Friday, December 29, 2017

Cinderella or Pygmalion?

Carnegie’s Maid by Marie Benedict


Clara Kelly was not who everyone thought she was, and this accident of mistaken identity lands her the position of lady’s maid in one of the wealthiest homes in all Pittsburgh, that of the Carnegie family. If Clara is to help her family back in Ireland, then keeping up appearances is what she’ll have to do, even when Mrs. Carnegie’s eldest son Andrew starts to treat her not like a household employee, but as an equal and maybe something more.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Border Life


All the Rivers UK Edition

All the Rivers by Dorit Rabinyan


Liat is spending time in the New York apartment of friends, while she studies for her translation degree. Hilmi is living in Brooklyn, trying to make it as an artist. Their whirlwind romance would be uneventful except for the fact that Liat is Jewish and comes from Tel Aviv, and Hilmi is a Palestinian from Ramallah, in the West Bank. With this book, Rabinyan brings us an
exquisitely crafted, modern “Romeo and Juliette” story that strikes at the heart of how the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can tear people apart.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

A Calculating Woman

Enchantress of Numbers by Jennifer Chiaverini


This is the fictionalized story of Augusta Ada King-Noel, Countess of Lovelace. In real life, not only was she the only legal child of the famed poet Lord Byron, but she was a talented mathematician and scientists, who made huge contributions to those worlds during the late 19th century. In Jennifer Chiaverini’s novel, she becomes much more than that.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

My Top Five (or more) Books of 2017



Those of my readers who have been following this blog for a while, know that I had to stuff seven novels into my favorites of 2016 list, and eight books ended up on list for 2015. This year, I have nine books that deserved a full five stars. Notably, one of these is a non-fiction book. Since I usually make these lists about fiction, that one non-fiction five-star book will get a special award. That means that once again, I need to cram eight books into this list. With no further ado required, let the countdown begin.

#5 – Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk by Kathleen Rooney – this novel took its inspiration from real-life poet and Macy's ad-writer Margaret Fishback, who gained fame for her clever ads and humorous poetry in the 1930s. This delightful book of historical fiction brings an essentially unknown woman into the limelight at last. (Oh, and by the way, where have you been all my reading life, Kathleen Rooney?)

#4 – Girl in Disguise by Greer McCallister – in McCallister's second novel, she takes on telling the story of Kate Warne, America's (and maybe the world's) first female detective, who walked into the Pinkerton's Detective Agency in 1856 and insisted Pinkerton take her on as an agent. With the little information left about Warne and her escapades, Macallister succeeds in weaving a story of intrigue and mystery in a tale that will fascinate as well as educate.

#3 – Forest Dark by Nicole Krauss TIED with The Golden House by Salman Rushdie – Krauss’ long awaited fourth novel is, to my mind her best yet. In this book, Krauss gives us parallel stories of two characters that travel from New York to Tel Aviv, while neither of them ever meets the other. Despite these disconnected tales, Krauss leads us to draw our own comparisons and contrasts with what she both reveals from and hides underneath their adventures. Rushdie’s latest novel moves back into the realm of solid reality, to revolve around the newest wealthy family at "The Gardens," a gated New York Community - the Golden family. Not only do they all have strange names (straight out of ancient Roman and Greek history and mythology), but they themselves seem a bit odd. René is a fellow resident, with ambitions in filmmaking, including a project to document the Golden family, but René hasn't decided if he should tell their true story or make up something fictional; either way, René can't seem to stay away from the Golden House.

#2 – See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt – the infamous Lizzie Borden was a woman that the public (but not a jury) believed murdered her father and stepmother with an axe. Since the science of forensics at the time was primitive at best, they found neither proof of Lizzie's guilt nor any other suspects. That means we will never know the whole truth. Using this mystery, Sarah Schmidt devises her own ideas about Lizzie Borden, her family and the murders, all of which she put into her dark and highly emotive debut novel.

#1 – The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce TIED with the novel Beartown by Fredrik Backman AND the novella The Deal of a Lifetime by Fredrik Backman – last year, Backman’s novel and novella got demoted (after grabbing the first-place spots in 2014 and 2015) to the second-place spot, but both of his two works of this year left me breathless. However, Joyce’s fourth book had me bawling like a baby, so I couldn’t place her novel any lower on this list. UPDATE: I have decided that I must also include All the Rivers by Dorit Rabinyan as another book TIED for first place this year (although it was first published in Israel in 2014 in Hebrew, the English version only came out in 2017, so it does deserve to be here as well)!


NON-FICTION Award Not Quite Lost: Travels without a Sense of Direction by Roz Morris – who would have thought that a self-published book would be so absolutely delightful, but this one certainly is just that. Morris, who is an accomplished ghost-writer, took the step to finally publish under her own name, and the world is better for it. This lovingly written diary takes us along Morris' many travels (mostly across Britain), where random entries in hotel or B&B guest books spark the imagination and become new adventures both thrilling and beautiful. Although I haven’t read her fiction (not really my thing, as they’re kinda fantasy/Sci-Fi books), if this little memoir is anything to go by, they must be wonderful.

That’s it for this year, and here's wishing everyone a 2018 filled with more amazing books. (Who knows, but maybe I'll need to make that list a "top ten" one!) You can find my previous lists here:


Saturday, December 2, 2017

Mysterious Models

The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton



“On an autumn day in 1686, eighteen-year-old Nella Oortman arrives at a grand house in Amsterdam to begin her new life as the wife of wealthy merchant Johannes Brandt. Though curiously distant, he presents her with an extraordinary wedding give: a cabinet-sized replica of their home. it is to be furnished by an elusive miniaturist, whose tiny creations ring eerily true. As Nella uncovers the secrets of her new household she realizes the escalating dangers they face. The miniaturist seems to hold their fate in her hands – but does she plan to save or destroy them?”

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Unraveling the Complexes


The Alice Network by Kate Quinn


During the first World War, the British government employed many people as spies in German-occupied Europe, and many of them were women. One of those women was code-named Alice DuBois (who preferred to be called Lili), and became their "Queen of Spies," managing an underground slew of informants that became known as the Alice Network. After the second World War, Charlotte (aka Charlie) St. Clair is searching for her missing cousin, which brings her to Evelyn Gardiner, one of the women in that network. These two set out on a journey, together with Evelyn’s driver and helper Finn Kilgore, not only to find Charlie’s cousin, but also to resolve unanswered questions from both devastating wars.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Hybrid of a Family

The Story of Arthur Truluv by Elizabeth Berg


According to Goodreads this is “a moving novel about three people who find their way back from loss and loneliness to a different kind of happiness. Arthur, a widow, meets Maddy, a troubled teenage girl who is avoiding school by hiding out at the cemetery, where Arthur goes every day for lunch to have imaginary conversations with his late wife, and think about the lives of others. The two strike up a friendship that draws them out of isolation. Maddy gives Arthur the name Truluv, for his loving and positive responses to every outrageous thing she says or does. With Arthur’s nosy neighbor Lucille, they create a loving and unconventional family, proving that life’s most precious moments are sweeter when shared.” Well, I couldn’t have summarized this book better, so let’s leave it at that.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

A New Christmas Carol

The Deal of a Lifetime: A Novella by Fredrik Backman


The protagonist of this novella is a father who is wealthy, successful and famous. He also has cancer, but so does the adorable five-year-old girl he meets in the hospital. Both of them are going to die eventually. The question is, does it really matter when, how or even why they die? That, together with the question of what differences the choices we make have on our lives, is the essence of Backman’s latest work. (Dear Amazon and/or Atria Books: this is how you write a concise summary of such a brief work of poetic prose, and not the four paragraphs describing half the story, which I found on Amazon.)

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Reconstructing Music

The Prague Sonata by Bradford Morrow


The publishers describe this book as follows:

In the early days of the new millennium, pages of a weathered original sonata manuscript—the gift of a Czech immigrant living out her final days in Queens—come into the hands of Meta Taverner, a young musicologist whose concert piano career was cut short by an injury. To Meta’s eye, it appears to be an authentic eighteenth-century work; to her discerning ear, the music rendered there is hauntingly beautiful, clearly the composition of a master. But there is no indication of who the composer might be. The gift comes with the request that Meta attempt to find the manuscript’s true owner—a Prague friend the old woman has not heard from since the Second World War forced them apart—and to make the three-part sonata whole again. Leaving New York behind for the land of Dvorák and Kafka, Meta sets out on an unforgettable search to locate the remaining movements of the sonata and uncover a story that has influenced the course of many lives, even as it becomes clear that she isn’t the only one after the music’s secrets.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Guest Author Post: Jacey Bedford and her Psi-Tech Universe Trilogy

Many years ago, I met Jacey Bedford through the "usenet" group misc.writing - back in late 20th century, when we were young (read more about that here), and Jacey was only an aspiring author! But look at her today - she's published five books! 

Although I don't read the genre she writes in, I am pleased to share what she wrote on her blog on October 3, 2017 - the publication date of the third book of her trilogy, in which she has some interesting advice and insights on what she's learned!
*****

My new book, NIMBUS, is out today.

Let me say that again because it never gets old.

My new book, NIMBUS, is out today!

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Deceptions Large and Small

The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine


For most of her life, Amber has been envious of people with money. That's why Amber has a plan to insinuate herself into the world of the rich and powerful. Her scheme isn't all that complicated, but it will take a little bit of patience. First, she has to get friendly with Daphne Parrish, the beautiful wife of the even more handsome and extremely wealthy Jackson Parrish. Then she has to seduce Jackson and get pregnant. Then she'll simply force Jackson to divorce Daphne and marry her, while making sure that Daphne's settlement doesn't break Jackson totally, and they can keep the stately home in the posh area of Connecticut. Simple, really, and if she succeeds, she'll have everything she ever wished for - money, power, and a handsome husband. However, as smart as Amber seems, apparently she never heard the adage "be careful what you wish for."

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Looking for the next Agatha Christie

Cocaine Blues by Kerry Greenwood


When the wealthy Phryne Fisher decided to quit London, it wasn't because the season had ended - to the contrary! No, Phryne left to set sail for Melbourne to investigate the mysterious illnesses of Lydia, whose father was suspicious that her husband might be poisoning her to get to her money. With only this to go on, Phryne packs her bags. Certainly being on her own, in late 1920s Australia would be more fun than arranging flowers or helping her parents to entertain their boring, polite society friends. Aside from that, the idea that Phryne could play at being an amateur sleuth along the way sounded like just what Phryne needed. So begins the first of the Phryne Fisher mystery novels.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Guest Author Post by Roz Morris: Out of sight, but not out of mind

As noted in my recent review of Roz Morris' travel diary book Not Quite Lost: Travels without a Sense of Direction, Roz's afterward for that darling travel diary truly fascinated and more importantly, intrigued me. So I requested she write a post for this blog based on some of the things she mentioned there. Without further ado, please enjoy this lovely piece about her real life travels, writing fiction and personal history.

Out of sight, but not out of mind

by Roz Morris


I have an averagely bad memory, and this has a nice advantage - I can reread books with only the slightest sense of déjà vu. It was certainly handy when I compiled my most recent book, a travel diary called Not Quite Lost: Travels Without A Sense of Direction. The book was distilled from 20 years of notes, and trawling through them made them new again.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Matching Wartime Messages

Last Christmas in Paris by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb


When the "war to end all wars" began in the summer of 1914, British soldiers were sure that they'd all be home for Christmas. Unfortunately, they didn't know that many of them wouldn't make it to see that Christmas, or the next or the next one after that. To get to the heart of this era, historical fiction writers Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb bring us this mostly epistolary work of the letters that Evelyn (aka Evie) Elliott writes and receives from those she loves, including ones she shares with her life-long friend, Thomas Harding.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Book Promotion & Excerpt: Sleep, Savannah, Sleep by Alistar Cross

BAM Literature is pleased to announce the release of:

SLEEP, SAVANNAH, SLEEP

by Alistair Cross 


RELEASE DATE SEPTEMBER 25, 2017



The Dead Don’t Always Rest in Peace

Jason Crandall, recently widowed, is left to raise his young daughter and rebellious teenage son on his own - and the old Victorian in Shadow Springs seems like the perfect place for them to start over. But the cracks in Jason’s new world begin to show when he meets Savannah Sturgess, a beautiful socialite who has half the men in town dancing on tangled strings.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

The Guestbook Spy

Not Quite Lost: Travels without a Sense of Direction by Roz Morris


It isn't often that I read non-fiction, but when I do, I often find travel books to be the most pleasurable way to remain within the realm of reality. However, sometimes these can be filled with long, drawn-out descriptions of pre-planned, extended jaunts, which can become tedious, no matter how well written they might be.
Despite this, for some reason, vicariously visiting places I've never been, or will probably never get to makes me happy, and not the least bit filled with regret. That's why when I received an offer to read this collection of random travel diary entries, I practically jumped at the opportunity. In this little collection, Morris takes us to various unknown spots, mostly within Britain. While this might sound mundane, I can assure you that it is anything but that.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Hallelujah for Vinyl


The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce


Rachel Joyce's newest novel begins with this simple line, "There once was a music shop." No, this isn't a fairy tale; instead, what follows is a complex journey of two people on the backdrop of a soundtrack that’s equally as eclectic as they are. It’s the 1980s and Frank believes that music can heal people, and he has a knack of begin able to find just the right piece for whatever that person needs. However, Frank also believes in vinyl and refuses to sell anything but them in his shop, despite the music industry's growing adoration of CDs. However, with his accident-prone helper Kit, and a slew of oddball neighbors with them on Unity Street, it looks like this fading neighborhood is the next up for developers and their dreams of gentrification. Into all this walks Ilse, who immediately faints and thereby changes Frank's life as well as that of everyone else.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

A Founding Mother's Story

I, Eliza Hamilton by Susan Holloway Scott



In order to avoid stating the obvious, I see no reason to start this review with a story synopsis. This is because I believe that even those with only a cursory knowledge of American history will have heard the name Alexander Hamilton, and immediately recognize that name as one of the country's "Founding Fathers." In fact, with the popularity of the musical "Hamilton," I'd be willing to bet that more people have heard that name than ever before. On the other hand, even people with good knowledge of late-18th and early-19th century American history may not know much about Elizabeth (aka Eliza) Hamilton, the wife of Alexander. With this novel, Scott decided to fill that gaping hole in our American historical education, and did so through this amazing woman's own eyes.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

The Choices We Make


Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin


Take one impressionable, young, and ambitious woman interested in politics, and mix it with one much older, handsome and dynamic (but married) Congressman and you'll have a possibly explosive mixture. Unfortunately, when the blast comes, often the fallout hits the young woman (and her family) far harder than it does the public official. In Gabrielle Zevin's latest novel, she looks at the dilemmas and hurdles that being in the wake of such scandals pose from various different sides of the story, none of which includes the elected official himself. These include Rachel, the mother Aviva Grossman who had the affair with the Congressman; Jane Young the woman in Maine who may or may not have once been Aviva; Ruby, Jane's daughter, and; Embeth, the wife of the cheating Congressman.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Glitter and Tarnish

The Golden House by Salman Rushdie


To preface this review, I have to begin by somewhat taking umbrage with the following parts of the publisher's synopsis of this book (which appeared just like this in the "Read it Forward" newsletter):

"On the day of Barack Obama’s inauguration, an enigmatic billionaire from foreign shores takes up residence in the architectural jewel of “the Gardens,” a cloistered community in New York’s Greenwich Village. The neighborhood is a bubble within a bubble, and the residents are immediately intrigued by the eccentric newcomer and his family. Along with his improbable name, untraceable accent, and unmistakable whiff of danger, Nero Golden has brought along his three adult sons: agoraphobic, alcoholic Petya, a brilliant recluse with a tortured mind; Apu, the flamboyant artist, sexually and spiritually omnivorous, famous on twenty blocks; and D, at twenty-two the baby of the family, harboring an explosive secret even from himself. There is no mother, no wife; at least not until Vasilisa, a sleek Russian expat, snags the septuagenarian Nero, becoming the queen to his king—a queen in want of an heir." … "Meanwhile, like a bad joke, a certain comic-book villain embarks upon a crass presidential run that turns New York upside-down."

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Now You're an Immigrant!


Chutzpah & High Heels: The Search for Love and Identity in the Holy Land by Jessica Fishman

 
In this memoir, Jessica Fishman details the trials and tribulations of making what we call "Aliyah" - literally meaning to "go up" to Israel. This reminds me of an old, old joke, which goes something like this (which is my rough translation from the Hebrew):

One day an angel comes to visit an elderly Jew. The angel tells the man that because he led a life of purity and righteousness, God decided to reward him by showing him both Heaven and Hell while he was still alive. The angel takes the man down to Hell first. There he sees people wildly running about, naked, drinking, and having orgies. The man looks at this and says, "Yes, this is truly Hell." The angel then takes him to Heaven. There he sees vast rooms filled with rows upon rows of desks where hundreds of thousands of men are fervently praying and seriously studying Holy Scriptures. The man looks at this and says, "Yes, this is truly Heaven." After this, the angel puts the man back on earth and disappears. Several years later, the man dies and the first thing he sees is the angel that had visited him. The angel says, "rabbi, since you know what heaven and hell are like, you now have the privilege of choosing where you wish to spend eternity." The man thinks a bit and then tells the angel, "Well, to tell the truth, heaven looks just like my life on earth, so maybe I should go to hell." The angel immediately transports the man to a burning inferno of a place where people are suffering and screaming and in horrible pain. "Wait," says the man, "this isn't anything like what I saw the first time I was here." To this the angel replies, "Yes, of course. You were a tourist that time; now you're a new immigrant!"

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Finding Direction


Noah's Compass by Anne Tyler


At only the age of 61, Liam is suddenly unemployed, but that's not worrying him. He didn't really love the job, anyway. It was just something he fell into; there there aren't many positions for someone with a degree in philosophy. No, he won't miss teaching history to fifth graders, and retirement actually sounds appealing. Yes, he has to downsize and be more frugal to manage with his reduced income, but that's okay too. Unfortunately, on his first night in his new apartment, someone broke in and attacked him, and after he woke up from his concussion, he couldn't remember anything after falling asleep. To recover this small loss of memory, Liam ends up searching for more than a few hours of time, and in places he never thought he'd go.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Two Paths that Never Converge

Forest Dark by Nicole Krauss


In Nicole Krauss' newest novel, she presents us with two people in parallel stories, both of whom travel to Israel from York, but these two never meet. There is Jules Epstein, a wealthy man attempting to divest himself of his money before he dies, with the aim to use it, at least partially, with a project in memory of his parents. The other character is Nicole, a novelist with writer's block (who isn't Krauss, but rather a semi-fictionalized version of herself), attempting to jump-start her novel about the Tel Aviv Hilton through this trip. Nicole also seems to have the need to escape from her life including her rut of a marriage.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

The Art of Becoming Real

The Velveteen Daughter by Laurel Davis Huber


The author of the classic, bestselling children's book, The Velveteen Rabbit was Margery Williams Bianco. Pamela Bianco was her daughter, and she was an artist, recognized for her talent when only a child, with her first showing at a gallery in Turin Italy, at the age of 11. If you haven't heard her name, that's no surprise. Child prodigies grow up, and many fade from the limelight as adults. Sometimes, that's because their uniqueness as children seems mundane for adults. Other times, their early fame was more than they could handle. Laurel Davis Huber's novel investigates the relationship between these two women, with her own theories why Pamela and her work is relatively unknown today.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

The clock on the mantle ticked ticked


See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt


Although a jury of her peers found Lizzie Borden not guilty of the murders of her father and stepmother, Andrew and Abby Borden, the court of public opinion found her guilty as charged. The mystery behind these brutal murders continues to this day, almost a full 125 years since it happened, while scholars continue to try to figure out the truth. Of course, a good historical mystery is exactly the type of fodder to feed any good fiction writer's imagination. No wonder Schmidt took this story on, and gave it an angle that makes the few facts available even more sinister than the legend or this memorable gruesome poem.

Lizzie Borden with an axe
gave her mother forty whacks;
when she saw what she had done
gave her father forty-one.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Constructing a Criminal

Becoming Bonnie by Jenni L. Walsh


Although their story is well over 80 years old, Bonnie and Clyde are infamous celebrities to this day; and while most of the facts about their criminal endeavors are readily available, mystery still shrouds most of their lives from before their meeting. This is just the type of sketchy fodder needed for exactly the type of historical fiction novel I love, and Jenni L. Walsh is the author that took up this challenge. In this novel, Walsh introduces us to a girl called Bonnelyn Parker, a church-going, studious girl who dreams of becoming a teacher and finding a way to earn enough to help her family out of poverty. Bonnelyn is also in love with her childhood sweetheart, Roy Thornton, who wants to become a journalist. Together, they hope to make a better life, and maybe even travel far away from the confines of their poor town outside Dallas, Cement City. First, they have to graduate high school. The problem is that money is tighter than usual since she's just lost her job at the diner, and her brother is out of work after an accident at the cement plant. When Bonnelyn's best friend Blanche gets an offer to make money working the bar at an illegal speakeasy, Bonnelyn has no choice but to do the same.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

The Volumes of Silence

Shtum by Jem Lester


The best word to describe Ben and Emma Jewell's 11-year-old son Jonah is "shtum." That's Yiddish for silent, so in other words, Jonah doesn't speak. Mostly, Jonah lives in his own world. Of course, Jonah's diagnosis is obvious; Jonah is autistic. So far, the schools Jonah attended haven't helped him make any progress. Now, it is up to Ben and Emma to find a place where Jonah can be happy, maybe get him out of his nappies and who knows but perhaps one day, he'll even start to talk again. While this seems a daunting task, Ben has much more to deal with than just getting through the tribunal that would put Jonah into the best facility possible.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Harsh Reality with a Sweet Dream


The White City by Karolina Ramqvist


Karin is having a hard time this frigid winter. To begin with, her deadbeat, criminal boyfriend left her with their newborn baby girl Dream. Add to this that she has almost no cash left, no job, practically no food in the house and must use the least amount of electricity she can, so they don't turn that off. The worst part is she's about to lose her home and her car. Karin must find a way out of this problem, and Karolina Ramqvist's novel is all about her search for an answer.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Ice and Cracks

Beartown by Fredrik Backman


Except for hockey, there's almost nothing left in Beartown, and it is only going to get worse, unless something changes. That something could be coming this year, since their junior team is finally good enough. If they succeed, who knows what that fame could bring? Maybe even a new hockey academy. Unfortunately, after the junior team won the semi-finals, something happened that changed everything, for both the team and the town. Now they have to deal with the harder question, which is, did this change Beartown for the worse or for the better? 

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Sins and Secrets of the Ancient Epicure

Feast of Sorrow by Crystal King


Apicius was a rich Roman merchant and famous gourmand who reached the height of his fame during the first century of the Common Era. His dream was to become gastronomic advisor to the Cesar. After his previous cook died of mysterious circumstances, he heard about the slave Thrasius that had just come on the market. Since Thrasius was a cook for one of his rival gourmands, he knew he must make this purchase. King tells this story through the eyes of Thrasius, imagining a relationship that will bring Apicius fame and lead to a collaboration in writing the world's first cookbook, all while navigating the ever changing conspiratorial waters of Roman politics.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

The Eves of Winter Stories

A Snow Garden & Other Stories by Rachel Joyce


In this collection, Rachel Joyce connects seven stories spanning from just before Christmas Eve through New Year's Eve. Joyce not only arranges these tales chronologically, she also links them with other elements. The stories here are:

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Guest Post: Co-Authors Anne Rothman-Hicks and Kenneth Hicks.

Weave a Murderous Web is a mystery novel by Anne Rothman-Hicks and Kenneth Hicks. In this guest post, they talk about their lives and their books.



We both have a thing about New York City. Anne was born here and she never would have left except that her parents dragged her off to what was supposed to be a better life in Scarsdale when she was nine years old. She still refers to that time away as “The Exile.”

Ken was raised in the suburbs of Abington, outside of Philadelphia, but remembers clearly his first visit to New York with his parents, and his second with a school band in Junior High, and the third with his roommates from college, and... Well, you get the idea? The city made an impression.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

A Life in Steps

Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk by Kathleen Rooney


On the evening of December 31, 1984, Lillian Boxfish set out for her traditional New Year's Eve dinner at her favorite Italian restaurant. Despite not being hungry after absentmindedly consuming most of a package of Oreo cookies while speaking on the phone with her son, she is determined to walk all the way there, thinking it might bring her appetite back. Walking the familiar streets of New York brings back over 50 years of memories, where once people knew her as the "highest paid advertising woman in the world." Based on the story of Margaret Fishback, Kathleen Rooney's book is a journey of imaginings using grace and elegance, together with humor and tragedy to investigate the life of a woman we otherwise would never have known.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Truth and Politics

The Death of an Owl by Paul Torday


According to the forward (written by the late Torday's son Piers), this book is "about a man who couldn't help but tell the truth, and how that played out when he gets involved in a scandal involving a politician who runs over an owl by mistake." This was supposed to be Torday's ninth novel, but he passed away before he could finish writing it (apparently, leaving the manuscript unfinished, with the writing "stopped mid-sentence, at a key point in the story"). Thankfully, Piers took up the challenge and finished it for him.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Mobile Stories

Eveningland by Michael Knight


In this book, Michael Knight brings us a collection of short stories to give us the flavor of the people and the location of Mobile Alabama. Short summaries of the stories are as follows:

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Guest Post: Carolyn Arnold - Writing Serial-Killer Fiction.

http://carolynarnold.net/remnants/
As a lover of the TV shows like "Criminal Minds," you'd think that I would be more of a crime fiction reader; but actually, I hardly ever read this genre. So when I received this offer to put up a guest post about writing serial-killer fiction by author Carolyn Arnold, I jumped at the opportunity. It certainly sounds fascinating!

Writing Serial-Killer Fiction


BY CAROLYN ARNOLD



The world seems to be uniquely fascinated and captivated by the mystery of serial killers. What motivates them to kill, and why do they choose certain people to be their victims? As fiction writers, we need to harness that intrigue, but we also should be very careful not to allow our work and characters to become cliché. That feat is certainly a tough one—especially since most stories have already been written!—but it can be done. It’s all about making your work extraordinary by creating your own distinct slant and personalized voice. And let’s not forget that it’s up to you to make sure your storytelling is superb. 

Friday, March 10, 2017

Counting on Family


Sisters One, Two, Three by Nancy Star


Ginger's 13th year was as unlucky as the number. Many years after that tragic summer, it seems no one has been able to fix anything broken back then. Furthermore, there's her deteriorating relationship with her daughter Julia, and her mother Glory is no less strange now, than she was back then. This book, written in parallel timelines, is a story about secrets, hiding things and what should to let go of vs. what to hold close.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Becoming the First

Girl in Disguise by Greer Macallister

 
Kate Warne - I'm sure that name means nothing to you. On the other hand, you may have heard of the name Pinkerton. Today that name mostly brings to mind security services, like their armored cars. However, in the mid-19th century, Allan Pinkerton started a detective agency in Chicago, and in 1856, he hired Kate Warne as his first female detective. With the little information left about Warne and her escapades, Macallister weaves a story of intrigue and mystery in her latest historical fiction novel.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Feminist Stories from the Past

Herland and Selected Stories by Charlotte Perkins Gilman


Back when I was writing a review of the dystopian novel "The Beautiful Bureaucrat," I read a review that likened that book (in part to Kafka and in part) to a short story called "The Yellow Wallpaper" by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. Having never heard of this writer, I was curious to see if that story might give me some further insights into that book (knowing full well that sometimes reviewers like to show off how well read they are by namedropping in this way. I'm not well read, and I will admit here that I haven't read more than snippets of Kafka, but that's beside the point). After reading that story, I didn't believe this reviewer made much of an appropriate comparison, but I also realized that I needed to read more by Perkins Gilman.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Old Conspiracies, New Sins

Yom Killer by Ilene Schneider (Rabbi Aviva Cohen Mystery #3)


Yes, Rabbi Aviva Cohen is back, and she is just as feisty as ever. This time, when her mother lands in the hospital in a chemically induced coma after a fall in her assisted living facility, something doesn't seem quite right. However, until her mother wakes up, she's going to have a hard time figuring out what's really going on. It doesn't help that her straight-laced sister and her ex-husband the cop need to keep her out of harm's way in the process. Worse, she has only the few days between the Jewish New Year and the holiest day in Judaism - Yom Kippur - to get it all done before she has to be back on her pulpit.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Guest Author Post: Joanna Paterson

I don't have time to read all of the book requests I get, but I still try to help indie authors, when I can. That's why I'm pleased to present you with this guest post from Author Joanna Paterson, aka Joanna Geyer-Kordesch, Professor emerita for European Natural History and the History of Medicine, Honorary Senior Professorial Fellow, The College of Arts, University of Glasgow. In this post, Joanna talks about her short story and poetry collections. Take a look - they sound really lovely!


Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Poetic Youth

20 by Vatsal Surti


The unnamed protagonist in this expressive novella is only 20 years old, but she seems to have quite an old soul. When she meets a man her age and falls in love with him, it seems her life is finally beginning to change, despite her unending mood swings and a shaky relationship with her father, who has just contacted her after many years of estrangement.