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The new year brings a new episode here at Novel Ideas world headquarters. This month we discussed Shadowshaper by Daniel Jose Older, a recent YA urban fantasy novel. In this episode you hear a punchy and tired Novel Ideas crew talk about YA character archetypes, the nature of trust, race and racism, and authentic teenage dialogue. You can also hear us decide which parts of New York City count as parts of New York City, obligatory love interests, latin metal, and art battles.

There is about ten minutes of weirdness in the audio around the forty minute mark, caused by I don’t know what. Our apologies to those listening in stereo sound, one channel cuts in and out for a while.

The music bump is “Fundamental” by Puya, and yes, they are in fact a latin metal band.

101 – Shadowshaper – Chekhov’s Dragon Situation

Our ratings and recommendations: A quick and easy read with an interesting premise and all too rare diverse cast.

Ben: 7/10. Enjoyable, but what happened to that dragon?

Gabs: 7/10. Not sure how memorable these characters will be in a few weeks.

Codename Verity

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Novel Ideas returns with Codename Verity by Elizabeth Wein. This episode was recorded several months ago to buy us some breathing room if we ever needed it. As it turns out, my time issues effect editing more than reading and recording, so I believe having this episode available has prevented zero missed podcast weeks. Good intentions and all, right? At any rate, listen to the episode to hear us talk about World War 2 tropes, friendship, homosexual undertones, and torture. We also discuss improv skills, Handsy McHandsfuck, shipper distractions, and experience our own brief distraction.

The music bump is “Beautiful Friendship” as performed by the Hanna-Fontana band. It has nothing to do with the thing the name sounds very similar to…

Codename Verity – What Do You Call A Female Bromance


It has been several months since we read this one, so we’re forgoing numerical ratings this week, but I can sum things up thusly:

Gabs: Thought it was good. Actually features several strong female characters in a setting where women usually aren’t featured.

Ben: If it’s about spies, I like it; if it’s about friendship, I don’t like it. Except I might like it anyway.


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Welcome to a rather serious edition of Novel Ideas, featuring Doubt by John Patrick Shanley. This is an award winning play about…. doubt, mostly. (Or is it?) Join us as we discuss sexism, church politics, and sexual power issues while trying hard not to get creeped out. We also cover hardass nuns, the appropriate length of fingernails, and why it sucks to be thirteen.

The music bump is “The Unanswered Question” by Charles Ives, a piece with a very fitting title for this play.

34 – Doubt – Nun-Chuks

The Scarlet Letter

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This week in Novel Ideas, we discuss a classic of guilt and shame. Were I to deliver this explanation in the style of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, the next two thousand words would describe the feel the paper, the alignment of the typesetting, the quality of the ink, and the deeply emotional cover. And then maybe I’d say something about the content, but it would be a bad idea to get your hopes up on that account. Unlike Hawthorne, we like content, so we discuss the characters, the prose, the wisdom of exposing yourself as a witch to your Puritan neighbors, demon-elf children, the difficulties in adapting this story for film, and, of course, feminism.

The music bump is Domenico Scarlatti’s Sonata in G minor, K. 108. It was chosen because if ol’ Dom was your pen pal, he would send you Scarlatti Letters.

15 – The Scarlet Letter – Let Us Fling Mud At Them


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Vampires are hot right now. Sexy, sexy vampires. So this week we decided to talk about Bram Stoker’s Dracula. We’re kicking it old school with the Count and his band of noble adversaries. Check out the podcast where we discuss the diverse and interesting cast of the book, sexism, and a very interesting modern screen adaptation of this frequently movie-ized classic. So strap on your man-brain and prepare to find out how much Dracula sucks. Blood, that is.

This week’s musical selection is “Sortie (Le Vent De l’Espirit)” by the great Olivier Messiaen. It’s a tad anachronistic, but what self respecting, centuries old, avatar of evil doesn’t want some creepy organ music in the background?

05 – Dracula – Man Brain Fever

Stranger in a Strange Land

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To yesterday we are learning about the man from Mars brightly, brightly and with beauty. When the cusp appears, we must grok it and act rightly. The result is this week’s episode, featuring Robert Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land, the science fiction classic where everyone learns how to be happy; mostly by having sex with all of their closest friends all the time. Join us as we explore the colorful cast, “Madmen” style sexism, and the idea of free love. We hope this helps you understand a deeper grokking of the book.

This week’s music bump is the “Mars” movement from Gustav Holst’s Symphony of the Planets. Because what else could possibly be more appropriate?

03 – Stranger in a Strange Land – Go Grok Yourself