I know we’re only (only!) half-way through the year, but I’ve already read a stack of great books and I’d like to share those titles with you now. Just in case you’re looking for something good to read over the summer months.
These titles are listed in the order I read them since Jan. 1 and, with three exceptions (that I have marked) I rate them all at 4 out of 5 stars … because, you know, you have to have written a VERY good book, or be Richard Ford, to receive all 5 stars from me. I am a discerning reader.
The Comedians by Graham Greene (reread, actually, and it has stood up through all these years as one of my favourite titles by this author)
The Violin Man’s Legacy and Vengeance Wears Black by Seumas Gallacher (The 1st and 2nd novels in this great Jack Calder series. Seumas has been featured on Reading Recommendations. His fourth novel will be published in Aug.)
West of Sunset by Stewart O’Nan (I won this book in a Goodreads Giveaway and it did not disappoint.)
The Marco Effect by Jussi Adler-Olsen (A-O has appeared on my “Best Books” list before. As his novels are released in English Dennis and I are reading them and have enjoyed every one so far. I believe this is the 5th in his Department Q series. A stand-alone novel, The Alphebet House, is being released later this summer.)
The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Yevin (A friend recommended I read this and I was blown away by it, because it’s about a publishing sales rep and a bookstore owner – right up my alley! The story line was so true-to-life for me, but the writing was incredibly good, as well.)
High Rider by Bill Gallaher (I saw this book listed as a Goodreads Giveaway and contacted the author about promotion on Reading Recommendations. Gallaher was featured on the blog and also offered to send me a reading copy, which I loved from start to finish. Great writing! And a very interesting take on a little-known piece of Western Canadian history.)
12 Rose Street by Gail Bowen (I’ve been along for the ride since the beginning with Gail [literally, since I was her sales rep back then] on her series of mysteries and I can guarantee that the novels just keep getting better and better! And the very good news is that a new novel will be released in May 2016! Gail definitely deserves 5 stars from me and has been featured on Reading Recommendations!)
A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler (I have long been a fan of Tyler’s writing. This is yet another great book from a master storyteller.)
Dangerous Obsessions by Bob van Laerhoven (Bob was a surprise discovery whom I met online and featured on Reading Recommendations, because he’s Flemish Belgian – like my mother and grandparents! We’ve been corresponding ever since … and he has read, commented on, and enjoyed my grandparent stories. I say “surprise discovery” though, because aside from having a nationality in common, Bob is also a very fine and accomplished writer. I read this collection of short stories that has been translated into English and found them to be very compelling with nary a slip in the translation that might cause confusion. Bob translated several of the stories himself and did a fine job.)
Daddy Lenin by Guy Vanderhaeghe (I will always buy hardcover books by this author as soon as they are released. I have enjoyed everything he’s written and this collection of stories was no exception.)
His Whole Life by Elizabeth Hay (I read the ARC of this new novel that will be released in Aug. and enjoyed the writing, storyline, and characters immensely. The only Hay book I had read previously was A Student of Weather and that has long been on my list of Best Books I have EVER read. I predict this new novel will do very well indeed.)
Beneath the Bonfire by Nickolas Butler (I became a fan of this author when he published Shotgun Lovesongs, so I had to have a hardcover copy of this new collection of short stories when it was released. Still the same excellent writing and quirky characters as in his novel, so I very much enjoyed this one, as well.)
Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins (I don’t normally read bestselling books everyone else is reading, but I made an exception here, and this is the one book on the list that only receives 3 stars. While the story line was different and compelling and the pace was good for a thriller, I didn’t like the structure of the book and felt that the 3 women who told the story from their points of view sounded too much alike so that the story became somewhat confusing to me at times. Still, a gripping thriller, if that’s what you’re into.)
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (And here’s my other 5-star read … Winner of the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, and most deserving at that! There is not a word or a sentence or a description or character or scene that’s out of place in this book. It’s the first I’ve read by Doerr, but I am already looking for the rest of his books. I cannot rave enough about this. I only just finished reading it last night, but I know this will stay with me for a very long time. If you read nothing else of my list, do read this one book. Please read it. Writing this good does not come along often enough.)
Because I didn’t already have enough to do, and I needed yet another reason for novel-writing avoidance (yes, sad but true, Tim and Rachel), I decided to begin writing a new blog filled with my current thoughts on the world and my own personal perspective from where I read and write – in my trailer in Canada and on my verandah on Bequia.
So I offer you The View From My Trailer and Verandah and hope you will consider joining me over there for what I hope will become some interesting discussions.
(If you wish to receive email notices of new posts on the other blog you will need to subscribe to it separately.)
At the very least, this new virus has a name that’s easier to spell and pronounce. But it’s still yet-another virus the Caribbean region must contend with, and only a short while after declaring that ChikV was over and done with in most islands.
It was less than a year ago I contracted ChikV when I returned to Bequia for a few weeks to spell Dennis while he paid a visit to Canada. Throughout the months of suffering … and yes, I do not use the word “suffering” lightly! … I wrote about the virus in a number of blog posts (collected here) that received a great deal of attention from around the world and comments written by others who had also contracted the virus while they were visiting, or living in, the Caribbean region, and who now took comfort in the knowledge they were not alone, that they were likely not going to die, and that they would eventually, eventually recover and feel “normal” again.
Well, here I am, writing this 11 months later, and I can honestly say I am feeling about 96% recovered, the only lingering pain being that soreness that seems to be inside the very bones of my right shoulder. That still bothers me every once in a while (just last night, again), but is not excruciating or debilitating, just annoying.
So you may understand my trepidation with the announcement of this new easier-to-spell-and-pronounce virus, Zika. I am gun-shy about travelling to the Caribbean again any time soon. While I currently sit in the woods of Ontario, surrounded by clouds of mosquitoes, I at least know these are the non-virus-bearing variety. Besides, they’re also large enough to carry away a small dog and move so slowly I have a fair chance of actually swatting and killing them before they can manage to bite. It seems like more of a fair fight to me. The mosquitoes on Bequia are sneaky and have a way of beating all our attempts to eradicate them – especially the fogging with poisonous chemicals, which was the only attempt made by the government to deal with Chikungunya last year, and instead resulted in the kill-off of part of the bee population. The mosquitoes themselves somehow managed to dodge that bullet. What stopped the further spread of the virus was that nearly everyone on the island contracted it and, since the virus could not be spread from human to human, it eventually died out, naturally. This is what’s called “herd immunity”.
Let’s hope Caribbean health authorities and governments learned from their mistakes last year in dealing with ChikV and, instead of hiding their heads in the sand (believing that by doing so they were somehow protecting their tourist industry), they take immediate action to stop the spread of Zika, the new kid on the beach, before it gets a foothold. No one … NO ONE! should be made to suffer again as we all did last year with Chikungunya. Bad enough already we have to contend with the constant threat of Dengue (which I have had), Malaria, West Nile, and all the other mosquito-borne diseases, fevers, threats, than to be worried about Zika, as well.
And we can begin eradicating viruses such as Zika by educating the people! This blog post, and the other earlier posts I wrote about ChikV, are my attempt to spread the word to help stop the spread of the virus. Please share this, and my other posts, wherever possible so many more people read and hear about these mosquito-borne viruses and learn to take proper precautions.
SPREAD THE WORD TO STOP THE SPREAD OF ZIKA!
(How’s that for a slogan?)
I want to hear from you, if you contracted Chikungunya last year and have been following my blog posts abut the virus. How are you doing? Have you now recovered? Please post a comment below and let me and my readers know of your experience. I really do want to hear from you!
True words from Seumas Gallacher! We authors love every review we receive, but should never expect to receive a review from every reader.
Originally posted on Seumas Gallacher:
…an honest review is as gold dust to any writer… and I care not if the scribbler is a newbie, self-publishing indie… or a decades-established leading name for a major publishing firm… each and every time any reader takes the patience and trouble to offer his/her opinion on yer literary labours, it’s another one of an Author’s ‘golden moments’… an acknowledgement yer WURK is recognised… and let me affirm to yeez, it truly matters not whether the rating is 1-star, all the way to 5-stars, if it’s honest, it’s a learning mark for yeez… accept them all… usually with more than just a pinch of salt if they swing too much to the dark side or praise yeez to the high heavens… and as a wee aside, it’s worth bearing in mind not everybody on the planet is gonna LUV yer wee masterpiece with quite the same intensity…
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It’s as simple as A, B, C, D, E, F … Gee! What are you waiting for??? You couldn’t ask for better promotion for yourself as an author than The Story Reading Ape’s blog! (And, come to think of it, I myself am overdue to revisit the Friendly Ape’s site. Thanks for the reminder, Chris!)
Originally posted on Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog:
1. Why do I ask my new Guest Authors to write about themselves, rather than about their book(s)?
Because there are already an excessive number of ‘Buy My Book’ spam tweets, promos and the like already circulating around Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Blogs and many other media, so potential readers usually switch off and turn away from them.
It satisfies humankind’s natural curiosity, aka nosiness, about other people, especially those who have done something the vast majority of others may never do themselves, i.e., written books and actually published them.
It takes authors out of their normal comfort zone, making them learn how to talk about themselves without sounding pompous, self-serving, conceited, etc.
This is also a useful talent when dealing with Agents, Publishers, etc, as well :D
It gives authors the opportunity to prove and demonstrate their writing talents are not just limited to the books…
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Congratulations to Nicholas C. Rossis whose book “Runaway Smile” has been named an Award-Winning Finalist in the 2015 International Book Awards! Well done!
Originally posted on Nicholas C. Rossis:
I got some exciting news yesterday, which I wanted to share with all of you! USA Book News announced the winners and finalists of THE 2015 INTERNATIONAL BOOK AWARDS (IBA) on May 21, 2015.
Over 300 winners and finalists were announced in over 80 categories and awards were presented for titles published in 2013, 2014 and 2015.
Runaway Smile, my children’s book, was an award-winning finalist in the 2015 International Book Awards, in the Children’s Fiction category!
I want to thank my parents, and my wife, Electra, and Dimitris Fousekis, and . Sorry, Electra told me that this is not that kind of post. She promised to listen to my speech as soon as I’m done, though, so I’d better wrap this up and fetch the shampoo bottle (which doubles as award-accepting-ceremony-microphone in our household).
Before I go, a big thank you to all of you who have taken the time…
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From Tim Baker, a great reminder of what all writers need in their writing toolbox …
Originally posted on blindoggbooks:
In the world of professional baseball, teams send scouts to colleges (sometimes even high schools) to evaluate young talent.
There are five aspects of the game that these scouts look for, and naturally, the more areas a player excels at, the higher he is rated—they are hitting for power, hitting for average, fielding, throwing and speed.
A player who demonstrates proficiency in all five of these areas is rare, and is referred to as a five-tool-player.
Bo Jackson, Mike Schmidt and Kirby Puckett are a few examples of such elite players.
Naturally, it isn’t necessary to be a five-tool player to be successful in Major League Baseball, but obviously it is to a player’s advantage to possess strength in as many of the five as possible.
So it is, too, with writing.
You don’t have to be a five-tool-writer to be successful, but you should work to excel…
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