Urban Fantasy Summer

While at Bookshop Santa Cruz I ran the Science Fiction/ Fantasy section where I expounded on the merits of titles like The Unkindness of Ghosts, A Darker Shade of Magic, and The Fifth Season. However, the area where I really cut my teeth on the genre, was urban fantasy. We don’t see it as much anymore. I don’t know if it’s because UF had a habit of upping its hero’s skills to unbelievable levels or just because publishing is cylindrical and it’s time was done, but while there are some series that live on, on the whole UF is a thing of the past. One of the series that lives on, is Seanan McGuire’s October Daye series (as well as her Incryptid series). I decided since for the time being I don’t have to live by Pub Dates and Indie Next submission deadlines, I’d revisit Toby and the gang. Then I thought about it. Why not spend this summer going back to the books that made me fall in love with SFF?

October Daye is a changeling in San Francisco who is a Knight errant and all around badass. Snark and violence at its finest. And at 13 books in, we have quite the world building to traverse through. The first few books run a little slow, but by book 4 she hits her stride and it’s a fun journey. The series starts with Rosemary and Rue (did I mention all the titles are Shakespeare references?). Toby has some great growth as a character and it’s amazing.

Also on the list is going to be Kelley Armstrong’s Women of the Otherworld series. Kelley is still writing, but her books are closer to the mystery genre these days. The Women of the Otherworld swaps narrators is very few books which I completely enjoyed. We start off in Bitten with Elena, who is the only female werewolf, then there’s Paige, a witch learning about being a parent to an orphaned witch while navigating the world of magic, as well as a cast of other powerful ladies. PSA: Warlock Lucas is totes my book boyfriend.

At the same time that TWotO was a hit, there was also The Hollows series by Kim Harrison. Starting with Dead Witch Walking we are following a witch bounty hunter slash detective named Rachel through magical Cincinnati with her pals, a bisexual living vampire named Ivy and a foul mouthed pixie named Jinks. Rachel is a hot mess of a character which I wholly appreciated because it’s boring when the main character knows all the answers.

Remember that snark and violence I mentioned? One of the best examples is Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid Chronicles. In Hounded Atticus is the last known Druid who is in hiding from a very angry Celtic god in Arizona. Oh did I mention that Atticus, while appearing 21, is actually 21 centuries. So you know. Like you do. You will love his pal, a talking Irish Wolfhound named Oberon.

Last but not least, is Chloe Neill’s Chicagoland Vampires. The first book is Some Girls Bite where we meet Merit who is changed to a vampire without her consent. I love Merit. I love her best friend Mallory. Spanning 13 books (which seems to be the magic number in ending UF series) we see her kick ass, take names and eat all the junk food. And good news, there’s a spin-off called Heirs of Chicagoland so the fun continues.

There are tons of Urban Fantasy series out there and everyone has their favorites. These were just a few that I really enjoyed and plan on revisiting. Do you have a favorite UF series? Tell me about it in the comments or on social media!

Bookseller Hiatus

According to my history it’s been over 2 years since I’ve updated. Apparently it’s hard to keep a blog going when your job is to sell books. If I wasn’t at work, handselling or running a register, I was writing reviews for Indie Next or the store’s newsletter. So why am I back, you’re asking? Because at the current moment of my life, I’m not a bookseller. Husband got a job in Pittsburgh and just like that, we are onto the next chapter of our lives. I’m currently in a hotel room in San Jose whole he finishes his last two days of work at the previous job. Spawn are in Southern California, visiting their grandparents while we make the transition. I’m hanging out with the newest additions to the family, Poppet and Widget of the French bulldog persuasion (yep they’re named for the twins in The Night Circus as they are litter mates).

It seems it’s hard to get me out of the book world though. I had serious plans to just read, no work, but I can’t stop myself. And if that wasn’t enough, I did a poll on Instagram and everyone said I should. I think that’s legally binding.

I can’t promise the blog will be regular at the moment. I can’t even guarantee the formatting will make sense. For at least the foreseeable future I’ll be in the car, as we are road tripping from NorCal to Pittsburgh in the next week so updates will probably come from my phone. I don’t even know what kind of blogging I’ll be doing or if I’ll be using any of the same things I did on the blog previously. What I can say is that I will write about books, the pups, and anything that I find mildly amusing.

I can’t seem to break my frontlist habit, but atm I’m currently rereading the October Daye series by Seanan McGuire so I’m on Book 4 Late Eclipses. If you haven’t read this series I highly recommend. It’s heavy world building in the first 3, but I think Book 4 is where she hits her stride. It’s fun as a reread because I can see what she was setting up at the beginning that she didn’t reveal until way later in the series.

The road trip is guaranteed to have some bookish moments so stay tuned.

Bout of books progress 

Hey! As previously posted, I’m attempting Bout of Books this week. However, if you want to follow my progress and chat about it, I will be doing that on my Twitter account! You can find me @karenafagan.

For now I can say due to work, I’ve gotten a late start so all I’ve read so far is half of Marry in Haste by Anne Gracie. Hopefully day off that changes!

Cheers!

 

Quick Review: Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

Quick Review is a semi-regular feature of ARCs I’m loving. You should keep your eyes out for these! 


Born a CrimeBorn a Crime by Trevor Noah

Noah’s perspective of growing up in South Africa during apartheid while being the son of a black woman and white man, while mixed with his trademark humor, was insightful and poignant. We in the US are often presented with what Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has termed “the danger of the single story” where we are told history from the point of view of the oppressors and it was refreshing to see history from someone directly affected by the heinousness of the apartheid laws.

Publication Date: November 15, 2016
Format: Digital ARC from Edelweiss

Quick Review: Breathless by Beverly Jenkins

Quick Review is a semi-regular feature of ARCs I’m loving. You should keep your eyes out for these! 


BreathlessBreathless by Beverly Jenkins

Beverly Jenkins has done it again. She gave me a story that had layered characters, a wonderful plot and as an added bonus gave a history lesson that most of us didn’t learn in school regarding US history. I love that our hero fell in love first, no brooding for this guy and the heroine? She was the one who had to be convinced to leave her single state. The romance between the two equals steamy.

Publication Date: January 31, 2017
Format: Digital ARC from Edelweiss

Quick Review: Lady Claire Is All That by Maya Rodale

Quick Review is a semi-regular feature of ARCs I’m loving. You should keep your eyes out for these! 


Lady Claire Is All That (Keeping Up with the Cavendishes, #3)Lady Claire Is All That by Maya Rodale

I have been really enjoying the shenanigans of the Cavendishes and this foray into their world was no different. I love that Lady Claire is basically Ada Lovelace. I also love that the book takes place at the exact same time as the previous two books so we can see what the other characters have experienced of the shenanigans that have ensued.

 

Publication Date: December 27, 2016
Format: Digital ARC from Edelweiss

Quick Review: A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers

Quick Review is a semi-regular feature of ARCs I’m loving. You should keep your eyes out for these! 


A Closed and Common OrbitA Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers

I loved The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet so much. So I was a little wary (yet excited) for this installment. I say installment rather than sequel, because it felt more like a book that takes place in the world Chambers created than an actual continuation of the first book. I thought it was a great way to go. The theme of identity was well thought out and executed. I hope there will be more stories to follow.

Publication Date: March 14, 2017
Format: Digital ARC from Edelweiss

Quick Review: Difficult Women by Roxane Gay

I don’t usually do reviews, but I might be changing that and this was a great book to maybe start the trend. I’m not going to waste time with bad reviews, so I’ll be only posting the books I really loved. I read Difficult Women both as a print galley as well as in digital format. It’s out January 3rd! Go get it.

Difficult WomenDifficult Women by Roxane Gay

The women in Roxane Gay’s recent short story collection are indeed difficult women. They are real women. They are multidimensional and flawed. As usual, Gay is able to use her talent to give distinctive voices to each woman in their respective stories. Once again I’m floored by how visceral her writing is, in the best way possible. These short stories make you feel a barrage of emotions, from discomfort to grief, to pity, to empathy and everything in between.

 

Rep Night is the Best Night

Monday night I experienced one of the coolest things ever. It’s called Rep Night. It’s when representatives from publishing houses come and basically showcase titles they think we should pay attention to so we can handsell them to the customers. I came in late, so I missed most of everyone’s names, but I did see that we had reps from Penguin Random (forever Random Penguin in my mind), HarperCollins, Hachette, and Chronicle Books. Forgive me if I missed someone.

There were a lot of great titles pitched. Here are a few that interested me. Some are out already and some will be published soon.

There were also a number of winter picks of books that are already out, but I might save that one for a big holiday post. 😉

So besides telling us which books they thought we’d like, they also brought ARCs. The greatest thing was watching all my coworkers load up bags of galleys all while saying “I really shouldn’t do this, I have a stack at home I need to get to” even though we do need to. Bookselling is not just looking up “the book with the blue cover that might be about mediating” or ringing up that stack of kids books. It’s also being about to make recommendations to the customers when needed. It’s what separates us from Amazon or even Barnes and Noble. We don’t carry every book obviously because its impossible, but what we can do, is have a carefully curated selection that at least someone in the bookstore can tell you something about and be passionate about it. Recommending books and handselling can be its own topic so I won’t go down that rabbit hole, so basically bringing home a bag of ARCs is fundamental to my job. At least that’s what I’m telling both myself and my husband when he side-eyes yet another bag of books coming into the house.

So I bet you’re asking what was in that bag? Have I ever let you down on not telling you about my literary loot? Some were ones mentioned before and some were new-to-me titles

Any of these sound like your bag? Let me know!