10 Books on my Autumn Reading List

So, autumn is almost upon us! I’m wholly ready for summer to bow out and let the falling leaves, hot chocolates and blustery afternoons commence. In case you couldn’t tell, I’m a big fan of the upcoming season. var _gaq = _gaq || []; _gaq.push([‘_setAccount’, ‘UA-13140119-1’]); _gaq.push([‘_trackPageview’]); (function() var ga = document.createElement(‘script’); ga.type = ‘text/javascript’; ga.async = true; ga.src = (‘https:’ == document.location.protocol ? ‘https://ssl’ : ‘http://www’) + ‘.google-analytics.com/ga.js’; var s = document.getElementsByTagName(‘script’)[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(ga, s); )();

I always find a read a lot more in autumn than I do in summer. There’s something about the chilly, dark evenings that sends me diving underneath my duvet to lose myself in a brilliant book. So, to celebrate the impending arrival of autumn here are ten of the books on my autumn reading list:

1. The 5th Wave – Rick Yancey
I’ve had this on my wishlist for ages and after receiving a review copy a couple of days ago I’m finally going to see what all the fuss is about!
2. Age of Iron – Angus Watson
I’m reading this one for a blog tour and, although it’s outside of my usual type of book, I’m still hopeful.
3. Belzhar – Meg Wolitzer
Slightly put off by the OTT ‘OMG JOHN GREEN’S EDITOR PUBLISHED THIS!’ marketing but the story sounds interesting and I can’t turn down a Bell Jar comparison.
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4. Killing Sound – Paul Southern
Another blog tour read. I’m always going to be excited by a horror and this has got an awesome premise.
5. Afterworlds – Scott Westerfeld
I’ve seen some great reviews for this and it has a really interesting storyline. It’s quite chunky but should be good.
6. The Castle – Sophia Bennett
I started this over the summer when my copy first arrived but ended up putting it down during a giant bookshelf reorganisation period. I really loved the beginning so I’m excited to get back to the story.
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7. The Iron Trial – Holly Black and Cassandra Clare
*Meh face* At this point I’m reading this purely out of duty and because I’m curious to find out what this twist is that everybody keeps talking about. I’m about a third of the way through and it’s really not doing it for me…but I’m hoping that returning to it after a break might help.
8. Popular – Maya Van Wagenen
This sounds like a fun read that I probably should have read over the summer but will hopefully inject a little bit of sunshine into dreary autumn days.
9. Noggin – John Corey Whaley
I took part in the blog tour for Noggin and the author’s playlist for the book has convinced me that I definitely need to bump it up my to read list and get to it.
10. Annihilation – Jeff Vandermeer
I bought this on a whim because it was free on the Kindle store and it was billed as Lost meets…something. I don’t know, as soon as I saw the Lost comparison I’d already downloaded it.
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So there you have it, ten books I’m hoping to read this season. Are any of these books on your list? What are you hoping to read over the coming weeks?
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Sep 13, Grand Remembrances

Today is Grandparents Day in the United States. Being a Grand is a special honor. I feel very blessed that my wife and I have two grandchildren. We were able to visit them today. Yes, we are still being cautious with the coronavirus, but we also find it very difficult to not see them when they live so close. So today we did drop by to visit Jacob (age 10) and Sophia (age 7) along with their parents. We brought donuts and caught up with them. Our grandchildren are still pretty young and this is a precious time in their lives – and ours!

I wish I had known my grandparents better. We never lived in the same place. Dad was a career Air Force pilot, so we moved around a lot. But we did get to see them once in a while when they would visit us, or we them.

A Plague of Giants

There are five known magical ‘kennings’ or types: air, water, fire, earth, and plants. Each nation specializes in of these kennings, and the magic influences the society. There’s a big pitfall with this diversity of ability and locale–not everyone gets along.

Enter the Hathrim giants, or ‘lavaborn’ whose kenning is fire. Where they live the trees that fuel their fire are long gone, but the giants are definitely not welcome anywhere else. They’re big, they’re violent, and they’re ruthless. When a volcano erupts and they are forced to evacuate, they take the opportunity to relocate. They don’t care that it’s in a place where they aren’t wanted.

I first read Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid books and loved them (also the quirky The Tales of Pell), so was curious about this new venture, starting with A PLAGUE OF GIANTS. Think Avatar: The Last Airbender meets Jim Butcher’s Codex Alera series. Elemental magic, a variety of races, different lands. And it’s all thrown at you from page one.

But this story is told a little differently. It starts at the end of the war, after a difficult victory, and a bard with earth kenning uses his magic to re-tell the story of the war to a city of refugees. And it’s this movement back and forth in time and between key players in this war that we get a singularly grand view of the war as a whole. Hearne uses this method to great effect.

There are so many interesting characters in this book that I can’t cover them all here. Often in books like this such a large cast of ‘main’ character can make the storytelling suffer, especially since they don’t have a lot of interaction with each other for the first 3/4 of the book–but it doesn’t suffer, thankfully. And the characterization is good enough, despite these short bursts, that by the end we understand these people and care about what happens to them.

If there were a main character it would be Dervan, a historian who is assigned to record (also spy on?) the bard’s stories. He finds himself caught up in machinations he feels unfit to survive. Fintan is the bard from another country, who at first is rather mysterious and his true personality is hidden by the stories he tells; it takes a while to understand him. Gorin Mogen is the leader of the Hathrim giants who decide to find a new land to settle. He’s hard to like, but as far as villains go, you understand his motivations and he can be even a little convincing. There’s Abhi, the son of hunters, who decides hunting isn’t the life for him–and unexpectedly finds himself on a quest for the sixth kenning. And Gondel Vedd, a scholar of linguistics who finds himself tasked with finding a way to communicate with a race of giants never seen before (definitely not Hathrim) and stumbles onto a mystery no one could have guessed: there may be a seventh kenning.

There are other characters, but what makes them all interesting is that they’re regular people (well, maybe not Gorin Mogen or the viceroy–he’s a piece of work) who become heroes in their own little ways, whether it’s the teenage girl who isn’t afraid to share vital information, to the scholars who suddenly find how crucial their minds are to the survival of a nation, to the humble public servants who find bravery when they need it most. This is a story of loss, love, redemption, courage, unity, and overcoming despair to not give up. All very human experiences by simple people who do extraordinary things.

Hearne’s worldbuilding is engaging. He doesn’t bottle feed you, at first it feels like drinking from a hydrant, but then you settle in and pick up things along the way. Then he shows you stuff with a punch to the gut. This is no fluffy world with simple magic without price. All the magic has a price, and more often than not it leads you straight to death’s door. For most people just the seeking of the magic will kill you. I particularly enjoyed the scenes with Ahbi and his discovery of the sixth kenning and everything associated with it. But giants? I mean, really? It isn’t bad enough fighting people who can control fire that you have to add that they’re twice the size of normal people? For Hearne if it’s war, the stakes are pretty high, and it gets ugly.

The benefit of the storytelling style is that the book, despite its length, moves along steadily (Hearne is no novice, here). The bits of story lead you along without annoying cliffhangers (mostly), and I never got bored with the switch between characters. It was easy to move between them, and they were recognizable enough that I got lost or confused. The end of the novel felt a little abrupt, but I guess that has more to do with I was ready for the story to continue, despite the exiting climax.

If you’re looking for epic fantasy with fun storytelling and clever worldbuilding, check out A PLAGUE OF GIANTS.

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The Artwork Of Gary Choo

Gary Choo is a concept artist/illustrator based in Singapore. I’ve know Gary for a good many years ( 17, actually ), working together in animation studios in Singapore like Silicon Illusions and Lucasfilm. Gary currently runs an art team at Mighty Bear Games, but when time allows he also draws covers for Marvel comics, and they’re amazing –

The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo

To see more of Gary’s work or to engage him for freelance work, head down to his ArtStation.

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