Ten Recent Five Star Reads

Top Ten Tuesday: Recent Five Star Reads

Ten Most Recent Five Star Reads:

1. Morning Star (Red Rising #3) | Pierce Brown
2. Hawkeye Vol. 4: Rio Bravo | Matt Fraction
3. The Girl With Ghost Eyes | M.H. Boroson (My review)
4. A Silent Voice (#1) | Yoshitoki Ooima (My review)
5. Station Eleven | Emily St. John Mandel
6. I Kill Giants | Joe Kelly
7. Hounded (Iron Druid #1) | Kevin Hearne
8. Gotham Central Vol. 2: Jokers and Madmen | Ed Brubaker
9. Rat Queens Vol. 2 | Kurtis J. Wiebe
10. Leviathan Wakes (Expanse #1) | James S.A. Corey (My review)

What a five star read means for me:
* I will recommend it often, and not just within a reader’s comfort zone.
* Weaknesses are nitpicks rather than major flaws.
* Something in the writing stands out above average, whether characterization, plotting, prose, or a challenging structure.
* For graphic novels, it must achieve that level of quality in both story AND technique.
* My ratings can change over time as I read wider in a subgenre, my technical understanding progresses, or the emotional reaction fades.

What does a five star rating mean for you?

My stats:
To get my 10 most recent five star reads, I went back 59 reads, through mid July 2015. I awarded five stars 17% of the time, and my highest ratings were split equally between books and graphic novels.

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. This week’s topic is 10 most recent five star reads.

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Ten Tales of Science Fiction Noir

Ten Tales of Science Fiction Noir

Science fiction and noir have been classic companions since Asimov and Phillip K. Dick, and the combo is still going strong. (Think Blade Runner.) If you’re in the mood for sharp shadows and dark secrets, tag along with a sci fi detective for a tale of mystery and intrigue.

Ten Tales of Science Fiction Noir:

1. Shovel Ready | Adam Sternbergh
2. The City and the City | China Mieville
3. Altered Carbon | Richard K. Morgan
4. The Disappeared | Kristine Kathryn Rusch
5. Caves of Steel | Isaac Asimov
6. Leviathan Wakes | James S.A. Corey
7. Gun, With Occasional Music | Jonathan Lethem
8. The Demolished Man | Alfred Bester
9. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? | Philip K. Dick
10. The Prefect | Alistair Reynolds

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. This week’s topic is If you’re in the Mood For.

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Ten Horror Stories to Creep You Out

Ten Horror Stories to Creep You Out

Here at Come Hither Books, I cover mostly science fiction and fantasy. But recently more horror has been sneaking onto my to read list. So here are Ten Horror Stories I’ve enjoyed in the last few years. Take a peek into the shadows with me.

Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. CoreyLeviathan Wakes, James S.A. Corey
My review
Series: Expanse #1
Teaser: Leviathan Wakes starts out science fiction noir in a world of teeming spaceports and isolated outposts, then takes a turn into Lovecraftian horror as the plot races forward. Great cross-genre read.

Revival by Tim SeeleyRevival, by Tim Seeley
My review
Series: Ongoing graphic novel series
Teaser: The dead come back to life in rural Wisconsin. But they aren’t your standard zombies. The dead keep their memories and personalities. How do you make room for those you’ve already mourned? How do you move on if you’re stuck forever?

Wild Fell by Michael RoweWild Fell, Michael Rowe
My review
Series: Standalone
Teaser: For a hundred years, the townspeople of Alvina have prayed the darkness inside Wild Fell would stay locked away. Jameson Browning purchased Wild Fell to start a new life. But what lurks in the house is devoted to its darkness and guards it jealously. It’s been waiting for him.

Tokyo Ghoul by Sui IshidaTokyo Ghoul, Sui Ishida
My review
Series: Ongoing Manga Series
Teaser: Ken Kaneki is thrilled to go on a date with Rize. But she’s only interested in his body—eating it, that is. When a morally questionable rescue transforms him into the first half-human half-Ghoul hybrid, Ken is drawn into the dark and violent world of Ghouls.

Bones and All by Camille DeAngelisBones and All, Camille DeAngelis
My review
Series: Standalone
Teaser: Coming of age with cannibals. Maren is on her own at sixteen, with a horrifying habit and nowhere to turn. She sets off to discover the truth about herself and finds a makeshift family of her own. Accepting who you are is hard enough, but it’s even harder when you’re a monster.

Through the Woods by Emily CarrollThrough the Woods, Emily Carroll
My review
Series: Standalone, Graphic Novel Collection
Teaser: This collection of creepy illustrated stories for young readers shouldn’t be the scariest thing on this list. But it is. Through the Woods will remind you of the things that crept into your dreams after bedtime.

Dead Set by Richard KadreyDead Set, Richard Kadrey
My review
Series: Standalone
Teaser: After her father’s funeral, Zoe and her mother moved to the Big City to start over. But Zoe’s grief leads down a dark path. In an overlooked record shop, her father’s life is stored on a record and she can listen. For a price. First, a lock of hair. Then, a tooth…

Madman's Daughter by Megan ShepherdThe Madman’s Daughter, Megan Shepherd
My review
Series: Madman’s Daughter Trilogy #1
Teaser: A retelling of The Island of Doctor Moreau, with all the building horror and monstrous experiments you would expect, and the addition of a new narrator – Moreau’s sixteen year old daughter, Juliet.

Bunnicula by James HoweBunnicula, James Howe
My review
Series: Bunnicula #1
Teaser: Okay, fine. This series is more funny than scary, especially when reread as an adult. But there will always be room on my horror list for this kid’s classic. How can you not love the story of a sarcastic cat and loyal dog trying to defend themselves against a vampire bunny?

Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare BlakeAnna Dressed in Blood, Kendare Blake
No review, but it’s the book that started my current horror trend.
Series: Anna #1
Teaser: Cas is a hunter, trained to kill ghosts like his father before him. But he’s never faced a ghost like Anna. Anna Dressed in Blood has killed every person who steps foot in her house. Until Cas.

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. This week’s topic is books outside your comfort zone.

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Ten Fantasy Books for Music Lovers

Top Ten Musical Fantasies

Music soothes the soul and draws us to dance. The beat works its magic; toes start tapping and heads bop along. With such an elemental effect, it’s no surprise that music has inspired many fantasy authors.

Here are ten books which capture the magic of music on the page. Be warned: lyrical prose and rhythms that leak off the page may have you humming along or seeking out songs online.

Name of the Wind by Patrick RothfussThe Name of the Wind, Patrick Rothfuss
Series: Kingkiller Chronicles #1
Why: The son of traveling performers tells an epic tale of magic and adventure in the voice of a talented poet and natural musician. You’ll be spellbound.

Soul Magic by Terry PratchettSoul Music, Terry Pratchett
Series: Discworld #16
Why: If madcap comedy sounds to your tastes, try Soul Music. This zany tale of music with a mind of its own also works as a good entry point to the Discworld series.

Dragonsong by Anne McCaffreyDragonsong, Anne McCaffrey
Series: Pern Series; Harper Hall #1
Why: For old school fantasy, try Dragonsong, where a young woman denied her music runs away to find her destiny, and ends up teaching wild dragons to sing.

Signal to Noise by Sylvia Moreno-GarciaSignal to Noise, Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Series: Standalone
Why: If urban fantasy is more your style, try this little-known gem. Signal to Noise tells a tale of musical magic in Mexico City. Read with the soundtrack, filled with classic jazz, rock and roll and 80’s pop, in both English and Spanish. Read my review.

The Hum and the Shiver by Alex BledsoeThe Hum and the Shiver, Alex Bledsoe
Series: Tufa #1
Story: In the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, the truth of the Tufa people hides in the music they’ve passed down for generations. Bronwyn Hyatt will have to reconnect to those roots if she is to stop the restless darkness rising in the hills. (Read with bluegrass soundtrack.)

Last Song Before Night by Ilana C. MyerLast Song Before Night, Ilana C. Myer
Series: Standalone
Why: Travel to a high fantasy world of bards and poets. This song-infused fantasy is told in flowing, lyrical prose that creates the feel of music on the page. This tale of poets off to restore enchantments to the land is the perfect read to bring your musical journey to a close. Read the review.

Seraphina by Rachel HartmanSeraphina, Rachel Hartman
Series: Seraphina #1
Why: Seraphina is a gifted musician who joins the court just as a royal is murdered. The investigation threatens to reveal the secret of her musical gift, which could endanger everything.

The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly BlackThe Darkest Part of the Forest, Holly Black
Series: Standalone
Why: Ben has the gift of fae music and plays bard to his sister’s knight. But fae magic is hard to control, and he swears off music after a horrible accident. To save the day, he’ll have to face his fears and reclaim his magic. Read the review.

The Naming by Alison CroggonThe Naming, Alison Croggon
Series: The Books of Pellinor #1
Why: Maerad is trapped in a hopeless life of slavery and war, until a bard selects her as his next student. But the two musicians have a long road ahead, filled with danger and dark forces.

The City of Dark Magic by Magnus FlyteCity of Dark Magic, Magnus Flyte
Series: City of Dark Magic #1
Why: This bizarre, raunchy cross-genre read features Beethoven, espionage, time travel, sex and humor all rolled up into one weird story. Read the review.

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. This week’s topic is Music & Books.

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Top Ten Canon Couples

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Canon Couples

Alana & Marko, Saga Series by Brian K. Vaughan
They fell in love across a battle line, and that brutal war is nothing compared to what they’ll have to do to stay together and raise a forbidden child. They’re fierce, clueless, idealistic, naive and stubborn. I’m rooting for them against all odds.

Patroclus & Achilles, Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
You can’t find a love story more tragic than one out of a Greek epic, and Miller’s prose makes the world of the Iliad come to life. I knew how it would end, and fell in love anyway.

Rachel & Trent, The Hollows Series by Kim Harrison
My favorite series for character development over time, and nowhere is that better illustrated than through the eventual relationship of Rachel & Trent. They start as adversaries, then eventually friends and ultimately lovers. But it’s not hate turn to love. It’s personal growth, through a crazy series of hardships, that changed them both from what they were at the beginning. Their journey made them ready for love, and perfect for each other.

Amaranthe & Sicarius, Emperor’s Edge Series by Lindsay Buroker
Sicarius is a quiet, deadly assassin who everyone fears. Amaranthe is the goofy, slightly obsessive leader who dares to order him around anyway. She teaches him to smile and use his skills for a purpose. He stays at her side no matter what, and gives her the courage to take on the impossible. They’re just adorable.

Xena & Gabrielle, Xena: The Warrior Princess, TV show
They’re strong women in different ways, bring out the best in each other, and stay together to the end. What’s not to love? Plus, it proved awesome women could be surrounded by men without belittling or being threatened by them, and two women could find love without treating every man who came before as a place holder. Waaaay ahead of its time.

Darrow & Mustang, Red Rising Trilogy by Pierce Brown
NO BOOK 3 SPOILERS PLEASE!
He’s a damaged protagonist who needs her reminders to treat the people around him with kindness. She’s a privileged member of a brutal society blinded to some aspects of that society. They’re capable of violence and betrayal, and will break your heart again and again. But they complement each other so well that it makes me want for it to all work out in the end. (No guarantees.)

Lucius & Narcissa, Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
My love of this canon couple is based on fanfiction and art as much as on JKR’s books, but whatever. Slytherin love all the way.

Finnikin & Evanjalin, Lumatere Chronicles by Melina Marchetta
These two come together as refugees cast out of their kingdom, and have to reclaim a home for their people. But it’s seeing how they change and grow stronger together afterwards when they thought the hardships would be over that makes them one of my top canon couples.

Jamie & Claire, Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon (& TV show)
Theirs is a real marriage, with moments of doubt, fear and violent disagreement. They function as equals, in a time when that would be shocking, and their relationship is a constant series of negotiations and rebalancing. For all its swoon-worthy origins, I’ve never seen a more realistic portrayal of marriage over the whole series.

Vin & Elend, The Mistborn Trilogy by Brandon Sanderson
Vin grows from a paranoid street kid to a confident warrior, and Elend from a political theory geek to a wise leader. They see potential in each other long before anyone else, and bond for who they are on the inside.

What I learned:
I like my ships:
* Partnerships between equals
* Long-term relationships > Happily ever afters
* Series couples > Standalone romances
* Fantasy > Science Fiction
* Books > Television

The Fantasy > SciFi preference is mostly a side effect of reading more long series in fantasy. My science fiction picks are usually standalones, and less likely to contain a pairing at all.

Who are your favorite canon couples?

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. This week’s topic is a freebie Valentine’s Day list.

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Ten Tales of Old West Fantasy

Ten Tales of Old West Fantasy

I’ve spent most of my life west of the Mississippi, where ghost towns and ramshackle homesteads dot the landscape. It’s the history that lingers on in the land I know best. The Old West is a favorite setting of mine, especially when mixed with my favorite genres. Whether it’s weird western horror, steampunk adventure, western-influenced dystopia or historical fantasy, you’ll find something to hunker down with here.

Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae CarsonWalk on Earth a Stranger, Rae Carson (2015)
Genre: historical fantasy, young adult
Series: Gold Seer Trilogy
When & Where: Gold Rush era, California
The story: Lee has the power to sense gold in the world around her, and people will do anything to control her. In California, where gold abounds, she can be herself for the first time.

Killer of Enemies by Joseph BruchacKiller of Enemies, Joseph Bruchac
Genre: dystopian, fantasy, steampunk, cross-genre, young adult
Series: Killer of Enemies (2013)
When & Where: post-apocalyptic, American Southwest
The story: When tech stopped working, the monsters got loose, and Lozen started hunting. Her powers are tied to an Apache legend. As her ancestors foretold, Lozen is destined to be a hero.

Six-Gun Tarot by R.S. BelcherSix-Gun Tarot, R.S. Belcher (2013)
Genre: steampunk, weird western, horror, historical fantasy
Series: Golgotha
When & Where: 1869, Nevada
The story: Golgotha, Nevada is a town of secrets, with monsters lurking in the shadows. But the abandoned mine hides a new threat. If it can’t be stopped, the darkness emanating from its depths will swallow everything.

Silver on the Road by Laura Anne GilmanSilver on the Road, Laura Anne Gilman (2015)
Genre: heroic fantasy, western, historical fiction
Series: The Devil’s West
When & Where: Old West era, Western Territories
The story: The Devil controls the Territories, making deals with mortals but always trading fairly. At 16, Isobel signs on to become the Devil’s left hand, unseen in the shadows.

Blood Red Road by Moira YoungBlood Red Road, Moira Young
Genre: dystopian, young adult
Series: Dust Lands Trilogy (complete)
When & Where: post-apocalyptic wasteland
The story: A girl sets out across the wasteland in search of her kidnapped twin brother. Along the way, she meets up with a girl gang of revolutionaries and the daredevil Jack. And finds the strength to take on a corrupt society from the inside. Perfect for fans of Mad Max: Fury Road.

Flash Gold by Lindsay BurokerFlash Gold, Lindsay Buroker (2011)
Genre: steampunk
Series: Flash Gold Chronicles
When & Where: Gold Rush era, Yukon territories
The story: Kali enters her steam-powered “dogless sled” in a race, whose prize money will let her escape forever. But fortune seekers and airship pirates want the secret of her father’s alchemy, flash gold.

The Gunslinger by Stephen KingThe Gunslinger, Stephen King (1982)
Genre: horror, Western, fantasy, post-apocalyptic
Series: The Dark Tower (complete, 7 books)
When & Where: Western style fantasy world
The story: Roland Deschain is the Last Gunslinger, on a mysterious quest through a desolate world. Leaving death in his wake, he pursues the man in black, an evil being who can bring the dead back to life.

Karen Memory by Elizabeth BearKaren Memory, Elizabeth Bear
Genre: steampunk, alternate history
Series: Standalone
When & Where: late 1800s, Seattle
The story: Karen guards the girls at a high class bordello. An injured girl arrives at their door, followed by a man with a mind-control machine. When a body turns up in the trash, it’ll take a lot for the ladies to stay safe.

Alloy of Law by Brandon SandersonAlloy of Law, Brandon Sanderson
Genre: epic fantasy, steampunk, magic
Series: Mistborn #4; #1 of followup series
When & Where: fantasy world
The story: 300 years after the Mistborn trilogy, the land is on the cusp of modernity. But Waxillium may not be able to put away his guns just yet. Alloy of Law works as the beginning of its own series, so don’t be afraid to give it a try whether you’ve read Mistborn or not.

Stranger by Rachel Manija Brown & Sherwood SmithStranger, Rachel Manija Brown & Sherwood Smith
Genre: post-apocalyptic, western, adventure, young adult
Series: The Change
When & Where: future Los Angeles
The story: The area once called Los Angeles retains its cultural diversity, but its technological marvels have faded to legend. A teen prospector arrives with a bounty hunter on his trail and a precious artifact in his pack. Life in the frontier town of Las Anclas will never be the same. My review

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. This week’s topic is historical settings.

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Ten New Books To Read

Top Ten Tuesday - Ten Books To Be Read

My TBR is all about looking forward, and many are not yet released. I’ve included release dates after each title to make things easier. Here’s ten of the books I’m looking forward to right now.

Ten new books to read:

1. Into the Dim | Janet B. Taylor | March 2016
2. The Girl From Everywhere | Heidi Heilig | Feb 2016
3. The Abyss Surrounds Us | Emily Skrutskie | Feb 2016
4. Silver on the Road | Laura Anne Gilman | Oct 2015
5. The Steep and Thorny Way | Cat Winters | March 2016
6. A Criminal Magic | Lee Kelly | Feb 2016
7. Ghost Talkers | Mary Robinette Kowal | July 2016
8. Truthwitch | Susan Dennard | January 2016
9. Barsk: The Elephant’s Graveyard | Lawrence M. Schoen | Dec 2015
10. In Midnight’s Silence | T. Frohock | June 2015

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. This week’s topic is Top Ten Books I’ve Recently Added To My TBR.

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Ten Diverse Books

Ten Books Featuring Diverse Characters

Five diverse books I’ve read in the past year and loved:
The Stranger
The Wrath and the Dawn
Signal to Noise
Saga
Ms. Marvel

Five more I want to read:
The long way to a small, angry planet
Shadowshaper
Three Parts Dead
El Deafo
Killing Moon

Late and graphics-free, because I’m running behind on life at the moment. But I love this topic too much not to participate.

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. This week’s topic is Ten Books That Celebrate Diversity/Diverse Characters.

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Top Ten Books of 2015 (so far)

Best So Far in 2015 Top Ten Tuesday

  1. The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, Catherynne M. Valente
  2. Saga, Brian K. Vaughan
  3. Golden Son, Pierce Brown
  4. Code Name Verity, Elizabeth Wein
  5. Stranger, Rachel Manija Brown & Sherwood Smith
  6. The Wicked + The Divine, Kieron Gillen
  7. Rat Queens, Kurtis J. Wiebe
  8. Goblin Emperor, Katherine Addison
  9. California Bones, Greg Van Eekhout
  10. Ms. Marvel, G. Willow Wilson

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. This week’s topic is Top Ten Books I’ve Read So Far In 2015.

Most link to reviews here on Come Hither Books, one to my Goodreads review, and one I haven’t written yet so it just goes to Goodreads. Also, The Wrath and The Dawn belongs on here except I haven’t finished reading it yet, and therefore can’t decide where in the top five it belongs. 🙂

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Top Ten Reads for Summer 2015

Summer 2015 Reads

Signal to Noise by Silvia Moreno-GarciaSignal to Noise, Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Release Date: Out now, February 2015
Genre: Contemporary Fantasy, Magical Realism
Series: Standalone
Why: I don’t often enjoy magical realism, but I do love magic systems based on something different. Signal to Noise works its magic through music, as three teens cast spells with vinyl records. It’s set in Mexico City (1988 and 2009) and written by a Mexican-Canadian author, so I’m looking forward to learning more about a culture not my own in the process.

The Wicked + The Divine Volume 2The Wicked + The Divine, Vol. 2: Fandemonium, Kieron Gillen
Release Date: July 21, 2015
Genre: Graphic Novel, Contemporary Fantasy
Series: The Wicked + The Divine
Why: I loved Volume 1: The Faust Act and I can’t wait for volume 2. The art is gorgeous and the story mixes pop culture with modern myth.

The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee AhdiehThe Wrath and the Dawn, Renee Ahdieh
Release Date: Out now, May 2015
Genre: YA Retelling of 1001 Nights
Series: Standalone
Why: Every glowing review I read makes me more excited for this retelling. I’ve enjoyed several Arab or Islamic-influenced stories recently, and am seeking out more.

Clash of Eagles by Alan SmaleClash of Eagles, Alan Smale
Release Date: Out now, March 2015
Genre: Alternative History
Series: Hesperian Trilogy #1
Why: Roman legions vs. Iroquois warriors, as Rome expands to the new world. I adore Greek/Roman anything, and I enjoy alternative histories when they’re done well. Clash of Eagles also comes recommended as a good audio performance by a friend, who hooked me up with their audio copy. Win.

Time Salvager by Wesley ChuTime Salvager, Wesley Chu
Release Date: July 7, 2015
Genre: Science Fiction, Time Travel
Series: Standalone
Why: I enjoyed the sample preview of this dystopian/scifi story. James is a chronman, who travels back to dead end timelines to strip them for resources. Until he meets someone worth saving. In the bit I previewed, James made for a strong antihero in an intriguing story.

Three Parts Dead by Max GladstoneThree Parts Dead, Max Gladstone
Release Date: Out now, 2012
Genre: Urban Fantasy with ancient gods and a touch of steampunk
Series: Craft Sequence #1
Why: Comes highly recommended. With strong fantasy world-building, a clever mystery, and a non-white female lead, it promises to be an awesome read. Plus, a series that can be read in multiple orders or sometimes as standalones intrigues me, and I want to see how he pulls it off.

Hostage by Rachel Manija Brown and Sherwood SmithHostage, Rachel Manija Brown & Sherwood Smith
Release Date: Out now, January 2015
Genre: YA Post-apocalyptic, Western
Series: The Change #2
Why: I adored book one, The Stranger and immediately bought book two on my nook. With its fresh mix of western and scifi/dystopian and diverse characters, it’s one of the most fun reads of the year so far. I want to read the sequel before I forget details.

Shadowshaper by Daniel Jose OlderShadowshaper, Daniel José Older
Release Date: June 30, 2015
Genre: YA Urban Fantasy
Series: Standalone
Why: In Brooklyn, the graffiti murals start to weep. This YA fantasy mixes Caribbean legend with urban life. I’m intrigued.

Valour and Vanity by Mary Robinette KowalValour and Vanity, Mary Robinette Kowal
Release Date: Out now, 2014
Genre: Historical Fantasy
Series: Glamourist Histories #4
Why: This series has been recommended several times, but I’m reluctant about Regency. Then it was mentioned on Writing Excuses podcast as a good place for new readers to jump in and A HEIST NOVEL. No surprise, this went straight onto my to-read list.

Armada by Ernest ClineArmada, Ernest Cline
Release Date: July 14, 2015
Genre: Science Fiction, video game nostalgia
Series: Standalone
Why: I’m not quite as Team Ready Player One as almost everyone I know seems to be. But I still enjoyed it, and I’m still gladly in line for Cline’s new novel, which promises just as much retro geek nostalgia.

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. This week’s topic is Top Ten Books On My TBR For Summer 2015. July’s releases are included here, for anything August or later, see my Top Ten 2015 Fall Releases list. I did not duplicate titles.