Jen’s Cimmerian Tales Book Club

My “To Read” pile is starting to get out of hand, which means it looks like a skyscraper. Sitting at the top of it is the third installment of Ilsa Bick’s Ashes Trilogy, Monsters. Aptly named for the upcoming holiday, Monsters is sure to be just as addictive as the first two books, Ashes and Shadows.

The series follows Alex’s struggle to stay alive after Earth is devastated by an electromagnetic pulse that kills billions, alters the minds of thousands, and wipes out every computer system in existence. Thrown into a world that’s ending gives Alex, a terminal cancer patient, a chance for survival she didn’t have before. But the blast that may have stolen her tumor also changes kids into mindless things that eat the squishy parts of other humans, and kill to do it. Alliances form among monsters and men, and communities are born out of danger, tyranny, and the hope to stay alive long enough to rebuild the world.

Bick’s plot is thick and visceral in emotion and content so that your heart speeds up with her characters as they fight, quite literally, for their lives. She mixes survival story with horror in an unfolding apocalypse that challenges every human instinct. The fight or flight in this novel in tangible and goosebump-inducing. Fast paced, terrifyingly detailed, and just enough zombies and gore to make a surgery assistant (ie: me) unsure of her stomach, the series is perfect for a Halloween read.

Jen’s Cimmerian Tales Book Club


I believe that every writer has that one author that made them see the light. For me, Maggie Stiefvater is that author.

Stiefvater is a NY Times Bestseller and author of the Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy in which werewolves are anything but traditional. Her stand alone novel, The Scorpio Races, puts you right in the thick of a killer horse race, and her Faerie novels, Lament and Ballad, will have you believing in the lore of Irish magic and music.

She has, on numerous occasions, made this reader cry. Mostly because her characters are so entirely relatable that you can’t help but want to hug them or hit them upside the head. Her lyrical writing style is good at pulling you into her scenes so that you can see, touch, taste, hear every bit of it. Character driven and conflict dense, her books demand to be felt in a way that gets right between your ribs and pokes at every heartstring you’ve got. Which, in my opinion, is a good thing. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll cry from laughing, you’ll throw the book across the room and then run to pick it up because you just have to know, and then you’ll mourn the last page because you want the characters to stay.

Her newest endeavor is The Raven Boys, a three part series that follows Blue, a psychic’s daughter. Blue’s destiny is to kill her true love with a kiss. She doesn’t think this will be a problem until she gets tangled in a rich group of reckless Raven Boys from Aglionby Academy, namely privledged Gansey with his good looks and questionable vehicle. Gansey’s quest is to find Welsh King Glendower with Blue’s help, but what they find is shrouded in magic, ghosts, and the things that walk in dreams.

Today is September 17th, which means the second installment of Maggie Stiefvater’s Raven Boys series, The Dream Thieves, is on the shelves waiting to be preyed upon by lovers of magic, prophecy, and smudgy little crows named Chainsaw.

Jen’s Cimmerian Tales Book Club

If you know me as a writer, you know I’m a fan of all things shape shifters, intense relationships, and conflict, conflict, conflict. My first book club recommendation has all of these things at large, which is probably why I finished it in three hours when I should have been cleaning my apartment. Who needs clean laundry when you can have Teeth by Hannah Moskowitz?

Rudy is the main character in this novel, published just this year. Rudy is forced to move to a shadowy, remote island after his little brother is diagnosed with cystic fibrosis. The island has healing properties, and by properties I mean fish. Magic fish. The cystic fibrosis, cancer, depression curing kind. Fisherman bring them in by the hundreds, but only when merman Teeth can’t free them first. Part boy, part fish, part tortured soul, Teeth and Rudy forge a bond through desperation, and Teeth forces Rudy to choose between his brother’s life and loving a boy with fins.

Moskowitz’s Teeth paints a picture of mermaids not commonly seen in the YA genre. They’re not jewel toned, long haired beauties who sit on rocks and comb their hair with forks. Moskowitz’s merman as a character is jagged in appearance and mind, hateful, and complex. It takes all of Rudy’s heart to unearth the humanity in Teeth, and in doing so he discovers more about himself than he imagined.

The characterization in this read is unmatched in depth. Her deft mix of sarcasm, flip, and intensity had me hooked (pun intended) from the start. The relationships sink deep and stuck with me long after I read the last word. Teeth is the perfect mix of heartbreaking, beautiful, gritty, and dark to make you yearn for more time with the boys and their fish.