recommended books

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Get Ready for Summer Reading

 

Anyone who doesn’t already have a tottering pile (actual or virtual) of books to be read may be looking for summertime reading recommendations. Here are some of my recent reads. Three of them are parts of series, any of which would provide worthwhile diversion for an entire summer (or winter, come to that). Genres represented are cozy mystery, science fiction, fantasy adventure, medical thriller, historical, and literary.

Two Needed KillingTwo Needed Killing is the sixth and latest book in the Needed Killing series by Bill Fitts.

Asked to help an old lady get her family home back from greedy developers, Crawford reluctantly agrees. Mrs. McGillicuddy is thrilled. “I can’t tell you how excited I was when Frank told me I’d get to meet a real detective. I just love murder mysteries.” When Ms. Mac convinces Crawford to pretend to solve a mystery, he finds himself caught up in the most perplexing case of his career.

I can heartily recommend the entire series. Set in a southern US college town and featuring a retired tech guy turned private eye, the books are leisurely and civilized excursions through murders that just had to be done, and just have to be solved. The stories are leavened with humour and flavoured with scenes of cooking and dining.

 

Man Who 4 thumbThe Man Who Found Birds Among the Stars, Part Four: Survivor by Lorinda J. Taylor

Capt. Nikalishin continues to struggle with loneliness, misunderstandings, and dissatisfaction in spite of his friends’ efforts to help him. He takes increasing refuge in alcohol. Meanwhile, the officials of the new interstellar program wait for him to prove himself still capable of commanding a starship. Will Robbin Nikalishin’s “core of character” save him. or is his life really at an end?

This book continues the fictional biography of 28th century spacefarer Capt. Robbin Nikalishin, focussing on a particularly dark period of his life. I have enjoyed the entire series immensely. It combines elements of science and human interest in a post-post-apocalyptic setting. After nearly destroying life on Earth, humans have learned some hard lessons and rebuilt civilization on principles intended to maintain world peace. This background provides opportunities for the reader to think about present day issues from a refreshingly different perspective.

 

Cliffington Book 1Cliffington. Book One, A Turn of the Tide by Stephen Wragge-Morley

Cliffington, on the remote north-eastern coast, looks like a rural idyll but is not immune to the events of the world. Distant wars bring distress and destruction. A story of trial and obsession, of love and hope, Cliffington reveals the strength and frailties of the people, and tests their community to the edge of failure. While always, close at hand, the sea rolls on relentless.

A deeply-felt, eloquently written novel featuring the interplay of several characters against a vividly depicted landscape. I was fascinated by the clever way the author fictionalizes historical events without naming them, so as to free himself from slavish adherence to facts. I do have some reservations about aspects of this book, which I’ve specified in my Goodreads review, but I recommend it to readers who appreciate literary fiction.

 

Marc Edwards MysteriesThe Marc Edwards Mystery Series Box Set by Don Gutteridge

In the 1830’s, British North America throbbed with rebellion. Factions in the Canadas wanted democratic reforms from British overlords. Bands of American gun runners south of the border wanted to annex the territory. In Upper and Lower Canada, English and French settlers were at odds. Enter dashing Marc Edwards, soldier, detective, and lawyer working to restore justice in the wild zone.

This set of six novels combines fictitious murder mysteries with real historical events in a way that informs and entertains. An interest in the pre-Confederation history of Canada isn’t absolutely necessary to enjoy these books, but would add to the reading experience.

 

The Bone CurseThe Bone Curse by Carrie Rubin

Ben Oris, a pragmatic med student from Philadelphia, gets cut by an old bone while touring the Paris catacombs. His companion Laurette, a public health student from Haiti, senses danger and worries an evil curse now runs through him.

Ben scoffs at the idea—he simply has a wound that won’t heal—and back home he returns to his stressful clerkship at the hospital. But when people close to him succumb to a grisly illness and a dark priest pursues him, his skepticism wavers. Could a bone from an 18th-century skeleton with a frightening history really cause modern-day disease?

This medical thriller starts out fast and accelerates to breakneck. It’s definitely a page-turner, with twists and turns on every page. Set in hot and humid Philadelphia in July, it will have readers turning up the AC while following Benjamin Oris as he deals with an astonishing variety of threats that test his physical and mental stamina to the utmost.

 

PatchworkOf Patchwork Warriors (Volume One of The Precipice Dominions) by R. J. Llewellyn

I wrote a review of this book some time ago. The author has issued a corrected second edition since then. I recommend this fantasy to readers who relish action and adventure backed up with thoughtful world-building. The characters are distinct and memorable, some with colourful turns of phrase that may creep into the reader’s vocabulary.

 

 

My reviews and ratings of these books may be found on Goodreads.

If you run out of summer reading, don’t forget the Smashwords Summer/Winter sale. It lasts for the entire month of July and is a great opportunity to really swell that TBR pile at low or no cost!

 

 

 

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open books, grass

My Best Reads of 2017

I just looked over my Goodreads books of the past year and quickly identified the ones I found most memorable. This doesn’t necessarily mean flawlessly written or expertly edited. It means books with interesting premises, characters, or writing styles. Some are by indie authors, others trad pubbed. Some are print, some “e.” A few were free (take note, those who say no one ever reads, much less likes, free ebooks).

Sorry, no cover images or links. This is just a list, in order of date I finished reading.

Hunter’s Daughter by Nowick Gray. A gritty novel of culture conflict and change in Canada’s Arctic.

The Egyptian Book of the Dead compiled and translated by E. A. Wallis Budge. A fascinating classic, full of remarkable words and images.

The Girl and the Crocodile (Crocodile Spirit Dreaming #1-5) by Graham Wilson. A long, complicated, rather messy but compelling saga of adventure, sex, murder and love, set mostly in Australia’s Northern Territory.

Shadow Unit 1 by Emma Bull et al. A TV series in ebook form. Binge read it!

Up in the Old Hotel by Joseph Mitchell. True tales of old New York. Almost as good as time travel.

In No Particular Order by Kevin Brennan. A beautifully written “memoir-in-vignettes” by a fellow WordPress blogger (What The Hell).

The Man Who Found Birds Among the Stars by Lorinda J. Taylor. Science fiction and a compelling future biography in three parts. I’m happily reading Part 3 right now.

Baiting & Fishing by Meredith Rae Morgan. Mystery, romance, deception and lots of fishing.

Dreaming In a Digital World by Blanche Howard. Weird but strangely interesting tale of business and romance at the dawn of the computer age.

Universal Harvester by John Darnielle. Start with mysterious footage on VHS cassettes. Follow the hints and clues over decades in the Iowa countryside. Ask questions. Be disturbed and enlightened.

The Crown Crescent Chronicles by Guy Bullock. Goofy goings-on among the residents of an unnamed community. Domestic ructions, feuding business partners, small-time criminals, monkeys, bananas. You get the picture.

Tallis Steelyard, Shower Me With Gold and Other Stories by Jim Webster. This collection of short tales and poems “by” the estimable Tallis Steelyard is one of many books about life in Port Naain and environs. The jumbled musings of Tallis Steelyard may be found on the WordPress blog of that title, along with lovely and aptly chosen illustrations for each tale.

Of Patchwork Warriors (Being Vol. 1 of the Precipice Dominions) by R.  J. Llewellyn. An engaging, action-packed, and yet thoughtful fantasy adventure, featuring three really strong female characters. The author is also a WordPress blogger (heroicallybadwriter).

The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley. A delightful confection of steampunk and clockwork, history, romance and mystery set in Victorian London with side trips to Japan.

Transhumance by Andrew Shilcock. “A short collection of some even shorter stories where the familiar meets the unfamiliar for a half hearted wrestle.” That is an accurate description of this book of speculative fiction that will make you think and wonder.

That’s it for ’17! Happy reading in 2018, everyone!