Home » Recommendations » TSM Recommends – Novels, Short Stories, and Other Wordy Things

TSM Recommends – Novels, Short Stories, and Other Wordy Things

TSM Recommends

I don’t know if you guys remember this, but for a while last year I posted weekly recommendations from blog articles and books to videos and other wordy-based things. I will now be returning to this series, albeit on a monthly basis (or every four weeks). As I get back into the blogosphere, I will be reading some of the amazing posts you all are putting out there so I can share them with our readers; however, given my rather terrible blogging style as of late, I’ve been reading mostly books — or offline in general — so my recommendations for this month are more from the outside publishing realm, rather than the blogging one.

Below you’ll find the most recent readings and recommendations. Robyn and Chris have kindly contributed their recommendations for the month, as well.

Happy Reading!


Daring Greatly by Brene Brown

This one is Robyn’s recommendation, your friendly neighborhood writing mentor. She says: No one is potentially more afraid than the creative person about completing and sharing their work. Daring Greatly isn’t just for artists and writers. It’s for anyone who deals with vulnerability and/or shame and is a guide to getting out of your head. Brene Brown has a warm style and a great knack for explaining her research, but it all comes down to this: being vulnerable makes us stronger and more resilient than holding back or protecting ourselves.



The Boy Who Drew Monsters by Keith Donohoe

This chilling tale of a troubled boy trapped inside the confines of his home and tormented by the endless need to draw monsters had Chris resigned to sleeping with the lights on. With creepy visions and beautiful, fleeting descriptions, this book is a masterpiece in psychological horror.

Literary Historical

Jamrach’s Menagerie by Carol Birch

Apparently the Muses have a thing for darkness, because though this novel starts off lightly enough, bathed in the adventure we dream of as kids and touched with a poetic London in a by-gone age, it quickly transforms into a haunting coming-of-age tale, rocked with tragedy, but held aloft with hope. Part of this book’s charm is the voice of Jaffy Brown, the main character, but the other part is the imagery. Birch has the ability to turn a phrase that paints this dark adventure into a mesmerizing reality.


Ancillary Mercy by Ann Leckie

The final book in the Imperial Radch trilogy. I put the last one here since it was published most recently (and I also read it recently); however, I hope if you haven’t read the first two that you will start from the beginning. The main character, you discover, is not your typical sci-fi heroine. The first novel in the series, Ancillary Justice, won pretty much every speculative fiction award available, including the Hugo and Nebula Awards.


Life on Mars by Tracy K. Smith

This book of poetry won the Pulitzer Prize in 2012. Though the title may invoke thoughts of space or science fiction, these are poems that are very much about our life here on Earth. Highly recommended to any lovers of poetry who enjoy a touch of the universe — both the one in which we inhabit and the one in our heads.


The Day the World Turned Upside Down” by Thomas Olde Heuvelt

This speculative short story (published by Lightspeed Magazine), interestingly enough, has a rather low rating on Goodreads. It was originally on the list for the Hugo awards. I quite liked it. Chris and I even had a discussion on how we wish we had thought of the idea ourselves. Well, you know how it goes. Though the main character isn’t your traditional likeable hero, I thought he suited the story, and I do think he grows by the end. So, mission accomplished. Give it a go and see what you think.

Have any other book recommendations? We here at TSM are always looking for more to read. Let us know your current favorites in the comments below!


16 thoughts on “TSM Recommends – Novels, Short Stories, and Other Wordy Things

    • You’re talking to two horror writers, one speculative fiction author, and Robyn, who I admit reads anything with words on. Romance isn’t typically on our to read lists but if you have any recommendations, feel free to share them.

  1. It’s disappointing to see “The Day the World Turned Upside Down” by Thomas Olde Heuvelt with such low reviews. It’s a pretty original and I thought the prose was well thought out. But yeah, y’all definitely need to check out The Boy Who Drew Monsters. If it unsettles a horror writer, it’s doing its job.

  2. I suppose my other recommendations for anyone interested are:

    The Ritual by Adam Nevill — a modern take on the old lost-in-the-woods style horror that’ll leave you looking over your shoulder; and
    The Word Exchange by Alena Graedon — A speculative fiction tale that warns us about the impact our reliance on technology can interfere with our language.

    • Thanks for adding some additional suggestions. Actually, The Word Exchange sounds quite interesting. I’ll check that one out myself.

  3. Although it’s mainstream fiction, I read “The Nightingale” by Kristin Hannah late last year and it really made an impact on me. I’ve read many novels that deal with the German occupation during WWII. For some reason, the way that this one was presented touched an emotional chord.

    Also, for those that enjoy Brene Brown, I remember seeing a TED talk from her that seemed to be centered around the same topics in the recommendation for “Daring Greatly”.

    Thanks for the recommendations, Michelle, and it’s good to see you back in the sarcastic muse fold 🙂

    • Thanks for your comment, Dave! I’ve been wanting to read “The Nightingale.” I was just looking for it at the local bookstore the other day, actually. Have you read “All the Light We Cannot See?”

      Glad to be back!

      • Yep, read that one too 🙂 Both were very good, but I enjoyed “The Nightingale” more. Another good one that I really enjoyed centered around the same theme is called “Sarah’s Key”.

        • Just finished “The Nightingale” (found it finally at the bookstore!) & couldn’t put it down. I think I’m in your camp; I also enjoyed it more than “All the Light We Cannot See.” The focus on women’s strength in wartime appealed to me, especially since female identity in literature is an academic interest of mine, as well as the individual strengths of the characters as they change and grow. I love those books that keep you thinking, even after you turn the final page. 🙂

          • Absolutely, about the thinking after you turn the final page. I didn’t want the final page of that one to come as soon as it did! I really enjoyed the story of two sisters on opposite ends of the “personality” spectrum, but both exhibiting tremendous amounts of strength in their own unique and powerful way.

            Thanks for giving me your feedback. It’s always nice to hear someone else’s thoughts on a book that you find influential and inspiring – now, on to funneling that inspiration into our own writing 🙂

Leave a Reply to davecenker Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s