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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!



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.

MOAR Comic-Con!  It’s taken me a while to post this since I got really sick shortly after Phoenix Comic-Con(what the hell? You mean vodka doesn’t kill mono?!) and then went to San Diego Comic-Con anyway.  Feeling mostly healthy again, fortunately.  I was also working on this: Clarion West Write-A-Thon.  Anyway, here’s all the cool books I bought, or in some cases got for free:

Phoenix ComiCon swag

Also, I must spread the good news about the Holy Taco Church, which I learned about at the Taco Council panel 🙂  There will be vegetarian options posted since Our Lady of Pico De Gallo, Leanna Renee Hieber is a vegetarian(with excellent fashion sense).

I also learned about Nerd Noms, a Youtube cooking show about making delicious nerd food.  I was most excited about the Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster, for which I may be needing to use my hangover cure:CAM00502

No, I don’t put it all in the blender and choke it down.  That would be gross.  I drink the whole bottle of water before bed, then make the Emergen-C and miso soup separately for breakfast.  The vitamin water also helps if you can’t stand Emergen-C, or if you still feel kinda icky and need to take something with you on horrible travels into the harsh light of day.

Aaaaaaaannnnddd, here are the adult books discussed at the Cool Things I’m Reading Panel.  My co-panelists were Maryelizabeth Hart of Mysterious Galaxy Books, Nadine from the Phoenix Comic-Con staff, and Patrick from Poisoned Pen Books.  Brief teasers follow for the books I’ve read.

Rachel Rising: The Shadow of Death (Rachel Rising, #1) Rachel Rising by Terry Moore

Beautiful graphic novel written and illustrated by Terry Moore.  This is the horror story of Rachel, who awakens and drags herself out of a shallow grave in the woods outside of her small town. She returns home with plans to resume her life as if nothing unusual happened, only to realize she’s lost 3 days, and that’s not all.

Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson

This book was ridiculous and horrible and sad and hilarious and weird as shit. And I loved it.
It’s the “mostly true” story of of how Jenny Lawson grew up in a tiny town in Texas with a crazy taxidermist father. The phrase “you’re going to get blood on you” came up A LOT.  If you are not easily offended, or like being offended, this is for you.

The Parasol Protectorate series, beginning with Soulless, by Gail Carriger

A comedic paranormal romance with a steampunk setting. It has an outspoken, soulless spinster, werewolves, vampires, and comedy, so I loved every page.

Shattered by Kevin Hearne 

The Goblin Emperor The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison

Range of Ghosts by Elizabeth Bear Range of Ghosts (Eternal Sky, #1)

  After Life with Archie by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa ; artwork by Francesco Francavilla ; lettering by Jack Morelli.

Alpha by Greg Rucka Alpha

Ancillary Justice (Imperial Radch, #1) Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie(after the panel happened, this debut novel went on to win the Nebula AND the Hugo!)

Monster Hunter International by Larry Correia Monster Hunter International (MHI, #1)

Empire of Salt Empire of Salt by Weston Ochse

The Slab by Jeffrey Mariotte The Slab

Wicked After Midnight (Blud, #3) Wicked After Midnight by Delilah Dawson

Midnight Crossroads by Charlaine Harris Midnight Crossroad (Midnight, Texas, #1)

The Pretenders (The Cemetery Girl Trilogy, #1) Cemetery Girl by Christopher Golden and Charlaine Harris

In the Garden of Iden by Kage Baker

Tome of the Undergates (Aeons' Gate, #1) Tome of the Undergates by Sam Sykes

Rosemary and Rue by Seanan Maguire Rosemary and Rue (October Daye #1)

Anything by Benedict Jacka

We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

The Innkeeper's Song Innkeepers Song by Peter S. Beagle

Stardust by Neil Gaiman, Illustrated by Charles Vess Stardust, Being a Romance Within the Realms of Faerie Book 1 of 4

Tristan Thorn crosses the wall into the land of Faerie in search of his Heart’s Desire: a shooting star to give to the girl of his dreams. But when he finds the star, he discovers that it does not look, or act, at all the way he expected.

Green (Green Universe #1) Green by Jay Lake

I also wrote down the title of a book called “Ice,” but forgot to write down the author… and there are a lot of books called Ice, so good luck there unless Maryelizabeth remembers :p

Hope this gives you lots of fun things to read.  It has definitely added to the Jenga style piles of books by MY bed!


There wasn’t nearly enough of the science fiction and fantasy stuff I love in my last post, and I’d like to fix that.   I’m addicted to the Parasol Protectorate series by Gail Carriger. And when I say addicted, I mean I was listening to the third book in the series in the car(a fabulous audio book) and reading the paperback when I wasn’t driving(like reading it at home, not at red lights or anything).  It’s like it was written just for me with all of my favorite things; it’s a steampunk adventure/romance with a feisty, logical heroine, a sexy Scottish werewolf, a flamboyantly gay vampire, a mystery, and a fair amount of humor as well. More please 🙂 Book one is called Soulless, if you were wondering.

So, vegetarian shepherd’s pie. Whenever I mention that I’ve made this, people ask me about it. Generally they want me to just bring them free pie, but for those of you who might actually be inclined to make it, here’s my “recipe” and I use this term loosely.  As far as I can tell, shepherd’s pie is basically leftover side dishes baked and topped with cheese.  Warm, delicious, cheesy leftovers…mmmm….

Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie

Several(3?) cups of mashed potatoes(you can cut corners and buy frozen pre-mashed potatoes if you want to save time), or South Beach mashed cauliflower
1 cup steamed or defrosted vegetables(today I used steamed carrots, broccoli, and spinach)
1 red onion thinly sliced, and then sliced again into crescents
vegetarian sausage(I used 2 links of apple sage soy sausage from Sprouts)
2-4 cloves garlic, crushed or minced
shredded cheese( provolone is amazing!)

Preheat oven to about 350. Mix the veggies into the mashed potatoes and pour into a casserole dish. Then slice the sausage or break into chunks and saute with 2 tablespoons of oil and the red onion, adding the garlic just as the onion is starting to brown. Saute until the onions are just about caramelized, but be careful not to burn the garlic.  Spread the sauteed mixture on top of the mashed potatoes and veggies. Top with the shredded cheese and bake for 20-30 minutes, or just until the cheese is melted if you are hungry and want to shovel it in your face as soon as possible.

I totally thought I took a picture of this recipe, but when I uploaded photos from my camera, it wasn’t there, and I had already eated all of the pie.  Perhaps I’ll post a pic if I make it again sometimes soon.  Happy eating, happy reading 🙂