More books I love . . .

Even though I write supernatural novels, I have non-supernatural favorite books, too.

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Three newish novels that I loved:

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen – not only a great story and a fabulous setting (the circus) but it made me cry twice. And at moments I was not expecting. So well done.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows — what an original premise. And beautifully written. Delightful. It delivered (among other things) three such satisfying moments I actually cheered out loud. It’s like a cross between 84 Charing Cross Road and an Austen romance.

Carter Beats the Devil by Glen David Gold – just my cup of tea. Magicians, a love story, a mystery. And it’s a page-turner.

Three novels that helped me break in:

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Prodigal Summer and Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver and White Oleander by Janet Fitch were very inspirational to me while I was in that strange land just before getting an agent. Once I’d written a first draft of A CERTAIN SLANT OF LIGHT, and was starting to rewrite before I let anyone see it, I thought about what recent books I’d admired. These three were at the top of the list. How did these two women create such vivid descriptions? What made their characters’ thoughts so original? I looked carefully at several striking passages in Kingsolver’s novels (the opening and the distinct voices of her narrating females in PB and the fascinating use of the nature themes in PS.) With Fitch’s book, I was so blown away by her style of metaphors, I actually photo copied random pages from White Oleander and highlighted every time she said something in a unique way. She could be wonderfully startling on average twice per page! So I took my own draft of SLANT and highlighted the lines I thought were in the same category. If I came to a page where I found no original phrases, I rewrote it for freshness. So, thank you Miss Kingsolver and Miss Fitch.

Three “series” I can’t seem to get enough of:

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The Mary Russell series by Laurie R. King – about Mrs. Sherlock Holmes. So well-written. And so much fun. If you love the Conan Doyle books, and carry a secret torch for the detective, this is your series.

The Get Fuzzy books by Darby Conley – these collections of comic strips about Bucky (a cat who longs to eat a monkey some day and who gets carried around town in a baby pack,) Satchel (a dog who answers all knock knock jokes with bark bark bark,) and their human, Rob Wilco, is completely addictive.

Deep Thoughts (Deeper Thoughts, Deepest Thoughts, and so on) by Jack Handey — ridiculous, but too much fun. During my teacher credential program I tried to read one of these books of philosophical insights out loud to two fellow students, but we kept having to pass the book around because we were laughing so hard the tears made it impossible to see the page.

Three (semi-supernatural) classics that I have reread the most often in my life:

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Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier – the perfect example of an English gothic romance. The protagonist falls for and marries a widower who she fears is still in love with his dead wife. He has that Mr. Rochester passion and ice. The housekeeper is so much fun to hate (and fear.) And the exquisite ghost of the first Mrs. de Winter seems to be always watching and laughing.

The Turn of the Screw by Henry James – the writing might be a bit old-fashioned, but the story remains chilling. A governess comes to a remote country estate to care for two small children that she comes to fear are possessed by the spirits of the dead grounds keeper and his lover.

The Princess Bride by S. Morgenstern and William Goldman – an irresistible adventure and romance with all the fun stuff (clever sword play, impossibly high cliffs, death defying magic, mysterious pirates, a six-fingered villain) and a completely original alternating narration that is still, in my opinion, the best example of an author’s voice inserted into the text. Only times two. It’s a hoot.

 Again, I’d love to hear your favorite books, as well!

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