Last minute books for Christmas 2022

It is a very chilly Christmas Eve in Philadelphia as sit here at our dining room table. The boys are watching some weird thing on YouTube and Marisa is looking at her phone (with Declan on her lap). It seems like a great time to share some links to ebooks you can buy for that special someone who isn’t THAT special since you didn’t get them a present yet for Christmas (though you’re special, so feel free to buy yourself some of these books!).

This list is based on nothing other than what I’ve read and enjoyed this year. I’m leaving out, mostly, books in series that I’ve read since no one wants the 4th book in a series (they always seem to have those in used bookstores!).

Goering’s Gold by Richard O’Rawe – Right off the bat I’m breaking my “no later entries in a series” rule, but you really don’t need to read the first one to read this one. This is about an Irish thief who gets mixed up with some unsavory people (including Neo-Nazis) on a quest to find a hidden stash of Goering’s gold. It is a lot funnier than one would expect, and the first book in the series is good too (I think this one is a little more fun).

A Practical Guide to Conquering the World by K.J. Parker- OK, OK, this is technically the 3rd book in a series, but the series is rather loosely connected. Those who know me know I am a K.J. Parker fanboy so won’t be surprised to see this book on the list. K.J. Parker seems interested in the ways that logistics and bureaucracy can be used as weapons and I’m here for it. This one features a main character who I found particularly fun.

Eversion by Alastair Reynolds – This book was giving “Cloud Atlas” vibes until it completely shifts, and I loved it. There are some who will probably guess what’s going on sooner than I did, but this is masterful science fiction written by someone who never fails to disappoint me.

Termination Shock by Neal Stephenson – Speaking of masterful writers and disappointment, Neal Stephenson! He’s a writer whose work I great admire and enjoy, though it can be a bit uneven. I think that Termination Shock is as good as anything he’s written AND is even one of those rare Stephenson novels that tells an entire story. With an ending!

Act of Oblivion by Robert Harris – This book was a surprise to me, because I’m not even sure how I ended up reading it. Sometimes I read about a book and then pop it on my holds list. I get an email from the library when it is available and I think “I guess I’ll read this now!” And read it I did. Robert Harris can tell a story! This is the story set early in Restoration England and tracks the hunt for some of the people who were involved in Charles I’s execution. Fun stuff!

Very Short Reads

Know someone who likes to read but doesn’t really like to read? I read two very short books that would be good presents for those folks (and for the avid readers on your list too!).

Elder Race by Adrian Tchaikovsky – Do you like fantasy AND science fiction? This novella is two great tastes that taste great together. A very clever idea well executed.

Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan – This book was nominated for a raft of awards and I’ll tell you why: it is a heartbreaking story toldv with beautifully spare prose that with just a few pages transports you to a time and place. Excellent.

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