Friday Fiction Feature

FictionReboot2Hello all and welcome back to the Friday Fiction Feature!
Sorry for the long delay in posts, but your series editor Tabatha has been busy graduating & getting ready to move far far away. Now that I’m back with a new job in a new country, we’re on a new schedule–the Friday Fiction Feature will now be coming to you only once a month.

In the meantime, I have been experimenting with a state wholly unknown to all graduate students–applied laziness (over more than 30 minutes). The secret? BOOKS! I have been reading books! For fun! (Yes, yes, I know that’s rather the point of the FFF, but all the students/academics out there can explain how rare and impressive that is). And so, with a renewed appreciate for how awesome it is to be able to sit back and read, I am back to bring you a few more suggestions for your studiously lazy days.

The Accidental Highwayman: Being the Tale of Kit Bristol, His Horse Midnight, a Mysterious Princess, and Sundry Magical Persons Besides (Adventures of Kit Bristol #1) by Ben Tripp

The Accidental Highwayman: Being the Tale of Kit Bristol, His Horse Midnight, a Mysterious Princess, and Sundry Magical Persons Besides (Adventures of Kit Bristol, #1)The first book on the list is one that means a lot to me because I only survived graduate school by narrow margin, by which I mean I very nearly ran away to become a pirate about once a week. By getting to fight monsters, fate, magic, and a rebellious princess, Kit Bristol the Accidental Highwayman is very literally living the dream.

In eighteenth-century England, young Christopher “Kit” Bristol is the unwitting servant of notorious highwayman Whistling Jack. One dark night, Kit finds his master bleeding from a mortal wound, dons the man’s riding cloak to seek help, and changes the course of his life forever. Mistaken for Whistling Jack and on the run from redcoats, Kit is catapulted into a world of magic and wonders he thought the stuff of fairy tales.
Bound by magical law, Kit takes up his master’s quest to rescue a rebellious fairy princess from an arranged marriage to King George III of England. But his task is not an easy one, for Kit must contend with the feisty Princess Morgana, gobling attacks, and a magical map that portends his destiny: as a hanged man upon the gallows….

Nine Kinds of Naked by Tony Vigorito

Nine Kinds of NakedNo, this one will not be another description of how I spent my lazy days. (Given teh title, that’s an important promise). This next book is up mostly for a small tangent. In the following summary you will read the description of what sounds like the world’s sturdiest secret society. I cannot draw my mind away from the image of a cult whose motto is “walk away.” This must be the most-populous and longest-lived cult ever formed (allowing for the lowered intake of new members, because it doesn’t have the razmatazz of a cult that actually does something…) because these walk-awayers will never summon a demon (and if they do, I suspect they will promptly find themselves out of its immediate range), they will never incurr the wrath of gods, district attorneys, or impossibly effective mourners-after-the-sacrificed. They will, effectively, be the safest cult ever formed. So if you want the mystique of being in a secret society without all the danger or derring-do of actually being involved in anything at all, Nine Kinds of Naked has just the cult for you!

Join cult favorite Tony Vigorito in his acclaimed, surreal whirlwind of a novel exploring chaos theory. A prisoner spins a playing card into a somersault, stirring a wind that becomes a tornado that takes off the roof of a church in nearby Normal, Illinois. Elizabeth Wildhack is born in that church and someday she will meet that prisoner, a man named Diablo, on the streets of New Orleans—where a hurricane-like Great White Spot hovers off the coast. But how is it all interconnected? And what does it have to do with a time-traveling serf and a secret society whose motto is “Walk away?”
“Chaos theory says that a tiny, almost imperceptible event can have large, even catastrophic coincidences: a butterfly flapping its wings in North America leads to a hurricane on another continent, for example. In this fictional take on chaos theory, several offbeat characters are linked by a single event that expands through time, sweeping them up in it and changing their lives. A traveler works a nifty trick with a playing card, and a tornado strikes a small Illinois town; a woman is born during the tornado and later meets the man who set it in motion; 1,200 years earlier, a man who is supposed to be stoned to death discovers he has an uncanny knack for surviving; and, back in the present day, another man speaks only in the present tense. Comparisons of this novel to the works of Tom Robbins are both obvious and appropriate: the story meanders around in an entertaining manner, never getting too serious about itself; the characters are splendidly loopy, close to caricature but never quite reaching it, and the situations in which they find themselves are comic, dramatic, and everything in between.” —Booklist

Utterly Monkey by Nick Laird

Utterly MonkeyWith a severe turn careerwise, Utterly Monkey gives us a thorough path of what to avoid, and what to seek out as we (this being graduation season and all) move away from school (and hopefully our parents’ houses) and towards our dream jobs. Or our close-enough jobs. Or just any job at all really.
It seems Danny Williams has made the mistake many a recent graduate has stumbled into–he accidentally became a lawyer, yes, this is….wait, what? Accidentally became a….let’s see…college, law school, the bar exam… yeah… sure, who couldn’t accidentally stumble into that kind of thing… right.
Oh well. Maybe this book can teach me how to stumble into a high-paying job. “Accidentally”

Danny Williams didn’t mean to be a lawyer, but somehow he is — and for up to eighteen hours a day. He’s well paid, home owning, and twenty-seven but is also overworked, lonely, and frequently stoned. The plan was to leave the troubles of a small town in Northern Ireland for the big city in England, but one evening an old school friend, Geordie, bursts into Danny’s shiny new life. On the run from a Loyalist militia, Geordie brings everything Danny thought he had left behind and dumps it on his doorstep.
With infectious wit and energy to burn, Utterly Monkey is a searing, fiercely funny, and ultimately redemptive novel about surviving an office job, outwitting the bad guys, and, hopefully, getting the girl.

At the Villa of Reduced Circumstances (Portuguese Irregular Verbs #3) by Alexander McCall Smith 

At the Villa of Reduced Circumstances (Portuguese Irregular Verbs, #3)Mystery buffs will be familiar with the this-can’t-be-right-something-must-be-wrong beginning to an investigation. Just the other day I was listening to a mystery where a tone-deaf man hired a detective because someone had hired him as a tuba player, and the devoted musician just knew there could be to legal reason to pay him to play a tuba at a room of unsuspecting listeners. Well, At the Villa of Reduced Circumstances has brought this musical plot into the world of letters and joined together mystery and academe in a way many a published author has dreaded.

In At the Villa of Reduced Circumstances, Professor Dr. von Igelfeld gets caught up in a nasty case of academic intrigue while on sabbatical at Cambridge. When he returns to Regensburg he is confronted with the thrilling news that someone from a foreign embassy has actually checked his masterwork, Portuguese Irregular Verbs, out of the Institute’s Library. As a result, he gets caught up in intrigue of a different sort on a visit to Bogota, Colombia.

Hooked on Murder (Crochet Mystery #1) by Betty Hechtman

Hooked on Murder (Crochet Mystery, #1)My more observant readers will probably know that I have a special weakness for cozy mysteries. Inspired by the original Miss Marple (despite Dame Christie’s absolute refusal to give me all the clues!) and moving on to dozens of other set-in-a-small-town, everybody-is-nice-and-a-suspect-and-lying-about-everything, with the necessary inexplicable-importance-of-sewing-or-cooking-to-the-plot, with a mystery which absolutely must be solved by the unassuming-cook/seamstress/old lady/generally innocent _______. On the FFF I get to see all of these opportunities to integrate a real and intriguing mystery into my life in books like Hooked on Murder, without (apparently) having to interrupt my social life at all! Unfortunately, I have yet to become innocently embroiled in a dire mystery that threatens the peacefulness of my small town. I’m beginning to worry that it’ll take until I’m gray-haired and surrounded by cats and baked goods before I’ll get a cozy mystery of my own. Oh well, I guess all I can do now is move to a small town, get far to many pets, take up baking, and hope for the best…or do I mean worst?

Craft lovers and mystery readers alike will flock to this great new craft-based cozy with a delicious recipe and crochet pattern included!
When bookstore event coordinator Molly Pink stumbles across the dead body of a crochet group’s leader, her complicated past with the woman makes her a prime suspect.
But while Molly’s fending off a detective with a personal grudge and navigating the pitfalls of crochet group politics, the real killer remains at large. And it’s up to her to catch the culprit before she winds up in a tight knot.

Friday Fiction Feature


Hello and welcome back to the Friday Fiction Feature! Tabatha Here to show you the best in “cult” novels, zombie thrillers, and (once again) my intended career as an academic mystery-solver. So sit back and enjoy the show as we bring you the best we’ve got in novels to lead you astray and bring you back to unreality with this week’s selection.


Astray by Amy Christine Parker

Amy Christine Parker’s Astrayto be released this August 26th, takes us into the dangerous world of cultism, community, family, and mystery.

Astray (Gated, #2)Lyla is caught between two worlds. The isolated Community that she grew up in and the outside world that she’s navigating for the very first time. The outsiders call the Community a cult, but Pioneer miraculously survived a shooting that should have killed him. Are the faithful members right to stay true to his message? Is this just a test of faith? One thing is for sure: the Community will do anything to bring Lyla back to the fold. Trapped in a spider’s web of deception, will Lyla detect the sticky threads tightening around her before it’s too late? She’ll have to unravel the mystery of what Pioneer and the Community are truly up to if she wants to survive.
 Suspenseful and chilling, Astray is Amy Christine Parker’s nerve-fraying sequel to Gated. This fast-paced psychological thriller is masterfully plotted and sure to leave goose bumps. Perfect for fans of creepy YA thrillers and contemporary fiction alike.

Going Astray by Christine Moore

Going AstrayContinuing in the world of suspicions “communities” Christine Moore’s Going Astray leads the reader through the twisting, confusing world of family, community, danger, and ‘interpreted’ religion.

Laura and Malcolm are everyday people whose lives are turned upside down when the church community they sign into becomes more and more un-Christlike in its behaviour. When her toddler’s life is risked by the church leaders, Laura knows she has to escape. But already the community has become a prison, and she becomes more and more frantic in the struggle against her husband’s and son’s disinterest in leaving, her growing attraction to another man, and her confusion about basic Christian gifts of the Spirit. Faced with decisions that will rip apart her family, Laura acts: but her breathtaking struggle to escape tears apart the family, as this story of betrayal builds to a terrifying climax.

Astray by James Dixon

Because you can’t tell a book by its cover any more than you can tell a cult by its name, with the same title and a wildly different story, James Dixon’s Astray takes place on the other side of crime and danger through the eyes of a private detective faced with a tracing job few would volunteer for.

Thrown out of the police after the break up of his marriage, O’Donhal is forced to make his living as a private investigator. One day, however, an altogether new class of client arrives: he is asked to track down Mr. Pestilens, the fourth horseman of the apocalypse. While working the case he is introduced to the elusive and apparently downtrodden ‘Sweeney’, Angel of Death and consummate drinking buddy who trails him throughout.

Rise Again: A Zombie Thriller by Ben Tripp

Exploring what may happen if our detective O’Donhal cannot find that fourth horseman in time Ben Tripp’s Rise Again: A Zombie Thriller explores the ever-troubling zombie apocalypse to remind us once again that maybe a day without Death keeping the books wouldn’t be such a good thing after all.

And a warning that would come all too late . . . 
Forest Peak, California. Fourth of July. Sheriff Danielle Adelman, a troubled war veteran, thinks she has all the problems she can handle in this all-American town after her kid sister runs away from home. But when a disease-stricken horde of panicked refugees fleeing the fall of Los Angeles swarms her small mountain community, Danny realizes her problems have only just begun—starting with what might very well be the end of the world. Danny thought she had seen humanity at its worst in war-torn Iraq, but nothing could prepare her for the remorseless struggle to survive in a dying world being overrun by the reanimated dead and men turned monster. Obsessed with finding her missing sister against all odds, Danny’s epic and dangerous journey across the California desert will challenge her spirit . . . and bring her to the precipice of sanity itself. . . . Filled with adventurous human drama and shocking inhuman horror. 

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

The HistorianAnd finally, with a book that has nothing to do with the others, Elizabeth Kostova’s The Historian grounds us back in the more realistic world of academia, research, and adventure (that’s realistic for academia right? Because I have certain expectations from this degree–we do get adventures & earth-shattering secrets right? Of course we do, why else would we spend our lives in windowless offices?).

To you, perceptive reader, I bequeath my history…
Late one night, exploring her father’s library, a young woman finds an ancient book and a cache of yellowing letters addressed ominously to ‘My dear and unfortunate successor’. Her discovery plunges her into a world she never dreamed of – a labyrinth where the secrets of her father’s past and her mother’s mysterious fate connect to an evil hidden in the depths of history.

And so, with cults, zombies, historical research, and the promise that I intend to use my master’s degree to become enmeshed in the high adventure of Victorian research (that is how this works right?!) I bid you adieu, until next time.