I flog my books via blogs, Facebook, Twitter etc. so I thought it only fair to recommend books I’ve discovered and liked, some, but not all, written by fellow indie authors. Here are my reviews of nine books I’ve read recently. All can be found on Amazon.
The Palaver Tree – My books are partially inspired by my experiences in Africa so this book was a natural for me. Subtle, direct, gentle, and jarring, The Palaver Tree takes the reader on an incredible journey from the safety of small town England to the dangers of Africa. But, for Ellie, Diane, and Tiffany, England isn’t safe either as the wily and unscrupulous Gabriel cons them all.
And the Africa Ellie comes to know and love – the friends she makes and the children she teaches – cannot protect her from the dangers of either Gabriel or the rioting as rebels attempt a coup to overturn the government. I’ve lived and traveled in West Africa and found this book taking me down memory lane. Thankfully, I never had to face the dangers Ellie faced. If you’re looking for a good read, that takes “ordinary” people into extraordinary circumstances, this is it. And, the ending is perfect
Night Must Wait – Masterful. Authentic. Gritty. Gripping. Complex characters. Night Must Wait has all the elements to make this novel so much greater than just another war story. Winter’s subtleties in depicting the characters, the setting, the basic elements of Africa add depth and dimension much appreciated by this reader.
I lived in Mali at the time and could not visit Nigeria because of the war, but did travel through Niger, Benin (then called Dahomey) and Togo. I saw enough and knew enough about the area to relate to much in Winter’s book. I have great admiration for what she has accomplished with Night Must Wait.
The Nine Lives of Charlotte Taylor – Good books intrigue and keep you turning the pages. Great books draw you in and wrap their soul around you until you feel that you are part of the landscape, and one with the characters of the story. The Nine Lives of Charlotte Taylor is just such a book. The fact that Charlotte is a historical rather than fictional character makes each aspect of her story that much more poignant. You read the book and immediately wish to reread it for fear you’ve missed some small detail. When you come to the last page and are forced to admit there is no more, you are left with a bittersweet heartache and know that Charlotte will be with you for a long time to come.
Beautiful Ruins – This is the most expensive ebook I’ve bought to date. After reading the sample and some reviews, I wanted to buy the book, but hesitated over the price. Thankfully my first instinct ruled. Walter peoples the book with a disparate cast of characters and brings them together in intriguing and unexpected ways.
Despite their foibles, each person has redeeming qualities that engage sympathy. Furthermore Walter has them make hard decisions that seem foolhardy or plain stupid. In resolving the consequences of these decisions with the lives the characters lead, Walter spins a tale that not only holds our interest, but makes us feel that we are there with them, rooting for the underdog. The ending is wrapped up, not cleanly, but definitely realistically.
The Winter Pony – Wow! There aren’t enough adjectives to describe how wonderful this book is. If I was cranky the next morning, it’s Mr. Lawrence’s fault because I couldn’t stop reading. Who would have thought that a book written from a horse’s point of view could be so engaging? This tale of the trek to the South Pole provides a whole new perspective, one that this reader greatly appreciated.
Clockwise – I never read YA. (Actually that’s a little lie. I’ve read Skinnybones and the Wrinkle Queen more than once because it is so well written. (See: http://ow.ly/humKm) and now I have to add another YA to my favorites list. Clockwise is an intelligent and well written YA novel. Ms. Strauss has captured the essence of the age well. So nice to read about “normal” teens (as I know them as an educator) rather than the stereotype we so often see portrayed. Well done!
Domingo’s Angel – A survey of fiction readers showed that the one most important aspect of a novel to readers was what they learned. Domingo’s Angel fills the bill perfectly. The reader learns about conditions in Spain during Franco’s rule through the lives of villagers in the mountains. The story is beautiful, heartbreaking, and haunting. The characters, depicted so vividly, stay with the reader long after the book is done. This is one I will read and reread. Do pick up a copy. You won’t be disappointed.
Letters From Ted – Who would have thought that a book written from the point of view of a man battling cancer and with just a few days to live could be entertaining? At first I thought I wouldn’t bother finishing it, but the story kept me wondering and thus reading. Ted goes through a range of emotions that I suspect would be true for a person in his position. There is a fair amount of repetition, but given the author is writing to his girlfriend – in a stream of conscious – and his ramblings/musings all take place in a matter of hours, it works. This is a short book, but anything longer would have been too much. PS I thought it would be depressing, but it wasn’t.
Grows That Way – I don’t like YA. I don’t read YA. Oh, did I say that already? Caveat – I read (more than once) and loved Skinnybones and the Wrinkle Queen. So why am I writing a review for a YA book? Not just one, but the whole trilogy? Because Ketchen’s books are amazingly well written and keep getting better and better. I won’t call this a coming of age story as I can’t stand that expression. What are they then? A story of a girl dealing with her family and friends at the same time as she is dealing with Turner Syndrome. Ketchen’s characterizations are subtle and she informs as well as entertains. Each book can be read as a stand alone, but I urge you to read, in order, all three. You won’t be disappointed. And then pass them on to any teen you know who loves horses.