Books I Want to Read Again

Posted 1st December 2020 by Sia in Top Ten Tuesdays / 0 Comments


Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish and is now hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. Check out upcoming Top Ten themes on Jana’s blog!

I’ve skipped a few weeks since the prompts didn’t interest me, but this week it’s all about books you want to reread – or maybe books you’d like to read for the first time, again. Since I was just thinking about this, it was easy to put a list together!

Kushiel's Dart (Phèdre's Trilogy, #1) by Jacqueline Carey
Genres: Queer Protagonists, Epic Fantasy, Secondary World Fantasy
Representation: Bisexual MC, Bisexual love interest, queernorm world, secondary M/M or mlm

The land of Terre d'Ange is a place of unsurpassing beauty and grace. It is said that angels found the land and saw it was good... and the ensuing race that rose from the seed of angels and men live by one simple rule: Love as thou wilt.

Phèdre nó Delaunay is a young woman who was born with a scarlet mote in her left eye. Sold into indentured servitude as a child, her bond is purchased by Anafiel Delaunay, a nobleman with very a special mission... and the first one to recognize who and what she is: one pricked by Kushiel's Dart, chosen to forever experience pain and pleasure as one.

Phèdre is trained equally in the courtly arts and the talents of the bedchamber, but, above all, the ability to observe, remember, and analyze. Almost as talented a spy as she is courtesan, Phèdre stumbles upon a plot that threatens the very foundations of her homeland. Treachery sets her on her path; love and honor goad her further. And in the doing, it will take her to the edge of despair... and beyond. Hateful friend, loving enemy, beloved assassin; they can all wear the same glittering mask in this world, and Phèdre will get but one chance to save all that she holds dear.

Set in a world of cunning poets, deadly courtiers, heroic traitors, and a truly Machiavellian villainess, this is a novel of grandeur, luxuriance, sacrifice, betrayal, and deeply laid conspiracies. Not since Dune has there been an epic on the scale of Kushiel's Dart-a massive tale about the violent death of an old age, and the birth of a new.

Kushiel’s Dart is one of my favourite books of all time… And I want little more than to sit down and reread it. I crave a big intricate sumptuous fantasy, with a queernorm sex-positive culture and gods and gorgeous prose, that I can just sink into. And Kushiel’s Dart fits the bill perfectly! But this year has been – well – and my flaily brain hasn’t been up to big intricate sumptuous fantasies, alas. My concentration seems to be shot and I think the baroque politics would make me even dizzier than usual. Mostly though, I just don’t have time – there are books I ‘have’ to read by the end of the year, and Kushiel’s Dart just won’t fit in-between them.

Mr. Big Empty (Hollow Folk, #1) by Gregory Ashe
Genres: Queer Protagonists
Representation: Gay MC, Bisexual love interest, Gay love interest, mental health

Vie Eliot arrives in the small town of Vehpese, Wyoming with little more than the clothes--and scars--on his back. Determined to make a new life for himself after escaping his abusive mother, he finds that living with his estranged father brings its own problems.

Then Samantha Oates, the girl with blue hair, goes missing, and Vie might be the only one who can find her. His ability to read emotions and gain insight into other people’s darkest secrets makes him the perfect investigator, with only one small problem: he wants nothing to do with his gift.

When the killer begins contacting Vie through a series of strange cards, though, Vie is forced to hone his ability, because Samantha was not the killer’s only target.

And, as Vie learns, he is not the only psychic in town.

Besides being amazing all on its own, I really want to reread Mr Big Empty – and the entire Hollow Folk series! – so that I can jump into the sequel series, beginning with Ember Boys. But although it’s stunningly perfect, the Hollow Folk series is very dark, and I feel too fragile to survive it right now. Alas.

A Pale Light in the Black (NeoG #1) by K.B. Wagers
Genres: Queer Protagonists
Representation: Asexual, Bisexual, Nonbinary, Characters of Colour, Pansexual, F/F

The rollicking first entry in a unique science fiction series that introduces the Near-Earth Orbital Guard—NeoG—a military force patrolling and protecting space inspired by the real-life mission of the U.S. Coast Guard.

For the past year, their close loss in the annual Boarding Games has haunted Interceptor Team: Zuma’s Ghost. With this year’s competition looming, they’re looking forward to some payback—until an unexpected personnel change leaves them reeling. Their best swordsman has been transferred, and a new lieutenant has been assigned in his place.

Maxine Carmichael is trying to carve a place in the world on her own—away from the pressure and influence of her powerful family. The last thing she wants is to cause trouble at her command on Jupiter Station. With her new team in turmoil, Max must overcome her self-doubt and win their trust if she’s going to succeed. Failing is not an option—and would only prove her parents right.

But Max and the team must learn to work together quickly. A routine mission to retrieve a missing ship has suddenly turned dangerous, and now their lives are on the line. Someone is targeting members of Zuma’s Ghost, a mysterious opponent willing to kill to safeguard a secret that could shake society to its core . . . a secret that could lead to their deaths and kill thousands more unless Max and her new team stop them.

Rescue those in danger, find the bad guys, win the Games. It’s all in a day’s work at the NeoG.

I really, REALLY loved this book…and my review of it is languishing in my drafts. I wish I could sit down and reread it, and take notes properly this time so I could try writing it the review it deserves! But I suppose I don’t NEED 1000+ words to tell you to GO READ IT, it’s hilarious and heart-warming and queer as hell, and once I got into it I could not put it down!

Uprooted by Naomi Novik
Genres: Secondary World Fantasy

“Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley. We hear them sometimes, from travelers passing through. They talk as though we were doing human sacrifice, and he were a real dragon. Of course that’s not true: he may be a wizard and immortal, but he’s still a man, and our fathers would band together and kill him if he wanted to eat one of us every ten years. He protects us against the Wood, and we’re grateful, but not that grateful.”

Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.

Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.

But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.

This is another book I really, really loved…but after I read it, some other reviews opened my eyes to how horribly toxic the romance in it is. So honestly, I’m scared that if I try to reread it, I’m not going to be able to enjoy it like I once did.

Palimpsest by Catherynne M. Valente
Genres: Queer Protagonists, Secondary World Fantasy
Representation: Queer cast, WoC MC

In the Cities of Coin and Spice and In the Night Garden introduced readers to the unique and intoxicating imagination of Catherynne M. Valente. Now she weaves a lyrically erotic spell of a place where the grotesque and the beautiful reside and the passport to our most secret fantasies begins with a stranger’s kiss.…

Between life and death, dreaming and waking, at the train stop beyond the end of the world is the city of Palimpsest. To get there is a miracle, a mystery, a gift, and a curse—a voyage permitted only to those who’ve always believed there’s another world than the one that meets the eye. Those fated to make the passage are marked forever by a map of that wondrous city tattooed on their flesh after a single orgasmic night. To this kingdom of ghost trains, lion-priests, living kanji, and cream-filled canals come four travelers: Oleg, a New York locksmith; the beekeeper November; Ludovico, a binder of rare books; and a young Japanese woman named Sei. They’ve each lost something important—a wife, a lover, a sister, a direction in life—and what they will find in Palimpsest is more than they could ever imagine.

Palimpsest is, besides a beautiful and unique fantasy novel, a celebration of sex and sexuality. This was the first Valente book I ever read, and it has a very dear place in my heart, but I’ve had very painful issues with sexuality this year – especially in how sex and sexuality mesh, or rather don’t, with my fibro and the medication required to manage it – and I’m not sure it wouldn’t make a reread painful as hell, dragging up all that nonsense again.

War for the Oaks by Emma Bull

Acclaimed by critics and readers on its first publication in 1987, winner of the Locus Award for Best First Novel, Emma Bull's War for the Oaks is one of the novels that has defined modern urban fantasy.

Eddi McCandry sings rock and roll. But she's breaking up with her boyfriend, her band just broke up, and life could hardly be worse. Then, walking home through downtown Minneapolis on a dark night, she finds herself drafted into an invisible war between the faerie folk. Now, more than her own survival is at risk—and her own preferences, musical and personal, are very much beside the point.

By turns tough and lyrical, fabulous and down-to-earth, War for the Oaks is a fantasy novel that's as much about this world as about the other one. It's about real love and loyalty, about real music and musicians, about false glamour and true art. It will change the way you hear and see your own daily life.

War for the Oaks was the very first Urban Fantasy novel, and it’s exactly as amazing as you’d expect of a book that launched an entire genre. As a rule of thumb I find urban fantasy frustrating and dull, and I’d like to reread War for the Oaks to remind myself how incredible it can be when it’s done right!

The Dark Tide by Alicia Jasinska
Genres: Queer Protagonists, Secondary World Fantasy
Representation: Bisexual MC, Pansexual/Demisexual MC, F/F or wlw, minor nonbinary character

A fast-paced, well-plotted fantasy retelling of an ancient Scottish fairy tale ballad, this exciting debut will appeal to fans of Stephanie Garber's CARAVAL, Shea Ernshaw's THE WICKED DEEP, and Kendare Blake's THREE DARK CROWNS.

Every year on Walpurgis Night, Caldella's Witch Queen lures a young boy back to her palace. An innocent life to be sacrificed on the full moon to keep the island city from sinking.

Convinced her handsome brother is going to be taken, sixteen-year-old Lina Kirk enlists the help of the mysterious Tomas Lin, her secret crush, and the only boy to ever escape from the palace. Working together they protect her brother, but draw the Queen's attention. When the Queen spirits Tomas away instead, Lina blames herself and determines to go after him.

Caught breaking into the palace, the Queen offers Lina a deal: she will let Tomas go, if, of course, Lina agrees to take his place. Lina accepts, with a month before the full moon, surely she can find some way to escape. But the Queen is nothing like she envisioned, and Lina is not at all what the Queen expected. Against their will, they find themselves falling for each other. As water floods Caldella's streets and the dark tide demands its sacrifice, they must choose who to save: themselves, each other, or the island city relying on them both.

This is one of my favourite books of the year – of ever – and I wish I could somehow experience the magic of reading it for the first time for a second time! This is such a lyrical, lush book; just thinking about it makes me swoon. I want to write love poems to this book, okay? If you gave me a magic bookmark that let me enter the stories I chose, I would jump into Dark Tide and never be glimpsed again!

The Scapegracers (Scapegracers, #1) by H. A. Clarke
Genres: Queer Protagonists
Representation: Lesbian MC, queer cast, F/F or wlw, WoC, secondary M/M or mlm

An outcast teenage lesbian witch finds her coven hidden amongst the popular girls in her school, and performs some seriously badass magic in the process.

Skulking near the bottom of West High’s social pyramid, Sideways Pike lurks under the bleachers doing magic tricks for Coke bottles. As a witch, lesbian, and lifelong outsider, she’s had a hard time making friends. But when the three most popular girls pay her $40 to cast a spell at their Halloween party, Sideways gets swept into a new clique. The unholy trinity are dangerous angels, sugar-coated rattlesnakes, and now–unbelievably–Sideways’ best friends.

Together, the four bond to form a ferocious and powerful coven. They plan parties, cast curses on dudebros, try to find Sideways a girlfriend, and elude the fundamentalist witch hunters hellbent on stealing their magic. But for Sideways, the hardest part is the whole ‘having friends’ thing. Who knew that balancing human interaction with supernatural peril could be so complicated?

Rich with the urgency of feral youth, The Scapegracers explores growing up and complex female friendship with all the rage of a teenage girl. It subverts the trope of competitive mean girls and instead portrays a mercilessly supportive clique of diverse and vivid characters. It is an atmospheric, voice-driven novel of the occult, and the first of a three-book series.

See above. Scapegracers rocked my freaking world, and I just want to read it over and over again. I want the bliss of reading it for the first time again! But even with that off the table, I’d be happy just…reading it over and over again. Just cancelling life and diving into Sideways’ story and never coming out. That sounds pretty perfect, to be honest.

Sea Change by S.M. Wheeler
Genres: Fantasy
Representation: Physically agender MC, who presents as male but identifies as female; secondary M/M or mlm

The unhappy child of two powerful parents who despise each other, young Lilly turns to the ocean to find solace, which she finds in the form of the eloquent and intelligent sea monster Octavius, a kraken. In Octavius’s many arms, Lilly learns of friendship, loyalty, and family. When Octavius, forbidden by Lilly to harm humans, is captured by seafaring traders and sold to a circus, Lilly becomes his only hope for salvation. Desperate to find him, she strikes a bargain with a witch that carries a shocking price.

Her journey to win Octavius’s freedom is difficult. The circus master wants a Coat of Illusions; the Coat tailor wants her undead husband back from a witch; the witch wants her skin back from two bandits; the bandits just want some company, but they might kill her first. Lilly's quest tests her resolve, tries her patience, and leaves her transformed in every way.

Sea Change is another book I love dearly, but that I feel too fragile to face at the moment. This is a perfect dark fairytale for adults, with deft whimsy and ruthless streaks of darkness in perfect balance. I’d love to reread it, but I just know I’d end up crying.

That said, I do urge you to pick it up, if you think a girl who’s best friend is a kraken sounds like someone you might get along with. Because this book is amazing! Just. Don’t start reading it if what you really need is hot chocolate and cuddles.

The Fifth Sacred Thing (Maya Greenwood, #1) by Starhawk
Genres: Fantasy, Queer Protagonists, Science Fantasy
Representation: Queer cast, PoC MCs, Jewish MCs

An epic tale of freedom and slavery, love and war, and the potential futures of humankind tells of a twenty-first century California clan caught between two clashing worlds, one based on tolerance, the other on repression.

I discovered, inhaled and unabashedly adored Starhawk’s The Fifth Sacred Thing when I first discovered it at 16. Years later, I found out that Starhawk had crowdfunded the publication of a sequel, City of Refuge, and I was so excited! I bought a copy, of course, but I still haven’t gotten to it, because I need to reread Fifth Sacred Thing first! Unfortunately I keep getting stuck around the halfway mark and giving up, but I’m bloody determined to get through it eventually and make my way to the City of Refuge!

What books do you wish you could reread?


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