raised about humanity
To Read: Dust & Decay

7. Rainbow Rowell
Read: Attachments
Loved: I actually didn’t really like this book, but I want to give her YA fiction a try
To Read: Fangirl

8. Victor Hugo
Read: The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Loved: The question of morals, of good and evil, prevalent in all the characters, masterfully done in Frollo
To Read: Les Misérables

9. Daphne du Maurier
Read: Rebecca
Loved: The atmosphere was off the charts, loved the writing style!
To Read: Jamaica Inn

10. Gabrielle Zevin
Read: All These Things I’ve Done
Loved: The cold & guarded main character, that read-in-one-sitting fast-paced quality
To Read: Because It Is My Blood

Towers in Fantasy Books

Tough Traveling

Each Thursday, The Fantasy Review Barn uses Diana Wynne Jones’s The Tough Guide to Fantasyland, and tours the mystical countryside looking for adventure and fun (and tropes) from all over fantasy.

This week’s tour topic is Towers. These towers can be tricky places to visit, since a lot of them are either hidden or in ruins. All the links for the books take you to GoodReads. The picture of Barad-dûr is from Tolkien

1. The Tower of Joy
From A Song of Ice and Fire, by George R.R. Martin
The tower where Ned Stark’s sister, Lyanna, died under mysterious circumstances. Eddard had the tower torn down, though, so you can’t actually visit it on your tour of fantasylands nowadays.

2. The Tower of the Hand
From A Song of Ice and Fire, by George R.R. Martin
A bit more recently important tower from the ASoIaF universe is, of course, the Tower of the Hand. It is very pleasant and richly furnished, but must not be a very cheery place, considering that most of the King’s Hands seem to have met a bad end.

3. The Tower of High Sorcery of Wayreth
From the Dragonlance universe
The Tower of Wayreth makes another appearance on these lists. This is where the Test of High Sorcery takes place. The tower can be quite tricky to visit, since it changes location, and only shows itself to the people it chooses.

4. The Tower of High Sorcery at Nightlund
From the Dragonlance universe
Another tower from the Dragonlance universe, this is where Raistlin Majere sets up shop with his apprentice, Dalamar, in Dragonlance: Legends. This one used to be The Tower of High Sorcery at Palanthas, but bad things happened. The tower is still standing, but it is an empty shell, and I would not encourage you to tread inside.

5. Barad-Dûr
From The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Dark Tower is a fortress in Mordor. From its highest tower the Eye of Sauron kept watch over Middle-earth. Again, a historically important tower, now only ruins.

None of these towers are very happy places – I think being, at the least, a bit gloomy is a prerequisite to being a tower in fantasy books. Can you think of a cheery tower from a fantasy book?

My Most Owned Authors

Today we are going to look at my bookshelf and Kindle, count some books, and determine which author reigns supreme over my shelf space! (There ended up being only two Kindle books on this list, though, so it is a pretty solid representation of my physical shelves!)

I didn’t count manga series, although I do own three long ones; Hellsing with 10 volumes, Death Note with 13, and Fruits Basket taking the cake with 23 volumes. A bit of an arbitrary choice, I know, since I did count other comics and graphic novels. I just thought the list would be perhaps unduly ruled by manga authors if I added them in.

This post is linked at “Top Ten Tuesday”, a weekly book list meme hosted by The Broke and Bookish. All the links below take you to GoodReads.

Maija’s Top 10 authors according to the number of books owned

Courtney Crumrin

1. Ted Naifeh (23)
This came as no surprise to me! Ted Naifeh is my favorite comic artist. In addition to his own stuff, he has also illustrated comics and books written by other people. That, along with the fact that I own multiple editions of some books, explains his number one spot well.

  • The Courtney Crumrin series in color hardback format (4 – with still two left to buy)
  • The Courtney Crumrin series in b&w paperbacks (4)
  • Courtney Crumrin Tales (2)
  • Polly and the Pirates vol.1, plus two colored French issues in hardback (3)
  • Broom with a View (with Gayla Twist)
  • The Death Jr. series ~ written by Gary Whitta (2)
  • The Good Neighbors trilogy ~ written by Holly Black (3)
  • Gloomcookie vol. 1 ~ written by Serena Valentino
  • How Loathsome ~ written by Tristan Crane
  • Unearthly ~ written by Naifeh, art by Elmer Damaso
  • Illustrated short story collection, Alabaster ~ written by Caitlín R. Kiernan

2. Jim Butcher (21)

  • The Dresden Files series (13)
  • The Codex Alera series – haven’t read these yet! (6)
  • Side Jobs, the Dresden Files short story collection
  • The Dresden Files: Welcome to the Jungle graphic novel

3. Neil Gaiman (17)

  • The Absolute Sandman hardcovers (4)
  • Signed paperback of The Sandman: Season of Mists
  • Signed hardback of Sandman: The Dream Hunters
  • Signed illustrated paperback of Stardust
  • Neverwhere
  • Smoke and Mirrors
  • Good Omens (with Terry Pratchett)
  • American Gods
  • Anansi Boys
  • The Ocean at the End of the Lane
  • The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish
  • The Wolves in the Walls
  • Coraline
  • Odd and the Frost Giants

4. C.S. Lewis (10)

  • The Chronicles of Narnia paperback boxset (7)
  • Some Narnia books in old Finnish hardcover editions (3)

5. Holly Black (7)

  • The Curse Workers trilogy (3)
  • The Good Neighbors graphic novel trilogy ~ art by Ted Naifeh (3)
  • Doll Bones

And the lower positions are pretty much tied:

6. Bryan Lee O’Malley (7)
7. Caitlín R. Kiernan (7)
8. J.K. Rowling (7)
9. Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman (7)
10. Gail Carriger (6) and George R.R. Martin (6)

Who is your most owned author? Tell me below, or leave a link to your post!

The Best Books of 2014 So Far

It’s time to take a look back at my favorite reads so far this year, divided into a couple subcategories. You can see my 2013 list here.

This post is linked at “Top Ten Tuesday”, a weekly book list meme hosted by The Broke and Bookish. The cover images take you to GoodReads.

Favorite Fantasy Books

The Name of the Wind Whispers Under Ground
The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicle #1) by Patrick Rothfuss
A great fantasy story that has it all: a legendary hero, a coming of age story, and a magic school. It made me at turns excited, sad, and laugh out loud. The best book I’ve read so far this year.

Whispers Under Ground (Peter Grant #3) by Ben Aaronovitch
Yep, the first book, Rivers of London, was on last year’s list. I still love Peter Grant, and all the other characters in this series!

Favorite YA novels

All These Things I've Done The Summer Prince
All These Things I’ve Done (Birthright #1) by Gabrielle Zevin
I breezed through this futuristic crime story in one day. Anya was a great main character – not everyone will like her, but I really did.

The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson
I loved the atmospheric writing in this book, and liked the focus on art performances.

Favorite Re-Reads

Velho ja Leijona Shades of Milk and Honey_bigger

The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (The Chronicles of Narnia (Publication Order) #1) by C.S. Lewis
I was in a nostalgic mood, and read the first Narnia book in Finnish, the language that my mother first read these to me. Now I want some Turkish delights (although they were translated simply as a box of chocolates in this book, I always think of the BBC adaptation’s box of Turkish delights when I read this.)

Shades of Milk and Honey (Glamourist Histories #1) by Mary Robinette Kowal
A fun magical Regency fantasy of manners novel. A quick, fun, if a bit predictable read.

Favorite Graphic Novels

Young Avengers Vol. 1 Yotsuba Vol. 12
Young Avengers, Vol. 1: Style > Substance by Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie & Mike Norton
This was so much fun! I definitely want to read the rest of the run from these creators.

Yotsuba&! Vol. 12 by Kiyohiko Azuma
Yes, Yotsuba makes it to the list again. I can’t fight it! She’s adorable! I love her enmity with Yanda, it always makes me laugh.

Magical Schools in Fantasy

Tough Traveling

Each Thursday, The Fantasy Review Barn uses Diana Wynne Jones’s The Tough Guide to Fantasyland, and tours the mystical countryside looking for adventure and fun (and tropes) from all over fantasy.

This week’s tour topic is Invisible College. I chose to highlight all kinds of magical schools, since I could think of only three that are hidden in some way! All the links take you to GoodReads. The picture of Hogwarts is from Harry Potter Wiki.

1. Unseen University
From the Discworld series, by Terry Pratchett
I love how institutionalized these wizards are! Well, they are mostly old men who are very set in their ways. Once in a while, though, a newfangled type of magic or wizard makes its appearance, and the staff has to deal with some changes. While the university is called Unseen, it’s not actually hidden. It’s in Ankh Morpork, and the core part of it is a tall tower, so it’s pretty difficult to miss.

2. The Tower of High Sorcery of Wayreth
From the Dragonlance universe
I have to admit that it’s been a long while since I’ve read a Dragonlance novel, so I can’t remember if the Tower was actually the place were the mages studied. Well, at least they went there to take the Test of High Sorcery. There are other towers, too, but Wayreth’s is the only one in “modern day” Krynn that still holds the Test (it’s the place where a certain Raistlin Majere took it). It is also a hidden tower, which can appear in different locations, only showing itself to the people it chooses. All the Towers of High Sorcery are surrounded by a magical forest of their own, through which only mages can find their way.

3. The University
From The Kingkiller Chronicle, by Patrick Rothfuss
The University that Kvothe attends is a huge complex with a lot of different fields of study. It has its own campus and shops, and is basically a mini-town. It’s a place of higher learning, and not only for magic: you can study medicine, languages or mathematics. Then there are the magical fields of study, like Sympathy, Alchemy and Naming. There is some pretty weird staff on board, and you’d better not get on their bad side. This university isn’t actually hidden, but it is pretty hard to get into, especially if you do not have a rich backer.

4. The School for Wizards on Roke
From the Earthsea Cycle, by Ursula K. Le Guin
Again, another fantasy book that I read so long ago, that I can’t remember much about the school itself. Ged studied here in A Wizard of Earthsea. It is situated on an island that is protected by magic, which makes its impossible to travel there if you are not welcome.

5. Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry
From the Harry Potter series, by J.K. Rowling
You can’t leave this one out. We’d all want to visit it, right? Along with the Tower of Wayreth and the school on Roke, this University is actually hidden, at least from Muggles. There are also magical schools in other countries than Great Britain, like Beauxbatons in France, and Durmstrang in Bulgaria.

Which of these schools would you most like to visit? I think the University from the Kingkiller Chronicle might be the safest choice if you don’t want a magical accident to befall you… but I’d still like to visit the Unseen University, although I think the accident rate is pretty high, there. And of course I’d visit Hogwarts, because, come on.