Here are just a few of the books that I have really enjoyed over the years. Many of them will be more mainstream fiction, and others will be new or self-published authors that I’ve found in my own research and would love to see garner more attention.
- Dearly, Departed and Dearly, Beloved by Lia Habel
Lia’s work is fabulous, and I can’t stress how much I love her narrative enough. Her characters are quirky and believable, and it is so easy to lose yourself in the romance and intrigue of the world she has so clearly carefully crafted – and this is coming from someone that doesn’t care much for zombies…about a zombie book! (I also have the great honor of knowing Miss Habel personally!) Unfortunately, due to a series of regrettable events, the third book in the series is been indefinitely postponed. I still recommend picking these two up, however — and watch Lia’s website for more of her projects as they come!
- Anything by M.C.A. Hogarth
MCAH has such a captivating storytelling voice, it’s difficult to put her work down. I’ve spent a lot of time reading and reviewing her work, primarily in the Pelted universe, but her book A Rosary of Stones and Thorns caught me first, so if you’re interested in a quirky way of looking at Christianity and angels, feel free to check it out. Otherwise, she’s got several series to check out: Her Instruments, Princes’ Game, Mindhealers, Alysha Forrest… Just go find a book she’s written and read it. It will be worth your time.
- To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
One might think that the classics should go unmentioned, and that everyone’s read this book in high school. But the fact of the matter is that TKAM is too good to let go unmentioned. A classic that was one of the first books I truly enjoyed reading in school – and characters that have inspired me enough to make me name future children after them. (I am dead-set on my first son’s middle name being Atticus.) If you haven’t read this, or haven’t read it in a while, this is a must-read.
- The Black Jewels trilogy by Anne Bishop
Quite possibly one of my all-time favorite set of novels. Bishop’s writing is a little hard to break into, but after a few chapters, it is all too easy to wrap yourself up in the characters and refuse to let go. Daemon and Lucivar are heart-wrenchingly complex people, and words cannot even begin to describe the depth to which Jaenelle is constructed. They are the first books I’ve ever read where I got to the end and immediately wished I could start them all over again.
- Emily, Alone by Stewart O’Nan
This is an odd book to put on the list, but I honestly think it won’t get as much credit as it’s due. It’s not action-filled, it’s not incredibly plot-driven…some might even think it’s boring. It’s a book about a probably-70-year-old woman living by herself in Pittsburgh and coming into her twilight years…and having to deal with that. But for me, it’s a story about a woman like my late grandmother. It’s a story about coming-of-age–from the other end of the spectrum. It’s a story about reconciliation and loss and moving on. It’s a story about hope. If you have connections to Pittsburgh, or the Chautauqua Institution, or just want a nice soothing story about a quiet life, check this one out.
- Male of the Species by Alex Mindt
I cannot say enough about Alex Mindt. I could write forever about how much I adore this man, as a writer and a speaker and a person. He’s phenomenally gifted and I genuinely can’t stress the fact that you should all read this book enough. It’s a series of short stories, all about how different men have dealt with their masculinity, and the way their surroundings dictate they should view it…and how those two overlap. (Or don’t, as is often the case.) Don’t let that dissuade you, if you’re not a guy though! It is still incredibly open for interpretation, and can be a good view into the minds of the masses, as it were. His storytelling is flawless; his voice clear. Love love love this book.
- Cam Girl by Elliot Wake (writing as Leah Raeder)
I always say that I’m not taken by surprise by many books anymore, which is true. So when this one came along and utterly knocked me off my feet, I knew I’d found something special. For someone who’s been dealing with gender issues for years, this is a massively powerful book. Definitely recommended.
More to come as I read/think of them!