Sci-Fi

Take Something Different to the Beach

 

Every once in a while, we should stretch our reading horizons and try something completely different. Just for fun. You may think that straying out of your tried and true and thoroughly enjoyed genre is a bad idea, but here is a batch of books that may change your mind. Go ahead. Take a peek.  🙂

 

Adventure/Sci-Fi

 

 

James Rollins writes the exceptional Sigma Force adventure series, which incorporates archeology, historical events, science, a bit of technology, and always a dash of romance. Rollins’ research is so thorough and his writing so skilled that the readers often wonder which parts are true and which are a figment of his incredible imagination. He always includes sections in the books to answer the questions that might arise. Spanning 50,000 years, “The Bone Labyrinth” focuses on the discovery of a subterranean Catholic chapel holding the bones of a Neanderthal woman, as well as revealing a brutal attack on a primate research center. The Sigma Force teams are tasked with finding a connection between the two, taking them to three continents, while being tested as never before by unexpected enemies. The action never stops, with twists and turns until the very last page in this search for the explanations of human intelligence development. “The Bone Labyrinth” is the 11th full length book in the Sigma Force Series, with #14, “Crucible,” out this year.

 

Amish Fiction

 

Laura Bradford writes the wonderful, bestselling Amish Mysteries. “Just Plain Murder” is the sixth installment, with “A Killer Carol” due out in September. In “Just Plain Murder,” Claire Weatherly and Jakob Fisher grow closer and Jakob’s relationship with the family that shunned him shows signs of warming a bit. Jakob’s mentor and retired police chief, Russ Granger, has returned to town, but soon Claire must help Jakob solve the mystery of Russ’ death and so much more. Shocking secrets and lies are uncovered and long-standing relationships are questioned in this marvelous entry in the series. Read them all.
 

 

Christian Fiction

 

 

Terri Blackstock writes entertaining fiction that has wowed her fans for decades. The If I Run Series finishes with book #3, “If I Live.” Casey Cox is still running for her life after being wrongfully indicted for murder. She teams with the investigator on her case to help find the real killers, with consequences for each of them. Blackstock creates a sense of urgency that will keep you spellbound with surprises throughout.

 


 

Non-Fiction

 

 

Gretchen Rubin’s “Happiness Project” is an uplifting way to look at your life and change it for the better. If you’re not happy with the way things are going and want to make some adjustments, this book is for you. Ms. Rubin talks about her own life and how she came to believe that she could be happier. She took a year to experiment with advice given by experts and came up with some ideas of her own, including strategies for each month of the year. It’s a personal plan that can easily be applied to anyone willing to ‘be more present’ in their own life.
 

 

Thriller

 

Internationally bestselling author, Jamie Freveletti, writes the multi-award winning Emma Caldridge Series. Emma Caldridge is a brilliant biochemist who enjoys extreme distance running. She uses both skills while undertaking missions around the world that would reduce the ordinary person to a puddle of fear and mumbling. In “Blood Run,” Caldridge is tasked with delivering vaccines to villages in Africa, but the big pharma CEO accompanying her and providing the financial and logistical support for the operation, is holding out on her. They find themselves in the middle of a war zone between brutal African factions with no way out except through even more dangerous territory. If that weren’t enough, an extra challenge involves an international terrorist who will stop at nothing to achieve his goal, complete with a target on Emma’s back. This pulse-pounding story will keep you turning the pages and wondering how in the world Caldridge will make it out alive.

 

Happy reading!  🙂

 

 

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Hugo Awards – 2019

 

The Hugos are awarded annually at WorldCon for excellence in the field of science fiction and fantasy by the World Science Fiction Society (WSFS). This year’s WorldCon will be held in Dublin for the first time. The prestigious Hugo Awards honor literature and media as well as fan activities and will be presented on August 18.

Check out the nominees and winners (indicated in red) below:

Best Novel
The Calculating Stars, by Mary Robinette Kowal
Record of a Spaceborn Few, by Becky Chambers
Revenant Gun, by Yoon Ha Lee
Space Opera, by Catherynne M. Valente
Spinning Silver, by Naomi Novik
Trail of Lightning, by Rebecca Roanhorse

 

Best Novella
Artificial Condition, by Martha Wells
Beneath the Sugar Sky, by Seanan McGuire
Binti: The Night Masquerade, by Nnedi Okorafor
The Black God’s Drums, by P. Djèlí Clark
Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach, by Kelly Robson
The Tea Master and the Detective, by Aliette de Bodard

 

Best Novelette
“If at First You Don’t Succeed, Try, Try Again,” by Zen Cho (B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog, 29 November 2018)
“The Last Banquet of Temporal Confections,” by Tina Connolly (Tor.com, 11 July 2018)
“Nine Last Days on Planet Earth,” by Daryl Gregory (Tor.com, 19 September 2018)
The Only Harmless Great Thing, by Brooke Bolander (Tor.com Publishing)
“The Thing About Ghost Stories,” by Naomi Kritzer (Uncanny Magazine 25, November-December 2018)
“When We Were Starless,” by Simone Heller (Clarkesworld 145, October 2018)

 

Best Short Story
“The Court Magician,” by Sarah Pinsker (Lightspeed, January 2018)
“The Rose MacGregor Drinking and Admiration Society,” by T. Kingfisher (Uncanny Magazine 25, November-December 2018)
“The Secret Lives of the Nine Negro Teeth of George Washington,” by P. Djèlí Clark (Fireside Magazine, February 2018)
“STET,” by Sarah Gailey (Fireside Magazine, October 2018)
“The Tale of the Three Beautiful Raptor Sisters, and the Prince Who Was Made of Meat,” by Brooke Bolander (Uncanny Magazine 23, July-August 2018)
“A Witch’s Guide to Escape: A Practical Compendium of Portal Fantasies,” by Alix E. Harrow (Apex Magazine, February 2018)

 

Best Series
The Centenal Cycle, by Malka Older
The Laundry Files, by Charles Stross
Machineries of Empire, by Yoon Ha Lee
The October Daye Series, by Seanan McGuire
The Universe of Xuya, by Aliette de Bodard
Wayfarers, by Becky Chambers

 

John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer
Katherine Arden
S.A. Chakraborty
R.F. Kuang
Jeannette Ng
Vina Jie-Min Prasad
Rivers Solomon

 

Lodestar Award for Best Young Adult Book
The Belles, by Dhonielle Clayton
Children of Blood and Bone, by Tomi Adeyemi
The Cruel Prince, by Holly Black
Dread Nation, by Justina Ireland
The Invasion, by Peadar O’Guilin
Tess of the Road, by Rachel Hartman


Awards are also given to the artists and editors, as well as to the magazines that the legions of scifi/fantasy fans enjoy. See https://dublin2019.com/hugo-finalists/ for the nominees in those categories.


Congratulations to all!  🙂

 

 

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10 of the Best Books of the Past Year-2017 Update

 

BookStack

…and the prize goes to…

 

Readers all over the world choose their next book based on the award winners announced by various organizations during the recent year. Here is a list of ten popular awards for recent novels in the adult category to receive applause and/or rave reviews from colleagues in the genre or from readers who loved the books.

 

Have you read any books on the list? If so, let us know what you enjoyed about them in the comment section. 

 

Agatha Award given to mystery writers, in 2016 best contemporary novel:

“A Great Reckoning” by Louise Penny

 

Bram Stoker Award for 2016 best in horror or dark fantasy:

“The Fisherman” by John Langan

 

Christy Award for excellence in Christian fiction 2016:

“The Five Times I Met Myself” by James L. Rubart

 

Edgar Allen Poe Award awarded by Mystery Writers of America 2017:

“Before the Fall” by Noah Hawley

 

Hugo Awards awarded for the best Science Fiction or Fantasy 2017:

“The Obelisk Gate” by N.K. Jemisin

 

Macavity Award given to favorite 2016 mystery by Mystery Readers International:

“The Long and Faraway Gone” by Lou Berney

 

Man Booker Prize literary prize for best 2016 novel: 

“The Sellout” by Paul Beatty

 

National Book Award for fiction given to U.S. authors 2016:

“The Underground Railroad” by Colson Whitehead

 

Nebula Awards presented by Science Fiction Writers for 2016 work:

“All the Birds in the Sky” by Charlie Jane Anders

 

 

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Killer Thrillers for the Beach

 

There are two kinds of Beach Reads:

 

  • Action-packed adventure/thrillers that rev up your blood pressure and provide stay-awake reading (killer thrillers)
  • Completely relaxing, low-key, fun mystery books that tweak your brain cells, but allow you to nod off on time


None of the killer thriller titles below are relaxing or low-key. I defy you to nod off while reading any of them. Charge your e-reader, ‘cause you won’t want to take a break – except maybe to eat. Or, you might want to eat while reading.   🙂

Warning: most deal with adult topics and/or contain sporadic adult language.

(Listed in alphabetical order by author)

 

"The 7th Canon" by Robert Dugoni

Book Cover - The 7th Canon - Robert Dugoni

 

 

 

Standalone. Priest accused of terrible crimes.
Read review here.

 

 

 

"The Trapped Girl"  by Robert Dugoni

 

 

Engrossing entry in the Tracy Crosswhite series. Fascinating case. Twists and turns galore. Read my review here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

"The Fixer" by Joseph Finder

Book Cover - The Fixer

 

 

Set in Boston. What a premise!
Read review here.

 

 

 

 

"The Switch" by Joseph Finder

Book Cover - The Switch - Joseph Finder

 

 

Michael Tanner picks up the wrong laptop computer in the airport. After he finds out who the owner is, does he do the right thing? HA!!! Great story!

 

 

 

 

 

"Phantom Instinct"  by Meg Gardiner

Book Cover - Phantom Instinct - Meg Gardiner

 

Gardiner always delivers edgy, complex plots. The lead character should have her own series.
Read review here.

 

 

 

 

"UnSub"  by Meg Gardiner

Book Cover - UnSub - Meg Gardiner

 

 

Stay awake reading at its best. Serial killer topic. Keep the lights on!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"The Second Life of Nick Mason"  by Steve Hamilton

Book Cover - The Second Life of Nick Mason

 

 

Astonishing new series. Adult topics. Pages fly by.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Orphan X"  by Gregg Hurwitz

Book Cover - Orphan X

 

 

 

Excellent read. Adult topics. Another page-turner.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Signal"  by Patrick Lee

Book Cover - Signal

 

 

Where does the signal originate? Slam dunk great!
Read review here.

 

 

 

 

 

"The Heist"  by Daniel Silva

Book Cover - The Heist by Daniel Silva

 

 

Intriguing international art heist. Spies included.
Read review here.

 

 

 

 

 

If you have a favorite thriller not listed above, let us know in the comments below.  🙂  Happy reading the killer thrillers for the beach!

 

 

 

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Top 10: The First Four Years of Nightstand Book Reviews

 

Book Cover - Cold Dish

The first four years of Nightstand Book Reviews delivered a wide range of books to my doorstep and to my email inbox. Right from the beginning, I have received more than 100 requests a month (once over 400) from writers and publicists and friends of writers and publicists to review the latest book they had to offer.

 

It has been a fun problem to have. The strategy was (and remains) to choose great reads to chat about and share with the thousands of Nightstand Book Reviews followers around the world. The books on the site are by and large fiction, and tell a well-plotted story involving nicely developed characters. The authors are a mix of bestselling writers of longstanding, and newbies to the field when I first met them. Traditionally published or ebook only? Both happily co-exist on NBR. Occasionally I highlight biographies, great cookbooks, and helpful gardening books. A new feature in 2016 was Author Profiles. You’ll see more of those in 2017.

 

Below is the list of Top 10 books reviewed on Nightstand Book Reviews over the last four years, listed in ABC order by author. These were the books that garnered the most interest on NBR from the worldwide audience during the four years. Six books on the list were the debut novels from those authors. Some powerhouse writers (long, successful careers with great popularity) mixed in with newbies? A good book is a good book.

 

All of these authors now have multiple books out. Click on the book title to read the review.

 

Lee Child – “The Killing Floor”

 

Robert Dugoni – “My Sister’s Grave”

 

Robert Dugoni – “The Conviction”

 

Sherry Harris – “Tagged for Death”

 

Sue Harrison – “Mother Earth, Father Sky”

 

Erin Hart – “Haunted Ground”

 

Tami Hoag – “Alibi Man”

 

Craig Johnson – “The Cold Dish”

 

Leigh Perry – “A Skeleton in the Family”

 

Andy Weir – “The Martian”

 

 

Have you read any of the titles on the list? Wildly different books to be sure, with thrillers, sci-fi, traditional mysteries, and cozies in the group. 

 

And soooo much fun to read.  🙂

 

Thank you all, kind readers, for being part of the Nightstand Book Reviews community during the first four years. Your comments and participation make me smile as I search for the next great read to share with you.

 

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Three Summer Vacation Quickie Reviews

 

In a rush to pick out your summer vacation ‘beach-reads’? This may help with the ‘run-in-and-grab’ non-thought process. Categories are listed in no particular order of favoritism or warning…

 

Dragons:

Book Cover - Brisinger by Christopher Paolini

Brisinger” by Christopher Paolini.  

More complex than the previous two books in the trilogy. Eragon is more developed as a character, but this has resulted in less time spent on adventures/conversations with Saphira, his dragon. Still great fun for dragon/fantasy fans.  🙂

 

Rated PG-13 for war and violence.

 

 

Faith-based fiction:
Book Cover - Night Light by Terri Blackstock

Night Light” by Terri Blackstock.

A world-wide power outage has kicked the earth back into 19th century technology. No cell phones, no computers, no AC and people have to ride bikes and grow their own food. Fascinating look at how one Christian family chooses to deal with the challenges of a more primitive life, including digging a well to obtain potable water. The young children in the book have dialogue that is developmentally inaccurate, but the overall story made me wonder how I would cope – and what kinds of vegetables I would be able to grow so that I could barter with someone who raised chickens.

 

Rated PG-13 for a murder, a kidnapping and scenes of drug usage.

 

 

YA Fiction:
Book Cover - I am Number Four by Pitticus Lore

I am Number Four” by Pitticus Lore.

An alien teenager, who has been hiding out on Earth with his protector, must deal with saving the world from nasty beings from his home planet that aim to wipe out his species. Made into a movie, but the book is MUCH better. There are sequels, but “I am Number Four” is the best. Filled with teen bits like first love, outsiders that don’t quite fit in, but are smarter than the ‘cool kids,’ blowing up the high school, etc.  Written for teens that are into intense action stories.

 

Rated PG-13 for alien invasion, intensity, and violence. Adults should look this over to assess its appropriateness for their teen.

 

Do you have a favorite summer vacation book? Let us know in the comments below.  🙂

Check out three quite different Beach Reads from last summer's list here.

Whatever you decide to read, enjoy!

 

 

 

 

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“Signal” by Patrick Lee

 

Book Cover - Signal

Marnie Calvert, FBI agent in Patrick Lee’s “Signal,” smells the bodies before she sees them. A trailer is burned to a crisp, with not much left except a cage holding the corpses of four children. The owner of the trailer is missing.

 

Sam Dryden’s background includes special ops training with the military. He has left that life behind and now flips houses. His ordinary, peaceful evening is interrupted by a call from trusted former colleague in the military, Claire Dunham. She makes an urgent request of Sam: get in the car immediately and meet her in a spot that is two hours away. Once together, they drive to the trailer at breakneck speed and keep the owner from burning it and everyone in it. When Sam and Claire leave the area, the only corpse is the owner’s.

 

Yes, you read that correctly. Calvert, Dryden and Dunham have arrived at the same crime scene – just not at the same time and with very different results. The race against, through, and with time, begins.

 

Patrick Lee’s paradigms of time travel/time shifting are intriguing and part of what compels me to return to his books. Not every book uses time as a plot device, but I love the way Lee’s mind works. In his Travis Chase series, people traveled through a doorway in time to the future and back again. In “Signal,” Lee’s main characters listen to a radio frequency on a device that streams what is reported on the airwaves from the future – a very specific period of time in the future. In this world, time is fluid and actions can be changed before they happen.

 

Imagine if that power was held by people with decades to plan and reshape the future for their own agendas? Nothing good could come of it. Murder, kidnapping, torture? They’ll do anything to get the device that led Claire to the trailer.

 

In “Signal,” Lee deftly handles the time paradox challenges of adjusting actions in response to hearing the consequences. Any modification in events affects everyone in the timeline continuum for all time, and Lee uses that effectively to keep us absorbed. He gives us just enough information about how it all works without too much science-speak or theory that might take us out of the story.

 

Whose reality will control the tale? Can this knowledge ever be used for good? If your “enemy knows your mistakes before you make them,” how can you survive the battle? The answers will keep you turning the pages all night long, because “Signal” is flat out stay-awake reading. And not just because of the time-travel component or the pulse-pounding action. Lee’s characters have depth, a back story, and believable reasons for what they do, be it for good or very questionable motives.

 

Clear your schedule, turn off the computer and the phone (gasp), and be prepared to read straight through to the perfect finish.

 

I was lucky enough to meet Patrick Lee at a recent writer’s conference and he graciously signed my copy of “Signal.” He signed “Ghost Country,” from the Travis Chase series as well and you can read that review here.

 

For information about Patrick Lee, the terrific first Sam Dryden book, “Runner,” and his other series, please visit www.patrickleefiction.com

 

 

 

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