Monday, May 30, 2016

TOP TEN TUESDAY | Tales of the Sea

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme for bloggers who like books and lists. It's awesome and is graciously hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

This week's topic is:
Beach Reads Week -- top ten great beach reads, ten books I plan to read on the beach, ten beach reads for those who don't like typical ~beach reads~, ten authors who are my go-to for beach reads, etc.

What a "beach read" is, is open to interpretation of course - it likely means different things to different people.  So I've decided to take it quite literally and list some books that feature the ocean in some fashion because being by the sea is my favorite thing about going to the beach.  The ocean never fails to entrance me and bring me peace - I love it.  Which calls into question the wisdom of my  moving to Iowa (about as far from the ocean as one can get in the U.S.) from Virginia (which sits on the Atlantic). *shrugs* That's what books that heavily feature the sea are for!  So these are books to read if you are a) yearning for the seaside or b) wanting a rollicking sea themed adventure to read while sitting by the seaside.


1) The Aubrey/Maturin Series by Patrick O'Brian |  Horatio Hornblower Series by C.S. Forester

Both of these series mostly take place on the high seas, on ships in His Majesty's Royal British Navy during the Napoleonic wars.

I have read all 20 complete books in the Aubrey - Maturin series and I wish there were 20 more, quite frankly.  Stephen Maturin, the physician/naturalist/spy is one of my favorite characters of all time and the friendship between him and Jack Aubrey is perfection.  After finishing this series I had a desperate desire to learn to sail.

I haven't read all the books in the Horatio Hornblower series but the ones I have read are charming and there is a terrific BBC mini-series inspired by the books that you could also indulge in.  These books made me wish I had a more interesting name.  Honestly, how can one not succeed in life with a name like Horatio Hornblower?

For a completely different take on sailing the high seas on a British ship in the 1800s try this mostly fun middle-grade novel about a girl who passes herself off as a boy to be able to go to sea.  This is a series which many people find delightful, though I kind of disliked book two and didn't continue.  Book one at least will give you a fun story though!

3) This Rough Magic by Mary Stewart

Mary Stewart is best known for her books about King Arthur (The Crystal Cave etc...) but she also wrote a number of romantic suspense novels that take place in contemporary times for her, so 1950s-1960s.  This Rough Magic was such a fun and engrossing read and it takes place on the island of Corfu and involves all kinds of sea-related drama and kissing.

4) The Lewis Trilogy by Peter May

If you are wanting a broody mystery, mixed in with some family drama and a terrific harsh island setting than you can't go wrong picking up The Lewis Trilogy.  The three books take place on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides off the coast of Scotland and feature a detective who has returned home here after his life in Edinburgh has fallen apart.  I've not yet gotten to book three but books one and two are really terrific and the setting adds serious amounts of atmosphere and is integral to the stories.

5) Hamish Macbeth Series by M.C. Beaton

Speaking of Scotland by the sea, another mystery series to check out that is not nearly so dark and brooding is the Hamish Macbeth series by M.C. Beaton.  It takes place in the small fictional Scottish highlands town of Loch Dubh which sits on the coast.  I came to this series after watching the BBC show featuring Robert Carlyle (in a not evil incarnation!) and I do actually prefer the show to the books but the books are fun fluff with a cast of eccentric characters.  Book 31 in this series is (or has been) appearing in 2016 so there is plenty to keep you busy!

6) Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis

Depending on my mood, this is my favorite book in the Narnia series; it is at least always my second favorite.  Lucy and her cousin Eustace go on a sea voyage with a mature Prince Caspian to the ends of the Narnian seas.  Many islands and adventures along the way.

For those who like non-fiction in general and like reading about nature in particular, The Devil's Teeth is worth taking a gander at.  In my day job I am a wildlife biologist, and as such the final third of this book infuriated me.  Like literally caused rage and I know many other readers had a similar reaction (my review of this book on Goodreads is my most "liked" review) but the first two-thirds of the book are really interesting and cool.  About a particular population of Great White Sharks that spend part of the year around the Farallon Islands off the coast of California.

8) Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier

A different kind of historical fiction.  This is the fictional tale of the real life Mary Anning who was one of the best fossil hunters on the south coast of England in the 1800s.  It imagines her friendship with a blue stocking London spinster.  Neither fits in the age of discovery mostly dominated by men.

Reading by the sea wouldn't be complete without a healthy dose of Pirates!  The following books will oblige!

9) The Princess Bride by William Goldman

To be honest, I definitely like the movie better than the book but the book has it's own unique charms and is a must read for fans of the movie.

10) Pirate Latitudes by Michael Crichton

Yup.  Michael Crichton wrote a book about pirates!  And it's pretty good!  A fun, silly romp of a book set in the Caribbean in the 1600s.  Perfect for reading by the sea.  

11) BONUS: Red Seas Under Red Skies (Book 2 in The Gentleman Bastards series) by Scott Lynch

So I tried to stay with first books in series or whole series for this list but this book AND series is just too good even if only book two takes place primarily on a boat.  I liked this book even better than the first in the series and that's saying something.  It features an awesome lady pirate captain!  

A few others just for fun....

The Unmapped Sea (The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place #5) by Maryrose Wood
The Providence Rider (Matthew Corbett #4) by Robert McCammon
Abarat by Clive Barker
Perilous Seas (A Man of His Word Series #3) by Dave Duncan
Half a King (Shattered Sea #1) by Joe Abercrombie
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer
Drowned Wednesday (The Keys to the Kingdom Series #3) by Garth Nix
Life of Pi by Yann Martel
Crow in Stolen Colors by Marcia Simpson
White Heat (Edie Kiglatuk #1) by M.J. McGrath
Percy Jackson and the Olympians Series by Rick Riordan

That's my list of books about the sea to read by the sea.  Do you have any you would add?

Happy TTT!

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