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Author:

Daniel Wattenberg

This is a well-executed example of a genre I have come to love: the short history. This book covers a bit of US history that I suspect most Americans have forgotten (if they ever learned it): the Barbary Wars of the early 1800s. It frames this history within the context of the rise of the US Navy and a rivalry between two of the leading naval officers of the day, Stephen Decatur and William Bainbridge. It is a fast-paced and well-written book, which cites historical evidence to back its points. My only quibble is that it is very much an American history. The motivations and opinions of the Barbary states (Algiers, Tunis, and Tripoli) are not explored at all, and even the activities of the European powers are mentioned only when they intersect with the American story. This is perhaps a necessary trade-off made to allow the story to remain novella-length, and while it leaves me wanting to read a history of the time period from the point of view of the Barbary States, it does not detract from the fact that this book is an entertaining read that left me knowing more history than I did when I started it.

Favorite Thing:
The introduction to a period of US history I knew little about
Decatur's Wake book cover
Book Length:
Short
Part of Series:
Not part of a series
Stand Alone:
Yes
Stickiness:
Moderate
Categories:
Disclosures:
Received free copy
Author:

Laurie Penny

What if your prayers were answered by a call center staffed with angels and demons? That is the premise of this charming short story. It is at times funny, at times achingly true about the human condition, and at times both at once. I can't tell you much about the plot without giving away part of the charm of the story, but it is short and just $0.99, so you can just buy it and see for yourself. Note that there is some strong language, sex, and other adult themes. It has a light-hearted tone, but is not really a light-hearted story.

Favorite Thing:
The narrator's voice.
Your Orisons May Be Recorded
Book Length:
Shortest
Part of Series:
Not part of a series
Stand Alone:
Yes
Stickiness:
Moderate
Disclosures:
None
Author:

Michael LaBarbera

This is a solid piece of science writing masquerading as movie reviews. It is a lot of fun to read, and you'll learn some biomechanics along the way. However, you may never look at movie monsters in quite the same way again.

Favorite Thing:
The way the author speculates on how the movies' premises could be reconciled with the laws of physics.
It's Alive! book cover
Book Length:
Shorter
Part of Series:
Not part of a series
Stand Alone:
Yes
Stickiness:
Moderate
Categories:
Disclosures:
None
Author:

Vanessa Fogg

This is the story of a young woman who has to find strength she didn't know she had to save her village and her people. Kai's village relies on the yearly harvest of dawn lilies, but that harvest is being decimated by mysterious cranes. Kai would normally turn to her mother, the Dawn Priestess for advice and leadership, but her mother is in the grips of an illness that only the dawn lily harvest can cure, so Kai must find her way on her own. It is a beautifully written and well-paced novelette that is a true joy to read.

Favorite Thing:
The lyrical writing
The Lilies of Dawn book cover
Book Length:
Shorter
Part of Series:
Not part of a series
Stand Alone:
Yes
Stickiness:
Moderate
Disclosures:
Published by TH owner
Author:

Charlie Jane Anders

This is a fun story about a woman who is the sole survivor of an apocalypse. Really! To tell you much more about the plot of this light-hearted short story would ruin some of the fun, so I won't do that. But if you enjoy speculative fiction at all, this short story is worth your time.

Favorite Thing:
The characters
As Good As New book cover
Book Length:
Shortest
Part of Series:
Not part of a series
Stand Alone:
Yes
Stickiness:
Moderate
Disclosures:
None
Author:

Corinne Purtill

This is a remarkable story about a group of people who hid in the forest from the Cambodian war for 25 years after it ended. The story itself is amazing, and it is extremely well told. Putrill both captures the extreme circumstances that pushed the group to decide to disappear into the forest for so long and makes the story speak to what is common in us all. It is a page turner that will stay with you for a long time.

Favorite Thing:
The story about how the adults in the group missed salt
Ghosts in the Forest book cover
Book Length:
Short
Part of Series:
Not part of a series
Stand Alone:
Yes
Stickiness:
High
Categories:
Disclosures:
None
Author:

Jeffery A. Ballard

A fun heist caper... set in a dystopic future in which a lot of the things worth heisting are underwater and the authorities are even less sympathetic than usual. This is a well-executed sci fi story with interesting characters, set in an intriguing world.

Favorite Thing:
The main character
Book Length:
Shorter
Part of Series:
Short story/novella related to a series of long books
Stand Alone:
Yes
Stickiness:
Moderate
Categories:
Disclosures:
None
Author:

Julia LoFaso

This is a slightly surreal story, set on an island paradise that was "discovered" by the global 'in" crowd... then abandoned when a disease hit. Now, one islander is trying to find the lost dog of one of the rich former guests so that he can collect the reward money and maybe put his life back together, but a hurricane is coming. It is a thoroughly entertaining story that sneaks in a couple of things for you to think about while you're distracted by the action.

Favorite Thing:
The weirdness of it all
After the Beauties book cover
Book Length:
Shortest
Part of Series:
Not part of a series
Stand Alone:
Yes
Stickiness:
Moderate
Disclosures:
None
Author:

P. Djeli Clark

This is a fast-paced mystery set in Cairo, in a world in which a portal has been opened allowing magical creatures like djinn to coexist with humans. Fatma is an investigator with the Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments and Supernatural Entities, called in to investigate a dead djinn. The plot unfolds from there much like a "regular" mystery/action story, but set in a world that is as interesting as the mystery. This story has some aspects of alternate history, some aspects of steampunk, some aspects of fantasy... and all of these blend together to create a story that is a lot of fun to read.

Favorite Thing:
The world the author has created.
A Dead Djinn in Cairo book cover
Book Length:
Shorter
Part of Series:
Not part of a series
Stand Alone:
Yes
Stickiness:
Moderate
Disclosures:
None
Author:

Maeve Binchy

This is a charming short story about strangers who happen to meet in an airport: a woman breaking up with her boyfriend, an older couple who help her, and the bartenders who witness it all. They decide to keep in touch and exchange letters once a year. This chance meeting and the subsequent letters catalyze change in all their lives, and the charm of the story is seeing how this change plays out.

Favorite Thing:
The ending
The September Letters book cover
Book Length:
Shortest
Part of Series:
Not part of a series
Stand Alone:
Yes
Stickiness:
Moderate
Disclosures:
None

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