Bookends

OK, anyone humming Simon and Garfunkel right now – you’re outed as being over ahem, a certain age. Not that I would know, mind you. Never heard of them myself – is that my nose that’s growing?

Really folks, the reference is to my bracketing this week. I saw it in, and by gum, I’m seeing it out. So there!

This is the time of the year when everyone has a “top books of 2016” list. Newspapers, webpages, magazines, all are full of the “top” books of the year. There’s one thing most (not all-hold the tar and feathers) of these lists have in common. The newbie writer need not apply. If you haven’t hit the NYT best seller list, haven’t got a high-powered agent, and/or have the imprint of one of the last remaining “big” publishing houses in your front matter, you ain’t making the list.

Well, guess what—there are way more books that deserve to be high end listed than those that make the big name top book lists. I thought I would share my list of the best five books I’ve read in 2016. As they say, in no particular order:white-sky

White Sky, Black Ice by Stan Jones.  Set in Chukchi, Alaska, north of the Arctic Circle, State Trooper Nathan Active an Inupiat by birth is assigned to his home town where it quickly becomes apparent that the suicides plaguing the village are something else more sinister. The story is compelling. Jones has a gift of scene and setting. I’ve never deadlybeen to Alaska, but I would recognize Chukchi in a heartbeat.

Deadly Dunes by E. Michael Helms. Mike and I met over his first Mac Book, Deadly Catch. I was hooked. Deadly Dunes is the third in the series and it’s quintessential Mac in a story that could happen only in Florida. Seriously, if Mac wasn’t so involved with Kate, I’d make a play. Helms’s characters and stories are that real. Helm’s has an easy, flowing writing style that captures the reader in the story and makes the books impossible to put down.readaholics

The Readaholics and the Falcon Fiasco by Laura DiSilverio. Amy-Faye Johnson lives in Heaven. Heaven, Colorado that is, and the Readaholics are her book club. When one of their own dies, the Readaholics are convinced that it’s not a simple case of suicide. As they chase the clues they discover parallels to the last book they read. DiSilverio is a master craftsman. Her stories are wonderful and intricate, but her writing made me read the rest of this series and all the rest of her books back to back.

evil-daysThrough the Evil Days by Julia Spencer-Fleming. I picked up this book because it had snow on the cover and we were in our sixth straight week of high ninety degree temperatures with ninety-five percent humidity. By the end of the first chapter I was wondering how I missed this writer and this series. I hesitate to say too much since the book I picked up is mid-series and I don’t want to give any spoilers. Rev. Clare Fergusson and Police Chief Russ Van Alstyne are married now with a wee one on the way. Their personal struggles mirror the greater torment going on around them during the ice storm of the century when they are trapped and stalked by a murderer at a deserted lake cabin on their honeymoon. The story is idyllicbreathtaking.

An Idyllic Place for a Murder by Liz Milliron. This small book (it’s only 26 pages) is a gem. The story is set in a vacation camp in Laurel Highlands, PA, not too far from Pittsburgh. The cleaning woman finds a soon to be divorced woman dead in a rental cabin. This book has two characters, the public defender Sally Castle and Trooper First Class Jim Duncan working from opposite sides of the system to solve the crime. There is not a word wasted in this book. Don’t miss it.

So, those are my top five. What are yours?

 

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13 thoughts on “Bookends

  1. I have to agree with you Kait about DEADLY DUNES as I loved it. I read ALPHABET LAND and thought Max did a great job with it. He has some quirky covers and I would have missed it if Michael hadn’t pointed it out. I kind of backed into mystery and noir reading after reading THE PROUD BASTARDS, Michael’s classic war story, then moving onto THE PRIVATE WAR OF CORPORAL HENSON, his novel about PTSD treatment and Marines. That spoke a lot to me as I also battle PTSD from child abuse. I was tired of some of the poorly written books I had been reading and used to classics so I asked him what classics he liked and that led to a binge of Erich Maria Remarque, then I went back to Helms with 600 pages OF BLOOD AND BROTHERS, his historical fiction novel(s) about the Civil War. Then I saw he was a switch genre writer and I took up the mysteries.
    These are all very fine books and I knew I could depend on the quality. Then I took up Sasscer Hill (who you interviewed on MMO) and am reading her and enjoying the race horse mysteries. I know these books are not all written last year, but they were what I read last year and I had a great time so that’s what I’m sharing. I haven’t read a lot of mysteries, so it is new territory for me. This blog is helpful in choosing good ones, thanks!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Great list, MJ, we have similar tastes! I cut my teeth on war stories (a friend of the family was a war correspondent who wrote such books as 30 Seconds Over Tokyo) so I was hooked on action/adventure from an early age. Michael’s historical books are very similar in quality, and his fiction, none better.

      I love Sasscer’s books. She’s branching out and I’m looking forward to her latest. Try Polly Iyer too. Her books have actually made me cry!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for listing these, Kait! I share your admiration for E. Michael Helms’ books — the others are all new to me. Time to open Amazon and see what’s left on my credit card 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Hmm, all of you wonderful people who are touting my books, I was told by my PTSD counselor (and my wife agrees) that I don’t take compliments very well. Never have, never will, I suppose. However, I do appreciate the kind thoughts. But hey, this isn’t about me. Nice post, Kait! And all you who have commented, I’ve also enjoyed your books. Also, Max Everhart is a wonderful writer who needs to continue to exercise his abundant talent. We are ALL in this together. Good wishes to all, and to all, a good night! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. So true – I don’t think any writer takes compliments well. It’s in the nature of the beast. We always think that THAT book, character, storyline, comment, whatever, was a fluke and someday all these nice people will discover we are frauds who simply got lucky and strung a few good words together. Of course, we’d never admit that we feel that way! I know I never would.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh man. This is like trying to pick my favorite children!

    My top five: Only God Can Make a Tree by Bertram Roach, Island of a Thousand Mirrors by Nayomi Munaweera, In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez (which I loved enough to give as a Christmas gift!), The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba, and Warrior Queens by Antonia Fraser.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It sounds like you have a “literary” bent, projectedlibrarian. You would probably enjoy the Lew Archer mysteries of the late Ross Macdonald. His prose is, in my humble opinion, brilliant. He also crafts wonderful and insightful mysteries. If you haven’t yet, give him a try. Thanks for your support of MMO–we appreciate it! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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