Okay, so I love fantasy--I love the chance to test the world against other realities, to imagine what-ifs and their dire conclusions, and to let my imagination roam. I love children's fiction with its simple rules and well-directed flow. But I love real-world novels too--present day and historical. Which makes sense, since my novels are very real-world, and my children's books (until Tails of Mystery comes out) and very firmly historical. I love real people, living real lives. And I love books that bring those people to life--my chance to talk with strangers who might never otherwise enter my home.
This week's reading included some fascinating strangers, from a teenager backpacking through Asia with her family, to Lincoln riding a river-raft on his way to New Orleans, via a very everyday mother, rebuilding life and relationships after the birth of her child. (To be honest, the mother probably would come through my front door, but the other characters wouldn't). So pour yourself a coffee and make a list of who you'd like to meet from these thoroughly enjoyable books:
First I'll invite that mother through my door. Stephanie Kepke's A New Life starts with childbirth (and oh what memories that brings!) but follows with a sensual, sensitive depiction of the road to losing and recovering romance. It's a lovely novella. Enjoy with some mild crisp one-star coffee (and a dish of ice cream).
Next is the wandering teen. Sihpromatum - Backpacks and Bra Straps, by Savannah Grace, is second in the author's collection detailing (and recreating with honest humor) her family's travels. It's a thoroughly convincing depiction of a young girl coming of age, family relationships, and a real, huge, wonderful, wild world, and it's a really good read. Enjoy with some well-balanced, smooth, full-flavored three-star coffee.
Second Helpings, from Second Wind Publishing, offers a collection of short stories, set in the past and present, all peopled with convincingly real characters. Some are memoirs; some fanciful; some truly hauntingly beautiful. And all have recipes attached. Enjoy some well-balanced 3-star coffee as you read and get ready to bake.
Would you invite President Lincoln into your home? What about William Herndon, who knew Lincoln well and cowrote a famous biography? Lincoln's Billy, by Tom LeClair, is a beautiful literary novel written in the voice of Herndon and spiced with recollections of his famous friend's well-told stories. Enjoy its rich elegant prose with a rich, elegant mug of four-star coffee.
The Debtor Class, by Ivan G. Goldman, is set very much in the present day, and presents unlikely heroes in a band of debt collectors facing a blue survivalist cop. The patience of Job and the serenity of Buddha meet in intriguing ways as a group of misfits prove they can fit together to help and survive. Enjoy with some more rich elegant four-star coffee.
Finally, Fractured Legacy, by Charles B. Neff, invites readers into the lives of Pacific Northwest residents, from shy unmarried woman to overpowering unfaithful wife, to a cop of mixed heritage, to a husband of mixed feelings. Add in some fantastic scenery, convincing politics, and a murder mystery, then all these betrayals and dreams will come together quite convincingly. It's a thoroughly enjoyable, character-based mystery, with the scenery as one of its characters. Enjoy with some well-balanced, smooth-flavored three-star coffee.