WHAT TO BUY YOUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY FOR THE HOLIDAYS?? Listen, the Mil Spouse Book Review has your back. Over the next three weeks, women connected to the military will recommend you their favorite reads of 2017.
Lab Girl was a fascinating exploration of the career path of a brilliant scientist, that also delves into her journey through mental illness. It was an inspiring story of succeeding in a male-dominated field that simultaneously taught me cool facts about trees and increased my understanding of mental health issues.
Adding another kid’s book this year, too! 🙂
Life Doesn’t Frighten Me
by Maya Angelou is a book I love reading with my kids – with rhythmic language and very cool illustrations from Basquiat, this book acknowledges how scary the world can be while encouraging bravery in all of us.
First up, everyone needs a copy of The Hate U Give (THUG) by Angie Thomas, so purchase a copy for yourself while you’re getting one for everyone on your list. This book is marketed as YA, but it’s absolutely the kind of book everyone should read, regardless of age. It’s immediate, it’s relevant, and it does exactly what good fiction should do: offer you an abbreviated but significant moment in someone else’s shoes.
If your giftee has already read this amazing book, I offer a crisp high five and two suggestions in the Sci Fi and Fantasy genres. One is Necrotech by KC Alexander, set in a dystopian future where people are fitted with nanotechnology to protect them from the dangerous atmosphere…and also dangerous lifestyles. Riko lives off the grid, but after waking up butt nekkid in a lab with no memory of the last few months, and then watching her girlfriend turn into a technological zombie-bug-thing-that’s-totally-creepy-and-sad, she’s looking all over the grid for answers while trying not to get killed by…basically everyone.
If your giftee is more down with the fantasy side of speculative fiction, I offer A Wake of Vultures by Lila Bowen, an alternate history American West, where the non-binary, biracial Nettie Lonesome goes from a life of slavery to an awakening that leads her on a quest in search of monsters in dire need of killing. The plot might be somewhat standard fare for a dark fantasy novel, but the characters and the history Bowen plumbs make this novel stand up and punch you right in the face. And you’ll love it. So will your giftee.
When Kerri-Leigh Grady isn’t writing, she spends her days snarking, programming, hoarding tea, and snarking some more because there’s never enough snark. You can find her on the mighty webs at klgrady.com. Don’t be fooled by the romantical stuff there—she also writes horror.
Lisa Houlihan Stice:
H is for Hawk (Grove Press) by Helen Macdonald
Part nature writing, part memoir, Macdonald copes with bereavement for her father’s death as she trains a goshawk. This book was the surprise of the year because I didn’t realize how fascinated I would be with hawk training, how much I would learn about the sad life of T.H. White (austringer and author of The Sword in the Stone), and how emotionally entangled I would become with Donaldson’s struggles and stages of grief.
Transcript (Cooper Dillon Books) by Adam Stutz
Transcript was the most beautiful (and accessible) collection of lyric poetry I’ve read in a long time.
The Virginia State Colony for Epileptics and Feebleminded (Persea Books) by Molly McCully Brown
This debut collection of poetry was the winner of Persea Books’ Lexi Rudnitsky First Book Prize. Growing up in the shadow of the Colony, Brown blends historical accounts and fictitious retellings to give voice to those who had been silenced.
Lisa Stice is the author of the poetry collection Uniform. Her poetry has been published widely. She is a Marine spouse.
Kathleen M. Rodgers:
What if a woman penned one of the books in the Bible? This question sets the stage for A Conspiracy of Breath, an exquisite novel by Latayne C. Scott (Trinity Southwest University Press, 2017). Like her female protagonist, Priska, the author serves as a conduit to bring the message of hope to readers through the age-old device of storytelling. The moment I finished the last chapter, I yearned to go back and read the opening chapter again and again and again …
Shores Of Our Souls
by Kathryn Brown Ramsperger (Touch Point Press, 2017) is a novel for our times. This well written tale shifts back and forth in time between the two main characters, Qasim, born and raised in war-torn Lebanon, and Dianna, a southern girl living in New York City. When they meet in a chance encounter, cultures clash along with two lost souls looking for love and acceptance in a world that wants to keep them apart.
A family tree comes alive through deft storytelling in Johnnie Bernhard’s debut novel, A Good Girl (Texas Review Press, 2017). The novel unfolds in a series of intimate vignettes that swirl around you like a warm embrace. From South Texas to Ireland to the Mississippi coast, the scenes sweep back and forth between generations of hardworking people trying to survive in a world filled with both joy and sorrow and morsels of hope.
Kathleen M. Rodgers
is a former frequent contributor to Family Circle Magazine
and Military Times
. Her latest novels, Johnnie Come Lately
(Camel Press, 2015), and its sequel, Seven Wings to Glory
(Camel Press, 2017), will be released in hardcover large print library editions from Thorndike Press in early 2018.