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The Female Perspective: Summer Reading Is Where It’s At!

Welcome! This is a weekly blog* by Author J.L. Metcalf where I discuss anything and everything that strikes my fancy. If you have ideas on what you think I should write about, please send me an email via my website!

For now, sit back, relax and enjoy the blog!

*All views expressed in “The Female Perspective” are those of J.L. Metcalf, not Great Stories, Inc


Summer is a great time to dig into some new books, it’s (hopefully) got a slower pace and there are more days spent by the pool, at the beach or just chilling in your backyard while the family plays and barbecues. To that end, I thought I’d give a shout out to some of my personal favorite summer reads.

How do I pick summer reads? Well, I pick them like any other book I want to read, does it sound interesting? Does it have a cool cover (I know, I know, don’t judge them that way but a lot of times a cover is what calls me to a book, the synopsis is what keeps me reading)? I don’t think that summer reads have to necessarily be shorter, less intense (as many summer reading lists would suggest), I think summer is a great time to dig into an intense series or a nice, long book so that you have plenty to read at the beach. There’s not much that’s worse than finishing your book with a long day ahead and having no backup!

That being said, here are my Top 5 Summer Reads!

1. The Stand by Stephen King

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Nothing says summertime fun like the end of the world, am I right??? I’ve talked about The Stand a few times because it is hands down one of my top 5, all time favorite books to read and I find myself gravitating to it almost every summer. Maybe because the story starts in the summer? The story itself (if you don’t know) is an engaging one, told in typical Stephen King fashion, that brings us hero, villains and the fight over the soul of the world. It’s a tale that is simply about good and evil, but at over 1,000 pages, it’s much more than that. To me it is King’s finest works and it is worth a read.

2. A Song Of Ice and Fire (aka Game Of Thrones) by George R. R. Martin

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The first time I read this epic series it was during the summer I was laid off from work so I had a lot of time on my hands. It was recommended by a good friend and since I am a huge fan of anything similar to Lord of the Rings I thought it had to be a win-win. I have to say that I was instantly hooked, while also being completely devastated when characters I had fallen in love with were brutally slain. The end of the first book made me realize that Martin isn’t fooling around, your favorite characters will die and no one, literally no one is safe (Red Wedding anyone?), which is why I love these books. I am finally getting around to watching the HBO show and am feeling the urge to re-read these beauties to invest once again in the rich, Tolkien-esque world that Martin has created, while also refreshing myself for when he eventually releases the next volume, The Winds of Winter.

3. Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling

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No list of mine would be complete without some Harry Potter and honestly, it took me a very long time to get into this series. I was finishing up the 6th book when the final book came out so I never had to wait between books like so many others. I cannot say enough good things about these books, it is about friendship, magic, doing what’s right even when it feels wrong and so much more. I cry all the time when some of my favorite characters die because I feel like they are truly alive. The power of Rowling’s work is in her words, she is a master of her craft and one day I hope to be half as good as she is. If you haven’t read Harry Potter yet, get on that, and summer is a perfect time to start enjoying the adventures of Harry Potter, Ron and Hermoine!

4. American Gods by Neil Gaiman

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Another one that it took me way too long to read. I admit to not being a huge Gaiman fan (I actually liked the movie version of Stardust better than the book), but this one was a great read. For being as long as it is, it’s a lot of fun. I never really knew where the book was going to go, but I knew I wanted to be along for the ride. The characters are engaging, interesting and some of them are downright annoying, but that’s what makes the book so much fun! That and an upcoming TV adaptation makes this a must-read in my eyes.

5. The Martian by Andy Weir

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This book is AMAZING. Seriously. Check it out. It’s not super-spacey at all (even though the guy is on Mars), it’s this amazing story of survival and science. When I first started reading this it’s because I saw the movie trailer and was instantly intrigued. When I realized it was from the point of view of the guy trapped on Mars alone I was instantly curious, how do we keep a book going that’s one person, alone, on Mars? Well Weir did a fantastic job of that. He crafted a character that is funny, smart and oh yeah, super funny. The quips and jabs that Mark Watney make had me laughing out loud as I read along. But never forget, this guy is trapped on Mars and just as you settle in to enjoy his diatribe about disco music, something explodes and you are reminded just how dangerous his existence is. It’s a great read, perfect for a day at the beach and it will keep you on the edge of your seat. The movie adaptation is also pretty darn good, Matt Damon is a perfect Watney.

There you have it folks! Some of my favorite summer reads, how about you? What are some of your go-to summer reads? Tell me in the comments! I’m always looking for new books!

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The Female Perspective: My Favorite Book Is…

Welcome! This is a Tri-weekly blog by Author J.L. Metcalf where I discuss anything and everything that strikes my fancy. If you have ideas on what you think I should write about, please send me an email via my website

For now, sit back, relax and enjoy the blog!


I thought that I would change things up a bit today and write about something dear to my heart, books. I admit it, I have an addiction to the written word (duh) and I cannot possibly ever have enough books. Not eBooks mind you but REAL, physical books. To that end I sat down today and tried to contemplate what my “favorite” book is.

Let me tell you, it wasn’t easy.

The fact is, I had to go with the book that has made the biggest impact upon me, the book I read over and over again on an almost yearly basis. Each time I read it, I find some new nugget of wisdom, some new moment or some new lesson.

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For me, that book would have to be Stephen King’s The Stand. It is by far one of the most well written of his works and the sheer expanse of the book can be overwhelming to most. At a healthy 1,472 pages you don’t read this book unless you are serious about it.

For those of you who haven’t picked up this novel yet (and shame on you, kidding!) The Stand is Stephen King’s answer to the “end of the world” genre. He doesn’t create zombies or a flood or any other type of disaster. No, King decides that the world will be caused by a mistake at a military base that studies (and creates) nasty, nasty germs. This particular bug is dubbed the “super flu” by many and “Captain Tripps” by others. It’s a truly devastating virus, causing delusions, high fever, lots of gross mucous and the infamous “tube neck” – it ends up killing about 80% of the human population in the span of a month or so.

But that’s not all…

King diabolically crafts a story about death and disease but includes a true battle between good and evil. The “good” being the folks who meet up with a 108-year old woman named Mother Abigail. They make camp in Denver, Colorado (that was oddly the scene of a mass exodus during the epidemic so it is strongly lacking in corpses like so many cities). They are a varied group of survivors. From the musician and playboy, Larry Underwood to the stoic and brave cowboy that is Stu Redman. They know, from dreams they all have that evil  is preparing for an onslaught and they have to prepare themselves.

The “evil” is represented by Randall Flagg, also know as “the walking dude” or “the black man” – he is a creature made of pure evil. He is unsure of his past but he knows he has been an integral part of so many uprisings and brings a feeling of dread to everyone he meets (even his followers). This camp sets up in Las Vegas (of course!) and includes criminal Lloyd Henreid (as his lieutenant) and The Trashcan Man (who is an insane pyromaniac who actually ends up being a sort-of hero). This camp is made up of criminals, drug addicts and confused souls who though that “the walking dude” was the right path for them.

Randall Flagg is one bad man...or creature...
Randall Flagg is one bad man…or creature…

Where Flagg is a tyrant, Mother Abigail is a welcoming and open soul. Flagg crucifies people who don’t follow his “rules” while Mother Abigail mostly leaves her people alone to do their (and God’s) will. It’s a wonderful study in duality. We see that the world truly can be broken into two camps, good and bad, God and The Devil. It’s also a story about redemption and discovering who you are. Many of these folks never had a real purpose in their lives before it the world ended. Nick Andros (one of the “good” guys) is a deaf and mute young man who drifted from town to town, doing odd jobs. He becomes a powerful force and finds that he can be a leader. Same with Larry Underwood, who is said to be “no nice guy” at the start of the book but in the end, manages to summon his strength and bravery and do his best to save his people.

I don’t want to spoil the end (and it’s a good one folks) but I want to say that it’s well worth reading. The Stand might be one of King’s finest works because it doesn’t rely on gore or cheap scares. No, he shows us how great a writer he truly is by crafting a story of biblical proportions.

Nick Andros is an important character and he gets the holy heck beat out of him more than once...
Nick Andros is an important character and he gets the holy heck beat out of him more than once…

Currently, The Stand comes in every format you can imagine and is easily found at bookstores and online. What’s really fun is that it also comes in a graphic novel addition which is well worth a ready. The editors did an awesome job editing this massive story into a comic format. The artwork is a lot of fun and I highly recommend it!

So tell me, what’s YOUR favorite book and why?