November Nouveau: Reading Sanctum Potpourri #9

Reading Sanctum: Potpourri is one of our continuing features of quick cut book reviews to help you find some otherwise innocuous books that might have escaped your attention. As a huge library/book reader geek, I love sharing stories about the books I am reading. So if you love books like I love books, then you just might love this feature, too.

This month for November Nouveau, we have highlighted newer properties from 2000 to the present. The reviews that I give here will be from various genres that I enjoy and some books you might not have heard about, all published within the specified time period.

In 2019, a Goodreads buddy recommended this book. She said that she thought it was right up my alley. I was shocked that she felt that she knew my alley, because I am shy and keep it so well protected. 🙂 Err-um, never mind. Aliens and Ice Cream was published in 2019 by Michael James and it was the first time a Goodreads acquaintance ever recommended something to me.

Aliens and Ice Cream is a solid siege narrative, science fiction, horror novel that ends with the aspiration that this is going to be a series. The author has since confirmed that there are more parts to this, although it can be read as a standalone. The story begins with the geek guy waking early to go jogging with the pretty girl that is unattainable not because he is unworthy, but because he lacks the confidence to ask her out.

The minute that I noticed this alteration of the typical narrative trope, I became attenuated to others and realized that I was in the hands of a skilled author. There’s a neighborhood barbecue that is used to introduce us to the distinct characters, their unique relationships, and contingent dramas.

When the barbecue is crashed by an alien attack the characters are displaced and separate seeking shelter. Families are divided. Characters that should not be together now find themselves dependent on each other. The children in this story are more adaptable and have a keener perception of the circumstances, while the adults are too imbued in the vicissitudes of their smaller realities. The adults are so linked to their roles as parents that they fail to value the contributions of their children as individuals.

There are astute psychological sub-textual ideas conveyed via the narrative. It has some editorial issues that annoy me when I read independent self-published works, but there weren’t so many that they would significantly affect my rating. I want to thank Lisa for recommending this book. You were right about this one. To Michael James, get a really good editor to catch those pesky word usage issues.

I am extremely impressed with the manipulation of certain horror and science fiction tropes to great effect. This is a 4 and a half out of 5 on our Grey Geeks scale.

This is a fascinating novella that is a quick, svelte, little read with a grandiose scope, and yet, it is at its core about a husband and a wife. She is the titular librarian and he is the first contact. Neither of those things is a spoiler because the story engrosses you from the initial pages, drawing you in.

Some nuclear activity is detected by a government base outside of Seattle. When the site is investigated, a radiant alien is discovered, but he looks like a human being, a sociology professor who has spent his entire life on Earth. How can that be? He’s asking for his wife and the government is suspicious as to why. Of course he wants to talk to her, “It’s his wife!!!” I can’t say more, but I loved this story.

I got this for free, but it in no way affected my review. I had never read this author, but I am now a fan. BTW, I believe this was her debut work. Published in 2015. 4 and a half is my true rating. It would have been 5 stars, but I deduct a half a point for length. I really think this could have been 100 pages longer, and it wouldn’t have lost much of its impact. In fact, I think it could have been stronger. Still and all, it carries the emotional punch that all really good short stories have.

A Plateful of Murder is the first in a series of short detective novels by Carole Fowkes a former RN, now mystery writer published in 2016. The Terrified Detective is an innovative idea that immediately creates in the reader a sense of empathy. Usually detectives are tough, noir, hard-boiled brutes and femmes.

Claire Nardo is a private investigator that inherits the business from a retired uncle who she used to work for as a photographer on mild cases of extramarital dalliances. She is not accustomed to dealing with murder and feels she might have bitten off more than she could chew. She manages to behave professionally, despite some stumbles. However, one stalker investigation turns into a murder, then that morphs into another murder and very quickly the pretty Italian private investigator finds herself embroiled in something that could threaten her family, her business, and most importantly, her life.

I’ve seen people categorize this as a cozy, but it’s nearly 300 pages. A quick read, nonetheless, well-paced, with exposition dumps smartly allocated. There are almost no swear words nor sexual situations. Telling in the first-person perspective is a wise choice which makes the reader even more invested in Claire. I also enjoyed Uncle Gino’s pocket wisdom sparingly sprinkled throughout. I recommend this for all you mystery lovers. This might turn out to be a great find.

This is a solid 4 out of 5 Grey Geeks for its innovation and style, but I prefer my private investigators more hard-boiled and toughened by the vicissitudes of life like Kinsey Millhone and Kay Scarpetta

Okay, you amazingly wonderful followers of our little blog. I say thanks for reading our posts and watching our videos. This is especially poignant on a week when we celebrated Thanksgiving, after having spent almost two years struggling with a pandemic. I know that there are some real-life worries; but that’s even more reason why we should stay connected while discussing things from the sandbox. Remember that we love you. Peace!

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