Recommended Reading List: June 2023
A lot of reading in June, but mostly for various editing projects. One of them, the Holiday Spectacular, will have a Kickstarter that goes live in October. Before that, though, you can sample our Christmas in July promotion of the Spectacular with the compilation of last year’s stories.
What I did read outside of that project I liked, but not enough to recommend. I read a novel by a favorite mystery writer that had no tension in it at all. And another novel I had forgotten about until I examined my reading log. I’d only read it a few weeks ago, and it was already out of my head. That doesn’t happen to me too often. Usually, I don’t finish books like that.
So, while I read a lot, I don’t have a lot to recommend. The two books I can recommend I loved. I did a lot of reading on the WGA strike (as it was then), but that is already dated. So all I have is one article for you as well.
Carter, Geoff, “Welcome to the Machine,” Las Vegas Weekly, April 6-12, 2023. Fascinating article on AI and the hospitality industry here in Vegas. The sf writer in me thinks this is all cool. I’m not sure what I really think. But this is an article on a microtopic that you might not see anywhere else. Take a look.
Lithwick, Dahlia, Lady Justice: Women, the Law, and the Battle to Save America, Penguin Press, 2022. First, let me tell you that I hated the pink cover of this book, until I found out that Lithwick asked for it. Seems that some quite famous male Constitutional law professor made snide comments about lady lawyers and their pink books, as if they were lesser. So she asked for a Barbie pink cover, and here it is. I still don’t like the cover much, but I understand it now.
The book itself is spectacular. I found it uplifting, which I did not expect at all. It recounts the Trump years, and all of the women who fought to maintain our democracy, usually using the courts, but sometimes using the law in creative ways to protect the underprivileged, the undocumented, women, the trans community, gay rights and…oh, you name it. I was so inspired as I read this book that I bought a copy for a judge friend of mine and we read the last part of it together, chatting about it in text. It was wonderful. And like any reader, I wanted more of the same. But there isn’t much more of the same at the moment. Still, we have this. It’s a hell of a read.
McElwain, Julie, Ripples in Time, Seshat Books, 2023. Ripples in Time is part of McElwain’s mixed genre time traveling romantic suspense maybe crime fiction series about Kendra Donovan, who finds herself transported from the modern FBI back to Regency England, the Regency England of Regency novels (more or less), not the real Regency England. I love this series and have recommended all of the previous books, but I worried about them too. I knew that they were being published into a difficult traditional publishing environment, and as mixed genre books, they wouldn’t really find a permanent home, because trad pub has no idea what to do with anything that isn’t by the numbers.
The previous book hadn’t received any promotional fanfare at all, so when I finished it, I went to McElwain’s blog. She mentioned waiting for the new contract…and then silence. I knew she was done with her traditional publisher at that point. I hoped the series wasn’t done, though.
She did take someone’s advice and self-publish the book…I think. I can’t quite tell. She writes in the afterword, “The decision to take charge and continue Kendra and the gang’s adventures was surprisingly difficult…” She thanks friends and her readers for encouraging her. My concern now? She’s spent a fortune to get the book published. Or someone did. Same artist and copy editor. Those are New York prices, even if she got a deal. She won’t earn that money back for a long time. Especially since she’s pricing the books just like her traditional publisher did.
So…what does that have to do with the story? Not much, except that I’m feeling grateful every time I get one of her books now. This one was a fast and fun read, filled with a twisty mysteries, an examination of “mental health care” in that period of time, a look at the relationships with outside groups, and oh, the wonderful characters that have made this series work from the beginning. I don’t think you should start here, but you should read all the way to this point. It’s a fun series.