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The Blue River Hotel

The Blue River Hotel book cover: a wooden door in a wall painted light blue

This is a short story about a man struggling to figure out what he wants from life, and what happens when meeting a young woman in his field upends his routines. I was skeptical when I read the summary, because so often this sort of premise is little more than an excuse for a middle aged male writer to fantasize about having a young woman fall in love with him. But this book avoids that trap, and is a multi-layered story looking at what we control in life and what we don't.

Author: 

Stephan Henighan

Turbo Jetslams

Turbo Jetslams cover: Cartoon of two kids on a jet ski over a picture of a peaceful lake

This is the story of a woman who buys a cabin in the woods for some peace and quiet... and then neighbors arrive. In short, it is the story of the destruction of one woman's paradise, slightly exaggerated for creative effect and told in a tongue-in-cheek style. The result is a short book that is fun to read, but makes some solid points about our relationship with nature and rural spaces, and how we can sometimes destroy the thing we say we love about a place.

Author: 

Jass Richards

Mussolini's Arctic Airship

Cover of Mussolini's Arctic Airship

This is a fascinating and well told story about arctic exploration, using the story of a doomed Italian airship expedition as a focal point. It is a great example of the strength of the short ebook format for history: there is enough space to tell the details that really bring the story to life, but no pressure to pad the story to "book length," which would slow it down. As it is, it is an enjoyable one-evening read from which I learned a lot that I didn't know about arctic exploration. I highly recommend it!

Author: 

Eva Holland

Waiting on a Bright Moon

Waiting on a Bright Moon book cover: Two women looking at each other in front of a moon

This is a story about a young woman forced into a line of work based on who she is, who has found a measure of happiness but must decide how to respond when events threaten her status quo. The characters feel real, the universe is believable, and the story will linger in your mind after you've finished it.

Author: 

JY Yang

Where I'd Rather Go

This is a loose collection of three essays by different authors. I say "loose" because I didn't really see a common thread among them. However, I enjoyed all three and found each thought-provoking in its own way, so I definitely enjoyed the book. And the final essay, about featherbowlers in Detroit, was worth the time I spent on the entire book. If you enjoy essays, this is a good short book to check out.

Author/Editor: 

Tyee Bridge

Humanity

Humanity book cover: a picture of Jimmy Carter

This is a good book about a fascinating and inspiring man. It looks briefly at what went wrong for Jimmy Carter in the Presidency, but the bulk of the book is about Carter's post-presidency, arguing that Carter redefined what it means (and what it should mean) to be a former President of the United States. It is also the story of a man coming back from a very public and humiliating failure and building a meaningful "second act" in life that made a real difference.

Author: 

Jordan Michael Smith

Unexpected Stories

This is a small collection: it contains just a novella and a short story. But they are previously unknown short works from sci fi great Octavia Butler, and they definitely showcase her talent. Both stories draw you in from the start, immersing you in a different world that is believable and interesting. The characters are believable, too, and both stories kept me eagerly reading to the end. If you've never read any Butler before, these stories are a fine introduction. If you're already a Butler fan, you won't want to miss them.

Author/Editor: 

Octavia Butler

The Piper

This is a short mystery that is related to a longer series of mysteries by the same author, but it stands well on its own. It is set in the Scottish highlands, and the setting is like another character in this story. The setting and the main character, Hamish MacLeod, are the stars of the book, but the mystery itself is solid, too. All in all, this is an enjoyable pick if you're looking for a short mystery.

Author: 

Charles Todd

Bluewater Walkabout: Into the Caribbean

This book is a collection of essays about long term travel in the Caribbean via boat. The author has spent decades living this way, and raised her sons on a boat. Some of the essays could have used a little more careful editing, but the joy of the way of life the essays are describing makes it fairly easy to look past that and just enjoy the peak into a very different approach to life than the one most of us live.

Author/Editor: 

Tina Dreffin

Extracurricular Activities

Extracurricular Activities book cover, and image of a male military office, viewed from behind.

This is an action-packed military sci-fi story. It is set in the same universe as longer books, but it stands well on its own. The main character is a special operations type military officer, sent undercover on a mission that involves an old friend. I read this book on vacation, and it was a perfect fit: good, escapist fun.

Author: 

Yoon Ha Lee

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