Read Me A River

by Brett Battles

I just finished the draft of my latest WIP, and am feeling a little tired. Make that a LOT tired. Since November 18th, I’ve actually written two books (one all the way through several rewrites, the current one with no rewrites at all yet), and did a thorough rewrite pass on a YA novel I wrote last summer. Yeah, I write fast. The thing is, we all write a different speeds, and have different amounts of time we can dedicate to the process. So it’s not a “wow,” or a “how do you do that.” It’s just an “is.” That’s all. To achieve this though, I keep this insane schedule (not my words, I’ve been told by many people.) The result is that I basically wipe myself out, day after day. Not great for the old social life, but works well on the writing front.

Anyway, this is a long way around for me to say I’m going to go with an easy one today. Something fun.

It thought we could talk about recent reads. I’ve read a string of winners since the holidays, which is not always the case. I’m on number six in a row, and have at least three more lined up that I have high hopes for! This makes me very, very happy.


Several years ago, I read the book BATTLE ROYALE by Koushun Takami (translated by Yuji Oniki) about a group of school age kids that get picked against their will by a fictional oppressive government in the future to partake in a game of sorts where they have to kill or be killed and the winner is the last one standing. I absolutely loved it. Have read it twice. Well, over the holidays, I finally read THE HUNGER GAMES, about a group of school aged kids that get picked against their will by a fictional oppressive government in the future to partake in a game of sorts where they have to kill or be killed and the winner is the last one standing. Yep. There’s no denying that the plots are…eh…similar, down to the fact that two of the last players standing are in love (or appear to be in one of the two books.) But even so I loved this book, too! And the plot similarity didn’t bother me. I think both books rock. (One of the big differences is that in THE HUNGER GAMES most of the deaths occur off screen. Not the case in BATTLE ROYALE.) Anyway, I loved Collins so much, I rushed out and bought both of the sequels (CATCHING FIRE and MOCKINGJAY) and devoured them, too. The first was the best of the series, but the others were good, too. Big recommend from me. (If I find out BATTLE ROYALE has a translated sequel – and yes, I know there was a sequel movie, I’m talking book – I’d read it in a heartbeat.)

Next: THE REVERSAL by Michael Connelly

How can you not enjoy anything Connelly writes? I loved the combo of Haller and Bosch in this one. Well worth the read.  

And then: THE SENTRY by Robert Crais.

Yep, I went from one L.A. based series to another. That was actually kind of fun. In fact there were scenes in both books set in areas that I frequent a lot. I always love that. As far as THE SENTRY goes, I just have to say I would never want to have Joe Pike on my ass. You might as well purchase your grave marker right away. Not surprisingly, this was another page turner.

And, finally: THE WANDERING GHOST by Martin Limon

This might be my favorite of the bunch. It’s from Limon’s Sueño & Bascom mystery series about two Criminal Investigation Sergeants in 1970s era Korea. They try to do the right thing, but are also great at getting themselves into trouble. WANDERING GHOST is no exception. I love this series, and Limon is such a good writer that I can’t wait to pick up another one of his. Couldn’t recommend this series more.

There’s six recommendations (seven if you count BATTLE ROYALE) from me to you. So whatca’ got for me? 

16 thoughts on “Read Me A River

  1. Alafair Burke

    I'm dizzy trying to process how much you've written in three months. I'm mostke reading galleys right now but really enjoyed Chevy Stevens' Still Missing.

  2. Jen Forbus

    Have you read CROOKED LETTER, CROOKED LETTER, Brett? How about Steve Hamilton's THE LOCK ARTIST?

    For more recent releases, how about Michael Koryta's THE CYPRESS HOUSE? And to tickle your funny bone you could try THE WORLD'S GREATEST SLEUTH (Steve Hockensmith) or EYES OF THE INNOCENT (Brad Parks).

    No matter what, make sure you catch Don Winslow's upcoming SARTORI. If I used profanity, I'd say it's A – Fucking – Mazing!

    I'm now looking forward to Craig McDonald's ONE TRUE SENTENCE, Sarah Henry's LEARNING TO SWIM, and *squeal* Marcus Sakey's THE TWO DEATHS OF DANIEL HAYES.

    O.k., I'll shut up now. 🙂

  3. Matt

    I'll check some of these out, Brett. Eclectic mix. Thanks.

    If you want to switch up a little with historical crime fiction then Elizabeth Redfern's THE MUSIC OF THE SPHERES and David Liss' THE CONSPIRACY OF PAPER & THE COFFEE TRADER are superb.

    Rob's latest book a real page turner into the bargain, if you haven't got around to it yet.

  4. Lauren

    Congrats on the multiple completions, can't wait to get my hands on 'em! Especially the YA. I, too, have read the Hunger Games trilogy and enjoyed them, so have sought out a bit more on the YA front. Just read a fabulous book, "Please Ignore Vera Dietz" by A.S. King. Highly recommend it.

    I've also been really lucky with reads so far this year. With some I was a bit behind the times, so you might have already taken part, but can highly recommend:

    Snow Angels by James Thompson

    Late Rain by Lynn Kostoff

    Full Dark, No Stars by Steven King

    I also second Jen's recommendations, even Sartori and I haven't read it. But it's WINSLOW and it's the prequel to Shibumi, what could there be not to love?

    Thanks for the great post and again congrats on the finished MSS!

  5. JJ

    Try ACROSS THE UNIVERSE by Beth Revis. It's just out and billed as a YA but sooo for adults, too. Dare you not to get claustrophobic in a couple of spots!

  6. Eika

    I loved The Hunger Games and sequels (though the first was by far the best!) On the YA novel front: The Other Side of the Island by Allegra Goodman. Possibly the first book since I was in elementary school where I darn near wet myself because I couldn't put it down long enough to walk down the hall to a bathroom. It doesn't feature so much death, but I was in it from line one, which is, roughly, 'This all takes place long ago, before the streets were air conditioned.'

  7. Ray Rhamey

    "Devoured" is exactly what I did with the Hunger Games trilogy. Read the last two on a Saturday and didn't do anything else. What fun. Agree that the first was the best, but it was all well worth the ticket.

  8. Alexandra Sokoloff

    Second and third and fourth all the praise for THE HUNGER GAMES.

    Sarah Waters' THE LITTLE STRANGER is a great gothic ghost story, and I am trying to decide which of the Reacher books I loved the most from my catchup binge – I think ECHO BURNING, and then TRIPWIRE.

    And I loved RJ Ellory's A QUIET BELIEF IN ANGELS. Very poetic noir.

  9. Zoë Sharp

    Hi Brett

    I've been having a catch-up binge on Robert B Parker, filling in the gaps in my collection of Spenser PI novels. Every one has little gems of description. Will definitely be searching out SARTORI as I've just found out I'm on a panel at CrimeFest with Don Winslow and he's one of my favourite writers – nobody nails present tense quite like him.

    Apart from that, I'm reading books by my panellists at the Tucson Festival of Books next month – Cara Black's MURDER IN PASSY, Rebecca Cantrell's A GAME OF LIES, and Dianne Emley's LOVE KILLS.

  10. Fran

    The Lori Armstrong "Mercy" books (NO MERCY and MERCY KILL) are wonderful and amazing. I gather her erotica is pretty good too, but I haven't read any of that!

    I understand that JB, Janine and Adele are all swearing by Urban Waite's debut, THE TERROR OF LIVING.

    And for YA reading, my colleague Amber insisted I read THE AMANDA PROJECT by Amanda Valentino and Melissa Kantor. It's a multi-platform series, and I really, really can't wait for the second book.

  11. MaryQuiteContrary

    A QUIET BELIEF IN ANGELS and THE ANNIVERSARY MAN (Roger Ellory) are two of my top reads from last year, along with THE LOCK ARTIST (Steve Hamilton). Ellory is absolutely lyrical.

    I just ripped through the entire JT Ellison series and eagerly anticipate the next installment due March 1st…loved it. March 1st is also the release of the next Chelsea Cain sick-chick installment of the Gretchen series. Definitely requesting vaca on March 1st.

    Also enjoyed THE REVERSAL and THE SENTRY, although Pike would be far less lethal if he got laid from time to time.

    Couldn't put down FULL DARK, NO STARS by the king of creep, Stephen King. I didn't think I could possibly be more terrified of rats…silly girl.

    Thanks for sharing your list Brett…congrats on your hard work and achievements!


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