Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Victory Conditions

No, this isn't a blog entry about my Swedish campaign game in Empire Total War. Rather Victory Conditions is the name of the 5th and final book in Elizabeth Moon's "Vatta's War" series. This is a science fiction series that I started unexpectedly last year. You see, I was on a business trip and had run out of reading material. Now that's not a bad thing in my brain because it means I get to go to the bookstore and buy something that looks good to me right then and there. Since I have such a back load of unread books in my house, I sometimes feel like I "have" to read such and such because I've had it for so long. Many times I'll open a book that I have long anticipated only to feel like this is "old" stuff. So, there I was at the book store in...San Diego I think and I had the chance to buy something "fresh". I spent a lot of time browsing trying to narrow down my choices. I really wanted to try a new author. I finally settled on the first book of this series, Trading in Danger. It appealed to me because I really wasn't looking for hard science fiction but I figured a nice space opera would be fine. And it wasn't a straight military science fiction story either, more about traders and merchants.

So I read that book and loved it, forcing me to buy the rest of the series. Although I do like to mix up my reading with different genres all the time, I still like to read an entire series during the course of the year. It makes my cataloging easier when I write my "Year in Review." But to my chagrin, the final book of the series wasn't yet published! I had to wait until this year, at least for the paperback version and so there has been a bit of a gap from my reading of the first four to this one.

But you know what? That gap didn't matter. These books are so well written that I easily slipped back into the story line. Ms Moon writes with an easy, familiar style, that makes complicated situations much easier to comprehend. And the plot of this series is a wonderful progression of adventure. The characters interact delightfully and drive the action of the novels. I really enjoyed the way the protagonist, Ky Vatta, was thrust into very difficult circumstances and was able to bring a different way of thinking to the situation and resolve it. I also liked the behind the scenes action. In other words, take a different space opera universe like Star Trek. You get lots of info on the main plot, action, etc. but in Ms Moon's books we get to see how "normal" people deal with everyday situations. It ain't easy trying to get basic supplies from a trade depot when you don't have security identification.

This last volume of the series wrapped it all up in fine style. My only complaint is that the ending seemed a little rushed, as if the author was trying to wrap up too many loose ends. There was, however, a definite resolution to the main conflicts and an overall satisfying ending. I definitely plan to check out Elizabeth Moon's other books.

Next up is Drinkwater, an historical novel I was given in return for an Amazon review. It looks very interesting.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

This Side of Paradise

I finished up my latest audio book on the drive in to work this morning. My last trip to the library resulted in a quick grab and go as I just didn't have much time to devote to browsing the shelves of audio books. I had read The Great Gatsby in High School, just as so many of us did and recall that being better than I had expected it to be. For some reason, then as well as now, the period of the 1910's - 1920's in America has never been very interesting to me, excepting perhaps World War One itself. So I grabbed This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald. I hoped it would give me perspective on what I remembered of his work before.

I always like to do a little research on books I read as well as their authors, particularly the classics. The first thing I discovered was that F. Scott Fitzgerald's full name is Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald and in fact, he was a distant relative of the author of the poem that became America's national anthem. Maybe that's well known but that particular piece of knowledge had somehow escaped me all these years. This book itself, was Fitzgerald's first published novel, and in fact, became a best seller and put him on the map. It is largely biographical. The story goes that he began writing the novel in Army training camp during WWI, but afterwards had to beg his lady friend, Zelda to come back to him. She agreed only on the condition that he finish the novel, publish it and become successful. This he did and the rest is history.

The novel itself is a coming of age novel wherein the protagonist, Amory Blaine never really does come of age. He is a child of privilege and thus has a condescending attitude toward most others, particularly women. He suffers from low self esteem but covers it up with glibness and sometimes arrogance but depite all of that, he is still a likeable character. He is very introspective and Fitzgerald spends a lot of time having Amory try to meld together the idealistic concepts of a Princeton student with the realities of early 20th century American life. Amory has several girlfriends during the course of the novel and it is through these foils that we see what makes Amory tick and how he grows. The story is written in several different forms, through prose, poetry, letters, and stage direction. That can be somewhat confusing when done in the audio format but I don't suspect it would be a problem in normal book form.

In many ways this could be considered a romantic tragedy. There are numerous similarities with the characterizations and style of The Great Gatsby and most people agree the later work is superior. It has been so long between experiencing the two novels that I can't say which I prefer. Both are classics and worthy novels to read. While I would choose neither to take with me to a deserted island, I am glad I read (listened to) this one.

Of course this means another trip to the library as soon as I can get there. Not a bad thing to look forward to :)

For those of you who follow this blog to find out what is happening with Sweden's world domination in my computer game, Empire: Total War, suffice it to say that I over-reached a bit. I was so smitten with conquering the rest of Europe that those pesky Frenchmen rebelled to such an extent that they rose again in the middle of my empire! Yes, the French Revolution happened all over again. And then parts of Germany did the same thing! My armies were spread so thin that it took me a couple of years (game time) to supress them again and it's costing me huge coin to keep them subdued. Did this sort of thing happen to Alexander?

Friday, April 24, 2009


I've completed the 4th book in Erin Hunter's "Warrior: The New Prophecy" series, Starlight. My regular readers will remember that I'm working my way through this young adult series that depicts the lives of an entire culture of cats living in the wild. This is the second set of six books about these cats and I am happy to report this book returns to the roots of what makes these books great.

I really enjoyed the first 6 "Warriors" books and felt the series stood complete at the end of that first set of novels. It was a complete cycle. I had been sceptical about starting a new set of books, wary of a "next generation" syndrome that may have succombed to being only a copy of the original. Trying to "do it again" only to enhance the financial income of the authors/publishers as opposed to moving on to something else is something I am always concerned with because I tend to read quite a few series. And sure enough, when I tried the first book of this "New Prophecy" series, Midnight, my worries seemed well founded. It was difficult for me to switch gears to a new set of protagonists while the old ones were still around. The Firestar character from the first 6 books was a genuine hero but now he would have to be squeezed into a supporting role.

The books were still well written, and absorbing in their own way but it has taken me until this 4th book to get comfortable in the new skin. Perhaps I am just used to this new set of heroes now but I think it is due more to the plot settling down. The first 3 books of this set were all about moving the entire society of cats to a new home due to the infestation of human activity at their old home. Danger was everywhere with no time to rest. But now they have found their new home and this book is much more about building their new home, setting clan boundaries, and becoming 4 clans once again, instead of one bigger uneasy clan. We get to see a return to normalcy in many respects including naming ceremonies, warrior training, and consultations with the spirtual Star Clan ancesters. Clan differences are once again allowed to provide conflict and adventure instead of relying on the great unknown for everything. In short, this novel brings the series back to its roots. And it doesn't hurt that I am comfortable with the new heroes now.

Don't get me wrong; I don't blame the authors at all for having to uproot everything we have come to know and love about this feline society. That's the only way to prevent the "let's do it again" syndrome. And now, after completing Starlight, I am confident that I will look back at the end of this second set of 6 books and see it as another fantastic addtion to the universe of young adult literature. Two more books to go and I'll be sure to let you know!

Next up is Victory Conditions by Elizabeth Moon, completing a 5 book science fiction series that I began last year. The weekend cometh as well with plans for a World of Warcraft dungeon crawl and plenty of time for my "Empire: Total War" Swedish world domination plan to continue. Paris fell last night along with the remaining Russian provinces. The big push south continues as well as sweeping across the French-controlled Canada. England is still out there of course but the American colonies sure look tempting so I will soon have to bite the bullet and face down their navy, not an easy task I can assure you. Hehe I love it!

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Reincarnationist

This weekend was a snowy one around my house. I had actually taken Friday off work so we could install three ceiling fans upstairs. Summer is coming fast and we sure wish we had had ceiling fans in the house last year. Well it was a good thought but after picking up all of the parts, etc. we would need for the project, a huge snow storm came through on Friday and most of Saturday. The attic would have been too cold to work up there so we used that as a convenient excuse to have a lazy three day weekend. Creative excuse-making is the key to building leisure time into the schedule but it doesn't lead to timely project completion.

A great time to read right? gamer habits rose to the surface and I spent far more time playing on the computer than I had expected to. You see last week I had finished "Fallout 3", having become the last best hope of humanity and saving the world, and it was now on to my new game, "Empire: Total War". Its an extremely addictive game and I'm loving playing the role of Sweden in the 18th century slowly taking over the known world. I left off last night with the big push towards Paris, after sweeping through Berlin, Poland, and large chunks of Russia as well as gaining a foothold in the New World in Newfoundland. At least I'm not power hungry.

So...I did manage to finish up one book on Saturday morning though before everybody else in the house woke up. M.J. Rose's The Reincarnationist is a fairly fast paced thriller/adventure novel that I really wanted to like. From the cover blurbs it seemed to have all of the elements I was looking for: action, intrigue, a DaVinci Code style plot, etc. And truth be told, I was fairly well engaged over the length of the story. The concept was sound, despite what you may believe about reincarnation. I was sympathetic to the plight of the protagonist. There was some romantic attraction with other characters and there was some cool scenes/flashbacks to ancient Rome.

But the ending was unsatisfactory, to put it politely. The build up was great but the revelations at the very end were not satisfying to me at all and it was over in a heartbeat. We did not get to experience the reactions of the other main characters at all. No sense of real resolution, especially the emotional resolution that is so necessary. But that's not the only unsatisfying thing about this book. Something was missing from the entire novel that I can't quite seem to wrap my head around. It's like the elements of the plot were there but it just didn't grab me by the throat as a good adventure novel should. I think the problem is more characterization than plot; I wondered what would happen to them but I wasn't emotionally connected enough to care. I see from the author's blog that a pilot is being developed from this novel. Who knows where that will go since the quality of a novel and the quality of a tv series/show isn't always parallel. But at this point it's not one of the shows I am looking forward to in the future.

The less than satisfactory ending postponed making a good start on the next book though. I did do some reading on my Native American mythology book before starting Starlight, the fourth book of the Warrior's New Prophecy series by the Erin Hunter writing team. But the lure of conquest keeps drawing me back to the computer. Perhaps tonight will see the sacking of Paris. That should be fairly easy given the size and experience of my armies and the advanced state of my technology. No...what really worries me is the Ottoman Empire down south...

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Nezovats in Despair

This weekend I completed the reading of The Nezovats in Despair by Michael Zyskind. It is his first published novel. As a way of generating buzz, he asked me to review the novel on Amazon in exchange for giving me a free copy of the book. I have done this once before and I have to tell you that always attracts my attention! I really like discovering new authors, especially fantasy authors who have an original tale to tell.

This novel is subtitled "Book One" and is obviously the first of a series. The Nezovats are a race of tiny beings that live in the attic of a HOUSE. Their town of Nezoville is built in a 20 foot by 20 foot space mostly out of wood, and periodically the Nezovats must venture out into the HOUSE itself for supplies. The book's description says the Nezovats are the size of lego people but methinks they are smaller than that considering there is a passage in the book where a fly actually picked one up and flew with it.

When I began to read I was expecting some sort of "Borrower's" story but it wasn't long before I realized it was really quite different. Mr Zyskind has created an entire society, pretty intricately it appears, although certainly not all is detailed for the reader here in this first book. The writing style is what I call "smart" in that a definite writer-reader partnership is required. The reader must pay attention to pick up subtle hints dropped by the author in order to truly understand what is going on in the plot. The story itself takes place over the course of just one day, but it is a day unlike any other. The mysterious leader of the Nezovats, Lord Efron, is nowhere to be found but just what his role is in the events of the day is yet to be discovered.

The book is published by Sense of Wonder, a small press that seems to be publishing some cutting edge fiction. I do have a complaint though: it has been a long time since I have encountered so many typos and mispelled words in a published novel. A little more polished editing is in order. The book is also written from multiple points of view and it can be a struggle to keep the characters straight. And one of them is written in 1st person POV. But by the last third of the novel, the major characters shown through the rubble pretty well. I noticed as I read I tended to picture the Nezovats as little humans but kept getting yanked back to reality every 20 pages or so when there was a reference to their two hearts ("the pounding of my hearts was deafening"). That was sort of annoying but then it did serve to remind me these little guys aren't human...perhaps this was a writer's tool to remind us just what we are dealing with. I do think the book did a good job of setting up the society as well as the overall plot situation and I am glad I read it. I also wish the second book was available now so I can see what happens next.

Speaking of next, I've begun my next thriller/adventure novel: The Reincarnationist by M.J. Rose. With my luck this will turn out to be the first in a series as well...oh well.

Friday, April 10, 2009

A Gentle Madness

For quite some time now (more than 20 years) I have classified myself as a bibliophile. In my mind that means I love books...everything about them from reading them to collecting them and in my dreams I like to write them. So it was with great anticipation that I began to read A Gentle Madness by Nicholas A. Basbanes. This has been my morning reading book (the one I read for 30 minutes or so before I head off to work each day) for the past couple of months. It has been a fantastic read for me and always puts me in a good mood first thing in the morning.

The title alone is fantastic. I can think of no better way to describe the often illogical mania people like me have for books. We are, I think mad in many ways and yet it is a non-threatening sort of madness. I have been crazy about books since I was a little boy and used to gaze up at my parents crowded book shelves in the living room. And to this day, when I have a couple of minutes to spare, I love to glance over the titles in my own library at home, reminiscing about past reads and anticipating future adventures. A gentle madness indeed.

Mr Basbanes does a fantastic job of cataloguing most of the famous and infamous bibliomaniacs in history. He describes the famous historical collectors as well as modern examples. He discusses what they do and how they do it and somehow is able to get into their psyches and examine why they do it. Of course not all are the same but they all do seem to share the same indescribable love for books. Some collect for the benefit of mankind while others do it for their own bragging rights. I enjoyed reading about the collections that 19th and 20th century collectors put together, fantasizing about what it would be like to be rich enough to build the kind of library they could. But I think I preferred reading about the more common person who put aside other pleasures of life in order to pursue their passion on a more modest basis. I guess I identify more with them. I also enjoyed the story of Stephen Blumberg, known as the most successful book thief of the 20th century. He had stolen more than $20 million dollars worth of books from libraries all over North America before being arrested in Riverside California in the early 1990s. In his mind he was accumulating a collection and preferred to think of the books as on an inter-library loan. This was definitely a gentle madman.

This book gave me an interesting perspective. First, it's nice to know I am not the only one out there with my "disease". But secondly it helps clarify the purpose of my own library collection. You see I don't collect books just to have books. I don't collect books because they might be valuable someday. I collect books in order to read them and so I think I am slightly different than most of the people discussed in this book. I guess I am a collector of "reading experiences" more than of books. Although I rarely depart with a book that I own, even after reading it and even if it is unlikely I will ever read it again. I love to see it on the shelf and remember the time I spent with it. So I guess I am still mad...but gently so.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Tooth and Nail

This morning on the way into work I completed my latest audio book, Tooth and Nail, by Ian Rankin. This was the first book I had read (or listened to) by Mr Rankin. I had picked it out of the library like I usually looked interesting: a serial killer is on the loose, with the interesting characteristic that he bites his victims sort of like a werewolf. I've done a little research since then and have found that Ian Rankin is one of the top selling British novelists alive today. In fact Wikipedia, if you can trust it, says 10 percent of all books sold in Britain are written by Ian Rankin. Wow, that's impressive. I also discovered this book is part of a series of crime solving novels featuring Detective Inspector Rebus.

From the moment I inserted the first disc into my car's CD player and heard the fantastic British accents of the narrator, Samuel Gillies, I was transported to London where the majority of the plot takes place. Inspector Rebus is a Scottsman and the narrator is incredibly adept at portraying the various British and Scottish accents of the characters, helping the listener to keep track of who's who. In fact, the narrator might be too good for I often found myself admiring his skill as opposed to following the plot. As a result I often found my mind wandering a bit and having to jerk myself back to the tale itself.

But that aside, I enjoyed this novel. It's been quite a while since I've read a straight forward detective novel. The mysteries I've read lately tend to be more of the amateur sleuth variety, the ones where the protagonist is a "normal" person (i.e. not a professional detective, police force, etc.) and happens to find themselves in the midst of a murder situation. In this novel, I particularly liked the other major character, George Flight, who is Inspector Rebus' equivalent in London. They work together on the case and it was a pleasant switch from the typical modern day detective novel where the protagonist is forced to work around the local buffoonery and tolerate their incompetence. I wonder if future Ian Rankin novels include Flight or perhaps he may have his own novel or two. The serial killer mystery itself was quite engaging...I didn't figure out the culprit until it was revealed in the course of the story, and yet it was entirely logical. No doubt my wife would have figured it out before hand but she is smarter than me. Nevertheless, this is always a good sign for murder mysteries.

So today I will visit the library once again and see what strikes my fancy. Can't wait.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Telegraph Days

Over the weekend I completed Larry McMurtry's Telegraph Days. This one was a pretty quick read due to its easy flowing style and first person narrative technique. Marie Antoinette "Nellie" Courtright narrates her own life story, most of it taking place in her 20's. Now I've read Lonesome Dove as well as the three companion volumes to that novel and this book is no Lonesome Dove. But that is not necessarily a bad thing. Lonesome Dove won the pulitzer prize for literature, presumably for the quality of the writing. My feeling is that it won for the sheer audacity of it. After all, it took the "Western" style of fiction away from the predictable cowboys and indian structure of Zane Grey and Louis L'Amour and steered it towards something completely new and different. Well, here we have another type of western novel that is different.

This novel seems to be purposefully over-the-top. By that I mean, Mr McMurtry cares little for realism this time around and focuses instead on the impossible-to-believe. Here we have a 22-year old young lady living at the end of the "Wild West" days that manages to meet, interact with, influence, and sleep with virtually all of the famous folk of the day. This includes Wild Bill Hickock, General Custer, Buffalo Bill Cody, Wyatt Earp and all of his brothers. Her journey (in just one book mind you) takes her from her western home in Rita Blanca (present day Oklahoma panhandle), to Dodge City, Nebraska, Arizona (where she witnessed the shootout at the OK Corral) and finally on to Arizona. She is vitally important to Buffalo Bill's Wild West show getting off the ground and she becomes a bestselling author of dime novels of the era. Unlikely? Yes. Enjoyable entertainment? Absolutely!

It seems many readers tend to dislike this book. The author will forever have his other work compared to Lonesome Dove, I suppose, and readers seem to expect that sort of book. I have also read all four of McMurtry's "Berrybinder Narratives" which is of the same nature as this one...storys filled with over-the-top, humerous situations and quirky characters. I enjoyed this novel as I think many would if they gave it a chance to stand on it's own and not try to cram it into a certain mold. Too often I think we get wrapped around the idea of what makes a quality novel and we forget that we can just sit back, relax, and enjoy it for what it is.

Next up, I'll be diving into The Nezovats in Despair, a fantasy book that was sent to me by the author in order for me to review it on Amazon. I'll let you know what I think here as well.

Friday, April 3, 2009

The Academy

The final book I read on my Spring Break trip (actually only made it half way through before the trip ended so I finished over the weekend) was The Academy by Bentley Little. Mr Little writes in the horror genre and this is perhaps the 8th or 9th book I've read by him. He likes to take ordinary circumstances that most of us have had to to deal with and then put in a horror element that then spirals out of control. Previous topics have included The Store, one of my favorites which turns the local chain box store (Walmart type) into an evil presence in the community. He has written similar things with a house, a university, a town, a home owner's association, etc. My favorite Bentley Little book so far was The Ignored which deals with an adolescent who is shy and so ignored by friends, family, and school that he literally fades out and becomes virtually invisible and discovers there are others like him. It seems like many of us can relate to that. Beware though; if you've never read a Bentley Little novel, they do tend to be very sexual, many times graphically so.

Unfortunately, The Academy will rank among the lower end of the Bentley Little books I've read. I was intrigued by the cover blurb because this time the evil surrounds a charter high school. Since my son attends a charter high school I was curious as to how the evil would manifest. The main plot proceeded in a predictable pattern, probably too predictable. If this was my first book by this author that might not have bothered me too much but it seems like this one was sort of a retread of his other works. I read in the author bio at the end of the book that Mr Little spent at least a little time in his life as a teacher. It sure didn't seem like he knew much about charter schools though; more like he was using talking points put out by the NEA depicting charter schools as "bad". He takes those things on faith and exploits them for the purposes of horror. The problem though is that those talking points are biased opinions put out by an organization that is threatened by the very existence of charter schools. No doubt some charter schools are better than others but Mr Little seems to paint them all with a broad brush here. And it's not a pretty picture.

He also fails to disguise his anti-conservative political views. I really don't care where on the political spectrum my authors dwell, and if a particular character is blatently liberal or blatently conservative that's fine, especially if it pertains to the story. But if you are going to editorialize then at least get the basic principles correct. There are parts in this book that you'd swear were written by Michael Moore.

But what irked me the most was the stupid characters. Not one of them acted like any normal, rational person would act. When confronted by the off-the-wall "requirements" for parents to volunteer their time and money (or else) , the parents thought it odd. I would have found a new school for my child. When a student sees the girls' physical education teacher engage in obvious (and sick) sexual behavior with the entire class, she tells her best friend but that's it. These kinds of incidents, resulting from the growing evil, are numerous and serve only to demonstrate the stupidity of the characters as they fail time and again to do anything about it.

Mr Little does write in a page-turning style which works though. Despite the negative aspects of the plot and characterization it was pretty easy to keep reading. I guess I was hopeful that in the end, when the evil was finally discovered and dealt with, there would be some redemption. Unfortunately, the book fell flat here as well. The evil was known from almost the first page and it was a mercy killing at the end, for the reader. Of course the charter school converted back to a regular public school and all was good again. Disappointing to say the least. I may still read books by Mr Little in hopes for another one like The Ignored but it may be a while.

For my short story reading I selected the collection of Native American myths that has been sitting on my shelf for years. I won't comment on each of the stories this time because they are quite short and I'll be reading 2-3 between each novel. When the book is done, I'll blog about it then.

Next up for novel reading: Telegraph Days by Larry McMurtry

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Cat Who Wasn't There

The second book that I completed on the trip was The Cat Who Wasn't There by Lilian Jackson Braun. I was due for a straight who-dunnit mystery and I also needed to read a shorter novel after just completing the lengthy The Seventh Scroll. This book is the 15th in the "Cat Who..." series and although I haven't read all of them up to this point I would guess I have completed about 10-11 of them. I confess to not having read them in order, something I normally never do, but that is due to the nature of how I acquire them. You see I received several as gifts, years ago and I knew my mother had read them and liked them so I gave them a try. Since then I occasionally pick one up at a used book store but by no means own all of them nor read them in the correct order. That really doesn't matter though as each is a stand alone story and the parts of the bigger story arc that stretch across books are slow moving and easily picked up by the context of each book.

I do enjoy these novels...the more of them I read the more I enjoy them. They are safe mysteries, meaning I know what I'm getting each time I read one. I envy the main character's position in life: wealthy due to unexpected inheritance, yet living somewhat frugally in a small town filled with quirky characters. He writes a column in the local newspaper on topics he thinks are interesting. Really, it's a stress free life...or should be. The problem is, just like other who- dunnit protagonists, there are a lot of murders that seem to take place in his small town, and with the assistance of his two siamese cats, he usually gets into the middle of it.

This particular entry in the series is among the favorites of the fans. It's easy to see why. Quill (Jim Quilleran, the protagonist), agrees to travel to Scotland with several of the townspeople and see the sites. This gets him out of the normal town routines and gives readers a change of scenery. The actual murder and subsequent mystery and the solving thereof takes many twists and turns as we travel with Quill to Scotland and back home again. His girlfriend is being stalked by an unknown person(s) and Quill himself is being stalked by an old flame intent upon marriage. Could she have her eye on that vast fortune of his? The town's character and it's quirky residents are on full display. All in all a witty story well told. I will keep on reading these books at a rate of 1-2 per year because its always nice to come home to a friendly place.

The trip still wasn't over yet though so one more book to tell you about on the next blog.

Top 10 Books in no particular order (Well Known Authors)

  • "The Stand" by Stephen King
  • "Kane and Able" by Jeffrey Archer
  • "The Killer Angels" by Michael Shaara
  • "The Dark Elf Trilogy" by RA Salvatore
  • "Name of the Wind" by Patrick Rothfuss
  • "River God" by Wilbur Smith
  • "Mortalis" by RA Salvatore
  • "Ender's Game" by Orson Scott Card
  • "Centennial" by James A Michener
  • "The Repairman Jack" series by F. Paul Wilson

Top Books/ Series in no particular order (Lesser Known Authors)

  • "The Sculpter" by Gregory Funaro
  • "Power Down" by Ben Coes
  • "Revolution at Sea Saga" by James L. Nelson
  • "Black Rain" by Graham Brown
  • "Top Producer" by Norb Vonnegut
  • "Prairie" by Anna Lee Waldo
  • "The Wild Blue" by W. Boyne & S Thompson
  • "Unsolicited" series by Julie Kaewert
  • "Freedom" by William Safire