Nutshell: Jim Butcher and Kerrie L. Hughes put together this anthology of stories about people on the fringes of mundanity, steeped in the supernatural world. As with any anthology, within the parameters the editors set is a great variety.
Molly Carpenter faces the challenges of working for Queen Mab while facing a bizarre cult in Alaska.
Peacock, street thief indentured to some kind of supernatural mob tycoon, steals a soul from Hell.
Elsie Harrington, half-demon, gets kidnapped from a roller derby by the local D&D group.
It’s a dark and occasionally quirky collection of stories for the urban fantasy reader.
Read-alikes: Any of the authors’s other works are of course like this. Jim Butcher and Kat Richardson are the ones I’m familiar with. Simon Greene, though I didn’t care for the book of his I read, is quite like.Read More »
Nutshell: Jethro Seagrave is a teen in a predicament. He and the members of his crew are basically indentured to a crime lord, one Hammer Dafoe. (Dafoe? Really? Okay then.) Hammer uses Jeth and his crew to boost ships, stealing the irreplaceable stardrives within. But when his latest job sends the crew into the most mysterious sector of space to steal a ship with a top-secret weapon, Jethro uses the danger to bargain a deal: He gets to go free on his ship in exchange for the job. Hammer gives his word. All Jethro has to do is give him the ship, and find some leverage to help Hammer keep his promise. The secret on the stolen ship might help with that.
Readalikes: Timothy Zahn’s Dragon and Rider Series is most like this. His Icarus Hunt is also similar, as well as Star Wars books that feature a primarily space-located Han Solo, such as The Han Solo Trilogy and parts of the Jedi Academy Trilogy.Read More »
The Shadowhunters: Eleven books as a trilogy, a pair of trilogies, and two story collections.
Author: Cassandra Clare
Nutshell: Demons exist. So do a secret race of demon-slayers. They are called the Nephilim, or Shadowhunters.
In the late 2000s, Clary Fray discovers them in New York city, and learns that she is one of them. Her mother not only raised her as a normal human but erased all her memories of the magical world. But now Clary has discovered her birthright, and just in time, as she is about to be a key player in a war between the Shadowhunters and their greatest shame: the twisted Valentine.
In the 1850s, Teresa Gray arrives in London, the city with all the best novels. She’s eager to meet her brother and start a new life after the deaths of their parents, but something’s not right. The women that pick Teresa up at the docks are, frankly, hideous and terrifying, and the place they take Teresa is more like a prison than a home. Then they torture her, forcing her to perform dark magic. But one night, the Shadowhunters raid the place, expecting a den of demons. Teresa is at least as suprised to find a rescuer breaking into her room as the rescuer, one Will Herondale, is to see her there. After a slight misunderstanding (in which Teresa proves quite able to defend her virtue from mysterious young men at midnight) Will manages to hold her off long enough to rescue her, and takes her back with him. This is fortunate, as Teresa has the first warning of one of the greatest threats the Shadowhunters have ever faced.
In the Bane Chronicles, Magnus Bane, reprobate warlock, makes his irreverent, immortal way through the centuries, loving deeply, living wildly, and learning, but not too much. Too much learning is for people who want to be serious. And depressing. Magnus Bane is never serious or depressing. If he starts to show signs of seriousness, he gets himself riotously drunk instead.
And in the Tales from the Shadowhunters Academy, Simon Lewis does some things because of spoilers from the previous books and then some other spoilers happen and then more spoilers.
Read-alikes: There are lots of “Turns out you’re actually a character in a fantasy novel” books like the Mortal Instruments. Try the Iron King, by Julie Kagawa, or the Tryll series by Amanda Hocking. For the Infernal Devices, I find The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross is satisfyingly similar. Any Buffy the Vampire Slayer literature is going to be like this also, though I haven’t read any myself.
Nutshell: Julian is not a very good dragon. At 23, he has never burned down a town. He does not make mortals tremble when he approaches. He hasn’t even made a cutthroat business deal! He has mostly stayed in his room, flying under his mother’s radar and trying to get along with what few siblings she hasn’t eaten.
But his mother is a queen dragon and cannot tolerate a slacker dragon making her look bad. So she dumps him in the Detroit Free Zone (where dragons are illegal, of course) and tells him three things:
1. He gets no more magic.
2. He gets no more dragon form.
3. In his lowly human form, like a mere mortal, he must do something worthy of belonging to the largest dragon clan in the world within a month, or she will eat him.
And if that weren’t terrible enough, Julian’s getting messages from his brother Bob again.
Readalikes: The Dresden Files are rather like this. Read More »
Nutshell: In a very, very believable future, the smartphone is an implant in your brain, and everything you can do with it, you can do overlaid on the real world. Everything the internet has to offer (and more, because this is the future, you guys.) available in an eyeblink.
Marisa is a gamer and a hacker in this world, a world that’s surprisingly normal. People try to get by, and there never seem to be enough jobs (fewer, now that so much can be done by robots), and schools assign homework. And people do what they can for fun.
Marisa’s friend Anja experiments with body hacks for fun. But when she picks up a sensory-overload app, a drug in digital form, Marisa and their team find a deep, dark, scary hole in the world of digitally-enhanced life. And in order to rescue Anja, they’ll have to go all the way to the bottom.
Read-alikes:Heir Apparent by Vivian Vande VeldeRead More »
Nutshell: Alex Rider’s uncle is dead. Many nephews would not find this such a world-shaking revelation, but Rider’s uncle was his sole relative and guardian. Now, alone and a ward of the bank his uncle worked for, his world is about to get very different.
The bank is a front for MI6. The world is very different indeed.
Not only is Alex now a ward of a branch of MI6, they want him to pick up where his uncle left off. His age and lack of experience are bonuses, in their eyes. Nobody will suspect a teenager of being a spy. They can get him right to the heart of the villain’s lair. It will be perfect. And if he doesn’t, well, they’ll deport his housekeeper and only friend, and send him to a cheap, nasty boarding school. What’s a fourteen-year-old to do?
Readalikes: The Gallagher Girls series by Ally Carter, any James Bond novel.Read More »
Nutshell: This book is very easy to describe in a nutshell:
Han Solo Does Ocean’s Eleven.
For those of you not sold, or not familiar with Ocean’s Eleven (Get thee to the library. Get, I say!) Han Solo is looking for work between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back. He would go pay Jabba with his Rebel Reward Credits (trademark!) but, alas, they were stolen. By a pirate. Stupid pirates. He’s approached by a man with a job: Break into the most secure vault on the planet, owned by a high-placed member of Black Sun, the criminal syndicate which makes Jabba look forgiving and generous by comparison. All Han has to do to be set for life is come up with a team, bang out a plan, and pull off a heist. In two weeks. Say it with me: “I’ve got a bad feeling about this….”
Read-alikes: Most other Star Wars books involving Han Solo (There’s a trilogy named for him you could start with). Most other Timothy Zahn novels (although the Icarus Hunt is the one most like an actual heist). I confess, the only other titles I can come up with are actually movie titles like Ocean’s Eleven and Leverage. Read More »