Summer Book Recommendations from Northern Michigan, Mysteries & Historical Fantasies

We are nearly to August, so maybe you summer reading list is getting a little short.

That’s why we bring in the experts to help you find the perfect page turners for the beach, the hammock or the backyard.

Anthony Ascione, with Brilliant Books, knows a couple local picks, including a popular mystery series and a chuckle-inducing book set in medieval times that has a unique setting.

“Summer People”

Ray Elkins Mystery Series by Aaron Stander starts with it’s first book, “Summer People.”

Ascione says this series is a great read.

“These are murder mysteries that take place in Leelenau County,” Ascione says. “They all deal with local landmarks and local fun stuff, so in this one, one of the first things they talk about is what the victim was doing yesterday– “oh well he went and played golf at the resort” kind of stuff.  If you are a local, you will get the references. If you are non-local, it will be one of those things like, oh yeah, I went there.  There’s a whole series of these, six of them. They are incredibly popular.  People still come in and they are like can I get the latest and it’s like, well, the latest one hasn’t been published since 2016, but yeah, you can get the latest one. They are like, is he publishing anything soon?  I don’t see anything, but keep checking. So yeah, people love these books.  And again, I’ve been reading this one and it’s good. They are good books.”

“Brotherhood of the Mamluks: Chains of Nobility”    

Brad Graft’s medieval epic about the fierce Mongol-slave warriors, the Mamluks, has the right blend of humor and uniqueness for Ascione.

“This one we just got in, and it was really funny,” Ascione says. “Both me and one of the managers in the back both independently were like this book looks great.  And turns out it is by a local guy, his parents actually owns Pirates Cove, the putt-putt golf place, which was a place I went to when I was a kid. I have a lot of great memories there.  So when I found out it was his book, I was extra excited. It is another sweeping historical epic, but this one is about the Islamic military slave class. It follows this guy, he is a farmer picked up in a Mongol raid in his village and then sold to a middle eastern prince to be a soldier. And these were real people, the Mamluks, it means property in Arabic, so it is slave basically. And yeah, they were conscrips for any army that buy them and it turns out they made some of the most fearsome, loyal warriors that were ever seen in history.  It is sort of a slice of medieval, and when we think of medieval, we think of English kings and the crusades, so this is a narrative that we don’t really get to see very often, and I think that is especially important.”

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