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Kim Harrison

Top 5 Wednesday: Favorite Science Fiction & Fantasy Books

Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme from Goodreads, created by Lainey from Gingerreadslainey and now moderated by Sam from ThoughtsOnTomes.

“YAAAASSSSSSSS!!!!!” – Me when I saw this prompt. I mainly read fantasy outside of comics and GN’s so I was super excited to put this together and share my favorites with you guys!!! =D

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5. The Hollows series by Kim Harrison

Meet Rachel Morgan, a witch runner who attracts trouble more than honey attracts a pixy. Together with her roommates and business partners, vampire Ivy Tamwood and pixy Jenks, they solve crimes, butt heads with drug-dealing warlords, and occasionally save the world.

If this prompt had been a month ago, this series might have been higher on the list. Don’t get me wrong, I still love it! The series started off strong, but lost momentum around the middle for me. I just finished the last book and feel like I slogged through it just to get it over with. What made it make the list was the excellent characterization, humorous tone, and interesting world-building. It’s a good alternative to grittier and darker urban fantasies. I have fond memories of reading the first couple books with my friends in college ❤

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4. Trickster’s Choice/Queen by Tamora Pierce

I want to personally thank Tamora Pierce for single-handedly getting me into the fantasy genre. I read the Song of the Lioness series for the first time in middle school, fell in love, and immediately wanted more. I’m 99% sure I read her entire section in my middle school library… and my teachers let me go hang out in the library during homeroom and do it!

My mom got me these two books as a Christmas gift while I was in high school, and I fell back into the world of Tortall – every bit as magical as I remembered, but a bit more grown up and complex for the older reader I was. Aly is a compassionate, plucky, and resourceful heroine, determined to do good in the world but make a name for herself out of her famous mother’s shadow.

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3. Jill Kismet series by Lilith Saintcrow

This is the first urban fantasy series I read… and I absolutely love it. Honestly, nothing else I’ve read even comes close to the standards I’ve set by this series. It’s kind of interesting I like it so much, because it’s much more graphic and violent than what I normally read. But what keeps me coming back is the heart-pounding action, fascinating world (present day at time of publication but basically with demons and Hunters who kill them), and Jill herself. She’s cracked, but doesn’t let herself become broken. She has sharp edges and a bite to match her rather loud bark, but she ultimately cares about people and has a great capacity to love. I cry with her and cheer for her every time I re-read the series. Saintcrow is now one of my all-time favorite authors.

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2. East by Edith Pattou

This book was my first encounter with the fairy tale “East of the Sun and West of the Moon.” I can still remember the first time I read it, being absolutely spellbound by this blend of history and fantasy. The POV alternates between Rose, the main character who is taken by the ice bear and who consequently has to travel “east of the sun and west of the moon” to save him, her brother, her father, and at times the ice bear. Rose is tenacious and incredibly intelligent, with a strong sense of justice: a wonderful heroine. If you like Beauty and the Beast but wish it had more adventure, you’ll love this.

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1. The Pellinor series by Alison Croggon

Honestly… this series is just my favorite of all time. It follows a girl named Maerad as she’s rescued from slavery and thrust into the (literally) magical world of the Bards, who weave their spells through song and lore and tending growing things. Maerad knows no one in this world, but they know her, for she has been the one foretold to cast down the Nameless One as he rises again to power.

The writing… is just. Beautiful. It’s lush and lyrical, you really feel like you’re in the world of Pellinor. There’s a very strong sense of place and atmosphere (very much like Lord of the Rings). The plot is revealed slowly, but artfully. Each and every character is well-rounded and feels like a dear friend. I promise you will not regret picking these up.

Honorable mentions include:

  • Lord of the Rings (of course, they’re classics)
  • Harry Potter (IT WAS JUST SO CLOSE GUYS ESPECIALLY WITH THE ILLUSTRATED EDITIONS)
  • Warbreaker and Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson (most interesting magical systems out there, but Mistborn series as a whole just can’t hold my attention. Warbreaker is a standalone tho)
  • Anything Donna Jo Napoli has ever written
  • And my current read I am just way too excited about: The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden (… I may be excited about it partially because it’s not a Hollows novel…).

Any of mine make your list, too? =P

– Kathleen

Edit: Oh my gosh lol I had totally forgotten it was International Women’s Day! And I just happened to write a post of fantasy books all featuring fantastic female leads!!! That’s just too funny X,D Happy happy! ❤

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Blood Crime

Ivy and Rachel are still on the beat, bringing in drug dealers, petty thieves, and the like. But lately, more accidents have seemed to happen, even around the accident-prone Rachel. When a solid stone gargoyle from a church nearly falls on top of them, Ivy knows something is up. Someone has clearly put a hit out on Rachel, but who and why? Piscary? He gave Rachel to Ivy as a blood gift, but he has lied to Ivy about his intentions before. Art, Ivy’s old boss? He’s got motive, sure, but he’s rotting away in prison, right where Ivy put him.

As Ivy delves deeper into the mystery, she starts losing herself more and more in her feelings for Rachel. One of these days, she’s going to crumble… and everything she’s fought so hard to keep control over, to keep her own, will be undone.

I found this one to be slightly better than the first. My issue with the art is still there – blocky anatomy and lack of varied facial expression – but the characterization made up for it. We read the Hollows series from Rachel’s point of view, and though there have been short stories written from other’s point of view, I had never read any from Ivy’s. You really feel for her as she struggles to maintain control of herself to break away from her abuser. The mystery left unfinished in the last volume was never picked up here, which was jarring and disappointing.

As a whole, this duology is okay. Good writing and solid characterization carry the sub-par art. As much as I like this series and would like it to be accessible to GN readers, you’d honestly be better served reading the books.

– Kathleen

Harrison, Kim and Gemma Magno. Blood Crime. 2012.

Blood Work

Harrison, Kim, Pedro Maia, and Gemma Magno. Blood Work. 2011.

Have any of you guys heard of the Hollows series?

*crickets and tumbleweeds*

I’m about to open new doors for you then 8D XD

The Hollows is written by Kim Harrison, and starts with the book titled “Dead Witch Walking.” It’s about a witch named Rachel, a vampire called Ivy, and a pixy named Jenks who start a runner (private detective) agency together. It’s set in an alternate universe in which a good chunk of humanity was wiped out in the ’60s by virus started with a genetically mutated tomato (yes, you read that right). That event, known as the Turn, was when the supernatural beings came out and helped the world run smoothly while the humans recovered. At the time of the Hollows books, humanity and the supernatural live and work together in relative harmony.

Two graphic novels were written as a prelude to the Hollows series, when Rachel was an intern under Ivy in the I.S. (Inderland Security), one of the two main police forces in the novels. This is the first.

Ivy enjoys working alone. Someone must be out to punish her when Denon, her boss, assigns her Rachel Morgan, an intern and a witch, to be her new partner. In fact… punishment is likely what it is, but who it’s from is anyone’s guess. Ivy has just put away her last boss for murder. She’s just started a blood fast, as well, and her master vampire Piscary is less than pleased with her.

Rachel is impetuous, innocent impulsive… and just plain annoying. She’s also very powerful, but has no idea. Ivy is instantly attracted to her unique mix of innocence and power. She has to get herself under control, however, resist temptation… lest she becomes just like Piscary, her master, whom she loves and loathes in equal measure…

To be honest, I wasn’t completely sold. The art is kind of subpar. Both women look like they have the same facial expressions most of the time, even under extreme stress. The anatomy is solid, just really stiff and blocky, and shows most in the fight scenes. The visual of Ivy “vamping out”, to borrow a phrase from the novels, is really cool. It was different from what I had envisioned in the novels and helped me understand it better. The characterization and writing is just as good as it was in the novels, but it felt really pared down. This is likely due to the format, but it almost felt… bare-bones. I’m attributing this to me being more used to Harrison’s writing as a book format, not as a flaw of the book itself.

It’s tricky to recommend this to someone who wouldn’t be at least familiar with the books, however. There are too many characters who have small parts but whom one might miss the significance of, and things that I could easily understand from having read the novels aren’t explained in great detail here. I think this one might be for fans only. Those who haven’t read at least the first 2 or 3 books might be lost. Hoping the second is better!

– Kathleen

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