Summer might be more than half over, but there's still plenty of time to dig into some good "beach reads," whether you're sitting on the sands at Buckroe or lounging on your back porch. Here are a few that made their way to my desk in the past few months.
Mystery lovers might enjoy Williamsburg author Jessica Sherry's recently released debut novel, "Sea-Devil," a Delilah Duffy mystery" (Martin Sisters Publishing, 2013). From the back cover: "You never get over your first love…how about your first murder?"
The book opens with our heroine, Delilah, on the threshold of starting a new life on Tippee Island, N.C. She's traveling down Highway 12 in her Jeep convertible, with her golden lab, Willie, at her side. It's a Saturday morning in the summer, and Delilah is experiencing the types of traffic woes that we in Hampton Roads know very well. And Willie has to make a rest stop. A few pages later, Delilah is cornered by a local police officer threatening to issue a $50 citation for allowing the dog bathroom privileges where there were none. Worse, Delilah has created another knot in the already snarled traffic. Worse than that, she remembers the officer as a summertime crush from more than a decade earlier. Delilah is having a rough entrance into town, and it's only the first chapter.
Sherry wrote in an email that the root of the story is based on a childhood memory– girl meets boy on a perfect summer day at the beach. She described the book as "a beachside murder mystery featuring…a bright, and gutsy young woman escaping her past by reinventing herself as manager of Beach Read Books….A murder in the store the night before her grand opening threatens her dream and, as she gets closer to the truth, puts her in danger of being the next victim."
Sherry has planned a second book in the series, "Luna-Sea," which she hopes to complete over the summer. "Sea-Devil" is available in print for $17.95 and in eBook for $7.99 from Amazon.com and other online retailers.
What are you reading?
Tell us what you're reading this summer. Post your comments at http://www.dailypress.com/books
A master of steampunk
Steampunk is a genre in commercial fiction which melds science fiction and fantasy, usually featuring steam-powered equipment and machinery. In film, think "Wild Wild West" with Will Smith, Kevin Kline and Salma Hayak (Warner Bros., 1999).
Gloucester author David A. Lee dips into the genre and plays with history in his steampunk Western "Country in Ruin: 1865 " (AB Productions, 2013). From the back cover: "The year is 1865 and the Confederacy's last ditch attempt to weaken the North with an outbreak of the 'Loons Disease' now threatens to destroy the country entirely." It's up to a "band of misfit companions" and the futuristic weapons they have created to save the country, and possibly the world.
Lee writes from experience, at least as far as gadgetry is concerned. Daily Press Features writer Sam McDonald reported earlier this year that Lee is known for "creating impressive steampunk contraptions: a tank complete with Gatling gun, a Victorian version of a robot Dalek from the cult-favorite BBC program 'Doctor Who,' (and) a dive suit that looks like it came straight out of "Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea."
In the book's foreword, written by Alan Braden (also known as "Professor Upsidasium"), Braden writes that Lee and his group, Hatton Cross Steampunk, "create artifacts small and large, amazing and amusing on a frighteningly regular schedule. Just in the way that David has created this book from the ether with ideas both small and large, amazing and amusing."
"Country in Ruin" is available in print for about $18 and in eBook for $3.99 from Amazon.com and other online retailers.
Back to Darwin's future
For more sci-fi fun, York County's Nickell John Romjue offers a fictional account of Charles Darwin's musings after time-traveling to earth on the 150th anniversary of his "The Origin of Species." "I Charles Darwin—Being the Journal of His Visitation to Earth in the Year 2009" (Wheatmark, 2011) is a slim volume in the form of a journal written by Darwin himself.
The book opens with an "explanation" of how the book fell into the author's hands, followed by the diary entries written in a style of language one can imagine spoken during Darwin's era. The first few lines read: "When I found myself on earth again—the year, I soon discovered, was 2009—I was utterly perplexed. I remembered clearly the year of my passing, 1882. My bafflement was absolute. In my long life I had given little thought to an afterlife of any kind and certainly not to a terrestrial reincarnation, which I had not witnessed in all my years of observing the natural and human world."
As the journal progresses, Darwin is shocked at what he finds in both science and culture. Sprinkled throughout with quotes from Darwin, the book offers an intriguing, possibly provocative, look at our society through the eyes of the revolutionary scientist.
Romjue, a military historian with a background in modern Europe, has been published by TRADOC and the Army Center of Military History in Washington, D.C., as well as university literary periodicals such as "Shenandoah" and "The Missouri Review." "I, Charles Darwin" is available in paperback and eBook for about $8 at Amazon.com and other online retailers.
To hear an audio adaptation (podcast) of the book produced by the Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture, go to idthefuture.com, scroll first to May 2013, then to the "I, Charles Darwin" entry. The podcast is broken down into five chapters, plus an interview of the author.
More Writers' Block
Leah Price blogs about the local writing community and is always on the lookout for what's new. If you have a new release or an upcoming event you'd like to share, contact Leah at email@example.com or 247-4745.