#WyrdandWonder Challenge (Part III)

My next set of prompts for May’s Wyrd and Wonder Challenge

May 20Fantasy creature on the cover

(bonus points if it isn’t a dragon)

Well, the most recent fantasy book I read with fantasy creature on the cover, was Crown of Crystal Flame, by CL Wilson. It’s the final book in Wilson’s Tarien Soul series and it has a Tarien (sort of like a giant cat with wings) on the cover in the background. The first book in the series, Lord of the Fading Lands shows a Tarien a bit more clearly.
May 21Fantasy in translation

Fridays are all about celebrating fantasy from around the world – this week focuses on books that weren’t originally written in English

The one that leaps immediately to mind is The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, because it’s a favorite (well really the whole Cemetery of Forgotten Books series counts) The fantasy elements are stronger elsewhere in the series, but as I said, this one is my favorite, and it has those elements as well, to a lesser extent. It was originally written in Spanish.
Another book that, well, let’s say it made a strong impression on me was Troll: A Love Story by Finnish author Johanna Sinisalo.
Actually I’m a big fan of magical realism, which I suppose is a subgenre of fantasy. It has strong associations with Latin America, so a lot of the books are in translation from Spanish. Some favorites are Like Water For Chocolate, Eva Luna, and The House of the Spirits.
I suppose many classic fairy tale collections count as well. The Brother’s Grimm and ETA Hoffman were originally in German. Hans Christian Anderson was Danish. Charles Perrault was French. They all originally wrote in their native languages.
May 22Get in the sea

Seaborne fantasy, mermaid tales, the lady in the lake – make it watery for World Maritime Day
…or if you’re feeling bitter, what fantasy would you consign to the depths and why?


I really enjoyed Carolyn Turgen’s Mermaid. It’s based on Hans Christian Anderson’s The Little Mermaid (which is very different from Disney’s version!) and follows the point of view of both the mermaid and the princess who the mermaid’s beloved marries.
May 23Book rainbow

book spines arranged in the colours of the rainbow

Some of the colors didn’t photograph as well as I would have liked, but I didn’t have a chance to play with the lighting.
May 24On the shelf

how long has that been on your shelf / TBR?? a book / books you really should have read by now

I think these have been on my shelf for the longest:
White As Snow by Tanith Lee
To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis
The Blue Girl by Charles DeLint

Hopefully I can get to them soon!
May 25Chosen one #TropeTuesday

Double-edged prophecies, irresistible destiny, a plot stick you just can’t dodge – let’s end the month on a classic

Well, this month these are the books I’ve read that use that trope:
Crown of Crystal Flame by CL Wilson– This is the final book in the Tarien Soul series and the heroine, Elysetta, has every characteristic of a “chosen one.” She has a mysterious past, she was found in the woods as a baby, she has a supernatural/fantastic origin story, and she is destined to either save, or destroy, the fey.
Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness-This is the second book in the All Souls series and I think that Diana has some “chosen one” characteristics too. She knows she’s a witch but she didn’t have any sense of connection to her heritage before the first book in the series. In this book, she starts her magic training, and it turns out she’s a “weaver,” a rare kind of witch that can make up spells. It’s been hinted that she might save supernatural creatures from extinction. She’s also married to a vampire, and there are prophesies about their offspring.
May 26All the feels

We all love an emotional rollercoaster – a book that gave your feelings a full on work out

I’m often an emotional wreck as I read, so this might be a long-ish list with major spoilers. Be warned…

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman- The end when Bod leaves the graveyard, and the ghosts who raised him, and goes out to pursue his future as a living person.
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro– I’m counting this as a fantasy, even though you could make the argument for it being sci-fi. Really just the whole thing once we learned what the characters were and their inevitable fate.
Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon- A lot of books in the Outlander series have given me all the feels on a semi regular basis, but this one totally destroyed me when Jamie sends Claire back through the stones, to the future (they both think forever), and goes off to die (they think) at the battle of Culloden…
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling– This was another series where I got emotional at many different points (the end of The Prisoner of Azkaban, the end of The Goblet of Fire, the end of The Half Blood Prince…) but if I had to pick one part of the series, it would be this book. When people we love die in battle, when Harry goes into the forest, Dobby, Snape, and really everything!
The Keeping Place by Isobelle Carmody- Once again, the Obernewtyn series has given me all the feels at several points. But this one features the Misfits getting betrayed by people they thought were allies. Many important and beloved characters are murdered in an ambush I didn’t see coming. My friend, who recommended the series warned me that we’d lose some people in this one, so I was semi-prepared, but the scope and depth of the betrayal was what destroyed me.

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Genre Lists

For That Artsy Reader Girl’s Top Ten Tuesday:

ttt-new

June 4: Books From My Favorite Genre (You pick the genre, and give us your ten faves.)

Since I’ve done more than one “Favorite books in x genre” list, I decided to do a top ten list of past genre lists:

  1. Top Ten Tuesday: Gothic Romance 
  2. Top Ten Tuesday: Time Travel
  3. Top Ten Tuesday: “Girl”-ish Suspense Novels
  4. Top Ten Tuesday: Best Dual Timeline Novels
  5. Top Ten Tuesday: Best Lesser Known Romances
  6. Top Ten Tuesday: Hidden Gems of Magical Realism
  7. Top Ten Tuesday: Best Books About Books
  8. Top Ten Tuesday: Nonfiction That Taught Me Something New
  9. Top Ten Tuesday: Best Novellas and Short Stories
  10. Fairy Tale Retellings

Top Ten Tuesday: Food in Books

For the Broke and the Bookish’s Top Ten Tuesday:

October 17: Top Ten Yummy Foods Mentioned In Books (Does a character eat something you’d love? Or maybe the book takes place in a bakery/restaurant that makes yummy things? You could also talk about 10 of your favorite cookbooks if you don’t read foody books.)

I’m not really a foodie. I mean, I like food, don’t get me wrong! I like to eat. But I hate to cook. My dislike of cooking means that unless I’m ordering in or eating out, I tend to opt for simple things. Think spaghetti, scrambled eggs, and sandwiches. But I can get my fix of exotic foods on the page!

51z3mpqa7ml-_ac_us218_1. Five Quarters of the Orange by Joanne Harrris- Chocolat seems to be the popular Harris choice for lists about food books. But I actually prefer this one. Framboise Darigan is an old lady who recalls the her childhood in a small, French town, which coincided with the later days of the Occupation during WWII. Framboise and her siblings traded with the Germans on the black market. They meet Tomas, a charming young Nazi who gives them gifts. But this friendship leads to a tragic, violent series of events that still torments Framboise years later. This sounds heavy and it is, but there’s some yummy food there too. Framboise and her mother are gifted cooks. In her narration, Framboise often speaks in terms of food.

“This is something different again. A feeling of peace. The feeling you get when a recipe turns out perfectly right, a perfectly risen souffle, a flawless sauce hollandaise. It’s a feeling which tells me that any woman can be beautiful in the eyes of a man who loves her.”

51tnp5yzcsl-_ac_us218_2. The Kitchen God’s Wife by Amy Tan- Pearl Louie Brandt is the American born daughter of a Chinese mother. She and her mother have never been very close, but when she goes home for a wedding, she gets the truth of her mother’s past. Here the narrative shifts to Japanese occupied China in the years around WWII. Winnie Louie (Pearl’s mother) was an orphan who lived with her uncle and his family. A marriage was arranged for her when she grew up. This marriage turns out to be a disaster. Her husband is abusive.  She likens her situation to a Chinese fable about the wife of a man who was horrible to her no matter how much she did for him. This man still became known as the “kitchen god”. This is also a heavy topic, but with some very yummy sounding descriptions of Chinese fare.

“I take a few quick sips. “This is really good.” And I mean it. I have never tasted tea like this. It is smooth, pungent, and instantly addicting.

“This is from Grand Auntie,” my mother explains. “She told me ‘If I buy the cheap tea, then I am saying that my whole life has not been worth something better.’ A few years ago she bought it for herself. One hundred dollars a pound.”

“You’re kidding.” I take another sip. It tastes even better.”

51f55a0yvl-_ac_us218_3. Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen- Claire Waverly is a caterer who makes her food with mystical plants: nasturtiums are for keeping secrets, pansies are for thoughtful children etc. Her cousin, Evanelle, also has some strange gifts. The two of them are the last of the Waverlys. Well, except for Claire’s sister, Sydney, who ran away from their small town home of Bascom, North Carolina, as soon as she could. But when Sydney comes back home, she brings with her a young daughter and a dark history. She and Claire struggle to reconnect and create a family and a home. A few weeks ago, I wrote about First Frost, which is a stand alone sequel to this book.

“Business was doing well, because all the locals knew that dishes made from the flowers that grew around the apple tree in the Waverley garden could affect the eater in curious ways. The biscuits with lilac jelly, the lavender tea cookies, and the tea cakes made with nasturtium mayonnaise the Ladies Aid ordered for their meetings once a month gave them the ability to keep secrets. The fried dandelion buds over marigold-petal rice, stuffed pumpkin blossoms, and rose-hip soup ensured that your company would notice only the beauty of your home and never the flaws. Anise hyssop honey butter on toast, angelica candy, and cupcakes with crystallized pansies made children thoughtful. Honeysuckle wine served on the Fourth of July gave you the ability to see in the dark. The nutty flavor of the dip made from hyacinth bulbs made you feel moody and think of the past, and the salads made with chicory and mint had you believing that something good was about to happen, whether it was true or not.

51t-vfynk1l-_ac_us218_4. The Secret Ingredient of Wishes by Susan Bishop Crispell- Rachel has spent her whole life keeping the fact that she can make wishes come true a secret. The consequences of granting wishes have a history of being disastrous. So when she accidentally grants a wish for the first time in years, she decides its time to hit the road. Her car runs out of gas in Nowhere, North Carolina. There she meets Catch, an old woman who can bind secrets by baking them into pies. She also meets Catch’s neighbor, Ashe, a handsome fellow who makes Rachel believe that a happily ever after might be possible for her. But when wishes start to pile up all over town, Rachel must finally learn to accept who she is, and how to control her ability. This was a nice “comfort read” at the end of a long day. And it made me want pie. A lot.

“She relaxed her grip on the plate and inhaled the sweet scent of the peach pie. She would have eaten it even if it hadn’t smelled like heaven on a plate, but after the first bite, she was grateful Catch had ignored her initial refusal.”

51cve8ijpbl-_ac_us218_5. Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg- Evelyn Couch is 48 years old and having a mid-life crisis. Ninny Threadgoode is 86 and still living with a lifetime of happy memories. When they meet in the visitors room of an Alabama nursing home, Cleo begins to tell Evelyn about the town she grew up in, during the great depression. Much of the life in town centered around the Whistle Stop Cafe which was run by Idgie Threadgoode, a rebellious tomboy, and her partner, Ruth. Idgie, Ruth and the Whistle Stop Cafe survive just about everything; from the depression, to the KKK, to murder. And they do it amidst the smell of good food!

“The Whistle Stop Cafe opened up last week, right next door to me at the post office, and owners Idgie Threadgoode and Ruth Jamison said business has been good ever since. Idgie says that for people who know her not to worry about getting poisoned, she is not cooking.”

41nzls4cxol-_ac_us218_6. Sunshine by Robin McKinley-Rae “Sunshine” Seddon works at her stepfather’s bakery (where her cinnamon rolls are legendary!). One night she goes out to the lake in search of some peace and quiet. She ends up getting kidnapped by vampires. She’s held in the same room as Constantine, another vampire, who is also in chains. He’s been captured by his enemy who wants him to die slowly of daylight and starvation. But Sunshine has some secret powers (aside from baking, that is) and she frees them both. But they soon find themselves on the run from Constantine’s enemies.  I’m sort of conflicted about putting this book on my list, since I ultimately disliked it for the same reason that it belongs on here: a lot too much time was spent on describing how the main character makes the best cinnamon rolls ever. But I’m putting it on the list because, well, the cinnamon rolls did sound pretty good!

“Mr. Responsible Media was looking rebellious, but this was my country. I was the Cinnamon Roll Queen and most of those assembled were my devoted subjects.”

51cpofw4mll-_ac_us218_7. Mistress of the Spices by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni- Tilo is an old woman who sells spices in Oakland California. She suggests spices to flavor different dishes, but secretly these spices treat the spiritual problems of her customers. Because Tilo isn’t really an old woman. She’s really the immortal “Mistress of the Spices” trained in the art of spices and given special powers. But these powers come with rules.  When she breaks those rules she doesn’t lose her magical abilities, but she does lose power regarding the outcomes when she uses her magic. Ultimately she has to chose between being a powerful immortal, or an ordinary woman. This book makes me hungry for Indian food.

“Each spice has a special day to it. For turmeric it is Sunday, when light drips fat and butter-colored into the bins to be soaked up glowing, when you pray to the nine planets for love and luck.”

51h2-a-nbl-_ac_us218_8. Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder- Yelena faces execution for murder (the fact that he deserved it doesn’t seem to matter much….) She is offered a way out: become the food taster for the commander of Ixia. She’s kept from escaping by being poisoned. Only the commander’s head of security, Valek, has the antidote, which most be administered on a daily basis. But Yelena soon discovers that she has a role to play in Ixia’s future. She gets caught up in castle politics, but her actions make some people impatient with waiting for poison to finish her off. It seems strange to have a book about someone tasting a food for poison make a reader hungry, but almost every chapter has a description of a yummy meal- the fact that it may or may not be poisoned just makes it a bit more interesting!

“When you warned me that you would test me from time to time, I thought you meant spiking my food. But it seems there is more than one way to poison a person’s heart, and it doesn’t even require a meal.”

51-eyayn0ol-_ac_us218_9. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern- Behind the scenes of Le Cirque des Reves there’s a duel taking place between two magicians. Celia and Marco have been trained from childhood to fight to the death. However, the best laid plans fall apart when Celia and Marco fall in love. They’re still bound to their duel, unless they can find a way out. Nothing about the plot deals with food really, but the writing is very sensory. There are a lot of food related metaphors that almost let you taste what they’re talking about.

“The circus looks abandoned and empty. But you think perhaps you can smell caramel wafting through the evening breeze, beneath the crisp scent of the autumn leaves. A subtle sweetness at the edges of the cold.”

51qlgj6zojl-_ac_us218_10. Harry Potter series by JK Rowling- The Harry Potter universe should really come with its own menu. The books need no introduction. But whether it’s Mrs. Weasley’s feasts, the food trolley on the Hogwarts express, or the contents of Honeyduke’s sweetshop, there’s something mouthwatering, and something cringeworthy (Jelly Slugs? Blood flavored lollipops?) for everyone. I once had something claiming to be Butterbeer. It actually tasted suspiciously like ginger ale.

“He had never seen so many things he liked to eat on one table: roast beef, roast chicken, pork chops and lamb chops, sausages, bacon and steak, boiled potatoes, roast potatoes, fries, Yorkshire pudding, peas, carrots, gravy, ketchup, and, for some strange reason, peppermint humbugs.’’  Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.

 

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Hidden Gems of Magical Realism

For the Broke and the Bookish’s Top Ten Tuesday

August 29: Ten Hidden Gem Books in X Genre: Pick a genre and share with us some books that have gone under the radar in that genre!

For this one I decided to go with Magical Realism. It’s a weird genre that, by it’s very name, contradicts itself. Magic in these books is presented alongside the every day things we all know. It’s not really “explained”, we just go with it For those unfamiliar with it, some of the better known titles in this genre include One Hundred Years of Solitude and Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, The House of the Spirits by Isabella Allende, The Master and the Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov, and Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie. Authors such as John Luis Borges, Alice Hoffman, Toni Morrison, Laura Esquival, Haruki Murakami, and Junot Diaz are all known for using this to different degrees. I chose some lesser known works that qualify as “hidden gems”. Some of these veer pretty far into the “magical” side of the genre, while others are more firmly grounded in the real.

41ay0z5uell-_ac_us218_1. There’s No Place Like Here by Cecilia Ahearn-  Twenty years ago, Sandy Shortt’s classmate disappeared. Since then  she’s been obsessed with missing things. So much so that finding missing people becomes her life’s work. Jack Ruttle hires Sandy to find his brother, Donal, who vanish a year ago. But while she’s working on the case something strange happens. She stumbles on a place where missing things- and people- end up. Those socks that she thought the dryer ate? The teddy bear she lost as a kid? And all the missing people that Sandy’s struggled to find over the years. But now Sandy is struggling to find a way to get back where she belongs. Ahearn is an Irish writer who has some lovely work in this genre. I also recommend If  You Could See Me Now, Thanks for the Memories, and The Book of Tomorrow.

“It’s difficult to know which second among a lifetime of seconds is more special. Often when you realise how precious those seconds are, it’s too late for them to be captured because the moment has passed. We realise too late.”

51j1v5z8h0l-_ac_us218_2. Nights at the Circus by Angela Carter- Carter is one of my all time favorites. Her writing is beautiful. In this book, Jack Walser, a turn of the century American journalist, interviews and investigates Sophie Fevvers. Sophie is a circus performer who is said to be part woman and part swan. Jack wants to find out if she’s legit, and so he joins the circus, following it through Europe and getting bizarre, fantastic story of Sophie’s life. The characters are larger than life, but so is the circus, so it all fits.

“She sleeps. And now she wakes each day a little less. And, each day, takes less and less nourishment, as if grudging the least moment of wakefulness, for, from the movement under her eyelids, and the somnolent gestures of her hands and feet, it seems as if her dreams grow more urgent and intense, as if the life she lives in the closed world of dreams is now about to possess her utterly, as if her small, increasingly reluctant wakenings were an interpretation of some more vital existence, so she is loath to spend even those necessary moments of wakefulness with us, wakings strange as her sleepings. Her marvellous fate – a sleep more lifelike than the living, a dream which consumes the world.
‘And, sir,’ concluded Fevvers, in a voice that now took on the sombre, majestic tones of a great organ, ‘we do believe . . . her dream will be the coming century.
‘And, oh, God . . . how frequently she weeps!”

51371fbdool-_ac_us218_3. Forever by Pete Hamill- In 1741, Cormac O’Connor seeks to avenge the death of his father. So he follows the murderer from Ireland to New York City. On board the ship, Cormac meets Kongo, an African slave. He saves Kongo, and gets shot himself in the process. Kongo’s priestess, grants Cormac eternal life, and eternal youth, in return; but only if he never leaves the island of Manhattan.  We follow Cormac for over two hundred years, as he becomes involved in the American Revolution, hangs out with Boss Tweed, witnesses epidemics, and watches as the city grows and changes; and sees all it’s beauty and ugliness co-existing. Once we’ve accepted the magic that grants Cormac eternal life, the book is more historical, though hints of fantasy pop in here and there. It’s a bittersweet story, because Cormac sees the world as few experience it, but he also remains outside of it- confined to a tiny island, forever young, watching those he cares about as they age and die. Hamill also wrote Snow in August, another magical realist novel that is set in historical NYC, though this one veers more into the fantasy genre toward the end.

“I don’t know what that means. To truly live.”
“To find work that you love, and work harder than other men. To learn the languages of the earth, and love the sounds of the words and the things they describe. To love food and music and drink. Fully love them. To love weather, and storms, and the smell of rain. To love heat. To love cold. To love sleep and dreams. To love the newness of each day.”

51dvjy072kl-_ac_us218_4. The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen- Josey Cirrini lives an uneventful life. Her guilty pleasures involve romance novels and sweets, which she eats in her closet. She lives in the North Carolina town of Bald Slope with her widowed mother. One day, while in her closet having a sugar fix, Josey finds that it’s already occupied by Della Lee, a local waitress who is taking refuge after a fight with her boyfriend. Della refuses to leave, and threatens to tell Josey’s fussy, high society mother about  her secret closet candy binges if Joesy doesn’t let her stay. So Josey finds herself doing Della’s bidding. She befriends Chloe, a woman who finds that books seem to appear whenever she might need them, and Adam, the mailman that Josey’s been crushing on for years.  At first it’s hard to understand Josey’s slave-like commitment to her mother, or how Della could manage to stay in a closet as a long term arrangement. But the pieces of the puzzle come together eventually. Allen’s other work in the genre is also very much worth reading. Garden Spells is her best known (so much so that I don’t know if it qualifies as a “hidden gem” for the purposes of this list), First Frost, The Girl Who Chased the Moon, The Peach Keeper and Lost Lake. In the wrong mood these might come off as saccharine but in the right mood they’re just the right sweet treat.

“She bought a plume of blue cotton candy before they left the food booths, and she picked at it while they headed down the row of booths occupied by residents of Bald Slope who had spent all summer making walnut salad bowls and jars of pickled watermelon rind to sell at the festival. Snow flurries began to fall and they swirled around people’s legs like house cats. It was magical, this snowglobe world.”

61eh6n0ejfl-_ac_us218_5. The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff– Lauren Groff is better known for literary fiction (Fates and Furies, Arcadia) so I was surprised by this venture. Wilhelmina “Willie” Upton is close to completing her PhD in archaeology when she returns to her upstate New York home town of Templeton, after the conclusion of a disastrous affair with her adviser. That same day, a dead Loch Ness monster type creature is found in the lake. Willie discovers that her mother, a hippie, has found Jesus. She confesses to Wille that she isn’t the product of a commune orgy (which is what she original told her daughter) but is the daughter of one of the men in town, who is descended from the town’s founder. With that little information to go on, Willie begins to investigate, and she discovers that Templeton is the home to many monsters. The creature in the lake was one kind, but others are in the form of secrets kept by the townspeople. And some of these monsters are actually beautiful.

“Then, when we had done so, we put our hands upon the freezing cold monster, our monster. And this is what we felt: vertigo, an icicle through our strong hearts, our long-lost childhoods. Sunshine in a field and crickets and the sweet tealeaf stink of a new ball mitt and a rock glinting with mica and a chaw of bubblegum wrapping in sweet sweet tendrils down our throats and the warm breeze up our shorts and the low vibrato of lake loons and the sun and the sun and the warm sun and this is what we felt; the sun.”

51ucuhb38pl-_ac_us218_6. The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson- Full disclosure: I almost stopped reading this book after the first chapter, because in it, the main character is in a near fatal car accident. We’re treated to graphic descriptions of his injuries and medical treatment, to the point where I wanted to put down the book (and never get into a car again).  I kept reading because reviews urged readers to push through those first few chapters, and I’m glad I did. After our unnamed narrator, a porn star by trade, is in his accident, he spends his days  in the burn unit, planning his suicide. One day, in walks Marianne Engel, sculptress of “the grotesque”, who may be mentally ill or divinely inspired. She tells the Burned Man that they’ve known each other in a past life, and he humors her and listens to their elaborate love love story unfolding over several hundred years. We can attribute Marianne’s long outrageous tale to mental illness, and the Burned Man’s eventual belief in it to his morphine addiction following his accident. Or we can take the plunge and go through this story with a sense of magic.

“This will mark the third time that an arrow has entered my chest. The first time brought me to Marianne Engel. The second time separated us.

The third time will reunite us.”

51j0fpre5nl-_ac_us218_7. Griffin and Sabine by Nick Bantock- Griffin is a London based artist. One day he gets a note from a South Pacific artist named Sabine Strohem. She congratulates him on his recent work and mentions a change that he made in the creative process. Griffin never told anyone about that, but Sabine claims to “share his sight”. She may have a telepathic connection to Griffin. Or she may be completely imaginary.  We read the letters that they exchange. In fact, the book is made up of removable letters, postcards and artwork. You know the temptation to go through someone else’s things, and read their mail? This is a perfect way to indulge that. We get to know these characters through their art & handwriting, as well as the content of their letters. It’s a tactile, sensory, literary experience. It’s follow by two direct sequels; Sabine’s Notebook, and The Golden Mean.  There’s a secondary trilogy with a new set of lovers with a mysterious connection to Griffin and Sabine. That’s made up of The Gryphon, Alexandria, and The Morning Star. The Pharos Gate brings the story to a final conclusion.

“Our house was a temple to The Book. We owned thousands, nay millions of books. They lined the walls, filled the cupboards, and turned the floor into a maze far more complex than Hampton Court’s. Books ruled out lives. They were our demi-gods.”

61e3dwvmj7l-_ac_us218_8. The Brightest Star in the Sky by Marian Keyes- A mysterious spirit arrives at 66 Star Street in Dublin. It makes itself at home and watches the lives of the residents unfold as it counts down to…something.  The building is home to Katie, a 40 year old PR worker with a commitment phobic boyfriend. It’s also the home of newlyweds Meave and Matt, who are bound together by a secret that may eventually drive them apart. Then there’s Jemima, an elderly psychic who lives in the building. Her son, Fionn, is staying with her temporarily as he auditions for TV shows. The spirit sneaks around the building, learning all it can about the residents and unknowlingly brings their lives together in unexpected ways.

“A cynical type might suggest that it was all a little too perfect. But a cynical type would be wrong.”

61xeuwoxcl-_ac_us218_19. Night Film by Marisha Pessl- Ashley Cordova, 24 year old daughter of acclaimed horror filmmaker Stanislas Cordova, is found dead in an abandoned building in New York City.  Journalist Scott McGrath once tried to do a story on the reclusive Cordova. That attempt cost him his job and his marriage. Yet he can’t help but be intrigued by Ashely’s death. Why is her life, and her father’s, so shrouded in mystery? Cordova lives on a vast estate known as The Peak, where all his films are shot. He no longer leaves the compound. Why? As Scott investigates he comes across several explanations for Cordova’s reclusiveness and Ashley’s death.  These range from black magic to human failure. But as his investigations draw Scott closer to the legendary filmmaker, his life begins to resemble a dark, disturbing, Codrova film. This book plays with the edge between reality and fantasy. The supernatural explanations for Ashley’s fate are given just as much (sometimes more) credibility as the more realistic ones. This isn’t a book to read if you expect every i dotted and every t crossed. But if you’re up for a weird trip, this one is a great ride.

“Mortal fear is as crucial a thing to our lives as love. It cuts to the core of our being and shows us what we are. Will you step back and cover your eyes? Or will you have the strength to walk to the precipice and look out?”

41d4ws5ecl-_ac_us218_10. Going Bovine by Libba Bray- Cameron Smith is a pretty average high school junior until he gets some bad news: he has Creutzfeldt-Jacob aka “mad cow” disease and he’s going to die soon.  When he gets a – possibly hallucinatory – visit from Dulcie, a guardian angel with a major sugar addiction, he gets a flash of hope. According to Dulcie, a cure exists, if he’s willing to look for it. With the help of Gonzo, a hypochondriac, video gaming dwarf, he goes off in search of it. The two embark on a crazy road trip through the side of America that most people never get to see. This is a bizarre, trippy take on Don Quixote. Cameron may be crazy, he may be brilliant, he may be dying, and he may be attacking windmills. Gonzo makes for a Sancho Panza who carries around a yard gnome that is possibly also a Norse god. Dulcie is of course the punk rock, angelic Dulcinea. It’s trippy, it’s funny, and if you just go with it, it’s occasionally brilliant.

“As a kid, I imagined lots of different scenarios for my life. I would be an astronaut. Maybe a cartoonist. A famous explorer or rock star. Never once did I see myself standing under the window of a house belonging to some druggie named Carbine, waiting for his yard gnome to steal his stash so I could get a cab back to a cheap motel where my friend, a neurotic, death-obsessed dwarf, was waiting for me so we could get on the road to an undefined place and a mysterious Dr. X, who would cure me of mad cow disease and stop a band of dark energy from destroying the universe.”

Top 10 Tuesday: Wishlist

Every Tuesday The Broke and the Bookish posts a top 10 list for bloggers to answer. I decided to join in. Today’s topic:

May 9: Ten Things On Our Reading Wishlist (topic originally done January 2014) — things you want to see more of in books — tropes, a time period, a specific type of character, an issue tackled, a certain plot, etc. All those things that make you think I WANT MORE OF THIS IN BOOKS!

  1. Fairy tale retellings that really understand that fairy tales are not children’s stories, but rather human stories. Stories that don’t shy away from delving into the darkness and the ambiguity in these stories.
  2. Books set in historical eras that don’t portray the period being pure and lovely. I really enjoyed Anne Godberson’s The Luxe series, and her Bright Young Things series, as well as Jillian Larkin’s Flappers series. They’re pure historical soap opera and a lot of fun!
  3. Romance about adults over the age of 30. I’m not that much past 30 myself but I’m already noticing that a lot of the romantic characters out there are younger than me. People do fall in love after their 20’s you know!
  4. Gothic fiction. Creepy old houses filled with people you can’t trust and secrets around every corner, please. Think pseudo-Victorian stuff like Rebecca, Fingersmith, The Quincunx
  5. Magical realism. Stories where magic is commonplace and the fantasy aspect doesn’t take over. Don’t get me wrong, I also love fantasy, but I also love stuff that skirts the genre without indulging fully into the fantastic. More authors like Isabelle Allende, Angela Carter, Sarah Addison Allen, Alice Hoffman, etc.
  6. Books with characters that are underrepresented in fiction. PoC, LGBTQ, disabilities etc. And make them actual three dimensional characters please! Give them concerns other than race/class/gender/sexuality/ability. They can have those concerns too. Those issues can play into other aspects of their lives, but please make sure that there are other aspects of their characters.
  7. Characters who aren’t “normal”. Not everyone has their first kiss between the ages of 11 and 15. Some people don’t until their 40. Some people don’t leave home at 18. Some people live with their parents for most of their lives. Some people don’t marry. Some don’t have kids. Some don’t want to marry or have kids. Some people want a job while others want a career. Don’t go by what statistics say is “average” when you’re thinking about characters. Averages are found by looking at a whole range of data. Let’s see some of that range in characters!
  8. Books set in a future that’s not completely dystopian. Maybe a future with some advantages and some problems.
  9. Historical fantasy. Like The Golem and the Jinni, The Gemma Doyle Trilogy, and The Glamorist Histories.
  10. A series for me to be completely obsessed over. As a kid at various ages it was Anne of Green Gables, the American Girls (think old school series), the Babysitter’s Club and Sweet Valley. When I was a teenager it was the Dollanganger series by VC Andrews. Then I discovered the Outlander series. I want something that I can live in for a while. Not just a series with a lot of books in it. I want it to be obsessable!