The A-to-Z Book Survey

So a few days ago my reviewing/blogging buddy Ria at Bibliotropic posted a nice survey of sorts on her blog. It was a cool article and with her permission, I’m sneaking off my own spin on it.

Hope you enjoy! And even if not, do share your thoughts in the comments!

Author you’ve read the most books from:

This one is a bit tricky. Off the top of my head, the top two would certainly be Isaac Asimov and Raymond E. Feist. Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman might also be in the running, given how many Dragonlance novels I’ve read to date, and even Matt Forbeck. I think I’ve read like 14-15 novels by him in the last year and a half alone. That too across so many different genres: near-future SF, western epic fantasy, superheroes, heist/crime, vampires/Titanic mash-up, etc.

That’s a hell of a lot of books really!

Best Sequel Ever:

This is kind of really tough to pick out. However. I do have a top three for this though, because picking one is too tough for me to think about!The first is Firedrake by Nick Kyme, the second in his Tome of Fire trilogy and set in the Warhammer 40,000 setting. The novel follows Salamander, and in almost every respect it is a much, much better novel. The key here is the pacing and memorable characters, some of whom were in Salamander as well, but weren’t as memorable. I certainly didn’t expect such a big jump in terms of how much fun I had, and that’s to Nick’s credit.An Officer's Duty

The second is An Officer’s Duty (Review), the second in Jean Johnson’s Theirs Not To Reason Why military SF series featuring a female protagonist (that is a key thing to point out here). The first novel, A Soldier’s Duty (Review), had already impressed me earlier this year, and while I expected more of the same for the sequel, I was still blown away significantly by just how good An Officer’s Duty was. Everything that was good about the first novel was good with the sequel, with the added benefit that things were even better. Better action, awesome pacing, superbly written characters, and a really fantastic plot.

Then there is Swords of Waar (Review), which is the second in Nathan Long’s Jane Carver of Waar (Review) sword-and-planet duology and, as with Jean’s novels above, features a female protagonist. The great thing about Swords of Waar was that it dealt with sex and romance in a really mature sort of way for a SF novel. There wasn’t any handwaiving or any high-level erotica feel to it, and Nathan hit pretty much the right balance between those two. Of course, he also expanded on a culture and society he had portrayed really well in the first novel, Jane Carver of Waar, so that was an added bonus as well.

Currently Reading:

Currently I’m about to start reading Paul S. Kemp’s fourth Erevis Cale novel, Shadowbred, which is the first in the Twilight War trilogy. I read the previous trilogy, the Erevis Cale Trilogy (Review), last year, and I enjoyed it quite a bit. Right now, I’m more than a third of my way into Shadowbred and I’m enjoying this one as well. It took a while to really get going, but its moving apace at the moment and is really ramping up.

Drink of Choice While Reading:

Umm… water? To be honest, I rarely have any drink while reading. A pepsi/fanta sometimes, but not really. Just water. Yes, I know, boring.

E-reader or physical book?

I used to love physical books. Then I discovered e-reading three years back. I got hooked. But it still wasn’t a “thing” for me, not until January of last year, when it really kicked in. At a rough estimate, about 80% of my reading is digital, thanks either to my Samsung Galaxy S4, or my iPad2 or even sometimes on the laptop, although I try to avoid the latter.

And while I love reading on my smartphone, it does have a drawback in that the e-Reader I use, Aldiko, doesn’t do formatting well. In honesty, it doesn’t handle formatting at all really, so there are no italics or anything or even proper indentation sometimes. Most vexing.

Fictional Character You Probably Would Have Actually Dated In High School:

Har har har. That assumes I was actually that… slick. Well either way, if I had a choice (or chance rather), I would have dated Chloe Sullivan, from CW’s Smallville. She’s smart, she’s geeky, she’s cute, she’s loyal, and she cares about her friends, especially the ones she really cares about.

As a series regular, she was one of the best things about the show. People talk about Jimmy Olsen, Superman’s Pal so much. Well, they should be talking a hell of a lot more about Chloe, who should be known as Clark’s Best Friend, in addition to having her own identity.

Chloe rocks.

Glad You Gave this Book a Chance:

Amanda Carlson’s first Jessica McClain novel, Full Blooded (Review). It is an urban fantasy with werewolves and vampires, and was my first real introduction to the were-creature/were-monster urban fantasy subgenre last year. At least in print. I’ve been a fan of Buffy and Angel both so as a television series that kind of stuff is right up my alley, but I had never read one of these books until I picked up Full Blooded.

So yeah, that book caused me to go out and discover other such novels, and for the most part, I’ve enjoyed them.

Hidden Gem Book:

Phalanx by Ben Counter. This is the sixth and final book in his Soul Drinkers series, and I’m really surprised that this one wasn’t received well by the Warhammer 40,000 fandom. It closes the story of one of the most interesting Space Marine chapters, and some really well-written characters, and it really does tell one hell of a story. It is itself packed with some amazing characters, some excellent action sequences, and a ton of character development of the type that Warhammer 40,000 is known for so much, and is also a hallmark style of Ben Counter.

Ah well. I certainly enjoyed it.

Important Moment in Your Reading Life:

A transformative moment? Well that would be picking up Arthur C. Clarke’s 2001: A Space Odyssey in freshman year of high school. That novel completely changed me around and instilled in me a love of space opera that is still alive and kicking strongly 12 years later. I followed that novel in short order with J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy, then with Margaret Weis/Tracy Hickman’s Dragonlance Chronicles, then with Raymon E. Feist’s Riftwar Saga, then Raymond E. Feist/Janny Wurts’ Empire Trilogy, and so on.

I was on a roll.

The Encounter

But, that really special moment that I will always cherish? That came from reading The Encounter by K. A. Applegate, the third in her The Animorphs series of young adult science fiction novels. I’d always been a bookworm prior to that, someone who was raised on Enid Blyton, Carolyn Keene’s Nancy Drew, Franklin W. Dixon’s The Hardy Boys, and of course, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, but it wasn’t until I read The Encounter that I became a voracious reader.

For the first time ever, I actually identified with a character, Tobias, in this case. I was Tobias in my childhood fantasies, fighting alongside the other Animorphs in my dreams and saving the world from the evils of the Yeerks and their foot-soldiers.

Fantastic times.

Just Finished:

Manifesto: UF. This is an urban fantasy anthology put together by friend and author Tim Marquitz, and reviewer-turned-editor Tyson J. Mauermann. This anthology features my very own first published short story, Dharmasankat: Crisis of Faith, and was a really great read, full of quirky and exotic stories, the type that Tim included in his horror anthology last year, Fading Light.

Really proud to have been a part of this.

Kind of Books You Won’t Read:

Paranormal Romance. Erotica. That’s where I draw the line.

Longest Book I’ve Read:

Hmm, this is a tough one. I think Kevin J. Anderson’s Terra Incognita (Book 1, Book 2, Book 3) epic fantasy novels would certainly qualify for that. Or the Legends of Dune trilogy (Review), also by Kevin J. Anderson but co-written by Brian Herbert, the son of one of my top favourite SF authors, Frank Herbert. I haven’t read the big-fat books in a long time really. And I made an exception for these trilogies last year because of a reading challenge or ARC copies.

Major Book Hangover Because Of:

I’ll pass on this one. I’ve had my fill of controversies for a while.

Number of Bookcases You Own:

Uh… I have five shelves worth of books in my home at the moment. But they are all part of a sliding door cabinet, so I’m not sure that counts? And I have a full (large) suitcase full of books. And I’ve been running out of space for quite a while now.

One Book You Have Read Multiple Times:

The Encounter by K. A. Applegate. Nine times, to the best of my recall.

Preferred Place to Read:

On my bed. Obviously.

Quote That Inspires/Gives the Feels:

“I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing……Only I will remain.”


That is the infamous quote from Dune by Frank Herbert (Review), one of the biggest classics of the science-fiction genre, and written by one of its strongest pillars. What does it mean, to fear something? What does it mean, to confront that fear? I live everyday with this quote as my personal mantra. It has certainly gotten me out of some really troubled times.

Reading Regret:

Mount Toberead is my biggest reading regret. I finish one book and I have three others waiting for me. Gaaaaaaah!

Series You Started and Need to Finish:

Bradley P. Beaulieu’s Lays of Anuskaya fantasy trilogy (Book 1) is one. To be honest, there are just too many to list here. Its an ongoing process really.

Three of Your All Time Favorite Books:

For the classics, they’d be:

  1. Dune Chronicles #1: Dune by Frank Herbert
  2. Riftwar Saga #1: Magician by Raymond E. Feist
  3. EarthSea #1: A Wizard of EarthSea by Ursula K. LeGuin

From some recent releases in the last couple of years, they’d be:


  1. Jane Carver of Waar #1: Jane Carver of Waar by Nathan Long
  2. Theirs Not To Reason Why #2: An Officer’s Duty by Jean Johnson
  3. Space Marine Battles: Legion of the Damned by Rob Sanders (Review)

Unapologetic Fan Boy For:

Anything written by Nathan Long or Timothy Zahn or Matt Forbeck or Aliette de Bodard or Anne Lyle.

Very Excited For This Release:

Hellfire, the third in Jean Johnson’s Theirs Not To Reason Why series. Its already released, but I haven’t been able to read it yet since I’m waiting for an ARC to arrive.

Worst Bookish Habit:

Ria said it best: its the increasing reading pile even as I move through it. I can’t resist requesting books from publishers (or authors, as it may apply), and I have a HUGE backlog of books I’ve accepted that I really, really need to get through.

X Marks the Spot: Start At Top Left and Pick the 27th Book on Your Shelf:

I’m traveling at the moment and am in India so I can’t check my shelves. But, on my iBooks app on my iPad, in the main (and also unorganised) “Books” shelf, the 27th novel is Jaye Wells’ Sabina Kane #1: The Red-Headed Stepchild.

Your Latest Book Purchase:

The Crown of Stars 01 King's Dragon

In print it was Crown of Stars #1: King’s Dragon by Kate Elliott. In digital, it was Space Marine Battles: The Death of Integrity by Guy Haley.

Zzz-snatcher Book:

Anything by Matt Forbeck.

Posted on September 4, 2013, in Editorial, General and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. Mmm, Fanta. I love the stuff. The orange flavoured once, anyway. Fanta cream soda isn’t too shabby either, but most of the other flavours are take-it-or-leave-it with me.

    Also, total agreement on Smallville’s Chloe. She was awesome!


    • Fanta is usually my drink of choice. But I do try to alternate with a coke/pepsi on occasion.

      As for Chloe, she rocked. I had a far, far bigger crush on her than I did on Lois or Lana.


      • I’m more of a Pepsi person than a Coke person, but I try to avoid caffeine when I can. Addictive personality + stuff that makes me insanely hyper and feel good AND gives me heart palpitations – bad combo. :p


        • Last year, I noticed that if I have Pepsi (or any other aerated drink) while writing, then I write more. For some reason, I’m just able to focus more. Rather weird.


  2. I also used Timothy Zahn for my “U” answer, but aside from that, you mention a ton of books/names I don’t know. Love finding new stuff.

    Here’s the one I did:


  1. Pingback: A to Z Books Survey | Bane of Kings' Writing Blog

  2. Pingback: The A-to-Z Author Survey | Shadowhawk's Shade

  3. Pingback: Monthly Report: August and September 2013 | Shadowhawk's Shade

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