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Bleedovers by William Todd Rose

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Source: TLC Book Tours
ebook, 176 pgs.
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Bleedovers by William Todd Rose is the second dystopian novella starring Chuck Grainger — you’ll want to read Crossfades first — a man who works for a secret organization that helps lost souls cross The Divide. Grainger has become “famous” within the agency, although his fame is not something he’s comfortable with, especially when his supervisor reminds him of all the protocol he broke during the last Crossfade mission. Beyond his noteriety, he has experienced many sleepless nights related the ordeal, which he thought ended on the battlefield on the Crossfades. Evidence begins to pile up that the battle may not have been won.

Rose has created a world in which even readers who shy away from science fiction and more fantasy-related fiction can get swept up in by providing just enough technical detail to keep the story grounded and believable. Grainger has been a man on a mission and content in his work as a Whisk, but his nightmares have given him pause. He’s unsure if he wants to continue, but he finds that he has little choice when Bleedovers become more common than before. Marilee Williams enters our story, bringing with her special gifts that The Institute has enhanced to help with Non-Corporeal Manifestations (NCMs). Grainger, who acts like a lone cowboy in his work, is suddenly forced to work more closely with his partner, Control, and Marilee. The dynamics between Control and Grainger have evolved since the previous novella, and while Control could usually sense when he went off script, in this novella she is less like the voice of reason and more like a partner.

“The energy comes from Crossfades. As they jump from Crossfade to Crossfade, NCMs collect tiny bits of residual energy. They store it up, like a battery bein’ charged.”

Bleedovers by William Todd Rose is a strong second novella in a series, and readers will want more of this strange world. There is so much more to be explored. Is the last battle the end, or are there more to come? Will Grainger be able to fully free himself from the past and his notoriety? Rose has a gift for creating believable science fiction worlds that are wrought with real, and even imagined, dangers around every corner.

About the Author:

William Todd Rose writes dark, speculative fiction from his home in West Virginia. His short stories have been featured in numerous anthologies and magazines, and his work includes the novels Cry Havoc, The Dead & Dying, and The Seven Habits of Highly Infective People, and the novella Apocalyptic Organ Grinder. For more information on the author, including links to bonus content, please visit him online.

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The Last Summer at Chelsea Beach by Pam Jenoff & Giveaway

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Source: Pam Jenoff
Paperback, 384 pgs
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The Last Summer at Chelsea Beach by Pam Jenoff is a sweeping tale set during World War II, as a sixteen year old Adelia Monteforte comes to America to live with her aunt and uncle in Philadelphia without her Jewish parents, who stayed behind in Trieste, Italy.  She feels like an outsider with the relatives she’s never met before, and she realizes that her limited English and mostly secular upbringing is not what they expected.  While she speaks English, she still feels as though she’s an outsider, until she becomes like a sister to the Connally brothers.  Despite their perceived differences in religion and upbringing, Adelia becomes Addie, molding herself in the cracks of the local family she meets at Chelsea Beach.

“Robbie turned to his mother.  ‘Can we keep her?’
‘Robbie, she isn’t a puppy. But I do hope you’ll join us often,’ she added.
‘Because we really need more kids, ‘ Liam said wryly.” (pg. 38)

Jenoff’s World War II novels are always captivating, full of missed chances and second chances, moments of horror and tragedy, but also moments of hope and happiness. These snippets of time are those that her characters treasure, and they provide that kernel of hope that readers hold onto until they reach the end. Addie is a young displaced woman looking for a home, and she thinks that she’s found it with the Connallys until tragedy strikes close to home and she’s left in the breeze. She has to decide what to do for herself for the first time since coming to America, and while she chooses to go to Washington, D.C., with a half buried hope of finding her childhood crush, she also wants to do something more.

The Last Summer at Chelsea Beach by Pam Jenoff is an addicting read with its twists and turns and the realities of rationing and the closeness of war.  Jenoff is a master at characterization and romance in a way that is both fanciful, but realistic.  Her characters often have to struggle with more than the things that keep them apart, and for that, readers will be grateful.  Her books are not to be missed, and this summer read should be at the top of your lists.

About the Author:

Pam Jenoff is the Quill-nominated internationally bestselling author of The Kommadant’s Girl. She holds a bachelor’s degree in international affairs from George Washington University and a master’s degree in history from Cambridge, and she received her Juris Doctor from the University of Pennsylvania. Jenoff’s novels are based on her experiences working at the Pentagon and also as a diplomat for the State Department handling Holocaust issues in Poland. She lives with her husband and three children near Philadelphia where, in addition to writing, she teaches law school.

U.S. residents, leave a comment below about your favorite beach activity by Aug. 26, 2015, at 11:59 PM EST.  Win a bag and book!

ChelseaBeach

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

French Coast by Anita Hughes

Source: the author
Paperback, 304 pgs.
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French Coast by Anita Hughes is gorgeous and not just because its set at Cote D’Azur and the Cannes Film Festival.  Serena has come to France for the biggest opportunity of her journalistic career, even though her fiance Chase is set to announce their engagement and his bid for mayor of San Francisco.  Serena is going to interview Yvette Renault, the former editor of French Vogue.  Along the way, the life she expected is swept away from her and she has to contend with secrets she never saw coming.  While she remains as focused on her work as she can, she finds herself befriending Zoe, who is on a trip of her own to uncover family secrets and save her parents.

“‘At least you know where your father is,’ Serena said, adding cream and sugar.  ‘I haven’t heard from my parents in days. I keep expecting my father to call and say it was all a mistake.’

‘We’re the ones who are supposed to be falling in love with the wrong men and making our parents frantic,’ Zoe said as she tore apart an almond croissant.

‘Maybe we’re part of the wrong generation.’ Serena sipped her coffee.  ‘We should have been young in the sixties.'” (pg. 155)

Serena and Zoe are like ships passing in the night, but it’s clear they have an instant friendship that will last, and despite drifting since coming to France, Serena has a purpose and dives into her work.  Nick is a knight in shining armor of sorts, returning Serena’s lost wallet and phone, and eventually, they spend afternoons and evenings together talking about not only their work but their dreams.  Don’t be fooled, however, because this is not a straight-forward romance novel.  While there is romance for many of these characters, there is heartbreak and choices to be made about their careers and their futures.

French Coast by Anita Hughes is a delightful read for the summer months and beyond.  Serena is a strong woman who is sure about her career, but little else at least until fate plays its hand.  Hughes is a talent and her books are always delightful reads to pop in the beach bag or to read out on the deck or at the pool.  This one has the right amount of mystery thrown in as well, making it even more engaging.

About the Author: (photo by Sheri Geoffreys)

Anita Hughes was born in Sydney, Australia and had a charmed childhood that included petting koala bears, riding the waves on Bondi Beach, and putting an occasional shrimp on the barbie. Her writing career began at the age of eight, when she won a national writing contest in THE AUSTRALIAN newspaper, and was named “One of Australia’s Next Best Writers.” (She still has the newspaper clipping.)

She received a B.A. in English Literature with a minor in Creative Writing from Bard College, and attended UC Berkeley’s Masters in Creative Writing program.

Other Reviews:

Rome in Love by Anita Hughes

Source: the author
Paperback, 320 pgs.
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Rome in Love by Anita Hughes is an enjoyable jaunt in Italy with a young actress, Amelia Tate, remaking Roman Holiday, a movie that made Audrey Hepburn famous.  She is thrilled to be making a movie, and while her fiance supports her, he also seems eager to be married and take her away from the spotlight so she can be at his side as he makes deals.  Italy is often considered a home for romance and love, but in Hughes’ hands, it also becomes a place of contemplation and pivotal life decisions.  Amelia’s beginnings in Italy on the set of Roman Holiday mirror those of Audrey Hepburn, including the love of acting, the break up with a fiance, and the entrance of a new love interest.  However, unlike Hepburn, Tate has decided to allow herself to be seen as a maid at the hotel, rather than the actress she is.  In her ability to blend in, she makes friends with a real princess, Sophie, and finds a friend in Philip, an expat journalist who is trying to make a career for himself away from his stockbroker father.

Like many of us who wish that our lives were different and can sometimes take on new personas online, Amelia is quick to masquerade as a maid because it gives her the freedom from the paparazzi and the other trappings of Hollywood, but it also doesn’t come with the financial or other stresses of being a real maid.  Sophie is similar in that she’s enjoying Rome’s arts and music and shopping before she returns home to marry her childhood friend, Leopold, in an arranged marriage.  In many ways, Rome becomes the home of imposters, with each of these characters trying out different lives and enjoying their time without the pressure of those lives.

Hughes easily builds the scene in Italy through food, art, music, and more, but in many ways, here characters here are lacking something.  Readers may find that they are more attached to Audrey Hepburn than they are Amelia, who spends a great deal of time waiting for things to happen, rather than acting.  Sophie’s story is intriguing, and readers may almost want to hear more of that story.  However, Amelia’s romance with Philip is one fraught with misunderstandings, which are by turns amusing and frustrating.  Rome in Love by Anita Hughes is entertaining and a great summer read that will take readers on a trip to Europe, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

About the Author:  (photo by Sheri Geoffreys)

Anita Hughes was born in Sydney, Australia and had a charmed childhood that included petting koala bears, riding the waves on Bondi Beach, and putting an occasional shrimp on the barbie. Her writing career began at the age of eight, when she won a national writing contest in THE AUSTRALIAN newspaper, and was named “One of Australia’s Next Best Writers.” (She still has the newspaper clipping.)

She received a B.A. in English Literature with a minor in Creative Writing from Bard College, and attended UC Berkeley’s Masters in Creative Writing program.

Other Reviews:

Crooked Heart by Lissa Evans

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Source: TLC Book Tours
Hardcover, 288 pgs.
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Crooked Heart by Lissa Evans is an odd narrative in that it is disjointed at times and features a number of eccentric characters, including 10-year-old Noel, Vee, and Donald.  Noel is a young orphan evacuee who is sent to live with Vee, Donald, and Vee’s mother during WWII.  Noel’s a quiet boy who loves detective novels and is incredibly heart-broken by the time he reaches their home.  Vee, on the other hand, is struggling to make ends meet only to have a son who does little more than expect her to wait on him and barely goes to his job.  Evans captures the essence of these struggling residents during rationing and bombardments by the Nazis.  Readers will be fully engaged by the historical setting, but the pairing of this intelligent boy and this woman who is looking for the next get rich quick scheme, is unlikely and tough to take at face value until more than halfway through the novel.

“His teeth were regular and well-spaced, like battlements.  Noel liked to imagine tiny soldiers popping up between them, firing arrows across the room or pouring molten lead down Uncle Geoffrey’s chin.” (pg. 10 ARC)

“The day after that, all the children disappeared, as if London had shrugged and the small people had fallen off the edge.” (pg. 15 ARC)

Vee is impulsive and Noel is level-headed, and like Vee, Donald, makes impulsive decisions that often land him into trouble.  Evans has a way with imagery and she captures the tumultuous times deftly, but often the disjointed narrative can pull readers out of the story, especially when she moves from one perspective to another with little to no transition.  However, as the relationship develops between Vee and Noel, moving from a business relationship to a more familial relationship, readers will become invested in their struggles.  The story of Donald, her son, however, fades in importance, and by the end almost feels as though it was an add-on, not really integral to the story.

Crooked Heart by Lissa Evans provides a realistic look at life in London and elsewhere in England at the time of WWII when rationing was in full swing and bombings were a real concerns, especially for residents of London.  Vee and Noel are able to find a home among the wreckage, and while not everyone’s stories are wrapped up neatly, Evans develops a realistic picture of wartime England.

About the Author:

Lissa Evans, a former radio and television producer, is the author of three previous novels, including Their Finest Hour and a Half, which was longlisted for the Orange Prize. Crooked Heart was also longlisted for the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction (formerly known as the Orange Prize); it is her first novel to be published in the US. Evans lives in London with her family.  Find out more about Evans at her website, and follow her on Twitter.

 

 

 

Mireille by Molly Cochran

tlc tour hostSource: TLC Book Tours
Paperback, 619 pgs
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Mireille by Molly Cochran is a sweeping novel that takes place near the end of WWII through the 1960s, and the title character is forced from her home at the same time she is forced to realize that her life must become an illusion in order for her to survive.  Mireille is an unusual beauty who finds herself caught in the web of her own lies later in life, and while she’s desperate to escape, she’s also careful to protect her family from harm, even if that means paying a heavy price.  Following the end of WWII, she makes the trek on foot to Paris and finds herself in even worse health and shape than when she ran from her home.  She learns quickly that kindness is hard to come by and that the only way she can provide for herself and survive is the become the best prostitute in all of Paris.

Cochran has dove deep into the world of Paris escorts, and the depravity Mireille finds there is something that she can only deal with by severing her actions from her true 17-year-old self.  She soon meets Oliver Jordan, a famous movie producer from Hollywood, but he’s darker than she ever could imagine.  He will remind readers of the Marquis de Sade driven by his baser instincts and clearly someone who knows nothing about love or emotional attachment.  He only understands manipulation, physical release, and ownership.

Mireille by Molly Cochran is a page turner that is neatly wrapped up by the end of the novel, and as long as readers can ignore the historical issues — such as actresses unable to earn a great deal because they were owned by their respective studios at the time in the novel and Mireille’s apparent wealth — the book will take them on a dark journey that will leave their stomachs turning.  However, as a book about perseverance, Mireille does have a will that will rival many — as she strives onward even in the most dire circumstances.  A solid read full of sex, profane events, and more.

***My apologies to Molly Cochran and TLC Book Tours for failing to review this in June.***

About the Author:

Molly Cochran is the author of more than twenty novels and nonfiction books, including the New York Times bestseller GrandmasterThe Forever KingThe Broken Sword, and The Temple Dogs, all cowritten with Warren Murphy. She is also the author of The Third Magic, and she cowrote the nonfiction bestseller Dressing Thin with Dale Goday. Cochran has received numerous awards, including the Mystery Writers of America’s Edgar Award, the Romance Writers of America’s “Best Thriller” award, and an “Outstanding” classification by the New York Public Library. Recently she published a series of young adult novels, LegacyPoison, and Seduction, and two novellas, Wishes and RevelsLegacy won a 2013 Westchester Fiction Award.

 

 

 

 

The Great War: Stories Inspired by Items from the First World War illustrated by Jim Kay

 

Source: LibraryThing Early Reviewers
Hardcover, 304 pgs
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The Great War: Stories Inspired by Items from the First World War illustrated by Jim Kay is an engaging way for young readers (age 10+) to learn about World War I through the touchstones and artifacts left behind by soldiers, their families, and the war itself.  From a writing case to a toy soldier, these stories draw inspiration from these objects, building a world in the past that could be as real today as it was then.  There are stories from Michael Morpurgo and Tracy Chevalier, and like many short story collections some stories shine brighter than others, with “Captain Rosalie” being bitter sweet and “Our Jacko” inspiring.  These stories will evoke deep emotions in readers, as they learn not only about the realities of war and loss, but also the connections we have to objects that come from our ancestors.

“I keep the compass shined up and the safety catch on so the little needle doesn’t swing and break.  When I hold it and let it go and hunt out north, it bobs around like anything, like something on water, and it’s hard to tell where you are or what it’s saying.  That’s because I can’t keep my hands still enough.  But my dad could.  He kept his hands steady all the way, and he found home.” (“Another Kind of Missing,” pg 27)

“For in order for a story to work, it has to have a purpose, a structure, a journey, and a resolution.  And in reality, war has none of these things.  War is simply a near-random sequence of horrors, and so to make a story out of war is to lie.”  (“Don’t Call It Glory,” pg 65)

“But for music, I might have just stayed there,
keeping time with the
swoosh, swoosh, swoosh
of my push broom
for always.

Maybe making something of yourself is about
not
just keeping time
but doing something of substance,
something risky,
something you couldn’t fathom having the
skill
guts
nuts
to do until
you
do it. (“A Harlem Hellfighter and His Horn,” pg. 153)

Beyond the short stories told in this collection, there is one, long narrative poem, “A Harlem Hellfighter and His Horn,” which mirrored the rhythm and blues played by the main character.  But it also highlights the desire to seize the moment when it comes, rather than wait until its gone to desire it.

“So I won’t waste it:
War can break a man.
Slam him down on his back in the
dark.” (“A Harlem Hellfighter and His Horn,” pg. 166)

Each of these pieces brings forth some of the hidden feelings of those left behind by soldiers and those who are less than eager to fight, but they also illustrate the complexity of war and its allure.  Kay’s illustrations are in black and white and give the collection just the right amount of gruesome horror, but these are accompanied by facts about the war from women entering the workforce and the types of jobs they assumed to the conditions of the trenches.

The Great War: Stories Inspired by Items from the First World War illustrated by Jim Kay would be a great addition to any classroom willing and able to go beyond the traditional teachings of just WWII and other wars.  WWI was an important part of history that should not be forgotten, as it illustrates not only the brutality of ambitious people, but also the realities of bravery and cowardice, particularly through the eyes of children who are left behind.

 

 

 

 

Changes: A Child’s First Poetry Collection by Charlotte Zolotow, illustrated by Tiphanie Beeke

Source: Sourcebooks/Shelf Awareness
Hardcover, 40 pgs
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Changes: A Child’s First Poetry Collection by Charlotte Zolotow is gorgeously illustrated by Tiphanie Beeke, and the 28 poems are divided into seasons to reflect the title.  This collection is published posthumously, poems her daughter calls clean and clear about what changes and what stays the same.  The collection opens with “Changes” that talks about the differences between the seasons but that they always come around the same time each year, even though the narrator has changed through the years.  These verses are fantastic for little kids, projecting images that are complemented by the illustrations and allowing them to visual nature and the seasons.

These poems read as if told from the perspective of a child who stares in awe at the birds in the sky, the birds flying by, and all that surrounds them.  From the cool breezes of spring and the budding flowers to the salty wind of the sea in summer on vacation, children will see the fun and get absorbed in the costumes of Halloween, the beginning of school in the fall, and the winter wonders of snowmen and the first snow.  Beeke’s images are reminiscent of the whispy-ness of water color images and pastel smudges.  Zolotow clearly has a firm grasp of the wonder most children have when they are young; they are curious and inquisitive, but there also are some who are contemplative.  Read aloud these poems create a new world of rhyme and lyrical verse for children.

Changes: A Child’s First Poetry Collection by Charlotte Zolotow, illustrated by Tiphanie Beeke, is a great collection to start young readers with the wondrous world of poetry.  The illustrations are well matched with Zolotow’s lines.  My daughter and I have read this collection several times, and she often asks what season we are in when we read the poems.

About the Author:

Charlotte Zolotow—author, editor, publisher, and educator—had one of the most distinguished careers in the field of children’s literature. Born in Norfolk, Virginia in 1915, Changes: A Child’s First Collection of Poetry is published on the occasion of Charlotte Zolotow’s 100th birthday.

Doughnuts & Deadly Schemes by Janel Gradowski

Source: Author Janel Gradowski
eBook, 210 pgs
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Doughnuts & Deadly Schemes (Culinary Competition Mysteries #3) by Janel Gradowski is just what you expect from a cozy mystery — an amateur detective helping out her police friend, baking up some savory dishes, and enjoying the ride. These are the kinds of books that are perfect for summer because they are full of adventure, laughs, and fun. Carla and Amy are best friends, and you can tell that they genuinely love one another and act like sisters. While one is a planner, the other is more spontaneous; when it comes to having the wedding of her friend’s dreams, though, Amy is doesn’t take no for an answer.

“‘You are a brave woman to put together a wedding that quickly.  Heroically brave to spring this on the Over-Planning Queen.'”

“‘Believe me.  We thought of that, but I’m pretty sure you would kill us if we snuck away like that.  So, as my compromise, instead of leaving you completely out of the wedding by eloping … I’m giving you over two weeks to pull one out of thin air.'”

Challenge accepted!  Amy has a tough task on her hands planning her best friend’s wedding in less than a month, but she’s never one to shy away from a challenge — including those culinary contests.  Not only is she baking up culinary confections for local contests in Kellerton, but she’s also slinking around trying to uncover who the extortionist hacker and murderer plaguing local businesses might be.  She’s not on the police force, but Carla’s fiance, Bruce Shepler, is quick to accept her outrageous theories for new perspective on a perplexing case that has business owners’ mouths taped shut.

Doughnuts & Deadly Schemes (Culinary Competition Mysteries #3) by Janel Gradowski is a fun ride, and I loved every minute spent with these ladies.  They are quirky and fun, and the confections in these pages will make readers drool.  Don’t forget, Janel always includes some recipes in the back of the book, which you’ll want to try — I’m already dreaming about that Peach Pie Iced Tea!  But I digress.  If you haven’t read these cozy mysteries, what are you waiting for?!

About the Author:

Janel Gradowski lives in a land that looks like a cold weather fashion accessory, the mitten­-shaped state of Michigan. She is a wife and mom to two kids and one Golden Retriever. Her journey to becoming an author is littered with odd jobs like renting apartments to college students and programming commercials for an AM radio station. Somewhere along the way she also became a beadwork designer and teacher. She enjoys cooking recipes found in her formidable cookbook and culinary fiction collection. Searching for unique treasures at art fairs, flea markets and thrift stores is also a favorite pastime. Coffee is an essential part of her life. She writes the Culinary Competition Mystery Series, along with The Bartonville Series (women’s fiction) and the 6:1 Series (flash fiction). She has also had many short stories published in both online and print publications. Check her Website, on Facebook, and on Twitter.

Other books by this author, reviewed here:

The Cherry Harvest by Lucy Sanna

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Source: TLC Book Tours
Hardcover, 336 pgs
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The Cherry Harvest by Lucy Sanna is a World War II novel set in the Wisconsin around the time of the cherry harvest, and for a novel focused on the home front of the war, the tension is still great.  As rationing affects the nation’s farmers, but not those like the lighthouse keeper, readers will get a sense of the tensions that wars bring for those at home and not just fighting the battles.  The narrative is split between Charlotte Christiansen and her daughter, Kate, and as two strong women, they struggle with what is right for their family, right for the town, and right for themselves.  Thomas Christiansen is a bookish man who gave up his university studies to take over the family farm, and he married a good woman from a local dairy farm who could make some award winning pies.  When the war begins to take the immigrant labor from the farm, his wife hatches a plan to save their upcoming harvest because without a plan of action, their son Ben may not have a home to come to when the war is over.

“Worry? In addition to all they had to do before, lighthouse keepers are now charged with protecting our shores from the enemy.  The shores of the Saint Lawrence Seaway and the Great Lakes.” She leaned in.  “And you think a few prison guards can protect us from that madman Hitler, who’s bent on controlling the world?” (pg. 30 ARC)

Kate is struggling, too.  Her dreams of attending university seem to be thwarted at nearly every turn as her mother takes the one possession she has to sell to pay for college and uses it to feed them, and as she learns she needs additional help with math in order to pass the entrance exam.  But beyond these trials, she realizes that life is moving forward without her in many ways, with her friend Josie already planning a wedding to Ben, even while he continues to fight overseas and his likelihood of coming home is slim.  As she finds out what kind of woman she wishes to become, Kate uncovers her own compass and learns that she needs to rely on her own courage to achieve her goals.  This self-reliance is something she learns from her mother, even as Kate comes to the realization that her mother is not perfect.

Sanna has created a dynamic cast of characters for this home front novel, but where it lacks strength is in the twists of plot.  Some situations come from left field or are simply there to check a box in what a WWII novel should have — including two star-crossed love affairs and battles between Americans and Nazis, though not on the battlefield.  Additionally, Charlotte’s character is a bit all over the place — one minute she wants the Nazis to be used as labor and in the next minute she wants them no where near her family.  Her hypocrisy is part of her undoing, but readers also may find that some things are left to unresolved to be satisfactory.  There are certain situations that did not jibe well with the character development, which made the fallout of those situations difficult to believe.

Where The Cherry Harvest by Lucy Sanna shined was in its depiction of troubled economic times because of the war, the tensions between those in the same town over those troubles, and the impact of war on soldiers and the uncertainty among family how to act or react to those soldiers coming home.  Had the novel a more refined focus, Sanna would have hit one out of the park with this one.  Due to the plot issues and other issues, this was a mixed read for me in the end.

About the Author:

Lucy Sanna has published poetry, short stories, and nonfiction books, which have been translated into a number of languages. Born and raised in Wisconsin, Sanna now divides her time between Madison, Wisconsin, and San Francisco. The Cherry Harvest is her first novel.

Find out more about Lucy at her website and connect with her on Facebook. (Photo Credit: Hope Maxwell Snyder)

 

 

 

 

Ohio Violence by Alison Stine

Source: Poet Alison Stine
ebook, 80 pgs
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Vassar Miller Prize winner Ohio Violence by Alison Stine, which I received long ago from the poet (forgive my tardy review — as this was long before I had an e-reader and the file was lost in my inbox), juxtaposes the quiet, pastoral landscape of the Midwest United States with hinted at depravity, overt violence, and speculation.  Her narrator in “Ohio Violence” will tell you a story that is not hers to tell, and while this story begins with dismembered deer parts, but its really about the power of murderous jealousy and violence: “We measure our places in blood,/ bones in weeds, the buried well./ Each brick brought a message in her/ fifteen-year-old fist.” (pg. 18)

Stine’s lines often build from small pieces — whether tiny pieces of an image or situation or emotion — into a crescendo that will hammer the reader when they are least expecting it.  These surprising lines and poems will never be far from the reader’s mind, especially as they continue with the poems that follow.  Each of these poems looks at violence and the secrecy of violence in a new way.  There are missing women, there are violated women, there are those slight indications of inappropriate intimacy, but at the root is the unexpected nature of the violence and the cover-ups that fail to hide the damage done.

School

All winter we sat blind, I next to the girl   
who loved her scabs, the blood shields   
her head gave up, her face a sun of blank   
amazement. She drew. This means love:   
a circle with a line through it. More work:   
a cross. More crosses. Ice sloughed   
through fields. Ice river, the pages   
of our notebooks. Outside: limbs and roads   
and wires. Outside cracked with force   
and turning. Our poems filled with salt.   
He took me to his bed.   
The writer never speaks. The writer speaks   
in details, the sateen lining of my coat,   
the star point of tongue kissing. The winter   
speaks in the whip. Runoff nixed   
with ash. I spilt water on my notebook.   
Words went back to ink; paper back   
to ruffle, pulp. You smell like dog, the girl   
said. You will be left like the winter.   
Little sputter in the car’s craw. Little   
crevice in the pavement. Ice reminder.   
He took me to his bed, saying: Ali,   
Ali, tell no one. I told the girl, a sore   
gathering, another skin to pick and worry.

Ohio Violence by Alison Stine carries with a heavy burden, but it is a burden that is borne well and with tenderness and homage to those who have been victims.  But do not be fooled that these poems are all tender in content because there is a brutal-ness to the images presented, searing heartbreak and horror into the minds of the reader.  They shall never forget the tales Stine is telling.

About the Poet:

Alison Stine is a 2008 winner of a Ruth Lilly Fellowship. She was born in Indiana and grew up in Ohio. A former Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University, she is the author of the chapbook Lot of My Sister, winner of the Wick Prize. Her poems have appeared in such journals as The Paris Review, Poetry, and The Kenyon Review. This is her first book. She lives in Athens, Ohio.  Her new novel, Supervision, was released April 2015.

 

 

 

 

Crossfades by William Todd Rose & Giveaway

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Source: Hydra and TLC Book Tours
ebook, 129 pgs
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Crossfades by William Todd Rose is a novel that hovers on the borders of science fiction and horror, as Chuck Grainger navigates the Crossfades to usher souls out of a purgatory to where they should be.  This limbo is the moment when one’s life is ending and a fantasy reality take over before the soul moves on, but in some cases, souls can be tricked into believing the fantasy is reality.  Chuck is a Whisk who must guide these trapped souls through a maze of changing landscapes without becoming detached from reality himself.  Through the help of Sleepers, those who are in a coma, Chuck can remain tethered to reality as long as his emotions remain in check.

“Drawing a deep breath through his nostrils was like snorting a line of decayed flesh.  The stench watered his eyes and infected his sinuses, seeping into his saliva and immersing his mouth in the rancid tang of decomposition.  His diaphragm hitched in protest, expelling tainted oxygen through retches that left his throat lining feeling as though he’d belched fire.”  (From the eARC)

Chuck is a lonely man, and this loneliness is something that threatens to pull him over into the abyss even as he knows the Crossfades around him are not real.  Whether trying to convince a little girl that her reality is long gone and that she must move on or finding an emotional connection with a frightened young woman, Chuck is tested.  Rose clearly defines this ephemeral world and makes it real and mutable at the same time, and his characters are seeping with powerful emotion.  Some readers, however, may find that this format — the novella — is too short to really connect with Chuck and his plight.  In many respects, readers are kept at a distance because he does have to remain detached, at least until the last chapters.

Crossfades by William Todd Rose explores the notion of purgatory and limbo really well, and examines what it would be liked to be trapped by one’s own fantasies — good or bad.  Rose has created a world that can be manipulated by the individual soul and by a mastermind who seeks to take over the alternate world.

About the Author:

William Todd Rose writes dark, speculative fiction from his home in West Virginia. His short stories have been featured in numerous anthologies and magazines, and his work includes the novels Cry Havoc, The Dead & Dying, and The Seven Habits of Highly Infective People, and the novella Apocalyptic Organ Grinder. For more information on the author, including links to bonus content, please visit him online.

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