Tag Archives: fantasy

40 Years of Favorite Part Two: My Favorites From My Twenties

9 Feb

You may remember I started a list of my favorite books or series of books through the years in honor of my milestone 40th birthday with books I loved as child and teen.  I thought I’d finish out my 40th year with part two and three of that post and look at favorite books from my twenties (and in the next post my thirties).

21. The Works of Tanith Lee

I went through a period as a teen into my early twenties of being a huge fan of the dark fantasy of Tanith Lee and it would be impossible for me to pick only one of her works as a favorite from that time period; unfortunately not all of her prolific work is currently in print.  For vampire fans check out Personal Darkness available from BCCLS libraries.  For those who enjoy retellings of Fairytales, like I do, check out a very adult retelling of Snow White, White as Snow.  You can borrow her Lionwolf Trilogy as eBooks from Hoopla.

22. Ray Bradbury’s From the Dust Returned


Ray Bradbury’s prose always hooks me into his stories. From the Dust Returned is composed primarily of a series of short stories Bradbury wrote decades earlier, centering on a family of monsters, vampires, and ghosts named the Elliotts. When I was in college I remember being on a Goth Music Discussion email list (these were the days before Facebook and even Myspace) where one of the participants was in love with one of the stories in From Dust Returned and encouraged everyone to check it out; I did and it remains a favorite. The cover art for the novel was provided by Charles Addams, who created his own macabre family, The Addams Family.

23. Poppy Z. Brite’s Lost Souls and 24. Drawing Blood


Poppy Z. Brite, pen name of transgendered author Billy Martin, was known in the early 90’s for his horror stories.  My two favorites from that time are the haunted house tale Drawing Blood and the vampire novel Lost Souls.  Brite then went on to write several dark comedies in the late 90’s/early 2000’s set in the culinary world of New Orleans in the Liquor series.  Hopefully Martin will chose to come out of authorly retirement and start writing again sometime soon since I’d be curious to see what he has for his next chapter.

25. Spider Robinson’s Callahan Series, 26. John DeChancie’s Castle Perilous Series, and 27. Alan Dean Fosters’s Spellsinger series


Following my dark fantasy period, there was a time in the 90’s where I couldn’t get enough of funny fantasy and science fiction.  Spider Robinson’s Callahan series is set in a bar where the regulars include a talking dog, a time traveler, and alien life forms; many puns and shenanigans ensue.  Several of Robinson’s books are available from BCCLS Libraries.  John DeChancie’s Castle Perilous series features a castle with thousands of doors, each of which opens onto another dimension; those who enter often receive surprising magical abilities.  Alan Dean Foster’s Spellsinger series features a student who is pulled into a world where animals talk and behave like humans, and the protagonist gains the power of using music to cast spells.  Books in these series are all available from Hoopla as eBooks or digital audiobooks.

28. Connie Willis’s Bellwether


You may remember my post about Connie Willis’s terrific books about time travel; our book discussion group even read Doomsday Book one month. The book of hers I first picked up my freshman year of college when it came out was Bellwether which looks at a group of scientist who are attempting to study what causes and how to create a fads. Looking back on it now Bellwether seems predictive of the current fad of viral marketing and social media influencers, though at the time I just fell in love with the funny, quirky book.

29. Alice Hoffman’s Practical Magic


I have written previously about my love of my Alice Hoffman’s magical fantasies which feature bold female heroines either in historical or contemporary settings. My first and still one of my favorites is her novel Practical Magic. It is definitely worth rereading since she just published in 2017 a prequel The Rules of Magic, where she writes about an earlier generation of the Owens family: Franny, Jet, and Vincent, set in the 1960’s.

30. Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale


Speaking of Dystopian works, The Handmaid’s Tale was shocking and thought provoking to me when I read it as a college freshman. The story has gotten a renewed buzz with its adaptation as a streaming series. I also enjoyed Atwood’s other fiction and poetry.  I got to see her at a reading/Q&A when I was in graduate school at a Non-for-Profit Theater in Brookline, MA, which for a book nerd was practically a holy experience at the time.

-Written by Aimee Harris, Head of Reference

Historical Fantasies with Feisty Heroines by David D. Levine and R.S. Belcher

24 Jan

I’m always a fan of Gaslight Fantasies, Steampunk, and other forms of retro futurism.  Recently I enjoyed two very different takes on the female adventurer/pirate that I hope you want to check out too.  All are available from the Hoboken Public Library and other BCCLS libraries.

Arabella of Mars & Arabella and the Battle of Venus by David D. Levine

Arabella of Mars had been on my to-be-read list since it came out last summer so when the sequel Arabella and the Battle of Venus came out this past July, I decided it was time to read both.  Fans of steampunk and quirky, feisty heroines will enjoy this novel which begins in 1812 in a world where Napoleon is causing trouble for not only England and Europe, but other alien inhabited planets.  Arabella Ashby was raised on Mars where she is able to have more freedom and adventures than women typically had on earth, but all that changes when her mother decides to bring her back to England in order to make a lady of her.  However when a beloved family member left behind is threatened Arabella will do anything to get back and save the day.  In Arabella and the Battle of Venus, Arabella must come to the rescue of another loved one, this time being held hostage on Venus.  I found Levine’s writing style enjoyable and I loved the creative quirky retro-futurist details like the whales which swim amongst the stars.  The novels though found in the Adult Fiction section here at the Hoboken Library, would definitely be of interest to teens and tweens as well and won the 2017 Andre Norton Award for Young Adult SF & Fantasy.  Check them out and see why I can’t wait for the next in the series (tentatively titled Arabella and the Winds of Phobos or Arabella the Traitor of Mars according to Levine’s blog).

The Queen of Swords by R.S. Belcher

The Queen of Swords is the third in R.S. Belcher’s Golgotha series.  Although the series is mainly set in the Weird West, this novel takes place mainly in New England and Africa.  I enjoyed the first in the series The Six Gun Tarot which reminded me a bit of Stephen King’s The Gunslinger merged with HP Lovecraft elder gods, but I enjoyed The Queen of Swords even more because it focuses on my favorite character of the series, Maude Stapleton, a seemingly proper Victorian lady, who is secretly, one of the Daughters of Lilith, an ancient organization seeking to protect humanity.  In this novel it intersperses Maude’s efforts to get her kidnapped daughter back with the story of her ancestor, Anne Bonny, a pirate queen.  Unlike with Like in Levine’s stories both Maude and Anne must contend with being underestimated and oppressed by a society that views them as weak despite their wit and physical abilities.  This series has more violence and adult content than in Levine’s works so are more appropriate for an older audience and it is more a blend of horror/ historic fantasy.  Although there are spoilers for previous books, so you may want to read the first two books in the series first, this entry stands well on its own.

Like these books; then check out my previous posts about Gail Carriger’s Steampunk series, Catherynne M. Valente’s Radiance, and Leanna Renee Heieber’s The Eterna Files, and Liesel Schwarz’s The Chronicles of Light and Shadow for more strong female protagonists in speculative fiction.

Written by Aimee Harris, Head of Reference

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