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Only two months late!  Improvement!  But seriously, it’s a long list this year and it was taking forever to compile them all, so I decided to break it down: young adult and children’s books in this post, adult fiction and non-fiction in the next post.  So here you go.  Hope you find something you like.

Young Adult

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

Strange the Dreamer (Strange the Dreamer, #1)Lazlo Strange was a war orphan, a nobody. But he had his dreams. He found his calling in the great library, and in his spare time he researched the lost and legendary city known only as Weep. Then, for the first time in hundreds of years, a convoy arrives from the lost city and it seems Lazlo may get his heart’s desire: to visit the city of Weep.

Meanwhile, above the lost city, five survivors of a massacre hide and plot revenge.

Another Laini Taylor story built of wonder, loss, fable, and dreams. I love that she says the dream chooses the dreamer, as I’ve always felt that way myself. Dreams give up on the dreamer, not the other way around, and some dreams refuse to die.

The Creeping Shadow by Jonathan Stroud


AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!! An amazing revelation at the end of this book!  A lot of little clues start to add up.  This is book four in a series so a summary won’t mean much if you haven’t read book one, The Screaming Staircase.  But basically if you like kids versus adults, ghosts, and adventure, this is a great series.


30724132Geekerella by Ashley Poston

Cinderella, the geek version. Cinder was a great retelling, but this is the version that was written just for girls like me. It has nearly everything I love: space opera, vegan food, lesbians, a fan convention, a buncha geeks, cosplay, a fairytale retelling, and a love story with an attractive, sensitive prince. If only there’d been a vampire unicorn too, but I guess you can’t have everything. 🙂 Anyway, If you like the stuff I like, this book is for you.


23299512This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab

Kate and August live in a near future where acts of violence spawn monsters. August lives with the Flynns, who run one side of V City, and Kate’s father owns the other side. At the moment, the city exists under an awkward truce, but everyone knows it can’t last.

A dark urban fantasy full of new kinds of monsters. Kate’s ferocity offsets August’s kindness, and each of them is trying desperately to be something that they are not. I really enjoyed the characters, the world, and some of the twists the plot took.

29236380Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow

An unflinching story about loss, self harm, addiction, and ultimately hope. And it takes place in Tucson! I found myself driving down Fourth Avenue trying to find the approximate location of the fictional coffeehouse, Grit.
Charlie Davis was only 17 when she found herself with nothing left, and nowhere to go. She was living on the street until she landed in the hospital, bleeding out. When the hospital realized that Charlie’s wounds were all self inflicted, they sent her to a mental ward; but her story doesn’t end there. Charlie’s struggle continues outside the hospital as she tries to put herself and her life back together.

Children’s Books

542688Chip Wants a Dog by William Wegman

Weirdest. Book. EVAR. And I loved it. Chip wants a dog, but his parents won’t let him have one. And yes, that is Chip on the cover.  Spoiler alert, his parents also have Weimaraner heads. This is a beginning reader so it might be a little long for a younger storytime, but it’s silly enough that it could probably keep the attention of some older storytime kids.  Kids old enough to read this book sometimes find the total lack of logic difficult to follow, so they might need a little guidance to get the humor.  Or maybe your kids are weird enough that they’re fine with it.


I Will Not Eat You
by Adam Lehrhaupt

Noisy animals disturb Theodore in his cave, and he tries to decide if he should eat them. Fun and cute in a slightly twisted way 🙂


Here are my favorite adult reads in 2016.  Only 6 months late 🙂  Hope you find something you like.


20696006Being Mortal by Atul Gawande

A doctor writes about both his professional and personal experience with people facing terminal illness, and discusses different approaches to dying. As a doctor he’s trained to fix problems, but when the problem is not fixable, what then? Should patients spend small fortunes on treatments that may or may not extend their lives, suffering terrible side effects and giving them false hope? Should they do nothing at all? And what about those who are not technically dying, but too ill to care for themselves? What does research and experience tell us about how to spend our final days?

This is a book for everyone. We are all mortal, all dying one minute at a time. And so are our friends, our family, and everyone we love(dark, I know). This is a book about how to deal with the practical and medical problems of facing the inevitable.


26072609The Rainbow Comes and Goes by Anderson Cooper and Gloria Vanderbilt

A conversation between Anderson Cooper and his mother, Gloria Vanderbilt. It’s fascinating to hear Gloria Vanderbilt, 91 at the time, talk about her privileged but lonely childhood, and her tumultuous youth. She reflects on the life she was born into, and how it influenced her decisions, while Anderson Cooper reflects on how her life in turn affected his own. The point of the conversation was to deepen their relationship and understanding of each other as parent and child, and inspire others to do the same. I think they succeeded.




David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell

Malcolm Gladwell on advantages, disadvantages, and how sometimes they are not what they seem. Fascinating, as always.






You’re Never Weird on the Internet(Almost) by Felicia Day

Fantastic biography, especially if you get the audio because it’s read by Felicia herself! I loved hearing about her weird childhood, her anxiety and insecurities, and how she began working on The Guild. She’s infinitely relatable in her enthusiasm for all things geeky, her frequent moments of mortification, her hopes and her fears. It’s all in there, including her struggles with gaming addiction, depression, and Gamergate. When I finished, I just wanted to hug her and thank her for sharing such personal memories. I have a great empathy and respect for anyone who can acknowledge that they are struggling with mental illness, get help and recover, and then share their story despite all the social stigma. Felicia, I adore you more now than ever.



Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson

This was probably the best book I read all year.  If you or anyone you care about has suffered from mental illness of any kind, you should read this book. And if you don’t know anyone who has suffered from mental illness, then either you don’t know that many people, or more likely, they’re just afraid to tell you. Basically, I’m saying you should read this book. Jenny tells funny personal stories about her strange life and her experiences with depression, anxiety, and other disorders. But she also talks about how mental illness lies to you, tries to hurt you, and promotes a wonderful idea: if depression can make you sink low enough to want to die, then maybe you also have the capacity to rise to the height of being crazy with joy too. She wants to spite her depression by being furiously happy. I love this idea(and this book), and I’ve tried to incorporate furiously happy into my own life.  I’ve had ballgown themed birthday parties, kissed people just because I wanted to, wore a dinosaur hat at work, and just generally tried to be unrestrained with things that make me happy.  It doesn’t solve anything, but I’ve found it to be a useful tool in coping with depression.  Thank you, Jenny Lawson.



25735012Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith

This is book 3 in a series, and I love it, so I’m gonna list it even though it’s not the first one.  Get used to this.  Cormoran Strike and Robin are up against their first serial killer while Robin and Matthew’s wedding date looms… Once again, I wasn’t sure about the killer until Strike revealed his hand, but oh, the ending!  Gah!  I want the next one already.




16071701Bad Monkey by Carl Hiaason

A fisherman off the coast of Florida reels in a human arm flipping the bird.  A disgraced police detective demoted to restaurant inspector starts investigating, hoping to earn his badge back. A Bohemian fisherman and his spiteful pet monkey try to put a voodoo curse on a the white man who’s bought his family home out from under him. There’s also a sexy morgue doctor, a fugitive sex offender, a drunken voodoo hag, and a few unscrupulous land developers. Wackiness ensues. I love the crazy character back stories, including the monkey’s back story, and the way all the characters find that their paths cross in a satisfying ending.  A very fun read if you don’t mind a little crude humor.




Timeline by Michael Crichton

Classic Michael Crichton, and definitely one of his better stories. A big tech corporation funds a historical dig of a medieval castle while doing research on time travel. Then a history professor steps into the past and his graduate students must go back in time to get him. But of course, everything goes wrong, and they are caught between warring medieval factions with no way home…






Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman

Fat Charlie Nancy is easily embarrassed, gullible, and kind-hearted. He is also, unbeknownst to him, the son of Anansi, the spider trickster god. Then he gets word that his father has died, and learns of a brother he doesn’t remember, and everything starts to get weird.

This was touching, hilarious, mysterious, and filled with wonder, all of the things I love about Neil Gaiman.





Saga volume 6 by Brian K. Vaughn, illustrated by Fiona Staples

One again, a book that is pretty far into a series, but there’s nothing stopping you from going out and getting volume 1(and you should).  This volume made up for the sucker punch at the end of volume 5. Reunited with many of my favorite characters, and Hazel is finally old enough to begin speaking her mind.  Loved it.


Happy reading.

Only like 5 months late this time.  Improvement!  In an effort to put something out sooner, I’m posting this now, and I’ll post the adult books later.  It seems I finished off a few great series this year, so I’ve mentioned the first book in each series in the description.

Children’s Books

25745002Mother Bruce by Ryan T. Higgins

Bruce the bear accidentally becomes a mother. Very silly. Very cute. Good for storytime, with fun jokes for kids and parents.




23281865I’m Trying to Love Spiders By Bethany Barton

Great storytime book with lots of humor and actual information about spiders. Try to learn about spiders instead of squish them! Though I’m a little sad about all the spider squishing(because I DO actually love spiders), I’m just twisted enough to laugh.  It has lots of good opportunities for audience involvement too.




Nuts in Space by Elys Dolan

Captain Moose and his crew have obtained the Lost Nuts of Legend, and now all they have to do is get home. But they’re lost, and they’re very hungry! A silly combination picture book and graphic novel with jokes for kids and adults. Fans of Star Wars or Star Trek will especially enjoy.



I really want to eat a child by Sylviane Donnio, illustrated by Dorothee de Monfreid
A baby crocodile wants to eat a child. Funny and cute, and just a little twisted.  Good for storytime if the kids(and their parents) aren’t
too sensitive.




Teen Books



Winter by Marissa Meyer

A good ending to a great series. Can’t wait for the next book 🙂  Book one of the Lunar Chronicles is Cinder, a science fiction retelling of Cinderella where Cinderella is a Cyborg.  And just to up the ante, there’s also a deadly plague killing tons of people and an evil sorcereress queen.  Each successive book builds on the story by adding another fairy tale retelling.  Book two is Red Riding Hood, book three is Rapunzel, and this last book is Snow White.  Seeing how all the characters from all the books come together through fate and friendship, each one using their own unique skills to build a formidable team, is heartwarming.  I especially liked that Winter’s skill was her overwhelming kindness and empathy, and that she was stunningly beautiful even with her facial scars.  Kindness, empathy, and friendship are not often considered skills outside of children’s books, and I like that this series values them.



Stars Above by Marissa Meyer

If you like the Lunar Chronicles, this is a must read, if only for the short epilogue story at the end. A lot of the stories are back stories for the characters, but there are two new stories, and they’re both worth reading.






Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire

You know all those kids who stumble through doorways to other worlds like Oz and Wonderland? Ever wondered what happens when they come back to our world? Nancy’s family doesn’t understand and they think she’s crazy, so they send her to a special school. It turns out everyone else there has been to another world too. Nancy thinks she may have found a refuge, but then someone gets murdered…

This was a great little story, and it’s nominated for a Hugo.




Manners and Mutiny by Gail Carriger

A satisfying ending to a very fun series.  The first book is Etiquette and Espionage, and it’s a comedic, steampunk adventure about a girl’s finishing school that doubles as a spy school.  Highly recommended.  The audiobooks are especially good, partly because you don’t have to figure out how to pronounce some of the ridiculous names.




Dream Thieves, Blue Lily, Lily Blue, and The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater

The first book in this series is The Raven Boys.  I loved that first book, but didn’t get around to the second book, The Dream Thieves, for a couple years.  And then I just couldn’t stop.

The main characters are Blue, Gansey, Ronan, Adam, and Noah.  Blue is a girl raised in a house of women psychics, but who’s only psychic ability is to magnify the abilities of others.  Gansey is a rich prep school boy with a fascination for history, and an obsession with a legendary Welsh king.  Ronan is foul mouthed, perpetually angry, but fiercely loyal and truthful to a fault, and he has very unusual dreams.  Adam grew up in a trailer park with his abusive father and he works hard to be allowed to stay at the prep school with Gansey and Ronan, hoping to someday leave his small town life behind.  Noah is quiet and gentle, but has a very dark secret.

Living with psychics, Blue has always known that she will kill her true love with a kiss. When she sees Gansey’s future in a graveyard, she knows he will be dead within a year, and most likely he is the true love she’s destined to kill.  Completely unaware how little time he has, Gansey pursues the grave of the Welsh king Glendower, and the legend that whoever finds and wakes the king is granted a wish.  Ronan, Adam, Noah, and Blue are caught up in Gansey’s obsession, and consequently they’re pulled into the magic surrounding the search and the ruthless people who will do anything to control the magic themselves.

I love Maggie Stiefvater’s writing style, and I love how complex the characters are.  I truly care about what happens to them all.  I also like that the magic is dark and alien, and each book had at least one moment so creepy that I literally got goosebumps.  Some mysteries are solved, but many things remain strange and unknowable.  I was left with many questions at the end of The Raven King, but apparently Maggie Stiefvater will be writing a couple more books about these characters, so maybe I will get my answers eventually.  If not, I’m finding Maggie and asking her!


Because I work in a library, these may never stop coming.



Shalala, don’t stop now, don’t try to hide it, how you want to… KISS THE EARL!















#SexyMistakes!  Ok, not gonna lie, this is both ridiculous and awesome.  I might actually read this at some point.  I’d also kinda like to feel the need to use that hashtag at some point in my life.  Seems like an important mistake to make at least once in your life…












Why this one?  Because it reminds me of my friends, that’s why.
















Once again, I’m twelve.  And this book is called Mocha Dick.  Haha, dick.
















Honestly, I think it’s that earnest, adoring look on the lady’s face, combined with the pensive, confused look on the guy’s face.  And somehow I think this is supposed to be a romance?  I dunno, confusion isn’t super romantic for me.  And neither are Amish beards while we’re at it.20160107_175624













What?! You’re giving it away Macbeth, quit tweeting about your murder plot!  And hashtags, srsly?  lol

















Adorable, but deadly.  Look at his little face!  Just look at it!  I’d be super dead.




















It’s a chihuahua in a tiny sailor outfit driving a boat!  Can you stand it?!  And his name is Pepe!!

















I’m not actually surprised that this book exists.  Indeed, by all rights, it belongs in this world more than I do.  Mostly I’m just super entertained that my library system carries copies(plural) of it.  This is amazing.  Such times we live in that you can go to your public library and pick up a book of Star Trek alien philosophy on war.








But what deserves to exist even more than the Klingon Art of War book?  The scratch and sniff wine book of course!  I leafed through it, and yes, I sniffed. It describes in detail many types of wine and how to tell them apart by appearance and by smell.   Such a combination of sophisticated connoisseur and childish glee may never have existed in book form until now, and my library owns copies.  You’re welcome.  I would have checked this out if a co-worker hadn’t beaten me to it.



It’s taken long enough, I know.  I promise 2016 will not take as long… unless someone else dies and I get depressed and don’t do it.  But back on topic, hope you find something new and exciting here.

Children’s Books:

Tea RexTea Rex by Molly Idle

A little girl and her brother have a tyranosaurus rex over for tea. The text goes over tea time manners while the beautiful pictures tell the story. Hilarity ensues.



Nerdy Birdy by Aaron Reynolds

A picture book about the difficulties of fitting in.  Personally, fitting in has always been a struggle for me, so I found this heartwarming.



421063Santa Claws by Laura Leuk, illustrated by Gris Grimly

Children’s picture book about monsters and Christmas, illustrated by the amazing Gris Grimly.  Are you looking for a book that’s cute, but creepy?  Look no further.




Fortunately the Milk by Neil Gaiman

A short children’s novel about a father who has a wacky adventure while on the way to the store to get milk for his children’s cereal.  And it’s by Neil Gaiman.  ‘Nuff said.



17591892Monster on the Hill by Rob Harrell

A graphic novel about a world where each medieval town has a monster they are proud of.  Every town, that is, except for Stoker-on-Avon.



Teen Books:

17453303Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future by A.S. King

A strange story about a girl and her friend who drink a bat and gain the power to see both people’s past and future. How do you drink a bat? I’m not telling. As for the history of the future, it’s horrifying and compelling, but I can’t tell you much more than that. It’s a story about friendship and choices, despair and hope, truth and lies, art and life, and the connections between people, both past and future. And personally, I enjoy books that delve a little into what it’s like living with mental illness, as well as feminism. I can’t think of a better way to explain this book; you just have to read it.

10874177Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriger

Silly steampunk adventure about teenaged Sophronia, who is failing at being a proper lady. Her mother sends her away to a very unusual finishing school where she learns not only to be a lady, but also spying, poisoning, and a lot of other things she never expected. It takes place a generation before the Alexia Macon stories, so there are guest appearances of characters I recognized, but much younger. Fun fan service to see these characters in their youth.

14059024The Whispering Skull by Jonathan Stroud

Lucy, Lockwood, and George take on a seemingly normal case helping out a graveyard crew. But the body they unearth is more perilous than anticipated, and the people involved are just as dangerous as the ghosts. More banter, more scary ghosts, more adventure, and of course, a mystery.




20898019Ms Marvel No Normal by Willow G. Wilson

Part of being a teenager is dealing with being different, not fitting in.  And what I love about this version of Ms Marvel is that the girl is a muslim teenager living in New Jersey.  On top of all the normal teenage angst, she also has to deal with prejudice about her religion, and racism because she is of middle eastern heritage.  Plus, you know, super confusing new powers, and having a secret identity, as if things weren’t complicated enough already.


12813630The Coldest Girl in Cold Town by Holly Black

Holly Black wrote a vampire book.  That’s really all I needed to know, but if you need convincing, it’s about a teenage girl named Tana who wakes up after a house party to find that everyone else in the house has been massacred by vampires.  Everyone, that is, but her ex-boyfriend(of course) and one vampire who has been left behind by his companions to die.  But Tana’s ex is “cold” with the vampire infection, and she fears she may be too. Vampirism is treated as a communicable disease by the government, and “cold towns” have been established and quarantined for those infected.  Holly Black builds a rich world of quarantined concentration camps, prejudice, fear, reality television, and celebrity worship around a character who struggles with her own self destructive tendencies.


8490112Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Days of Blood and Starlight, and Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor

I completely tore through this whole series on a recommendation from a friend, Maryelizabeth, who owns Mysterious Galaxy in San Diego.  This is the story of Karou, a mysterious art student with blue hair(yo12812550u gotta have blue hair) and tattoos who draws monsters in her notebook.  What her friends don’t know is that the monsters are the only family she’s ever known.  The double life of a normal art student, and errand girl for monsters is a lonely one, and Karou is starting to get fed up with it all.  Then three angels with wings of fire begin marking magic doo13618440rs with handprints, and Karou’s life is about to literally burn down around her.  I love the amazing world that Laini Taylor has built, the characters she’s created, the drama and the humor, and the marvelous strangeness of it all. It’s a love story full of the worst kind of betrayals and loss, friendship and revenge, wishes and monsters and secrets, but a love story nonetheless.  And I love it.


Adult Books:

7235533The Way of Kings and Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson.

How does he do this?  The books are huge and daunting, but totally worth it, and with Sanderson, you know you won’t be waiting 10 years for the next one.  He builds an amazing world ravaged by magical storms, full of strange creatures, new religions, and characters you want to like because they all believe they are doing the right thing(even the bad ones).


17671993Injustice: Gods Among Us, years 1 and 2 by Tom Taylor

I don’t often read DC comics, but these are amazing, and dark, and really explore the line between good and evil, hero and villain.





 40102Outliers and Blink by Malcolm Gladwell

Fascinating research on becoming an expert, making snap decisions, and what makes successful people stand out from the crowd.  It gives you insight and perspective, like turning the Rubik’s cube of life around in your hands to examine from all angles.



91479Death Masks by Jim Butcher

I realize this is a single book partway through a series, but I don’t care, it was still one of my favorites from the last year, so it’s on the list.  Dresden is forced to confront the consequences of some of his mistakes, part of his past he tried to forget, and finds himself tempted to do the wrong thing.  Lots of moral and emotional dilemmas combined with sarcastic humor, badass fighting, and magic and myth.


7622500The Artist in the Office by Summer Pierre

Quite possibly the most inspiring book I read all year. A fantastic self help book for artistic personalities who work in non-artistic professions. It helps you to incorporate art into your daily lifestyle at work and at home, and to recognize how you can live your ideal artistic life, or something close to it, while working a day job. It has really energized me, and reminded me about the good things in life.



The Third Act: Writing a Great Ending to your Screenplay by Drew Yanno

It’s short, and pretty to the point.  And it helped my fix the ending to my first completed novel.  Effective!


Gone GirlGone Girl By Gillian Flynn

A dark, surprising murder mystery full of twists.  This story kept me entertained despite the lack of magic OR spaceships!  But dark, Dark, DARK.  Be prepared for some messed up relationships.  Nick Dunne’s wife disappears, and when the clues begin to point back toward Nick himself, he realizes that the most likely explanation sounds completely insane. The movie was a faithful rendition, but the book is still totally worth it.



Saga vol. 4 and 5 by Brian K. Vaughn, illustrated by25451555 Fiona Staples.

23093367I love this series so much, and it continues to hold my devotion.  I love the characters, and I
love the art, and I love the world.  Though I have to say, there a was a really harsh sucker punch at the end of Vol. 5.


So there it is, only like 11 months late… Happy reading.

It’s Banned Books Week!  I haven’t read any banned books yet this week, but I love celebrating my right to learn whatever the hell I want.  This feels especially important to me as a writer as well as a librarian.  As a librarian, I do research professionally.  As a librarian, people have asked me to remove gay magazines, and picture books from the shelves(yes, this has actually happened, and more than once).  And as a writer, I look up a bunch of really weird, questionable stuff.  So hooray for the first amendment and freedom of information!  This might not seem like such a big deal, but when you consider that in North Korea they only have access to 28 websites, it puts things in perspective.

At the top of the list for most challenged books of 2015 is Looking for Alaska, by John Green, which is a great book.  Just behind it is Fifty Shades of Grey, which while I don’t feel like I can say it’s a great book, I don’t support removing it from shelves either.  This year the ALA is focusing on promoting diversity, particularly since books that take a hard look at the issues faced by different cultures and people are often the ones that get challenged.

That’s about all I’ve got for now.  I haven’t been cooking as much, but I’ve been reading and writing plenty.  The Rainbow Comes and Goes by Anderson Cooper and Gloria Vanderbilt was a pretty interesting read, and I’m digging into Stephen King’s Dark Tower series(shit is DARK).  Happy reading everyone.


Working in a library is not the boring experience that the media makes you think it is.  I only hush people when they’re being really obnoxious, like talking loud enough on their phone that I know all about their colon problems.  I do just as much computer help as I do book help; I get to have conversations with hilarious 4-year-olds; I’ve had to explain that stringing a tight-rope between library building supports is not allowed; I’ve had to say the words “so, I understand you were watching videos of the female genitalia in the presence of minors;” and I’ve been threatened with bodily harm by large, angry motorcyclists.  My stories aren’t even the crazy ones.  A lot of my librarian friends have crazier ones.  Not that every single day is exciting, but it’s way more interesting than most people realize, which is one of the reasons I enjoy my job.  I hate being bored.

However, when something crazy is going down, I don’t usually get pictures.  I DO take pictures when books are returned with unusual bookmarks.  Plane tickets, receipts, toilet paper, birthday cards, and personal p20151204_125527hotographs are not that uncommon.  I’ve seen actual food more than once(which seriously damages the book, btw, don’t do it).  I found 10 Euros once, and another time had to call someone because their child support check was left in a book.  But again, I don’t have pictures of those.  Here are the pictures I do have:  A rubber witch finger in a children’s non-fiction book about zombies, and a hair pick, for some reason.



This one here is the absolute winner though.  It’s a huge coffee table book about World War 2.  The bookmark is an expired lunch coupon for a local strip club with a sticky note that has a20150806_120509 girl’s name, phone number, and “home goodz” scrawled on it.  You’re welcome?


Many of my friends know that I do the Clarion West Write-a-Thon each year. I always figured it was as close as I’d ever get to taking the six week long writing bootcamp. This fall, they started offering one day workshops. All I had to do was get a weekend off work, and the money to spend a weekend in Seattle. Thanks to my tax returns, I’m going. I’m finally going.

To cut to the chase, cheap flights are long flights with layovers, so I needed to select which books I would haul on the plane with me. I like to have choices, but it’s only one weekend, and I don’t want to weigh myself down too much.  I picked books based partly on weight, partly on subject.  I have a childrens book, a graphic novel, a science fiction novel, and a non-fiction book.  Most of these are slender volumes, and even the novel is shorter than the average science-fiction novel.

Redshirts, Rachel Rising, Fortunately the Milk, and Writing the Other
Fortunately, the Milk, by Neil Gaiman
A wild goose chase of a story about a father who goes out for milk and gets an adventure.

Rachel Rising: Winter Graves by Terry Moore
The continuation of the Rachel Rising comics series, with demons, witches, and Rachel, who cannot die.

Redshirts, by John Scalzi
Exactly what it sounds like: the story of everyday people in a starship fleet, and the constant danger they face.  Also, it won the Hugo.

Writing the Other: A Practical Approach by Nisi Shawl and Cynthia Ward
How to write people of who are different from yourself with believability and respect.

I might add one more novel, but I think this list is diverse enough to keep me entertained.

I am not a book critic.  I am a young adult librarian, a geek, and a writer of speculative fiction.  This  results in a favorite book list that is mostly speculative fiction and young adult.  Don’t like those things?  Then maybe you should find a more boring book list.  This book list is full of horror and comedy, and love and murder, and magic and space ships and teenagers.  With that in mind, here are my favorite reads of 2014:

Adult Fiction

16148398 Saga by Brian K. Vaughn, illustrated by Fiona Staples(graphic novel)  This one really puts the graphic in graphic novel. It’s full of weirdness and sex and violence and everything else you can think of.  But like the rest of Vaughan’s work, it’s mesmerizing and compelling, with low key commentary on what war and prejudice can do to people, as well as love.

Imagine Romeo and Juliet hadn’t killed themselves. Imagine instead that they ran off and had a baby. Okay, now imagine that they’re both alien species whose respective planets have been at war for generations. Still with me? Marko is a soldier from the moon Wreath, and Alana is a soldier from Wreath’s planet, Landfall. They’ve been at war for so long that war now stretches across the galaxy, making many other planets its battleground. But this doesn’t keep Alana and Marko from getting married and going into hiding to have their baby. Now, both of their respective planets want them dead, and maybe the half breed baby too while they’re at it.

18214414The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith

Book 2 of the Cormoran Strike murder mysteries.  Strike and Robin take on the case of the missing writer, who everyone seems to hate. The real question seems to be who didn’t want Owen Quine dead?  And on top of trying to solve the crime, drama bubbles with Robin and Matthew setting a wedding date, and Strike’s ex-fiance too.

So far, I love this series.  Strike is an interesting character, and Robin is adorable.  also I keep looking for hints of the real author, J.K. Rowling, and wondering.  How interesting that this murder takes place in the writing world, something Rowling is intimately familiar with.  How much is made up, and how much is based on Rowling’s own personal experience?  The detective in me wants to know it all!

Injustice: Gods Among Us by Tom Taylor(graphic novel)17671993

What if Superman lost his infallible moral compass, and began doing evil things in the name of good.  Is he still a hero?  A tragedy causes Superman to change the rules of the superhero game, and the Justice League is along for the ride. Based on the back story of a video game, this stuff is dark and twisted.  It really stretches your moral muscles as a reader, as you try to decide who is right and who is wrong, and where exactly does the line between good and evil lie?

18005582Rachel Rising by Terry Moore(graphic novel)

I think this was on my list last year, but it remains a good series.  The story begins to take shape even as events spin out of control. Rachel and Jet start to uncover some of Zoey’s past, and the witches move forward with their plan. The last page. . . gah!  I can’t say, but prepare yourself!  As dark and twisted as Injustice: Gods Among Us is, it doesn’t stab you in the back and leave you crawling a bloody trail across the floor so you can read the next issue like Rachel Rising does. 


Timeless by Gail Carriger

A satisfying ending to one of my favorite series 🙂 Lord and Lady Maccon travel to Egypt with their young daughter, the skin-changer Prudence. Prudence causes all kinds of trouble, Alexia is particular about tea, Ivy wears more terrible hats, Tunstall writes a weird play, vampires cause trouble, and most importantly, we learn more about the past of Alessandro Tarabotti and his faithful servant, Floote.  More and more of all the things I love!  This series maintained it’s fantastically ridiculous, rollicking adventure feel from start to finish!


8452971The History of Science Fiction by Ron Miller

I read this in preparation for a talk I was giving on the history of the science fiction short story.  This was a really excellent history of science fiction up until the year it was published, and gave me gobs of information for my presentation. My only complaint is the author’s lack of extra information about female authors like Mary Shelley. He talks about them, but neglects to give dates and additional information. Otherwise, it’s pretty comprehensive, even talking about conventions and fandom!

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach32145

All you ever wanted to know, and probably a bunch of stuff you didn’t(unless you’re like me and want to know all of the things), about what happens to dead human bodies. What happens if you donate your body to science? What is the history of human dissection? How are funeral traditions and human body disposal changing? Also, some sordid tales of weird cadaver research and unusual uses for dead bodies. If you’re twisted and/or fascinated with death, this is a fun read! But if you’re squeamish at all. . . don’t do it!

Children’s non-fiction:

1090379The Christmas Menorahs by Janice Cohn, Illustrated by Bill Farnsworth

Based on the true story of a small town in Montana that banded together to show love and support in the face of hate in 1993. All the more touching because it is based on truth, and surprising to hear that such senseless bigotry occurred in my lifetime. This is a good holiday story for older children of Jewish and Christian faiths since it features both, and promotes the real spirit of the season: hope and love.


Teen Fiction

13206760Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

The Lunar Chronicles carries on with the fairy tale theme: Little Red Riding Hood is Scarlet. Scarlet’s grandmother has been kidnapped, and if you were paying attention in Cinder, you might recognize her name. And just as in the fairy tale, Scarlet finds herself trusting a wolf. But don’t worry, Cinder isn’t forgotten, and we follow her escape from the New Beijing prison with a new friend of dubious integrity.  Keep looking for the fairy tale references, because they’re positively rampant!

13206828Cress by Marissa Meyer

Am I obsessed with the Lunar Chronicles?  Maybe.  Remember Cress from the Lunar communication chip in the first book?  Well, she has been trapped in a satellite orbiting Earth for years, isolated from both Earth, and her home planet of Luna. So when Cinder and Carswell Thorne contact her, she’s overjoyed. She’s especially excited to meet the charming and daring Captain Thorne. But as it will, things ago awry and there are attacks and escapes, shoot outs and mind battles, and unwise romance. I wasn’t a huge fan of Cress herself, but Thorne is fun, and there are some great fan service moments for Cinder and Iko 🙂 So I’m happy.

17675462The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Blue comes from a family of psychics, and it’s an accepted fact that if Blue ever kisses her true love, he will die. But Blue herself is not psychic. She only helps focus psychic energy. So when she sees the ghost of a boy who will soon die on St. Mark’s day, she is surprised. The ghost belongs to a raven boy, one of the students at the exclusive all boys school in her small Virginia town. Blue hates raven boys, but feels compelled to try to fight fate and save this one. Could he be the true love she’s destined to kill?

This story has so many layers, and each character is real and complex. Plus, it has ghosts, psychics, and other paranormal stuff that was so creepy it gave me goosebumps.

8884616Black Heart by Holly Black(Curse Workers #3)

I will admit, I put off reading this book because I was afraid to find out how it ended.  Things never looked bleaker for Cassel and Lila than they did at the end of Red Glove, but they got worse in this book.  Cassel sold his soul to the Feds, and now there’s hell to pay, with his addiction to conning and lying, and being in love with a mobster’s heir apparent.  So many times I was afraid, certain that Cassel couldn’t survive this one, and then he’d find a way out so he could get into even more trouble.  Cassel and Lila have such a weird, unhealthy relationship, but knowing that they are both doing the best that they know how to makes me want to root for them.  Want MOAR!

15790833Game by Barry Lyga(I Hunt Killers #2)

Book 2 in a graphic horror series. Jasper Dent is the son of a notorious serial killer who has escaped prison. The police want his help in a serial killer case in New York, and then things get really interesting. As in horrifying. Especially the end. Totally hooked. Need book 3!

6567017Will Grayson Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan

Two high school boys named Will Grayson, one straight, one gay. Gay Will is in the closet, with a secret online boyfriend, while straight Will does his best to avoid relationships. Straight Will’s best friend, Tiny Cooper, has enough relationships for the both of them, and then some! And when both Will Graysons meet in Chicago, worlds collide.

A hilarious, touching story about love in all it’s many beautiful forms. With singing.  Highly recommend the audio book.

Children’s Fiction

Binky the Space Cat by Ashley Spires(graphic novel)

A graphic novel about Binky and his quest to be a real space cat.  Above all costs, he must protect his humans from alien attack.  Very6348133 cute.

19565411Gaston by Kelly Dipucchio, illustrated by Christian Robinson

The story of a French bulldog in a family of French poodles, and a French poodle in a family of French bulldogs. While this story sort of reinforces stereotypes about bulldogs and poodles, it’s only sort of, and it’s really fun to read out loud and perfect for story time. I mean, the poodle family is Fifi, Foofoo, Oh-La-La and Gaston.  Tell me you aren’t dying to read that sentence aloud.


If you want a list of books that’s probably more educated than mine, I recommend this one from  Happy reading!

Baby it’s cold outside… not really because this is Arizona. But I’m a desert rat, and I want soup. And because this is Arizona, it’s tortilla soup. 🙂
Tortilla Soup

1 can of corn, drained(or you can use about a cup of frozen)

1 can of diced tomatoes

1 can of black beans(drained and rinsed)

3 or 4 cups of veggie broth, or 1 of those aseptic containers of broth

1 small can of roasted green chiles, chopped

3 or 4 cloves of fresh garlic, minced

1 red pepper

1 green pepper(I usually swap this one out for an orange pepper since I don’t like the green ones)

1 yellow pepper

3 onions

fresh cilantro, chopped

shredded cheese for topping

tortilla chips

Put a tablespoon of oil on the bottom of a big soup pot and heat on medium high.  Chop up the peppers and onions, and saute them for a minute or two.  Add the garlic and saute a minute more. Pour in the broth, green chiles, tomatoes, corn, and black beans and heat to boiling.  Turn off the heat and ladle the chunky soup into bowls.  Top bowls with tortilla chips, shredded cheese, and cilantro.  Pour a little broth from the soup over the top to melt the cheese.  Now you have a lovely bowl of healthy, colorful soup to make up for all the holiday goodies you’re going to eat later!

And just because I’ve started collecting photos again, here are some more silly book covers:

Dump Cakes by Cathy Mitchell Yes, I am 12 years old, and it is hilarious to me that a marketing department allowed this to happen.

CAM00792 It’s a choose your own adventure! Just like the game!  Remember how you used to name your all your party members after your friends, and watch them die one by one around you?  Was that just me?

CAM00757 You have to look closely, but the title of this gem is “internet-linked Romans.” Those Romans were way more high tech than anyone knew!

CAM00931 Heh. Heh heh. Yeah, still 12.

Night Probe! by Clive Cussler  Ummmmm. . . as a co-worker pointed out, that exclamation point just adds something that maybe it wasn’t meant to. . . heh heh.  Still 12.

CAM00761 They’re taxidermy bunnies!  At school!  This is actually a really interesting, if terribly disturbing read… My fear and fascination with death, wrapped up in pictures of animals…

CAM00755  And the winner is this book.  I should have looked up the copyright while I was in the thrift store, but I didn’t.  This is just, I mean… It’s Gorbachev the anti-christ!  Someone was actually serious about this!!

Happy Holidays!