2017 Favorites

Sam Wiebe, a Vancouver mystery writer whose Invisible Dead was one of my favorites in 2017, asked on FB what good thrillers people had read recently. That sent me through my 2017 list. Here are some thrillers, mysteries, historicals, and other books I particularly enjoyed in 2017. The books mentioned here:

     

Continue reading

Book Reports IV: Watchin’ the Detectives

This is my favorite reading category, and through friends’ recommendations and the wonderful AlsoBot, I discovered some new writers that I’ve been exploring. Here’s the last of my winter book reports.

My favorite new mystery author: Olen Steinhauer.
_Steinhauer
I started with his Milo Weaver series:
The Tourist (Book 1)
The Nearest Exit (Book 2)
An American Spy (Book 3)
… and I’m now am exploring his backlist.
A lot of reviewers will compare him to John le Carré, because of the emotional depth and turmoil of his professional spies, the details about trade craft, and the convoluted plotting. But Steinhauer’s voice is of the next generation. (I’m not dinging le Carré on anything; he’s set a standard almost no one can reach.)
The lead character is captivating, and the criss-cross nature of the stories kept me would up to the very end of the series. Continue reading

Book Reports III: Historical Fiction

Another installment, reporting on my winter’s reading adventures. I write historical fiction (as E.A. Stewart), but I didn’t do a very good job this winter of reading deeply in the genre. Instead, I got hooked on a few series and read compulsively.    

__ChisolmP.F. Chisolm’s Sir Robert Carey Mystery series:
I didn’t stop to breathe while consuming these Elizabethan period mysteries—and generally I loathe reading anything in that period.
A Famine of Horses (Book 1)
A Season of Knives (Book 2)
A Surfeit of Guns (Book 3)
A Plague of Angels (Book 4)
A Murder of Crows (Book 5)
An Air of Treason (Book 6)

Continue reading

Book Reports II: Science Fiction and Fantasy

Another chapter in my winter’s book-reading adventure. Neither SF nor fantasy are categories I read widely in any more. But here are some titles I sampled in the recent reading binge:

__MurderOfClonesA Murder of Clones: A Retrieval Artist Universe Novel: Book 3 of the Anniversary Day Saga (Retrieval Artist series 10) – Kristine Kathryn Rusch
I’ve read the previous books in the Retrieval Artist series, and am excited that Kris Rusch is publishing a book a month right now, having completed the Anniversary Day Saga. The most intriguing aspect of the world in this series is how clones are dealt with—or rather, the difficulty in a civilization to recognize the humanity in specific life forms.

Guy Gavriel Kay’s Sarantine Mosaic series:
__KaySailing to Sarantium (Book One)
Lord of Emperors (Book Two)
In many of Kay’s stories, he takes an historical world, and then twists the world by introducing fantasy elements. In the Sarantine Mosaic takes the basic history of the Emperor Justinian in Constantinople, focusing on the clash of classical and “barbarian” civilizations. The world has two moons, but otherwise seems to have Mediterranean geography like that on Terra. Good characters, a symphony of conspiracy and artistic insights—the main character is a mosaic artist who becomes enmeshed in the politics of a world that is not his own. Continue reading

My Book Reports: Coming of Age Stories

This winter, due to certain complications in my life, I had more time to read than I usually allow. Since early December, I’ve been drowning in other writers’ stories. I’m sharing links to the better stories that I read. Subsequent posts will cover books in other genre categories.

In my reading odyssey this winter, I managed to include some literary fiction amid the deluge of genre fiction I read. (Note that I share the viewpoint that “literary” is just another genre category.) For the purpose of these reviews, I’m labeling these books “coming of age” stories. Continue reading

Shout-out for a quiet novel: A Summer in Peach Creek

A Summer in Peach CreekSeattle writer Michele Malo’s first novel, A Summer in Peach Creek, came out in December and is just starting to get attention.

Inspired by her mother’s adolescent journals, Malo crafted a coming-of-age story set in the Thirties, featuring a Seattle girl, Faith, visiting relatives in West Virginia. Each page is drenched in the color and detail of daily life in a small mining town, deep in the grips of Depression.

Faith’s focus is on the details of daily life: understanding her cousins’ culture and social life, perceiving a disturbance in her parents’ marriage, learning how to flirt. The peaceful hot summer days for both the cousins and the adults are disturbed by a murder among the town’s leading socialites, fraught with the possibility of false accusations.

Continue reading

All the Kool Kidz Are Doing It

I’m preserving, and commenting on, my FB top 10 most influential books.

Also, that Mother Jones article ticked me off, for its inability to read and interpret data, and because of it’s another foray into the analysis-free attack on “adults who read YA.” Have any of these armchair social critics considered that people read YA because that’s where a lot of the best stories are right now?
OK, rant off, here are my top ten:

Johnny Tremain1. Johnny Tremain
In the 5th grade, I discovered bildungsroman. Someday, I will do a deep analysis on this book, bow down before the greatness of its author, and endeavor to learn even more from her as a writer.
Disney movie version: C
(The Kindle price is appropriate  for grade-school kid content.)

HaveSpacesuit2. Have Spacesuit Will Travel
In the 7th grade, our union school district combined 5 tiny grade schools, and put all 6-8 grades in the same building.
And created a library bigger than the 2 shelves each classroom had.
I found Robert Heinlein, and from there, YA science fiction.
So anything you like about him as a person, but these books opened the world to me in the 7th grade.
Movie Version: How is this not long ago a movie, but instead still languishing “in development”?
(The Kindle price is marginal [$6.99] and the used books are all collectors editions, so the pricing of this is a crime against junior-high aged kids, all around.) Continue reading

That Was the Week We Wish Wasn’t: Random Edition

When the pitchfork waving crowd corners the fu This past week has been entirely too eventful.

  • A  close friend in ICU, recovering too slowly.
  • Rewriting the same 10K-word chapter 8 days in a row.
  • A robber chased by an angry crowd crashes through the fence 16 feet above my backyard. He’s trapped in my courtyard, so we flee. Which means a whole police crew came to clear my house of a possible invader … just like on TV!

Oh, let’s relax with a peek at my text and phone message feed for the week. Continue reading