Dragons and Jetpacks, Top Lists

My Top Ten ‘Dragons & Jetpacks’ Books

DJ16

Back in 2012, at the same time that I started blogging, I founded a science fiction and fantasy book group on Goodreads, with two friends from university. After much debate, the group was eventually named ‘Dragons & Jetpacks’. We’ve somehow risen through the ranks of Goodreads groups, going from a very small group to almost 1400 members. We’ve been a featured group many times, and are lucky enough to have some really wonderful people, a core group of highly active members who love to chat about the wonders of SFF.

As a group, we elect one Fantasy and one Science Fiction book each month, and it is up to members whether they read one, both or neither. We also encourage members to organise Buddy Reads – often if a book has narrowly missed becoming Book of the Month, it becomes a Buddy Read. I’ve run three Buddy Reads for the group myself: Throne of Glass, Crown of Midnight and The Fellowship of the Ring – next up is The Two Towers.

Together we have read around 70 books over three and a half years, some of which I probably wouldn’t have even touched with the group’s recommendations. So I thought I’d share my top ten reads, all a result of the wonderful book group that I am proud to call my own. This only includes books that I read with the group, rather than books read previously that were then voted in as Book of the Month.

Vicious by Victoria Schwab Elantris

  • Vicious by V.E. Schwab – I CANNOT BELIEVE HOW LONG IT TOOK ME TO READ THIS. After reading Schwab’s fantastic A Darker Shade of Magic (another one of our picks, but one I read before the group did), I should have known I would love this. Recent reading has lead me to the following conclusion: I bloody love superhero stories.
  • Elantris (Elantris #1) by Brandon Sanderson – Ahh, my introduction to the wonderful writing machine that is Brandon Sanderson. Whilst this was a relatively short novel for fantasy, it felt so packed and huge and just typical Sanderson – so much enchanting detail, that you don’t want the book to ever finish.

The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie Red Rising

  • The Blade Itself (The First Law #1) by Joe Abercrombie – I also read this one really late, but that was due to myself and my copy of the book being in completely different countries. I’d say that was a pretty good excuse. That does not excuse me, however, from not having yet read books two and three.
  • Red Rising (Red Rising #1) by Pierce Brown – THIS BOOK THIS SERIES THIS AUTHOR. I died whilst reading this series. Several times. I had this on my Kindle for AGES, a copy from Netgalley that sat there for far too long – positively criminal. Anyway, after finally sorting things out and actually devouring this book in about two days, I read Golden Son (also a group pick, possibly the quickest voted sequel ever) almost straight after, and Morning Star as soon as I received an ARC. Still smug about that.

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss The Final Empire (Mistborn #1) by Brandon Sanderson

  • The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicles #1) by Patrick Rothfuss – If you’re looking for a fantasy epic, then you don’t need to look much further than this HUUUUGE book by Patrick Rothfuss. I just love it. Some people say that the books are too slow – we have also read book two in the series as a group, and several members did not like the pace – but I LOVE it. I love all the crazy detail, I have SUCH a good image in my head of how everything looks.
  • The Final Empire (Mistborn #1) by Brandon Sanderson – I am an official Sanderson convert, thanks to D&J. In fact I’m reading one of his books right now, and have… five others waiting on my shelf. This man is a GOD. I’m quite surprised we haven’t voted in the rest of the series as Books of the Month to be honest, this one was so loved by everyone.

Locke Lamora The Six Gun Tarot

  • The Lies of Locke Lamora (Gentleman Bastard #1) by Scott Lynch – Maybe not QUITE the 5-star read I was expecting/hoping for, but still great. Some wonderful grimdark, also I love tales of thieves/assassins/guilds.
  • The Six Gun Tarot (Golgotha #1) by R.S. Belcher – This one was pretty different: a steampunk Western. It makes me think I really need more of those in my life.

Leviathan Wakes (Expanse #1) by James S.A. Corey The Night Circus

  • Leviathan Wakes (Expanse #1) by James S.A. Corey – I feel like this book was a huge success, not just because the group generally enjoyed it, but because my Dad also enjoyed it. He loves his science fiction but doesn’t read that often – mostly just on holidays. He took this one on holiday with him, finished it super quickly and immediately texted me to ask if I had book two. He’s even re-reading the books now…
  • The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern – I think this was the first book we read as a group, and it was really beautiful and enchanting. Maybe not everyone’s cup of tea, and I feel like we haven’t read anything quite like it since – a lot of our fantasy has been the heavy epic type. But this was a stunning story, and very visual.

Have you read any of these books? If you’re a member of a book group, has it introduced you to some great reads like mine has?

Dragons and Jetpacks

Dragons & Jetpacks: BotM August 2013 Thoughts

DJ16
The Night Circus

The August 2013 group book for my sci-fi and fantasy book group, Dragons & Jetpacks, was The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. The member ratings were between three and five stars, for an average group rating of 4.06 stars. Several members had actually already read the book, so conversation was a little quieter this time round.

Please bear in mind that the rest of the post will contain spoilers for The Night Circus.

My personal views:

  • It had a truly magical feeling due to Erin Morgenstern’s rather poetic descriptions.
  • The second person point of view interlude chapters (not something you see very often) really drew me in and made me feel involved, and gave a fantastic wider picture of the circus.
  • The romance was lovely – no insta-love, it wasn’t all lovey-dovey, Celia and Marco knew each other for years before anything happened and it took them both a while to realise their true feelings.
  • The timeline was a bit confusing and it skipped around too much.
  • I didn’t feel particularly for Celia and Marco by the end, I was more interested in Bailey and the twins. And the only death that made me really feel sad was Herr Thiessen’s.
My rating: five stars.

Group views:

  • Kirsty thinks it is perfect for a film adaptation and would make a beautiful film.
  • The switching of POVs worked really well.
  • Some members were a little unsatisfied with the ending scene.
  • Quite a few members were surprised at how much they enjoyed the book, especially after admitting that they probably would not have picked it up had it not been Book of the Month.
  • Wayland described it as one of the ‘most interesting versions of magic’ he had ever read.
  • Nic said it reminded him of Jonathon Strange & Mr. Norrell, and gave him some fond memories of walking through Glastonbury Festival at night!
  • I wasn’t the only one who found the jumping timeline a bit odd – Britt also agreed. However Nic thought it added to the intrigue of the overall story.
  • Freya became rather attached to the Circus and felt worried about what would become of it.
  • Helen felt that the ‘competition’ wasn’t tense enough, as it took place over several years, and that Marco and Celia were rather bland characters.
Group rating: average of 4.06 stars.

Discussion threads:

Dragons and Jetpacks

Dragons & Jetpacks: Book of the Month, August 2013

DJ16
The Night Circus

August’s Book of the Month is The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, chosen by our members through a poll.

Dragons & Jetpacks is a science fiction and fantasy bookgroup, based on Goodreads. The group is open to all, all that is required is a Goodreads account. We read one book a month – the third week of each month is when members make suggestions, and the final week of the month is used for voting.