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by Malena Lott


Fall is ripe with big, lush books from publishers. While others might be reading J.K. Rowlings’ 500 page adult tome, I’ll leave the thick book to other reviewers while I give lesser-known authors (and shorter reads) a plug this month.

In the women’s fiction camp, Sarah Jio gives us a double dip of history and contemporary mystery in her twice-a-year stories that each feature a story from the past and present and how the two intertwine. Her latest is Blackberry Winter, set in Seattle in 1933 and present day about a missing child (then) and a reporter’s story (now) about a “blackberry winter” spring snowstorm researching the disappearance of the young boy back in ’33. As usually happens with alternating storylines and points of view, I favored one over the other and it being the third Jio book I’ve read, I typically enjoy the historical tale the most, but the story as a whole is carried off by the shifts in time. Mostly, I treasure her writing. She’s a great end-of-day read for me. Pretty prose, but not so slow that I’m at risk of falling asleep before I reach the end of the chapter.

New to me is the genre of “literary thriller.” I’ll admit in the past when I tried to read thriller or even straight mysteries, I never felt I got to know the character well enough or there wasn’t enough inner journey to keep me engaged in the story. The literary thriller provides the solution – great writing, in-depth character development and a steady plot. I recommend giving Australian author Michael Robotham a read. I have two of his thrillers on my nightstand now: Say You’re Sorry in hardback about two missing teen girls, three years later, and Bleed for Me in paperback. He had me hooked from the first page and his prose is as lyrical as his dialogue is snappy. Turning the page is a breeze with Robotham at the wheel.

Reading Roundup

I like to keep a literary carousel spinning so I can pluck whichever book fits my mood. That means keeping several non-fiction books on hand, too. For the chicklets out there, I recommend Blacklisted from the PTA by Lela Davidson and my own author, Heather Davis, in her essay collection, “TMI Mom Bites the Big Apple” about her first trip to NYC. They are both funny mamas and essays are the perfect length for bite-sized moments of zen. Another non-fiction book I found amusing and informational was Buy Shoes on Wednesday and Tweet at 4:00 by Mark Di Vincenzo on the timing of shopping, selling, and yes, tweeting.

If you read YA (young adult), you know paranormal reads continue to be hot, hot, hot. But you won’t find any werewolves or vampires in Buzz Books’ short story collection Something Wicked: Short Stories featuring creepy tales by six authors, including three from Oklahoma (Heather Dearly, Mari Hestekin and myself writing as Lena Brown.) If historical literary fiction gets a spot on your carousel, check out Painter of Silence by Georgina Harding about wartime Romania in the 1950s, which was shortlisted for the 2011 Orange Prize for fiction. Coming November 1st, Buzz features its debut Swarm author, Lucie Smoker, in her Houston crime novel, Distortion, and my fourth book baby will be born: Something New, about secrets and second chances set in Oklahoma City.

Malena Lott is an author and the executive editor at Buzz Books USA. Her next novel, Something New, will be published in November. Connect with her at and and on Facebook and Twitter @malenalott.

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