Do you have a favorite publisher?

Disaster struck and our basement flooded - the family room where we watch TV, where I work on my computer, where I live most of my life... all under several inches of water. Now the TV's in the living room, the computer's in the kitchen, the bookshelves (those that survived) are stacked on a tarpaulin, and the books (those that survived) are hidden in boxes in the garage.

My husband has great plans for remodeling at this point, since water has already begun the job. He's not sure, however, how books will fit into the scheme. Perhaps we have too many (still?). Perhaps I should get rid of some... get rid of some bookshelves too... perhaps. But packing the books into boxes was like revisiting old friends - so glad I didn't lose this one; so delighted to share memories of reading another. The thought of throwing out those that were spared has me quietly despairing, and pondering of course, which ones shall remain.

Which leads to my question: Do I have a favorite author (must keep all of yours Aaron Lazar)? Do I have a favorite publisher (Permanent Press books, luckily kept on a higher shelf, therefore dry)? A favorite genre - I'm not sure I can answer that one. A favorite book? They're all favorites - books are my friends.

Of course I have incredibly kind real friends too - you know who you are. And I thank you for helping recover bookshelves, books, TV, computers, other furnishings, and strip out carpets so walls could dry, and take Mum out to a dryer place, and walk the borrowed dog, and generally keep me sane while disaster struck.

Anyway, if I claim the Permanent Press as a favorite publisher, I should probably try to work out how to justify the claim. I'm not published by them - in fact they rejected my novels (I almost said they rejected me). They publish in multiple genres, not always even close to my favorites. They publish lots of different authors, several of whom might be favorites, but several not. And they publish hardbacks, which are definitely not my favorites (they take up too much space). But I'm lucky; my Permanent Press collection is all paperbacks (and all dry). And I'm lucky because they keep sending me books, and I keep realizing, while I might not have chosen this book for myself, it's always well worth the read and always something to look forward to. Those brown envelopes arrive; I read the label; and I think hurray - they've sent me another good read.

So here are reviews of three Permanent Press novels recently or soon to be released:

The Third Hell by Connie Dial is a novel by one of my favorite PP authors, but it's not part of the series I've so enjoyed. Instead it's a standalone novel of love and loss, blending police procedural, social commentary, romance, murder mystery, family drama and more. It's incisive, powerfully convincing, and totally enthralling and I love it. Enjoy with some elegant, complex, four-star coffee, and the story will haunt you in all the best ways.

Our Marriage Counselor by Carl Tiktin is a very different book, darkly humorous, fiercely provocative, starkly real and still, though not my favorite genre, powerfully absorbing. It's the story of characters I don't like, doing things I wouldn't approve, and inviting consequences that hurt. But the characters are so real you have to keep reading. Their motivations are so convincing you have to keep thinking. And the ending, unpredictable and real, makes the whole thing make satisfying sense. Enjoy with some darkly intense five-star coffee.

Then there's The Mask Of Sanity by Jacob M Appel, a novel of grim darkness told with just the right level of detachment to allow the reader to observe, question, dread and ponder without ever being overwhelmed. Violence and horror are there, but told sparingly, with no attempt to shock, so the fact of the character rather than his deeds dominates the tale. It's intriguing, dark, cruel and invites that dark question--how well do we really know anyone? You'll need another dark five-star coffee with this one.


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