Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, featuring a different top 10 theme each week. This week’s topic is Book Titles that Would Make Great Song Titles. As I was perusing my bookshelves for inspiration, I realized that I need look no further than one particular author…
It’s not exactly a secret that Seanan McGuire is one of my favorite authors. Besides the fact that her books are excellent, they also tend to have terrific titles. Here are ten (from books written as both Seanan McGuire and Mira Grant) that I can easily imagine as song titles too.
Rolling in the Deep (what? there’s already a song with this title??? but is it about killer mermaids?)
Into the Drowning Deep
When Will You Rise?
Down Among the Sticks and Bones
Come Tumbling Down (no, not the John Cougar Mellancamp song — that one is actually “Crumblin’ Down”)
Kingdom of Needle and Bone
A Red-Rose Chain
Dusk or Dark or Dawn or Day
Midnight Blue-Light Special
Sparrow Hill Road
What do you think of my choices? And what book titles can you imagine as great song titles?
Title: A Killing Frost (October Daye, #14) Author: Seanan McGuire Publisher: DAW Publication date: September 1, 2020 Print length: 336 pages Genre: Urban fantasy Source: Review copy courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley Rating:
Rating: 5 out of 5.
When October is informed that Simon Torquill—legally her father, due to Faerie’s archaic marriage traditions—must be invited to her wedding or risk the ceremony throwing the Kingdom in the Mists into political turmoil, she finds herself setting out on a quest she was not yet prepared to undertake for the sake of her future…. and the man who represents her family’s past.
14 books in, what is there left to say about my super-duper favorite urban fantasy series? I love these books, and A Killing Frost is no exception!
For those unfamiliar with the series, October Daye is a changeling, born of a human man and a powerful Fae woman. Over the course of the series, October (Toby) has come into her own as a knight and a Hero of the Realm, gaining strength in her magical abilities and gifts and setting out on quests to right wrongs. As she so readily admits, hardly a day goes by when she doesn’t end up covered in blood.
Toby is an amazing character, and the series as a whole is a richly detailed world, set in and around human San Francisco, with complex rules, hierarchies, relationships, and power dynamics. The characters are so much of what makes these books so good — Toby has a found family by this point in the series, including her sort-of sister May, her fiance Tybalt, her squire Quentin, and an odd assortment of friends and associates who love Toby and keep her always on her toes.
In A Killing Frost, Toby and Tybalt (King of Cats) are getting closer to setting a wedding date, when Toby is informed that if she doesn’t invite her stepfather Simon to the wedding, he or anyone connected to him can claim offense. And in Faerie, that can lead to dire consequences, including forced servitude or other truly unpleasant outcomes.
Simon, however, is lost. In book #11, he traded his own way home in order to rescue his long-lost daughter. After having reformed his nastier ways, he’s back to being a bad guy, having forgotten all the good in his life. Toby’s only option is to search for Simon, bring him back, and find a way to break the spell so that he can truly be found again.
I won’t give too much away. Naturally, Toby ends up covered with blood — mostly, but not only, her own. There’s danger to her and to her companions, and the damage is truly gruesome at times.
I was scared for Toby, especially toward the end, when I couldn’t see a way that her actions wouldn’t end in disaster. Naturally, I ended up surprised in all sorts of ways, especially by a huge new development that will have major ripple effects from here on out.
I feel confident saying that if you’ve loved the October Daye series so far, you’ll love A Killng Frost too. If you haven’t started the series yet… well, go ahead!
Obviously, I adore October Daye, and I love basically everything written by Seanan McGuire.
A Killing Frost is a total treat. And now it’s back to the sad state of waiting a year for the next book in the series!
Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, featuring a different top 10 theme each week. This week’s topic is Authors I’ve Read the Most Books By.
It looks like I did this topic back in 2015, but my reading habits have changed since then — so, new and improved for 2020, here are ten authors whose books dominate my shelves.
Note: The numbers as reflected in Goodreads aren’t entirely reliable, since they include novellas and stand-alone stories that I’ve marked as read as well as actual novels and other published materials. So… take the the numbers below with a grain (or ten) of salt.
Seanan McGuire – 38
Because I adore the October Daye series and the Incryptid series, as well as her various other novels and novellas and, well, basically anything she writes. And this doesn’t even include the 12 works I’ve read by her alter ego Mira Grant.
Jim Butcher – 29
And more coming this year, with two new Dresden Files books releasing this summer and fall! Besides the Dresden books, this number includes Codex Alera, some story collections, and Bigfoot!
Dana Stabenow – 27
The Kate Shugak series is at 22 books (and counting), plus there are 4 Liam Campbell books published so far, and I’ve read a collection of her non-fiction travel writing. (Plus, I have more books of hers on my TBR, but who’s counting?)
Patricia Briggs – 25
I love the Mercy Thompson series, as well Alpha & Omega, plus I’ve read any and all Mercy-verse stories that have appeared in various anthologies.
Diana Gabaldon – 23
I’m going to keep using this picture, because hey, I met DG once in person and it was awesome!
No, there aren’t 23 books in the Outlander series, but this include the Lord John books, the reference books, and the various novellas and stand-alone stories.
Gail Carriger – 23
According to Goodreads, that’s 4 each for the Finishing School and Custard Protocol series, 4 for the Parasol Protectorate, a whole bunch of novellas, and two works published as G. L. Carriger.
Stephen King – 21
Considering how many books he’s written, this is just scratching the surface! I don’t think I’ll ever run out of backlist King books to read, not to mention keeping up with the never-ending new releases.
Tamora Pierce – 19
I went on a Tamora Pierce reading binge last year, reading basically ALL of her Tortall books, one after another. And loved them all! (Mostly.)
John Scalzi – 19
So there’s the Old Man’s War series, the Interdependency trilogy, the Lock In books, and various others too.
And finally, one that maybe should go into a separate category…
Robert Kirkman – 33
Because I’ve read the entire Walking Dead series in trade paperback editions, and that’s 32 books, plus one more about Negan.
Which authors have you read the most? Do we have any in common?
Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, featuring a different top 10 theme each week. This week’s topic is Most Anticipated Releases of the Second Half of 2020.
I’m so excited for all of these! Since I just did a summer TBR post a couple of weeks ago that included a bunch of new releases for June through August, today I’m focusing on books coming out in fall to early winter. And the scary thing is, most of these are being released in September. How will I possibly have the time to read them all?
A Killing Frost (October Daye, #14) by Seanan McGuire (release date 9/1/2020)
Anxious People by Fredrik Backman (release date 9/8/2020)
The Ghost Tree by Christina Henry (release date 9/8/2020)
The Trials of Koli (The Book of Koli, #2) by M. R. Carey (release date 9/15/2020)
Piranesi by Susanna Clarke (release date 9/15/2020)
Well Played(Well Met, #2) by Jen DeLuca (release date 9/22/2020)
A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik (release date 9/29/2020)
The Hollow Places by T. Kingfisher (release date 10/6/2020)
Over the Woodward Wall by A. Deborah Baker (release date 10/6/2020)
The Once & Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow (release date 10/13/2020)
Are you planning to read any of these? What new releases are you especially excited about for the 2nd half of 2019? Please share your links!
Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, featuring a different top 10 theme each week. This week’s topic is Books On My Summer 2020 TBR.
Some of these are new releases, some are books that I already own and just need to make a priority this summer. And I’m embarrassed to say that one of these books was on my summer 2019 TBR list, and I just never got to it.
Peace Talks (Dresden Files, #16) by Jim Butcher
The Unkindest Tide (October Day, #13) by Seanan McGuire (a reread, but hey– I need to be ready for #14 in September!)
Time After Time by Lisa Grunwald (my book group’s pick for July)
The Relentless Moon (Lady Astronaut, #3) by Mary Robinette Kowal
Blood of Elves (The Witcher series) by Andrzej Sapkowski
Shades of Milk and Honey (The Glamourist Histories, #1) by Mary Robinette Kowal
Midnight Sun by Stephenie Meyer (I know, I know…)
Alice by Christina Henry
Hollow Kingdom by Kira Jane Buxton
Bookish & the Beast by Ashley Poston
What are you planning to read this summer? Please share your links!
Title: Laughter at the Academy Author: Seanan McGuire Publisher: Subterranean Press Publication date: October 31, 2019 Length: 376 pages Genre: Horror/fantasy (short story collection) Source: Purchased Rating:
Rating: 5 out of 5.
From fairy tale forest to gloomy gothic moor, from gleaming epidemiologist’s lab to the sandy shores of Neverland, Seanan McGuire’s short fiction has been surprising, delighting, confusing, and transporting her readers since 2009. Now, for the first time, that fiction has been gathered together in one place, ready to be enjoyed one twisting, tangled tale at a time. Her work crosses genres and subverts expectations.
Meet the mad scientists of “Laughter at the Academy” and “The Tolling of Pavlov’s Bells.” Glory in the potential of a Halloween that never ends. Follow two very different alphabets in “Frontier ABCs” and “From A to Z in the Book of Changes.” Get “Lost,” dress yourself “In Skeleton Leaves,” and remember how to fly. All this and more is waiting for you within the pages of this decade-spanning collection, including several pieces that have never before been reprinted. Stories about mermaids, robots, dolls, and Deep Ones are all here, ready for you to dive in.
This is a box of strange surprises dredged up from the depths of the sea, each one polished and prepared for your enjoyment. So take a chance, and allow yourself to be surprised.
There are two things I think I’ve established by now over the course of many years of writing book reviews: 1 – I love Seanan McGuire. 2 – I’m not a big fan of short stories.
So when Seanan McGuire releases a collection of stories, what’s a fan to do? Buy it immediately, then stick it on the shelf and delay, delay, delay…
Well, I’m here to say I’m an idiot. Because OF COURSE I ended up loving this book once I finally sat myself down and gave it a try. It’s Seanan McGuire! What’s not to love?
This collection brings together stories from 2009 through 2017, and as the author makes clear in her introduction, all stories take place outside of her “pre-existing universes” — so you won’t find October Daye or the Incryptid’s Price family members anywhere in these pages. All stories appeared in other publications and anthologies over the years, and it’s a treat to have so many available in one glorious collection.
Quick aside: I purchased the pretty hardcover special edition from Subterranean Press as a splurge, but it’s also available in e-book format for a much more reasonable price.
These 22 stories cover a wide range of themes, topics, and tones. Some are funny, some are sad, some are terrifying, and some are just downright creepy. Absolutely none are boring or skippable! One of the things I loved about this book was the mix — from story to story, it’s always something new, and so many surprises!
I’ll share just a few highlights about my favorites of the bunch:
The title story, “Laughter at the Academy”, is all sorts of awesome about mad scientists and a condition called “Schizotypal Creative Genius Personality Disorder”. It’s brutal and fun and, well, mad.
“Lost” is creepy and disturbing and sad, as is any story about children all over the world acting strangely at the same time. It made me think of Torchwood and Childhood’s End, although it isn’t really much like either one.
Seanan McGuire is excellent at unleashing hell on the world, so a story about viruses ravaging humankind is scary and perhaps too timely right now, but I loved “The Tolling of Pavlov’s Bells” all the same. Super frightening. And prescient — this is from her introduction to the story:
I also believe that the modern world’s disdain for quarantine and willingness to support structures which encourage its violation is going to do a great deal of damage one day… and that with the new diseases emerging regularly from a variety of sources, that day may not be particularly far in the future.
And as the story itself describes:
If they were to stay home, avoid the company of strangers, and wait for a vaccine, they might stand a chance. But no one listens to the doctors, or to the newspaper headlines begging them to stay indoors.
One of the coolest stories in the collection — so weird and unexpected — is “Uncle Sam”. Ever wonder why women go to the bathroom together? Read this and find out.
There’s also a story about Valkyries, a western sci-fi story…
Cherry’s first to the cattle call, her guns low and easy on her hips, her hair braided like an admonition against untidiness.
… military mermaids, a steampunk invasion of carnivorous plant-based aliens…
“A… diplomat?” Arthur blinked at me as our carriage rattled to a stop, presumably in front of our destination. “But the first thing you did was eat my sister’s maid.”
… a Peter Pan story, a Twitter-based ghost story, more end-of-the-world/end-of-humankind scenarios, a GoFundMe for bringing on eternal Halloween…
… and the story that’s given me nightmares ever since, “We Are All Misfit Toys in the Aftermath of the Velveteen War”. There are dolls. And they’re scary as hell. This is creepy and brilliant, and if I ever get over my first reading of this story, I’ll come back and read it again!
Seanan McGuire’s writing is as amazing as always, and this collection shows her range and ability to try on any genre or style and make it work.
Obviously, I loved this book, and I’m so glad I got over my reluctance to read short story collections. Laughter at the Academy is a must-read for Seanan McGuire fans, but you don’t have to have previous experience with her work to appreciate the funny, scary, and strange worlds presented here.
Title: Imaginary Numbers (InCryptid series, book #9) Author: Seanan McGuire Publisher: DAW Publication date: February 25, 2020 Length: 448 pages Genre: Urban fantasy Source: Won in a Goodreads giveaway! Rating:
Rating: 4 out of 5.
The ninth book in the fast-paced InCryptid urban fantasy series returns to the mishaps of the Price family, eccentric cryptozoologists who safeguard the world of magical creatures living in secret among humans.
Sarah Zellaby has always been in an interesting position. Adopted into the Price family at a young age, she’s never been able to escape the biological reality of her origins: she’s a cuckoo, a telepathic ambush predator closer akin to a parasitic wasp than a human being. Friend, cousin, mathematician; it’s never been enough to dispel the fear that one day, nature will win out over nurture, and everything will change.
Maybe that time has finally come.
After spending the last several years recuperating in Ohio with her adoptive parents, Sarah is ready to return to the world–and most importantly, to her cousin Artie, with whom she has been head-over-heels in love since childhood. But there are cuckoos everywhere, and when the question of her own survival is weighed against the survival of her family, Sarah’s choices all add up to one inescapable conclusion.
This is war. Cuckoo vs. Price, human vs. cryptid…and not all of them are going to walk away.
It makes me so happy to have a new InCryptid book in my hands, especially since I won this one in a Goodreads giveaway, which pretty much never happens for me!
In Imaginary Numbers, the ongoing InCryptid series turns to two new point-of-view characters, Sarah Zellaby and Artie Harrington. Sarah and Artie are both members of the sprawling Price-Healy clan, a group of cryptozoologists dedicated to protecting non-human species from the persecution of the deadly Covenant, and equally dedicated to protecting humans from the deadlier of cryptid species. To that end, the Prices are all highly skilled with weaponry of all sorts, learning to become excellent shots and to throw knives with precision from childhood.
Sarah is the first non-human main character in this series. She’s a cuckoo, the common term for Johrlacs, which are a human-appearing species that are more or less descended from telepathic wasps. Cuckoos are apex predators. They can take over anyone’s mind and make them do whatever they want, and the effects can be fatal. Sarah was adopted into the Price family as a child, and so was raised with a different set of influences than a typical cuckoo, making her more aware of her responsibility to respect others’ boundaries and giving her a deep, true love for her family. As well as a different and very strong love for her cousin Artie, which the two of them have been too shy and awkward to ever acknowledge.
In this book, Sarah’s return to the family compound after a lengthy recovery from injury brings the attention of unknown cuckoos, who want to use her for their own purposes, and don’t care who they have to kill to make it happen. The action is intense and fast-paced, with a plot that’s occasionally confusing but always fun.
The InCryptid books tend to be a little less dire than Seanan McGuire’s October Daye series, which regularly rips out my heart. This series is generally light-hearted, not that there aren’t perilous situations and heartbreaks here as well. Still, with a family that includes a sorcerer whose boyfriend is a human-sized monkey, a grandfather who’s patched together from dead bodies, and a time-traveling grandma who appears to be in her teens, things can’t get all that serious for too extended a time.
The author’s trademark quippiness and cleverness is on full display in Imaginary Numbers:
It wouldn’t stop the cuckoos on the lawn from pouring into the house if they got the signal — it would barely even slow them down — but every little bit helps when you’re going up against telepathic killers from another dimension.
… [T]hat made it better than standing around waiting for the invisible floor to drop out from under my feet and send me plummeting into the void. I am not a big fan of plummeting. If I had to commit to a position, I’dd probably have to say that I was anti-plummeting.
“She seems nice.”
“No, she doesn’t,” I said. “She seems like an unstable old lady who somehow keeps aging backward, and who carries grenades that are older than I am way too frequently for comfort’s sake.”
Normal people get meet-cutes. I get crime scene cleanup.
Imaginary Numbers ends with a sort-of cliffhanger — the main plot is resolved, but ends up dumping a few key characters into a brand-new situation in the last lines… and I’m dying to know what will happen! It sounds as though the next in the series, Calculated Risks, will pick up where this one leaves off. Too bad we have to wait a year for it!
As an added treat, Imaginary Numbers includes a bonus novella, Follow the Lady, which takes place chronologically between books 8 and 9. It’s fun, not earth-shattering, and a nice way to de-stress after the high-pitched excitement at the end of Imaginary Numbers.
This series is a delight, and I’ll echo my previous advice to start at the beginning. These books do not work as stand-alones, not if you want to have any hope of getting what’s going on and the complex, convoluted family trees. All of the InCryptid books are fast reads, so even though this is the 9th book in the series, it really won’t be too hard to catch up.
Title: Come Tumbling Down (Wayward Children, #5) Author: Seanan McGuire Publisher: Tor Publication date: January 7, 2020 Length: 206 pages Genre: Fantasy Source: Purchased Rating:
Rating: 5 out of 5.
The fifth installment in Seanan McGuire’s award-winning, bestselling Wayward Children series, Come Tumbling Down picks up the threads left dangling by Every Heart a Doorway and Down Among the Sticks and Bones
When Jack left Eleanor West’s School for Wayward Children she was carrying the body of her deliciously deranged sister–whom she had recently murdered in a fit of righteous justice–back to their home on the Moors.
But death in their adopted world isn’t always as permanent as it is here, and when Jack is herself carried back into the school, it becomes clear that something has happened to her. Something terrible. Something of which only the maddest of scientists could conceive. Something only her friends are equipped to help her overcome.
Eleanor West’s “No Quests” rule is about to be broken.
I adore Seanan McGuire. I adore everything she writes. I adore the Wayward Children series.
So is it any surprise when I say that I loved Come Tumbling Down?
In this, the 5th installment in what I hope will be a long, ongoing series of fantasy novellas, we return to the events of book #2, Down Among the Sticks and Bones, and finally find out what happened next.
Which, right off the bat, tickles me pink, because Down Among the Sticks and Bones is — no question about it — my favorite in the entire series. So I was thrilled to return to the world of the Moors, the war between mad scientists and vampires, and the struggle to resurrect and reanimate that which has been lost.
For those new to this series, the basic idea is this: Eleanor West runs a boarding school for children who’ve returned to their parents’ homes after an absence which has left them strange and unmanageable. What the parents don’t understand, but Eleanor West certainly does, is that these missing children found doors to other worlds — world of logic or nonsense, worlds of virtue or wickedness, and all sorts of points on the compass between extremes**. Whether kicked out or voluntarily returned, the children no longer fit in their mundane lives, but find solace and shelter with the other misfits like themselves at the home for wayward children.
In Down Among the Sticks and Bones, we learned about twins Jack and Jill and their time spent on the Moors. We pick up their story in Come Tumbling Down as one of the twins returns to the school – but which one?
Oh, I really don’t want to give anything away! This book, like all the others, is filled to the brim with fantasy and danger and challenges, but rooted deeply by its unique and memorable characters. There’s Sumi, a nonsense girl who knows her destiny lies in the world of Confection; Cora, a mermaid who longs to return to the sea; Kade, a Goblin prince who accepts that his chosen world may not choose him any longer; and Christopher, who dreams of life in the land of Mariposa with his true love, the Skeleton Girl.
When the missing twin returns and needs help with her life-or-death quest, the friends are quick to stand by her and venture through the door to the Moors, risking their own lives in an attempt to right the balance so crucial in that world.
As in all of the Wayward Children books, Seanan McGuire’s writing is lyrical and magical, infusing every moment with otherworldly flavors and fantastical elements, some menacing, some magical, some downright funny.
I’ll share some chosen selections here, although narrowing it down to just a few is hard. Here’s what my book looked like by the time I got close to the end:
Sometimes Christopher thought any chance he’d had of falling for a girl with ordinary things like “skin” and “muscle tissue” and “a pulse” had ended with the soft, moist sound of Jack driving a pair of scisors through her sister’s horrible heart.
“My parents,” she said. “They were like Nancy’s but the other way around, chasing monochrome instead of spectrums. They didn’t understand. Thought if they threw enough gray and gray and gray at me, I’d forget I’d seen rainbows and learn how to be their little sparrow-girl again. She died in Confection and I rose from her ashes, a pretty pastry phoenix.
Sumi looked up and smiled serenely. “Look at the moon,” she said. “It’s like the sugared cherry on the biggest murder sundae in the whole world.”
Indoor lightning storms, resurrected girls, and giant, bloody moons were terrifying enough without throwing in headless corpses, vampire lords, and something called a “Drowned God.”
And another from Sumi, because she’s awesome and so are her sundae analogies:
“This is terrible,” said Sumi brightly. “I mean, we knew it was going to be terrible when we followed a mad scientist and her dead girlfriend to a horrifying murder world, but this is bonus terrible. This is the awful sprinkles on the sundae of doom.”
Ah, I’ll stop here. I loved this book, and I love this series wholeheartedly. Each of the books is lovely on its own, and Come Tumbling Down is a worthy, enthralling addition to the series.
Beautiful, haunting writing, a creep-tastic setting, mad scientists and Drowned Gods, and the bestest friends squad you’d ever want at your back. What more could we ask for?
A note of advice: If the events of Down Among the Sticks and Bones aren’t fresh in your mind, then definitely pause for a re-read (or enjoy the excellent audiobook version) before diving in to Come Tumbling Down.
Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, featuring a different top 10 theme each week. This week’s topic is about our winter reading plans.
Last week, my TTT was all about the ARCs I have coming up at the start of the new year. This week, I’m focusing on other books I’m looking forward to reading — some upcoming new releases, some books I’ve bought recently, and one that I’ve had for way too long and really need to get to.
The first four on my list are all new volumes in ongoing series, and just thinking about them makes me happy.
1) Come Tumbling Down (Wayward Children, #5) by Seanan McGuire: This book comes out in early January, and I can’t wait! I love this series so much, and I’m especially excited for this one because it picks up where one of my favorites (Down Among the Sticks and Bones) left off.
2) No Fixed Line (Kate Shugak, #22) by Dana Stabenow: I love this series, the Alaska setting, and Kate herself, who is just an awesome lead character. I’ve been itching for more Kate — so excited for this upcoming January release!
3) Imaginary Numbers (InCryptid, #9) by Seanan McGuire: Yup, even more Seanan McGuire! And yes, I do love everything she writes. The InCryptid series is really fun, and I’m super excited for this book, especially since I won a copy in a Goodreads giveaway. (Thanks, Goodreads!)
4) Smoke Bitten (Mercy Thompson, #12) by Patricia Briggs: Mercy is one of my favorite lead characters, and I can’t wait to see what’s next for her and her pack.
Other (non-series) books I’m looking forward to reading:
5) Well Met by Jen DeLuca: I’ve been on a roll with cute romances lately, and this story, set at a RenFaire, sounds adorable.
6) Alice by Christina Henry: I’m officially in love with Christina Henry’s writing, so it’s time to go back and read the books I’ve missed.
7) The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri: This is my book club’s pick for January, and I’m really determined to make more of an effort to keep up with our monthly reads this year.
8) Upright Women Wanted by Sarah Gailey: From the Goodreads blurb: “The future American Southwest is full of bandits, fascists, and queer librarian spies on horseback trying to do the right thing.” Um, yes please! I love Sarah Gailey’s writing, and this sounds pretty amazing.
9) Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir: I finally picked up a copy, so this is high on my priority list! Maybe even this week…
10) Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik: I bought this when it came out in 2018 — it’s about time that I finally read it!
What books will be keeping you warm this winter? Share your links, and I’ll come check out your top 10!