All that said, my books are designed so that you should be able to pick up any one of the novellas or the first book in any of the series and use that as a jumping in point, or simply to decide if you like my style of writing.
Hopefully this makes sense.
Not All Fans Agree With Me!
Reading order is hotly contested by my fans. As a completest, I myself would read them in chronological order as above. However, most of the members of my Facebook Group contend they ought to be read in order written.
So if you started with Soulless then this is for you!
“Now, Faith dear…”
“Of course, you look absolutely ravishing, but perhaps no mention of rocks right away?”
“Not a single sedimentary sequence shall pass my lips, I promise.” Faith attempted to look grave.
“I don’t know what that means, dear, but thank you.”
I decided to join in a bit of fun and spread the love by sharing ten authors who have helped me in my career.
Whether it was blurbing my very first book or for on-going counsel and friendship, read on to find out who!
Since I have had (and accumulated) so many over my decade as a pro, I decided to go with only those specifically from very early on in my career who maybe didn’t realize how important they were to me.
10 Authors Who Helped Miss Gail Early On
Mike invited me to sit with him during lunch at a con when I was a wide-eyed wannabe impressionable young writer. He gave me good advice and, most importantly, was kind and generous with his time. He modeled for me how an author ought to behave with new unknown writers. I’ve tried to do him justice by paying it forward, now that I’m a grizzled old warrior myself.
Howard Tayler, Mur Lafferty, Gail Carriger at WorldCon in Melbourne
I met Howard because I recognized his voice at a con party from his podcast Writing Excuses. (I trotted across the room at him waving an accusatory finger and saying, “You’re 15 minutes long!” To which he replied, deadpan, “And not that smart.” We’ve been great friends ever since. I’ve always enjoyed his very different perspective on being a creative, having come out of the world of online comics.
Angie gave me my very first cover blurb. And very very kind she was too.
Kristine Kathryn Rusch
Kris holds the starring roll as the first time I encountered an established author who had read and enjoyed my books. She was almost giddy when she met me at a con party. From such an icon of the field, I was utterly overwhelmed by her enthusiasm and approval. I’ve watched her career evolve to being entirely indie, and I read her business blog with great interest. I don’t always agree with her, but I utterly respect her.
Peter V Brett
Initially we met at World Fantasy 2009, Soulless’s launch weekend. But it was a few months later, when Peat came trundling up to a small East Coast con to say hi and hang out, that we became thick as thieves. We’ve been devoted author chums ever since. Right up to and including the part where he (and the lovely Wesley Chu) consoled my sobbing drunk arse at World Fantasy in 2012 after B&N lost 500 signed books. It was Peat who came up with the solution, and it’s Peat who I still go to at those times when the author and business sides of my life conflict in painful ways.
From the very beginning Ken and I were clearly kindred spirits. He was at a World Con new author meet & greet, I sat down next to him, and neither of us ever looked back.
In the arena of steampunk Mike (and Kevin, of course) have always been my foundation. Mike brought with him an entirely new perspective and academic way of looking at genre which I love and always find valuable. He also has the most wonderful voice. Someday I will write a Canadian werewolf character in honor of Mike.
J Daniel Sawyer
Dan is my rock, there’s no other way of putting it. We’ve written together, argued, driven around the country, consoled each other, and bolstered each other up. Our lives have taken us in different directions but we still try to Skype regularly and I know he’s always at the end of a phone line if I need him. He’s written me into his books, and I’ve written him into mine. We still work on projects together, as he is the audio genius behind Crudrat and now 20 Minute Delay.
So there you have it. Bet you didn’t know a lot of these Gail intimates, because as important as we are to each other, we don’t really talk about it publicly that much.
Anyway, show them a little joy if you can, try a book or two, tell them Gail sent you along with her love.
And in the immortal words of Dan, “be good to yourself” (and to the people who support you).
In an alternate Victorian world controlled by clock towers, a damaged clock can fracture time—and a destroyed one can stop it completely.
Danny is a prodigy who can repair both clockwork and fabric of time, however an obsession with rescuing his father causes him to be given the worst possible assignment and a secretive, aluring assistant.
Welcome to Andover, where superpowers are common, but internships are complicated.
Despite her heroic lineage, Jessica Tran is resigned to a life without superpowers and is merely looking to beef up her college applications when she stumbles upon the perfect (paid!) internship—only it turns out to be for the town’s most heinous supervillain. On the upside, she gets to work with her longtime secret crush, Abby, whom Jess thinks may have a secret of her own.
In the near future, an artificial human transfers her consciousness to the Internet and begins terrorizing the American public.
The closeted son of an ultra-conservative president must keep a budding romance secret from his father while protecting himself from a sentient computer program that’s terrorizing the United States—and has zeroed in on him as its next target—in this “socially conscious sci-fi thriller to shelve between The Terminator and Romeo & Juliet” (Kirkus, starred review).
Without faerie Dreams, the dragons won’t survive. And neither will anyone else.
Brash, boyish sixteen-year-old Sadie uses her half-human status to spy on the human monarchy, who’ve made it illegal to Dream. But spying is a risky business. Still, Sadie thought she was a pro until they sent a new human magistrate to the Grove. Evelyn.
I think this is a good range of options, some superhero, some steampunk, some sci fi, and some fantasy. All YA. Go forth and enjoy!
My dearest Gentle Reader, I finally went to see Love, Simon and I have a few thoughts.
I don’t wanna get into a debate or impinge on anyone’s feelings about this movie (you are utterly entitled to your own opinion and should not be influenced by mine).
Please note that in my (home) blog post I will not approve comments that are spoilers or crack open said debate, use your own platform for that, please.
So, if you haven’t seen it or you really adored it, then you might want to skip to the bottom of this blog post, Other Options, for more movie recs.
I don’t go to movies often, it’s hard to make time, but I really wanted to support this one so I managed to make it to a matinee showing on the very last day available in my area. Apparently I’m not alone in wanting to show support. I was, however, alone in the theater.
For me that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Because the flip size of objecting to the sanitization and retro feel, is the need for queer normalization (no, don’t get bristly with me, you’re still a unique special sequined love-ball, they just need help to get them there, OK?)
My point is, something bright and shiny and sweet (and yes, sanitized) slides in under the radar. It will be shown in theaters across the country and not just in arthouses in major cities. In that, I give Love, Simon props. It’s fighting, just not with knives.
The dialogue in Love, Simon was, well, fine. Dull.
Not quotable, but, you know, there, I guess?
My biggest issue is kind of a spoiler but I think I can be euphemistic enough to articulate in a way that only those who’ve seen in the movie will understand.
It has to do with the ferris wheel at the end.
I was a pretty upset to see Simon do unto Blue basically what Martin just did to Simon. He took away Blue’s agency in a pivotal life choice. It was social pressure, meant nicely, but still social pressure. While the nature of intent is open to debate, Simion essentially forces choice onto another. Blue should have had the option to make his choice in his own time without the empathy-pressure of Simon’s immanent humiliation hanging over Blue’s personal decision.
Sweet and romantic as I found Simon’s grand sappy gesture, that part really messed with my head. I don’t know if I’ll be able to forgive the movie for it.
In the end, I did enjoy it. I found it sweet and the characters were likable, and the romance was satisfying but that last plot point was a doozy.
If you liked Love, Simon you might also enjoy these. Or if you had some of the concerns I did with that movie, you might prefer these.
High School Setting
Were the World Mine ~ Streaming right now on Prime, this is the only movie I know (off the top of my head) that’s also a gay romance set in high school. However, I wouldn’t call it a comedy. It’s a slightly surreal romantic drama musical. To me, it feels like it owes more to a more cerebral movie like Flirting, than anything else. Bonus glitter… lots of glitter.
After High School
One of the reasons that Love, Simon is so important is that it’s a high school set romantic comedy with gay characters. And I get that, I do. It’s a favorite setting of mine, obviously. But here are some movies that tackle some similar themes in a slightly more adult setting.
Shelter ~ Just post high school this features adorable surfer dudes, familial responsibility, honor, duty, and painful coming out. Bonus points from one of my favorite romance tropes: finding love with the brother of the best friend.
Latter Days ~ One of my favorite all times movies. I features: a repressed Mormon, dramatic indie songs, unfair mistreatment by the ignorant, reformed bad boy, with bonus Tara from Buffy.
The scene when he drops the tray. I mean, come ON. So good.
Big Eden ~ This feels like a real romance. Yes there are quirky characters, but they’re so much more honest than Hollywood usually allows in terms of complexity, appearance, vocabulary, everything. Bonus cooking = love!
I have a blog post all about Queer Romantic Comedy Movies that includes these movies plus lesbian and trans romantic comedies. Check it you if you want some ladies in your gay.
“Curtsies & Conspiracies offered everything Etiquette & Espionage did. It had humor, whit, ridiculously fun antics, and vivaciously dynamic characters. It also offered plenty of gadgets and gizmos, important lessons on espionage and character assassination, and vivid descriptions of dirigibles and the wonderful world of The Finishing School.”
I’m not a particularly jolly person, Gentle Reader, but I do have a weird love of holiday romances and stories. So if you are like me, I thought I might recommend a few that I recently found, or not so recently as the case may be…
I’ve chosen for a range of ages and taste, because, frankly I’m an eclectic kinda girl.
Winter Story (Age 3 & Up)
Don’t know the Brambly Hedge by Jill Barklem books? OMG they are delightful! (Yes, my dear UK readers, these charming books were never a thing in the USA. We are sad.)
Winter Story is wonderful – the ice ball alone! So cute, such adorable little field mice running about and being so proper and cozy.
The household schematics will knock your socks off, and any kid lucky enough to receive this book as a gift. Warning, they will want all of them. They are all wonderful. And if you can’t get just Winter Story I can highly recommend the Year in Brambly Hedge box set, I grew up with this.
The Dark Is Rising (Age 10 & Up)
This is the second book in the Dark is Rising series, but it was the first one written. Like Narnia, I’m not convinced you must read these in world chronological order, but you can if you wish.
This one is both my favorite and the most winter-centered. I ADORE this book, it’s magical and wonderful and serious and thrilling. Merely thinking about the central poem gives me chills.
Come on say it with me, you know you want to.
When the Dark, comes rising, six shall turn it back;
Three from the circle, three from the track,
Wood, bronze, iron; water, fire, stone;
Five will return, and one go alone.
Argh, it’s SOOOO good. I highly recommend the audio, as that way you know how all the welsh words are pronounced. Before there was JK Rowling we old fools had Susan Cooper. I wasn’t wowed by the movie, don’t bother.
Orphaned Lucas figures spending the holidays with his obnoxious roommate’s family in New York City is better than staying alone on campus upstate. He ends up sharing a room again, this time with his roommate’s brother, Nate.
It’s very new-adult, exploring sex for the first time and that kind of thing. The setting is New York, the family is Jewish, the sex is explicit. It’s a bit of a love letter to New York.
One of my favorites is a true classic, Daniel and the Angel, I read this story in a paperback collection a million years ago, well before I ever even contemplated writing romance myself. Fortunately, for all of us, it exists as an ebook now!
When wealthy financier D. L. Stewart’s finds an injured woman in the snow in front of his New York City mansion, he has no idea she is the fair Lillian, a big-hearted and somewhat inept fallen angel, sent back to teach him what Christmas is really about.
A delightful tear-jerker that’s almost painfully sweet, I nevertheless still love this one.
BONUS: A Princess for Christmas Movie
I am weak in the face of sappy Christmas movies recommended to me by romances authors on Twitter. (This one then conformed by Drunk Austen. Trust me, just do everything Drunk Austen does. You can thank me later.) So this year I watched A Princess for Christmas (featuring Sam Heughan).
It is plagued with all the flaws of the genre: cliches, bad dialogue, and the child actors are cringe-worthy. BUT I still enjoyed it and there may even have been a little tear. So, spike that nog, or tot that totty with an extra jigger of brandy, sit back, and wallow.
There it is, I hope I have managed to make your holidays a little more fun and romantic or at the very least given you a gift idea or two.
Hugs and happiest of happies!
Yours in cosy tea-riddle and slightly grumpy comfort,
Do you want more curated on sale book picks? New stuff goes to Chirrup members first, because I love them bestest. Sign up here.
“Carriger does a great job of writing horny supernatural males. This is kind of a subjective generalization, but if you’ve read lots of paranormal romance then you know what I’m talking about. Yeah, it’s a genre stereotype, but that is why it tastes soooo good.”
Quote of the Day:
“The secret of life is to appreciate the pleasure of being terribly, terribly deceived.”
I think we all need to read something this wonderfully irreverent right now.
Need more persuading?
So I resisted reading any more of Klune (despite a killer reputation) because I read Wolfsong.
Let me very clear. Wolfsong is a strangely haunting, brilliant, and poignant gay shifter not-quite romance. But also full of weird character inconsistencies (particularly the motivations behind the love interest) and (to my mind) desperately needed a heavier hand on the developmental edit pass. (For which I get to blame a trad publisher in this instance. Honestly, sometimes I wonder about Dreamspinner.)
Reading The Lightning-Struck Heart, I realize that Klune may simply write epic length stuff. This one is kicking it on the order of 400 pages, which explains the $18 price tag for trade paperback.
There is nothing objectively wrong with long, it’s just not to my taste. Instead of gobbling the book up in one weekend (my normal habit – we all have vices) a Klune book will take me several days.
So treat yourself, it’s so worth it. Try the sample, see if you don’t snort with laughter at least once.
Betcha can’t stop…
Do you want more book recs and sale deals? Extra picks go to my Chirrup members, because I love them bestest. Sign up here.
P.S. Chirrup members are getting a chance to win one of three very limited Soulless hard covers from Subterranean Press this month. If you join before the next one goes out on Sunday, you too can enter.
This is one of my favorite books of all time. The re-release is now available, and because it is also finally in ebook form (also in audio), I’ve chosen it for our book group read along.
The edition I had as a child.
I thought instead of the usual “I chose this why” post for this book pick, I’d present the forward for you.
I can’t say it better than I already said it.
As it were.
When I was much younger, my friends and I would challenge ourselves with the hardest question ever asked of any avid reader:
Which book would you want with you if you were stranded on a desert island?
There were a lot of books I loved back then, and a lot of new books have been added to that list-of-adored over the years. But after the first time I read The Forgotten Beasts of Eld, it became the answer to this question, always and forever. Thirty years later, it’s still the answer.
So now I am left with a very difficult task. How do I explain my love for this perfect desert-island book?
The Forgotten Beasts of Eld is like no fantasy novel you have ever read before, and yet it is a touchstone for all of them. It’s not just that the story is magic — it’s that the prose itself is magical and heart-wrenching. Not only will you become immersed in plot and character but also sentence structure. McKillip forms a stunning union of what is told and what is portrayed, and how a writer can transcribe both. It’s like fractal mathematics: beautiful, impossible for an ordinary human to quite understand, and yet hypnotic. Just the opening paragraph is chilling, and thrilling, and all sort of other trilling llls in a row. I can’t describe this book, because it is better than that. It’s better than my capacity for description. It’s not funny, or cute, or silly — it is a work of pure lyrical genius.
This book is the Arthurian legend for an alternate human timeline. It is a riddle teasing you to understand power—in sorcery, in arms, in passion, in knowledge. It is a philosophical treatise on the petty wars of man and how they spin and weave their own magic over intellect and desire. It is about the price of forgiveness, the cost of revenge, and gentle, tentative, nurturing love in all its varied forms.
McKillip explores what it means to be a woman with power beyond the world of men, and then within it. In doing so, she illuminates how we turn ourselves into weapons — not so much how the act of being a weapon is flawed but how in choosing to become one, we risk losing our true selves.
And she does all this while still entertaining.
If you are about to read The Forgotten Beasts of Eld for the first time, I envy you. If this is a reread for you, as it is for me, I know without a shadow of a doubt you will find something new in its pages. I always do.
TOC ~ San Andreas Shifters #2 Status: Writing Rough draft.
The werewolves are back. There’s a bartender with a mysterious ability and a big scruffy man mountain with a powerful crush. The pack’s started a business called Heavy Lifting. Gail is contemplating shifter food trucks ~ Do it raw! Sometimes we wiggle, sometimes the food does.
“Suzanne Lavington narrated Poison or Protect. This was my first experience with Ms. Lavington and I generally enjoyed her pleasing voice. She also did a good job with varying her pitch to provide differentiation among the characters, including by producing deep enough sounding voices to convincingly sound male, a trait which can be a difficult feat for some female narrators. Ms. Lavington also did a good job with creating accents as both British and Scottish sounding accents are necessary for this story.”
Quote of the Day:
“Bingo uttered a stricken woofle like a bull-dog that has been refused cake.”
When people talk about The Blue Sword, Gentle Reader, they often feel compelled to mention The Hero and the Crown. These two books are intimately connected, although each stands alone (the one is a legend in the other).
Alanna was my first girl with a sword and magic, Hari was the first one I felt was like me.
That’s part of it.
I also always liked the romance line better in The Blue Sword. There’s something remarkable in that, because for most of this book the two leads are separated. Yet I believe in their love unquestionably.
Also I find the story is closer, more character driven, and more intimate in Blue. Hero always felt a bit more like a legend being told around a fireplace ~ a little distanced, as if I were watching the characters from far above.
“I really love how the girls always get into a mess and have to work their way out of it – strong females are wonderful. I also loved the humor, there is always the comic relief of a mechanical wiener dog if nothing else. Bumbersnoot makes me giggle and I love it.”
Quote of the Day:
“Editing to do list today includes “organize & pain” as opposed to “organize & plan.” Same difference, I suppose.”
Every devout reader knows that just as there are comfort foods, there are also comfort reads. And just like comfort foods, we don’t all have the same ones and they are often tied to childhood nostalgia.
I do a number of posts about the books I like to read, Gentle Reader, partly because it’s one of the questions I get a lot. Partly because I’m a voracious reader. And partly because I want to share the love.
Recently, on Twitter, I was asked what I read for comfort. I realized I’d never specifically addressed this kind of book her in the blog. The kind I reach for in times of worry and trouble. The one I wrap around my imagination like a warm fuzzy blanket. I tend to reach for different ones under different kinds of emotional stress, so I will try to tease that out for you.
The worldbuilding (and the vast and complex cast of characters) in these books is utterly transporting. For me this is the ultimate epic fantasy. You can keep your Game of Thrones, I will reach for this trilogy once a year, sometimes more, probably for the rest of my life. (Ladies & gentlemen it’s finally coming out in digital form this month! I am over the moon. Along with the other two in the series. )
I don’t know why this book. But it is this one. There is something about the way Vaughan writes culture conflict that rivets me. I love a good romantic misunderstanding (a GOOD one, mind you). I can read this particular story over and over again.
Pretty much any of Tamora Pierce‘s Tortall stuff will do although I have a particular soft spot for Alanna, Kel, and Bekka. I put McCaffery, Lackey, and McKinley into this same basket. But, in all honesty, it’s usually Pierce I reach for if I want to dwell for a while in my own past.
At it’s heart this Sci Fi (light BDSM) m/m romance is a story about discovering exactly where you belong in the universe. Wrap that up in a big purple softie and his fantastically well done alien culture and I find myself rereading this book a lot. Especially if I feel displaced and out of whack.
This is your knights of the round table find each other instead of the chalice. Whatever, I’m losing my metaphors here. But it’s great. It’s romance so I give nothing away by saying the knights end up together, but the book then follows the men through the rest of their lives. Which means you get to see how they die. Which makes me cry.
Similarly The Song of Achilles fills this niche. But it makes me cry too much, so I don’t reach for it as often. If you’re looking to cry over het romance, try The Deep End of the Sea for modern meets ancient Greek fantasy, or the Theirs Not To Reason Why series for space opera.
Strange that I should reach for a BDSM book when I’m looking for proof of goodness, right? But that’s what I do. There is not only good in the story but good in the writing of this book. Some of Hall’s sentences are almost painful. I will read anything written by this author for that reason alone, but For Real is by far my favorite.
Calmes is a prolific writer and I’ve read most of her stuff, but for me, these are her best. I find her better at full length stand alone than series or shorter works. Since she writes in first person (not generally something I gravitate towards) her style really takes me out of my own head.
This is a straight up redemption m/m romance. (You should know by now that most of the romance I read is m/m. We can delve hard core into my psyche sometime over drinks, if you like. But there it is. I just find the gay boys more romantic because of how I was raised. Anyway, where was I?) This is one of those good man is horribly wronged by the system and then forges and new identity through love sort of stories and I adore it. Adore it. I’d have a hard time explaining why, since there are so many other books like it. But it’s this one.
“I love that Gail Carriger is moving out of the Victorian Steampunk universe in such an amazing way, magic is explained scientifically, but it’s still magic. The two main characters are wonderfully done, I believe them, I sympathize with them, I can see the area where they are, and I love even the secondary characters.”
“I don’t want to reveal too much of the plot, because it’s fantastic and so very different, but I want to mention that it’s got the same fast-paced, witty movement as all the other books I’ve read by the author. I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough.”