Upcoming March Books

March looks like a nice chunk of Urban Fantasy. I can’t wait. There are a lot of great books coming out in series that I adore.

  • Midnight Marked (Chicagoland Vampires #12) by Chloe Neill (Mar 1) – I’m so here for Merit and Ethan.
  • Chaos Choreography (Incryptid #5) by Seanan McGuire (Mar 1) – A family of cryptozoologists. Need I say more?
  • Borderline by Mishell Baker (Mar 1) – Seanan McGuire put this one on my radar. I’m really looking forward to reading this one about a paraplegic woman who has mental illness and fights fairy tale and mythological creatures. Sounds pretty intense.
  • The Passenger by Lisa Lutz (Mar 1) – I really enjoyed Lutz’ How to Start a Fire (and no, not just because a lot of it takes place in Santa Cruz) so I’m interested to see how this book goes.
  • The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories by Kin Liu (Mar 8) – I’m still trying to up my short story game and this looked interesting.
  • What’s Not Yours Is Not Yours by Helen Oyeyemi (Mar 8) – I loved Mr. Fox and Boy Snow Bird and did I mention I need more short stories in my life?
  • A Tyranny of Petticoats: 15 Stories of Belles, Bank Robbers & Other Bad Ass Girls by Jessica Spotswood (Mar 8) – That title is amazing and the concept is right in my wheelhouse.
  • Fire Touched (Mercy Thompson #9) by Patricia Briggs (Mar 8) – Didn’t I say this month was chockfull of Urban Fantasy? I’m pretty fond of this series about a mechanic/coyote shapeshifter and her shenanigans.
  • Marked in Flesh (The Others #4) by Anne Bishop (Mar 8) – So many books on this release day and I wouldn’t miss any of them. The Others is a great version of shapeshifter mythos. I highly recommend.
  • The Winged Histories by Sofia Samatar (Mar 15) – This sounds like an amazing adventure with ladies leading the way. Did someone say book kryptonite?
  • Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue (Mar 15) – I’ve seen the buzz around this book and want to be part of it.
  • Because of Miss Bridgeton (Rokesbys and Bridgertons #1) by Julia Quinn (Mar 29) – I binged the Bridgerton series around the new year so I can’t wait to see what the Bridgerton progeny will be up to.

What books are you looking forward to this month?

In the Beginning…Start there.

I can’t start a series in the middle. I don’t care that the characters might be slightly different in different books (romance does this) or that they’re kind of sort of standalones (urban fantasy has been known to try this tactic). I want book one EVERY TIME. Nothing frustrates me more than getting halfway through a book and finding out there was even one before it. It’s not as often as it was the pre internet days. Remember picking up a paperback and checking out the bibliography and the publisher just put every book the author wrote on it, without separating the series ones? These were the days where I was only scouring used bookstores to fill my collection because full price was not an option. It also was pretty difficult to get all the romances that I wanted at new bookstores. A lot were older and bookstores (depending on the store) don’t usually carry a lot of romances. Which is dumb because it’s only one of the most selling genres, but I digress. Then when I got into urban fantasy it was a very small genre and super hard to find at the time. Especially where I grew up. They didn’t really play around with that supernatural “nonsense.” The used bookstores didn’t have booksellers that could help you either. They could probably tell you where the certain section you were looking for, but anything really detailed about those books? Not a chance. At least this is what I experienced in my local used bookstores.

Don’t get me started on those standalone series. One that immediately comes to mind as a series that the author claims is a standalone is the Elemental Assassin series. Jennifer Estep is lovely (I’ve talked to her a lot on Twitter), but she insists the books are standalone when people ask. The reason she says this is is because she spends an enormous chunk of each book recounting what happened in the last book, who all the people are. As a series reader, this is seriously (see what I did there?) frustrating. Just tell people, “Nope, they don’t standalone, start at book one like everyone else.” That way you don’t have to waste a good word count on summaries. You can give a few sentences, “Hey, remember that bad guy that we chased last summer who wore his victim’s lungs around his neck like a scarf? Yeah, while I was learning to use my psychic powers and being broody. Anyway, he’s back.”

And then there’s Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series where I’m told there is no real beginning. I really want to bust in to that one, but the whole thing scares me to death. I’m told Color of Magic is the first, but then I’m told to read Mort or The Wyrd Sisters to start. I think every different Discworld fan has their favorites to beginning. Is there a wrong answer? Kind of. What if the first one I pick I don’t like so I don’t want to try the next? I have quite the TBR, I don’t have time for books or series I don’t like.

As I said, it’s harder these days to catch me, but it does happen. I’ll pick something up and forget to check Goodreads or be in a place where I can’t check like at a library book sale where speed is important. There will be a online sale on the last book in a trilogy so I’ll have to go back and hopefully not pay full price for the first one just to see if I like it.

I don’t have the rule of some people that the series must be finished for me to start it, however. That’s probably from the days of not having a wide reading range. I read what I could get my hands on and a lot of the time the books I liked were in ongoing series.

Now I actually have only a few series that I’m following. Most have already wrapped up or I abandoned them. I have a few UF’s that are floating around and some others that I’m not sure are going to be series or just trilogies. We’ll see.

Do you have any rules about reading at the beginning of a series? Or do you just drop in?

January Book Club Favorites

I’ve written before that I am in a book club that is comprised of ladies who read speculative fiction by ladies. I thought it would be fun, since we have such a broad range of interests to see what their favorite book they read this month. January’s book club pick was The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers. Technically it was also December’s pick, but the holidays got us all busy and we thought it was a novella due to an article we found (it is most definitely not). We all mostly enjoyed it even with some of the shortcomings that we agreed on (summary: not enough conflict, but fun and full of feels).

Dare to Disappoint: Growing up in Turkey by Ozge Samanci. At first I was drawn in by the slice-of-life in a country I find fascinating but know little about, but by the end everything tied into a powerful and universal message. I will be lending and rereading this one a lot. – Juniper (Twitter: @JuniperNichols)

 The Best American Essays 2015, edited by Ariel Levy. I would really love to have dinner with each of these essayists, which I think maybe sums up my experience with this book – what a group of minds and perspectives. The essays were thoughtful and often beautifully subtle, with great touches of humor, and they really hit on topics that I wanted to hear about. –Anie (Twitter: @diapasoun)

 All The Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders. Charlie Jane Anders’s mastery of language is incredible. She drops you into an incredibly lush and wildly imaginative world, one I wanted to live in for much longer than the book lasted…At its heart, it is a story of relationships. The disparate yet similar forces of nature and technology, past and future, and, most importantly, between two people marked by childhood as they attempt to survive and live in our strange world. –Ivy

As for me:

American Housewife by Helen Ellis. This book made me chortle most unladylike. From the Book Club chapter to the story about the woman whose husband is “The Fitter,” someone who can fit you to the perfect bra, the tongue-in-cheek asides about what being a “housewife” were hilarious and smart. My favorite is a passive aggressive email exchange between two women sharing a common hallway between their apartments.


What was your favorite book of January?

TBR Shelf February: Shorts Stories and Essays

As you know, I’m really fond of theme reading. It clears my bookshelves and helps me get some genres read that I’ve been meaning to try. This month I thought I’d jump on my short story and essay collections. I have been accumulating them apparently. I’m going to try for the ones I own and if I get through those I’ll reach out to what I have on Scribd and get some recommendations from you guys (throw them in the comments, I’ll try to get to them). I read 34 books in January and I don’t think I have that many essay/short story collections on my shelf so it’s possible. I’m not only reading these, since The Queen of the Night by Alexander Chee is coming out tomorrow! (Side note: This took all my willpower not to capitalize all of that and add all the exclamation points.)

Here’s my physical shelf.

  • Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights by Salman Rushdie
  • Trigger Warning by Neil Gaimain
  • Nocturne by Kazuo Ishiguro
  • The Lottery and Other Stories by Shirley Jackson
  • Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri
  • When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris
  • Naked by David Sedaris
  • Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
  • Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls by David Sedaris
  • How to be a Heroine: Or What I’ve Learned by Reading Too Much by Samantha Ellis
  • Ghost Summer by TananariveDue (also my horror pick for my Read Harder Challenge)

On my digital shelf

  • Beyond Belief: The Secret Lives of Women in Extreme Religions edited by Cami Ostman (my religion pick for #readharder)
  • Dear Mr. You by Mary-Louise Parker
  • A Manual for Cleaning Women: Selected Stories by Lucia Berlin
  • Bitchfest: Ten Years of Cultural Criticism from the Pages of Bitch Magazine edited by Lisa Jervis (possibly my #readharder feminist pick)
  • Haroun and the Sea of Stories by Salman Rushdie
  • Dangerous Books for Girls: The Bad Reputation of Romance Novels Explained by Maya Rodale

Do you have any recommendations for me? Read any of these? Any I should read sooner than the others? Talk to me, people!