42 Books to Love for Towel Day 2013



Towel_Day_2013Is this not a Hamlet kind of day? Check out list of 42 Books to love for Towel Day!

Towel Day is the International celebration of Douglas Adams and his work. From radio writer to novelist to screenwriter to observational  Adams’s work has been read and admired by people from all walks of life. For more features developed for and information about Towel Day click here.



I think anyone who has visited my book review blog knows that I read a lot and suspects that I always have and they would be right. Because of how much I read, I seldom remember how my great love affair with a novel or author began. Douglas Adams is one of those rare authors that I remember the moment. It was a summer day in 1984, and I was 13 years old. I walked to my local branch of the Ann Arbor Public Library, and while browsing the biographies saw “Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy” on a display shelf at the end of the aisle as a librarian favorite. The title spoke to this young reader and I checked it out and started reading that day. The chance encounter launched this reader into the world of adult fiction where I started a quest to recreate that feeling of adventure, humor and other worlds.

Included in this list are recommendations of novels I’ve reviewed over the last 18 months since launching my blog that I think readers will love and that I believe will engender those feelings in an audience once felt by a 13 year-old girl on a summer day.

Co-writing credit to Rangewoman Inc. She helps me every day and helped me on this day very much.


1) A Darkness Shattered by Bruce Clothier 

Catagories: Horror

Just a taste of the flow of narration in the book and very likely my favorite sentence in the entire novel. Michael is fleeing the city, finds a truck and is able to get the keys (I won’t tell you how): “He felt the vehicle begin to rise up on one of them and then suddenly dropped as the zombie’s skull collapsed under the weight of the truck, bursting in a bright red spray against the pavement.” (Location 382 – Kindle Edition).


2) A Stairway to Danger” by Ben Woodward

Catagories: Mystery, Young Adult, Historical

A Stairway to Danger is an adventure story in the spirit of classic adventure stories. Within the story line, Tom is a reader of such classics as Tom Sawyer and his reading material inspires certain elements within the story line. It’s clear that the author was greatly inspired by these past masters but brings his own uniquely updated spin to play.


3) Alien Invasion of the Zombie Apocalypse by Ford Forkum

Catagories: Science Fiction, Humor

Aliens, who are bored, decide to attack a planet and enslave a few hundred people just for kicks, choose earth. They arrive to find the planet in the midst of a Zombie Apocalypse and themselves no match for zombies. The lone survivor, Ursa Minor, teams up with students that he finds on the roof of a building and their vapid and affectionate vampire friends to find a way out of the ultimate invasion gone wrong.


4) American Goddesses by Gary Henry

Catagories: Science Fiction, Adventure

When Megan and Trish, average women, are taught to release the superwoman within, they find coping with the new abilities difficult. It seems with power comes violence.


5) An Airship Named Desire by Katherine McIntyre

Catagories: Science Fiction, Steampunk

There were times when I wanted more information about characters but recognized that if they were to open themselves up and spill out their souls, they woudn’t be as interesting through the rest of the story. We get enough information about everyone to titillate and involve us but we know there’s more to the story.


6) ANTics by Dakota Douglas

Catagories: Early Reader, Fantasy

The way that the author writes is fun and the action was very fun. The Ants have adventures together that are risky. Sometimes life gets busy so Mom and me couldn’t read it in one sitting but I didn’t want to stop reading!


7) Blackjack: A Cross Novel by Andrew Vachss

Catagories: Fantasy, Paranormal, Mystery

Vachss is a master storyteller. He bounces a bit from character to character and scene to scene but every aspect plays together beautifully. He has a firm grasp of a very real dialect from varied classes of people. There are few flaws in his character conversations.  In the course of this story, Cross goes from interacting with Unit 3 and high level criminals to posing as a white supremacist as a plant in jail run by the inmates.


8) Chemical Attraction by Christina Thompson

Catagories: Mystery, Science

Thompson writes characters that a reader wants to know. The good guys are affable and fun. We get them on down time singing karaoke, eating and having beer and eating again. Instead of wishing that Thompson would rush the action, those moments are fun with friends.


9) Cowboys, Armageddon and the Truth: How a Gay Child was Saved from Religion by Scott Terry

Catagories: Non-fiction, LGBT

I would think that readers would identify with Terry’s struggles with sexuality and coming to accept himself as an adult. He prays daily for Jehovah to remove the “wicked” feelings, he has girlfriends and misleads teammates and ultimately he comes to the realization that happiness is being himself and there are people in his life who accept him and those who don’t matter. Terry chronicles his journey to finding acceptance and discovering that there are others out there who are like him with beautiful simplicity.


10) Creator Class by KM Breakey

Catagories: Science Fiction, Futuristic

This novel is well written and thought provoking. Canadian author, Douglas Coupland, is brought up a few times in the narrative. Having read some of Coupland’s work, most noteably, JPod: A Novel, I see certain similarities in thought between the authors. This isn’t to say that Breakey is in any way a copy of Coupland. Breakey is new, fresh and should probably be considered a modern day classic much like Orwell’s 1984 (also mentioned more than once in the novel).


11) Death Train: Ticket to Ride by Randall Ray Peterson

Catagories: Horror, Paranormal

The story line was phenomenal. As you can see from the description, it’s a rare and extremely interesting plot. To add to the mix, there’s a subplot involving the funeral director not being all he seems to be and the cultivation of a human head! Where will Peterson go with that! The quality of writing in this work only serves to enhance a spectacular reading experience.


12) Disturbing Clockwork by D.L. Morrese

Catagories: Fantasy, Fiction

I am a big fan of Douglas Adams and Jasper Fforde who play off of the real world enhancing with words that exist beside ours that most people don’t care to discover (in the novels). Morrese writes with the same spirit as these authors. The slightly absurd that so enchants this reader. If you like sci-fi, you like D.L. Morrese.


13) Gabe’s Plan by Andrew Stock

Catagories: Fiction

Narcissism comes in many forms and Stock leaves no character stone unturned. Chad is a douchebag but he’s a fully developed douchebag. Fred is slow-witted and fully committed to his lack of insight. Kalia is a stoner with a Hamlet Syndrome (self-sabotage to keep from succeeding). Loving Gabe and coming back to her hometown after college is easier than making a life of her own. All are so much fun to read.


14) Have No Shame by Melissa Foster

Catagories: Southern Fiction, Historical

Foster is an incredibly descriptive writer. The man that Allison finds on her walk has been dead and in the water for a number of days. In the scene, it is clear that Foster has done her homework on what would happen to a dead body when in the water.

His tongue had bloated and completely filled the opening like a flesh sock had been stuffed in the hole….


15) Last Chance to See by Douglas Adams

Catagories: Non-fiction, Preservation

Described by Douglas Adams as his favorite book, the non-fiction tome is infused with the signature humor that made “Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy” such a success.


16) Monster: Nightriders Vengeance by JD Nixx

Catagories: Science Fiction, Futuristic

This is my kind of “Twilight”. Zombies, Werewolves and Vampires fighting it out with each other and the humans to stay alive.


17) Murder and Other Distractions by Michael Estrin

Catagories: Fiction, Mystery

The writing style smacked of Tim Dorsey. Light and airy while hitting the essential high points to take a pause and say, “Hey, someone was killed, back on track.” I laughed out loud several times during this read from Ethan, who is the worst pot buyer in the world visiting the worst pot dealer in the world to the sarcastically cynical observations of life in Los Angeles, Murder and Other Distractions was a truly entertaining read.


18) Other Systems by Elizabeth Guizzetti

Catagories: Science Fiction, Futuristic

The new world is complex and fascinating. The Alekos family was likable which is why this reader wanted more of them. More of their history and while the author explains the sterilization of their species, more on their motivations and movement within the story line.


19) Pale Horse by Brett Battles

Catagories: Thriller, Epidemic

Battles’s plotlines could happen. The government could release a deadly virus on its people handpicking those who will live by giving them a vaccination. There are clearly people who will live in this novel who were not meant to do so. This is straight-up thriller. It may sound like there’s a science fiction aspect but there’s not.


20) Particle Horizon by Selso Xisto

Catagories: Science Fiction, Futuristic

Xisto’s writing in incredibly detailed. The author has a talent for description so that no matter how far into the future this sort of reality might be or how far from normal reading, we can picture the setting exactly. The wonder of this is that the story doesn’t suffer. He comes in, as we’re told in writing class to do, assuming that the reader knows nothing and educates us in a way that’s not patronizing.


21) Qatari Voices edited by Carol Henderson and Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar

Catagories: Non-fiction, Essays

All of the essays are written with varied skill, as one would expect from students, but all are written with heart.  The introduction shares the idea of “free writing” with us as allowing the writer’s thoughts to “spill across the page” (location 96). It is exactly with this easy and conversational style that most of the essays are presented.


22) Rip Tide Ultra Glide by Tim Dorsey

Catagories: Humor, Thriller

The Serge Storms series is one that, for the reader to enjoy, suspension of disbelief must be firmly embraced. Serge is firmly an anti-hero. He’s a serial killer who believes that he is exacting balance and fairness on society. He’s also not a careful killer.


23) Save Me, Rip Orion by Matt Bower

Catagories: Literature, Southern Fiction

Save Me, Rip Orion is stylistically a cross between the southern fiction of Fannie Flag and the ultimate creepy guy that is Napoleon Dynamite. Deeply emotional, infused with humor and extreme plot twists and turns, Bower presents us with a very human story. Bower’s characters aren’t heroes and they’re not anti-heroes, they’re real people trying to do the right things but not always sure what the best right thing might be.


24) Sedition: A Political Thriller by Tom Abrahams

Catagories: Politics, Thriller

Sedition. A Political Thriller is a smart and entertaining political thriller. There are a lot of story lines but few wasted moves in this 414-page story. Abrahams covers characters from a professor with an eye for the students to a satirical artist to a White House power struggle all with character that are well rounded and easily believed and who are all brought together in a very plausible story line.


25) Strikestone by Stella Atrium

Catagories: Science Fiction, Female Leads

Dolvia is a fully realized alternate world. The work and care that must have gone into developing such a fully realized landscape and culture is astounding. The reader gets a clear view of the landscape and the roles of the populace within that world. Class structure is a driving force recalling a time long since passed in our part of the world. The foreign feel of the narrative and setting brings the reader to a new level and recalls the works of such greats as Frank Herbert. A surreal sci-fi epic. A world which is in many ways ruled by prophesies.


26) Suicide City: A Love Story by Julie Frayn

Catagories: Young Adult, Female Leads

Frayn’s writing style is brilliant and her plotting is flawless. August’s journey is a poignant one. I cannot imagine giving this novel to a teen any younger than 16 but I might give it to all that I know who are older. Suicide City, a Love Story is a cautionary tale for a modern age.


27) Taken by Robert Crais

Catagories: Mystery, Thriller

We’re accustomed to having Crais present us with Elvis or Joe novels but this is the ultimate in Crais pleasures – both. Not only do we get the ultimate Elvis and Joe novel but Crais plays with the timeline in the story in a way that, oddly, doesn’t detract from the narrative. We see Joe at his eerie best as he fights the clock to save his friend and we once again have a sense of the stronger than brothers type bond the two share.


28) The Barber’s Conundrum and Other Stories: Observations on Life From the Cheap Seats by John Hartnett

Catagories: Short Stories, Humor

The Barber’s Conundrum and Other Stories: Observations on Life From the Cheap Seats is quite frankly a well-written, hilarious look at a side of life we all see every day but don’t take the time to appreciate. Hartnett’s writing style is part Groucho Marx, part Dave Barry and always entertaining.


29) The Dirty Parts of the Bible by Sam Torode

Catagories: Historical, Southern Fiction

In the author’s notes we learn that his story was based on the ancient Jewish tale of Tobias and Sarah from the Book of Tobit. I’ve never read the story but find the southern fiction updated setting to be perfectly reminiscent of novels like Crazy in Alabama by Mark Childress. Tobias is coming of age and into a world he had only dreamed existed.


30) The Griffin Cryer by Julia Hughes

Catagories: Young Adult, Female Leads

Frankie is strong and tough and really a great character to read. I’ve said before in reviews that a pet peeve is young adult authors who talk down to children and Hughes does not do so. Hughes does not sacrifice plot and gives us a very balanced read that keeps the reader on the edge of their seat. Frankie goes from a child to a woman within the story-line (in an emotional way) and younger readers will compare her feelings about the world  in an abstract way to their own lives.


31) The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde

Catagories: Fantasy, Young Adult

The plot line is pure Fforde. Jennifer is smart and snappy and is able to maintain her backbone even in the worst situations. She isn’t a true teenager in our world but she is very believable in Fforde’s “Ununited Kingdom.”


32) The Mayonnaise Murders by Keith A. Owen

Catagories: Science Fiction, Futuristic

Due to the snappy patter in which Owen writes, The Mayonnaise Murders is a very fast moving tale infused with wonderful pop culture references. Cops are keystones, the Beatles are remembered and appreciated, the Weekly World News is alive and well. Vid and Vee have a kind of Maddie and David thing going on (“Moonlighting”).  All of the elements brought together makes for a very interesting and fun read that doesn’t take itself too seriously.


33) The Mortal Religion by Marc Horn

Catagories: Psychological Thriller

When Chalk kidnaps Elizabeth he’s not looking for revenge but to change her outlook. He sees society as narcissist and self-absorbed and he’s looking to mold a human being who will see beyond his looks and recognize him as a superior mind who has been held back by inferior people. The things he does caused my skin to crawl but Chalk was a truly fascinating character.


34) The Other Guy by Cary Attwell

Catagories: Romance, LGBT

From the moment we met Emory James, he was awesome. Self-effacing, funny, insightful… though maybe not about himself. We meet Emory at one of the lowest moments of his life – seconds after his fiancée and the Good Looking Bastard flee the church. I challenge any reader to say that they didn’t want to reach into the pages and hug him. Emory, from the very start, is simply a beautifully written character and so human.


35) The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap by Paulette Mahurin

Catagories: Historical, LGBT

Set in 1895, the novel has a real feel of history though the themes carry over into today. Mildred and Edra are good people who are happy and confident in who they are together and fear not what others think of them but what they might do because of those thoughts.


36) The Warden Threat by D.L. Morrese

Catagories: Fantasy, Humor

Donald was a great spoof character. He was written with an idealized sense of romance and adventure and a conviction that he was simply invincible. I dare anyone who reads this guy not to like him. He was optimistic to a fault and convinced of his ability to change the world. While his backstory was good, it’s easy to see the character as any male lead in epic fantasy. Heroic and bold and slaying the dragon – all things Donald would have liked to have done but never has.


37) The Woman who Died a Lot by Jasper Fforde

Catagories: Fantasy, Alternate Universe

I really love Jasper Fforde’s writing style. His novels are witty and very knowledgeable in a literary sense. The creativity required for a “book world detective” who can cross to the literary world and go from novel to novel to non-fiction work solving crime is just mind-bogglingly awesome.


38) ‘Truders by Chandler McGrew

Catagories: Thriller

There are some authors who can convey a history in a few words. Chandler McGrew is one of those authors. From the moment Shep Ward goes out into the world and muses at the “wild humans,” the reader gets a view of the world that Morgan Rastley has been running and from which Shep comes. That term repeats and resonates throughout the text. The humans in the wild are vermin. The humans Morgan has raised are the future of the planet.


39) Tutti Frutti by Mike Fairicy

Catagories: Mystery, Humor

The end result is that the reader feels they’ve read something fun and worthwhile. Faricy himself sees it a novel of “no great social value”. I disagree. I read it beginning to end and loved every moment.  If you like Virgil Flowers, you will love Dev Haskall.


40) Wreck of the Nebula Dream by Veronica Scott

Catagories: Science Fiction, Futuristic, Disaster

Starship Titanic’s novelization was written by Terry Jones based on the adventure game by Douglas Adams. While both wonderfully written, Wreck of the Nebula Dream could not be further from “Starship Titanic” if the authors had plotted together to be as different as they could. Had I not gone into this novel knowing the Titanic parallel, I might not have recognized it. The lack of life boats may have called the tragedy to mind but really whether inspired by the disaster of a century ago or not, Scott presents us with a story that feels independent and new.


41) Zombies of Byzantium by Sean Munger

Catagories: Historical, Paranormal

The setting of the story is the ancient world but Munger gives us a very relatable feel to today within the dialogue. He uses actual historical facts with the idea that the winners write history and the winners aren’t telling us the full story. There are no special effect moments. What these characters accomplish is what characters of the time would do.


42) 1) Zuri: A Baby Rhino and the People Who Love Her by Ruth Harris

Catagories: Fiction, Nature

ZURI: A baby rhino and the people who love her is a story that encompasses a rainbow of emotions. Reading the murder of Zuri’s mother was a hugely emotional experience. I felt like the child watching “Bambi” for the first time.




Julia Hughes

Recognise some of these titles – “Death Train” is a wild ride. Peterson’s imagination is without boundary. Will certainly be checking others out, starting with Mr. Fforde.

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