Lots of freelancy stuff to do today, so I figured I’d just drop a little reading list action your way. Since becoming one myself, I’ve met a number of very cool authors and gotten exposure to a number of very cool books because of it. Periodically I’ll be throwing down posts such as this one to key more people into the cool stuff I’m enjoying. So expect more of these, although they might take a bit because I read slow.
Without further adieu, three books I think you should read:
by Chuck Wendig
It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Chuck’s, and was a reader of his site terribleminds.com before I met the guy. Blackbirds is the first book made of paper of his that I’ve read (the other stuff being of the digital variety), and it’s a great time. It focuses on Miriam Black, a woman with the ability to see your death before it happens just by touching you, and the messes she manages to get herself into and out of. Miriam is a drifter in Blackbirds, and struggling to deal with her gift and what she’s come to realize — helping people isn’t really something that, you know, works. So she’s stuck carrying the burdens of dead people, and coping becomes a matter of just getting by. Also, she’s incredibly, hilariously vulgar. It’s the first of a Miriam Black series, the second of which, Mockingbird, was just released (I’m waiting on my copy to arrive in the mail). I wrote a bit of a review over on Goodreads, which you can read here. Hit this link to go buy it.
by Sean Patrick Traver
There’s a certain building in Los Angeles that isn’t a building at all in Graves’ End — it’s actually a portal to another world, the seat of great power and energy. And it houses an ancient evil that wants to use Lia, a young girl with a ghost friend and magical powers, for its own unseen machinations. It sounds a little goofy in summary, but here are the broad strokes: Magic is a thing, as are ancient gods and goddesses and the spirit realm. And they don’t stay quiet. Graves’ End does urban fantasy quite well, taking a bit of a lighter approach than Blackbirds. It also features an undead 1950s private detective who’s both an ass-kicker and rather hilarious. Here’s my more involved Goodreads review. Here’s a link to go buy it.
By Doyce Testerman
I’m still hip-deep in this one, but at the midway point, I’m really getting into it. The focus here is on Calliope, a former singer-turned-private investigator (recurring themes in this list I didn’t realize until just now: strong [often profane] women protagonists and investigating mysteries) who works with her former boyfriend. And he’s just turned up dead — on the other side of the country. As Calliope starts to try to figure out what’s happened, she receives a phone call, placed after Josh’s time of death. And it gets weirder when a stinky homeless guy in clown makeup starts to hang around. Testerman’s story is a really interesting mix of mundane and fantastical, and he has a cool way of mixing the two elements to make the mundane feel mystical and the fantasy stuff feel like it’s an every day experience for some of the characters. I’m really only just starting to break into the big fantasy elements, being only halfway through, but the deeper down the hole I go, the deeper I’m hoping it’ll be. No review yet for this one, but you can snag a copy here.
That’s it for me today — I’ll post more recommendations as I get through more books (the backlog I’m facing right now is ridiculous). If you’ve got recommendations for me (or anyone else), kindly leave them in the comments.