Posts Tagged 'the forever war'

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books for People who Like George R.R. Martin

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week, they post a topic and encourage fellow bloggers to list their own top ten answers. This week’s prompt was to list the top ten books for people who like a certain author. Our challenge was to pick an author and give book recommendations based on that author! As you can see, I have chosen George R.R. Martin, AKA the bearded troll god, writer of A Song of Ice and Fire (ASoIaF).

So! If you like George R.R. Martin, you might also like:

1. Doomsday Book, by Connie Willis
Though there are some sci-fi elements (time travel!), much of this book focuses on the harsh realities of medieval life, including dirt, disease, and lack of scientific knowledge. Willis also has Martin’s same penchant for killing off your favorite characters, sympathetic and otherwise.

2. Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien
To really appreciate Martin, you also need to appreciate the fantasy tropes he’s dismantling. For better or worse, many of these tropes originated with Tolkien’s massive fantasy epic. (Which isn’t to say they aren’t a good story, too!) Both also have massive casts of characters and impressively interwoven relationships.

3. The Last Werewolf, by Glen Duncan
Martin’s tales are filled with sex and violence, and thoroughly break down the idea of the good and noble knight. Duncan’s novel (first in a trilogy) reworks the werewolf–lately somewhat neutered by its depictions in Twilight and its ilk–into a savage beast that revels in killing. Both are pretty dark at times, but also give reasons for hope.

4. Kushiel’s Dart, by Jacqueline Carey
Carey’s world-building, like Martin’s, is fantastic. This series takes place in Terre D’Ange, a fictionalized version of France in a very different version of Europe. Her imaginative religions rival Martin’s for sure. (And her sex scenes are much better written.)

5. The Wolf Hall trilogy, by Hilary Mantel
Shifting alliances, gray morality, court politicking–the only difference is the lack of magic in Mantel’s world. Otherwise, you’re basically reading about Littlefinger.

6. Wild Seed, by Octavia Butler
Perhaps a bit of a leap, but I think Butler challenges sci-fi and fantasy conventions just as well as Martin does. A challenging and thought-provoking read.

7. American Gods, by Neil Gaiman
This just has a lot of the same bleakness and same glimmers of hope that I think ASoIaF offers.

8. The Forever War, by Joe Haldeman
One of Martin’s great strengths is showing the cruelty, violence, and consequences of war. Haldeman does the same thing, albeit in a sci-fi setting.

9. The Name of the Wind, by Patrick Rothfuss
I haven’t actually read this one yet, despite it being on my TBR list for ages, but a quick glance at its back cover and reviews makes me think that it would be a perfect follow-up to your time in Westeros.

10. Beyond the Wall, edited by James Lowder
In my review, I suggested this book for readers who are already fans of Martin’s series who want to delve a little deeper into its themes, motivations, and characters.

ASoIaF fans, got any other suggestions? Feel free to leave your thoughts–and your own TTT lists–in the comments!


Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books That Were Totally Deceiving

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week, they post a topic and encourage fellow bloggers to list their own top ten answers. This week’s prompt asks us to list books that, implicitly or explicitly, were deceiving. Some of the suggestions given are books whose covers or titles don’t fit the content, books that were radically different than its summary suggested, or fluffy-seeming books that turned out to be dramatic. I chose to interpret this as both positive and negative deceptions.

1. Soulless, by Gail Carriger
In my review of this novel, first in the Parasol Protectorate series, I specifically talked about how the book’s summary and genre labeling are quite misleading. I’m sure it’s a great paranormal romance, but I was promised a mystery/fantasy/horror book, damn it!

2. Mockingjay, by Suzanne Collins
The third book in the Hunger Games trilogy takes on much more complex and confusing themes than even the previous two. I think readers who were expecting exciting romps through the Arena, with clearly delineated “good guys” and “bad guys,” were probably disappointed by Mockingjay. However, issues like the nuanced treatment of Katniss’s PTSD, the politics of creating an icon, and the betrayal of the public by their politicians made this, for me, a pleasant surprise.

3. Chicano, by Richard Vasquez
It had a ton of good reviews on GoodReads, was a bestseller during the 1970s, and was purportedly an unromanticized look at the lives of Mexican-Americans. But I hated Chicano. I didn’t find it a realistic or sympathetic portrayal of Mexican-Americans at all; instead, it played up many of the worst stereotypes and seems to indicate that Mexican-Americans will always be “the other” and will never truly be successful in the U.S.

4. Insatiable: Tales From a Life of Delicious Excess, by Gael Greene
Way too much about Gael’s flings with Elvis, etc. and not enough about cuisine other than French.

5. Circle of Friends, by Maeve Binchy
For a book that had been described to me as chick lit, Circle of Friends is incredibly powerful and mediates on the nature of friendships and the indelible marks that class makes on us. (Also, the movie looks pretty fluffy, and this is angst-central!)

6. The Emperor’s Children, by Claire Messud
According to GoodReads, this is “a dazzling, masterful novel about the intersections in the lives of three friends, now on the cusp of their thirties, making their way—and not—in New York City,” which is very true. However, it also packs a huge surprise punch at the end that many, including myself, did not see coming.

7. The Forever War, by Joe Haldeman
I was lucky enough to buy the book with a different cover than the truly hideous one showed here. Because if I had seen that one first, I probably wouldn’t have purchased it, expecting it to be a thinly-veiled rip-off of Starship Troopers, instead of the excellent allegory of the Vietnam War that it actually is. Really, that cover does a huge disservice to a wonderfully complex book!

8. Hunger of Memory: The Education of Richard Rodriguez, by Richard Rodriguez
So I was one of a handful of students with Latino heritage at my high school, and I think because of that fact, my 9th grade English teacher recommended this book to me.  At first, I was interested in learning about Rodriguez’s experiences as a cultural/ethnic outsider in the California school system, but it quickly becomes his own anti-affirmative action, anti-bilingual education screed. Being that I was pretty liberal, even as a 15-year old, this was definitely not the book for me!

9. A Million Little Pieces, by James Frey
Self-explanatory!  Regardless of your feelings about the bounds of creative non-fiction, Frey definitely did misrepresent certain aspects of his story.

10. Life of Pi, by Yann Martel
If you’ve read this, you know that the ideas of deception and how we perceive reality are central to the plot.

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Non-YA Science Fiction Novels!

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week, they post a topic and encourage fellow bloggers to list their own top ten answers. This week’s prompt is to choose your top ten books in any genre you would like: historical fiction, dystopian lit, Victorian novels, or romance, just to name a few! I chose to list my Top Ten Non-YA Science Fiction Books, as you’ll see below.

Permit me to go off on a tangent for a minute: I chose to do this because as a genre, science fiction written for adults–like fantasy–is often considered juvenile, silly, and unimportant. That’s unfair. Science fiction has a lot of valuable things to say about what it means to be human, about time, about memory, about creation, about our fears, about how this world can be made better. It’s an arena that allows authors and readers to make their own realities, to dream bigger, to innovate and explore–and for that, it’s denigrated? When science fiction is done just right, with relevance to both our lives now and what they might look like in the future, it can be a very moving, powerful experience. So if you don’t consider yourself a sci-fi fan, think about trying one of the novels below!

1. The Sparrow, by Mary Doria Russell
A tale about space exploration and the discovery of a new planet and culture that also chronicles the only survivor’s painful physical and mental recovery. Incredibly powerful and a true homage to human curiosity and resilience.

2. Stranger in a Strange Land, by Robert Heinlein
There is some “free love” philosophizing in here that somewhat marred my enjoyment of the book, but the premise–of the first human raised on Mars, brought back to Earth–is strong enough to stand on its own.

3. The Forever War, by Joe Haldeman
An extremely realistic portrayal of the lingering effects war has on a soldier, and a great subversion of many typical “space novella” novels. Haldeman fought in the Vietnam War, and this novel is considered by many to be his autobiography of sorts.

4. The Windup Girl, by Paolo Bacigalupi
If you have any interest in climate change and issues of food sovereignty (GMOs, copyrighting seeds, etc.), this is the book for you. Bacigalupi runs with ideas of biotechnology, human-created natural disasters, and economic meltdowns, and throws them in a futuristic Thailand populated with double-crossing American businessmen, child laborers, rebels, and windup girls.

5. Passage, by Connie Willis
I love this book! It explores what happens to us after we die, as researched by doctors in a hospital–including one doctor who keeps putting herself under to try to solve the mystery.

6. The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood
While Atwood has sometimes chafed at being labeled a science fiction author, this tale of a dystopian, theocratic future where women are property whose only purpose is to bear children is chilling enough to make me hope it remains in the realm of fiction. I  have recommend this book to everyone, even friends who tell me they don’t like sci-fi–it’s that good.

7. The Left Hand of Darkness, by Ursula K. LeGuin
It actually took me two tries to get through this book. (I wasn’t in the right headspace the first time.) Past LeGuin’s impressive descriptions of a cold, bleak planet, she also addresses the question of how a human might navigate a world without gender. It’s both a sci-fi and feminist classic for a reason.

8. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, by Philip K. Dick
Another science fiction classic (and the basis for a classic sci-fi movie, Bladerunner). The central question is: what does it mean to be human, and how can we even tell when we aren’t human anymore? It’s a bit of a mind-screw.

9. Dune, by Frank Herbert
I was I had read this as a much younger nerd, because it follows the structure of Campbell’s Hero’s Journey so closely that after having read tons of other sci-fi and fantasy, Dune can feel a bit formulaic. That’s not Dune’s fault, though!

10. The Children of Men, by P.D. James
An excellent dystopian future, where everyone is infertile and children are no longer born. A dying world, with no hope of a next generation, is a very bleak one indeed. The world-building here is great, as is the excitement and fright when, it’s discovered, a woman might be pregnant.

Bonus! 11. Who Goes There? by John Campbell Jr.
The novella that inspired my favorite horror movie, The Thing, is scary in what felt, to me, like a very 1940s way. There’s no overt violence or gore, or even an explanation of what the Thing is or what it looks like. Instead, it’s a subtle, creeping kind of horror–who do you trust and how do you survive when faced with a being that can perfectly mimic not only the appearance of, but also the voice, memories, and personality of, your friends? How do you even trust yourself, when you can be assimilated by the Thing and not even realize it? The physical limitations that the Antarctic setting imposes on the humans only adds to the feeling of claustrophobia. Read it for free here.

Waiting on Wednesday/WWW Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a bookish meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

My pre-publication pick this week is The Solitude of Prime Numbers, by Paolo Giordano.

The summary, via Publishers Weekly, via Amazon:

Italian author and mathematician Giordano follows two scarred people whose lives intersect but can’t seem to join in his cerebral yet touching debut. Alice and Mattia, both survivors of childhood traumas, are the odd ones out amid the adolescent masses in their high school. Mattia has never recovered from the loss of his sister, while Alice still suffers the effects of a skiing accident that damaged her physically and stunted her ability to trust. Now teenagers, Mattia, also addicted to self-injury, has withdrawn into a world of numbers and math, and Alice gains control through starving herself and photography. When they meet, they recognize something primal in each other, but timing and awkwardness keep their friendship on tenuous ground until, years later, their lives come together one last time. Giordano uses Mattia and Alice’s trajectory to ask whether there are some people—the prime numbers among us—who are destined to be alone, or whether two primes can come together. The novel’s bleak subject matter is rendered almost beautiful by Giordano’s spare, intense focus on his two characters.

This sounds like a really impactful, character-driven novel, but probably not one you want to read on a rainy day. The Solitude of Prime Numbers comes out in the US on March 18. Thanks to Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea for introducing me to this one! (Her review of it is here.)

Next meme! WWW Wednesdays are hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading. To play along:

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?
  • What are you currently reading? Fingersmith, by Sarah Waters. I’ve got about 15 pages left and it’s killing me. Expect my review to be unprecedented (for this blog, anyway) gushing. An aside: I was reading this in my work building’s lunchroom the other day, and my boss strolled by and did a double-take. “You’re not going to believe this…” she said, before whipping a copy of Fingersmith out of her own backpack! That’s right: we’re reading the same book at the same time, without ever indicating anything about the book to one another previously! Love my boss.

    What did you recently finish reading? The Forever War, by Joe Haldeman. It was a good, thought-provoking read. I like when sci-fi reflects some aspect of our society–in this case, how war affects the soldiers fighting it, isolating them from the very people they’re fighting to protect. I wrote about The Forever War in my last WWW Wednesday post! Also, the Sassy Brit used it was her Friday Find last week with a nice little shout out to me. 🙂


    What do you think you’ll read next? Depends what I get in the mail! 😉 I was hoping to get my package from Better World Books by today, but it doesn’t look like it’s made it yet. Suggestions?

    WWW Wednesday/Waiting on Wednesday (Feb 24)

    For Waiting on Wednesday, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, this week my pick is Pegasus by Robin McKinley. (My feelings about unicorns are also my feelings about pegasi.)

    The blurb, via Robin McKinley’s website:

    Because of a thousand-year-old alliance between humans and pegasi, Princess Sylviianel is ceremonially bound to Ebon, her own pegasus, on her twelfth birthday. The two species coexist peacefully, despite the language barriers separating them. Humans and pegasi both rely on specially-trained Speaker magicians as the only means of real communication.

    But it’s different for Sylvi and Ebon. They can understand each other. They quickly grow close—so close that their bond becomes a threat to the status quo—and possibly to the future safety of their two nations.

    Pegasus comes out in November 2010. (I was alerted to this one by The Book Smugglers, a hilarious book reviewing site that you should check out if you don’t already!)

    WWW Wednesdays are hosted by MizB at Should be Reading.  To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…

    * What are you currently reading?
    * What did you recently finish reading?
    * What do you think you’ll read next?

    What are you currently reading? Nearly done with The Forever War, by Joe Haldeman, which I described in my Teaser Tuesday yesterday. It takes the weariness, the disillusionment, and the isolation felt by many Vietnam vets and looks at it through a sci-fi lens. An unexpectedly powerful and moving book.



    What did you recently finish reading? Good Omens, by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. It was my first read EVER of Pratchett’s and I have to say, I really enjoyed it. (I’ve already read some of Gaiman’s work.)




    What do you think you’ll read next? Decisions, decisions! I’m going on a trip this weekend, so I need to pull something I already have on my shelves to take with me. I’m thinking Fingersmith, by Sarah Waters.

    Teaser Tuesday (Feb 23)!

    Teaser Tuesday is hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading.  Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

    • Grab your current read
    • Open to a random page
    • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
    • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
    • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

    This Teaser Tuesday is from The Forever War, by Joe Haldeman, which I started yesterday.

    It’s a dark, sci-fi treatment of the Vietnam War that pits the forcibly-drafted intellectual and physical elite of humanity against an alien species they know nothing about. (An aside: Now, I’ve got an iron-clad stomach when it comes to books [American Psycho, Under the Skin, Dexter, and Joyce Carol Oates‘s works are all on my “been read” list] but there was a scene here that literally gave me vertigo. It probably didn’t help that I was reading it while on a crowded 1 train.)

    Anyway, the Teaser!

    Still no Marygay among the dim figures picking their way through the ranked couches and jumbled tubing. “Um, you were only a couple of minutes late…but we were only supposed to be under for four hours, maybe less. It’s 1050.”

    “Um.” He shook his head again. I let go of him and stood back to let Stiller and Demy through the door.

    “Everybody’s late, then,” Bergman said. “So we aren’t in any trouble.”

    “Uh–” Non sequiturs. “Right, right–Hey, Stiller! You seen–”

    From inside: “Medic! MEDIC!”

    WWW Wednesday/Waiting on Wednesday (Feb 17)

    WWW Wednesdays are hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading.

    To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…

    • What are you currently reading?
    • What did you recently finish reading?
    • What do you think you’ll read next?

    Heeeeere’s tarynwanderer!

    What are you currently reading? I’m just starting Good Omens, by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. It’s embarrassing to admit for a self-professed fantasy nerd, but I’ve only read ONE book by Gaiman (Neverwhere) and NONE by Pratchett. So I’m looking forward to this one a lot.

     What did you recently finish reading? Just finished John James Audubon: The Making of an American, and it was so, so interesting. He was pretty ahead of his time in terms of his thinking about birds and protection of natural resources. He was an inspiring guy–didn’t let business failure, money woes, or age get him down! (Yeah…I kind of have a crush on Audubon now.)

    What do you think you’ll read next? I’m keeping my options open! Waiting for several packages to arrive that include The Forever War by Joe Haldeman, The Commoner by John Burnam Schwartz, Fingersmith by Sarah Waters, and Forever by Pete Hamill. So it depends which one stikes me once I’ve got my grubby lil’ paws on it.

    As for my Waiting on Wednesday pick (hosted by Jill of Breaking the Spine), this week I’m going with Anthill, by E.O Wilson. If you are interested in science and nature at all, you’ve probs read some of Wilson’s work before. But Anthill is his first foray into FICTION! Awesome. It sounds like Wilson brings his trademark depth and level of detail to a new kind of story.

    The blurb, via Amazon:

    Astonishing, inspirational, even magical: a naturalist’s novel about an Alabama boy who heroically tries to save a sacred forest. “What the hell do you want?” snarled Frogman at Raff Cody, as the boy stepped innocently on the reputed murderer’s property. Fifteen years old, Raff had only wanted to catch a glimpse of Frogman’s 1,000-pound alligator. Thus begins the epic story of Anthill, part thriller, part parable, which follows the adventures of Raff, a modern-day Huck Finn, whose improbable love of ants ends up transforming his own life and those around him. Alarmed by condo developers who are intent on destroying Alabama’s endangered Nokobee tract, Raff idealistically heads off to law school. Returning home, he encounters the angry and corrupt ghosts of an old South he thought had disappeared. The sacred woods he must now travel through to save Lake Nokobee are teeming with unimaginable danger. Anthill, with some of the most striking scientific detail ever seen in a popular novel, will transfix readers with its stunning twists and startling revelations of the true meaning of nature’s wildness.

    Anthill, by  E.O Wilson, comes out on April 5th.

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