I read a great group of books in May, so let’s get started.
The Kick-Ass Writer by Chuck Wendig
Chuck Wendig is the author ofÂ Blackbird,Â Mockingbird, and even some non-bird-titled books. He writes novels with style, personality, and memorable characters.
When I learned he had written a series of writing books, I knew I had to check them out.
Most writing books give you the feeling of sitting down by the fire with a master storyteller as he or she carefully and elegantly explains the secrets of his or her trade. This is not that.
The Kick-Ass Writer is more like a drill sergeant who barks commands at you while you haphazardly try to make your way through an obstacle course. Â As you listen, you realize the orders Sgt. Wendig is shouting at you are actually chunks of wisdom that could save your writing life. So, you panic for a moment, hoping you can remember everything when the time comes that you need to put these tips into practice.
As you get a little further on your journey, you realize that Wendig is not actually overloading your brain with information. He’s more clever than that. He is telling you the same essential information in a few different waysÂ and carefully disguising it in profanity-laden wordsmithery so that it feels fresh each time you read it.
This book could be read in a single go or broken down and read piece-meal as a kind of writing devotional. I chose to swallow it whole, and I did not regret the decision. In short, Wendig lives up to the title.
The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes
Time travel + serial killers = awesome.
It’s hard to say much about the plot of this one without giving too much away. Just know that it has a time traveler who is not very nice and a woman who must defeat him.
The Shining GirlsÂ is a thriller with elements of horror and dark fantasy. Beukes jumps around in time in a way that is always fascinating and never confusing. There were times reading this when I thought it might have been written just for me.
This is the first I’ve read by this author, but I will be checking out her other books soon.
Legion by Robert Swartwood
Robert Swartwood is one of my favorite indie writers. His booksÂ Man of WaxÂ andÂ The Serial Killer’s Wife are both excellent thriller. WithÂ Legion, Swartwood has written his best book yet.
LegionÂ is a conspiracyÂ thriller where it seems the entire world is out to get our hero. Part of the fun of these types of books (at least for me) is thinking about what I would do if I were in the protagonist’s situation.
Swartwood kept me guessing with plenty of twists and turns. This wasÂ the most exciting book I’ve read in a long while.
This is technically a prequel of sorts to theÂ Man of Wax series, but it could easily be read and enjoyed as a stand-alone novel if you haven’t read MoW.
A Sincere Warning About the Entity in Your Home by Jason Aarnopp
This novella is written in the form of a letter to you from the former owner of your home. Sounds gimmicky, I know, but it actually works pretty well as a narrative device.
The letter writer tells his (her?) story in order to apologize for sticking you with a very nasty poltergeist and to give you some tips for dealing with the entity.
All in all, a very scary little tale.
One other cool thing about this novella – Aarnopp sellsÂ physical copies on his website. He will send you the novella as an actual letter addressed to you with your name, address, and personal details inserted at various points throughout the story. What an awesome gift for the horror lover in your life.
Emergency by Neil Strauss
This is a non-fiction account of a New York Times and Rolling Stone journalist who becomes obsessed with improving his odds ofÂ Â surviving a collapse of society.
As the book progresses, he attempts to get a dual citizenship so he can flee the country more easily in the event of a disaster. He attends classes with the nation’s leading experts on marksmanship, outdoor survival, and urban evasion. He studies search and rescue techniques, emergency medicine, and more. He talks with billionaires to find out how they are planning for the possibility of worst-case-scenarios.
All of this would add up to just anotherÂ strange ‘doomsday prepper’ tale if it weren’t for one thing: Strauss is one hell of a writer. He brings us into his head in a way few writers could. Equal parts fascinating, over-the-top, and weirdly inspiring, this book is an interesting read that might change the way you look at stereotypical ‘survivalists’.