Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all! I started this year with the goal of posting a book review every Friday, and as this is the last Friday of the year, I’m going to recap them all. Since many of these are available as e-books that can be instantly delivered, you might find a truly last-minute gift on here! The covers are in the slideshow above.
In January I reviewed Joy Spicer’s coming-of-age fantasy novel The Cursed Gift, a story full of adventure and magic. Next was part two of Lorinda J. Taylor’s epic science-fiction series The Man Who Found Birds Among The Stars, Wounded Eagle. More sci-fi followed with The Secha by Dawn Trowell Jones and The First Protectors by Victor Godinez. (For Vintage Sci-Fi Month, I also reviewed Asimov’s classic Caves of Steel.) The month finished up with Kevin Brennan’s Eternity Began Tomorrow, a novel which presented an alternate vision of 2020 that ended up being less bizarre and more logical than the real one.
February kicked off with Shady Acres, a collection of short stories by Mark Paxson. For Valentine’s Day, I reviewed Isabella Norse’s medieval fantasy romance Assassin’s Heart, and followed that up with A.C. Flory’s science-fiction novel Vokhtah and volume two of Nicky Drayden’s Delightfully Twisted Tales.
In March I first went with more sci-fi with G.J. Scobie’s Small Print and then delved into a mad world of disturbing, madcap weirdness with the hilarious, unsettling and profoundly unusual Hyperlink from Hell by Lindy Moone. To try and reacquaint myself with sanity, I next reviewed Jackson Banks’ humorous non-fiction I Put Pants on for This? and then more sci-fi with L.E. Henderson’s Binary Boy.
April started off with C.S. Boyack’s weird western adventure Panama and Jason Abbott’s short story Harvest. (For those keeping score, Harvest was a non-Friday review, allowing me to maintain an average of one review per Friday.) Because I’d been leaning heavily on sci-fi and fantasy, I varied things with a review of Jennifer Kelland Perry’s literary drama, Calmer Girls. After that, a trip to the world of mythology with Tammie Painter’s short story Testing the Waters and a humorous mystery novel, Sweet and Sour by T.L. Dyer.
For May 1st–a date with some spiritual significance in folklore–I reviewed Joy Spicer’s Moon Goddess, a book that teems with references to mythology and mysticism. After that, Laurie Boris’ dramedy The Joke’s on Me, and Geoffrey Cooper’s latest Brad and Karen medical thriller Forever. Then–because I can never stay away from sci-fi too long–Henry Vogel’s sword and planet adventure Scout’s Honor and the science-fiction/fantasy conspiracy YA thriller, The Adventures of Sarah Ann Lewis and the Memory Thieves by Joshua C. Carroll.
June saw me review Abbie Evans’ glorious swashbuckling comic fantasy The Gossamer Globe, a truly clever book which is still free on Kindle! Next was the compelling philosophical short story IHU by Cliff Hays and then more Henry Vogel with The Fugitive Heir, before concluding the month with Tammie Painter’s macabre and darkly comic A Feast for Sight.
July began with a bang–specifically, Meteor Strike, the first book in Pat Prescott’s re-released Fan Plan series. As a bonus, I did a Wednesday review of another Henry Vogel book, Hart for Adventure, before proceeding on to the delightful cozy mystery The Cruise Ship Lost My Daughter by Morgan Mayer. Since I tend to favor fiction over non-fiction when it comes to what I review, I again varied things by reviewing the non-fiction Close to Perfect, which is a transcription of a conversation among three indie authors: Kevin Brennan, Dan DeLong and Karen Choi. (Sadly no longer available.) I then reviewed John Brunner’s 1974 novel Total Eclipse, which is not an indie book but is still very interesting. The month closed with the fast-paced horror adventure Hannah the Huntress by Saul Bishop.
For August, I realized I had been giving short shrift to the romance genre, and attempted to atone by reviewing Sha Renée’s Forbidden Kisses. That was followed by the long-awaited second book in the wonderful Carrie Rubin’s Ben Oris series, The Bone Hunger, a pulse-pounding medical thriller. A weird western, Terror Beneath Cactus Flats by Seth Tucker was next, followed by Lydia Schoch’s Tumble. I closed the month out with a review of the ancient Chinese epic, The Romance of the Three Kingdoms, volume one.
September began with yet more sci-fi in E.A. Wicklund’s The Huralon Incident, and then Joy Spicer’s fairytale re-telling The Spellbound Spindle. Since summer officially ends in September, I had to review Em Leonard’s collection of weird stories set in amusement parks, Summer’s Over before returning to check in on Lorinda Taylor’s Capt. Nikalishin in part three of the series, Bird of Prey.
October is, of course, my favorite month, and I’d done enough reviews that I could pause and kick-off the month with some recommendations for the Halloween season. The rest of the month, I dedicated to Halloween-themed books, beginning with Alex Vorkov’s excellent sci-fi horror adventure All the Colors of The Dead, followed by Mae Clair’s evocative mystery set in the Mothman-haunted river town of Point Pleasant A Thousand Yesteryears. Jason H. Abbott’s Angel: A Short Story of the Un-Dead was next, and I was delighted to be able to cap my favorite month with a review of Audrey Driscoll’s sublime collection of weird fiction Tales from the Annexe, a true must-read for any fan of horror.
November began with a return to Abbie Evans’ Gossamer series with The Gossamer Power. For Friday the 13th I reviewed Hank Bruce’s book of western stories with ironic twists, Cowboy Karma. For Thanksgiving I reviewed George Plimpton’s classic football book Paper Lion and finished the month off with D. Wallace Peach’s fantasy novel Liars and Thieves.
For December, I took an imaginary trip to 19th century South America with Tom Williams’ Napoleonic spy novel Burke in the Land of Silver, followed by Noah Goats’ collection of speculative short stories An Assortment of Rejected Futures and finally Frank Herbert’s classic sci-fi novel Dune, which I reviewed on the day when the upcoming film adaptation was originally scheduled to debut.
I can’t tell you how much fun I’ve had reading all these books, and even more reading your comments on my reviews. I’ve even been lucky enough to hear from some readers who checked them out on my recommendation. It always makes me happy to hear that someone enjoyed a book they learned about through this site.
Most of these are indie books, which I find are the most fun to review, because they are different, and because fewer people have heard of them. And after all, how can I reasonably expect anyone to try my books, if I’m not willing to try indie books myself?
Looking back over this list, I realized that I do tend to lean towards sci-fi more than I had really been aware. I’ll try to be more balanced in the future.
Although… January is Vintage Sci-Fi Month… so no promises. 🙂
But for now–Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and here’s to a Happy New Year!
Oh, and one more thing: my long short story 1NG4 is free on Kindle today. I came up with the idea for it on Christmas two years ago, so it seemed like a good way to celebrate.