Photo: Wood Duck family on a Log copyright Gunsmith Photo. If you look closely at this image you’ll see the baby Wood ducks nestled under mama. Shots like these take patience to get, especially when the subject is looking right at the photographer.

The List: I read a lot last month, partly for a workshop I was doing, partly because we lost power for most of two days and there was little else I could do, partly because April weather essentially sucked, and mostly because I love to read and read something every day.

I read a wide variety of fiction and several non-fiction environmental studies during April. I had a few disappointments that surprised me. I won’t name the authors because I’m not into bashing a fellow writer. Suffice it to say they weren’t to my taste.

The first fiction book I was looking forward to reading and enjoyed immensely absolutely pissed me off at the end so badly that I cannot recommend it to you. I enjoy series–reading and writing them–but I have one hard and fast rule: never ever leave the reader hanging off a cliff by their fingernails. Especially if the next book isn’t due out for–unbelievably–a year. It’s okay to have a story arc that runs through the series, but I hate when a writer ends the book on a huge cliffhanger that has me turning the page and going, “Huh? WTF?”

The second was written by an old favorite author of mine and it left me feeling . . . dissatisfied. Good plot, she always does those well, but the characters were almost one-dimensional. I couldn’t really get invested in them. I finished the book and said, “meh.”

The third was by an author new to me although she’s a NYT bestseller. I plowed through her latest fat novel and wondered where the payoff was.

So. On to the works I enjoyed and can recommend.

Torch Song, by Kate Wilhelm, copyright 1995. The last of Ms. Wilhelm’s Constance Leidl and Charlie Mieklejohn mystery short works from A Flush of Shadows. This collection was my introduction to Ms. Wilhelm and these characters. I enjoyed all four stories in this collection.

The Long Tomorrow, copyright 1955 by Leigh Brackett, from American Science Fiction 1953-1956. Leigh pits anti-urban technophobes against the remnants of a civilization that destroyed itself through nuclear war. I’ve recently discovered Leigh and was thrilled to find another story by her.

Death in High Places, copyright 2011,  by Jo Bannister. Jo is another new author to me. I read a couple books in her Brodie Farrell series this month but this standalone is the book that really stood out for me. Intrigue, secrets, twists and turns.

Time of Death, copyright 2011, by J.D. Robb. This is a collection of three short novellas in Robb’s In Death series featuring Eve Dallas. This is one of my go-to series when I just want to get lost in a story with little to no effort. Airplane reading.

Late For the Wedding, copyright 2003, by Amanda Quick. Anyone who reads romance knows Jayne Ann Krentz. Ms. Krentz is so prolific she writes under three pen names. Amanda Quick is her regency/historical pen name and one of my go-tos when I need a relaxing, immerse-me-in-the-time-period read. Late For the Wedding is the third in a series featuring a pair of private inquirers who have fallen in love. More airplane reading. Entertaining.

An Easy Death, copyright 2018, by Charlaine Harris. Even though Ms. Harris has been writing mysteries for 30 years and has several television series made from them, I had never read one of her books until now. I don’t know why I picked this one up but wow am I glad I did. Ms. Harris sucked me right in and held me right through to the end. Her main character is wonderful, her alternate history (the US is fractured) is well-wrought, it had great depth, and her plot moves right along. A great, entertaining read.

Another short story from the The Space Opera Renaissance, 2006, edited by David G. Hartwell and Kathryn Cramer.  The Remoras, copyright 1994, by Robert Reed has stuck with me. I had a visceral reaction–as in it made my tummy tickle–to Reed’s world and the main remora character in this story. I think this is one I’ll never forget.

Aftermath, copyright 2001, by Peter Robinson

Close To Home, copyright  2004, by Peter Robinson

Aftermath was my introduction to Peter Robinson’s suspense series about DCI Alan Banks. Like Charlaine Harris, Peter has been around awhile but I’m just finding him. Aftermath was a little darker than I usually read but I like British police procedurals and these hit my PP cookies.