Tag Archives: China Mieville

Tough Traveling: MONSTERS


Hey, this is my first time participating in Tough Traveling, a weekly event created and hosted by Nathan from the Fantasy Review Barn! I’m finally joining the party this week, because the theme is “Monsters,” and I tend to read lots of books with monsters in them.

Nathan’s idea for Tough Traveling is to follow along with Diana Wynne Jones’ The Tough Guide to Fantasyland, which is a funny and irreverent send-up all of the fantasy clichés and tropes you can think of. Each week, Nathan picks one of those tropes, and bloggers are encouraged to come up with a list of books that fit the category.

This week, we’re talking about MONSTERS:

MONSTERS are likely to lie in waste areas, caves, and old ruined cities. You can usually detect their presence by smell.

If I didn’t limit myself, this list could seriously get out of control! So I selected the first six books with great examples of monsters that popped into my head:

City of Stairs

Urav from City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett. Urav was one of my favorite things about this book, even though he only plays a small role in the story. Urav is a many-tentacled sea monster that devastates the city of Bulikov. Scary yes, but I sure loved him!

The Blue Blazes

Gobbos (goblins), Vollraths, Trogbodies, Snakefaces and more from The Blue Blazes by Chuck Wendig. This was one of my favorite books last year, and is a great example of a creative use of monsters. In The Blue Blazes, the underground world of New York City is alive with monsters, because of a hole that leads straight into Hell. The kicker—you can only see them if you take a drug called Blue Blazes.

Full Fathom Five

Penitents from Full Fathom Five by Max Gladstone. Max’s Craft Sequence books all have monsters in them, but I particularly liked the Penitents from this book. Penitents are huge creatures made out of rock that act as prisons for humans who break the law. These unfortunate people are trapped inside the body of a Penitent and must go after other law-breakers, in order to force them into the same horrific situation. It’s an extremely painful process for those unfortunate enough to be caught.

The Shotgun Arcana

Gerta from The Shotgun Arcana by R.S. Belcher. I haven’t posted my review of this book yet, but it has one of the most interesting monsters I’ve run across: a Frankenstein-like creation. Auggie’s dead wife Gerta’s head has been kept “alive” by mad scientist Clay since the first book in the series, The Six-Gun Tarot, and you won’t believe what happens to Gerta in this follow-up book!


The Weir from Three by Jay Posey. Weir are humanoid-like creatures with glowing blue eyes that live in the desolate Strand, a dangerous place where humans are prey. If you are caught by a Weir, you may become one yourself.

The Scar

The Remade and more from The Scar by China Miéville. It’s been YEARS since I read this book, so my memory is a bit hazy. But Miéville is one of the grandmasters of monsters. Just about every character in this book has some monstrous quality or other. The Remade are slaves who have had their bodies physically altered. This book also has grindylows (like the ones in Harry Potter!), sea creatures who drown their victims in the ocean. I know I’m forgetting a bunch of other great examples from this book, but like I said, I read this a really long time ago.  Just READ THIS BOOK if you haven’t already.

That was fun! I’d love to hear from you. I’m sure I missed many great examples of monsters:-) Thanks to Nathan for hosting! Check out the link above if you’d like to join in the fun.


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Tammy’s Top Ten Unusual Character Names

Top Ten Tuesday New copy

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, and is an awesome meme where you can join in the Top Ten fun with other bloggers! Oh you guys, there are so many great Top Ten Tuesdays from now until the end of the year! I usually only do one or two TTT a month, but for the next few months the themes are really fun, and I expect to be participating a lot more. This week is no exception! I love finding odd and unusual character names, so this was a fairly easy task for me. I could have easily come up with twice as many, but I’ll stick with these ten for now:


Morpheus 1

Morpheus from Splintered and Unhinged by A.G. Howard. OK, Morpheus might not be that unusual of a name, but I love the character so much, that I just had to include him:) He’s the so-bad-he’s-awesome character that everyone loves!

                                                   Splintered      Unhinged



Buruu from Stormdancer and Kinslayer by Jay Kristoff. If you haven’t read these amazing books, Buruu is a thunder tiger, a creature of legend that actually exists in Kristoff’s books. Buruu is like the Japanese version of a griffin, part eagle, part tiger.

                                                    Stormdancer     FIVE STARS*****



Karou from Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor. Karou is a girl who made a wish that she could have blue hair, and so she does!

                                                   daughter of smoke     Days of Blood and Starlight



Kvothe from The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. Here’s a name that’s nearly impossible to pronounce. According to Rothfuss, it sounds a little like the word “quote.”

                                                Name of the wind     Wise Man's Fear


Mookie pearl

Mookie Pearl from The Blue Blazes by Chuck Wendig. Of course, I can’t do a Top Ten without mentioning a Chuck Wendig book! I adore Mookie’s name, and I adore the character of Mookie, too!

The Blue Blazes



Octavius from Sea Change by S. M. Wheeler. Octavius, how I love you! Octavius is a Kraken (like a giant octopus) and I love that his name describes the number of legs he has.

Sea Change


Raz Pelham

Raz Pelham from Three Parts Dead by Max Gladstone. Raz is a vampire, and he was one of my favorite characters from the book. Unfortunately, he’s not in book two, which I’m reading right now (Two Serpents Rise), but that’s ok. I know he’ll be back…

Three Parts Dead


Zenn Scarlett 1

Zenn Scarlett from Zenn Scarlett by Christian Schoon. I adore this name, and I kind of wish it was mine:) Zenn lives in space somewhere and studies unusual alien space animals. A cool job for a girl with a cool name…

                                              Zenn Scarlett       Under-Nameless-Stars-small


bellis coldwine

Bellis Coldwine from The Scar by China Mieville. This is one of my all-time favorite books, and Bellis is one of the more unusual names I’ve run across.

The Scar


Myfawny Thomas

Myfanwy Thomas from The Rook by Daniel O’Malley. Definitely the strangest name I’ve ever come across (with apologies to any Welsh people out there!) “Myfanwy” supposedly rhymes with “Tiffany,” if that helps you out.

The Rook2

So there you have it! What about you? What are your favorite or the most unusual character names you’ve run across?


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Tammy’s Top Ten Authors On My Auto-Buy List

Top Ten Tuesday New copy

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish! It’s been a while since I’ve done a Top Ten Tuesday, but I couldn’t pass up this week’s theme. It was hard to narrow the list down to ten authors, because there are many more than that whose books I buy the minute they’re released. But these ten, except for a couple of relatively new writers, are authors I’ve loved for many years and I don’t even think twice before purchasing their books. If you read this blog on a regular basis, I don’t think the first one will surprise you…

1Stephen King.  My very first book purchase Stephen Kingwith my own money was The Stand, and after that I never looked back. I’ve been collecting Stephen King for…many years! And yes, he’s had some duds, but I still love the man despite his flaws. Hey, isn’t that what love’s all about? Even bookish love??

2Joe Hill. Like father, like son—sort of.Joe Hill Joe Hill definitely got the talent genes from his father, but he’s got his own unique brand of horror. So far I haven’t been disappointed by anything he’s written. Not only does he write fiction, but he writes a pretty amazing graphic novel called Locke & Key. His latest NOS4A2 comes out this year!

3Dan Simmons. Words cannot express how muchDan I adore his books. Some of my fondest reading memories involve Dan Simmons novels. He’s one of those writers who can write just about any genre he wants to, and he does each one so well. He also has a new book coming out soon, but it might not be until 2014.

4Ann Patchett. When I read Bel Canto, I knew that I had discovered a very special writer. Although some of her earlier novels didn’t affect me as much, she seems to get better and better with each book she writes. Her latest novel, State of Wonder, was pretty amazing. If you haven’t read Bel Canto yet—well honestly, why haven’t you??

5Donna Tartt. Tartt takes ten years orDonna Tartt more to write each book, so she’s only written two books so far (and her third has just been announced). Even though I didn’t love her second book, The Little Friend, I would put her on my auto-buy list based on The Secret History. Seriously, anyone reading this that hasn’t read that book needs to do so, immediately!

6Christopher Moore. Moore is another authorChristopher Moore I’ve been collecting for more than twenty years. Since his first hysterically funny novel, Practical Demonkeeping, he’s had me hooked with his off-beat brand of humor and crazy story lines. In fact he’s one of the few humorous writers that actually makes me laugh:) Ah, Fluke, my very favorite Moore!

7J. K. Rowling. I’ll admit I still haven’t got J.K. Rowling around to reading The Casual Vacancy, but I will soon. Rowling is another author that grows with each book, and I love the fact that she can write children’s books and then turn around and write an adult book that is the complete opposite of Harry Potter.

8China Miéville. OK, this choice may seem odd China Mieville, because Miéville’s written two books that I just couldn’t finish. But he’s also written some of my all-time favorites, and I can’t ignore the fact that he just might write another one! So because of Perdido Street Station and The Scar, he makes my list.

9Laini Taylor. You may know her for Laini TaylorDaughter of Smoke & Bone and Days of Blood & Starlight, but Taylor has written other gorgeously written, carefully crafted novels as well. Her writing is what draws me in, and her characters are what keep me reading.

10Alice Hoffman. My first Alice Hoffman bookAlice Hoffman was Turtle Moon, and I was enchanted by her quirky characters and magical stories. I wanted my life to be like a Hoffman novel, and so I’ve read pretty much everything she’s written. I don’t think I’ve ever been disappointed.

Thanks for stopping by! I’d love to hear about your “auto-buy authors”!


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Tammy’s Top Ten Most Vivid Worlds in Books

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, and every week they come up with a new Top Ten theme. This week’s theme is pretty cool! To come up with list, I simply thought back to the books I’ve read that gave me a tingly feeling that I only get when I’ve been transported to someplace extraordinary.  For the most part, the books mentioned are fantasy or science fiction, and the settings are invented. But they all have one thing in common: I remember exactly where I was when I read them. Here they are in no particular order:

1. Hogwarts (and all the other locations in the books) from the Harry Potter books by J. K. Rowling. This was the first thing that popped into my head when I was thinking of vivid worlds. Rowling created literal magic with her seven Harry Potter books, and I can’t imagine a top ten list without mentioning Hogwarts!

2. Lyra’s Oxford from His Dark Materials Trilogy by Philip Pullman. The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass are three of my all-time favorite books. They mostly take place in Oxford, England, and alternate between the real Oxford and a magical version of the city.

3. The desert world of The Dark Tower  series by Stephen King. Yes, here it is again on this blog. The Dark Tower. Best series ever! King’s desolate wasteland of a desert is so beautifully drawn and is the perfect setting for this complicated and epic story. The setting changes throughout the series, and each location is as vivid as the last.

4. New Orleans, Louisiana in Interview With the Vampire by Anne Rice. Rice’s seminal vampire tale set the standard for the romantic vampire stories of today, and her descriptions of the French Quarter in the 1800’s are perfectly suited to the story and characters. You can practically smell the air of New Orleans in this book!

5. The world of Hyperion in Hyperion and The Fall of Hyperion by Dan Simmons. Here is another series I keep going back to on this blog. I can’t help it, the best books keep resurfacing. If I mention them often enough perhaps I can get more people to read them! Hyperion is science fiction at its best. Simmons is amazing, and his take on The Canterbury Tales will leave you speechless. Seriously.

6. New Crobuzon from Perdido Street Station and The Scar by China Miéville. Miéville is a true poet, and this fantastic world comes alive in the pages of these books. I have to admit some of Miéville’s work has left me cold, but these two stories rank among my favorite books of all time. Please read them!

7. Great Britain from The Eyre Affair (and other Thursday Next books) by Jasper Fforde. This fun series from Fforde takes place in an alternate 1980’s England, where characters from literature exist inside and outside of the pages of their books. In this first book of the series, Literary Detective Thursday Next must track down Jane Eyre when she is kidnapped from the pages of her book.

8. Manchester, England from Vurt and Pollen by Jeff Noon. Another science fiction series I love, the strange and drug-infested world that Noon has created is unlike anything I’ve read before. Vurt is a drug, feathers that you put on your tongue. The different colored feathers give you different types of highs and lows, and some of them are extremely dangerous. I felt like I was on drugs the whole time I was reading these books. What better example of a vivid world could there be?

9. Hell in Mortality Bridge by Steven R. Boyett. I’ve never read anything like Boyett’s ghastly descriptions of Hell and what one man experiences when he takes an extremely long trek there and back to save his wife.  Based on the story of Orpheus and other legends, Boyett forces you to watch all the torments of Hell, and I guarantee you won’t be able to look away.

10. Wisconsin from The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski. It may seem like a strange choice, but this book had such a strong impact on me that I had to include it. Edgar Sawtelle is my only mainstream fiction title, but the lonely farmland in Wroblewski’s first novel plays a big part in the story, and this strange and sad retelling of Hamlet is one of my favorite books ever. And I mean that!

Please let me know your Top Ten Most Vivid Worlds! I’d love to see what you’ve picked.


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Tammy’s Top Ten Books on My Spring Reading List

Wow, it’s Tuesday again?? Time is flying by, and my reading list is getting longer and longer…Here is my Top Ten for this Tuesday, presented by The Broke and the Bookish:

1. Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore. Release date: May 1, 2012. The final book in Cashore’s Seven Kingdoms Trilogy. Graceling and Fire are two of my all-time favorite YA books.  They are so original and I love the characters so much, that I can’t wait to read Bitterblue.

2. Sacre Bleu by Christopher Moore.  Release date: April 3, 2012.  The cover has changed, but I’m still very excited to read Moore’s latest. In fact, I like this cover even better than the first one.  Looking for some comedy with your horror? Moore’s the guy for you.

3. Starters by Lissa Price. Now available.  I keep hearing amazing things about this book, but it’s going to have to wait until I catch up with some of my review books. Oh, the anticipation…

4. Railsea by China Miéville. Release date: May 15, 2012.  This YA book from Miéville looks fantastic. Although I have to admit I haven’t enjoyed everything I’ve read by him, a couple of his adult books are all-time favorites of mine.

5. The Wind Through the Keyhole by Stephen King. Release date: April 24, 2012. Yes, yes I know. Another Stephen King book. Yes, I love The Dark Tower, and I can’t wait to read this installment.

6. The Earthquake Machine by Mary Pauline Lowry. Now available.  Mary asked me to review her book, and I am so looking forward to it! She recently had the cover redesigned, and it’s really beautiful. Can’t wait!

7. The Destroyed by Brett Battles. Release date: March?  Hmmm, not sure about the release date, but my buddy Brett will soon release the next chapter in his Quinn series. Isn’t the cover eye-catching? If you haven’t read this series yet, where have you been??

8. Pure by Julianna Baggott. Now available.  I just mentioned this in another post, and it’s another book I’m anxious to read, but will probably have to set aside for now.

9. The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa. Release date: April 24, 2012.  I’ve been hearing a lot about Julie’s new series lately, so here it is, on my list. I love the cover, I’m a sucker for tears of blood!

10. Gods Without Men by Hari Kunzru. Now available.  I’ve never read Kunzru before, but his latest takes place in the Mojave Desert where I grew up.  That alone is a good enough reason to read this book!


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Tammy’s Top Ten Favorite Book Covers – Randomly Pulled from the Shelves

It’s Top Ten Tuesday once again, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  I love this week’s theme, because I am a visual person and I’m usually drawn to anything with strong graphic design.  This week I’ve gone to the stacks and randomly pulled out books with covers I love.  It’s hard to pick only ten, but these ten books are all graced with either beautiful artwork or a bold design.  Most just happen to be science fiction or horror, but I didn’t choose them based on any type of genre. Here they are, graphically arranged for the greatest impact!

1. Vurt by Jeff Noon. Cover design by Joe McGee.  Vurt is a whacked out science fiction story unlike anything you’ve ever read. If you love SF and you haven’t read Vurt, go get a copy right away. This is the American cover, which I like better than the British one (Noon is English). It’s a simple design with high impact.

2. Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor. Cover design by Dave Caplan and Alison Impey.  This is a cross-over book from another Top Ten Tuesday, but I love the cover so much it just had to be in this list. The simple concept, turquoise mask, and eroded font make this a stand-out cover. I’m pretty sure this will show up on other lists!

3. Sharp Teeth by Toby Barlow. Cover design by Suzanne Dean.  This is a great example of one of my favorite book designs: books without dust jackets.  The red cloth background is directly imprinted with the black dog and title. Again, simple and bold design catch my eye ever time.  And the book’s great too! (yes, it’s about werewolves)

4. Lonely Werewolf Girl by Martin Millar. Cover design by David Janik.  Another werewolf story, this is a paperback original (in other words, it was not published in hardcover). And again, this just happens to be the American cover.  Millar is another British writer, and the British cover is the same, but without the color.  I like the color much better…

5. Nameless Sins by Nancy Collins. Cover design by Joe Christ.  OK, this jacket is a bit disturbing, so don’t look too closely if you’re squeamish!  But I love it because it’s not something you see every day, especially not these days.  This is an older book, from 1994, from small publisher Gauntlet Publications. The one I have is a limited, signed edition, and hey, I just noticed it’s signed by the cover designer as well as the author! Cool…

6. Perdido Street Station by China Miéville. Cover design by Edward Miller.  This book cover is a conservative choice for me, but it’s a truly beautiful illustration.  It perfectly describes the strange and otherworldly quality of Miéville’s story. This is the British version, which I prefer to the American one. Also one of my all-time favorite fantasy/SF books.

7. Conjunctions 39: The New Wave Fabulists. Cover design by Gahan Wilson and Jerry Kelly.  Conjunctions is a publication of Bard College in New York.  I’m very surprised that this image was on file with Goodreads, since it’s not your typical “book.”  This edition is filled with short stories by some big-name writers, and I hope it’s still being published, because not only is it a beautiful example of cover art, but it’s quite a wonderful publication.

8. McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern, Issue 20. Cover design by Jacob Magraw-Mickelson.  You can’t really have a Top Ten about book covers without including at least one McSweeney’s, can you?  I love all of their covers, and this is just one example of their awesomeness. It’s a shame I can’t show you the insides as well, since this issue is loaded with incredible artwork from many different and talented people.

9. Zombies vs. Unicorns edited by Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier. Cover design by Lauren Rille and Sonia Chaghatzbanian. Cover illustration by Josh Cochran. I wish I could take off the black half-jacket and show you the entire illustration that is printed directly on the book. It’s gorgeous. In fact, the entire book, published by McElderry Books, is a great example of high quality book design.

10. The Hallowed Hunt by Lois McMaster Bujold. Cover illustration by David Bowers.  It’s hard to tell from this dinky picture, but the artwork on this cover is really beautiful. And it has everything I want on a cover:  beautiful scenery, cool animals, and a cute guy with weapons!  I need to re-read this stellar fantasy, now that I’m looking at it again.

That’s ten, folks! There are plenty more lovely covers out there, maybe we’ll have Part Two someday…


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