This post is part of our Guest Picks series, featuring members of our library community sharing their favorite books and movies.
“Literacy: Saving the world from the chumps and the goons since about 1440-ish.”
James Noll is a writer, a musician, a freelancer, and a teacher. He's published short stories and poetry in WHURK! and The Fredericksburg Literary Review, as well as three books on his own PULP! imprint, including A Knife in the Back, You Will Be Safe Here, and Burn All the Bodies. Each book contains collections of horror, post-apocalyptic, and science fiction short stories, followed by a novel in the Topher Trilogy: Raleigh's Prep, Tracker's Travail, and Topher's Ton.
He's currently working on a new science fiction/horror series (tentatively titled Bonesaw), the first book of which he hopes to publish in late summer/early fall 2017. His books are available on Amazon in paperback and digital format, and A Knife in the Back is available on Audible as an audiobook. All three are available to check out from the library.
From James Noll:
Are you a fan of horror or post-apocalyptic fiction? Join my email list, and receive a free short story, audiobook, and theme song for "Beta"—A monster terrorizes an isolated village in the mountains of Eastern Europe, draining the blood of its victims, leaving them frozen in the snow. The villagers hunt wolves, decapitate “vampires,” but the murders continue. As each new body is found, the residents grow more and more paranoid. Who will be next? Will it ever end? Sign up here, and find out!
Now, for the book recommendations:
I started this thinking that I’d provide a tight, controlled review of one of the books I've read recently, but then I realized that too many people are writing reviews today and a lot of them are lacking. The reviews, not the books. So I decided to write a list instead, but then I realized that there are a ton of lists online, too, so then I decided that if I was going to write a book review, I needed to have some parameters. Specifically, I decided to review or describe the book in a single sentence or less. This led to some pretty nifty syntax, if I do say so myself.
So here it is, a list, in no particular order, of seven (it's a magic number!) of my favorite books of the last couple of years, along with a one-sentence description.
Peter Leigh, an ex-junkie turned Christian missionary, is selected to minister to the native inhabitants of the far-off planet Oasis (who have faces that resemble “a placenta with two fetuses — maybe 3-month-old twins, hairless and blind — nestled head to head, knee to knee”), while back on Earth the climate change ravages the world, and everybody turns to violence and tribalism in order to survive. Also available on audio CD.
Like a more serious Phil from Groundhog Day, Harry August lives his life over and over again, retaining his memories and knowledge until he’s over a thousand years old, at which point another one of his kind tries to destroy humanity, but he’s really too tired to do anything about it—just kidding; he really tries to stop it.
Every morning before school, the soldiers come into Melanie's cell and strap her to her wheelchair, making sure to fix her head in place just in case she tries to bite someone; that would be bad.
One of my favorite parts is when the jin gets the socialite pregnant—not the act itself, or the pregnancy specifically, but the weird changes the poor woman undergoes. Also available as an eBook.
Theo Decker survives a terrorist attack on the Metropolitan Museum, steals the titular painting, is shipped out west to live with his ne’er-do-well father, does drugs with his bff, kidnaps his stepmother’s dog, escapes back to NYC, is taken in by his mentor/father figure (who teaches him how to be an antique furniture dealer), and finally ends up in Amsterdam where he gets into a firefight with a gang of art thieves. Also available on audio.
The young adults in this horrifying fantasy novel (for adults) all have special powers given to them by "Father"—not their real father but a mythical figure who has . . . adopted them: David kills everything; Margaret dies and resurrects herself; Michael talks to animals; and Carolyn learns every language ever written; when they are bad or disappoint Father, he puts them in a barbecue shaped like a bronze bull and cooks them until there's nothing left but charred bones, then brings them back to life.
One of the most dark and disturbing books I’ve ever read, Your House is on Fire, Your Children All Gone has been described as combination of The White Ribbon, The Village of the Damned, and every whacked-out episode of The Twilight Zone, the former of which involves horse mutilation, the blinding of an intellectually disabled boy, and nascent Nazism.