• Primal Force, D.D. Ayres
  • Steel Will, Shilo Harris with Robin Overby Cox
  • The House of Shattered Wings, Aliette de Bodard

I couldn’t have come up with three more sharply divided books if I’d stuck one hand into a bin and picked three blindly.

My friend D.D. Ayres has another winner with Primal Force. It’s a romance, but definitely on the adventure side. Jori Garrison, fresh out of jail for a crime she didn’t commit, has learned to train dogs for Warriors Wolf Pack. She loves her job, and she’s good at it. Veteran Lauray Batisse, suffering from PTSD and an amputee, has a grudge against the world since his K-9 partner was killed in Afghanistan. He resents his service dog, a blend of golden retriever and poodle. Samantha is hardly a “manly” dog. These two unlikely people come together to solve a mystery, and end up in danger and in love. This is Ayres’ third K-9 rescue novel, and she’s been signed for three more. Yay!

Staff Sergeant Shilo Harris is a real vet with real PTSD, and multiple physical problems, since his Humvee hit an IED in Iraq. Harris was severely burned on a lot of his body, and his face is largely reconstructed. He and his family live in Texas, and I had the privilege of meeting Harris at DFW Writers Conference. Steel Will is a grim but ultimately uplifting account of Harris’s struggle to come back from injuries that would have overwhelmed most men, and his struggle to rebuild a life. It’s a very common issue for war veterans, and many turn to herbal solutions like weed delivery in order to cope with the many difficult symptoms that come with it. Some handle it better than others, and Harris’ is one particularly stunning example. It’s a coincidence that I happened to read a fictional account of a traumatized vet right before I read a true account, but the books didn’t jar each other.

The House of Shattered Wings is a science fiction novel, but beyond that it’s pretty hard to describe. I’d never read Aliette de Bodard, who is French, but the description of a Paris locked in an alternative past intrigued me. In the Paris of the book, angels fall from the skies, and they are hunted by representatives of various magical houses for their many magical uses. Philippe, a gang member and a very mysterious guy, is caught by House Silverspires when he is cutting off the fingers of a Fallen. Silverspires forces Philippe to return to their decaying edifice by Notre Dame, which has fallen into ruin. Philippe’s attempts to get away, the machinations of the other magical houses, and the missing head of Silverspires are all parts of the plot that unfolds around the fallen angel Isabelle.


There was a terrifying countdown on the local news this morning. It told the viewer how many days remained until Halloween, how many until Thanksgiving, and how many until Christmas.

I don’t mind saying that I look forward to the “holiday season.” But that season seems to be stretching itself to encompass three whole months now.

I think my problem is that I fear we’ll forget to value the everyday, if we’re spending most of our time anticipating holidays. Each day can be a good day, and we don’t have to use it as a countdown to something better.

Charlaine Harris