Monday, May 16, 2016

TTT: Books I Picked Up On A Whim

Top Ten Tuesday is a super fantabulous book blog meme, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish!

This week's Top Ten Tuesday is a fun one. What books have you picked up on a whim, whether at the library, Barnes & Noble, or the used book store? Mine are hard to narrow down to just ten, but I'll give it a go.

1. Dragon and Thief by Timothy Zahn
Long before I delved into the massive and complex Extended Universe of Star Wars, I fell in love with the science fiction works of Timothy Zahn through his Dragonback series for young adults. This was the perfect find for my teenage self who was obsessed with fantasy but hadn't discovered much exciting in the way of sci-fi (namely L'Engle's Wrinkle in Time and Annette Curtis Klause's Alien Secrets). Featuring a 14-year-old protagonist, Jack Morgan, who is a thief and conman and his new companion, a dragon-like alien called a K'da named Draycos, who can switch between three- and two-dimensional forms and needs a host to survive, on whose back he stretches out, like a dragon tattoo.
It's action-packed: Jack must help Draycos save his people from extinction at the hands of their enemies by pulling off one con after another to gather information.
It's fun: Jack's uncle has some of THE BEST swearing substitute exclamations. Plus, SPACE HEISTS. LIVING DRAGON TATTOO.
The concept was mind-boggling: Did I mention the TWO-DIMENSIONAL aliens? For a girl who hadn't read much sci-fi, this was a mind-blowing idea.

2. Brief History of the Dead by Kevin Brockmeier
I was looking for a very specific book to scratch an itch. Long story short, there was a book I wanted to write (and am still working on) that has a very particular feel to it and I had been searching for any books to help me nail that feeling down. From the cover, description, and writing style, I thought it would be this book. It wasn't. Unfortunately, it also turned out to be a book I didn't like, not because it wasn't what I was looking for, but because its Literary Fiction style made me impatient and I found the ending -and subsequently the story- wholly unsatisfying. But you can check out my review with all the juicy details right here.
For anyone interested, I did find a few books more in tune with the 'feel' I was looking for: The Ghost in Love by Jonathon Carroll, which was an interesting story, and The Returned by Jason Mott, which I adored, and don't seem to have reviewed. Apologies.

3. Toads & Diamonds by Heather Tomlinson

This was a thrift shop find and it was the title and cover that really sold me on it. 'Toads & Diamonds' is obviously a retelling of the classic fairy tale, while the cover shows what is clearly a young woman from an Indian or Middle Eastern culture. Jackpot.
I haven't had the chance to read this yet, but I'll let you know when I do.

4. Inkheart by Cornelia Funke
Believe it or not, I was actually on track when this fanbase broke out. I picked up a copy on a whim from Fred Meyer of all places, because I was earning my own money for the first time doing odd jobs. I saw it, I kind of wanted it, and I realized I actually had money to buy it.
I consumed this book about book lovers and books literally coming to life faster than you can say 'duct tape', dragged my sister down the same rabbit hole, and we've been fans of Funke's ever since.

5. Larklight by Philip Reeve
Victorian England -if they had discovered steampunk space travel. With pirates. And aliens. And sentient top hats.
I honestly don't remember if this was recommended to me or something I just picked up. As a kid, my sister and I walked to our local library almost every afternoon after we finished schoolwork and we would spend hours picking through the bookshelves looking for hidden gems. This was just one among many we found one stack hauled home at a time. And can you believe all that book hauling didn't give me muscles? Like, any muscles?

6. Almost everything published by Future House Publishing
Okay, so there's a reason for this. Future House recently had a huge Star Wars giveaway/contest/blowout sale for May the Fourth and a load of their ebooks were up for 0.99. I only perused the titles out of curiosity because I don't have a Kindle and I dislike reading books on my computer. But, but, but THEN I realized Future House was behind Marrow by Preston Norton, which I read and reviewed in the height of my superhero fiction craze and I LOVED it.
So I bought all the ebooks they had on sale. Literally. I now have almost 20 ebooks on my PC's Kindle app I can't wait to try out. I'll just need to configure a comfortable seating arrangement for it all. (Pinterest, maybe?) They're mostly YA, which is a genre I have a love/hate relationship with. There are so many books there I want to like, but I usually wind up disappointed. So why did I decide to buy so freaking many? Part of my 'thing' as a book reviewer is to support smaller publishing companies and, considering how much I loved Marrow, this is both my thanks for that book and my hope that everything they produce is just as good. We'll see how they all stack up.
For anybody curious, here's the master list:
That Girl, Darcy by James Ramos (gender-swapped Pride and Prejudice story)*
Sands & Storms by Kevin L. Nielsen
Caretaker & Guardians by Josi Russell
Etherwalker by Cameron Dayton (seriously awesome manga-style cover art)
Parrish by Shannen Crane Camp (love story with ghost hunters)
Got Luck by Michael Darling* (compared with Dresden Files, which is a concept I love, but a book I couldn't get through, so I'm hoping this one will act as a suitable alternative)
Pwned by Shannen Crane Camp* (popular cheerleader/mean girl who's actually a closet gamer geek)

*Titles I'm most excited to read

7. After the Golden Age by Carrie Vaughn
Yet another I found during my superhero fiction craze a few summers ago -when I searched 'superheroes' on my library catalogue to find everything I could. It was not at all what I was expecting and it was fantastic. I'm also just remembering I never got around to writing a review on it. I should work on that. I did give it a 4/5 star rating and I've been itching to read it again.

8. Ninja Librarians: The Accidental Keyhand by Jen Swann Downey
Why this book? Ninja + Librarians. I literally needed not other encouragement to check this one out, but it also had fun cover art AND it referenced The Princess Bride within the first chapter. With a main character who loves books, her library, and sword fighting, this is a fictional version of me as a child. Plus a brother who quotes Star Wars all the time. ALL. THE. TIME.
And excuse me for a moment, because I just realized the sequel is coming out next month and I need to go request an ARC...

9. Fuzzy Nation by John Scalzi
It was the dawn of My Adventures in Science Fiction and I was on the prowl for another good sci-fi to sink my teeth into. I saw this audiobook at work and debated it for a good five minutes. If I wanted to delve into sci-fi, I reasoned, John Scalzi would be a good place to start because, not being a sci-fi reader, even I know who John Scalzi is. On that same note, if he's such a big name in sci-fi, it's entirely possible he would write exactly the kind of sci-fi I don't like.
What really sold me was the fact that Wil Wheaton narrates it. I'd heard Wheaton had started narrating, but I had yet to experience it for myself. "Two birds with one stone."
The book turned out to be hilarious, Wheaton's narration fantastic, and it also made me loosen up a little on swears in books. Not too much, but just enough to start really enjoying more adult fiction.

Last but not least...

10. Of Giants and Ice by Shelby Bach
The one, the only, the first installment of the Ever Afters series no one can get me to shut up about. Released only about a year, I stumbled on this goldmine browsing my library. (Fun fact: I picked it up at the same time as The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy, both because of their colorful and fun cover art.) If you don't know how this story ends, you can check out my reviews for the whole series, as well as my first ever Blog Party thrown in honor of the series finale.
Note: Just recently my sister told me that her oldest finally read the copy I sent for her birthday and SHE LOVES IT. They went out and bought the whole series and now I just have to wait.

I'm dying to know some of yours, good and bad!
What books have you picked up on a whim?
Did you love or regret them?


  1. Inkheart has been on my TBR forever! My sister has a copy, hopefully one day soon I'll have the time to read it because it sounds amazing.
    My TTT:

    1. If I'm being honest, I haven't actually finished the series yet. Only Inheart and Inkspell. I need to sit down and read the whole trilogy.