Fresh Fiction Senior Reviewer Debbie Wiley is here to take us on a tour of one of the hottest summer vacation destinations: FLORIDA. All of these great summer reads are set in the Sunshine State!!
Summer is here, and vacation mode is in full swing for many. Florida is one of the hot spots for summer travel. Not everyone can travel in person, however, so traveling to Florida through books is a great alternative. Here are some books to help you tour Florida this summer:
We start out our adventure in Key West with Lucy Burdette and A DEADLY FEAST. Amateur sleuth Hayley Snow has a new mystery on her hands when someone dies during a seafood walking tour. Lucy Burdette takes readers to real restaurants in the Keys, giving readers a guide to locate all the scrumptious and tasty treats. I’m not kidding when I say I not only love the Key West Food Critic series but that I also use the series as a travel guide for my visits.
While we are down in the Keys, don’t forget to stop in No Name Key and visit the No Name Pub. Tim Dorsey visits the Keys and No Name Key in TORPEDO JUICE. And speaking of Tim Dorsey, whose books alone tour all over the state of Florida, check out NO SUNSCREEN FOR THE DEAD if you’re curious about some of the infamous retirement villages in Florida, such as The Villages, or the Amish community near Sarasota in Pinecraft. Trips with Serge Storms and Coleman are a bit wacky, however, especially considering Serge’s serial killer lifestyle (think Dexter rather than Hannibal Lector).
Next up on our book tour of Florida is TRICKS FOR FREE by Seanan McGuire, set in Lakeland, Florida. Annie Price is hiding from the Covenant of St. George by working at Lowryland Amusement Park. Lowryland isn’t real and Lakeland doesn’t have its own theme park, but the neighboring city of Winter Haven is home to LEGOLAND. Besides, Lakeland is on the I-4 corridor with easy commutes to Tampa or Orlando, both which are home to famous amusement parks aplenty. Seanan McGuire always provides a great story and her urban fantasy take on an amusement park is enjoyable and easily recommended.
And speaking of amusement parks, what Florida trip is complete without a visit to Disney’s Magic Kingdom? Ridley Pearson’s Kingdom Keepers series is a young adult fantasy series set at Disney. The first book is DISNEY AFTER DARK. Quite a few other authors have tackled Disney World as a setting, some less than favorable, such as Carl Hiassen’s TEAM RODENT, but Disney is a classic Florida icon.
Hunter Shea takes us to the Gulf Coast and the imaginary town of Polo Springs in JURASSIC, FLORIDA. Giant iguanas are overtaking the town, when residents realize to their horror that the iguanas are eating people! What could be worse than that and even more Florida-like? How about a hurricane is on the way. If you want a taste of how lackadaisical Floridians approach many of the hurricanes, Hunter Shea serves that up with a solidly good horror story to boot.
And to finish out our Florida tour is none other than Dave Barry in BEST. STATE. EVER: A FLORIDA MAN DEFENDS HIS HOMELAND. Dave revisits some of our earlier stops, such as The Villages and Key West, but he also takes us to little gems like Skunk Ape Research Headquarters in Big Cypress Preserve, Spongeorama (a store and museum dedicated to sponges, I kid you not), and Gatorland in Orlando. Never mind the fact that yes, we have mermaids in Florida if you stop in at Weeki Wachi Springs. BEST. STATE. EVER: A FLORIDA MAN DEFENDS HIS HOMELAND is hilariously funny and the quintessential Florida book that should be read by anyone who has ever vacationed in Florida, thought about vacationing in Florida, or simply asked what the heck was wrong with Florida.
BOOKS MENTIONED IN THIS ARTICLE:
National bestselling author Lucy Burdette’s intrepid food critic Hayley Snow must sniff out a killer in the ninth Key West Food Critic mystery.
Key West food critic Hayley Snow scents-es something fishy when a customer falls stone-crab cold dead on a seafood tasting tour.
Thanksgiving is nearly here, and Key West food critic Hayley Snow has just one more assignment to put to bed for Key Zest magazine before she gets to celebrate with her family and her police officer fiancé, Nathan Bransford. Then, just days later, wedding bells will ring—if death doesn’t toll first.
The sweet potatoes and stuffing will have to wait when Hayley picks up a distraught phone call from her friend, Analise Smith. On the last stop of a seafood tasting tour run by Analise, one of the customers collapsed—dead. With the police on the verge of shutting down the tour—and ruining Analise’s business—Hayley can hardly refuse her friend’s entreaties to investigate.
As if wedding jitters and family strife weren’t enough for Hayley to worry about, there’s crusty pastry chef Martha Hubbard, whose key lime pie may have been the murder weapon—but did she poison her own pie or was she framed? As the hours to Turkey Day tick away, the pressure cooker is on for Hayley to serve up the culprit on a silver platter in A Deadly Feast, national bestselling author Lucy Burdette’s taste-tempting ninth Key West Food Critic mystery.
Mystery Cozy [Crooked Lane Books, On Sale: May 7, 2019, Hardcover / e-Book, ISBN: 9781683319696 / eISBN: 9781683319702]
The Sunshine State’s most lovable psychopath, Serge A. Storms, kills it in this zany adventure from the “compulsively irreverent and shockingly funny” (Boston Globe) king of mayhem, New York Times bestselling author Tim Dorsey.
Serge and Coleman are back on the road, ready to hit the next stop on their list of obscure and wacky points of interest in the Sunshine State. This time, Serge’s interest is drawn to one of the largest retirement villages in the world—also known as the site of an infamous sex scandal between a retiree and her younger beau that rocked the community.
What starts out as an innocent quest to observe elders in their natural habitats, sample the local cuisine, and scope out a condo to live out the rest of their golden years, soon becomes a Robin Hood like crusade to recover the funds of swindled residents. After all, our seniors should be revered and respected—they’ve heroically fought in wars, garnered priceless wisdom, and they have the best first-hand accounts of bizarre Floridian occurrences only Serge would know about. But as the resident’s rally for Serge to seek justice on their behalves, two detectives are hot on the heels of Serge and Coleman’s murderous trail.
In this epic adventure that jumps between present day and the tumultuous times of the Vietnam war, mystery fans are in for a witty and deliciously violent delight from the twisted imagination of bestselling author Tim Dorsey.
Thriller Crime [William Morrow, On Sale: January 15, 2019, Hardcover / e-Book, ISBN: 9780062795885 / eISBN: 9780062795908]
Serge Storms Series #7
The drinks are on Sunshine State historian/spree killer Serge A. Storms, who’s decided it’s high time he got married. So he’s motoring down to the Florida Keys — the ultimate end of the line — in search of Ms. Right . . .
and finding his doped-up basket case bud Coleman along the way. But for Serge, “getting hitched” doesn’t necessarily mean “settling down” — not when South Florida is crawling with slimeballs, swindlers, unrepentant jerks, and annoying bystanders whose ranks need some serious thinning.
Mystery [HarperTorch, On Sale: March 1, 2006, Paperback / e-Book (reprint), ISBN: 9780060585617 / ]
The seventh book in the funny and fast-paced InCryptid urban fantasy series returns to the mishaps of the Price family, eccentric cryptozoologists who safeguard the world of magical creatures living in secret among humans.
1. Punishment for past actions.
2. An attempt to pay for what can’t be bought.
3. See also “exile.”
Antimony Price is on the run. With the Covenant on her tail and her family still in danger, she needs to get far, far away from anyone who might recognize her–including her own mice. For the first time in a long time, a Price is flying without a safety net. Where do you go when you need to disappear into a crowd without worrying about attracting attention? An amusement park, of course.
Some people would call Lowryland the amusement park. It’s one of the largest in Florida, the keystone of the Lowry entertainment empire…but for Annie, it’s a place to hide. She’s just trying to keep her head down long enough to come up with a plan that will get her home without getting anyone killed. No small order when she’s rooming with gorgons and sylphs, trying to placate frustrated ghosts, and rushing to get to work on time.
Then the accidents begin. The discovery of a dead man brings Annie to the attention of the secret cabal of magic users running Lowryland from behind the scenes. They want the fire that sleeps in her fingers. They want her on their side. They want to help her–although their help, like everything else, comes with a price.
No plan. Minimal backup. No way out. Annie’s about to get a crash course in the reality behind the pretty facade. If she’s lucky, she’ll survive the experience.
Fantasy Urban [DAW, On Sale: March 6, 2018, Mass Market Paperback / e-Book, ISBN: 9780756410407 / eISBN: 9780698183582]
The Kingdom Keepers, #1
This gripping high-tech tale will thrill every kid who has ever dreamed of sneaking into Walt Disney World after hours and wondered what happens at night, when the park is closed.
In this fantastical thriller, five young teens tapped as models for theme park “guides” find themselves pitted against Disney villains and witches that threaten both the future of Walt Disney World and the stability of the world outside its walls. Using a cutting-edge technology called DHI–which stands for both Disney Host Interactive and Daylight Hologram Imaging–Finn Whitman, an Orlando teen, and four other kids are transformed into hologram projections that guide guests through the park. The new technology turns out, however, to have unexpected effects that are both thrilling and scary. Soon Finn finds himself transported in his DHI form into the Magic Kingdom at night. Is it real? Is he dreaming?
Finn’s confusion only increases when he encounters Wayne, an elderly Imagineer who tells him that the park is in grave danger. Led by the scheming witch, Maleficent, a mysterious group of characters called the Overtakers is plotting to destroy Disney’s beloved realm, and maybe more.
Young Adult [Disney, On Sale: April 24, 2007, Paperback, ISBN: 9781423105459 / ]
How Disney Devours the World
Revulsion is good. Revulsion is healthy. Each of us has limits, unarticulated boundaries of taste and tolerance, and sometimes we forget where they are. Peep Land is here to remind us; a fixed compass point by which we can govern our private behavior. Because being grossed out is essential to the human experience; without a perceived depravity, we’d have nothing against which to gauge the advance or decline of culture; our art, our music, our cinema, our books. Without sleaze, the yardstick shrinks at both ends. Team Rodent doesn’t believe in sleaze, however, nor in old-fashioned revulsion. Square in the middle is where it wants us all to be, dependable consumers with predictable attitudes. The message, never stated but avuncularly implied, is that America’s values ought to reflect those of the Walt Disney Company, and not the other way around.”
Non-Fiction [Ballantine, , Paperback, / ]
FLORIDA. IT’S WHERE YOU GO TO DIE.
Welcome to Polo Springs, a sleepy little town on Florida’s Gulf Coast. It’s a great place to live—if you don’t mind the hurricanes. Or the flooding. Or the unusual wildlife . . .
IGUANAS. THEY’RE EVERYWHERE.
Maybe it’s the weather. But the whole town is overrun with the little green bastards this year. They’re causing a lot of damage. They’re eating everything in sight. And they’re just the babies . . .
HUMANS. THEY’RE WHAT’S FOR DINNER.
The mayor wants to address the iguana problem. But when Hurricane Ramona slams the coast, the town has a bigger problem on their hands. Bigger iguanas. Bigger than a double-wide. Unleashed by the storm, this razor-toothed horde of prehistoric predators rises up from the depths—and descends on the town like retirees at an early bird special. Except humans are on the menu. And it’s all you can eat . . .
Horror [Kensington Publishing, On Sale: June 19, 2018, e-Book, ISBN: 9781516107933 / eISBN: 9781516107933]
A brilliantly funny exploration of the Sunshine State from the man who knows it best: Pulitzer Prize winner and New York Times–bestselling author Dave Barry.
We never know what will happen next in Florida. We know only that, any minute now, something will. Every few months, Dave Barry gets a call from some media person wanting to know, “What the hell is wrong with Florida?” Somehow, the state’s acquired an image as a subtropical festival of stupid, and as a loyal Floridian, Dave begs to differ. Sure, there was the 2000 election. And people seem to take their pants off for no good reason. And it has flying insects the size of LeBron James. But it is a great state, and Dave is going to tell you why. Join him as he celebrates Florida from Key West at the bottom to whatever it is that’s at the top, from the Sunshine State’s earliest history to the fun-fair of weirdness that it is today.
It’s the most hilarious book yet from “the funniest damn writer in the whole country” (Carl Hiaasen, and he should know). By the end, you’ll have to admit that whatever else you might think about Florida—you can never say it’s boring.
Humor [G.P. Putnam’s Sons, On Sale: September 5, 2017, Trade Size / e-Book (reprint), ISBN: 9781101982617 / eISBN: 9781101982624]