Review: Mr. Either Or 

Synopsis:

Aaron Poochigian’s Mr. Either/Or is an ingenious debut, a verse novel melding American mythology, noir thriller, and classical epic into gritty rhythms, foreboding overtones, and groovy jams surrounding the reader in a surreal atmosphere. Imagine Byron’s Don Juan on a high-stakes romp through a Raymond Chandler novel. Think Hamlet in Manhattan with a license to kill.
Aaron Poochigian earned a PhD in Classics from the University of Minnesota and an MFA in Poetry from Columbia University. His book of translations from Sappho, Stung With Love, was published in 2009. The Cosmic Purr, a book of original poetry, was published in 2012.

Rating: 5-stars

Review:

Mr. Either Or by Aaron Poochigian is quite an interesting read. This novel, is layer out in a unique way. I was hooked. Aaron Poochigian is a talented writer indeed. His protagonist isn’t like most. I loved how the words took me through the book. It was like reading one of my favorite literary novels – tone wise and had the alluring nature of the fictional reads I’ve read and come to love. Each section is intriguing. Readers like myself will drink up this work of fiction. Engaging, well-told, and different. Mr. Either Or is very entertaining from beginning to end. I recommend it to readers worldwide. 

Review: White Fur




Synopsis:

A stunning star-crossed love story set against the glitz and grit of 1980s New York City 

When Elise Perez meets Jamey Hyde on a desolate winter afternoon, fate implodes, and neither of their lives will ever be the same. Although they are next-door neighbors in New Haven, they come from different worlds. Elise grew up in a housing project without a father and didn’t graduate from high school; Jamey is a junior at Yale, heir to a private investment bank fortune and beholden to high family expectations. Nevertheless, the attraction is instant, and what starts out as sexual obsession turns into something greater, stranger, and impossible to ignore. 

The unlikely couple moves to Manhattan in hopes of forging an adult life together, but Jamey’s family intervenes in desperation, and the consequences of staying together are suddenly severe. And when a night out with old friends takes a shocking turn, Jamey and Elise find themselves fighting not just for their love, but also for their lives. 

White Fur follows these indelible characters on their wild race through Newport mansions and downtown NYC nightspots, SoHo bars and WASP-establishment yacht clubs, through bedrooms and hospital rooms, as they explore, love, play, and suffer. Jardine Libaire combines the electricity of Less Than Zero with the timeless intensity of Romeo and Juliet in this searing, gorgeously written novel that perfectly captures the ferocity of young love. 

Rating: 4.5-stars

Review:

White Fur by Jardine Libaire is a thrilling romance. Similar to the Great Gatsby in ways. I was intrigued by this plot. Two lovers from opposite sides. Threatened and in danger all because they love each other. A love that shouldn’t be if, a particular family had its way. Perfect plans can be hard…when others are determined to see it fail even if that means a couple of lives are lost. Poor versus the rich and the star-crossed theme hits hard with this tale. White Fur is an intense love story. Filled with glamour, anger, an one brilliant emotional journey. Deep, heart felt, and exciting. Jardine Libaire kept me captivated with Jamey and Elise. Tragic yet realistic…a love story that pulls. I recommend it to readers worldwide. 

Author Interview with Kristi Saare Duarte about Her Novel The Transmigrant






ULM: What was it in the ancient scriptures that inspired you to write The Transmigrant?
The idea of Jesus as a holy man rather than the Messiah had been brewing in my mind for a long time. For me, the New Testament story didn’t quite add up. If Jesus were of God, then certainly he would be loving, inclusive and kind, right? Yet, in the stories we hear and the movies we see, Jesus pretty much says, “believe in me, or go to hell,” which sounds like something a bully would say. 

So, when I happened upon a book about Jesus in India, it all started to make sense, the pieces fell into place. I’m not saying this is the truth, or the only truth, but for me it was the logical explanation for who the man Jesus had been, and what he had done during those eighteen years not mentioned in the bible.

I started researching old scriptures and found the Nag Hammadi Library, a collection of scrolls unearthed in Egypt in 1945. These manuscripts date from the third and fourth centuries, and are believed to be based on scriptures from around 80 AD or earlier, which would make them earlier than most of the Gospels of the New Testament. In the Nag Hammadi texts, Jesus is a kind and holy man, but he is not the Messiah. 

The more ancient sources I studied, the more I found scriptures that supported my theory. I did also read the bible, several times, and underlined sections that aligned with my thoughts. There are plenty of jewels to pick from the New Testament if you really look.

ULM: How long have you had a fascination for historical things? 

I grew up in Sweden and went to school in the Old Town of Stockholm, a city that dates from the 13th century, and I guess that has something to do with it. Whenever I travel, I like to visit ancient locations and meditate in the presence of old buildings and ruins and absorb the energy of the past.

I don’t believe people who lived thousands of years ago differed so much from us. They still loved and laughed, were vain and greedy, girls were attracted to boys, etc. I feel like we sometimes forget and believe that everyone was prude and correct, like in the Middle Ages. But before then, the people were perhaps even more promiscuous than we are today. Maybe.

ULM: You mentioned that the Russian traveler, Nicolas Notovitch’s 1894 book, “The Unknown Life of Jesus Christ”, also inspired you. What really stuck out to you from this book?

This was the book about Jesus in India that started my thought process and made me want to write The Transmigrant. This was the seed that, many years later, has blossomed into a novel. In the “Unknown Life,” which is based on scrolls found in a Tibetan monastery, Jesus travels across the Middle East and ends up first in Sindh (Pakistan), where he studies Buddhism, and later in Jagannath (Puri, India). 

He makes his way back home via Kapilavatthu (Nepal), the Himalayas, Kashmir, Persia, and Syria. Along the way, he studies Hinduism and Buddhism, among other local religions. The fascinating this is that when you start looking closer, all these religions have common threads. Most of the core beliefs are the same, or every similar. And also, when I looked at the distances and the time it would have taken Jesus to travel from one place to another, the calculations in the book were correct. Remember, there was no Google Earth in 1894. How could Notovitch have made up the story and have gotten it so right? To me, the book is very believable.

ULM: How would you describe your writing using only three words?

Sly, spiritual, and sexy.

ULM: What was the research like for writing The Transmigrant?

At times, it was overwhelming. I started with The Unknown Life of Jesus Christ, the New Testament, and the Nag Hammadi Library. I watched Robert Beckford’s Channel 4 documentaries on YouTube. But the more I read, the more books I found that I just had to read. My apartment in Harlem is packed with books about Jesus. I also tried to read different point of views, different opinions. 

I didn’t want to follow anyone’s lead, I wanted to form my own theory. Finding information about the common man in Galilee, Syria, India, etc. in the first century, was difficult. What did they really eat? What kind of sandals did they wear? There are almost no drawings of poor people from that era. And of course the majority of people couldn’t read or write, and those who could wrote for hire or wrote from a political perspective. I did travel to Israel, Syria, India, and Nepal to see the places with my own eyes. It made a huge difference. 

ULM: What process did you use to help you outline your book?

To be honest, I just started writing. I didn’t know almost anything about Jesus when I started. For example, did you know that none of the gospels, perhaps not a single word in the New Testament were written by Jesus’ disciples? It was a steep learning curve. 

Once I had written my first draft, I went back and forced in a plot line. At one point, the book was 125,000 words long. Now it’s 95,000. I cut out more than a quarter that just didn’t fit. Still, I couldn’t have done it a different way. I think Historical Fiction is like that, you learn as you write, and you don’t know what the story is until you have written the last page.

ULM: What other projects do you have in mind after releasing, The Transmigrant?

I have written the first draft of the follow up, which starts six months after Jesus’s death. His disciples, who have been in hiding, get together and decide they need to keep spreading his message to the world. 

They don’t want him to have died for nothing. I’m at the point now that I need to clarify the plot line, but the bare bones are there. After that, I might write about Jesus’s brother Thomas, who brought Christianity to India. I wouldn’t mind going to India again for research.

ULM: For readers, who haven’t yet read, The Transmigrant, can you share with them briefly about it?

The story follows Yeshua, a somewhat presumptuous young man who thinks himself wiser than everyone else, on his journey to adulthood. It’s focused on the eighteen years not mentioned in the bible.

Yeshua can’t be a priest in his home country because he’s not born in a priestly family, so he travels via camel caravan along the Silk Road to India, in search for a guru. In the novel, Yeshua is an ordinary man who struggles with his ego, falls in love, yearns to be wise, and ultimately dedicates his life to becoming wise.

The book shows the similarities between Hinduism, Buddhism, and Judaism, and how Christianity can very well be a product of them all combined. It’s not a heavy novel with a hammered-in message, it’s more of a travelogue with some steamy scenes, too. It’s not really a religious book, even though it’s about Jesus, as strange as it may sound.

ULM: What are some books, movies, and or other articles that you enjoy that pushed you into writing this book?

Apart from the research, I mentioned earlier, I don’t think any specific books or movies influenced me. But I did like The Last Temptation of Christ, and I think The Transmigrant might have some parallels with the movie. 

ULM: What are your other hobbies besides writing an entertaining yet stunning book?

I read a lot, of course. But I guess my passion is travelling. I’ve visited a third of the world’s countries, and although I can’t reach them all in my lifetime, I can still dream about it. The more difficult the place seems to be, the more I want to go there. Tibet and Ethiopia are my favorite countries thus far. 

But I don’t mind a weekend on the beach with a good book, either. I also enjoy live music shows. I’m lucky I live in New York City, because there’s free music everywhere. We often go to a jazz dive bar in my neighborhood, Paris Blues. And in the summer, concerts at Central Park Summer Stage and Celebrate Brooklyn in Prospect park.

ULM: Where can readers find you and your work online?

The Transmigrant is on pre-sale on Amazon.com until July 13 when it will be published more broadly. My web site is: www.KristiSaareDuarte.com. I also have a blog with funny travel stories at www.AmongBuddhasAndBabas.wordpress.com. And if you have any questions or comments, please don’t hesitate to email me at: KristiDNYC@gmail.com or contact me on twitter: @kristisaare.

Review: Train to the Edges of the Moon





Synopsis:

Punk is no ordinary millennial who takes the life as it is. She has a nasty habit of getting in troubles, she shows the middle finger to prejudice and stupidity, she fights against her broken identity and darkness of her soul. She goes against the stream with her heavy, tight shoes, but she still tries to be a better person. Punk’s adventurous journey to become someone who matters starts in a Place Without a Name, continues in Italy and London. Her train is full of sad reflections, laughs, modern tales about our young lives, relationships and occasional heartbreaks. If you’re a misfit, depressed, lonely or tired of people telling you what to do join Punk’s wild side of the moon. It all may seem out of this world, but it is very real. 

Rating: 4-stars

Review:

Train to the Edge of the Moon by Asper Blurry is an interesting contemporary tale. One that spins readers deep into a millennial’s journey. Deep, dark, and emotional. Mental illness and the fight to survive is a common theme seems inside this book. Asper Blurry created a refreshing story. Many readers like myself can relate to the main character’s battle. To be understood, accepted, and happy. Life isn’t that easy nor neat. Humans are greatly flawed. Punk is a troubled teen whose life is anything but nice. Punk has many flaws which were expected. Believable and realistic. Train to the Edge of the Moon is a thrilling and raw. Readers will see the openness of the writer as they flip through every page. The writing by Asper Blurry is very bold. I enjoyed reading this novel. 

Review: Coping with Death and Destruction 

Synopsis:

This is a collection of twelve, high concept, multi-part short stories reflecting on and inspired by the death and transformation of the year 2016. It serves as an elegy for that period of time, submerging into its dark themes of loss, extracting what irreverence and hopefulness it can, and reflecting it through a prism of an eternal universe. Sorted astrologically, the stories sometimes span generations, depicting conflict based around such themes as apocalypse, dreams, aging, dying, ghosts, the afterlife, animals, nature, global politics and pop culture. Location also varies, taking the reader through several American states to North Korea, Africa, the Philippines and beyond – often peppered with heavy doses of Southern Gothic sensibility. Here you can read about religion based on science fiction and fantasy, a 1960’s lounge singer marginalized by the Beatles, or a mixture of drugs that allows the user to summon the dead. Several of the tales blend fact into the fiction, nodding to the cultural giants whose deaths loomed over the year 2016: David Bowie, Leonard Cohen, Prince, Carrie Fisher and others. These are detailed and developed stories, intended to instill within the reader a sense of timelessness and a comfort in the notion of infinity. 

Rating: 4.5-stars

Review:

Coping with Death and Destruction by Arrison Kirby is an epic collection of short stories. Each one has a different plot. Every plot gives off another emotion. One that takes my heart and pulls and tugs until it sets me free. Sad, haunting, and dark. The tales told, captivated my attention with every page. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I opened this book. However, I am thrilled to have done so. This was a path full of multiple journeys that I won’t be forgetting. There’s a variety of unique characters and stories to suit the taste of readers everywhere. The emotions hit me hard and square. I loved it. Coping with Death and Destruction not only entertained me but left me to feel things…that’s when I knew this was a book I would recommend to all. One fantasy after another can be experienced by each story told. Well-written. 

Review: Some Small Magic

Synopsis:

She whispers, “I’m supposed to take you home.”
“Not yet,” Abel says. “Please, just not yet.”
All Abel wants is a little bit of magic in his life. Enough money so his mom doesn’t cry at night. Healing for his broken body. And maybe a few answers about his past.
When Abel discovers letters to him from the dad he believed dead, he wonders if magic has come to the hills of Mattingly, Virginia, after all. But not everything is as it seems.
With a lot of questions and a little bit of hope, Abel decides to run away to find the truth. But danger follows him from the moment he jumps his first boxcar, forcing Abel to rely upon his simpleminded friend Willie—a man wanted for murder who knows more about truth than most—and a beautiful young woman who was already on the train. 
From Appalachia to the Tennessee wilds and through the Carolina mountains, the name of a single small town beckons: Fairhope. That is where Abel believes his magic lays. But will it be the sort that will bring a broken boy healing? And is that the magic that will one day lead him home? 

Rating: 5-stars

Review:

Some Small Magic by Billy Coffey is a heart breaking read. I wanted to cry and hug the characters. I felt the need to help, sympathize, and care. The entire read was an emotionally deep story. One that takes readers into its core and never lets go. Captivating, well-written, and stunning. Each character had an issue that pulled at my heart. I would love to see this book on the big screens everywhere. 

Billy Coffey has a talent for providing a fictional world that drags readers instantly inside and change everything they feel. A mother who is single and ones what she cans for her and her son.  A son who has a condition that makes readers like myself connect immediately with him. Then there’s others with other conditions that are just as sad. Some Some Magic is about a boy looking for the magic he believes exists. It’s up to readers to find out if he finds it or not. Once I picked up this book and read it, there was no returning from the tragic tale. Brilliantly woven for readers’ entertainment…Some Small Magic is a must read for all. I highly recommend it. 

Review: The Archbishop 




Synopsis:

The Archbishop by Monk Tihon is a famous book in Russia. Written before the Bolshevik revolution, it came under the steamroller of the communist censorship along with other extraordinary books of Orthodoxy.

The Archbishop is a book that provokes, a literary work, o novella, not a treaty of ecclesiology, continuing to be a cry against the ecclesiastical conformity. At the beginning of the 20th century, the author, Hieromonk Tihon, is unsatisfied with the lukewarm general atmosphere that rules inside the Church. He devises an ideal shepherd in the person of the main character of the book – the Archbishop – who tries to bring the apostolic spirit among priests and believers. 

Although the book is somehow meant to be a spiritual deployment program, it is read as an interesting, realistic, maybe too honest sometimes, chronicle of the ecclesial life. The characters are vivid, honest, uninvented. Nothing stops us from believing that this ‘Archbishop’ existed for real and that, maybe, he himself wrote this book.

Rating: 5-stars

Review:

The Archbishop by Monk Tohin is a great read. I highly recommend it to all. Inside, reader will find a journey full of emotions that we all go through in our lives. The characters play an important part that show readers what is really happening and what we can do. A priest finds himself with nothing but trouble when he takes pity on a young couple. His burdens keep adding to the point that he loses his way…until he meets another priest. One that by looks would seem to act much above the poorer priest. Yet, Monk Tihon surprises me when the exact opposite happened. I was just as surprised as the  poorer priest. Sympathy was instantly felt for the priest with all the troubles. His heart laced with fear, anger, and sadness. The Archbishop is engaging, compelling, and brilliantly written. A spiritual guidance that was raw, honest, interesting. I found it captivating. Readers can easily relate to the charcaters and their troubles. Overall, I highly recommend this literary title to all. 

Author Interview with Michael Scott Curnes






COPING WITH ASH by Michael Scott Curnes

Inkwater Press, January 26, 2017

(Reviewed and given 5 stars by Danielle Urban)

Author Interview

 

ULM: What would you like readers to take from reading your book, Coping with Ash

MSC: Loss and grief are universal human elements but how we cope with these is uniquely individualized. There isn’t a handbook for this. This story is meant to be a gift from the narrator (the deceased) to the survivors he leaves behind and a guide to helping them cope with the loss of their lover, brother, son and friend, who was a gay man they loved, named Ashton Taylor. This story is a reminder to not take a day, a person, or moment for granted. Our breathing days are finite and our chances to love and be loved are brief.
 

ULM: The emotional journey of your book was powerful. What did it feel like as your wrote it?

MSC: This story is personal for me and so I wrote it to be personal for the reader. There were many moments when I would write a passage through tears as I put myself in that vulnerable place of someone suffering from loss and abandonment and unspeakable loneliness. Every other page asks the question: how would I cope with this if I were the one left behind?

 

ULM: Coping with Ash is written through the dead character’s point of view. Why did you choose Ashton’s point of view versus his lover’s?

MSC: The overly detailed plan to distribute the cremated remains (cremains) of the deceased is a plot the deceased put into motion. In other words, he started it. It just made sense to me that he should be the one to tell the story he started, posthumously. The deceased was a novelist—a storyteller, in fact had his third novel set to be published and then he died in the middle of his morning shave, unexpectedly. He believed he understood how the news of his death would be received and his cremains managed by those around him so I made him the narrator so that he could witness the execution of his instructions.
ULM: I noticed your book held a racial and LGBT theme. What was your purpose for inserting these into your novel?
MSC: For me, the novel’s main characters just happen to be Native American and gay. I didn’t construct this to be thematic or to make any particular statement. I suppose I could say I made a point of using these characteristics as a reminder that Native Americans and gay men have life experiences and stories to tell and that they love, they mourn and they figure out how to overcome unfathomable loss—just like everyone else. My previous novels, Val and For the Love of Mother also both featured central characters that were gay. Is this because I am a gay writer or that I have a duty to increase the number of gay characters in modern, published literature? Sure.  

 

ULM: How would you describe your writing using only three words?

MSC: Intentional. Personal. Exploratory.

 

ULM: What other books have you written besides Coping with Ash?

MSC: ​Val, 1996 Brownell and Carroll Publishers

For the Love of Mother, 2011 Inkwater Press

My writing also appears in two published anthologies:

Writing the West Coast: In Love with Place, 2008

Living Artfully: Reflections from the Far West Coast, 2011

 

ULM: Any future works that you can share with us, readers?

MSC: I always have a novel or two percolating. Stay tuned.

 

ULM: Where can readers find You and your work online?

MSC: ​www.copingwithash.com 

​www.Amazon.com

Review: Human Acts by Han Kang



Synopsis:

From the internationally bestselling author of The Vegetarian, a rare and astonishing (The Observer) portrait of political unrest and the universal struggle for justice.

In the midst of a violent student uprising in South Korea, a young boy named Dong-ho is shockingly killed.

The story of this tragic episode unfolds in a sequence of interconnected chapters as the victims and the bereaved encounter suppression, denial, and the echoing agony of the massacre. From Dong-ho’s best friend who meets his own fateful end; to an editor struggling against censorship; to a prisoner and a factory worker, each suffering from traumatic memories; and to Dong-ho’s own grief-stricken mother; and through their collective heartbreak and acts of hope is the tale of a brutalized people in search of a voice.
An award-winning, controversial bestseller, Human Acts is a timeless, pointillist portrait of an historic event with reverberations still being felt today, by turns tracing the harsh reality of oppression and the resounding, extraordinary poetry of humanity. 

Rating: 5-stars

Review:

Human Acts by Han Kang is dark, haunting, and powerfully told. I haven’t read Han Kane’s previous work, but will definitely do so now. Her writing captured my attention immediately. The power of authoritarian rule and the suppression of its people…is not something anyone will ever forget. Especially the dead…

Bodies are building up…the numbers of dead are rising. Sadness broken out everywhere. Human Acts has caught a realistic event in South Korea. An uprising, a massacre, an a tragic situation overall. Violence hangs over the people like a heavy stone. Suffocating them little by little. Anger, censorship, and death. Families losing loved ones…the whole book was like a nightmare unfolding before my eyes. The pain, suffering, and emotions were terrifying. Like revisiting the Holocaust era all over again but more horrifying. 

Overall, Human Acts is well-told. The journey inside will never be forgotten. Han Kang’s characters have left their imprint…the terror was gruesome but entertaining to read. Definitely a page turner. I recommend it to readers worldwide. 

Review: The Weight of Him




Synopsis:

In The Weight of Him Billy Brennan undergoes an unforgettable journey in a startling attempt to resurrect his family and reignite hearts, his own most of all.

At four hundred pounds, Billy can always count on food. From his earliest memories, he has loved food’s colors, textures and tastes. The way flavors go off in his mouth. How food keeps his mind still and his bad feelings quiet. Food has always made everything better, until the day Billy’s beloved son Michael takes his own life.

Billy determines to make a difference in Michael’s memory and undertakes a public weight-loss campaign, to raise money for suicide prevention–his first step in an ambitious plan to save himself, and to save others. However, Billy’s dramatic crusade appalls his family, who want to simply try to go on, quietly, privately.

Despite his crushing detractors, Billy gains welcome allies: his community-at-large; a co-worker who lost his father to suicide; a filmmaker with his own dubious agenda; and a secret, miniature kingdom that Billy populates with the sub-quality dolls and soldiers he saves from disposal at the toy factory where he works. But it is only if Billy can confront the truth of the suffering and brokenness within and around him that he and others will be able to realize the recovery they need.

Told against the picturesque yet haunting backdrop of rural, contemporary Ireland, The Weight of Him is a big-hearted novel about loss and reliance that moves from tragedy to recrimination to what can be achieved when we take the stand of our lives.

Rating: 4.5-stars

Review

The Weight of Him by Ethel Rohan was a heartfelt read. I felt the deep connection to the characters pain. An overweight father stressing over the loss and pain of losing his son. His wife seems to have pulled away from him completely. No touching her for pain of her moving away from his touch. The father is determined to lose weight and make it a memorable thing for his dead son. There are others who have lost someone due to suicide. The father isn’t alone. The tale carries the heavy weight of the dead son on every page. Loss, grief, blame, denial, and then finally admitting the feelings of having lost the child. His wife opens up…his other son is still alive. Life will move forward. Slowly but memory of their son stays with them forever. The loss of a child is something we all can relate to as well as losing a loved one to suicide.  Eating ourselves up for the death of that loved one. Thinking we could have done something different to stop it. Then, the question as to why the son killed himself plagued the father. Why…

The Weight of Him is a steady paced novel. Full of darkness overshadowing a family. They’re struggling with the death of a son and brother. The father’s journey of overcoming the darkness was powerfully told. I enjoyed watching him take on the pain and trying to keep his family together. Death has a way of breaking things. Hearts are broken. Readers take on a rollercoaster ride of emotions. Ethel Rohan has masterfully created a realistic telling of the sad reality of life. It’s not always picture perfect not a happily ever after. It’s a scale whose bad days sometimes out weigh the good ones. Overall, I recommend the book to all. 

Review: A California Closing

Synopsis:

Big M OK Used Car–magnate Michael Mulroney never set out to be heroic. He lives at the top, naturally, thanks to instinct, wit, and the will to win. Insolvency is not the same as poverty; poverty is for poor people. And a man of proven dexterity is not poor. He beats the practical challenges of life in the golden state—of fickle markets, lowballers, long-toothed real-estate women, name droppers, fitness compulsives, sexual-molestation charges, and the ten-percent grade up Hazel Dell on a bicycle four days in a row—at sixty!
Samson slew a thousand philistines with the jawbone of an ass. Michael Mulroney may be more deliberate in sussing out a situation, measuring a mark for front-end warmth, background development, schmoozing up and hosing down. But soon he’ll step back in deference to his inner Samson, who will swing away, going in for the close.
If the ledger won’t balance, give it a few days with some hustle and scramble and judiciously placed phone calls. That’s the difference between a poor man and a man of the worldly class.
Skyhorse Publishing, as well as our Arcade, Yucca, and Good Books imprints, are proud to publish a broad range of books for readers interested in fiction—novels, novellas, political and medical thrillers, comedy, satire, historical fiction, romance, erotic and love stories, mystery, classic literature, folklore and mythology, literary classics including Shakespeare, Dumas, Wilde, Cather, and much more. While not every title we publish becomes a New York Times bestseller or a national bestseller, we are committed to books on subjects that are sometimes overlooked and to authors whose work might not otherwise find a home.

Rating: 4-stars

Review:

A California Closing by Robert Wintner is a hilarious yet realistic telling of man in business. The story reads well. However, the beginning felt dragged out in slow motion. I didn’t feel as entertained until I got further into the novel. Life isn’t easy nor always a party. But here, readers get a glimpse into Big M’s life. Living each day as it comes and goes. Everybody strives not to be poor. The reach for the highest point possible. This book was different than my normal reads…but it offered work, dreams, and desires. There interesting points woven into this book. 

Review: Hunters in the Dark

Synopsis:

From the novelist the New York Times compares to Paul Bowles, Evelyn Waugh and Ian McEwan, an evocative new work of literary suspense

 

Adrift in Cambodia and eager to side-step a life of quiet desperation as a small-town teacher, 28-year-old Englishman Robert Grieve decides to go missing. As he crosses the border from Thailand, he tests the threshold of a new future.
And on that first night, a small windfall precipitates a chain of events– involving a bag of “jinxed” money, a suave American, a trunk full of heroin, a hustler taxi driver, and a rich doctor’s daughter– that changes Robert’s life forever.
Hunters in the Dark is a sophisticated game of cat and mouse redolent of the nightmares of Patricia Highsmith, where identities are blurred, greed trumps kindness, and karma is ruthless. Filled with Hitchcockian twists and turns, suffused with the steamy heat and pervasive superstition of the Cambodian jungle, and unafraid to confront difficult questions about the machinations of fate, this is a masterful novel that confirms Lawrence Osborne’s reputation as one of our finest contemporary writers. 

Rating: 4-stars

Review:

Hunters in the Dark by Lawerence Osborne is dark, gritty, yet most engaging read ever. Nothing will happen like reader’s expect. Twits and turns everywhere. The suspense builds like a fire consuming a forest. Anticipation grows as readers wait to find the unexpected outcomes. I got to travel from my reading spot to Cambodia. Most exciting yet dangerous place I have traveled. The main character, Robert Grieve, is a British teacher, whose life sudden engulfs readers like myself into a steady plot. He leaves his life behind and the new one…is like wild rollercoaster. Karma and humanity tough topics found within the pages. The beginning was a bit slow, but it soon lead to the adventure at hand. Well-written. I recommend Hunters in the Dark to readers everywhere. 

— NPR “Best Books of 2016” – Staff Picks, Realistic Fiction, Seriously Great Writing, and Tales from Around the World selection

Review: The Insides of Banana Skins

Synopsis:

Sukey is 17. It is 1967 and she moves into a crowded North London flat: her bed is cushions on the floor of the kitchen.Kitty, the official tenant of the flat who Sukey knows from when they were both at college, occupies the main bedroom. She works in a pub, steals money and other people’s husbands. Currently Dennis, a creepy older man who is estranged from his wife, shares her bed. 

Also living in the flat is Jaz, Sukey’s best friend. He is studying drama and is a virgin. He shares a room with Beaky, another student, Minnie who works in an alternative food shop, Ted, her boyfriend, and Malc a drug dealer. They drink, use dope and take LSD. When there’s nothing else available, they smoke the insides of banana skins.

The novel starts a few months earlier as Sukey is dumped by her first boyfriend. Jaz comes to find her and helps her move into the flat. Sukey is aimless, drifting, trying out drugs and men. She’s unable and unwilling to give her life direction. 

Sukey makes friend with Bridie, an Irish woman who lives in the ground floor flat with two children. Separated from her husband, she works part time as a prostitute. Their landlord and his family occupy the top floor. He is an Indian man whose wife speaks no English. 

Relationships in the flat change. Malc meets the beautiful Jojo and goes to live with her. Ted leaves Minnie. Tessa, Sukey’s friend from school, comes to stay and after she and Beaky sleep together they find a place of their own and move out. 

Sukey meets Joe, who works in a strip club. Joe introduces Sukey and Jaz to Vic, a pornographer and his wife, Jules, a stunning-looking woman and successful potter. They live in a beautiful house, have two young children and indulge in unusual sexual practices. 

Through Joe, Kitty and Tessa become strippers. Kitty also poses for Vic, who has a market for various types of obscene photos. Minnie and Sukey, who have barely tolerated each other, become friends.

Jojo moves into the flat, and although she’s still seeing Malc, has insisted that they live apart until he stops taking heroin. Malc now shares with Ted. The flat is rent-free but in return both men have to have sex with its elderly woman owner. 

One night Malc, drunk in Piccadilly Circus, is run over and killed. Soon after, Jules commits suicide. Tessa finds a new boyfriend, a fire-eater who up till now has been homosexual. Beaky leaves her. Kitty disappears.

In the absence of Kitty, Sukey takes charge of the flat. Ted and Jojo get together and Jaz tells Sukey that there’s a man he’s kissed and how he thinks he wants to be with him. 

Weeks after she’s disappeared. Kitty’s body is found. She’s been murdered. It is an unsettling time. Sukey begins to tire of her aimless drifting existence, but she can’t imagine how else to live.

Vic is arrested for Kitty’s murder. Although stunned, the group living in the flat carry on. There is however a sense that the old life is over with new ones starting. Jaz begins an affair with Stevie, Tessa’s homosexual boyfriend. Tessa, now pregnant, moves back into the flat and Jaz goes to live with Stevie. Minnie is negotiating a deal with the owner of the shop where she works, she has ambitions to be a businesswoman. 

The landlord decides to sell the house and the group makes plans to leave. Minnie offers Sukey a room in the flat that she is renting above her shop. Sukey accepts and her new life starts.

Each chapter ends with a short piece written from the future. These give the reader a glimpse of what happens to the characters in thier later lives as well as providing additional insight into the events that have just taken place.

Although parts of the story focus on one of the others who occupy the flat and we see a little bit of what that life looks like for Jaz, Minnie, Beaky, Tessa, Ted, Jojo and even Dennis, this is Sukey’s story, told from her point of view. It’s about a young girl in a strange world and how she gradually learns to live in it.

Rating: 5 stars

Review:

The Insides of Banana Skins by Jane Seaford reminds me so much of The Great Gatsby novel. The similarities of how people live in poverty and the sins they commit. It was quite interesting following each of the characters as their stories progressed. The events led to their new ways of living as well as to their failures. The raw openness of everything was refreshing to read. Characters like Minnie and Sukey were beyond believable. They did what they thought they had to endure to survive. Strong and determined. I didn’t like Dennis as his character was not one that I would like to know better. He is absolutely disgusting. Not just how he treats himself but in how he treats women as well. Using them for his own wants and needs then turning his back as well as verbally abusing them. He made my skin crawl. Ted is another male character that wasn’t on my top favorites lists. His whatever attitude and the fact that treatment of Minnie wasn’t nice. I can see real men out there acting or stooping to these men’s levels…however, I just don’t want to run into the likes of them. Minni thought she was doing fine. The fact that she let a guy like Dennis play her mad me a bit mad. Was she that oblivious? Minni was a college student then meet a married man and front here her life changed.  It seems that Minnie grows as the story unfolds that others seems to roll with the time. Sex isn’t pretty or beautiful. It’s one of the main themes inside this book. Most books make sex into something wonderful but we forget that there’s an ugliness about it as well. Here, readers see that. Jane Seaford has brought together real people’s lives into these characters. Whether they’re bad or good, their actions show that destruction, death, love, and friendships come and go. Some things never change…The Insides of Banana Skins demonstrates the harsh reality of life and the cost of our consequences. Overall, I recommend this read to all. 

Review: In the Service of The Boyar


Synopsis:

In the land of the Boyar, a boy will fall in love and become much more than a man. Fleeing with his family from danger, a boy catches a glimpse of Fifika, as their clan travels with haste to the lands of the boyar, a mysterious benefactor. Smitten, the boy becomes her playmate there in the Carpathians where the boyar resides and whose hillsides are filled with enchanted beasts. The boyar assures the clan that the beasts are harmless unless provoked, but some of the members are not so sure. When tragedy visits Fifika’s family, the boyar invites her and the boy into his castle to learn from his English tutor, a lazy and fearful man. The boy, now almost a man, falls deeply in love under Fifika’s tutelage. When he finally learns Fifika’s secret, he must choose between his family and the only life he knows and the uncertain dangers of life with her in the mountainous lands of the boyar with a very different kind of family.

Rating: 5 stars

Review:

In the Service of The Boyar by Jason Graff is a marvelous adventure. Full of mystery, danger, and the unknown. A young boy  and his family travel around from place to place. No particular land or people like them. Here, readers see the stigma that is attached to the boy and his people. Anger and cruel attitudes shown to this group. Then, they stumbled upon a land full or the most extreme dangers. Wolves and other creatures. If rules aren’t followed, bad things occur. This also reminded me of the Jewish people. How they were led out of Egypt and then went against God. Their rebellion caused them trouble. Just like the people inside this tale. The dialogue and action moved the plot forward. The story was told in the young boy’s point of view. It worked well for this book. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this fictional piece. The characters were well-developed. I felt both sad and a little frustrated at the gypsies. But like all humans we have our faults. I also, enjoyed the theme of respecting the nature. Nature isn’t something humans do well at keeping peace with…we’re always going against nature’s call. Jason Graff’s writing style hooked me from the first moment and held me captive until the end. His words left me feeling spooked and curious as to what was going to happen next. Adventure would be the one word I choose to describe this fantasy. Family, love, loyalty, and betrayals are themes inside here. In the Service of The Boyar by Jason Graff is a read that I highly recommend to all. 

Review: Shylock is My Name


Synopsis:

Man Booker Prize-winner Howard Jacobson brings his singular brilliance to this modern re-imagining of one of Shakespeare’s most unforgettable characters: Shylock

 Winter, a cemetery, Shylock. In this provocative and profound interpretation of “The Merchant of Venice,” Shylock is juxtaposed against his present-day counterpart in the character of art dealer and conflicted father Simon Strulovitch. With characteristic irony, Jacobson presents Shylock as a man of incisive wit and passion, concerned still with questions of identity, parenthood, anti-Semitism and revenge. While Strulovich struggles to reconcile himself to his daughter Beatrice’s “betrayal” of her family and heritage – as she is carried away by the excitement of Manchester high society, and into the arms of a footballer notorious for giving a Nazi salute on the field – Shylock alternates grief for his beloved wife with rage against his own daughter’s rejection of her Jewish upbringing. Culminating in a shocking twist on Shylock’s demand for the infamous pound of flesh, Jacobson’s insightful retelling examines contemporary, acutely relevant questions of Jewish identity while maintaining a poignant sympathy for its characters and a genuine spiritual kinship with its antecedent—a drama which Jacobson himself considers to be “the most troubling of Shakespeare’s plays for anyone, but, for an English novelist who happens to be Jewish, also the most challenging.”

Rating: 5 stars

Review:

Shylock Is My Name by Howard Jacobson is a modern rebelling of Willian Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice. I truly enjoyed reading this new literary novel. It was fascinating to follow. From the start to end I was enchanted with the characters. Especially, Shylock. There is so much depth to him. This character’s struggles are engaging. Some are easy to understand while others are more complicated. Both internal and external conflicts are shown throughout the read. The other characters, Strulovitch and Zionist add to the tale. Their roles are quite interesting. The modern twist and drama soak up readers into an entertaining adventure filled with humor, betrayal, grief and rejection. Howard Jacobson has indeed captured William Shakespeare’s tale and brought to life a brilliant new masterpiece. This satire will leave readers like myself begging for another book, told by this talented writer. 

Shylock Is My Name is a new compelling piece of fiction that’s fresh, exciting, and keeps readers guessing. The style of writing is easy to read. The pages seem to fly by as readers delve deeper into the story. What I loved about this book, was that Howard Jacobson brought in a culture and heritage that is popular even today. The Jews and hatred towards them. Then there’s the issues of those leaving behind their Jewish heritage. Today, we see a lot of that as well. Other topics like revenge and anger are displayed. Once, I opened this novel, I couldn’t stop reading it at all. Howard Jacobson has a way of drawing his readers to his characters and their lives. Beautifully woven. Overall, I highly recommend Shylock Is My Name to readers everywhere. 

Review: Hag-Seed

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Synopsis:

William Shakespeare’s The Tempest retold as Hag-Seed

Felix is at the top of his game as Artistic Director of the Makeshiweg Theatre Festival. His productions have amazed and confounded. Now he’s staging a Tempest like no other: not only will it boost his reputation, it will heal emotional wounds.

Or that was the plan. Instead, after an act of unforeseen treachery, Felix is living in exile in a backwoods hovel, haunted by memories of his beloved lost daughter, Miranda. And also brewing revenge.

After twelve years, revenge finally arrives in the shape of a theatre course at a nearby prison. Here, Felix and his inmate actors will put on his Tempest and snare the traitors who destroyed him. It’s magic! But will it remake Felix as his enemies fall?

Margaret Atwood’s novel take on Shakespeare’s play of enchantment, retribution, and second chances leads us on an interactive, illusion-ridden journey filled with new surprises and wonders of its own.

Rating: 5 stars

Review:

 Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood is a sensational hit. I loved how she brilliantly captured one of Shakespeare’s famous plays, The Tempest and brought to life in a modern world. I felt like I stepped back into my high school English classroom. That’s when I studied Shakespeare’s plays. It was then, that I fell in love with King Hamlet. Now, after reading this tale, I have to this one is indeed my new all-time favorite. Echanting, thrilling, and beautifully told. 

Margaret Atwood brings us a realistic character that is similar to Prospero from The Tempest. This modern rebelling is so similar to the original play. It’s quite frightening in a way. I love the setting and tone that the writer has set for this story. I was hooked from beginning to end. Hag-Seed is about an artistic director who lost his only child and from there let a man take over his duties. He knows it was indeed the wrong decision. But once it was made he didn’t change it. For in some ways it was a blessing but underneath he knew it was more of a curse. Then, this new man that he let take over his duties soon has him kicked out of the life he lived for…now, enters the themes that we all knew and love from Shakespeare’s plays. Revenge and redemption. The protagonist Felix, is quite an interesting character. He had a way of drawing me into his life story. The events were dark, hilarious, and entertaining. Suspenseful too.  Felix wants to go after all who drew him out of his former life. Creating a play in a prison with prisoners was an enticing way to go about his goals…readers will love this title. It was hard to not be drawn into the troubles ahead. Margaret Atwood masterfully woven Hag-Seed into a new beloved novel. Overall, I highly recommend this novel to readers worldwide. 

Review: Deborah Rising

Deborah Rising: A Novel Inspired by the Bible by [Azrieli, Avraham]

 

Synopsis:

Set in ancient Israel, Deborah Rising (HarperCollins, 2016) portrays the dramatic (and unlikely) rise of the first woman to lead a nation in recorded human history. In the tradition of The Red Tent, The Fifth Mountain, and The Mists of Avalon, this absorbing novel delivers an inspiring story of suspense and adventure in pursuit of freedom and self-determination, starring a courageous 14-year-old girl who would become the most powerful woman in biblical lore.
Before he was murdered, Deborah’s father had dreamt that his daughter would one day become the leader of the Israelites. But the social and religious mores of her time dictated that a girl must marry–even against her will–and obey her husband in all matters. When Deborah is forced to marry the violent son of the local judge, she rebels, determined to forge a path of her own.

Captivated by the notion of escaping the arranged marriage and fulfilling her late father’s dream, Deborah embarks upon an epic journey to find a mysterious elixirist, one rumored to be blessed with the ability to turn women into men. It is a journey that proves increasingly perilous–filled with wild beasts, lustful men, unscrupulous priests, and warring tribesmen. Yet Deborah manages to attract unlikely allies, including lepers, slaves, Moabite traders, and even a dead tiger, while she persists in the face of seemingly insurmountable setbacks and continues to pursue her daring quest.
Part historical novel, part adventure story, part visionary fiction, Deborah Rising is a captivating tale about a girl on the cusp of womanhood, whose unrelenting struggle to overcome discrimination, sexism, and paternalism spoke to the lives of girls and women today.

Rating: 5 stars

Review:

Deborah Rising by Avraham Azrieli is a stunning historical fantasy. One that has an epic journey that no reader could guess. It’s nothing like anything I have read. This novel brings about some historical people and their customs as well as what kind of lives they lived back then. I was constantly intrigued by the story. Each page sent me on another journey. the main journey was one that a father passed down to his youngest. After losing her parents and her older sister, the young girl sets off to fulfill her destiny. However, trouble comes her way each time. The men from her land are worshiping idols and killing innocents due to lies and greed. The lives of women are similar to those of the Indian customs. Many women are controlled by men. A paternal ruling that still survives, today. I was frightened by what the women went through constantly. Even if they followed rules by their society there was always a man or men who abused them. Sadly, many are stuck in this threatening lifestyle. Like Deborah’s older sister. One false accusation and she like many other women were stoned to death over a lie. Women were not permitted to speak on their defense. I almost wished Deborah’s sister retaliated. Imagine letting your own people stone for no reason at all. Why should the innocent be slaughtered so easily? Realistically told and captured the time period perfectly. Avraham Azrieli is indeed a talented new author. His work can be read by teens and adults. The issues presented in this novel were strong yet the material was done in a clean manner. After reading this book, I felt like I traveled back in history. The young woman’s journey was quite fascinating to follow. An adventure that is both intriguing and entertaining. Deborah Rising is a YA religious tale, that I highly recommend to readers worldwide. I believe that the issues shown in this title are ones that need to be read by all.

Review: Remembrance of Blue Roses

 

Synopsis:

Remembrance of Blue Roses follows a man and a married couple in New York City, whose intricate relationship oscillates among friendship, love, love-triangle, and even obsession. Its romantic ambience is interwoven with classical music, opera, art, family legend, and international affairs, illuminating the lives of international civil servants at the United Nations and the UN peacekeeping mission in Sarajevo, and those with direct experience of the Israel-Palestinian conflict and the Holocaust. Mark, the narrator and an American, works for the United Nations in New York as a personnel officer; his friend, Hans, German, also works for the UN as an economist; and Yukari, Japanese and Hans’s wife, is a professional violinist. One day Mark encounters Hans and Yukari in a museum. As Hans enjoys opera singing and Mark is into painting, the three foster their friendship through classical music, opera, and art. Mark resists feeling drawn to his friend’s wife. One evening over dinner, they discover that their families were acquainted generations ago. This bonds them together. During the summer, inspired by the beauty of Yukari in her light blue dress at the UN garden, Hans and Mark secretly plant blue roses there for Yukari. The blue roses later blossom sumptuously. The three enjoy their blue roses, the symbol of their friendship and bond. The story becomes complicated by the involvement of two other women: Mark’s ex-wife, Francine, a Swiss, who is remarried to another of Mark’s friends in the UN, Shem Tov, an Israeli; and Mark’s high school sweetheart, Jane, to whom he was briefly engaged. Francine encourages Mark to be happy with Yukari, while Jane now wants to marry Mark. Yukari becomes pregnant with Hans’s child and happily settles into her role as

During the summer, inspired by the beauty of Yukari in her light blue dress at the UN garden, Hans and Mark secretly plant blue roses there for Yukari. The blue roses later blossom sumptuously. The three enjoy their blue roses, the symbol of their friendship and bond. The story becomes complicated by the involvement of two other women: Mark’s ex-wife, Francine, a Swiss, who is remarried to another of Mark’s friends in the UN, Shem Tov, an Israeli; and Mark’s high school sweetheart, Jane, to whom he was briefly engaged. Francine encourages Mark to be happy with Yukari, while Jane now wants to marry Mark. Yukari becomes pregnant with Hans’s child and happily settles into her role as

One day Mark encounters Hans and Yukari in a museum. As Hans enjoys opera singing and Mark is into painting, the three foster their friendship through classical music, opera, and art. Mark resists feeling drawn to his friend’s wife. One evening over dinner, they discover that their families were acquainted generations ago. This bonds them together. During the summer, inspired by the beauty of Yukari in her light blue dress at the UN garden, Hans and Mark secretly plant blue roses there for Yukari. The blue roses later blossom sumptuously. The three enjoy their blue roses, the symbol of their friendship and bond. The story becomes complicated by the involvement of two other women: Mark’s ex-wife, Francine, a Swiss, who is remarried to another of Mark’s friends in the UN, Shem Tov, an Israeli; and Mark’s high school sweetheart, Jane, to whom he was briefly engaged. Francine encourages Mark to be happy with Yukari, while Jane now wants to marry Mark. Yukari becomes pregnant with Hans’s child and happily settles into her role as an expectant mother. Mark, Hans, and Yukari celebrate New Year’s Eve at the height of their friendship and happiness. … Then a series of tragedies shatters their joy and alters their future forever.

Rating: 5 stars

Review:

Remembrance of Blue Roses by Yorker Keith is about loyalty, friendship, and love. The story swept me off my feet and into a beautiful yet sad tale. The ending brought back a little bit of peace to my heart. This literary novel is well-written. The characters are well-developed. Their friendship, betrayal, and desires will keep readers hooked. Friends stay true to another even until the end. A man who lusts after another man’s wife tries keeping the couple together. Soon the three are happy again. But then fate has a way of knocking down our doors. Two friends are taken away from this world but leave behind a gorgeous little girl. Almost an exact remembrance of her mother. The same mother who before she died was going to finally divorce her husband and marry the husband’s friend. They held so much in common. I felt like I was almost reading Romeo & Juliet in a way. Two lovers about to be together forever then taken from one another. However one dies and one still lives. Remembrance of Blue Roses symbolizes the blue roses that two male friends planted and soon become three friends. They would visit these blue roses and in the ending, a visit is made again to these blue roses in honor of the two people who died. Sad yet bittersweet but almost peaceful too. Yorker Keith’s writing has a way of drawing readers into his world of fiction. I couldn’t stop reading once I opened the novel. Overall, I highly recommend this title to readers everywhere.

 

 

 

Review: Beyond the Gray Leaf

 

Synopsis:

Walt Whitman, John Burroughs, and J.P. Irvine represent a handful of the thousands of government clerks who worked in Washington, D.C., after the Civil War. But Irvine, a small-town poet from the Illinois prairies, was the one selected to address President Ulysses S. Grant and a crowd of 10,000 on Memorial Day 1873. Those words were lost, along with the legacy of the man. Until now.

Dustin Renwick tracked down that piece and more for his book, which explores Irvine’s life from his pioneer upbringing in western Illinois to his years in the nation’s capital. The poet excelled in his depictions of the Civil War, and the Chicago Tribune called some of Irvine’s nature poems “nearly pure gold.”

Beyond the Gray Leaf weaves biography and historical context with the rediscovered poems of this forgotten literary figure from 19th-century America.

Rating: 5 stars

Review:

Beyond the Gray Leaf by Dustin Renwick is a fascinating book. One that contains a collection of poems that readers everywhere can loose themselves within and enjoy. This book represents a poet’s life story and the poems he wrote. A wonderful way of bringing poetry to readers worldwide. Dustin Renwick knew exactly how to put together an educational yet entertaining read. It was like stepping back in time. Each word took me into the story and poetry presented to me. Each poem was beautifully written. I love poetry and this was by the best book I have seen featuring a poet. Overall, I highly recommend Beyond the Gray Leaf to all readers.

 

Review: This Too Shall Pass

 

Synopsis:

Blanca is forty years old and motherless. Shaken by the unexpected death of the most important person in her life, she suddenly realizes that she has no idea what her future will look like.

To ease her dizzying grief and confusion, Blanca turns to her dearest friends, her closest family, and a change of scenery. Leaving Barcelona behind, she returns to Cadaqués, on the coast, accompanied by her two sons, two ex-husbands, and two best friends, and makes a plan to meet her married lover for a few stolen moments as well. Surrounded by those she loves most, she spends the summer in an impossibly beautiful place, finding ways to reconnect and understand what it means to truly, happily live on her own terms, just as her mother would have wanted

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Review:

This Too Shall Pass by Milena Busquets is a deep emotional journey. Readers like myself won’t ever forget it. Milena Busquets brought me to Spain. A place where the events were happening. This was a tale of a forty-year-old woman who has just lost her mother. The daughter is speaking about her life and journey to her dead mother. The shock and sadness that the main character felt and thought became my own feelings. The point of view from the daughter was interesting. I found myself lost in this woman’s despair, discovery, and life. Lots of sex within this read. I enjoyed reading this summer novel. It was definitely a refreshing story from what I have read in the past. The tale is about love and loss. Deep, thoughtful, and complicated. The scenes played before me…but it was like getting tiny glimpses into the forty-year-old woman’s life. I wished it went deeper into how she felt when she did have sex or what made her happy…every other book I have read there was at least one thing that made the main characters happy. Maybe, in this tale, it was Blanca’s mother that made her happy. Once her mother died, it was like everything didn’t have any meaning…Overall, I recommend this novel to all. It definitely has kept me guessing.

Review: The Girls by Emma Cline

 

Synopsis:

Northern California, during the violent end of the 1960’s. At the start of summer, a lonely and thoughtful teenager, Evie Boyd, sees a group of girls in the park, and is immediately caught by their freedom, their careless dress, their dangerous aura of abandon. Soon Evie, is in thrall to Suzanne, a mesmerizing older girl, and is drawn into the circle of a soon-to-be infamous cult and the man who is its charismatic leader. Hidden in the hills, their sprawling ranch is eerie and run down, but to Evie, it is exotic, thrilling, charged—a place where she feels desperate to be accepted. As she spends more time away from her mother and the rhythms of her daily life, and as her obsession with Suzanne intensifies, Evie does not realize she is coming closer and closer to unthinkable violence.

Emma Cline’s remarkable debut novel is gorgeously written and spellbinding, with razor-sharp precision and startling psychological insight. The Girls is a brilliant work of fiction.

Rating: 5 stars

Review:

The Girls by Emma Cline…is indeed a sensational hit. From the first page readers like myself are hit with a strong intensity to know what’s to come of the girls. Including the one that is telling readers about them. Curiosity prickling my mind. The main character, Evie Boyd, makes the girls she sees like an exotic painting that to others can be too bold while other would stare at it with an awe. Evie Boyd is in held in awe of the girls. Something deep lured her straight to them. An imaginary magnet that constantly pulled her to them. So many real life issues were woven into this story. An average girl failing her parents. No raw talents. No exotic beauty. Plain, short, and simple. Parents divorced. Neither seems to notice their daughter and when they do, she’s only a disappointment to them. Sensing that doesn’t help a person achieve anything.  A father with a younger woman who came back wearing the lipstick that belonged to Evie’s mom. A mother going through changes so rapidly that her daughter hardly knew what her mom did when not around her. Then the group of girls that belonged to a cult…were like air that Evie so desperately needed. They caught her attention and dragged her into a world sadder than the one she already knew.

Emma Cline’s writing is superb. It transferred me straight into the life of Evie Boyd. Everything that happened to her felt like I was her. The emotional toll is deep. A thought provoking novel that silently sends messages to its readers. What not to do and how time can go by faster than people thought. Realistic portrayals of life’s issues with the family and teens is strongly evident here.  Growing up…like Evie Boyd did…was like growing up alone. Isolation instantly felt and brought on by her parents. Her lack of abilities and plainness drew Evie into a world none of hope to find. The sighting of the girls brought her mind swirling with more questions than answers. The way the girls presented themselves drew Evie’s divine attention. But like the saying goes…curiosity kills the cat…so too, will Evie’s curiosity plunge her into a darker world. I loved reading every moment of this coming of age story. The Girls by Emma Cline overall, is a must read for all. Once readers read this book, there’s no turning back. I highly recommend it to all.

Review: Coinman (An Untold Story)

 

Synopsis:

Coinman, a junior level office worker in India, has a number of eccentricities. The laughingstock of the office, he finds no relief at home; his wife Imli, an obsessed actress, completely vanishes into each role. When tough bully, Hukum, a beautiful enchantress, Tulsi, and the office sage, Ratiram, unite the office to conspire against Coinman, they have no inkling of an apocalypse looming inside the office.

Rating: 5 stars

Review:

The Coinman: An Untold Story by Pawn Mishra is an incredible and an unforgetatable journey. A debut literary novel by a new talented writer. I was easily entertained by the well-written tale. Enchanting…this story took me deep into its plot and set me upon an unknown and remarkable travel. I loved how Pawn Mishra brought in a little bit of an Indian lifestyle and culture to the piece at hand. Highly suspenseful. I never knew what to expect to happen until it occured. The pages are vivid in description and the narrator point of view made me more curious as to what the magical pages held for me. My interest was deeply satisfied. The novel itself moved by fast and is set in an office environment. Coworkers are not always the nicest people nor easy to deal with…yet here I faced an entire office set of workers going against one man. This particular man was nicknamed Coinman. He always has his hand holding onto coins within one of his pockets…never does he use both hands…when he has to use both…he makes an excuse to leave. Everything about him annoy his coworkers…and they set out to plot against him. A business firm that turns violent…a conspirarcy in the works…and a spy among the coworkers. The turn of events in this exciting adventure will keep readers turning the pages and wondering what will be inside Pawn Mishra’s next masterpiece. Overall, I greatly enjoyed reading Coinman: An Untold Story and I highly recommend it to all.

June 2016 Issue…

June2016

 

The June 2016 Issue is now finished! It has been uploaded to Amazon and should be live by tomorrow morning.

Thank you to everyone for your help and support.

We are looking for 25 reviewers…

If you are willing to leave both a rating and a review of the June Issue, we will give you a free copy. All reviews for the June Issue must be posted within 2 weeks after having received your free copy.

If interested, please, email us: urbanlitmagazine@gmail.com.

 

 

 

Changes…

We have gone through a lot of changes…some faster than others. We have been experimenting with what works best for everyone and for ourselves.

Recently, we have updated…our website’s name and URL.

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Review: Unusal Love Story

 

Synopsis:

Lonely, widowed, and desperately poor, seventy-three-year-old Miriam is used to living a life of isolation. But when she comes across a lost traveler one stormy night, she knows she must do the right thing, so she invites the stranger into her modest home for a bite of food until the weather passes.

The man, Raja, is tall, handsome, and respectful—with a manner unlike anyone from the small village where Miriam lives. But even greater surprises await when the two arrive back at her residence and Raja reveals a seemingly impossible past—and claims he has known and loved Miriam almost her entire life.

Set against the exotic backdrop of Central Asia in the 1940s, Unusual Love Story is a mythical tale featuring thought-provoking wisdom on love, spirituality, and what it truly means to be human. In a unique take on romantic storytelling, this sweeping novel introduces readers to a magical new world where immortal creatures can shift between man and beast—and compassion and kindness break the barriers that so often separate us as human beings.

Rating: 5 stars

Review:

Unusual Love Story by A. Amos is definitely an interesting and intriguing read for all. From the beginning of its tale, I was immersed deeply into a  woman’s harsh lifestyle and the why’s of how she is living like she has. I remember studying about Central Asia, how low caste people are treated among their own. It’s heartbreaking…the woman and her family were just trying to be good humans and yet people cruelty caused the death of her family and others. Tragedy strikes hard in situations like that. I can only imagine the fictional character’s pain as those evil moments are replayed in her mind. My heart and sympathy went out to her immediately.  Another character that sparks interest is the male stranger, Raja. It’s soon revealed that he’s not just a human but also, a king Cobra. At first, this frightens Miriam but soon fear subsides. Here, I find fantasy and sorcery brought into the plot. The writing goes back and forth between the past and present moments. Raja goes on to say that life gives us harsh tests in our lifetime to prove how strong we are in our belief of the higher power. I believed this fictional character was indeed right. A woman once 74 years-old turned back into her 18-year-old self. Making love to Raja, the king cobra all night long…when she wakes, they both head out of her hut and travel. For those who don’t like snakes…beware, this novel, is full of them. Raja, after all, is a king cobra.

Readers like myself not only get a tutorial about snakes and power but also on love and humanity. Unusual Love Story is indeed just that. There is so much for Miriam to learn and so much that Raja shares with her that it’s hard not to be fascinated by everything. The story is mostly Miriam asking Raja questions and he answers them in a philosophical way. Readers are told about others around the world. It’s like traveling without ever leaving one’s home. This is the most unusual love story that I have ever read. It combines a few genres into one making for an enchanting story. Inside this beautiful romance, readers will be awed by this writer’s talent. Instantly, I was mesmerized by the plot and characters. The scenes unfolded before me like they were, of my own memories. The story will captivate and keep readers hooked. Unusual Love Story dips readers into a different culture that is both educational and richly entertaining. Overall, I highly recommend this stunning tale to readers worldwide.

 

Review: That Girl from Summer Hill

 

Synopsis:

Enter Elizabeth Bennet. Chef Casey Reddick has had it up to here with men. When she arrives in the charming town of Summer Hill, Virginia, she leaves behind a demanding boss at a famous D.C. restaurant and a breakup with a boyfriend jealous of her success. Some peace and quiet on the picturesque Tattwell plantation is just what she needs to start fresh. But the tranquility is broken one misty morning when she sees a gorgeous naked man on the porch of her cottage.
 
Enter Mr. Darcy. What Tate Landers, Hollywood heartthrob, and owner of Tattwell, doesn’t need on a bittersweet trip to his ancestral home is a woman spying on him from his guest cottage. Mistaking Casey for a reporter, Tate tries to run her out of her own house. His anger, which looks so good on the screen, makes a very bad first impression on Casey. Hollywood he may be, but he’s no sweetheart to Casey—and she lets him know it!
 
The plot thickens. Sparks fly—literally—when Casey is recruited to play Elizabeth Bennet opposite Tate’s Mr. Darcy in a stage adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. Just brushing past Tate makes Casey’s whole body hum. As they spar on and off stage, Casey begins to think she’s been too quick to judge. Tate is more down-to-earth than Casey expected, and she finds herself melting under his smoldering gaze. But then Tate’s handsome ex-brother-in-law, Devlin Haines, who is playing Wickham, tells Casey some horrifying stories about Tate. She is upset and confused as she tries to figure out who and what to believe. As she finds herself falling for Tate, Casey needs to know: Is the intense, undeniable chemistry between them real, or is this just a performance that ends when the curtain falls?

Rating: 5 stars

Review:

The Girl from Summer Hill by Jude Deveraux has just become my new favorite. Her characters spark an interest that is hard to ignore. The heated debates, the sexual tension, and the role of the characters creates an irresistible read. I found my myself intrigued from the beginning until the end. The Girl from Summer Hill is indeed very much like my favorite classic, Pride and Prejudice. Jude Deveraux’s writing is intense, dramatic, and romantic. I loved reading this story of hers as well as meeting these new characters.  I laughed, cried, and fell in love immediately.

Inside this brilliant tale, readers like myself get to meet a bold man who happens to be a very popular among the women and is a top movie star. Next, there’s a young woman who is a great cook, sweet, and finds the aka male movie star soaping his nude form out in the rain by her front door…she thought she was dreaming…they fight over it and she ends up hating him…only now that she sees him all the time and both playing leading parts in Pride and Prejudice…love may just be in the air. Then there are those electric sparks they both feel around another…maybe the Mr. Darcey and Elizabeth Bennet will find their happy ending in both the play and in real life. The Girl from Summer Hill is full of humor, wit, and romance. I can’t get enough of this juicy read and the plot that hooked me in all the way. Jude Deveraux is definitely a talented writer who brought out my favorite story and turned it into another amazing tale. I absolutely loved this novel, and I highly recommend it to readers worldwide.

Review: The Dove’s Necklace

 

 

Synopsis:

The stunning novel that explores the secret life of Mecca by the first woman to win the international prize for Arabic fiction.

When the body of a young woman is discovered in the Lane of Many Heads, an alley in modern-day Mecca, no one will claim it as they are all ashamed of her nakedness. As Detective Nasser pursues his investigation of the case, seemingly all of Mecca chimes in―including the Lane of Many Heads itself―in this brilliant, funny, profane, and enigmatic fever dream of a novel by Raja Alem, the first woman to win the International Prize for Arabic Fiction.

Nasser initially suspects that the dead woman is Aisha, one of the residents of the Area, and he searches her emails for clues. The world she paints embraces everything from crime and religious extremism to the exploitation of foreign workers by a mafia of building contractors, who are destroying the historic areas of the city. In stark relief with this grimness is the beauty of her love letters to her German boyfriend. Another view reveals the city through the eyes of Yusuf, Aisha’s neighbor, increasingly frustrated by the acceleration pace of change.

As gripping as classic noir, nuanced as a Nabokov novel, and labyrinthine as the alleys of Mecca itself, this powerful and disturbing work of fiction masterfully reveals a city and a civilization in all its contradictions, at once beholden to brutal customs and uneasily coming to terms with new traditions. Raja Alem’s singular The Dove’s Necklace is a virtuosic work of literature that deserves the world’s attention.

Rating: 5 stars

Review: 

The Dove’s Necklace by Raja Alem is a captivating novel that will lure all readers to its great depth. A mystery that intrigues the soul to flip its pages in a haste to find out its secrets. What lies deep in this novel is a history that will blow readers away with every word. Raja Alem is indeed a talented writer with a way of bringing, to life, the murder, customs, and investigation that is portrayed in this stunning tale. The point of view is enjoyable. Told from an alley way’s point of view…was a brilliant idea. This sets readers, onto a journey, that will keep them hooked until the last page. Ever wondered about the city of Mecca and what secrets it keeps or the lives of the people? The Dove’s Necklace masterfully covers these and many more interesting questions that will surely rise as readers keep digging deeper into this powerful story.

Inside this riveting tale, The Dove’s Necklace, opens readers to the place where the danger and mystery begin. It’s also a place with tons of history such as wars, kingdoms, and customs that keep one’s mind buzzing with action. Raja Alem’s story is about love and revenge. Soon, readers are taken where a dead woman’s body lies…not only is she dead but also completely nude. No one knows the woman’s name…this scene and the people’s reaction to the dead woman’s body intrigues readers deeply. Who is she? Why her? Who killed her and why left nude? These questions and many others are answered but  will keep readers guessing and on the edge of their seats as they rush through the pages with a burning intensity to find out the answers. I loved reading this Arabic story. Traveling all the way to Mecca without so much as leaving my seat was amazing. The raw beauty of the novel will hold readers in like prisoners…Intriguing, dramatic, and suspenseful…The Dove’s Necklace is a must read for all. Giving readers worldwide a glimpse into one of the most famous cities of all time.

 

Review: Remember the Ladies

 

 

Synopsis:

Growing up in an orphanage prepared Amelia Cooke for the high-stakes role of a female lobbyist surrounded by the egos of the 1887 Congress, a time before women had the right to vote. Her success in the isolating male arena comes from using the tactics she’s learned from those who oppressed her. So when she’s hired by the National Women’s Suffrage Association to help pass a proposed constitutional amendment granting women’s voting rights, Amelia feels empowered to at last win a place for herself and give all women a voice in the world. What she doesn’t foresee is the charismatic and calculating Senator Edward Stillman who threatens to ruin her hard-earned reputation and end her career.

Edward Stillman is desperate for status and power among Washington’s Old Guard. To gain control of the most dominant committee in the Senate, Stillman must crush the women’s amendment and anyone else in his way, including Amelia. He’s driven, clever, and willing to exploit any advantage. But in a political game where bribery, threats, extortion, and seduction prevail, each player must decide just how low they are willing to let the fight go. Who will win? And at what cost?

Set in the extravagant Gilded Age, Remember the Ladies explores the conflict between the sexes with delightful writing and elegant descriptions, which brings the reader back to a time when the struggle for women’s equality had just begun.

Rating: 5 stars

Review:

Remember the Ladies by Gina L. Mulligan is a remembrance of the women’s suffrage movement. Gina L. Mulligan brilliantly recaptures the moment in time when women didn’t have the same rights as men. Those who took on jobs or tried to follow in some men’s footsteps were deemed crazy by both men and women alike. Going against a society’s norm wasn’t looked upon. Yet many women were daring enough to dare and to risk it all. Men took advantage of women’s looks and tried to blame women for enticing them on…when it was indeed them who cannot control themselves.

Inside the delightful novel, Remember the Ladies, women everywhere will relive the important steps for a woman to gain entry into the working field. That moment to be held with honor and respect, when most deem it impossible or ludicrous is thrilling. Readers will meet a young girl who loses both her parents in one fatal night. From there, she is in a school where women are not deemed fit to continue their studies like men are.  But that doesn’t stop the main characer, Amelia, from achieving her dreams of working. She has much to learn and to accept before she can find the strength to handle herself, in her new found work. Meeting a man who happens to be a senator does her favor in working her way up in the society, in becoming a working woman among men. I enjoyed this realistic yet highly fictional piece by Gina L. Mulligan. Her novel will forever be one remembered by the ladies.

 

Review: Behave

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Synopsis:

“The mother begins to destroy the child the moment it’s born,” wrote the founder of behaviorist psychology, John B. Watson, whose 1928 parenting guide was revered as the child-rearing bible. For their dangerous and “mawkish” impulses to kiss and hug their child, “most mothers should be indicted for psychological murder.”

Behave is the story of Rosalie Rayner, Watson’s ambitious young wife and the mother of two of his children.

In 1920, when she graduated from Vassar College, Rayner was ready to make her mark on the world. Intelligent, beautiful, and unflappable, she won a coveted research position at Johns Hopkins assisting the charismatic celebrity psychologist John B. Watson. Together, Watson and Rayner conducted controversial experiments on hundreds of babies to prove behaviorist principles. They also embarked on a scandalous affair that cost them both their jobs—and recast the sparkling young Rosalie Rayner, scientist, and thinker, as Mrs. John Watson, wife and conflicted, maligned mother, just another “woman behind a great man.”

With Behave, Andromeda Romano-Lax offers a provocative fictional biography of Rosalie Rayner Watson, a woman whose work influenced generations of Americans, and whose legacy has been lost in the shadow of her husband’s. In turns moving and horrifying, Behave is a richly nuanced and disturbing novel about science, progress, love, marriage, motherhood, and what all those things cost a passionate, promising young woman.

Rating: 5 stars

Review:

Behave by Andromeda Romano-Lax is definitely a must read for all women. This fictional biography piece is a fascinating historical tale that will drag readers down one promising young woman’s life as one life  moment spins her whole life downward…

Andromeda Romano-Lax’s stunning novel portrays a woman’s ambition, work, and motherhood. Behave explores the psychological, emotional, and ethical ways of a smart, attractive, and independent woman. A well-known scientist soon falls into motherhood by accident…and now she’s living, behind a man as nothing more than a shadow. As a student studying sociology, communications, and education this novel….was beyond amazing. It informs, educates, and shows readers…what life was like for women like Rosalie Rayner. Readers will be spellbound by this magnificent story. A most compelling and well-written novel. Overall, I highly recommend Behave to readers everywhere.

Review: Roses of Rome

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Synopsis:

The storytellers told tales. The singers sang epic songs. The dancers danced the dance that dancers dance, on the floor and tabletops. The jugglers juggled fire. The fortune tellers only told the good part. And the Gods seemed pleased with all of Rome.

Rating: 5 stars

Review:

Roses of Rome by Robert M. Richburg is indeed a fascinating tale. It’s imagery and scenes are bright. Each page brings to life the journey and love that one Roman soldier brings to his home. He comes back from winning a battle and is soon to be married to a child…a beautiful child belonging to a senator. Her beauty and love of Anulus is easy to connect with…then there’s the slave women whom Anulus falls in love with and has children with…but he also, buys these women their freedom and gives them a better life.

Roses of Rome shows readers what it was like back then and how lives can be changed if someone deemed to do so. The rich and wealthy can easily change someone’s status making them free people of Rome just like the hero, Anulus has done repeatedly. Anulus suffers loss of those he loves and sees new life as well. He is just as human as any of us and goes through life the best he knows. Robert M. Richburg has maserfully woven a romance that takes on a literary and historical meaning that readers will enjoy. I felt like I was in high school, learning a new important piece of literature. I love the way this story was written and its characters were so believable and realistic. Readers will want to read this magnificent story…I highly recommend it.

Review: Watering My Little Apple Trees

 

Synopsis:

When two persistent interviewers asked Caldwell if he would define Fiddler, his answer was “Nope.” It was his averment that meaning is a function of the story. That’s one of the two responses an author can make to requests for meaning. The other is to say what he was trying to do; that, too, is about the story, not of it. It is only the story itself that can give the reader its measure of meaning. This story fails, finally, to be adequate.

Rating: 5 stars

Review:

Watering My Little Apple Trees by James Bynum is a rare and highly unique read. Readers will instantly find themselves buried deep, into this wonderful collection of stories. James Bynum has brought his love for teaching and literature to readers everywhere.  I was intrigued from the beginning…the way James Bynum shows us readers on how to understand or learn what a story’s true purpose was. I never really put that much thought into what the deep meaning of a story was until I read this brilliant book.

Watering My Little Apple Trees contains a collection of stories that came from James Bynum’s many years of teaching and writing. Readers can only imagine what it would have been like to have been taught by such a teacher and writer. James Bynum makes it easier for readers to understand a writer’s underlying purpose when reading. Writers leave key phrases or words that will signify what they wanted their readers to take with them. It is this that James Bynum carefully instructs his readers to see and understand. Also, a story’s true purpose is the one a reader takes from it. Many writers won’t tell their readers what they wanted them to understand from their work…they leave the readers to finding their own thoughts on what the reading really said and meant. Watering My Little Apple Trees is a way for James Bynum to share his passion and knowledge of literature with readers everywhere. The book is deep, thought-provoking, and educational. Readers will be looking at literature differently after reading this book. Overall, I loved reading this, and I highly recommend this spectacular read to readers worldwide.

FREE Book Gift Guide!

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We are happy to announce that this year we will be issuing a free Book Gift Gudie inside of the Urban Lit Magazine.

Authors who would like to have their novels and or books listed on this Book Gift Guide need to fill out the below.

Inside the form below, we need the following information from authors:

Book Synopsis, Book Title, Book Cover, Author Name, and all of the links to buy book(s).

Thank you!

 

Book Review: Haw by Sean Jackson

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Haw is one inspirational novel that goes out and beyond the normality of what most writers create.  Sean Jackson has carefully blended many social issues into this stunning yet magnificent debut novel of his. Haw features an LGBT theme, which is rare in today’s novels.  Family life and struggles are also evident as readers continue reading. Pollution is the main theme that is and has been happening in our 21st century world which I enjoyed seeing it masterfully written inside this beautiful story. Sean Jackson will leave many impressions on readers to come with his fascinating book.  Bringing out the truths that most don’t want to see nor hear. Everyone hides from the devastating truth but deep inside Haw all becomes real as readers are led deep into its plot.

Haw is an outstanding story that tells of a 21st century world suffering greatly of pollution. Can you imagine drinking water that you know is contaminated because there isn’t any other clean water to drink? The dark, dirty, and a polluted city where Father and son find the hope to flee their North Carolina Home to find refuge. A father wanting to save his son from the corrupted society. Sean Jackson has brought the reality and fears of the future into his debut novel. I would definitely recommend this novel to readers all over the world. One novel that crosses every barrier and leaves readers guessing. Overall, I rate it a five out of five stars.

Author Interview: Richard D. Mellinger Jr.

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– What inspired you to start writing your novels, such as Harold and the Purple Wormhole?

Each novel has had a different inspiration. When I first started writing Harold, I was working on my senior thesis for my BS in physics at Cal Poly SLO. The project involved general relativity and, as I tend to do, I spent a lot of time thinking about wormholes. One day, in response to musing about where wormholes might come from, I though “Well, to make a wormhole, clearly you need a giant worm, duh…” This is the essence of Harold and the Purple Wormhole. After I finished chucking about how silly the idea was, the story had taken hold and demanded to be written, and so it was.

– Can you tell us readers a little bit about Harold and the Purple Wormhole?

Dr. Nenad Conroy is a brilliant scientist that wants to travel by wormhole, so he creates a giant worm that can tear holes in spacetime; this worm’s name is Harold. The two of them go out to test Harold’s abilities. Due to a disagreement and a mishap, they end up in pre-Arthurian England where they get their fair share of adventure trying to get home and learn about the true origins of the myth of wizards.

– What type of short fiction do you write?

My short fiction ranges in length from 60 to about 8,000 words. Some of it is science fiction, some of it is horror, much of it is just plain silly, a few are thought-provoking; all of them, though, are character-driven, as the characters are the most important part of any story.

– Who is your favorite character from your latest novel? And why?

I love all my characters, but forced to pick a favorite, I’d have to go with Harold. Harold is this huge, super-cognitive worm that can manipulate the fabric of spacetime with his brain and visualize eleven-dimensional maps, but he acts like a huge puppy. I think it’s hard not to want to scratch his head and call him a good boy.

– Which one of your short stories was the hardest one to write? And why?

I have a hard time writing from the point of view of a woman. As soon as I realized that I was making a great deal of my characters male simply because it’s easier for me to get into their heads, I started trying to make more of my protagonists female, because I like the challenge. I have one short, Tittle Attraction (available on my blog), that was pretty tough for this reason. The narrator wasn’t only a woman, but she was also a lesbian. Getting her voice down was rough, but the harder the character is to write, the more fun I have trying to get it, so it ended up also being one of my favorites.

– Which one of your short stories did you enjoy writing the most?

This is a tough question, because I get a certain amount of satisfaction from having a clever flash fiction idea and sitting down to write it before I even finishing giggling about it (House Rules is a perfect example of this). However, like I said before, I also really love the process of digging around looking for the right way to tell a story. I think, with that in mind, that I probably had the most fun writing The Great Hat Caper and Tittle Attraction of all my short fiction.

– How many short stories would you say you have written so far?

There are about 55 short stories on my blog. I’ve written a few more that can’t be found there, but that’s mostly because they aren’t any good, so I say that they don’t count.

– What advice would you give to other writer that also write short fiction?

My advice to writers is and always has been to write. Stop worrying about how it is going to turn out, stop waiting for the perfect idea, just write and read a lot. If you decided you like some other idea better, you can always put your current project aside, but you can never go back and recapture all the time that you didn’t spend writing.

At first your writing is going to be crap, don’t worry about it. I have a whole novel (possibly two?) and a pile of short stories that will never see the light of day. These stories were not a waste, because I learned about myself and my craft while making them.
Keep writing
, it will get better. If you love writing, it will be worth it.

– From reading your short stories, I can tell the use of dialogue is perfect. Any tips for other writers?

This is going to sound a bit creepy, but I spend a lot of time watching people. Not peeping-through-the-window sort of watching, but when I’maround people I watch them. I listen to how they interact and pay attention to how and when they talk. I think this helps a lot. At the very least it’s entertaining, because people are weird.

So, my advice about dialogue is this: to emulate people’s speech, you must observe people speaking. Also notice how rarely people actually finish their thoughts or speak in full sentences. Sometimes they just…

– What is your latest writing that you are currently working on?

One of my other novels, Molehills of Mountains (currently unpublished), is about a vole that takes on a maniacal cyborg mole, a remnant of the long since passed human wars. The mole has his mind set on the destruction of all the rodents in the valley and Viktor the vole, being a rodent in that valley, doesn’t like that plan. I’m currently writing the sequel, which doesn’t yet have a title other than Neven, which is the name of the protagonist.

– When is your book, Harold and the Purple Wormhole coming out?

That’s a complicated question. I signed my contract with Divertir Publishing back in July. There is some editing and cover designing going on and it all depends on how long that takes. The people at Divertir pride themselves on putting out high quality novels, so it will take a little while still, but the wait will be worth it.
As soon as I know a release date, you can bet it will be all over my blog, twitter, and facebook.

– What genre would you say your writing falls under?

My writing is all over the place. Being a scientifically-minded person, I think that there is a scientific slant to all my fiction, but I would put very little of it squarely in the sci-fi category. Some of it is a bit fantasy, a little of it is horror, some of it masquerades as literary, all of it is kind of strange. I wish “kind of strange” was a genre.

– Who is your favorite author? And why?

This depends on my mood. I can answer with my top three though: Kurt Vonnegut, Christopher Moore, and Stephen King.
The way Stephen King puts words together just works for and inspires me. He is brilliant, and his stories are great, but his manipulation of the language to get into the reader’s head just amazes me.
Kurt Vonnegut is more of an idea man for me, his writing is phenomenal, his characters are ready to crawl off the page, but what really gets to me with Vonnegut are his overall storylines and how wonderful they are.

Christopher Moore… what more is there to say about Mr. Moore. Just go read his novels and you’ll get it. The man is a master.

– What books, besides your own have you read?

I read a good deal. I like to switch it up: sometimes I read horror, sometimes I read science fiction, sometimes I read fantasy, and I love my classics. I’ll read just about any genre as long as its well written and interesting. I also read a fair amount of nonfiction in the form of research.

I’m on Goodreads (http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/33253444-richard-mellinger), if anyone is interested in exactly what books I read. I only joined recently, so it doesn’t have every book I’ve ever read, but I put them on there as I remember.

– Would you say that reading is important for those wanting to be authors one day?

Yes. Reading is critical, there are no two ways about it.

– Where can we find your collection of short stories?

You can find a lot of my short stories on my blog (http://imasillypirate.wordpress.com/). I try to post a new short or comic at least once a week. Often times at 3 pm (PST) on Tuesdays. There is also one piece of my flash fiction that was featured on SaturdayNightReader.com onJune 17th.

– Where can all of us readers buy your book that is being published by Divertir Publishing?

Divertir sells books on their website (http://www.divertirpublishing.com/) and on Amazon.

I’ll post on my blog and twitter when I know a release date.

– Are there any other books you are working on? If so, can you tell us a about them?

Aside from the sequel to Molehills of Mountains that I mentioned above, there is another novel in the works. Eponym has been written and is in the beta reader phase now. In Eponym, an attempt to combat global warming by Dr Alexandros Florian goes horribly wrong and turns the earth into a desert. The novel is the story of his son, who shares his name, trying to survive in the remnants of society several years later.

–  Your characters come to life right off the pages! How did you write such stunning yet realistic characters?

Thanks! That is, in my opinion, one of the greatest compliments that you can pay a writer! As I stated before, I do a lot of people-watching, which helps, I think.

Also, when writing, it is beneficial to remember that though your story may only need some characters to do something very specific, allplayers in your story are still characters. They have a back story, they have a family, they have friends and aspirations, and most importantly, the story that they are living is not usually centered around the protagonist of the story you are writing, but around themselves. I make up back stories about anyone that I mention specifically in my writing… and people that I pass on the street… and random people that I follow on twitter… I think I have a problem...
My point is, though, that
every character has a story. Even though most of it doesn’t explicitly spill out onto the page, it’s there and I think that helps each and every character to feel more real.
I also recycle some of my characters. In most cases, nobody but me notices their presence, because I often don’t even use their names, b
ut they are there. Some of them are more obvious though, for example, Dr. Conroy is mentioned in Tittle Attraction as are the two main characters from Distinct Impression. Some characters will be in the limelight, others will play out their existence in the background, but they are all important.

– Did you always know that you wanted to be an author? 

I have always been a story teller, and I’ve always been intrigued by the fact that the creativity of a human mind can create or destroy entire universes within itself. I started writing on and off just after high school, but it was mostly for me, and a large majority of stuff I started at that time was never finished. I never really considered the idea that anyone (aside from my sister) might actually want to read anything I write until years later.

Now, though, I can’t imagine my life without writing.