Here at Black Spot Books, we read a lot of books -- and we have a lot of opinions.
From brilliant self-published titles to some of the biggest names in fiction today, here are some of our publisher's favorite non-Black Spot Book titles read in 2017.
The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler (2015)
This title from St. Martin's Press started off as a quick-grab inspired by the cover (I'm a sucker for a great cover) and quickly became one of my favorite reads of the year. This story begins with a young librarian on the brink of bankruptcy, homelessness, and complete and utter loneliness, Simon Watson, who receives an old, somewhat derelict copy of a circus master's diary from a stranger. To make this even odder, the book contains the names of members of his family lineage, a rather unique and mysterious troupe of women. Overall the novel is odd, eerie, and it involves slightly-inhuman women who can both read your future and drown without dying. Mermaids, literally.
The story weaves through the interesting, and often speculative, tale of Simon's family's past and present, with unsettling prophecies of the future seemingly coming to fruition. I read it cover to cover on vacation with the sounds of the waves crashing in the distance. I bought several copies for friends--it was that good.
The Promise of Stardust by Priscille Sibley (2013)
A bargain-bin find, this book had me in tears within the first few pages as the doomed tale of star-crossed lovers Matt and Elle began to unfold. Childhood sweethearts turned spouses, Elle an astronaut, Matt a neurosurgeon, have been trying to conceive when a freak accident leaves Elle braindead. Grief-stricken, her husband prepares to pull the plug when the family discovers that she's pregnant. Does he keep her alive to see if the baby will live? Or does he let them both go? It's two impossible choices, and a burden too heavy to bear--especially when other member's of the family escalate an emotional battle into a legal one.
On a personal level, this book was one that was incredibly cathartic. I lost my grandmother in 2014 and could relate strongly to the plight of Matt and Elle's family members and the agony that comes with letting someone go--particularly when their body is still around. Sibley, a nurse by trade, was able to tap into these emotions and express them eloquently, finally putting into words some of the things I had been feeling for years.
I credit this book with my own personal healing. This poignant novel asks profound questions about life and death and grief. It simultaneously broke my heart and filled it up again.
Prince Lestat (The Vampire Chronicles, #11) by Anne Rice (2014)
I'll be honest: this was the second time I read this book. Not because I loved it so much, but because it had been so long since I had the opportunity to glut on my favorite bratty vampire of all time that I wanted to do it twice--and because I have a *signed* copy of Prince Lestat and the Realms of Atlantis on my bookshelf that I'm too scared to open.
Anyone who knows me well knows that I've been hooked on Anne since the late 90s when I read Interview for the first time. I love Lestat, Louis, Armand, Marius--all of them, but of course most especially Lestat. Unfortunately, this book was not my favorite in the series. Frankly, the introduction of so many new characters and relationships was a bit overwhelming at a time when I really just wanted to focus on Lestat. Then, I started to get obsessed with the complexities of their stories until, eventually, I was hooked and I couldn't put the book down. A slow start built to an extremely satisfying finish, although I'm still a little iffy on how this addition to the Chronicles will affect the future of the series. Long Live Prince Lestat!
The Pirate Round (The Brethren of the Coast #3) by James L. Nelson (2002)
This summer, I said goodbye to a series that has captivated me end fulfilled my love of pirates for years by finally reading the final novel in the series (for the record, I have not read Nelson's Norseman series, but I have heard that it is excellent as many members of my family are quite obsessed). I put off reading this last book because I wasn't ready to say good-bye, and James Nelson if you are reading, please please give us more Marlowe!
I'm not typically a fan of historical fiction, but I am a huge fan of pirate folklore and seafaring tales. I read the first novel in this series somewhat reluctantly, but found the characters to be complex, relatable, and inspiring--plus, as author Nelson is a true nautical man, I've learned quite a bit of technical bits about sailing, too, which has been great for a girl who spends a lot of time on the water. Still, it's not often that a series can push me through the emotions that this series did, like crying over the loss of a pirate (who isn't Geoffrey's Rush's Captain Barbosa or Zac McGowan's Charles Vane), or rooting for the bloodthirsty slaughter of a foe, or falling a little bit in love with a man who while honorable isn't quite honest...but this series had it all. It's like a grown up version of The Princess Bride but with less Humperdink and more futtock.
I am looking forward to a new reading year in 2018, with several new titles from Black Spot Books authors adding to my list of great reads!
Fair winds and following seas,