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Top Ten Books on My Summer TBR List

Top  Ten Tuesday is hosted over at Broke and the Bookish. This week it’s all about narrowing down your TBR list to 10 reads for the summer.


Alright, so, my Goodreads To-Read shelf has about a million books. It was hard to narrow my TBR list down to 10, but I did it!

1. The One I Left Behind by Jennifer McMahon: Mystery, murder, and “the dark side of adolescent friendship.” I’m writing a book with similar themes, and can’t wait to give this book a go.

2. Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers: Medieval female assassin school? Sign me up.

3. Embassytown by China Miéville: My introduction to Miéville was Perdido Street Station. From the first paragraph, I was blown away by the intricacy and grimy beauty of his writing. Can’t wait to get my hands on this.

4. Dark Places by Gillian Flynn: I jumped on the Gone Girl bandwagon a while back, and am not sorry. A friend recommended Dark Places to me and told me I’d like it better than Gone Girl. We’ll see.

5. Dreams Underfoot by Charles de Lint: Gimme more urban fantasy please.

6. Red Horse by Alex Adams: Ok, I’ve gotta come clean that I’m unreasonably psyched for this book. It’s second in a trilogy, the first being White Horse, which made my list of all-time favorite books. It releases August 20.

7. Vampires in the Lemon Grove by Karen Russell: I first heard about this short story collection on NPR. Couldn’t get the hilarious image of vampires sucking on lemons out of my head.

8. The Long Earth by Terry Pratchett: I’m ashamed to admit that the only Pratchett I’ve read is Good Omens — and only then because I’m obsessed with Neil Gaiman. I’m seeking to remedy that this summer.

9. Fledgling by Octavia Butler: A non-traditional vampire book and a female protag who isn’t white.

10. Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut: Another of those “I’m ashamed I haven’t already read this” books.

What’s on your TBR list this summer?


Top Ten Beach Reads

Top Ten Tuesday is  hosted by the bloggers over at the Broke and the Bookish. Book bloggers from all around create lists based on the chosen topics, and post links to the host blog to share our love of books.


My idea of beach reads is probably a lot different from most — I don’t get into “chick lit” and while I’ve been known to read a romance or two  I typically lean towards a grittier read while I’m lounging in the glorious grit of the sand.

1. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein: I only recently read this story of the bonds of friendship between two extraordinary women during WWII — one a spy and one a pilot — and I couldn’t put it down. One of the best books published in recent years.

2. American Elsewhere by Robert Jackson Bennett: Fans of Lovecraft, this is the beach read for you. It’s a long one at 662 pages and can get a bit tricky at times, but it’s well worth it. You’ll be staring at the afternoon sun a little more warily after closing the pages of this book.

3. Dangerous Angels by Francesca Lia Block: Quirky magical realism and beautiful, poetic prose set in the wonderland of Los Angeles.

4. White Horse by Alex Adams: There’s been a lot of post-apocalyptic fiction published as of late, but this is one of the best. What would you become if you survived the end of the world?

5. Sunshine by Robin McKinley: I will freely admit that I worship at the altar of Robin McKinley. Sunshine is a vampire book without all the icky (and sparkly) modern-day vampire tropes and a feisty heroine with an actual personality. Imagine that! Revel in the sunshine above you while you devour Sunshine.

6. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood: Be glad you’re wearing a bikini and not a red mumu and weird white hat.

7. The Witching Hour by Anne Rice: Those Mayfair witches. I just can’t get enough. Scrawl Lasher into the sand after you’ve left for the day and freak out the next person that claims your bit of beach.

8. The Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo Lanagan: If you spy a seal swimming by, just leave it alone. Please.

9. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë: Look, if you haven’t read Jane Eyre yet, just read it alright? Trust me.

10. Spin by Robert Charles Wilson: This is a perfect beach read — it’ll suck you in and not let go. Just make sure you flip over for a nice, even burn in between sections. Oh, and don’t miss out on a long walk on the beach at nighttime. You never when the stars might disappear.

Obviously this list is pretty non-traditional for a “beach reads” list. What alternative beach reads would you recommend? 

Good writers

I wish I could reblog this a billion times. This is advice I desperately needed to hear.

The Things Still Buried

In 1961, a B-52 bomber stationed at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in Goldsboro, NC broke apart in mid-air. It was carrying 8 crewmen and 2 hydrogen bombs.

As the aircraft fell, so did the bombs.

The first bomb deployed its parachute, and it landed safely in tobacco field12 miles north of Goldsboro. The second plunged into waterlogged swampland and disintegrated on impact, though no explosion occurred.

Since then, only portions of the buried hydrogen bomb have been unearthed. A piece of the bomb containing uranium is still there in that swamp. In the following years, the Air Force purchased an easement requiring permission for anyone to dig on the surrounding land.

Subsequent studies report no environmental hazards or cause of concern. The bomb stays buried.

There are things in our lives we inter — things we intend to keep underground, undiscovered. But things that are put to rest are rarely left that way, and exhume themselves when we least expect it, when it’s most inconvenient. As a writer, I’ve always been most interested in the things beneath the surface, things long-buried, the things people want to hide.

The things we bury are the things that define us; these are our deepest secrets and our most unforgivable treasons. These  are our petty misgivings and our darkest memories. How do you bury a nuclear bomb? How do you guard against the toxic seep, the slow leak of poison into the surrounding soil — be it pristine or otherwise?

You take ownership of the land, you instate a Do Not Dig order, and you ignore the meticulous creep of time.

I was a child when I first learned of the atomic bomb buried somewhere in the acres of farmland surrounding my hometown. It was the stuff of grade school rural legend — how the whole of eastern North Carolina almost became a smoking, radiated wasteland. Captured by the horrific fantasy, I spent many a foray into the woods and cotton fields around my neighborhood expecting to come across what I imagined as a gaping pit with a halo of radioactive glow.

Luckily, that never happened, as I was off by about 25 miles. But I’ve learned how to bury things of my own and I’ve unearthed more than my fair share of secrets.

Meanwhile, it’s been 52 years since that B-52 fell apart and let fly the bombs. The bomb fragment in the swampy farmland 12 miles north of Goldsboro is still there. I don’t know the half-life of uranium, but I suspect it will be there long after my own body succumbs to time — buried, biding, waiting.

You can make an…


Stop Telling Women to Smile

Stop Telling Women to Smile

If I had a dollar for every time some man I don’t know has taken it upon himself to tell me to smile….

‘Arrested Development’: And That’s Why You Shouldn’t Revive A Cult Series

Funk's House of Geekery

After years of rumours, promises and increasingly erratic fan demand the cult sitcom that died a too early death has been dug out of the ground, dusted off and propped back up in living rooms for our amusement. This is suggestive of a bold new trend wherein streaming giant Netflix has broken away from the networks and given viewers what they wanted, nah, demanded.

But after watching a few episodes, it’s clear that they’ve made a huge mistake.

I've Made a Huge Mistake

It’s hard not to feel the anticipation for the show. Online fandoms have reached a fever pitch of excitement. Going back and re-watching the original run of the show has been a treat and only served to further build excitement (even if the spark began to diminish in the third season). Whilst I am fully aware that I will likely be dragged out into the street and publicly flogged for saying this…

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The Portents of a Name

Daily Prompt: Say Your Name

Cassandra. That name is a burden and a portent if there ever was one. In Greek mythology, Cassandra is a princess of Troy, her beauty rivaled only by her sister-in-law, Helen, and Aphrodite herself.

Beauty is so often a curse; Cassandra’s incited Apollo to grant her the gift of prophecy. When she spurned the god’s advances, Apollo added a nasty footnote to his gift: none of Cassandra’s predictions would be believed.

She foresaw the fall of Troy; warned Priam & Co. about the giant wooden horse that appeared at their doorstep; saw the inevitability of her own violent death.

I think about my namesake and I shudder. Relegated to the dark corner of tragic mythological tradition. Cautionary feminist allegory. These are truths I know, courtesy of the Cassandra that came before:

The cost of beauty. The reality of speaking the truth. What it’s like to call and cry to blank stares and deaf ears.

My name is a name saturated with the weight of the past. I have always gone by Cassi.

Review: The Reapers are the Angels

The Reapers are the Angels book coverThis isn’t a book about zombies.  That is made clear right from the start of The Reapers are the Angels, a novel by Alden Bell.

“God is a slick god. Temple knows. She knows because of all the crackerjack miracles still to be seen on this ruined globe.”

We are in metaphysical territory right from the start, and in this place, it can be hard to find your bearings. I found mine early on, with the easy references to Faulkner and his whole host of Southern Gothic pals. You’ll find plenty of McCarthy here too, most notably The Road. But The Reapers are the Angels doesn’t rely on those references and stands up on its own two (rotting, gut-trailing) legs. The tropes are all there: the Benjy Compson-esque manchild; the graceful, pathetic decline of the Old South personified as a crumbling family manor; the misbegotten quest for vengeance; inbred hillbillies. Oh, and then there’s a little part about love of  The Land.

Our badass Gurkha-knife wielding heroine is Temple, a fifteen year old valkyrie with a hint of Katniss Everdeen and the speech of a gunslinging philosopher from Yoknapatawpha County. Score 1 for the pantheon of strong, smart, self-reliant female leads. If you’re like me, that should be enough to send you running to your local library. Born after the zombie plague had already transformed America into a crumbing wasteland, Temple has known no other world. Survival is intrinsic to her, but what’s special about Temple is that she longs to do more than just survive — she longs to live.

Temple travels from settlement to settlement, holding tight to a firm sense of wonder as she wanders the American ruin. When an inconvenient encounter with a certified creep makes a murderer of our heroine, she is forced to go on the run from the creep’s vengeful, code-abiding brother. Enter Moses. Our…antagonist?

The relationship that develops between Moses and Temple is one of the more intriguing facets of The Reapers are the Angels. Almost at once, each recognizes the other as dangerous, and a mutual respect is born. Two acts of violence, one committed against Temple and one committed by Temple, bind them together and form the central plot.

I was intrigued by Temple’s empathetic understanding of the man with the single-minded task to kill her. I was suspicious of Moses as an antagonist and wary of his Old Testament-begotten morality. The more I read, the more I saw that Moses and Temple are two sides of the same coin. Two hardened warrior-wanderers with no cause but the call of The Land and the promise of miracles in the wild.

The zombies are an afterthought.

Rating: 4 stars


Truth be told, the inward gaze is something she’s not too fond of. But there are secrets that lurk in the mind, and she doesn’t want any of them sneaking up on her. Sometimes it pays to take a deep look inside even if you get queasy gazing into those dark corners.


Man is a Religi…

Man is a Religious Animal. He is the only Religious Animal. He is the only animal that has the True Religion–several of them. He is the only animal that loves his neighbor as himself and cuts his throat if his theology isn’t straight. He has made a graveyard of the globe in trying his honest best to smooth his brother’s path to happiness and heaven….

— Mark Twain

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