Thursday, September 16, 2010

BBAW - Forgotten Treasures

I was so excited to see this topic for Book Blogger Appreciation Week. One of the "unexpected treasures" I discovered when I started blogging was finding books that weren't on bestseller lists but were amazing stories. And then when I started telling other people about them and they loved them, there was this warm feeling inside me. I found this magical reward of connecting people with great books. And that's really become the mission of this blog - connecting people with great books.

Thursday is normally the day I write about audiobooks, so what I decided to do was to highlight a few books that are phenomenal stories and equally amazing audiobooks. Whether you are a print reader, an audiophile, or both, these are some unsung books that I highly recommend:

Craig Johnson is becoming more and more familiar to readers, which makes me very happy, but it still surprises me how many people haven't heard of him or read his work. He has a series of books featuring Wyoming sheriff, Walt Longmire, that begins with THE COLD DISH. Johnson has created a fictional town full of the most amazingly real characters. His development of the setting is along the lines of James Lee Burke. His plots focus on social issues and are richly complex. Emotions run the gambit in this series. You'll cry from laughing so hard, and you'll cry from heart ache. This isn't a series that allows the reader to be passive. All of the books in this series are narrated by George Guidall and while I have other audiobook narrators that I enjoy and consider among my favorites, no one brings a book to life the way Guidall has brought the Walt Longmire series to life. Guidall picks up on all of the subtle nuances, the sarcasm, he even sings when Johnson writes it into the book. This is a stellar series that has garnered fans well beyond the boundaries of the crime fiction genre and I don't hesitate to give it my highest recommendation.

Louise Penny has a series set in the fictional Canadian town of Three Pines. Her protagonist is Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, but the diverse citizens of Three Pines are as vital to the series as Gamache. The series begins with STILL LIFE. While I have adored each book in this series, it is also a series that has gotten better with each subsequent installment. Penny also has a gift with weaving humor into her works, but they would never be classified as comedies. Instead they are studies in humanity. This series is beautifully narrated on audio by Ralph Cosham. Not only does he handle the French in the novel expertly, he brings out the relationships between characters. The importance of those relationships is essential to this series. This is another series that is gaining fans and attention. It's through efforts like this that the word is spread and the greatness becomes more apparent. I highly recommend this series as well in both print and on audio.

And finally, I'll share with you two books written by different authors, but recorded by the same narrator. Brad Parks' FACES OF THE GONE and Steve Hamilton's THE LOCK ARTIST are both available on audio, narrated by MacLeod Andrews. FACES OF THE GONE is Brad Parks' debut novel featuring investigative reporter Carter Ross. This is the first of a series. Steve Hamilton's THE LOCK ARTIST is a stand alone featuring a teenage thief. Make no mistake, however, THE LOCK ARTIST is not a YA novel. It's a dark, gritty, moving crime novel.

I could go on for days about books I think are hidden gems in the crime fiction genre, so if you're ever looking for some such book, please feel to drop me an email. I'll be happy to recommend. And of course I'm always excited to hear about hidden gems myself. Discovering them for the first time is exciting. And if you're looking for more gems you can also head over to the main Book Blogger Appreciation site today and see what books the other bloggers are sharing today.

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gautami tripathy September 16, 2010 at 8:25 AM  

I like Louise Penny novels. I have read two including The Brutal Telling. The other two authors, I gotta check out.

Here is my BBAW: Forgotten Treasures post!

Rebecca September 16, 2010 at 8:32 AM  

I think I need to add all three to my TBR list. They sound so good!

Beth F September 16, 2010 at 8:33 AM  

I have Cold Dish and the first Penny novel in audio -- I've had them each for at least 3 years. Have I listened? Noooooooo. Argh. Must make time, must make time.

Thoughts of Joy September 16, 2010 at 9:08 AM  

Yay! I don't recall Faces of the Gone. It's now on my TBR list. Thank you. :)

le0pard13 September 16, 2010 at 9:29 AM  

Let me second how good George is with the Walt Longmire series and MacLeod Andrews is in THE LOCK ARTIST. Great post, as always, Jen. Thanks.

Jenn's Bookshelves September 16, 2010 at 9:35 AM  

I'm listening to THE COLD DISH now and you are right, Guidall brings the characters to life!

I own STILL LIFE...really need to listen to it!

bermudaonion September 16, 2010 at 11:09 AM  

I'm writing all of these down, because you're the ultimate authority when it comes to crime fiction, in my opinion!

carolsnotebook September 16, 2010 at 12:00 PM  

I love Penny's Three Pines series. I haven't read any of the others you mentioned, but Craig Johnson's series sounds like one I would enjoy.

Jen Forbus September 16, 2010 at 12:07 PM  

Kathy, you're so sweet. You left a huge smile on my face. Thanks!

Jenn, you definitely need to check out THE LOCK ARTIST. I know you would love that one!

Carol, I'm quite confident that if you enjoy Louise Penny, you'll enjoy Craig Johnson.

Thanks le0! You know I think you're wonderful. Hope the new house is going well!

Hey Joy! If you read FOTG, I want to hear what you think!

S. Krishna September 16, 2010 at 6:51 PM  

Am adding all of these to my TBR list. In fact, they get their own post-it note. :-)

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