I’ve been watching a new Netflix series called Cowboy Bebop. It’s been hammered by the critics and one week into Season 1, Netflix announced it canceled for Season 2. My son told me that it’s terrible because it’s a poor imitation of the original anime. What’s so terrible? I asked. It just is, he said.
Personally, I enjoy it. Unlike the Marvel movies, Cowboy Bebop retains the comic book feel with exaggerated camera angles, bombastic acting and deliciously noir backgrounds. Perhaps too, since I’d never really been into anime, I don’t have the emotional attachment to the original.
In any case, I like this kind of story telling – the cross genre, history bending, cultural blending stories. It’s just the latest in odd-ball stories that I’ve tried and liked this past year.
As my contribution to the What’s On Your Bookshelf link-up, here are similar stories that I’ve enjoyed recently.
Gunnie Rose series by Charlaine Harris
In this series, Charlaine Harris creates an alternate world where the United States is split into separate countries – Britannia (aligned with Canada), Texoma (Texas and Oklahoma), a grander Mexico, Dixie, New America (central states bordering Canada) and the Holy Russian Empire of California and Oregon. The time is placed around early 1900’s and the author cleverly plays with real life figures and events.
Like … what if President Roosevelt was assassinated before he was president, the banks crashed and influenza decimated the population? What if the ensuing turmoil plunged America into chaos? What if Russian royalty escaping the Bolshevik revolution found refuge in America? What if the newly ceded state of California and Oregon, made them the governing monarchy?
I found this a delightful series with imaginative details and unusual characters. The books take cue from bang ’em up cowboy westerns and the obsession with guns can be disturbing but if you suspend belief and luxuriate in the world building, it’s a good read.
The Watchmaker series by Natasha Pulley
The marketing blurb for The Watchmaker of Filigree Street says that those who enjoyed Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke, will find this “… an enchanting, bestselling novel that sweeps readers into a magical Victorian London inhabited by a clockwork octopus and a mysterious watchmaker who is not at all what he first appears.” I enjoyed Clarke’s book (and the TV series) and I enjoyed these two books by Natasha Pulley even more.
Natasha Pulley is another author who plays with timelines and historical events, first in London and later in Japan. For the first book I found the beginning a bit slow but once hooked, it was a engrossing. To my mind, the second book The Lost Future of Pepperharrow was even better. It is placed in 1880’s Japan and deals with the civil unrest and nationalism of the period. Where the first book centered mostly on its proponent Thaniel Steepleton in steam-punk London, the second peels back the history of his partner Keita Mori and digs into the drama of Japanese nobility and political intrigue.
Fable Books 1 & 2 by Adrienne Young
I should be embarrassed to admit that I read YA books. Honestly though, they should be called YAH for Young At Heart. Fast paced, action packed, breathtaking adventures on the high seas and PIRATES! Who doesn’t like a good pirate story?
This week I finished the first book Fable by Adrienne Young where an abandoned girl learns to survive on an island populated by criminals and thieves. Think Robinson Crusoe and Ali Baba but with a fierce female protagonist. I’m just beginning the second book Namesake, where the girl, now a young woman discovers secrets about her mother which endanger her and everyone she loves. Plus, more pirate adventure.
Are you a reader of high fiction? What recommendations do you have for the Young At Heart? Let me know what you think I should put on my bookshelf.