I reviewed over forty books this past year, some from major publishers and some from small presses. Sad to say, many small press books are overlooked by the general public, book reviewers and major media outlets. While writers and small publishers are talking these days about the so-called democratic publishing available through print-on-demand and e-book technology, the public remains oblivious to most titles that don’t come from large presses with major marketing campaigns.
Here are a few books from 2011 that I wish more people were discovering and talking about:
- Blood on the Roses by Robert Hays – “Blood on the Roses is a frank and honest story that does justice to its splendid east Tennessee setting, stunning from beginning to end in its juxtaposition of raw ugliness and beauty and its historical veracity that captures both the engaging qualities of the Southern people and the terrible wrongs of discrimination and outrageous acts of pure racism carried out by a few.” Book Review from Hunting News Net. Personally, I found this book to be a shining example of the fine work being published by small presses. While I avoid reviewing books from my own publisher, I found Hays’ novel to be exceptional.
- The Uncertain Places by Lisa Goldstein – “An ages-old family secret breaches the boundaries between reality and magic in this fresh retelling of a classic fairy tale. When Berkeley student Will Taylor is introduced to the mysterious Feierabend sisters, he quickly falls for enigmatic Livvy, a chemistry major and accomplished chef. But Livvy’s family—vivacious actress Maddie, family historian Rose, and their mother, absent-minded Sylvia—are behaving strangely. The Feierabend women seem to believe that luck is their handmaiden, even though happiness does not necessarily follow. It is soon discovered that generations previous, the Feierabends made a contract with a powerful, otherworldly force, and it is up to Will and his best friend to unravel the riddle of this supernatural bargain in order to save Livvy from her predestined fate.” Book review from Malcolm’s Round Table.
- Snare by Deborah J. Ledford – “Native American pop singer/songwriter Katina Salvo’s career is about to take off. There’s one problem: someone wants to kill her. Katina and her bodyguard, Deputy Steven Hawk, are attacked during an altercation at her first live concert. Could the assailant be a mysterious, dangerous man from her youth? Or her estranged father recently released from prison for killing her mother? Performed against the backdrop of the picturesque Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina, and the mysterious Taos Pueblo Indian reservation, Snare is a thriller fans of Tony Hillerman will appreciate.” Book review from Malcolm’s Round Table.
- Bog Meadow’s Wish by Terry Kay – “When Cooper Coghlan arrives in Ireland with the cremains of his grandfather, Finn Coghlan, he has one instruction: Let my ashes blow in the wind. You’ll know the place when you come to it. I’ll be there, telling you. He also has tender memories of his grandfather’s exaggerated stories of Irish wonder and magic–stories of leprechauns and legends and the mysterious power of fate. But he does not have the story of why his grandfather left Ireland as a young man.” Book Review from Literary Aficionado.
- Shame the Devil by Debra Brenegan – “Shame the Devil tells the remarkable and true story of Fanny Fern (the pen name of Sara Payson Willis), one of the most successful, influential, and popular writers of the nineteenth century. A novelist, journalist, and feminist, Fern (1811-1872) outsold Harriet Beecher Stowe, won the respect of Nathaniel Hawthorne, and served as literary mentor to Walt Whitman. Scrabbling in the depths of poverty before her meteoric rise to fame and fortune, she was widowed, escaped an abusive second marriage, penned one of the country’s first prenuptial agreements, married a man eleven years her junior, and served as a nineteenth-century Oprah to her hundreds of thousands of fans.” Book review from Smoky Talks Books.
You may also like: Holiday Guide: Six Fantasy Picks for 2011 on my “Sarabande’s Journey” blog.