It’s autumn in Connecticut. The leaves are a riot of glorious color and the days have been crisp, clear, blue-sky beauties. We even had our first snow flurry today! It’s been just cold enough to grab a blanket and a cup of tea, and snuggle up for those evening reads.
I know, I know. I sound like a brochure of some sort. But it’s hard not to go off on a poetic streak when this sort of thing is all around you! Can’t you just smell the wood smoke in the air?
With all this seasonal splendor, I’ve been in the mood for a bit of fun and my latest reads reflect all that jumping-in-the-leaf-piles joy.
Recent Reads: Geeks, gods, and gunslingers galore.
I finally swung by the bookstore and picked up Mike Jung’s Geeks, Girls, and Secret Identities, a great middle grade book that had been on my to-read list since I met Mike at a SCBWI conference in April. The story is set in Copperplate City, where Vincent Wu is local superhero Captain Stupendous’ number one fan. Vincent and his friends know the hero’s every classic fight move, and follow his battles avidly.
But then their idol begins acting strangely, and at the same time, so does Vincent’s school crush, Polly. What’s the link between the two, and who’s the new super villain bent on destroying Stupendous? This is a truly fun story, and well worth a read, especially if you have preteens to share it with. It was lighthearted, fast-paced, and as a bonus Mike uses caps LIKE A BOSS.
Next up was the latest offering from Rick Riordan, The Sword of Summer. This kicks off his new series, Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, where Riordan moves away from the Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians to tackle Norse mythology. I’ve been a huge fan of his work since I picked up the first Percy Jackson book in 2010, and he didn’t disappoint in this one.
In a return to first person narrative after the Heroes of Olympus series, Rick gives us demigod Magnus Chase, who is – you guessed it! – Annabeth’s cousin, and who starts the book by dying heroically. Magnus then gets to travel to Valhalla and romp through several of the mythological Norse worlds with an elf, a dwarf, and a Valkyrie while attempting to stave off Ragnarok, the end of the world. All in a day’s work for one of Odin’s chosen einherjar warriors, right?
I thought I knew a little of Norse mythology, but was surprised by how much I didn’t know, and by how outrageous a lot of it is. The book was full of crazy, laugh-out-loud moments. Magnus is a smart-mouthed, streetwise character, and I’m looking forward to following the series.
I also recently discovered Seanan McGuire’s InCryptid series, and devoured the first three books in a row. The first two, Discount Armageddon and Midnight Blue-Light Special, take us to New York City with Verity Price, a well-armed and highly-trained cryptozoologist and ballroom dancer studying the local cryptid population while she evades a murderous snake cult and tries her best to keep the monster hunters of the Covenant of Saint George from invading her turf and killing the creatures she’s promised to protect.
The third, Half-Off Ragnarok, moves to Ohio, where Verity’s brother Alex is studying the local swamp cryptids with help from his gorgon assistant. But when people start dying, petrified by something or someone, Alex needs to uncover what’s going on before he and his Australian cryptozoologist girlfriend are the next items checked off the assassin’s list.
Seanan serves us an incredibly rich world full of dragon princesses, gorgons, bogeymen, talking mice, and more, as well as some great human main characters and a flirty, fun, fast-moving plot. I have to say, I’m hooked. My only problem is choosing my favorite Price kid… Or maybe I’ll just keep them both!
Now Reading: Swords and Swashbuckling.
I’ve just started Swords and Scoundrels, first in Julia Knight’s The Duelists trilogy. I thoroughly enjoyed her fantasy noir trilogy about pain mage Rojan Dizon, written as Francis Knight, so when I heard she was working on a tale of swords and highwaymen I was anxious to give it a try.
I’m only a chapter in, but the main characters, brother and sister master duelists Vocho and Kacha, seem pretty great so far. And the cover is absolutely delicious!
To Read: Alien civilizations, small town wonders, and sword maidens.
First on my list after I finish Julia’s book is The Last War by Alex Davis, which has been sitting on my kindle for a while and has a really interesting premise. You’re up next, Mr. Davis! I also just picked up Biblia Longcrofta, a series of connected short stories by Simon Marshall-Jones, and I’m awaiting Steven Poore’s fantasy debut The Heir to the North, which should be landing on my kindle any day now.
Lots of goodness ahead, so let the leaves fall and the snow flurries, um, flurry. I’ve got blankets, I’ve got a few gallons of tea, and there are words a-waiting.