My 10 Favorite Books and more . . .
bu Ann Swann
I chose this category because books have always been the one constant in my life. When I was a baby, my father was sent to prison for robbing banks. He earned 12¢ an hour making license plates in the plate shop at Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary. Nevertheless, he also managed to send me (and my sister) a new book every year on our birthdays and at Christmas. His sister, my beautiful Aunt Alma, usually played Santa and mailed them to us. I recently found out that he actually ordered our books from prison via paper catalogs like the kind Scholastic sends to elementary schools.
That brings me to the first book on my list. It was the first one he ever sent me:
1. 50 Famous Fairytales – it was a huge, beautifully illustrated edition that was almost bigger than me. Of course I still cherish it. Especially since my father committed suicide shortly after he got out on parole. I was eight years old by then. I think my favorite fairytale from that first book was “Snow White and Rose Red.” If memory serves, the story was about a bear that was really a prince and the sisters (Snow White and Rose Red a/k/a my sister and me) saved the prince by being kind to him when he was in his bear form.
2. Another of my favorite books is The Black Stallion. I fell in love with The Black and with the character of Alec, the eleven-year-old boy. When he raced The Black Stallion in that match race, I was right there with him, mud coating my goggles.
3. Black Beauty was another of my childhood favorites, and not just because of the similarity of the titles. Black Beauty was lovely and heartbreaking at the same time. Watership Down fits into that category, too. The Plague Dogs is another book in that vein—I couldn’t finish that one, though. It was too disturbing.
4. While we’re on animal books, let me say that Silver Chief, Dog of the North, was one of my all time favorite reads. I must have worn out at least two copies. Needless to say, I loved almost all dog stories. When I got a little older, I discovered James Herriot’s true tales from his country veterinary practice. What an amazing man. So many tales. I still take those books down and read them sometimes. All Creatures Great and Small, wonderful read.
5. Red Sky at Morning. For me, it was an eye-opening coming-of-age story. I read this book over and over again. It was all about the blurred lines between childhood and adulthood in an era of war.
6. The Stand was another book I read over and over again. The characters amazed me. They still do. I fell in love with Nick, the martyr, Stu, the savior, and even Larry, the selfish lout who had to make such a huge change in his basic nature in order to survive. I will say, though, that I’ve read nearly all of Stephen King’s work and I’ve loved many of them. The Shining is another book that I read more than once. So is The Dead Zone. The dilemma Johnny Smith found himself in when he came out of that coma was the classic what-would-you-do cautionary tale. I love that book (and not just because my uncle’s name was Johnny Smith.) By the way, if you aren’t a King fan it may be because you haven’t read any of his short fiction like The Woman in the Room, or The Last Rung on the Ladder. Not supernatural, just moving. He is an amazing writer. But having said that, I can also say I’m not as big a fan of his later works. I don’t know if it’s because I’ve grown up, or because he gave up drugs. LOL.
7. Wow – obviously I could go on and on about books. If you’re still with me, here is another of my oft-read favorite works: Mary Stewart’s The Crystal Cave. It’s the first book in her Merlin trilogy and it was my first foray into fantasy fiction. I was hooked. Her imagery and characterization are unparalleled. Merlin came to life and so did King Arthur. If you haven’t read this one, you have missed something really special. Mary Stewart also writes romance novels. She is definitely worth looking up if you don’t know about her.
8. Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury, another classic and another favorite. The setting is one of the major characters. When I read about fire-balloons and The Lonely One, I was immediately entranced. Mr. Bradbury was so prolific; his short fiction is amazing, too. Read “The Veldt” and “The October Game” if you like a quick, haunting read.
9. I can’t leave off To Kill a Mockingbird – or The Last of the Mohicans – or The Grapes of Wrath. If you’ve read these books, you’ll probably know why I include them here. They were game changers for me. The strength of Scout, the loneliness of Chingachgook, and the desperation of the Joads were ingrained into my DNA after I read those books. I hope to write one half that important someday.
10. Before I let you go, let me go out on a limb and put my own books on my favorite-reads list. If I ever have to pick up a copy of Stevie-girl and the Phantom Pilot, (it’s the first book in my Phantoms series), I get hooked even though I wrote the thing. I think it has an awful lot of my childhood in it. I guess that’s why I get hooked rereading it. Of course, I get hooked reading all of my books, The Remains in the Pond races along like a slow-fired bullet, all you have to do is hang on for the ride. All for Love, Stutter Creek, Lilac Lane, and Copper Lake are all good, fast, reads, too. And if there is a theme among them, it may be this . . . women have to listen to their instincts. We have that inner voice for a reason—listen to it! Oh, and by the way, if you like horror (and obviously I do), you might like my only true horror novel, TAKERS: Apocalypse in Eden. It has two of my best characters, Jack and his deaf dog, Snake. It also has one of those characters who was forced to face and overcome his own shortcomings in order to survive and thrive. He’s a lawyer by the name of Thad and he was so much fun to write, I can’t wait to start on book two in that series (but first, I’ve got another romantic suspense in the works, along with book 4 in the Phantoms series. Time is short, write fast! Or so I tell myself each day).
ABOUT THE BOOK
The Remains in the Pond
by Ann Swann
GENRE: Romantic Suspense
Senior prom is the happiest night of Gabi’s life. Her crush has just revealed that he is every bit as infatuated with her as she is with him. When he has a car wreck and is transported to the hospital in a coma, Gabi feels as if she’s taken a knife to the heart. But his jealous cousin, Rose, sees her chance to give the knife an even harder twist. She convinces Gabi to meet her at a local parking spot outside town. It's a night that will change several lives forever. One of the girls will return, and one will become known as the remains in the pond.
I pushed my glasses up and took a deep breath. “We were in love. I know that’s what teenagers always think, but in our case, it was true.”
The unsmiling detective simply stared at me and pulled out his little notebook. His burnished head gleamed under the fluorescents.
Why wasn’t he writing in that notebook? He just held it, as if he found nothing I said worth noting.
The room grew cold and I began to shiver. Probably some sort of tactic; turning down the temperature to make me uncomfortable. Just like this little waiting game. Waiting me out to make me talk. I’d seen enough crime TV to recognize these schemes. I took a sip of the Diet Coke he’d brought—to make me feel grateful, I suppose—and immediately regretted it because it made me need to burp.
I let the little bubble of gas explode in my closed mouth and began to talk to cover the sound. “We fell in love at prom. We were both with other people. I went with Asa and he brought Rose.” I sat up straighter in the hard-backed chair and hoped I’d said enough to placate him.
The detective sat chill, one ankle propped on the opposite knee. I got the impression he wanted to be my best friend.
I don’t know why I started talking again. I think it had something to do with the way he looked at me, as if he already knew everything I wanted to tell him, because yes, suddenly I did want to tell him. I’d held onto the truth for too long.
I wanted to tell him everything about that night.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
delivered newspapers, cleaned other people's houses, taught school, and even had a short
stint as a secretary in a rock-n-roll radio station. She also worked as a 911 operator and a
Ann’s stories began to win awards in her college days. Since then she’s published novels,
novellas, and short stories. But even if no one ever bought another book, Ann wouldn’t stop
writing. For her it’s the cathartic pause in a sometimes-crazy world. Most of the time, it even
keeps her sane.
Ann Swann will be awarding a $10 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.
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