The Nun, The Gun, and Tom Mix

The plot of this charming novella sounds surreal when summarized: a somewhat unsuccessful American man whose mother always told him that his father was Tom Mix falls in love with the music of a Mexican band called Los Gatos Negros, and when he hears that they are in danger from the drug cartels, decides to head to Mexico to rescue them. Meanwhile, the head nun in a convent in a little Mexican town is struggling to deal with the departure of their priest, and the head of one of the drug cartels is longing to leave that all behind and live the life of an artist.

Author: 

Suda J. Prohaska

Come See the Mountain

This book is not easy to categorize, but in a way, that is part of its strength. It is about Cerro Rico, a silver mining mountain in Potosi, Bolivia, which has been mined since the time of the Conquistadors. The book looks at the mining operations and also at the tourism industry that has been developed to allow tourists to visit the mines and get a taste of the conditions under which the miners work. Zoellner weaves in a discussion of the larger phenomenon of "dark tourism" (visiting sites associated with death and/or suffering), as well. It is a thoughtful and thought-provoking book.

Author: 

Tom Zoellner

What to Do When You Can't Leave a Book Behind

I've been running this site for well over a year now, and have been thinking about it or working on it for close to two years.

The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo

The plot of this story is fun, but the real charm is the lead character, who is well-drawn, believable, and downright delightful. Jade Yeo is an ambitious young writer, recently arrived from Malaysia, and working to make a life for herself in London. This is a romance story set in 1920s London, and like many romances, there is some sex- but if that is not your thing, you can easily skip that scene.

Author: 

Zen Cho

Mr. Dodge, Mr. Hitchcock, and the French Riviera

This is a quirky little history, focusing on the back story of the classic Cary Grant movie, "To Catch a Thief." It starts with the story of David Dodge, the man who wrote the book on which the movie was based. He was an interesting man who lived the sort of life that many people wish they could live, so this portion is perhaps the most interesting section of the book for the general reader. Fans of the movie are likely to enjoy the behind the scenes look at its filming, too.

Author: 

Jean Buchanan

Her Windowed Eyes, Her Chambered Heart

This is a fun steampunk short story set in an alternative history America in which phlogiston actually exists and powers all sorts of machines- even robots like one of the main characters. The story follows two Pinkerton agents in their attempt to bring in a fugitive. The characters are interesting, the alternative world is well-drawn, and the plot is paced such that you'll want to read the entire story in one sitting.

Author: 

Cat Rambo

Taster Flight: Assassins

I run an infrequent series of posts providing “taster flights” of short ebooks that all explore a similar topic from different angles. Much like taster flights of wine or beer help you better notice the subtle undertones of the individual members, a taster flight of short ebooks can help you notice aspects of the individual stories that you might have missed. Also, they're fun!

Far As You Can Go

This is a quest story set in a post-apocalyptic future, but with a slight twist: our hero's companion is a robot. This changes how we view the events of the story- or does it? In the end, this well-written and entertaining story is also a thought-provoking exploration of our human need for friendship.

Author: 

Greg van Eekhout

The Power of One

One of the wonderful thing about good stories is that they echo through your brain, reverberating off whatever other ideas and thoughts happen to be in there at the time.

When I first downloaded Company Eight, by Matthew Pearl, I was intrigued by the chance to read about a piece of history I had literally never before considered: how our modern fire departments came to be. This is still how I pitch the story to friends I think should read it. It is a well-researched and fascinating look at how something we all take for granted came to be.

The Good Mother Myth

This is a collection of essays about motherhood, in all of its less than perfect, real glory. I read it well after the intense days of early motherhood and enjoyed it, but I suspect that it would really speak to a new mom who is struggling to reconcile the sunny, too-perfect image of motherhood with the reality she is actually facing. Although it is not a book of advice, even more established parents are likely to find some new pieces of wisdom in these essays.

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