This has been a brutal year on creativity, and I think it might’ve been even harder on escapism. This has just felt like the year we can’t escape from. I know my reading was way up at first, but by June I pretty much had to force myself to relax. Or if not relax, at least decrease my tension a bit. My to-read pile didn’t budge much, and I’m guessing about 2/3 of the books I’ve read this year have either been for blurbs or for the dystopian book club.
Anyway, it’s Cyber-Monday and the world is feeling a tiny bit brighter these days, and I thought I’d tell you about a couple books by other authors I did manage to read this year and personally enjoyed a lot for one reason or another. Maybe you’d like to add one or two of them to your holiday wish lists, or one of them might sound just right for that certain someone you know.
Also, these are in no particular order. They’re not even all new. So don’t read too much into where something appears. And, yeah, about half of them are by friends. Again, I real a lot of books for blurbs this year (and still have two more to go)
The Future Is Yours by Dan Frey – I’m starting the list with a cheat because this book isn’t coming out until February—it’s something I got to read early and it’s magnificent. Two guys (well, maybe three) create a machine that lets you look at the internet of one year in the future (news articles, interviews, blogs, and more), and now they have to decide what to do with it. This book seriously blew me away with its characters, its story, and how it told that story. I read the whole thing in one day. Put it on your list now.
The Children of Red Peak by Craig diLouie—It takes a lot to make my skin crawl, but Craig’s newest definitely did it. David, Beth, and Deacon are the only survivors of a religious cult’s suicide pact when they were children. Now they’re slowly facing the fact that they don’t actually know what happened back then… I called this book “Heaven’s Gate by way of IT” and I stand by that.
The Diabolical Miss Hyde by Viola Carr –this was the very first book I read in 2020 and I’m still not sure how it ended up on my Kindle (a sale, I’m guessing?). This is a wonderful steampunk mystery starring the daughter(s) of that famous literary pair, and it does some very clever things with point of view. Plus it’s just plain fun.
Ghost Money by Stephen Blackmoore—pretty much every year Stephen ends up on this list and it’s because every year he writes a new Eric Carter book. Honestly, the series was already great and the past three books (this is the most recent) he’s just outdone himself again and again. So pick up all of them, if you haven’t already.
Part of Your Nightmare by Vera Strange a.k.a. Jennifer Brody—this is probably the youngest-aiming book on my list, but Jennifer did a wonderful job of bringing Ursula into the “real” world as she makes yet another deal with a young woman with a dream. Plus, no joke, there’s a scene with a goldfish in this that will creep you out, no matter what age you are.
The Imaginary Corpse by Tyler Hayes—the book that answers the question, what happens to imaginary friends when you grow out of them? And the answer, of course, is that some of them become noir detectives. If they were a triceratops named Tippy, anyway. Despite the light premise, this book has a lot to say about trauma and coping and dealing with the bad things. It’s fun and sweet and I liked it a lot.
The Unstoppable Wasp: Built on Hope by Sam Maggs- also a little younger-aiming, Sam’s written an amazing book about Nadia, the newest Wasp in the Marvel Universe. It’s fun and very clever, and (much like the movies) Sam reminds us how friggin’ cool shrinking powers would be for a smart person.
The Oracle Year by Charles Soule—slightly older book, so I’m late on this one. If you don’t already know, it’s about a man who discovers he’s made hundreds of predictions (large and small) for the coming year, and then how he comes to navigate that year as they all start to come true. If you love stories of prophecy and future knowledge, this book is absolutely magnificent.
Shadow of the Batgirl by Sarah Kuhn—a reimagining of the Cassandra Cain story, which gives her an origin that’s just as dark, but maybe not as gritty. Raised by an assassin to be the ultimate weapon, she has to decide what she really wants to do with her life. It’s got action, drama, a little romance, and a few laughs (I’m still saying “Be with your sequel!” whenever a cat wants to be somewhere high up). It’s another solid pick for the comic-lover in your life.
Ballistic Kiss by Richard Kadrey—is you haven’t been reading the Sandman Slim books… jeeez, you’re missing out on so much good stuff. Richard Stark was banished to Hell and spent a decade as a living soul in the demonic gladiatorial pits, where he earned the nickname Sandman Slim. Now he’s back in
And there you have it. Ten books I really enjoyed. I may add one or two more in the comments depending on when I get done with them. And please feel free to add anything you’ve particularly loved this year down there, too.
Happy Holidays, take care of yourself, be safe, please wear your mask.
And go write.