Don’t believe anyone who says there is a lack of good books out there due to all the changes in the publishing industry. It’s simply not true. If anything, the advent of self-publishing and hybrid publishing is enabling so many great voices to be heard.
Sure, there’s a lot of noise to sift through. There are some people trying to scam the system. But the vast majority of authors out there are putting their very best feet forward. (If you have a foot fetish, you’re going to be in heaven).
The key is discovering good work.
Finding new authors whose voices demand to be heard. With sites like Amazon, Audible, and B&N, review sites like Goodreads and blogger sites like BookLikes, its easier than ever to connect with friends or like-minded individuals and see what they’re reading. Lately I’ve discovered some fantastic new authors through recommendations from random friends on Goodreads, authors I might never have encountered otherwise.
(And if you’d like to connect with me on Goodreads, please do so!)
Earlier this year I posted my favorite reads of the first quarter. Now that the year is coming to its halfway point, I thought I’d continue the tradition in recommending a few of my favorites since then. (And yes this list gets harder and harder to narrow down).
Here’s what I’ve read since the end of March:
Now some of these were “listen” reads, as I travel a bit for my day job and use my time as productively as possible in the car. Of the 30 books / novellas I had the privilege of reading, 21 of them were from authors whom I have never read before. (And no, Stephen King wasn’t one of them). Some I discovered on Twitter, others through the HWA (Horror Writers Association). Some, as I mentioned, were recommended or I heard about through other’s reviews, and others just grabbed my attention – whether from the cover of the novel or the book’s premise or both.
Realistically, if I had the time, I could write a blog post about every one of these novels. There were some amazing reads. Instead I’ll mention a few that are worth your time, regardless of the genre you enjoy.
First, a shout out to a few of my fellow Kindle Scout Winners:
- Alan Orloff’s Running From the Past: A tense thriller about a family on vacation discovering their son’s friend who has joined them is being physically abused at home.
- Rigel Carlson’s G-1: A sci-fi novel that takes you on a rollercoaster journey through emotional and political upheavals. Balancing comedy and thrills this is the first of a trilogy to come.
- Fiona Quinn’s Weakest Lynx: A psychic thriller with a protagonist who deserves the trilogy she now has. Fiona Quinn is not only a dynamite author but one of the most supportive people I’ve ever had the privilege of meeting.
- Rob Blackwell’s Closed at Dark: The prequel to Blackwell’s Kindle Scout novel Forest of Forever introduces us to Soren Chase, the paranormal investigator in a series of disturbing and carefully crafted encounters.
- James Morris’ What Lies Within: A delightful read with a tightly woven plot centering around the question “who are we?” This one surprised me by how it kept drawing me back in, time and time again.
One of the best parts of being selected into the Kindle Scout Program has been getting to know so many other amazing and supportive authors. It really has become its own community and is unlike anything I’ve experienced before. Not only conversing, brainstorming, and (yes, at times) harassing these authors has been a privilege, but reading their works has been a pleasure all its own. The list of Kindle Scout Selected Novels continues to grow. I’m looking forward to many more of these reads.
- Mark Oliver Everett (or E as he’s known in his band The Eels)’s Things the Grandchildren Should Know: I found this autobiography riveting in its simplistic yet poignant approach. E, the lead singer of the Eels, does much more than just share the stories of how he arrived where he is today — he opens up his heart and lets it bleed on the pages. Phenomenal writing and a “voice” that brings you in and makes you feel like you’re there with him through the tragic times and good. This book is the mark of a true artist, again proving you don’t have to follow the grain to be successful but rather stay true to yourself.
And lastly …
(My favorite category)
Best Horror Novels of the Year:
Last time I blogged about my reads, I narrowed my favorite read down to one book. This time I’m choosing three. While there were many that I absolutely adored (Finders Keepers by Stephen King, Silent Scream by Angela Marsons, The Dead Key, by DM Pulley), these three blew me away. The central ideas of the stories got me to pick the books up, but it was the execution that demands these books make this list.
Here they are, not in the order that I would recommend them but the order in which I read them, along with my review of each:
Pete Kahle’s The Specimen:
This horror novel is delightfully twisted, and it’s books like these that get me excited about the self-publishing revolution. Kahle writes with a confidence few traditionally published authors ever achieve. Each of the multitude of characters he introduces are living, breathing entities, and based on the structure of the novel and his sharp prose, one would never suspect this is a debut novel.
The world he has created, while borrowing from some of the greats before him, is at the same time unique and spell-binding. Definitely not for the squeamish, but if you’re a horror fan, put this on your “must read” list. Quite an achievement and a landmark read in my book.
Craig DiLouie’s Suffer the Children:
This book was amazing, one of my favorite reads of 2015 so far. The concept of the novel brought me in, as is often the case, but the execution was flawless. Horror, but not over the top, this was a novel that made you think and, as a father, made me consider how far would I go to save my own children. Just when you thought every end-of-the-world scenario had been explored, along comes DiLouie offering a new take on the apocalypse – one no one has dared dream of.
And the cause of man’s ultimate destruction???
Can’t recommend this one enough.
Paul Tremblay’s A Head Full of Ghosts:
Very rarely do I encounter a book I wouldn’t change anything about. “A Head Full of Ghosts” is one of those books.
The execution of this novel is brilliant and, while it was not what I expected, the journey was beyond enjoyable. Tremblay has a clear talent for creating believable characters and building suspense without ever forcing it on the audience.
Taking what has become a wearisome and trite concept – an exorcism – this novel proves Tremblay not only knows the genre well but knows how to stand it on its head. By far one of my favorite reads of 2015. This is a book you don’t want to miss.
The best part about these three novels is that all three of them are new authors to me. Three months ago I had never heard of any of them. It just goes to prove what a great time this is to be a reader of Fiction. I can’t wait to see what the next three months bring.
So what have you been reading this year so far?
Anything stand out above the rest? I’d love to hear what’s grabbed you by the head and held you down kicking and screaming, demanding you finish “just one more page!”