The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: Squirrel Meets World by Shannon & Dean Hale

squirrelI’ve really enjoyed the Unbeatable Squirrel Girl comics, so I was SUPER PSYCHED when I saw that Shannon and Dean Hale were writing a sanctioned novel about Squirrel Girl. I love all of Shannon Hale’s works, including Rapunzel’s Revenge and Calamity Jack (graphic novel fractured fairy tale retelling), and I knew that she would be the perfect author to write a full novel of Squirrel Girl.
This did. not. disappoint.  SG was witty and charming and so funny and eager. I loved how much backstory this novel gave me and how it really flushed out the character for me. A great origin story, if you will. And explaining her tail and everything I’d wondered about.
I had truly forgotten that as she’s part of Marvel there is some funny interplay with the Avengers. SG’s texts with them and fandom (Thor! Black Widow!) are hilarious.
So here in this novel we have SG, new in town, meeting her new bff, Ana Sofia, and  doing some sleuthing to find out what was up with all the bad stuff happening in town, and coming into her own as a superhero.
This was just all around terrific good fun and I sure hope they are working on more.

The President’s Vampire by Christopher Farnsworth

vampireThis probably seems like a book I wouldn’t read, but I loved it. I really liked the first one and just recently remembered it and saw this sequel was on the shelf at the library and grabbed it. After reading The Rocks, which was like an elegant multi-course meal that I savored and enjoyed for a long time with all kinds of nuances and flavors, this was like sitting on the couch greedily consuming a whole bag of Doritos. Nothing subtle, slow, or elegant about it. But deeply enjoyable and satisfying. Some people (not me) might even say kind of trashy. It was super. Were you a fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer? Then read this. Do you like conspiracy theories? Read this. Do you like a fast paced book that you can read in two days and don’t have to think about? Read this.
What I found so interesting about this (and liked) is that this isn’t just some kind of horror (which I don’t read) gore fest for no reason. In this sequel the President’s Vampire, Nathaniel Cade, and his handler Zack, are facing just the latest threat to America, a horrific supernatural fighting machine. And it’s not some isolated occurrence-it all has to do with arms deals, the Middle East, shadow government, and all kinds of stuff that gets in your head a bit and makes you start to wonder about some of the horrors of the world (though it’s doubtful reptilian humans are behind it for real.) One of the things like I about the way this is written is that Cade has lived through many presidents, so there are often references to what really happened during other administrations (i.e., who shot JFK and why.)
It’s all told with a sense of humor and bit of fun, which makes any of the gorey action easy to handle.

Evil Librarian by Michelle Knudsen

evilIt’s hard to believe the same author that wrote this hilarious novel also wrote Library Lion, a picture book that gets me teary every time I read it aloud.

Reading this was like watching several episodes of Buffy in a row-perhaps a half season long arc. It was super. I visualized this entire story taking place inside my alma mater.  There’s a new high school librarian and although he’s really attractive, Cynthia finds it odd that her best friend Annie is so into him.  When she meets him herself she senses something really strange. Not long after that she sees that other strange things are happening. This had the classic set up of the protagonist and her crush being the only two people who put together the clues that something bad is happening and have to figure out how to stop it. In this case, it’s that the librarian is a demon who wants to siphon off the life essence from all the students so he can get ultra-powerful.
Not too gory or horrifying, and with that wonderful Buffy feeling of even the villains have really funny lines. I really enjoyed this and surely hope there is a sequel to this.

Recommended for people who liked Hold Me Closer, Necromancer (and vice versa)

Necromancing the Stone by Lish McBride

necro2A sequel to Hold Me Closer, Necromancer-I was so happy to find that there was one that I had to read this (almost) right away.  Picking up shortly after the first book ended, Sam is settling in to his new digs-the creepy magical mansion that the evil Douglas had lived in.  He’s inherited not just the building, but all the gnomes, minotaur, and living statues that come with it, including James. Slave? House boy? Companion? Adopted child? That actually gets covered a lot more in this book. James also gets a lot of funny details about his role as housekeeper as Sam and his friends move in and mess up his perfect house. I’m not giving anything away by telling you that it turns out Douglas has invoked some kind of spell to come back from the dead and wreak havoc. It’s up to Sam to find him and stop him.  Sam is also trying to adjust to his new role on the Council, and help keep the peace in Brid’s pack.

I loved this sequel-really enjoyed the same aspects as in the first-creepy but not scary, mostly just funny, a delightful clash of worlds. This so often reminds me of the tv show reaper (but it’s better!)

Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride

[Hub Reading Challenge, PPYA]

necromancerDespite being tickled pink by this title and hearing great things about this book, it’s yet another that I just never got around to reading before now. So thanks, reading challenge for having it be a title this year, because I’m so glad I read this finally.

Sam is living a typical unfocused young adult life-college didn’t work out, he’s working fast food, he has a dinky apartment, and some good friends (Brooke, Frank, and Ramon.)  But then one day a creepy guy exuding power walks into Plumpy’s and everything changes.  The sinister guy has his sights set on Sam, who can’t figure out why and ends up being attacked in the parking lot. As if that’s not enough, the following day Brooke’s beheaded talking head is delivered to him. For real.  Werewolves, necromancers, and other not quite human people apparently are a part of Seattle Sam never knew about and for good reason. His witch mother (what? My mom’s a witch?!) knew he was a necromancer and hid his magic from him. But now the evil guy, also a necromancer, has sensed Sam’s latent powers and wants to eliminate him.

This was smart, funny, creepy but not scary, and I just loved it.  An excellent several years pre-cursor to shows like Grimm (and reminds me a bit of the short-lived show Reaper.)

And, in a rare comment from me, I hope there’s a sequel because I’d love to read more about Sam and his friends! And since Goodreads calls this #1, I assume there is another for me to go put on hold right now.

The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson

madnessI loved The Name of the Star so much when I read it last year that you’d think I would have been more on top of a sequel coming out. This came out months and months ago! That’s ok, I’m kind of at the point now where I don’t read things as they come out and get to them when I get to them. I gave this 5 stars, though I do have a couple of things that I didn’t love-namely that this felt more like part of a trilogy, whereas the first book felt very stand alone (except the last chapter which set it up as having subsequent novels), and that what I thought was being set up as the central mystery of the novel just sort of faded away. So either that all got a bigger part of the book than it deserved, or it will return in the next book. Also, I think with many books, and Johnson’s in particular, the main character is just more funny and witty than frankly anyone I’ve ever known in my life. But I feel that way about every character in books, tv, and movies, so no points off for that, and besides I like Rory.

Picking up not long after the first book finished Rory is trying to cope with the aftermath of her encounter with the Ripper, her knowledge of ghosts, and her separation from her new friends who know the truth about all of that.  A murder makes Rory think that perhaps during her encounter with the Ripper some conduit was opened to the spirit world, unleashing crazy ghosts. This book is very much about what happens next for Rory.  As I write that and think about it it makes the book sound not so great, but truly I was extremely caught up in it, read it very quickly, and found it exciting. Although any reader will catch on a million times faster than Rory did to the person who is not all she seems to be.

Small spoiler alert:



The ending was a dramatic surprise, and I think will set up a bit of a Pushing Daisies theme in the next book.

The Diviners by Libba Bray

(Hub Reading Challenge: BFYA)

divinersI’ve had this book anchoring my bedside table for almost a year now. Having it be on the Reading Challenge list was the kick I needed to pick it up. This book is huge-coming in at over 550 pages.  And the thing is, I don’t think it needed to be that long. The book is about a girl in the 1920s who has a supernatural gift, she is a “diviner.” Due to some trouble in her small town, Evie is sent to Manhattan to stay with her uncle, a bachelor who runs a museum of the supernatural and occult along with his hunky mysterious assistant, Jericho.  Evie is hot to experience all that 1920s Manhattan has to offer-speakeasies, gin, flapper dresses, loose morals, and jazz (insert jazz hands here.) Her swanky new friend Theta, a Ziegfeld Follies girl, aids and abets her, while her straight laced friend Mabel tut-tuts.  A horrendous murder kicks the mystery off.  Soon, it is a string of murders that seem to have something to do with the occult-weird brandings and sacrifices are present.  Uncle Will, Jericho, and Evie begin investigating. Then there are all the other diviner character, like Memphis and his brother Isaiah.

This was definitely an engaging, if too long, story.  However, if this was a movie I would never in a million years see it.  Occult-supernatural-horror-grisly? Not for me. In fact, all the murders were way too scary for me. But, I soldiered on. I wish this was a stand alone book, and I think it could have been. But, like all things these days, it’s #1 of presumably a trilogy. And if the other books are this long I probably won’t read them. The world of the 1920s is very fully detailed and realized-almost a little too much.  It’s clearly well researched, but I felt that it seemed like the author was going down her big list of details about the 1920s and making sure to include a song title, historical figure, slang phrase, wardrobe detail, etc. on every other line.

The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

Hub Reading Challenge: PPYA

starI’ve known about this book for quite a long time and even attended the studio recording of the audiobook. And yet, I just wasn’t interested in reading it. I’ve had it checked out for a month and only somewhat unwillingly picked it up yesterday morning because I thought I should give it a try. Well. Apparently I just didn’t know what this book was all about because it was fantastic. I have an hour’s time this afternoon while I wait for my daughter in dance class and I couldn’t even save it for then. I had to just spend the morning reading it until it was done because I was so caught up in it.

The first thing that made this so compelling was the fact that it’s set in a boarding school! Present day, London. Rory has moved there from New Orleans and is going to spend a year there while her parents are on sabbatical.  Just as she arrives and is dealing with fitting in a murder occurs that mimics the first murder of Jack the Ripper. A second soon follows and the city is caught up in copycat Jack the Ripper panic. I’ll pause here to say that Rory becomes involved and it’s a great thriller and I totally recommend it. If you don’t mind spoilers scroll on down past picture and I’ll tell some details that might explain it better. Otherwise, just take my word for it, enjoy the photo, and go check this book out of the library (and p.s. the cover was one of the things that turned me off. I hope it’s better in the paperback version.)
Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens

OK, so what I didn’t know that made the book completely exciting was that due to a near death experience the first night at school Rory can see ghosts. And it turns out that she’s not the only one-that others who can are part of a super secret, denied by the government, but run by them, organization. Ghost police, if you will. And without realizing she was seeing a ghost, Rory saw the murderer who is terrorizing London and becomes involved with this ghost squad in trying to stop him before he kills his next target, who is Rory herself.
This was an exciting and suspenseful mystery. The supernatural element was not totally crazy. There’s some historical stuff in there, which was nice, and there were loads of the type of boarding school details that I just eat up.
Really great.

Soulless by Gail Carriger

Doesn’t this book have a great cover? The whole time I was reading it Tabby kept picking it up and calling it “the story where it is not raining and she has an umbrella.”  Indeed, Miss Alexia Tarabotti does rely upon her brass tipped parasol not so much for rain protection, but for dealing firmly with unwanted advances and the like.  That isn’t to say that men are courting her left and right-she is basically a spinster and is “cursed” with an Italian heritage and dark complexion.  No, no one is expecting her to marry. That is destined for her silly blond younger half sisters. Besides, Miss Tarabotti has another strike against her, though this one is much less known-she is a preternatural.  That is, she was born without a soul.  As such she can touch those supernatural beings (werewolves and vampires), rendering them back to their human state as long as she is in physical contact with them. Yes, in this Victorian world vampires and werewolves are an established part of society and they do not prey upon humans.  It is all exceptionally civilized and everyone follows the strict rules of society.   When the story opens Miss Tarabotti has just been beset upon by a vampire, which is so highly unusual that immediately the Alpha werewolf who works for BUR (the govement agency regulating all this supernatural stuff) is on the scene.  Alexia and the guy, whose name escapes me, begin investigating a series of similar bizarre incidents and find themselves caught up in quite a dangerous situation, but all the while romantic and sexual tensions build between them.
This very much reminded me of Buffy-funny and sexy and supernatural.  And, as it was combined with prissy Victorian society things it was especially appealing to me.  It definitely did not seem like a first book as there were many references to prior events, but apparently it is.  Not only that, but there are three more books following this one, which I will definitely be reading!