Summer Reading: Gems From Book View Café Authors

Before I took off for ten days in New York City, I loaded up my trusty e-readers with offerings from Book View Café writers, then picked books at random. What a delight they were!

Katharine Eliska Kimbriel’s “Alfreda” novels – Night Calls and Kindred Rites. I’d enjoyed Kimbriel’s “Nuala” science fiction novels and looked forward to her Young Adult series. Set in an alternate, magical American frontier, these cominNight Calls by Katharine Eliska Kimbrielg-of-age stories are told in such a powerful, distinctive voice and with such rich world-building, they drew me in from the very first paragraphs. Adolescent Alfreda comes from line of psychically gifted people, which in itself doesn’t sound very original. Her personality, her family, and her world, however, mark these stories as among the very best. I loved the relationships between Alfreda and her parents and brothers, her townsfolk neighbors, but most of all, the natural world – the tangle of forest and harsh weather, wild animals and supernatural entities – ghosts, werewolves, witches, and more. All too often, the characters in fantasy tales are orphaned or in some way disconnected from their families. In Kimbriel’s work, however, Alfreda’s family of loving, contentious, beautifully-drawn people, give her the strength and context to face her magical calling. I loved how competent Alfreda is, not only in the domestic chores expected of any young woman in that age and place, but in wilderness survival. Kimbriel’s writing is so smooth, the dramatic tension so finely handled, that I was caught on the very first pages.

I adored Barrenlands by Doranna DurginDoranna Durgin’s Dun Lady’s Jess when it first came out – a horse magically transformed into a young woman? How could the horse-lover in me resist? So I decided to treat myself by reading all the “before and after” novels in sequence. The first one, Barrenlands, stands wonderfully on its own, and is a great introduction to Durgin’s world and its characters. A royal assassination, plots and twists, spies and psychics, a caravan making its way through magic-blasted landscape and oh, yes, some absolutely splendid horses that are characters in their own rights! Next I’ll re-read Dun Lady’s Jess and proceed from there. Read along with me?

I’m usually not much for military fiction, science-fictional or otherwise, so I have to confess I diThe Red: First Light by Linda Nagatadn’t dive into The Red: First Light by Linda Nagata as soon as it came out, although I’ve been a fan of her work since her debut. I’m sorry I waited! On the surface, the story involves a nightmarish “endless war” with pharmacologically-manipulated soldiers, carefully circumscribed fighting, and defense contractors keeping the whole thing going in order to jack up their profits. This is not exactly a hopeful or humanistic scenario, but Nagata keeps twisting plot and expectations in amazing ways. Her viewpoint character has secrets of his own, told in a compelling and sympathetic voice. There are no simple answers here, as in real life. And as in real life, Nagata reminds us of the importance of human relationships, integrity, and honor – treated in an extraordinarily intelligent, compassionate manner. Even if you “never read military science fiction,” check this one out.

Short fiction is great for traveling because of the many instances where it’s nice to be able to finish an entire story in one sitting.

Conscientious Inconsistencies

Conscientious Inconsistencies

Nancy Jane Moore’s Conscientious Inconsistencies filled the bill perfectly. Her work is funny, touching, smart, and eminently readable. I enjoyed the variety – she kept surprising me with what came next, which is a good thing. Like biting into a chocolate without consulting the descriptions. Ooh, this one’s salt water taffy, this one’s raspberry liqueur, this one’s sesame crunch! I’d be hard-pressed to name a favorite, but “Thirty-One Rules for Fulfilling Your Destiny” comes close. Moore has a second collection, Walking Contradiction, that’s on my TBR pile.

 

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About Deborah J. Ross

I began writing professionally in 1982 as Deborah Wheeler with Jaydium and Northlight, (and the omnibus edition, Other Doorways: Early Novels), and short stories in Asimov's, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Realms of Fantasy and Star Wars: Tales from Jabba's Palace. Now under my birth name, Ross, I have written an epic fantasy trilogy, The Seven-Petaled Shield. My collection Azkhantian Tales, includes four short stories set in that world. Book View Cafe also offers my nonfiction Ink Dance: Essays on the Writing Life and a number of my stand-alone short stories.
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One Response to Summer Reading: Gems From Book View Café Authors

  1. I have to put in a plug for Night Calls. This has become one of my all time favorite books. The characters are so well drawn (especially the protagonist, Alfreda) and Cat brings the reader so skillfully into the world, that the magic becomes as natural as breathing. I found myself thinking about the characters and world for months after reading the book, remembered many of the scenes as if I had been there or seen them in a movie.

    I can hardly wait for my daughter to start reading this series. These are truly books for readers of all ages.

    Wonderful reading experience!