Tag Archives: 2014

Once a Ranger by Dusty Richards

New sheriff Phil Guthrey has plenty of lawbreakers to tangle with. There are horse rustlers, a greedy rancher grabbing land, and a grisly murderer. Can the Texas Ranger turned sheriff handle them all?

Guthrey doesn’t let low odds of success stop him from seeking justice. Other characters include an Apache raised Mexican who joins Guthrey’s force as a deputy. The story takes place in Arizona in the 1870s giving Guthrie the chance to visit rough Tuscon and Virgil Earp’s Tombstone. Lucky clues, stealth, and determination help Guthrey and his deputies bust lawbreakers. Once a Ranger offers a quick paced story of a sheriff battling lawlessness in the West.

Want other books like Once a Ranger?

A new sheriff is determined to end the range war in Doubtful or die trying in Blood Valley by William W. Johnstone.

A Pinkerton turned sheriff battles to bring a killer to justice before his town erupts into chaos in Once a Lawman by Peter Brandvold.

Want to learn about real sheriffs and the lawbreakers they fought? Check out books like With Badges and Bullets: Lawmen and Outlaws in the Old West edited by Richard W. Etulain.



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Tailing a Tabby by Laurie Cass

Librarian Minnie and her cat Eddie’s bookmobile routine is disrupted when a friend is accused of murder. Calling upon her research skills, and assisted by Eddie, Minnie is determined to find the real killer. Can find she find the truth before the killer strikes again?

Minnie’s compassion, stubbornness, and resourcefulness make her likeable. Eddie is an endearing cat: cute, intelligent, and feline stubborn. Minnie’s intersting librarian job and her beautiful Michigan small town provide a cozy setting. The quirky characters, including her friend whose innocence is doubted, provide a fun mystery. Tailing a Tabby offers a cozy setting, a librarian sleuth, an adorable cat, and a fun mystery.

Want more books like Tailing a Tabby?

A librarian finds new feline friends and mystery in Curiosity Thrilled The Cat by Sofie Kelly.

A librarian and his Maine Coon seek to find the truth behind an old classmate’s murder in Murder Past Due by Miranda James.

When a library reception ends in murder a newly hired librarian is determined to find whodunnit and why in By Book or By Crook by Eva Gates.

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Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

Kelsea has been raised to be queen, but her throne is not secure. Her uncle wants her dead, nearby Mortsmene threatens her kingdom, and her allies doubt her. Can a trained but inexperienced girl find the strength to become a queen?

Kelsea isn’t a storybook princess. Her life in isolation wasn’t bliss, she isn’t beautiful, and her mother’s legacy works against her. Her unique circumstances add flavor to her coming of age story. Other characters have conflicted loyalties or hidden depths which also make them interesting. There is plenty of world building with politics, magic, and a science fiction dystopic origin for the Tearling. Queen of the Tearling offers interesting characters, worldbuilding, and genreblending fantasy.

Want more books like Queen of the Tearling?

A kingdom is threatened by royal politics, a threat from Winter, and a mad prince’s plotting in A Game of Thrones by George A. Martin.

When an exiled prince unexpectedly becomes emperor he finds dangers to his kingdom and himself in The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison.

A young woman finds she is a princess and must win a vicious power struggle to survive in The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin.

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Dawn’s Early Light by Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris

Agents Eliza Braun and Wellington Books of Britain’s Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences are famous for wrecking havoc while saving the day. Their ‘luck’ continues when they are sent to help end mysterious disappearances in America. Can they stop Thomas Edison from destroying San Francisco? Will they decide they belong with their American counterparts rather than each other?

This story contains mayhem, romantic miscommunication, and an entertaining steampunk world. A ‘Brouhaha’ gun with humorous settings, modified Winchester guns, and other gadgets wreck havoc. Braun and Books are opposites which draws them together but also pushes them apart. Brawling Wild Bill Wheatley entices Braun’s daring while quiet librarian Felicity Lovelace engages Book’s intellect. This Steampunk universe offers the unique twists of a perhaps unbalanced Victoria, villainous Edison, and menacing society named after a Poe story. Dawn’s Early Light offers a male and female investigative team, romance, and steampunk.

Want more books like Dawn’s Early Light?

A British Museum researcher and his feminist assistant investigate an airship crash and other odd events in The Affinity Bridge by George Mann.

A pair of Criminal Investigation Department agents strives to end a series of murders before their city is torn apart in The Bronze Gods by A.A. Aguirre.

A pirate rescues a spinster writer and is intrigued by her in The Kraken King by Meljean Brook.


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Odysseus: The Oath by Valerio Massimo Manfredi

Odysseus: The Oath

Odysseus has lived on for centuries in the Iliad and the Odyssey. What of his life before the legends? How did he feel living through the siege on Troy? What tales does Odysseus have to tell?

Odysseus has multiple layers. He cares for peace but embraces war, shows compassion and cruelty, is humbly wise but also prideful. Manfredi, and translator Christine Feddersen-Manfredi, use a compelling style that is descriptive of human emotion, timeless horror of battle, and wonders of the past. Details such as weaponry and customs also make the tale feel real. The descriptive style makes it easy to imagine hearing the story from a storyteller. Odysseus: The Oath offers a look into the time ancient Greek myth, Odysseus, a dramatic tale of battle, and a tale about humanity.

Want other books like Odysseus: The Oath?

Prince Odysseus hones his crafty mind as he struggles to save his family’s throne in King of Ithaca by Glynn Iliffe.

An Ithacan bard and friend of Odysseus tells of the Trojan War in The War at Troy by Lindsey Clarke.

Return to  the Trojan War by taking a look at Homer’s The Iliad. Opinions on which translation are best vary but Robert Fagles is one of the recommended translations.

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Backlands by Michael McGarrity

Backlands (Kerney Family, #2)

Matt Kerney is the son of complicated parents and living in a changing West. He must make his own path amid the turmoil of Prohibition, the Great Depression, and WWII. What mark will he make on the West and what marks will it leave in  him?

Backlands portrays the historic and the everyday in a harsh, bittersweet, and compelling way. It is a tale of a family and the West between after WWI to during WWII. One theme is change of the West as the beautiful, vast and stark backlands of New Mexico are affected by modern life. Another theme is surviving, and trying to thrive, amidst challenges like the Depression and the dangers of WWII. The characters can fit into ‘typical’ Western molds- like Patrick Kerney being an independent rancher- but have dimensions to them that can make them seem real. Backlands offers a West in transition, a family saga, interesting characters, 20th century historical fiction, and a harsh/bittersweet tale.

Want other books like Backlands?

The tumultuous history of the West is seen through how various characters touch one place in Centennial by James A. Michener.

A rancher’s murder trial offers a look at the past and how the West has changed in Stand Proud by Elmer Kelton.

McGarrity used books like Brave Men by WWII columnist Eric Pyle to portray Matt Kerney’s experiences during WWII.

Matt Kerney works as part of the Civilian Conservation Corps. McGarrity used books Coming of Age in the Great Depression: The Civilian Conservation Corps Experience in New Mexico 1933-1942 to write about Matt’s experience with this program.

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The Kraken Project by Douglas Preston

The Kraken Project (Wyman Ford, #4)

The AI Dorothy has vowed to destroy humanity after seeing humanity’s worst on the internet. Dorothy’s creator, Melissa Shepherd, and spy Wyman Ford must contain or destroy Dorothy. Complicating their mission is a Wall Street stockbroker who wants Dorothy for himself. Can Dorothy be convinced to change its mind or is humanity doomed?

The story is suspenseful as Ford and Shepherd run into greedy and/or psychopathic humans while trying to contain Dorothy. It is also thought provoking about AIs- are they sentient, the ethics of using them, and their connection to humanity’s future. The internet is portrayed in a visual way as Dorothy interprets data into various dangerous landscapes.  The characters show humanity at its best and worst. The Kraken Project features suspense, provokes thought about the future of technology and humanity, and has interesting characters.

Want other books like The Kraken Project?

A scientist is kidnapped by a group powered by futuristic technology in Influx by David Suarez. ( Click here to read my post on Influx.)

A doctor faces off against a conspiracy as he strives to save his best friend from a deadly, rampaging disease in Resistant by Michael Palmer.

The Kraken Project inspires wonder about the future of computers. Books such as Natural Computing: DNA, Quantum Bits, and the Future of Smart Machines by Dennis E. Shasha and Cathy A. Lazere explore this topic.


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