Novella Review: How to Marry a Werewolf by Gail Carriger


Guilty of an indiscretion? Time to marry a werewolf.


The monsters left Faith ruined in the eyes of society, so now they’re her only option. Rejected by her family, Faith crosses the Atlantic, looking for a marriage of convenience and revenge.

But things are done differently in London. Werewolves are civilized. At least they pretend to be.


Backward heathens with no culture, Major Channing has never had time for any of them. But there’s something special about Faith. Channing finds himself fighting to prove himself and defend his species. But this werewolf has good reason not to trust human women.

Even if they learn to love, can either of them forgive?

From the New York Times bestselling author of the Parasol Protectorate series comes a stand alone romance set in the same universe. Look out for appearances from favorite characters and the serious consequences of unwarranted geology.

Another adorable and slightly steamy romantic adventure from the talented Gail Carriger!

When a young American lady of good standing is indiscreet, kind parent retire her quietly to the country with a maiden aunt and a modest stipend. Faith’s parents decided to marry her off to a werewolf.

Faith Wigglesworth is an American young woman in disgrace, whose absolutely horrible parents are shipping her off to London to land a werewolf husband, hoping to both be rid of her and to subject her to the humiliation they believe she deserves.

A werewolf was lower than a Californian, all things considered — rough rural hillbillies with too much hair. And open shirt collars. And no table manners.

Major Channing is instantly entranced by Faith’s brash American manners, her ability to stand up for herself, and those amazing blue eyes of hers. What follows is a playful, tempestuous courtship, as each must learn to trust enough to share and then put aside the painful secrets of their pasts. At the same time, there’s instant chemistry and heat between Faith and Channing, and sparks fly. Channing’s Alpha wants him to find happiness and to treat Faith as she should be treated, and Faith yearns to find someone to love, someone to enjoy intimacy with, and a place to belong and be herself.

This is a charming novella that works as a stand-alone, although prior experience with Gail Carriger’s steampunk/supernatural world certainly is helpful (and possibly even essential). I love everything about her books, and this piece fits nicely into the world she’s created, featuring a lovely story all its own as well as a chance to spend time once again with favorite characters like Biffy and Lyall.

A must-read for Carriger fans!

The details:

Title: How to Marry a Werewolf (Claw & Courtship, #1)
Author: Gail Carriger
Publisher: Gail Carriger LLC
Publication date: May 13, 2018
Length: 196 pages
Genre: Supernatural/steampunk/romance
Source: Purchased








Novella Review: Romancing the Werewolf by Gail Carriger


Werewolf in trouble…

Biffy, newly minted Alpha of the London Pack, is not having a good Christmas. His Beta abandoned him, his werewolves object to his curtain choices, and someone keeps leaving babies on his doorstep.

Professor Randolph Lyall returns home to London after twenty years abroad, afraid of what he might find. With his pack in chaos and his Alpha in crisis, it will take all his Beta efficiency to set everything to rights. Perhaps, in the process, he may even determine how to mend his own heart.

New York Times bestselling author Gail Carriger presents a charming gay love story set in her popular steampunk Parasolverse. Featuring the long-awaited reunion between everyone’s favorite quietly capable Beta and the werewolf Alpha dandy who let him slip away. This sweet romance is full of unexpected babysitting, holiday decorations, and no small amount of pining.

Delicate Sensibilities?
Contains men who love other men and have waited decades to do so.

Wait, where does this one fit?
The Supernatural Society novellas stand alone and may be read in any order. But if you’re a stickler, this story chronologically follows Imprudence and ties specifically to events in Timeless. Look for surprise appearances from popular side characters and the occasional strategic application of italics.

What a treat!

I love, love, love the world of Gail Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate (and also the Finishing School series and The Custard Protocol series), with their remarkable mix of supernatural shenanigans, intrigue, mayhem, and manners. The novella Romancing the Werewolf reunites two wonderful characters from the Parasol-verse, Biffy — the dandy who wanted to be a vampire but ended up an Alpha werewolf — and Lyall, the 400-year-old Beta werewolf who takes responsibility for the woes of the world and his beloved pack.

Here, Lyall finally comes home after 20 years away to resume his place as pack Beta… and to figure out if the connection between him and Biffy has stood the test of time during their years apart. Meanwhile, Biffy has the power of an Alpha but is so new in the role that he constantly second-guesses himself, and wonders if perhaps a romance with his Beta isn’t exactly appropriate any longer.

For fans of Carriger’s worlds, this novella is a total delight. The romance is sweet, sexy, and adorable — but before Biffy and Lyall manage to figure out where they stand, they also have to deal with all sorts of chaos involving the babies that keep getting left on their doorstep. There are plenty of laughs involving the pack and their sense of style (and inability to deal with infants), and some more serious moments as well as the pack settles into their new home and their new leadership.

I don’t think readers without a basic familiarity with the Parasol-verse will have an easy time following the story — but that just means that if you haven’t read the Parasol Protectorate yet, now is the perfect time to go ahead. (Let’s face it, it’s ALWAYS the right time for the Parasol Protectorate!)

Such a wonderful gift to Gail Carriger’s readers! If you love her characters and stories, get this one NOW.

The details:

Title: Romancing the Werewolf
Author: Gail Carriger
Publisher: Gail Carriger LLC
Publication date: November 5, 2017
Length: 140 pages
Genre: Supernatural/steampunk/romance
Source: Purchased








Thursday Quotables: Marine Biology


Welcome to Thursday Quotables! This weekly feature is the place to highlight a great quote, line, or passage discovered during your reading each week.  Whether it’s something funny, startling, gut-wrenching, or just really beautifully written, Thursday Quotables is where my favorite lines of the week will be, and you’re invited to join in!
A little programming note: While I’m mostly back to weekly postings, I find I’m not at 100% yet! I’ll continue to post Thursday Quotables most weeks. If I happen to skip a week when you have a post to share, feel free to link up to whichever TQ post here is most recent. Many thanks!
Onward with this week’s Thursday Quotable:


Marine Biology by Gail Carriger
(published 2010)

When there’s too much seriousness in my life, I know I can reach for a Gail Carriger story to lift my spirits. I originally read Marine Biology when it came out, but as there’s now a related novel, The Sumage Solution, I figured this was a good time to read it again. Marine Biology is a cute, sweet, supernatural story — set in the modern world, not Carriger’s trademark steampunk Victorian society, but full of her wit and cleverness.

Here’s the opening paragraph, which makes more sense if you keep in mind that the main character is a gay werewolf scientist:

The problem, Alec thought gloomily, swishing a test-tube full of seawater, is that I’m unexpectedly alive. To be unexpectedly dead would be pleasingly simplistic. After all, he made up the statistic on the spot so that he would sound more learned in his own head, half of all deaths are unexpected. One is, to a certain degree, prepared to die unexpectedly. But when one expects to die at eighteen and instead finds oneself unexpectedly alive at twenty-four, there’s nothing for it but to be confused about everything.

What lines made you laugh, cry, or gasp this week? Do tell!

If you’d like to participate in Thursday Quotables, it’s really simple:

  • Write a Thursday Quotables post on your blog. Try to pick something from whatever you’re reading now. And please be sure to include a link back to Bookshelf Fantasies in your post (, if you’d be so kind!
  • Add your Thursday Quotables post link in the comments section below… and I’d love it if you’d leave a comment about my quote for this week too.
  • Be sure to visit other linked blogs to view their Thursday Quotables, and have fun!










Catching up on Gail Carriger’s short fiction

I don’t know exactly how or why, but for whatever reason, I ended up bingeing on Gail Carriger’s short fiction this week, and had a simply splendid time doing it.

I’m a big fan of the Parasol Protectorate series. (What? You haven’t read them? Stop right now and go get a copy of Soulless! Emergency reading intervention required!). I mean, steampunk plus supernatural plus Victorian society… with dirigibles, werewolves, and highly dangerous parasols… what’s not to love?

Still, I haven’t read much of Carriger’s shorter fictions — until now. This week, I started with a new novella, then went back and read some earlier short stories, and finished up with another novella.

So, here’s what I read. First, the short stories:

curious-case fairy-debt my-sisters-song

The Curious Case of the Werewolf That Wasn’t (32 pages, published 2014): This tale centers on Alessandro Tarabotti, father of Alexia of the Parasol Protectorate. In the series, Alessandro is a shadowy figure, already deceased, leaving all sorts of mysteries as his legacy. In The Curious Case, we see Alessandro on an adventure in Egypt. It’s classic Carriger, with spies, action, waistcoats, and proper (and improper) behavior. I enjoyed the story, but still wish we had an entire novel about Alessandro’s life and deeds. The story doesn’t really shed further light on him, but it is quite fun.

Fairy Debt (18 pages, published 2007): Light and fluffy, this is a stand-alone unrelated to Carriger’s steampunk worlds. It’s a straight-up fairy tale, but cute and with a decidedly feminist world view.

My Sister’s Song (17 pages, published 1999): A brief tale of a warrior woman who defeats a Roman squadron thanks to her sister’s skill at charming bees.

I should note here that Gail Carriger has another published short piece, Marine Biology (43 pages, published 2010). Because I read it several years ago, I wasn’t going to include it in my reading wrap-up post… but what the heck — if you’re interested in the author’s short fiction, then it’s worth mentioning! Here’s what I wrote about Marine Biology in my Goodreads review way back when:



“Marine Biology” was originally published in a paranormal romance collection, and has just been released as an ebook single. This is the first story of Gail Carriger’s that I’ve read that’s set in the modern world, rather than the Victorian era. It’s also – shocker! – set in the US. Not a single cup of tea throughout!

“Marine Biology” is a cute, light love story involving a reluctant werewolf hiding his sexuality and a few other key points from his he-man pack. When he and a gorgeous merman are thrown together to investigate some stolen money, sparks fly — and precipate a few important moments of truth.

The mystery is rather beside the point. The fun is in meeting and appreciating the main characters, reading about pack dynamics (and barbeque social mores), and encountering a few interesting marine animals along the way.

Gail Carriger’s humor and way with words shine through, as usual. Of course, if you really want to have fun, I’d highly recommend her Parasol Protectorate series. “Marine Biology” is a quick, diverting read, and would make a great dessert after a night of “serious” reading.

Moving on…

I also read the two newest novellas, both set in the universe of the author’s novels:

poison-or-protectPoison or Protect (143 pages, published 2016):

(Goodreads synopsis)

Can one gentle Highland soldier woo Victorian London’s most scandalous lady assassin, or will they both be destroyed in the attempt?

New York Times bestselling author Gail Carriger presents a stand-alone romance novella set in her popular steampunk universe full of manners, spies, and dainty sandwiches.

Lady Preshea Villentia, the Mourning Star, has four dead husbands and a nasty reputation. Fortunately, she looks fabulous in black. What society doesn’t know is that all her husbands were marked for death by Preshea’s employer. And Preshea has one final assignment.

It was supposed to be easy, a house party with minimal bloodshed. Preshea hadn’t anticipated Captain Gavin Ruthven – massive, Scottish, quietly irresistible, and… working for the enemy. In a battle of wits, Preshea may risk her own heart – a terrifying prospect, as she never knew she had one.

Buy Poison or Protect today to find out whether it’s heartbreak or haggis at this high tea.

Warning: Contains men pleasing women, and ladies who know what they want and ask for it, sometimes in detail. May also contain plaid, appearances from favorite characters, and the strategic application of leather gloves.

Ha. Gotta love that warning, right? Poison or Protect is fairly explicit, leading to great steaminess in the boudoir scenes. The plot itself is quite fun and engaging, so it’s not JUST about the sex (although there’s plenty of that). I loved Preshea and Gavin, and loved their dynamic together. I understand that Preshea appears as a young girl in the Finishing School series (which I haven’t finished yet — my bad), but not being familiar with her doesn’t have any impact on enjoyment of Poison or Protect. The novella can definitely be read as a stand-alone, and is loads of sexy fun.


romancing-the-inventorRomancing the Inventor (149 pages, published 2016):

(Goodreads synopsis)

Imogene Hale is a lowly parlourmaid with a soul-crushing secret. Seeking solace, she takes work at a local hive, only to fall desperately in love with the amazing lady inventor the vampires are keeping in the potting shed. Genevieve Lefoux is heartsick, lonely, and French. With culture, class, and the lady herself set against the match, can Imogene and her duster overcome all odds and win Genevieve’s heart, or will the vampires suck both of them dry?

This is a stand-alone LBGTQ sweet romance set in Gail Carriger’s Parasolverse, full of class prejudice, elusive equations, and paranormal creatures taking tea.

Delicate Sensibilities? This story contains women pleasing women and ladies who know what they want and pursue it, sometimes in exquisite detail.

Supernatural Society novellas can be read in any order.

Well, that was certainly different! Romancing the Inventor is set a few years after the events of the Parasol Protectorate books, and reading that series provides the context and backstory for this novella, although I suppose it could work as a stand-alone pretty well too.

Familiar faces from PP show up, some in lead roles (Madame Lefoux), and others in more of a support status (Alexia, Conall, Major Channing, Countess Nadasdy, etc).

Imogene’s journey and pursuit of love is sweet, romantic, and yes, sexy too. There are some steamy sexual encounters, but nothing overly graphic (in my opinion — I suppose it’s a matter of individual sensitivity, after all.) Carriger’s writing is wry and funny and spot-on, as always:

For a full two months, Imogene resumed the established daily pattern — potting shed, sums, dimples, tea, lab, dimples, luncheon, equations, more dimples, supper, and if she was luck, one last set of dimples before bed.

Wrapping it all up…

I’d say that fans of any of Gail Carriger’s novels or series really must read the novellas too. They have everything we fans love about her writing — the settings, the characters, the sense of playful fun, the Victorian manners and social expectations, the fashions — and the naughtiness too.

As for the short stories, well, I’d consider them nonessential, fluffy fun. There’s no reason not to take the short time needed to enjoy them. Of the four, I consider Marine Biology the best, and would make that one a priority over the other three.

Whew! It’s been a Carriger week for me, and I had lots of fun in my deep dive into her shorter works. And now, I’m thinking I really do need to give the Finishing School series another chance.

Wishlist Wednesday

Welcome to Wishlist Wednesday!

The concept is to post about one book from our wish lists that we can’t wait to read. Want to play? Here’s how:

  • Follow Pen to Paper as host of the meme.
  • Do a post about one book from your wishlist and why you want to read it.
  • Add your blog to the linky at the bottom of the post at Pen to Paper.
  • Put a link back to Pen to Paper somewhere in your post.
  • Visit the other blogs and enjoy!

My Wishlist Wednesday book is:

 Curtsies & Conspiracies (Finishing School, #2)

Curtsies & Conspiracies (Finishing School: Book the Second) by Gail Carriger

I was so happy to see Gail Carriger’s post this week announcing that book 2 in her Finishing School series is now available for pre-order! Sadly, we still have a while to wait until the book is released in November, but it’s never too early to break out the teapots in anticipation!

From Goodreads:

Sophronia’s first year at Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality has certainly been rousing! For one thing, finishing school is training her to be a spy (won’t Mumsy be surprised?). Furthermore, Sophronia got mixed up in an intrigue over a stolen device and had a cheese pie thrown at her in a most horrid display of poor manners.

Now, as she sneaks around the dirigible school, eavesdropping on the teachers’ quarters and making clandestine climbs to the ship’s boiler room, she learns that there may be more to a school trip to London than is apparent at first. A conspiracy is afoot–one with dire implications for both supernaturals and humans. Sophronia must rely on her training to discover who is behind the dangerous plot-and survive the London Season with a full dance card.

In this sequel to bestselling author Gail Carriger’s YA debut Etiquette & Espionage, class is back in session with more petticoats and poison, tea trays and treason. Gail’s distinctive voice, signature humor, and lush steampunk setting are sure to be the height of fashion this season.

Why do I want to read this?

I became an instant fan of Gail Carriger and her unique fictional worlds from the very first page of Soulless, book one in the unforgettable Parasol Protectorate series. In her new young adult series, Gail takes her steampunk/supernatural Victorian world and inserts one precocious teen with an undeniable talent for trouble and intrigue. I enjoyed Etiquette & Espionage, book one in the Finishing School series (my review is here), although I felt that I’d like to see main character Sophronia move from more childish antics into young womanhood. I’m hoping that as the books in the series progress, we’ll see Sophronia’s development, both as a young lady of manners as well as a first-rate intelligencer, much as we saw Harry Potter grow and mature in each book and each year at Hogwarts.

I was also tickled to learn that book three, while still in the works and not due until sometime in 2014, will have the magnificent title Waistcoats & Weaponry. Fabulous.

Quick note to Wishlist Wednesday bloggers: Come on back to Bookshelf Fantasies for Flashback Friday! Join me in celebrating the older gems hidden away on our bookshelves. See the introductory post for more details, and come back this Friday to add your flashback favorites!

The Monday agenda 2/11/2013

MondayAgendaNot a lofty, ambitious to-be-read list consisting of 100+ book titles. Just a simple plan for the upcoming week — what I’m reading now, what I plan to read next, and what I’m hoping to squeeze in among the nooks and crannies.

Happy Monday! Looking back and looking forward…

How did I do with last week’s agenda?

Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan: Done! My review is here.

Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger: Done! My review is here.

I finally cracked open my copy of Fairy Tales From The Brother Grimm by Philip Pullman. I’ve only read the introduction thus far, but hey, it’s a start!

Lastly, I re-read volume one and started volume two of the graphic novel series Y: The Last Man. I’m planning a Last Man read-a-thon for the coming week.

What’s on my reading agenda for the coming week?

First on my agenda will be getting through the entire Y: The Last Man series. The first volume is amazing — can’t wait to see what happens next!

One of my reading resolutions for 2013 was “Attack the Fairies!”, meaning, I need to force myself to actually read the book of fairy tales that I was so excited to receive back in November. I’m a terrible short story reader, and usually get impatient and walk away, no matter how good the individual stories are or how much I like the author. But in the case of Fairy Tales From The Brothers Grimm by Philip Pullman, I’m determined to actually read the entire collection. My strategy, at least for starters, is to read one story a night, rather than trying to read the whole book straight through. We’ll see how it works, and if I can overcome my deeply ingrained aversion toward all short stories.

Finally, a coworker lent me her copy of Wild by Cheryl Strayed, a book that’s been on my “must read eventually” list. I have tickets to hear the author speak in April, so now is the time to read it. Plus, this will be my first non-fiction read of 2013, and I did vow to break out of my fiction world once in a while during the current year.

So many book, so little time…

That’s my agenda. What’s yours? Add your comments to share your bookish agenda for the week.

Book Review: Etiquette & Espionage

Book Review: Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger authoress extraordinaire Gail Carriger, who made the reading world a better place by introducing us to the wonderful world of The Parasol Protectorate, now steams ahead with a new young adult series, The Finishing School.

“Book The First” in the new series is Etiquette & Espionage, in which we meet 14-year-old Sophronia Timminnick, the somewhat unruly and definitely unfinished daughter of a large country-dwelling family. Sophronia is prone to mischief and misadventure, largely due to an unbridled curiosity and an unwillingness to let fashion and manners dictate her every move. Within the first chapter, Sophronia is recruited into Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality, which takes a very select few girls for “finishing”.

And what a finishing school it is! Housed in a huge dirigible which floats over the moors, Mademoiselle Geraldine’s teaches girls not only how to curtsy and flutter eyelashes, but the finer points of misdirection, covert operations, knife and poison skills, and all the other necessary knowledge of a first-rate intelligencer.

There’s action galore amidst the comedy of manners, as well as an array of mechanical wonders including clockwork maids and butlers that run on tracks and a rather adorable little dachshund-like mechanical dog (a “mechanimal”) named Bumbersnoot. Much of the plot revolves around Sophronia chasing around after a secret prototype that’s drawn the attention of a variety of baddies out to steal it, in between which Sophronia explores the out-of-bounds areas of the school, makes unlikely friends, and learns to appreciate the finer nuances of appropriate dress and accessories.

It’s all quite clever and tongue-in-cheek, with much the same spirit as the Parasol Protectorate books. The Finishing School series is set in the same world as The Parasol Protectorate — a steampunk-ish version of England, in which vampires and werewolves are a part of society and the pursuit of scientific knowledge is often cause for nefarious crimes and plots. The Finishing School takes place about 25 years before the events in The Parasol Protectorate, but still, a nice variety of familiar faces pop up in Etiquette & Espionage, and I’m hoping that a certain burly, ill-tempered werewolf will make an appearance in one of the future volumes.

Gail Carriger shows her usual flair with character names, which in this book include Mrs. Barnaclegoose, Dimity Ann Plumleigh-Teignmott, Agatha Woosmoss, and the roguish Lord Dingleproops.

Overall, while cute and entertaining, I wasn’t enthralled by Etiquette & Espionage, which disappoints me as I’d had this one on preorder for months, based on loving Soulless and the rest of the Parasol Protectorate books so very much. The tone of E&E struck me as a bit juvenile, more middle grade than young adult. The opening chapter’s set piece is Sophronia’s misadventure in a dumbwaiter, ending badly with a trifle flying through the air and landing on an indignant woman’s hat. From there, the book continues with a great number of adventures and mischief, but I never felt that there was much at stake, despite what are intended to be a few menacing sorts trying to cause trouble.

While The Finishing School is marketed as a young adult series, Sophronia, at age 14, seems a big young and green to anchor a series whose intended audience is teens. I’m assuming that Sophronia will grow up during the ensuing volumes of the series (perhaps à la Harry Potter and his seven years at Hogwarts). I’m hoping that as Sophronia ages during the remaining three books in The Finishing School, the maturity level of the storyline will age with her.

That said, I’m sure Etiquette & Espionage will be a big hit with Gail Carriger’s goggle-and-top-hat-wearing fans. I’ll be curious to see how it fares with the young adult audience, who most likely are not familiar with the quirky delights of the world featured in the adult Parasol Protectorate books. Etiquette & Espionage is a promising beginning, but to hold my attention, I’d like to see the next book take on a little more depth and move beyond E&E‘s flavor of madcap adventure into something with a bit more substance.

The Monday agenda 2/4/2013

Not a lofty, ambitious to-be-read list consisting of 100+ book titles. Just a simple plan for the upcoming week — what I’m reading now, what I plan to read next, and what I’m hoping to squeeze in among the nooks and crannies.

Happy Monday! Looking back and looking forward…

From last week:

The Round House by Louise Erdrich: Done! A beautiful book that I can’t get out of my mind. My review is here.

I received an ARC of Garden of Stones by Sophie Littlefield. Very moving story. My review is here.

Finally, I managed to crack open Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan while the rest of the world was busy watching the Super Bowl.

And this week’s new agenda:

I’ve read about 50 pages of Nick and Norah, and I can’t say I’m won over yet. Perhaps it’ll just take a bit more time; I’ve read and loved these authors’ other two collaborations, so I still have high hopes for this one.

I can’t wait to get my hands on Etiquette & Espionage, the first book in Gail Carriger’s new Finishing School series. It’s due to arrive on Tuesday, and I’ll be diving in the second it arrives.

I plan to devote some time to reading the graphic novel series Y: The Last Man by Brian K. Vaughan.

If I manage to find time for anything else, I’ll most likely start Me Before You by Jojo Moyes, which has been at the top of my to-read pile for two weeks now, although I’d also like to check out more of Sophie Littlefield’s books.

So many book, so little time…

That’s my agenda. What’s yours? Add your comments to share your bookish agenda for the week.

My week in graphic novels

Last week, after finishing a couple of heftier and long-awaited novels, I made my own personal proclamation: It’s Graphic Novel Week!

Seven days and seven books later, here’s what I read and what I thought:

First up was Soulless: The Manga, Volume 2 by Gail Carriger (author) and Rem (artist). This manga version of Changeless, the 2nd book in the wonderful Parasol Protectorate series of novels, is a rather delightful affair, even for someone like me who doesn’t typically care for manga-style illustration. While I occasionally found the artwork a bit too cartoon-y, there are moments and scenes that are just wonderfully conveyed, including the Scottish settings, the steampunk gadgets and gewgaws, the fashion (and rather atrocious hats), and some of the interplay between main characters. I would never recommend the manga version as a sole introduction to Gail Carriger’s work, but for anyone who’s read and enjoyed the series, these manga volumes are a nice, amusing side dish.

Next was the continuing stories spun off from my beloved Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV series. As anyone who was a fan knows, the TV series ended after seven seasons, but Buffy lives on! Under the auspices of creator Joss Whedon, Buffy’s story continued in comic form through season 8, which wrapped up in 2011, and in the newer (and ongoing) season 9. This past week, I had the pleasure of reading the 2nd volume in season 9, On Your Own, as well as the 2nd volume in the spin-off Angel & Faith series, Daddy Issues. Reading these comic series are like visiting with old friends. The gang (or most of the gang) is back! We get to hang out with Buffy, Willow, Spike, Xander, Dawn, and more. The series remains true to the characters as they existed in the TV series, but with a natural growth and progression through the ensuing action. While the season 8 plotline was a bit more convoluted than was truly necessary for good storytelling, the season 9 plot so far is engrossing, surprising, and yes, even touching. Meanwhile, I’m finding myself much more interested in the Angel and Faith spin-off than I thought I’d be, as the two team up to atone for past sins, right some wrongs, deal with visits from important figures from their pasts, and put some bad guys in their places. Both of these volumes were quick but engaging reads, and I can’t wait to see what happens next.

After that, I moved on to the world of Fables by Bill Willingham. While the Fables series has been around since 2002, I was not introduced to Fables until earlier this year — at which point I fell madly in love and gobbled up the entire series as quickly as I could. Which left me completely bereft once I realized I was all caught up and had to simply sit and wait for the next volume to be released. (Side note: Fables, Volume 18: Cubs in Toyland is due out in January 2013!). Luckily for me, two new side projects were released in fairest-1November: Werewolves of the Heartland, a stand-alone volume centered on Bigby Wolf — only my very favorite character from the Fables ‘verse! — and volume one of a new ongoing series, Fairest, which focuses on some of the female Fables. Both of these, while enjoyable, were more or less filler for me. Werewolves of the Heartland follows Bigby on an adventure alluded to in the main Fables series, in which Bigby sets off in search of a new safe location for the Fables in exile. I won’t get into too much of the plot, but it’s nice to see Bigby in action again — although for the most part, it just left me hungry to return to the main series. (January, hurry up!) Fairest was fun, but I’ll have to see where the series goes as a whole. Volume 1 focuses on Briar Rose (aka Sleeping Beauty), Ali Baba, and the Ice Queen. Interesting and entertaining, but again, it mostly just whets my appetite for the main body of the series. Still, for a Fables fan, these are good choices for the in-between months.

wrinkle-graphicA Wrinkle In Time (or more accurately, according to the book jacket, Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle In Time: The Graphic Novel by Hope Larson) was my next choice. This was such an interesting reading experience. It’s been many years since I’ve read the original novel, yet it made such an indelible impression upon me that I approached the graphic novel with some misgivings, wondering how on earth it could succeed in capturing the essence of Madeleine L’Engle’s masterpiece. Fortunately, the graphic novel does a wonderful job of conveying the spirit of the novel, with simple but expressive illustrations that portray the characters’ emotions and struggles quite well. Meg in particular comes across in a manner so true to the novel — full of doubts and insecurities, driven by love for her family, confronting her anger and frustrations on a daily basis, and trying to become her own person while caring for those she loves. My only hesitation about this edition is that, in a way, it moves too fast. The journey to find Meg’s father and all the events surrounding it happen quickly, and I wonder whether a person reading the graphic novel without having read the original would get the same level of emotional impact. I enjoyed it a great deal, but it’s no replacement for the “real thing”.

Finally — and I’m still recovering from this one — I read the latest volume in the Locke & Key series by Joe Hill. Volume 5, Clockworks, continues right where the previous volume left off, with the Locke children in terrible danger and with no adults available or able to help. In volume 5, we get two very important pieces of Key House history — the origin of the keys in 1775, and the fateful events of 1988 involving the children’s father and his friends at the end of their senior year of high school. Both historical pieces are powerful and disturbing, and finally answer some questions that are essential to understanding the mystery and terror of the story. Locke & Key is scary, suspenseful, creepy, tragic, and un-put-down-able. This series just blows me away. Joe Hill is a master storyteller, and the illustrations are crisp, frightening, gory, and just generally wonderful. Highly, highly recommended.

And there you have it! Seven days, seven graphic novels, one very satisfied reader! Let’s do this again soon, shall we? Meanwhile, back to reading books without pictures… sigh.


The Monday agenda

Not a lofty, ambitious to-be-read list consisting of 100+ book titles. Just a simple plan for the upcoming week — what I’m reading now, what I plan to read next, and what I’m hoping to squeeze in among the nooks and crannies.

So what’s on the reading agenda this week?

From last week:

Ashen Winter by Mike Mullin: Done! My review is here.

The Evolution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin: Quit after reading 150 pages. I just couldn’t get into it, despite having enjoyed the first book in the series.

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins: Done! My review is here.

Beta by Rachel Cohn: Returning to the library unread. I was about to start this one, then discovered from the dust jacket that this book is first in a new series… and I’m trying to swear off new series for a while.

So far, no new books for my kiddo and me. We haven’t settled on our next read-aloud yet, and had a couple of false starts this week with books that neither of us ended up enjoying. Soldiering on! We still have a few more to try, and I’m hoping that one of the ones that I most want to read will also appeal to this opinionated 10-year-old.

Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon: Done! The group re-read has finally come to an end. We’ll be starting the next in the series, The Fiery Cross, in January. And if you happen to be an Outlander fan and want to join the fun, just let me know and I’ll get you connected.

And this week’s new agenda:

I hereby declare: It’s Graphic Novel Week!

I’ve been accumulating a stack of graphic novels over the past few weeks, and I think I’ll dive in and devote my reading week to catching up. So exciting! On the list are:

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, season 9 volume 2: On Your Own: If you thought Buffy’s story ended when the TV show went off the air, and you’ve been missing her ever since, check out the continuing story in graphic novel form.

Angel and Faith: Daddy Issues: Excellent Buffy spin-off.

Soulless manga, volume 2: The manga version of Changeless by Gail Carriger.

A Wrinkle In Time graphic novel: My Hanukkah gift from my daughter. See me gushing with joy about this here.

Fairest, volume 1: A new spin-off from Bill Willingham’s Fables series, which I love madly and deeply.

Werewolves of the Heartland: A Fables stand-alone, centered on my absolutely favorite character from the Fables world. Can’t wait!

Locke & Key: Clockworks: Volume 5 in the superbly creepy series by horror master Joe Hill.

Other than graphic novels, I plan — quite cautiously and with some trepidation — to add in Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm by Philip Pullman. Given the fact that I am just a terrible reader of short stories and find it impossible to maintain interest long enough to get through an entire book of stories, even if they’re by an author whom I love (as is the case here), I’m setting myself the rather mild goal of reading this collection of fairy tales bit by bit. I’ll aim for two stories a week — that should let me enjoy the stories without feeling my usual frustration at not reading a “real” novel.

So many book, so little time…

That’s my agenda. What’s yours? Add your comments to share your bookish agenda for the week.