Tag Archives: Reading Recommendations
I have already posted a list of some of the authors whose books I read this year and found to be outstanding. You will find that link here.
But I read so many books in 2017, and many were great reads indeed, so I’ve divided the list into two: that first list covered authors I have promoted on my blog,
Reading Recommendations; this second list is everything else.
Because I tend to be an eclectic reader, you will find on this list: old books and newly released books, fiction and non-fiction, children’s picture books, graphic novels, memoir – even a couple of political biographies, and many books about books and reading (because I’ve been researching a series on Reading for my blog). What I have not listed are the classics and cookbooks (yes, I even read cookbooks!) that I read this year. And I read all of these books in eBook and print format, sometimes bought, sometimes gifted copies, some even won through Goodreads Giveaways, or they were from my own personal library, and many more were borrowed from the public library.
All are considered to be 5-star ratings, as far as I’m concerned. The very, very best books of the lot though are marked, along with the author’s name, in bold.
(The links attached to these titles will take you to more information on that specific book. These books are listed in the order I read them. )
Dark Star Safari by Paul Theroux
Slow Horses by Mick Herron
The View From the Cheap Seats by Neil Gaiman
The Stone Carvers by Jane Urquhart
The Dalai Lama’s Cat by David Michi
Touch the Earth by Julian Lennon
Judith by Aritha van Herk
(Reread after almost 40 years since it was first released! From Wikipedia: Van Herk’s writing career began with the publication of her M.A. thesis in 1978. Judith, a novel that explores a feisty female protagonist’s experiences in both rural and urban Canadian spaces, was the first winner of the Seal First Novel Award (C$50,000) from McClelland and Stewart, which granted the book international distribution throughout North America and Europe. )
Beartown by Fredrik Backman
Between Them by Richard Ford
Town is by the Sea by Joanne Scwartz
The Secret Place by Tana French
Sidewalk Flowers by Jon Arno Lawson
The Darkest Dark by Chris Hadfield
When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalinithi
This Fight is Our Fight by Elizabeth Warren
Before, During, After by Richard Bausch
American War by Omar El Akkad
(If I were forced to make a selection of the very best book I read this year, this would be it!)
Darktown by Thomas Mullen
Al Franken, Giant of the Senate by Al Franken
The End of Your Life Book Club, Books for Living by Will Schwalbe
(The End of Your Life Book Club is the best non-fiction I read, and it really changed the way I read books and think about my reading, and even about my life.)
A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
Roughneck by Jeff Lemire
The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore by William Joyce
The Summer Nick Taught His Cats to Read by Curtis Manley & Kate Berube
The Scarred Woman by Jussi Adler-Olsen
Uncommon Type by Tom Hanks
Arrival: The Story of CanLit by Nick Mount
I have read many, many books this year! Some were written by authors I have promoted previously on my other blog, Reading Recommendations, and these books I considered to be outstanding! And, in a few cases, I read more than one book by the same author. So, without further ado, here’s a list of those authors’ names and the titles of their books I read in 2017 …
(The links below will take you to that author’s original promotion on Reading Recommendations.)
Thanks to all Authors for continuing to write so well!
Gail Anderson-Dargatz – The Spawning Grounds
Tim Baker – 24 Minutes (to be published in 2018)
Gail Bowen – The Winner’s Circle
Kevin Brennan – In No Particular Order
Sharon Butala – Where I Live Now
Paul Butler – The Good Doctor, The Widow’s Fire
Sally Cronin – Sam, A Shaggy Dog Story
Tricia Drammeh – The Fifth Circle, Firebound (Spellbringers Book #2)
Seumas Gallacher – A Few Poetry Stops in a Life’s Journey
Felicity Harley – The Burning Years
Betty Jane Hegerat – Running Toward Home
Allan Hudson – Shorts Vol. 1
J.F. Kaufmann – Ellida, Once Upon a Night (To be published in 2018)
Ken McGoogan – 50 Canadians Who Changed the World, Dead Reckoning: The Untold Story of the Northwest Passage
J.P. McLean – The Betrayal
Antony Millen – The Chain
David A. Poulsen – Serpents Rising, Dead Air
Mike Robbins – Such Little Accident: British Democracy and its Enemies, Three Seasons
Merilyn Simonds – Gutenberg’s Fingerprint
Mary Smith – Donkey Boy and Other Stories
Check out Part 2 of this series here.
During the early 80s I worked in a bookstore in Calgary – a rather eclectic shop that sold no bestsellers or books for children, but instead did a booming business in world literature, poetry, philosophy, science, armchair travel, gender, vegetarian cookbooks, and LPs of New Age music … I remember one pre-Christmas season (oh, and the store also did not get into any kind of festive mode, either) when one of our regular customers, a middle-aged professor at the university, walked into the store, clapped his hands together, and said, “Right! I’ve finished shopping for all the presents for everyone else. Now it’s time to shop for ME!” And with that, he delved in among the shelves and came back to the front desk loaded down with some weighty (both physically and in content) tomes on whatever subject it was in which he speciaized. I always think back to the glee in his eyes at the thought, no doubt, that he was going to be gifting himself exactly what he wanted for Christmas (or whichever present-giving-based holiday he and his family were celebrating).
As a reader who definitely knows what she enjoys reading, and who has had many years of experience in finding and discovering her own reading material, thank you very much!, I’m not big on taking direction from others when I choose what to read next. I enjoy the search almost as much as the actual reading, so to speak. In other words, I don’t like to receive books as gifts. Nor do I want to give books as gifts to other readers. I believe that they, like me, prefer to discover reading material themselves. (Besides, we don’t do the gift-giving thing in our house, not even for birthdays. Buying the land and building this house on Bequia was gift enough that Dennis and I gave to each other to last a lifetime.)
So, instead of posting a list of suggestions of books for your gift-giving this year, I’m offering here a list of recommended reading FOR READERS out there! It’s actually just a link to my Reading Recommendations blog and all the wonderful authors who I have promoted there over the years, but still worthwhile checking out for the day you too can say,
“There! I’m finished with everyone else … Now I can treat myself with some excellent books to read!”
Sorry I can’t help you with finding quiet time to read those books – you’ll need to carve that out for yourself!
Oh, and I want World Peace, too, while we’re at it!
Both my Bequia Perspectives Novels are now available
worldwide from Amazon in print editions!
All links to purchase both titles in print or in eBook formats
(or to borrow from libraries) can be found here:
Bequia Perspectives Novels
Here’s the background as to how all this came about …
In Feb. 2012 I published the first eBook edition of Island in the Clouds. It had been my idea at the time that we should ePublish first, work out any bugs in the files, create a market for the writing and for a print edition, and then go to print once a demand was established. So I didn’t print Island in the Clouds until June 2012, and at that time I went with a traditional publishing company to do so. This cost me a considerable amount of money up front, leaving me in proud possession of 800 copies of the book – which I then had to store, distribute, and sell myself. Five-and-a-half-years later, I still have about 200 copies left in various locations. I have not been paid at all by several places that took copies on consignment to sell for me, and I have no reliable means of selling those remaining copies. Fortunately, I sold enough of the original 800 to cover my expenses of having the books printed, but I’m nowhere near having made enough money from this enterprise to pay myself back for everything I put into writing, promoting and selling the book by myself.
But then we do it for the love of it, right? This was never intended to be a money-making enterprise. But it was also never intended to be a money-LOSING enterprise …
When it came time to think about printing One Woman’s Island, I had to consider long and hard whether I wanted to travel down that same road. First of all, I did not have the several thousand dollars I knew a traditional printing was going to cost. Plus, I really didn’t want to have to store copies anywhere, or find a new distributor for this new book.
Fortunately for me, I received a blog post from Calgary author, Brian Brennan (who I have promoted on Reading Recommendations), in which he explained how he went about reprinting books of his that had been declared out of print by the original publisher. He worked with our mutual eBook formatter, Human Powered Design (Gina McCreary), to create the print files, and then went to a self-publishing service to have copies printed POD (print-on-demand). I reblogged Brian’s explanation of all this here: Brian Brennan – 3 reprints now available
So, I decided to look into this myself for my own print books. In the meantime, Gina had heard of a new service being offered by Amazon – Kindle Direct Publishing Paperback Beta Program – that we could sign into through our existing eBook accounts (which Gina has always maintained for me) and it seemed as though it was exactly what I was looking for. I didn’t need to pay anything upfront to Amazon, Gina was able to create the necessary print files and cover designs from my original eBook files and look after the listings for me, and I will receive payment from Human Powered Design for sales made, along with any sales of eBooks, every month, as I have done all along since first listing my eBooks in Feb. 2012.
Plus … I now have the benefit of WORLDWIDE distribution of my print books!! That, to me, is the biggest benefit of printing books in this way.
Here’s another article I discovered about this new service that ran on The Digital Reader site.
Since I’ve been back in Canada, spending the summer months at my trailer, now aptly named, “Another Page” …
I’ve been borrowing print books like mad from the Bruce County Public Library, specifically at the Kincardine and Lucknow Branches, which happen to be almost equidistant in driving time from the trailer park.
And … WOW!! What a summer it’s been, catching up on books that were not available as eBooks or that I otherwise might have had to wait a long time to borrow as eBooks. I’ve also caught up on watching movies too as the system has a terrific selection of DVDs in their collection. It’s been a busy summer, driving back and forth, picking up holds and taking back materials I’ve read/watched. I’ve been into both branches so often and borrowed so much that the librarians all seem to know me by name now (and one told me yesterday that they will miss me after Oct. 1st when I leave the park for the winter). I’m starting to feel like Norm in the TV series, Cheers!
Or an addict surrounded by a group of happy pushers. Hmmm.
But all of this has now made me realize that …
READING IS MY SUPERPOWER!!
(Even though I always secretly wanted to be Wonder Woman)
In fact, I wish I had been able to figure out a way to become a PROFESSIONAL READER – and be paid for all the reading I have done in my life. That would have been cool … (As it was, I was a bookseller and a publishers’ sales rep, and was paid to SELL books, not to read them. I actually didn’t have much time to read those books I was selling. I wish I’d been given time during my days of being paid and was sent off to read those books I was selling. I would have been even more effective than I was at convincing customers, booksellers and librarians to buy those books. I was always very convincing when promoting a book I had enjoyed …)
At the beginning of the summer I made a concerted effort to research, source, and track down as many books as I could that I wanted to read, both new releases and those by favourite authors, and used the library’s handy “My Lists” section on their website to create my own list of book and DVD titles I was hoping to borrow. I also went through a hefty “Want-To-Read” list I had compiled on the Goodreads site over the years I’ve been a member and discovered many of those books were available in print from Bruce County, so on to the lists they went!
The other thing that happened was I promoted a book on my Reading Recommendations blog by Margaret Mackey titled, One Child Reading: My Auto-Bibliography. This reminded me that I, long ago, had the idea to write a series of blog posts, On Reading, in which I compile information on Who reads – and How, What, When, Where and Why they read. So I decided, while I had access to a great print selection of books on the topic of reading, that I would borrow even more books and do the necessary research for this series I’ve been meaning to write.
It was like a Perfect Storm for anyone who loves books and reading as much as I do!
So, I’ve been thinking about that PROFESSIONAL READER job, and figured that … just as libraries and other organizations designate, and often pay a stipend to, a writer-in-residence, maybe it’s time to consider creating a Reader-in-Residency Programme – in which someone who reads a lot of books (as I do) and can review and recommend those books to other readers is given office space and the opportunity to set up a reading programme for anyone interested in learning about available books. (I actually had this idea when I promoted Shaun Hunter’s blog and her efforts to gather up all the reading material she could that was set in or about the city of Calgary. I think Shaun would be a terrific Reader-in-Residence for the city to hire – especially a city like Calgary where the current mayor, Naheed Nenshi, reads a lot of books himself and publicly promotes reading and the Calgary Public Library.)
So, what do you say, folks? I figure that anyone who encourages others to read, and to read well and a lot, should be designated a SUPER HERO! I am willing to continue reading and recommending books for no payment at all, but … Should anyone ever be in need of a person who possesses the Superpower of Reading, then I’m your Reader, and I’m available!
Just whistle. You know how to whistle, don’t you?
This post is an introduction to the series, “On Reading”, which you will be able to follow on this blog page.
The series is dedicated to the memory of a great reader and blogger, roughseasinthemed.
As my own personal celebration of Canada’s 150th Birthday this year,
I offer a list of 150 Canadian Authors!
These are authors whose books are on my shelves, or who have been promoted on my blog, Reading Recommendations. Many of them I’ve met in person at one time or another (some have even driven with me in my car!), either when I was a bookseller, publishers’ sales rep, or Author Impresario in my business, Alberta Books Canada. Some have also become close personal friends over the years, and for that I am extremely grateful!
All are terrific writers! So I urge you – whether you are a Canadian reader or a reader living anywhere else in the world – to check out any or … ALL of these authors I’ve listed below in alphabetical order. I have included initial links to the authors who have been promoted previously on my blog.
Read and enjoy! Oh, and HAPPY 150TH BIRTHDAY, CANADA, eh!
Marcello Di Cintio
J. Michael Fay
Demetra Angelis Foustanellas
Betty Jane Hegerat
Darcie Friesen Hossack
Mark Anthony Jarman
Shirlee Smith Matheson
Lorna Schultz Nicholson
Timothy L. Phillips
David A. Poulsen
Leo Brent Robilliard
Richard William Stevenson
Lee D. Thompson
Aritha van Herk
And #151 … Susan M. Toy
If you have read Island in the Clouds or One Woman’s Island or That Last Summer (or all three!) and enjoyed reading them – but you haven’t yet posted any reviews online, I would appreciate you doing so now, on Goodreads, Amazon, Kobo, iTunes, your library’s website, or your own blog. I’m hoping to build up awareness for my writing in general to create a solid fan base in place to do the heavy-lifting of informing and, hopefully, exciting different and new-to-me readers about any future publications. If you have already posted something to do with me or my writing on your own blog I have likely added that link to this page, this page, or this one. If your interview or review are not listed there, please let me know so I can include you.
Now, I know some readers are shy and don’t want their thoughts and opinions posted in public, and especially not online. I appreciate and understand that feeling! If you have read my books though and enjoyed them enough to want to tell me about that enjoyment, then please send me an email (susanmtoy (at) gmail.com). Your review can be as brief as you’d like to make it. And I promise never to divulge your name if you want to remain anonymous, but do let me know if I may post and quote your comments on my blog – without your name attached! – so potential readers have a chance to see what “someone” thinks of my books and my writing. Whatever you decide, please do write and tell me whatever it is that you think. The best way for any author to improve is to listen to comments made by their readers. After all, it’s you we’re writing for in the first place!
What I hope to achieve by all this, of course, is a build-up of word-of-mouth promotion. You who are already satisfied readers will become, I hope, the foot soldiers in my campaign to promote my books. If you DO want me to quote you in future publicity then let me know I may use your name. A review with a real name has so much more credibility, and I’ll be using the best of those as bullets (not real gun bullets, of course!) and endorsements.
The other way for you to become involved in this promotion campaign of mine is by personally telling your friends about my books, and encouraging them to read what I’ve already published. Then, if they like what they read, they will anticipate my future publications. A readership is something we authors build one reader at a time … and by writing books readers enjoy reading.
So thanks to everyone for reading through my post, and for any help you may be able to offer.
And remember … I am but one author out here who is writing and publishing. There are many, many others who can also use a hand in the promotion of their books. Never discount the effect your personal recommendation has on any book you read and enjoy. Please don’t keep that enjoyment to yourself – tell others about it! An author’s success may just depend on your initial recommendation! (I feel so strongly about this concept that I created the Reading Recommendations blog.) And for those of you who would like to take this a step or two further, here are 99 Ways to Spread the Word About a Book You Love.
Thanks for reading – and commenting and reviewing! I could never have come this far without all of you loyal readers, and I appreciate every single one of you!
I’m hoping that readers of this blog will take my request seriously and consider reading to write reviews for the more than 150 Authors I’ve promoted on my blog, Reading Recommendations. I posted to that blog today and addressed all the authors there, Reading Recommendations … Spring Cleaning, telling them I’ve cleaned up the lists a bit. I immediately received messages from several of those authors, offering me reciprocal promotion for my own writing, and one also requesting titles he could review.
So I thought I would open this up to everyone, readers included – those who don’t happen to also be authors themselves. I ask that you look through the lists on that blog and consider writing a review of books you may have already read, or let me know if you have written a favourable review of any that I may then repost on the reading recommendations reviewed blog. Or, if you discover an author you’d like to interview or review, let me know and I will help you contact them.
Thanks for any help with this. All we authors need reviews, but most important of all is that we find readers who are interested in reading what we write! If you find some new-to-you authors through this blog of mine then I am very happy indeed!
But if you then tell your friends about this great author and their books, that will be pure magic!!
Since this is the month to celebrate poetry and poets, I thought I would provide you with a list of the poets I have previously featured on my other blog, Reading Recommendations. All links will take you to each poet’s promotion.
And definitely not from some flounder!
But this is what I can call a message I really like!
Not all readers like to write reviews and post them online, and I get that! So I will never ask anyone to review my books or post their thoughts if they don’t wish to do so.
However, I do know many readers, especially friends, like to tell me their thoughts and impressions about my books after they’ve read something I’ve written. They quite often write to me privately in an email, or they tell me in person when I meet up with them. So I then ask if I may post their comments to my blog, and will do so anonymously, if that’s what they wish.
Here are comments from two friends who had previously read Island in the Clouds and have now told me what they think of One Woman’s Island …
Friend #1 (received by email):
I loved reading One Woman’s Island. I enjoyed it so much that at one point, I wished the story wouldn’t end! I appreciated that Marianne was such a strong character. She believed in her values and did not cave in when she encountered opposing views. Keep writing, Sue. I look forward to your next book. Violet
Friend #2 (From a conversation):
I enjoyed the development of the characters, particularly Tex, who I had no sympathy with initially, but came to like him. Mariana reflects the views of a lot of people who come to the island, who are invasive and intrusive, and get it all wrong. She irritated the hell out of me and at times I wanted to slap her! I really enjoyed the change in speed between life on Bequia and the slow pace of the tranquil garden in several scenes. There should be a place like that on this island where people can sit in private and not be overheard, enjoying a coffee or tea completely out of sight. (smt: Well, there is my own verandah at The View. Although I do quite like my imagined garden in the novel.) I actually felt that what you’ve done is left enough strings untied that what I want most is to read the next book.
Friend #1 has visited us on Bequia, but I have known her since 1979, shortly after we moved to Calgary. We have been friends ever since. She is an artist and has always encouraged my writing.
Friend #2 owns a house on Bequia and has been coming to the island for many years. She’s supported my books wholeheartedly and keeps print copies in her house for rental guests to read. (And if you’re thinking of coming to Bequia, I do recommend you check out this friend’s house – send me an email for details.)
Both women are avid readers, so I am particularly flattered by their comments.
As well, I received a wonderful review of my book from author and friend, Timothy Phillips. (The link will take you to his promotion on my blog.) He did post to both Amazon and Facebook, but I just had to share with you here what he has said:
I was fortunate to read Susan Toy’s first book, Island in the Clouds. This is set on the Caribbean island of Bequia and murders will take place – guaranteed. We don’t have to wait long – a body turns up floating in the swimming pool almost on page one. It’s an exciting read all the way through.
Toy’s second book is also set in Bequia, which is where she resides for half the year. She knows the island intimately and she knows the people, both the ex-pat community and locals and has weaved this backdrop effectively into her story. We will have to wait a third of the way into her book before we have full proof of skullduggery and mischief. Yet, right from the beginning, we have ominous warning of some malevolent presence of things to come through the almost incoherent rambling conversation of three children. So, we’re prepared to wait. It reminds me of the witches’ scene in Act One, Scene One of Macbeth.
We all, especially if we live in the cold North, have images in our mind of paradise on earth – a warm sunny climate, pristine beaches, plentiful exotic fruits, smiling locals speaking in a patois that has a lilting and colourful charm – easy to be enchanted here, nice place to visit. Might even consider moving here if suddenly there was upheaval in one’s life.
That happens to the protagonist, Mariana who has come to Bequia with her two cats for an extended visit to mend from a marriage that ended. She’s naive but well-intentioned – perhaps she’s enervated by sunshine and dazzled by vibrant blue skies. She wants to contribute meaningfully and yet her perception of life on the island through seemingly rose-tinted spectacles is far different from reality.
The tension in Toy’s story builds magnificently, the main characters are intriguing colourful individuals and she develops them masterfully. There are few that will predict the outcome of the story and we are left guessing right to the end.
Toy is an interested foodie and has obviously experimented with local dishes. At the end of some chapters, she has included the recipes for these. It gives one a chance to take a breath and reminds me of the opportunity to stretch, get a snack or an ice cream at Intermission. One needs that.
And I loved your review, Tim! Thank you so much for reading and telling everyone! I especially like the reference you made to Macbeth – Nice!
If anyone else has read and enjoyed any of my books, but is kind of shy about putting their comments out there, your secret identity is safe with me! Just send me an email, susanmtoy (at) gmail.com, tell me what you think, and give me permission to post either with your name or without. As I said in a blog post I wrote earlier this year, A small request of all my readers …
Thank you, to all readers, from the bottom of my heart!