starshipcat (starshipcat) wrote,

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Cool Books for Hot Summer Nights

So often we use metaphors of heat: "hot off the press," "hot new author" etc. to create excitement about a book we want to promote. Yet right now, with a dome of unbearable heat settled over so much of the US, it just doesn't seem to be appropriate.

A Man and a Plane by Joseph T Major

Who could stop Hitler? Germany in 1933 tottered on the brink of revolution, dissolution, and destruction. The Nazis were some kind of a solution.
There was no one who could be an alternative.
A stroke of fate took from the scene one man who could have made the difference. In that fateful April of 1918, Germany's hero fell from the skies.
And if he hadn't?

(I read this one in draft, or rather, several different drafts in the course of transforming it from idea to novel).

Bitter Weeds by Joseph T. Major

"There are bitter weeds in England." The Dunkirk Evacuation was a great deliverance. But some of the soldiers did not make it. If someone had only known . . . A troubled man, a man divided between two nations and several natures, delivered from the continent, pursues a twisted course in a wilderness of mirrors to serve his masters. A woman staging a great pretense that is almost true finds herself in the heart of darkness, seeing the advance of evil. Their relatives and connections each struggle with his or her own burdens as the horrors of war spread. The simple kindness of stopping to give the dead some small dignity begins a wave of change that will wash across the world, in this first volume of a series highlighting the great and the petty, the powerful and the victims, and finding both pain and hope.

(This is the first in a series that is currently up to five volumes: No Hint of War, The Road to the Sea, An Irresponsible Gang and The Ten Just Men. I've read the first and half of the second, and would be reading faster if only I had no obligations in life to attend. Unlike A Man and a Plane, it's a story of small changes that build in significance through the course of the story arc.)

Fleeing Peace by Sherwood Smith

Siamis said, “Your young friend Liere is not going to enjoy the trap she’s walking into, I fear. But you figured that out, did you not? Why didn’t she listen to you?”

“To snap her fingers under your nose,” Senrid retorted.

“Irresistible.” Siamis smiled gently. “But it’s going to cost.”

Fifteen-year-old Senrid is newly king of the difficult warrior kingdom Marloven Hess . . . just in time to lose it, and find himself running for his life. When Senrid is captured he overhears a secret—one he can use against the enemy, a charismatic, handsome man named Siamis who can read minds, and who enchants people just by talking to them.

Liere has always known she was special, which just increased her loneliness and sense of isolation. She can hear others’ thoughts, and she senses the real emotions below the façade. When a golden-haired man named Siamis comes to her village and enchants the entire town around her, she finds herself on the run.

Liere and Senrid couldn’t be more different, but their goal is the same, to locate the powerful magic that will unravel Siamis’s world enchantment.

Chased by powerful enemies, Liere and Senrid are tested to the max as they form an alliance of kids to aid them, and gain magical support from surprising sources.

Neither ever expected to discover something even more powerful than magic: friendship. First written when Sherwood Smith was fifteen, this is the story of how Senrid and Liere first met.

(This is another story I read in draft over the course of its development, from photocopies of fragile hand-written notebooks through typescripts and printouts to digital files. JRR Tolkien was not alone in discovering that it is not easy to reconcile the visions of one's youthful exuberance with the work of one's more mature older self).

Poor World (CJ's Notebooks Book 4) by Sherwood Smith

CJ and the gang of girls from Mearsies Heili like their adventures fun and villains to be defeatable by a well-thrown prune pie. In fact, they laughed at the very idea of stories about kids who have to Save the World . . .

Until it happens to them.

Written when Sherwood Smith was a teenager, this is the story of the M girls up against the toughest challenge of their lives so far.

(Another novel I got to play auntie to, as it went from that first draft in a crumbling notebook to polished prose).

Eldritch Embraces: Putting the Love Back into Lovecraft by Michael Cieslak

Combine the mind splintering horror of the Cthulhu Mythos and the heart shattering portion of that most terrible of emotions - love - and what do you have? You have Eldritch Embraces: Putting the Love Back in Lovecraft. This collection of short stories from some of the best working in the fields of horror and dark speculative fiction blends romance and Lovecraft in a way which will may make you sigh, smile, weep, or leave you the hollow shell of your former self.

(I have a short story in this one: "Beach House on the Moon.")

Ice Storm by Leigh Kimmel

Everywhere Evangeline looks, a thin coating of ice makes objects gleam in the sunlight. Yet the beauty proves deceptive, for it hides a deadly secret, one only she can recognize.

In her youth, Evangeline had aspired ot master the powerful magics of her world. Those dreams died the day her Gift awakened uncontrolled and plunged her into a vision of a full fleet battle. The Admiral's Gift will not be denied, and for Evangeline there was no choice but to trade her mage's robes for Navy blue.

Now she is faced with an enemy she cannot fight save by magic. Except those who bear the Admiral's gift are forever barred from working magic.

(A nice, chilly selection, this short story was one of the finalists for a writing contest at LoneStarCon II, the 1997 World Science Fiction Convention.)

The Workhouse War by Leigh Kimmel

An afternoon for sketching in peace – that was all Nadine Darby wanted. She thought she was taking a shortcut to get past an overgrown levee and gain a better view of the Mississippi for some landscape work. Instead she ended up somewhere else. A place called Elyssium, where the past walks alongside the present. Where you can see a modern car pull up and a Confederate Navy officer climb out, talking on a cellphone.

On the riverbank Nadine met a strange little man who told her he was an artist as well, and showed her his sketchbook to prove it. But no sooner had Nadine made her first friend than she discovered all was not well. She watched in helpless horror as a young man was pursued, arrested and beaten by thugs from an institution that goes by the official name of the City Orphanage, but is generally called the Workhouse by the inhabitants of Port of White Fleet.

Nadine can count herself fortunate that she fell into the company of a man who has little use for this organization. But his efforts to help her attain her artistic ambitions instead attract the attention she must avoid, and draws her into quarrels that have simmered for decades.

Can Nadine thread her way through the myriad perils of this world and save herself and her new-found friends? And even if she defeats the Workhouse, will it be at the cost of losing everything she's found here?

(A little Christmas in July).

If you read and enjoy any of these selections, please consider rating and reviewing them on -- reviews are critical for getting onto recommendation lists, which are critical for indie authors.

PS: I'm hoping to make these promotional posts a recurring, if irregular, feature of my blog. If you have indie or small press publication, please let me know at

(Crossposted at Through the Worldgate and The Billion Lightyear Bookshelf
Tags: reading, reviews
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