What’s a book you totally can’t stop thinking about? Something that makes you want to discuss it and share it with everyone? Our coven has a few squees to share with you all.
Have you ever read a book that feels like it was written just for you (but it’s actually impossible, because the author doesn’t know you)? I’d never had that feeling before I read Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant (Orbit, 2017). Don’t get me wrong, I’ve loved a lot of books, but everything about Into the Drowning Deep delighted me and made me gasp or flail (and sometimes one right after the other). I loved the characters and their relationships (past and present), and I cannot say enough about how wonderful the diversity in the book made me feel. But more than all of that, I loved the science.
Once upon a time, I’d wanted to be a marine biologist. Into the Drowning Deep let me have that moment of “If I had taken a different path” and imagine myself there, another biologist on the ship with Tory and the other characters looking down into the depths to see what’s there in the watery darkness. The story took me back to the tours I gave at the Cabrillo Aquarium, the tide-pools in Monterey, and the reef in Australia, then carried me farther–and deeper–than I’d ever been, to show me the beauty in the terrors deep below the surface.
My big fan squee right now is In Other Lands by Sarah Rees Brennan (Big Mouth House, 2017), “The story of the crankiest nerd who ever fell into a magical land.” It has been one of my favorite stories since before the book came out – I’ve loved it since it was a web serial the author wrote as a present for her fans. She’s changed it a little bit since then, polished it and added in some scenes, so it’s a single beautiful novel now. And it makes me so happy I can’t stop reading it, over and over.
This story breaks my heart and then mends it again, filling me up with so much joy and tenderness that I get giddy. It’s not every story that will do that for me, so I treasure them when I find them. A nerdy, snarky, wounded kid gets to go to school in magic land and finds out it’s not what he was hoping, or probably even wanting. But maybe, through work and growth and heartbreak and a lot of snarky snarking at people, he can make himself a family, and also make the world he decides on a better place to live. The main character is canonically bisexual, there’s a lot of pointed commentary about bigotry of all types, and everyone has to own their faults and mistakes. A LOT of mistakes. I heart this story so much. SRB is the kind of author who will make you laugh like a loon one moment, only to stab you in the gut with the next line. I can’t help but love her for it. It’s possible I’m not well, but I can’t recommend this book enough.
I have a bad habit: when I fall in love with a series, I can’t finish it. The last book will sit on my shelf (or my Kindle) for ages because I can’t bear to get to the end. Which explains the untouched copies of Republic of Thieves and Ancillary Mercy on my TBR shelf. The latest entry to limbo is Heart on Fire by Amanda Bouchet, the final entry in the The Kingmaker Chronicles. Despite my general dislike of first person POV and snarky internal monolog, Cat Fisa marched into my brain and demanded my full attention. It didn’t help she was accompanied by four super-sexy warriors and a back story that blends a vicious court life full of family drama and Greek mythology.
Total Catnip (see what I did there?)
Which is why my fan squee is the first book in the series, A Promise of Fire (Sourcebooks Casablanca 2016). I picked it up because it was a book everyone was talking about, and as a writer, I wanted to take it apart to see what makes it tick. It’s a quick, sexy read with a heroine that is stubborn without crossing into “too-stupid-to-live” territory and a hero whose strength is built more on patience than “bonehead alpha maleness.” The world-building feels lived in: familiar enough to be recognizable without loads of exposition, but full of unexpected quirks that make it unique. It was a book that made me forget to read as a writer and made me fall into it as a reader pretty much from the first chapter. I didn’t love the second book as much until the final 1/3, but A Promise of Fire stands out on my shelf as a reminder that well put together words can be a more than a little magical. Eventually I’ll finish the series. Maybe.