Yes, yes, I know what you’re thinking: first a tag and now a meme will wonders never cease?
The answer is yes, probably, but in the meantime I’ll be doing the Top 5 Wednesday thing, because I own tons of lesser-known books and you might need them in your face.
Thankfully, this week’s topic started me off gently:
Books I Want to Reread
Generation V by M. L. Brennan
Fortitude Scott’s life is a mess. A degree in film theory has left him with zero marketable skills, his job revolves around pouring coffee, his roommate hasn’t paid rent in four months, and he’s also a vampire. Well, sort of. He’s still mostly human.
But when a new vampire comes into his family’s territory and young girls start going missing, Fort can’t ignore his heritage anymore. His mother and his older, stronger siblings think he’s crazy for wanting to get involved. So it’s up to Fort to take action, with the assistance of Suzume Hollis, a dangerous and sexy shape-shifter. Fort is determined to find a way to outsmart the deadly vamp, even if he isn’t quite sure how.
But without having matured into full vampirehood and with Suzume ready to split if things get too risky, Fort’s rescue mission might just kill him.…
It’s been a few years since I last read Generation V, but I pretty much loved it. Fort’s not your average paranormal protagonist; he’s a twenty-something with an expensive degree, an uncertain future, and some fairly significant identity and family issues. He doesn’t go around kicking ass so much as trying not to get his own ass handed to him on a plate. Heck yes!
Also to love: it’s set in Rhode Island, the state I love above all other states (sorry, Texas). Also also to love: Fort’s family is the paranormal mafia. Give me more paranormal mafia, I have a need.
Winter of Fire by Sherryl Jordan
Elsha was born in a world of fire and darkness, a child of the Quelled. The Quelled are a branded people, doomed always to mine coal to warm the ruling class, the Chosen.
But Elsha has strange visions and a strength of spirit that sets her apart. Condemned to death on her sixteenth birthday for her defiance, Elsha is saved when she is called to be Handmaiden to the Firelord, the first Quelled female ever to be so honored. The Firelord is the most powerful being on earth, the only one with the gift for finding the coal vital to warm a dark world trapped forever in icy winter.
As Elsha learns from the Firelord the ways of her new and dangerous world, her visions grow stronger, and so do her powers—powers that could change the world…
I edited the synopsis above, because in its original form it gives away literally the entire story. Winter of Fire is one of those much-beloved childhood reads that may or may not hold up to rereading now that I’m an adult. After all, I’ve since been fairly well buried alive by dystopians featuring exaggeratedly segregated haves and have-nots, and chosen have-not girls who rise up and try to use their super-special abilities to knock some sense into everybody.
But when I was ten, all of these clichés were sparkly and new to me, and my mind was blown. I have fond memories of weeping over it, and would love to see if can still wrest tears from my ancient, jaded tearducts.
Hawksong by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes
Danica Shardae an avian shapeshifter, and the golden hawk’s form in which she takes to the sky is as natural to her as the human one that graces her on land. The only thing more familiar to her is war: It has raged between her people and the serpiente for so long, no one can remember how the fighting began. As heir to the avian throne, she’ll do anything in her power to stop this war—even accept Zane Cobriana, the terrifying leader of her kind’s greatest enemy, as her pair bond and make the two royal families one.
Trust. It is all Zane asks of Danica—and all they ask of their people—but it may be more than she can give.
I first picked up Hawksong because (a) it was fairly short, (b) the whole marrying-your-sexy-terrifying-enemy thing was appealing, and (c) the plot didn’t sound complicated—just what I wanted for a day spent uncomfortably idling in airports while traveling across the country. And holy crap did I tear through this book.
You’ll note my copy is an omnibus edition, containing all five of the novels in the series. Of those, I’ve read the first, uh, three? I read them all in the same mindset as the first: looking for something fun that didn’t take much attention to enjoy, and they fit the bill beautifully.
Please, god, let Hawksong hold up to more attentive rereading, and let the series conclude strongly. I’ve been so good.
The Silver Wolf by Alice Borchardt
Into decadent Rome of the Dark Ages comes Regeane, an enigmatic young woman distantly related to Charlemagne. But the blood she has inherited from her murdered father makes her much more than a child of royalty. Regeane is a shapeshifter—woman and wolf, hunter and hunted—possessed of preternatural agility and strength, primal memories extending back thousands of years, and senses so keen they can pierce the veil of death itself.
Betrothed to a barbarian lord she has never seen, Regeane is surrounded by enemies. But outside the gates of Rome, baying at the moon, there is a mysterious dark wolf whose scent awakens the animal in Regeane. Now, as deadly plots tighten like a noose around her neck, Regeane must fight to live with dignity as the proud creature she is: civilized and savage, partaking of both, yet infinitely more than either . . .
So back when I was a tween and teen, YA wasn’t the enormous and popular thing it is now, so I did what any nerd would do: I devoured every adult fantasy available to me. The Silver Wolf hit three of my not-terribly-discerning sweet spots: a heroine who’s also an animal, a historical setting, and not-too-slow political intrigue. There’s romance, too, but my stance on romance was typically, Yes, fine, but get back to the magic and swords and stuff. I don’t remember it being as blatantly erotic as the synopsis makes it sound. (Selective memory, maybe? Uh.)
That’s to say: this book is a vague enjoyable fog in my memory, and it might in fact be terrible. I’ll keep you posted.
And, saving the best for last:
Fishbones by Jisuk Cho
In a world where the school day ends and target practice begins, Ferris walks the fine line between average teenager and criminal accomplice, facing both the challenges of youth and the grim consequences of being best friend to the youngest son of the hometown mob.
A few confessions here:
- That synopsis, uh, needs to be reworked. Possibly with a sledgehammer. It doesn’t do the story justice, at all.
- I’ve followed Cho’s work for about ten years now, and had the absolute joy of reading Fishbones chapter by chapter as it was being written.
wasam obsessed with this story. Like, I wrote fanfiction, collected related art, and was part of a Fishbones play-by-post RPG with Cho and some fellow fans. And I miss all of it, every second. It was glorious.
- This book (and everything peripheral to it) will always have a treasured place in my heart, don’t even question it, I’ll fight you.
- It’s entirely possible I won’t be able to write an impartial review of this book, I love it so.
So here’s the deal. Demos (who bears a striking personality resemblance to beloved Prince Laurent of Vere, FYI) is an up-and-coming heir of the mafia in the fictional New England town of Southport—and through him, his sidekick/the book’s protagonist, Ferris (nerdy, slightly grumpy, Jewish, and wholly devoted to Demos) is drawn deeper into the morality-greying criminal underworld. All of this while, you know, also dealing with bullies and romantic issues and parental expectations. The usual teen stuff, just with murder.
This book scratches so many of my itches, I don’t can’t even tell you.
Cho is currently in the process of remaking the story into a comic (start reading it here!), and holy fuck book two is being written right now oh my god I have to go I must reread Fishbones and catch up on book two immediately I am the worst fan ever how did I not know book two was being written
who even am I oh god
Oh yeah, it’s holiday season, and I’ll be out doing (here’s another one of those wonders that will eventually cease) actual non-book-related things for the next week or so. I might have a few minutes here and there to collapse in front of my laptop, but I’ll be slow in replying to comments and your posts.
Also: for those of you who’ll be spending time with family who have, shall we say, opposing political and moral views from yourself, I highly recommend that you check out this video, in which Lindsay Ellis offers excellent tips for surviving and engaging with your family. (You’ll remember Ellis; she was part of the genius behind the YA paranormal romance parody novel that I mini-reviewed recently: Awoken. Go, read it. It’s great.)
See you in a week-ish,