Yeah, sorry about that earworm, 80s and 90s children.
I found this comic from The Awkward Yeti while meandering around the internet, and I could not save it to my phone fast enough:
Like I said, saved to my phone immediately.
Then I asked the SBTB crew, “What was the last book you read that took you out of the real world?”
I have a review for this one).
It really has a a amazing sense of time / place so I felt like I was in Chicago in the 90’s
Amanda: I’d say Seanan McGuire’s Wayward Children series! I
like that they’re novellas too, that way I don’t feel too bogged down by committing to a full-length novel right now.
I had trouble re-entering reality when I had to stop reading in the middle of a chapter.
Shana: I was pretty sad to leave the world of Kimberly’s Lemming’s Mead Mishaps series.
Tara: Truth and Measure/Above All Things by Roslyn Sinclair did it for me.
Contemporary romance doesn’t usually have that effect on me, but I just can’t put them down whenever I start them.
Susan: Shana, one of my friends recommended that series to me yesterday!
For me, it’s been The Ancient Magus’ Bride by Kore Yanazaki.
Putting it down always leaves me with a book hangover because Chise! Discovering family and personhood! And the magical world unfolding around her is so well done!
Sneezy: I’m still having incredible trouble focusing on books, something that took my brain out of the real world recently is My Neighbour Totoro.
I love its messages about hope, resilience, and even faith in some ways.
What about you? What book have you read recently that transported your brain and your heart out of the real world for awhile? We’d love to hear yours!
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I mentioned this in the recent review of SWEET BERRIES, but I just finished C. M. Nascosta’s MOON BLOODED BREEDING CLINIC, and her Cambric Creek “monster romances” take me completely out of the world. Even though there are many mundane similarities to the “real” world (jobs, homes, businesses, coffee shops, restaurants, airports, ride-shares, sometimes dysfunctional family dynamics, etc.), everything is transformed by being a world where humans live, work, and often fall in love with monsters, mythological creatures, and anthropomorphized animals. Nascosta’s world-building is excellent. When you finish one of her books (I’d recommend MORNING GLORY MILKING FARM as a starter), you have both a book hangover and a desire to move to Cambric Creek and live alongside the elves, orcs, and werewolves.
Audrey Faye’s GHOST MOUNTAIN WOLF SHIFTER series (on KU), recommended in the most recent WAYR, is astoundingly good at taking me out of this world — to the detriment of “real” life stuff that absolutely needs to be done. Each of the eight books in the series builds organically on the prior ones and opens up the deep and often debilitating pain of living with and trying to move forward after living in a horrendously abusive community that gives toxic masculinity (and every other toxic -ism) new meaning. Having this play out in the context of a predominantly wolf-shifter community was brilliant; one is able to deal with issues while maintaining some distance from “real” life. Faye’s ability to address the multiple dimensions of pain — including how abuse affects those around the most deeply abused — without feeling voyeuristic or detached is truly phenomenal. There is so much humor and pathos in the books that I simply could not stop reading them. There were no silver bullets, just the hard work of a damaged community populated with people redefining themselves slowly, painfully, and joyfully. Thank you so much for that shout out for the series @LisaM.
Firstly. Just want to say, hey Bitchery, it’s good to be back. Whatever error 504 was it is gone and I am happy!
Secondly. Oh that “Why am I so hungry? Why is it dark out? Wow, I need to pee!” feel of sinking into a really good story. Nothing like it.
Anne Bishop can do that to me, most recently with CROWBONES. It was compulsively readable. There was this feeling of something bad happening to a character if I put it down. I needed to keep going to be sure everyone was still okay. Having been to upstate New York I could visualize the town, the resort, the isolation. Devoured it and was a little lost when it was over.
Also going to shout out Andy Weir’s THE MARTIAN and HAIL MARY. The protagonists in each were relatable, funny, adaptable. If you’re not the type of reader who can enjoy the immersive geeky details of life in space, probably not your jam. I, however, was transported. When Roland determines to find a way to communicate with his alien counterpart, and the way their friendship evolves was a delight. I just wanted more and more interspecies bromance and problem solving.
I will second all three of @DonnaMarie’s recommendations and add:
The Linesman series by SK Dunstall
The Touchstone series by Andrea Höst
The Claimings series by Lyn Gala
All three of these series take you to Other Worlds as none take place on earth.
If we’re talking classic books, I’d say the entire original 14 Oz books by L. Frank Baum. Almost all of them follow the same basic pattern–people need to get somewhere, they set out on an adventure and encounter all kinds of creatures on the way. Strange new friends, and enemies too. Remember how Dorothy met the Scarecrow, the Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion in the first book? It’s basically thirteen more books of that.
As a kid, I dreamt of finding translations of the newer books, written by other authors, but these days I’m happy I never did. I’m a bit of a purist these days, and to have somebody else’s stories continued after their death… It’s not always a bad thing, but I dunno. Besides, what if they’d turned out to be better than the ones I read as a child? (The horror!)
If you want more modern reading, the Abarat books by Clive Barker are the story of a young girl who travels to a magical land called, surprise surprise, Abarat. Fine books, that a friend of mine got me into.
To be clear: These two series are both very much focused on the fun world-building and the unique and fascinating characters. If you want books that you read for the plot, you’ll need to look elsewhere. In fact, one negative review of the first Abarat>/i> book complained that the plot was almost nothing except the protagonist moving from strange new place to strange new place, though I personally like that part. (My feelings on the matter is that if the only point of a book is to show off the world-building, why not be straightforward about it?)
Spoke too soon. And it’s error 520. 🙁
Cate C. Wells’s “Stonecut County” series is having that effect on me. Not somewhere I want to live (pretty awful social relations on the whole, but with some people who can see them for what they are), written to be vividly immersive.
HORSE by Geraldine Brooks. It starts slow–so slow, in fact, that I almost abandoned it for lack of interest in where it was going. But close to the half-way mark it picked up for me to the extent that I was totally engrossed and quite sorry to come to the end–which, spoiler alert–was not at all an HEA. But a fantastic immersion into the world of horses and people treating people poorly.
@Vasha, I just downloaded those this morning before leaving for work! Thanks for the recommendation!
@DonnaMarie: There are actually three in the series but it’s very confusing because the middle one, “Heavy,” is officially part of Wells’s “Steel Bones MC” series.
@DonnaMarie: I recommend reading the Stonecut County books in this order: HITTING THE WALL, HEAVY, AGAINST A WALL. They’re all available on KU, and while each book features a self-contained romance, there’s an overarching backstory that gets teased out over the course of the three books. And I agree with @Vasha: Wells’s world-building is excellent.
Also, I’m still getting the Cloudflare error when I try to open the site on my iphone. Other devices are ok, although when I opened it on my kindle just now, the message “Smart Bitches would like access to your camera” popped up. That didn’t seem even slightly legit, so it was exit and start over for me.
Bend Toward the Sun by Jen Devon. I didn’t love everything about the romance, but the writing was gorgeous, and the Pennsylvania vineyard setting occupies permanent real estate in my head. Somehow the lush prose made any reservations I may have had easily forgivable, and I would occasionally find myself contemplating the world of the book at times when I couldn’t be reading. Work is so inconvenient sometimes. I really look forward to her next novel.
AJ Lancaster’s Stariel Series. On KU, but I recently did a re-read in audiobook form and it was still hard to press pause for the night.
Jordan L. Hawk’s Whyborne and Griffin series, and the follow-up Rath and Rune series. I actually started with Unhallowed, the first book in the Rath and Rune series, and then went back to the first series because the setting of the town of Widdershins is just such eerie fun. Maybe I need a reread once we get to Halloween season…
@PamG, you beat me to it with Bend Toward the Sun. I was completely transported to that vineyard and to the rhythm of the seasons (the book takes place over a full year).
I’ve also just finished a back to back reading of Emerald Blaze and Ruby Fever, the last two books in Ilona Andrews’ Hidden Legacy series and totally resented every time I had to put them down to deal with the mundane details of real life.
Also, any of Rosalind James’s New Zealand books have that effect on me. Most of them are pretty doorstoppery as romances go, but I tend to devour them and resent all time spent apart. Reading Kiwi Rules, the first book in her New Zealand Ever After series, I became totally wrapped up in the road trip elements, and then stunned by the amazing notion that a sick person would be able to just walk into a clinic and get treated. Sigh. Makes me wanna teleport.
@Qualisign, Ghost Mountain was the first thing that came to mind as I was reading the post this morning. I was debating about mentioning them again, so I am very happy to see that you read and enjoyed them as much as I did! I am now stalking Audrey Faye on all the book/author sites I can think of, for any hint of the next book.
I was delighted to find the world of Abigail Kelly’s CONSORT’S GLORY, the first of her New Protectorate series, and am now waiting for the next one to come out. It’s a new take on an alternate world of elves witches etc. There’s also short story book from the same world, and I liked 2 of the 3 stories included.
@Vasha & @TrpleD, thanks for the 411 on the Wells books.
I, too, have been having the Cloudshare 520 error. On Android platform. I usually blame these things on my Luddite level affinity for technology, so it’s good to know it’s not just me. I’m in now, but I expect the error msg as soon as I hit send. Sigh.
Wow, I just had a memory of being alone in the house in the ’80s, and looking up from a book to realize that a song I liked was playing on MTV (I even remember, though I’m not sure I should admit, that it was Ebony and Ivory with Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney). I hadn’t even noticed music was playing. I believe I was reading Joan Aiken’s wolves series. It’s not often that I get so completely wrapped up in a story anymore, which makes me both sad and relieved because I don’t often have that kind of free time. I’d say the closest would be KJ Charles.
I’m currently having the biggest book hangover after finishing Sonali Dev’s “The Emma Project” so that’s the one I’m going with. Although it is a contemporary romance the setting is so different to my own that it swept me away (they are an Indian American family in San Francisco while I’m in the middle of Europe). The clothes, the food, the buildings, the drama! It all played in my head like a movie and I even had a fancast for the main characters (which I never do). I’m still not sure if I want to read the other books in the series immediately (the trouble with loving the last book in a romance series is that you don’t get cute background action from your ship in the other books) but Vansh and Naina are going to live rentfree in my head for a while.
I’m looking into the error messages – thank you for the heads up!
I think it might have been Juliet Marillier’s Blackthorn and Grim series for me, starting with Dreamer’s Pool. She has a blog post people might like, from March this year, about unlikely heroes – the comments from writers are actually more interesting than the original post. It’s here.
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