Foxfire Wolfskin and other Stories of Shapeshifting Women

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Halloween freebie

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Artsy Reader Girl. This week is a Halloween freebie meaning you can do any Halloween-related top ten you like. I’ve decided to go for my top ten spooky-ish creatures in books. These can be creatures or animal companions that are evil, helpful, mysterious, mischievous, or combinations of all of the above.

Pocket – The Murdstone Trilogy by Mal Peet
Pocket is sort of a gnome/elf like character and while they might say they’ll help you solve all your problems; they have a high price.

Salome – Cal Leandros series by Rob Thurman
Salome is a Mummified cat. Yes, you read that right. They don’t do a lot besides scratching furniture and people and generally being a pain – like a lot of alive cats can be – but I just really like the idea of an undead cat hanging out in an apartment.

Ren – Monstress by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda
While I didn’t really like the Monstress comic much, I did like Ren. A cat with two tails that has lying and double-crossing down to an artform.

Solembum – Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini
Solembum is a werecat so sometimes he looks like an average cat albeit with red eyes, and sometimes he looks like a young boy – even though he’s definitely older than a child.

Bassareus and Horatio – The Undertaking of Hart and Mercy by Megan Bannen
I’m currently reading this book and nimkilim are talking animals that once were messengers of the Gods but now deliver the post for humans and can appear as any type of animal, it just depends on where they live. In The Undertaking of Hart and Mercy the main nimkilims are a crass rabbit called Bassareus and a posh owl called Horatio.

Lying Cat – Saga by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples
Cats sure seem to be the go-to for unsettling but sometimes helpful creatures. I love how Lying Cat looks and it sure would be handy to have someone (or something) around that could tell when people were lying – though might be a bit uncomfortable at times.

Baba Yaga – Foxfire, Wolfskin and other Stories of Shapeshifting Women by Sharon Blackie
In Slavic folklore Baba Yaga is a supernatural being who appears as a deformed and/or ferocious-looking woman. There are obviously many different interpretations of Baba Yaga in different works but the most recent version I read was in the short story “Meeting Baba Yaga” in Foxfire, Wolfskin and other Stories of Shapeshifting Women. I just loved the different spin on the character and the fact that the narrator didn’t seem to know/believe she was in the presence of Baba Yaga while the reader does, meaning there’s a sense of unease throughout all of their interactions.

Chunk – Ghost Squad by Claribel A. Ortega
Chunk is mostly a normal tubby tabby but he’s also a witch’s familiar and when ghosts attack, he can become something far larger and more vicious.

Mogget – the Old Kingdom trilogy by Garth Nix
Mogget is like the definitive unearthly animal companion to me. He may look like a white fluffy cat but there’s definitely more than meets the eye with him. I love how he knows so many things because he’s so old and how he’s cryptic with everything.

Disreputable Dog – Lirael by Garth Nix
So Disreputable Dog isn’t as potentially evil/disruptive as some of the others on this list. But she’s definitely not a normal dog, has certain powers and is secretive with them too. The Disreputable Dog definitely falls on the more helpful end of the scale compared to the rest of the characters.

What are some of your favourite spooky/unsettling creatures? Have you read any of these books before? It does amuse me that over half of these creatures are cats – or at least take on the appearance of cats.

Magical Readathon: Autumn Equinox TBR

It’s the most wonderful time of year – meaning it’ll soon be August and Magical Readathon time! The Magical Readathon is the brainchild of Gi at BookRoast on YouTube and it’s time for the seconf lot of exams. Previously the Magical Readathon was based on Harry Potter and its exams but Gi has now created her own magical world and university and it’s truly impressive. Like the previous iteration of the Magical Readathon, the aim is to read books that fill the prompts for the subjects you need to pass in order to be able to do the magical career of your choice. Gi’s announcement video explains it all and she has a variety of documents that can guide you. This round of the Magical Readathon, the Autumn Equinox exams, is a month-long readathon through the entirety of August.

In these exams/readathon instead of reading one book per subject, there’s now three levels – Ordinary, Qualified, and Distinguished – and depending on what qualifications you need for your chosen career you might have to read one, two or three books for a subject.

As I keep forgetting what my character’s biography is I’m going to make a note of it here and now. I am a human from the urban area of Kerador. I’m in the Archivists Guild, my Legacy is Aitvaras which is the Phoenix God of Sky and Riches, and my conduit is bone – I like to think I have a bracelet made of bone.

Originally the career I was aiming for was Moon Warden (and that will still be my priority) but I’m also interested in being an Illusionist Rogue. For Moon Warden I need a Qualified in Astronomy and Restoration and an Ordinary in Elemental Studies and Spells & Incarnations which totals to six prompts/books. That’s definitely doable for me so I’m going to throw in the exams to become an Illusionist Rogue for an extra push. Those are a Distinguished in Art of Illusion, Ordinary in Psionics & Divination and Shapeshifting making it five more books/prompts.

Astronomy: Ordinary – Letter “L” in the title
A Spare Life by Lidija Dimkovska
Set in 1984 A Spare Life follows twins who are conjoined at the head, their life as they grow up considered freaks by even their family, and how they struggle to decide if they want to be surgically separated from one another.

Astronomy: Qualified – Books featuring archers/rangers
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
I’ve been rereading the Hunger Games books via audio from my library and I’m looking forward to finishing the series. Katniss is most definitely an archer so I’ve held off starting Mockingjay until August as it was the perfect book for this prompt.

Restoration: Ordinary – Single object the main focus on the cover
I, the Supreme by Augusto Roa Bastos or Foxfire, Wolfskin and other Stories of Shapeshifting Women by Sharon Blackie
My first choice was I, the Supreme which is a fictionalised account of the nineteenth-century Paraguayan dictator José Gaspar Rodríguez de Francia but the pdf version of that looks a bit hard to read (formatting is all over the place) so if I don’t get another version before I need to read the prompt, I’ve got a short story collection of myths and fairy tales.

Restoration: Qualified – Oldest book on your TBR
Beyond the Rice Fields by Naivo
Technically I probably have some books that have been on my TBR longer but as I’m trying to prioritise my Read the World Project books, I’m counting Beyond the Rice Fields as I got the ebook in August 2020 which was a while ago now. Beyond the Rice Fields is set in the nineteenth century and it’s about the relationship between a slave and his master’s daughter.

Elemental Studies: Ordinary – Start a book with a drink
Saga Volume 7 by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples
This could really be any book but as I reread volumes 1-5 of Saga in the Spring Equinox part of the Magical Readathon, I thought it’d be nice to carry on with the series during this readathon. I’ve previously read up to Volume 7 and it’s been nice revisiting this world and the characters and I’m looking forward to continuing.

Spells & Incarnations: Ordinary – Pick a book based on a random colour (blue)
Ali and Nino by Kurban Said
I used a random colour generator I found online and the colour it chose was blue which features heavily on the cover for Ali and Nino which is romance between a Muslim Azerbaijani boy and Christian Georgian girl in Baku in the years 1918–1920.

Shapeshifting: Ordinary – Book with wings on the cover
Saga Volume 6 by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples
Most volumes of Saga feature a character who has wings but only a few of them can you see the wings on the cover. This is the next volume I need to read and you can see Alana’s wings.

Art of Illusions: Ordinary – Book you don’t know much about
The Fury and Cries of Women by Angèle Rawiri
My read for Gabon is definitely one I don’t know a lot about. I think it follows a woman’s life through university, to marriage and motherhood and how she deals with all of that.

Art of Illusion: Qualified – Book under 300 pages
Saga Volume 8 by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples
Again, it’s always a good idea to have short books/graphic novels/comics during a readathon and this volume will be all new to me.

Art of Illusion: Distinguished – Book based on a prompt from the Spring Equinox
Unpregnant by Jenni Hendriks and Ted Caplan
I went for the Artificery prompt which was Earth setting. So, a contemporary YA about two ex-best friends going on a road trip so one of them can get an abortion fits the bill.

Psionics & Divination: Ordinary – Book featuring time travel
The Psychology of Time Travel by Kate Mascarenhas
I don’t think I have any time travel books on my shelves but I searched my library and found The Psychology of Time Travel is available on audio. I usually can get through a couple of audiobooks a month so once I finish Mockingjay I’ll borrow and listen to this one.

Are you taking part in the latest Magical Readathon? If so, what’s on your TBR and what career are you aiming for?