Necromancers, Time Travel and Boozing Writers: My Recent Reads

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While I’ve always read a lot, it’s gotten insane now working in a library. I’m surrounded by books all day and can pretty much read about anything on a whim. I’m usually reading at least three nonfiction books at once, some faster than others. Meanwhile, fiction I tend to keep at the most two at a time, one at work and one at home. And maybe I’ll have a poetry book or short story collection I pick up randomly. (I’ve been reading a zombie anthology for at least a year now.)

Since I’m horrible at updating my Goodreads account or actually planning out full reviews to do I’ll be adding a round up here a couple times of year for the books that stood out.

My YA streak

Slayer by Kiersten White–Set in the Buffy-verse; not exactly sure of timeline but it takes place well after the show and includes events from the graphic novels. All potential slayers have been activated, watchers council destroyed, and the end of magic on earth. The few surviving watchers struggle to figure out what to do next while the next generation faces the future head on. While it’s a totally new story with new characters it has a very famliar feel to it. It includes the sarcastic quips, witty insults, and goofy slang we come to expect from slayers and supporting characters.

Hold Me Closer Necromancer by Lish McBride– This was a fun modern fantasy/horror. It includes your supernatural regulars werewolves, witches, fey, and of course necromancers. The story centers on Sam LaCroix who is completely unaware of his own supernatural nature until he meets Douglas Montgomery, a seriously bad guy. What I really love about this book was the characters. They are all very unique, entertaining and sympathetic. Even the villains have a charm to them. I will soon be devouring the second book in the series, which at the moment is the last. I hope there are more to come.

Feed by M.T. Anderson–Future society where you can vacation on the moon, suburbs are built on top of each other, forest are torn down to build air factories, and people are connected to the web 24/7 through an implant; rich boy meets poor girl they both learn how different their lives are. The thing that tripped me out most about the book was the parents talking the same way the kids do, using the same slang and displaying immature attitudes. It just seemed creepy. Otherwiseit’s a really intersting concept and while still being entertaining the book still deals with some pretty heavy morality issues.

The Grin in the Dark by J.A Dark–Okay technically this is a children’s book. It was on my list to read because it was one of few that came up when searching for clown horror. And for a kids book, it’s pretty damn scary. Teenager Hamid Abdi is babysitting his little cousins during a bad storm while the police search for an escaped convict. If that’s not scary enough there might also be a clown hiding somewhere in the house.

Horror/Fantasy/SciFi

In the House in the Dark of the Woods by Laird Hunt–I really liked this book even though I can’t be exactly sure what happened. It’s a twisted fairy tale for grownups about a woman lost in the woods. In her travels, she meets some of the inhabitants of the forest who lead her on an adventure. It starts off simple pretty straightforward, maybe just a little odd, by the end you are questioning reality, but in a good way. As long as you don’t mind a little confusion I would totally recommend this book.

Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker–At first glance this might seem very similar to Sleeping Beauties, which was why I picked it up in the first place. However, it is a very different story. The sleeping disease first appears on a college campus which leads to the small surrounding town being quarenteened. It can affect anybody, man, woman, young old, etc., and it an lead to death in more ways than one. The book takes us through the events on the campus and the town during the epidemic.

Hazards of Time Travel by Joyce Carol Oates–This is another really trippy concept. A future dystopian United States where asking questions in a valedictorian speech is punishable by exile. Adriane Strohl is sent to the year 1959 to serve out her four year excile in a small Winsconson college.

Suspicious Minds: The First Official Stranger Things Novel by Gwenda Bond–This is the perfect read to gear up for the new season soon to be released. Essentially, the novel is a prequel to the series. In the novel, a group of students participate in a research study with the infamous Dr. Brenner. The main character and one of the students is Terry Ives, Eleven’s mother. Eventually, becoming suspicious of Brenner’s true intent they hatch a plan to stop him. Definitely a must read if you are a fan of the show.

Nonfiction

Creating From the Spirit : Living Each Day as a Creative Act by Dan Wakefield–This book is a pretty damn good guide to living a creative life. It discusses many of the myths people believe about writers and other artists. Most of these myths include self destructive and unhealthy behaviors and habits. He debunks these myths and discusses healthy ways to encourage your creativity. Reading this made me evaluate myself, especially bad habits I excuse in the name of my creativity.

The Thirsty Muse: Alcohol and the American Writer by Tom Dardis–The book focuses on four famous writers who embodied and reinforced the hard drinking writer stereotype. It was mentioned in the previous book and piqued my curiosity. It details and examines the role of alcohol in the writing of Faulkner, Fitzgerald, Hemingway and O’Neill. It’s a pretty interesting read and a good cautionary tale for those that think drugs or alcohol will help their creativity.

One Last One

High Heat by Richard Castle–I’ve read a couple of books in the series and they are usually quick and fun reads. I don’t expect much from a book written by a fictional character, but this one was just not good. The story focuses too much on a subplot about Nikki Heat’s mother instead of the central case. Which is likely because the case is so unoriginal and totally predictable. I spent most of the book yelling in my head at the characters for being so stupid. I think I’m done with these books.

These are just a small sample of books from the past couple of months. Let me know in the comments if you’ve read any and how you liked them. If not let me know what books you would recommend.

My Latest Obsession: The Verse Novel

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Obviously I’m familiar with the concept of narrative poetry.  Just like many others I was forced to study Homer’s epics in various literature classes over the years. I’ve also attempted and failed several times to tackle Dante’s Divine Comedy. However, the modern verse novel doesn’t seem to have the same notoriety. In fact it wasn’t until recently that I even knew they existed, much less read any. Now I can’t seem to get enough of them.

The most interesting thing I found looking into the genre is that it appears to be a growing trend in young adult literature. In fact, that’s where my obsession began. I happened to pick up a used copy of Ellen Hopkins Crank. When I bought the book I had no idea that it was actually targeted towards teens. I was a bit surprised because of the very adult topics and it’s graphic depictions. It tells the story of a young girl’s addiction to crystal meth. However, being written from a teenagers point of view and the simplistic style of the poetry, I can see how it appeals to younger readers. Hopkins has published several more verse novels including sequels to Crank. All targeted at teens, they take on difficult subjects such as sex trafficking, drug addiction and mental illness. Her simplistic poetry style makes it a pretty easy read.

The next book I enjoyed was Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds. Another YA book highlighting a difficult issue that can face teens The main character Will is dealing with the grief of his brother’s violent death. The narrative takes place as he descends the elevator of his apartment building on his way to get revenge. On each floor he meets somebody that was part of the cycle of violence that led to his brothers death. The story is incredibly gripping, and I’m fairly certain I finished it in one day.

I promise this is the last YA book. Sister Slam and The Poetic Motormouth Road Trip by Linda Oatman-High was actually my least favorite so far. It definitely felt more like a book intended for a younger audience. It’s a lot lighter in tone and theme. At first I wasn’t sure I would like it at all. It seemed very juvenile, in style and content. It’s a bit silly but that ended up making it a pretty fun read. In it we meet two recent high school graduates who dream of becoming famous slam poets. Their road trip begins with a poetry slam contest in New Jersey and the adventure continues to New York City. The story itself is ridiculous but the rhythm and rhymes really pulled me in.

My latest read was one of the few adult verse novels I could find available at the my library, The Golden Gate by Vikram Seth. Just looking at the first page I realized this was going to be very different. The YA authors played around with form and style. And for the most part, excluding Sister Slam, were written in free verse. Golden Gate on the other hand is written in a consistent form of sonnets in iambic tetrameter with a set rhyme scheme. It makes it no less enjoyable to read, but due to it’s style and much longer length it definitely not a quick read.  I’ve rather been enjoying the slower pace of action. The novel mainly revolves around John and Liz, a couple who met through a personal ad. The narrative then follows a eclectic group of characters connected to the couple.

I’d love to hear back about your opinions on verse novels. I will be on the lookout for new reads in the genre. Actually I already have my next one picked out Sharp Teeth by Toby Barlow. It’s about a pack of werewolves in LA, a supernatural horror verse novel. Now that sounds interesting. Leave a comment with your thoughts or any recommendations.