Each week, our crack staff shares their current reading choices…

I’m re-reading Mystic and Rider by Sharon Shinn (in preparation for the Great Twelve Houses Reread for Geek Speak, coming later this year). This was never my favorite out of that particular series, but it’s a lot of fun getting re-acquainted with Senneth, Tayse, and the gang.

Also, and probably more than you all need to know, but Shinn gives her characters the very best names of any author out there right now. Serramarra Kirra Danalustrous and her sister, the Serramarra Casserah! Ellynor Alowa! Willawendiss! In a later series, we’ll encounter people called Christara, Kayle Dochenza, and the Family Ardelay, among others. Her names sound like music. I’d read Shinn for that reason alone.

Kate Nagy, Editor at Large
Mystic and Rider (The Twelve Houses #1) by Sharon Shinn
Epic Fantasy | Ace Books | 2006

 

I am reading Night Shift, by Charlaine Harris, the third in the series about the fictional town of Midnight, Texas. Apparently the town sits at a historical crossroads that might be supernaturally influencing people to commit suicide at that intersection. The residents of Midnight are various witnesses to the blood that spills under the traffic light. The questions are, of course, “who?” and “why?” The answer might be in a werewolf-skin tome written by a vampire… in Etruscan, of all languages.

I’m following this series because I find Harris’s characters fascinating. There’s a psychic who does the majority of his work online. There’s a vampire running a pawn shop. Two former angels opened a salon and manicure place. The town’s only resident preacher is a weretiger. And there’s a snarky talking cat. I enjoy them all from the safety of the page.

For me, a Harris book is a combination of comfort-reading and character study. Fundamentally, Harris writes murder mysteries. While her main characters have ranged from a house cleaner (Lily Bard) to a telepath (Sookie Stackhouse), the structure of the story is pretty much the same across her various series. So while there may be twists and turns, there are not all that many surprises. This is an intellectually light-lift, post-beach summer reading kind of story.

Colleen Reed, Contributing Writer
Night Shift (Midnight, Texas #3) by Charlaine Harris
Urban Fantasy | Hachette | 2016

I am reading assorted stories — well, more like encyclopedia entries, really — set in the Potterverse by J. K. Rowling. Our very own Cathy van Hoof’s reread of the original series has reinvigorated my interest in the wizarding world more than even The Cursed Child did, it seemed the appropriate time to dig into these newly-released collections, presented by Pottermore, Rowling’s official Harry Potter website. Short Stories from Hogwarts of Power, Politics and Pesky Poltergeists gives us background on Dolores Umbridge, Professor Slughorn and Peeves, among others, while Short Stories from Hogwarts of Heroism, Hardship and Dangerous Hobbies is all about the tragic McGonnagall backstory, really. Who knew she had such depths?

Part authors notes, part FAQ, part fan service and a large part etymology of names, these fast reads are probably not going to wow even the biggest Potter fan, but they do provide some enjoyable context to more than one notable character’s in-book actions, as well as tell a few charming stories in their own right. My favorite so far has to be the list of all the Ministers of Magic since the post’s founding, and exactly what ousted them from office. (Dragon pox!) It’s fun.

Rachel Hyland, Editor-in-Chief
Short Stories from Hogwarts of Power, Politics and Pesky Poltergeists by J. K. Rowling
YA, Alternate Fantasy | Pottermore from J. K. Rowling | 2016

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Geek Speak Magazine's crack staff, speaking fluent geek since 2010...