Friday, July 15, 2016

Food for Bookworms

Summer is the time for beach reads, winter for curling up with a good book before a roaring fire. For true bookworms, of course, time of year makes no difference: “spring, summer, winter, or fall,” as the song goes, a good story calls to us no matter when or where.

When we at Five Directions Press named our quarterly newsletter Books Worth Reading, we had in mind primarily our own. Do, by all means, give some of ours a try. Joan Schweighardt’s The Last Wife of Attila the Hun—rescued from the now-defunct Booktrope Editions, reformatted, and reissued—became available again in print and for Kindle at the end of June. C. P. Lesley’s The Swan Princess, third of her Legends of the Five Directions, appeared in mid-April. And in less than three weeks we plan to release Gabrielle Mathieu’s debut historical fantasy novel, The Falcon Flies Alone. For more information on these and our other novels/memoirs, see our Books page.

Those three should appeal to lovers of historical fiction and historical fantasy. Several contemporary novels, general fiction and romance, will appear through the fall and winter months and into next year. But the site also offers descriptions, excerpts (online and audio), reviews, awards, and previews for older books in our chosen genres: contemporary fiction, including romance; historical fiction, science fiction, and fantasy with and without romantic elements; and memoirs. Most of our books are aimed at women and girls 14 and up, but not all. And men like them as well.

A quarterly newsletter leaves a lot of months uncovered, so at the beginning of this year we decided to fill in the blanks. To spare our subscribers’ in boxes, we post monthly to our blog a short list of books we loved. Some are indie-published, others commercial; most recent, some not. The only criterion for inclusion is that at least one member of our coop loved them. You can get a sense of the posts below and at Five Directions Press. There you can sign up for our newsletter, which includes interviews with authors, press news, and access to coloring pages associated with our books, drawn by the talented Ariadne Apostolou. You can also browse prior months’ posts and check back for new ones; usually they go up around the fifteenth of each month.

The rest of this post echoes the blog. Initials indicate the 5DP author who loved the book.

Dot Hutchison, The Butterfly Garden (Thomas & Mercer, 2016)
Not for the faint of heart, The Butterfly Garden is creepy crime fiction reminiscent of a Criminal Minds episode. The story, told both from the present from the point of view of FBI agents and in flashbacks from the main character, a kidnapped young woman, takes the reader along as the characters unravel the mystery surrounding a serial kidnapper, the secret garden he's built and the women he calls his Butterflies.—CJH


Christiane Ritter, Woman in the Polar Night (repr. University of Alaska Press, 2010)
A first-person account of a year in the frozen north, continuously in print since 1938 and still a compelling read. A well-to-do Austrian Hausfrau and artist leaves her child and her ordered, comfortable life to join her husband and a Norwegian hunter in a tiny cabin on an island in the Arctic Sea. There she finds beauty in the ethereal light of the polar sky, the furious storms, the “mighty jagged arches and towers of ice” and the wild and mighty animals: polar bears and seals, reindeer and arctic foxes.—DS


Tricia Sullivan, Occupy Me (Gollancz, 2016)
A lofty mixture of physics and poetry, this novel is about an angel from another dimension working for The Resistance, which tries to make life better in small ways. But the members of the Resistance aren’t who they seem to be, and Pearl, the angel, is an enigma—a huge, compassionate entity who doesn’t know her own origin. The more you read about the main characters, a doctor who is possessed by a murderous entity that may actually be trying to save the world and an angel who was created out of “extinct animals and nano-libraries,” the less you actually know them. As the author says at one point, “I didn’t recognize myself. Never again the same. In my brain a thicket of dendrites were standing on end in dark and terrible welcome.” Read this book, and your dendrites will hop to attention as well.—GM

Beatriz Williams, A Certain Age (William Morris, 2016)
A wealthy 1920s socialite who has an “understanding” with her philandering husband falls in love with a man twenty years younger than she is. Life looks good until her brother enlists her young lover to issue a marriage proposal on his behalf, creating a love pentangle that ends in a courtroom and scandal. Beatriz Williams’s ability to draw us into her story by rendering every one of these not always admirable characters sympathetic and believable makes this novel a must-read.—CPL

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