2016 has come and gone, and I didn’t read as many books as I’d hoped, but more than I thought. Of course, many of them were graphic novels and some were plays, so there’s that. One thing that did surprise me was the number of really good books I read. My list of books worth listing is a little shorter than usual, coming in at thirteen, but the number of those thirteen that I really liked a lot was much larger than usual. So all in all, a good year for books.
2016 was the year I completed my first ebook. It was also the year I read my first gay, erotic, historical, paranormal, fantasy romance. And surprise, it was the same book, this book, by K. H. Charles. I stumbled across this book in a very unusual way as well. While vacationing in St. Martin last January, I met a lovely British lad whose sister-in-law is the author in question. He was charming and delightful so I told him I would try one of his sister-in-law’s books. He recommended I start with this one, which I did. I was surprised to find it well-written, sexy, and a great deal of fun.
Some might say the plot is really irrelevant, but I find it adds a lot to my enjoyment. Simon Feximal is an imposing, well-respected, and some might say notorious occultist who is called upon to help out with hauntings, possessions, and other manner of dark dangers. A solitary man, he comes into contact with journalist Robert Caldwell during one particularly troubling haunting that forces the two men in quite a compromising position (or several). Fortunately, the mutual attraction was already there, and thus begins a long, shared life for the two men, through harrowing challenges and several near-deadly encounters with the paranormal, or with government officials using unsavory methods to coerce the two men to do their bidding. This is the first in a series of books, which were also quite entertaining, but this first made the biggest impression, hence it’s place on this list.
Imbolo Mbue’s debut novel is a highly readable modern tale of immigration and the challenges faced with tackling the American Dream… especially during a recession. Jende comes to America from Cameroon with big dreams, and through the help of an earlier transplant, his cousin Winston, gets a job as a chaffeur for a wealthy, Wall Street executive, Mr. Clark, driving him, his wife and two kids around and making a fairly good salary doing it. Certainly a salary that is astronomically more than he would make in Cameroon. His pregnant wife, Nemi, and their son arrive soon after, and she embarks on an educational mission to become a pharmacist. It’s all going wonderfully, with savings accumulating and bosses who appreciate them, but there’s one problem. they’re in the country illegally, and despite the fact that it takes months for any action to be taken, it is likely they will be deported sometime in the future.
Then fortunes turn as Wall Street implodes. Their lives, so optimistic and seemingly certain, take a precarious dive as their relationship with the Clarks and with each other, start to fray. Mbue captures the essence of the ups and downs of the immigrant experience beautifully, and while there is an element of char throughout, the challenges faced by those struggling to make it in America is not downplayed. This is a debut novel that demands attention, and resonates strongly with today’s America.