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Our Situation by W. Luther Jett

Source: Purchased
Paperback, 27 pgs.
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Our Situation by W. Luther Jett is a powerful chapbook in which the poet explores the uncertainty of not only the state of politics in the United States, but also events that jar us from our routine lives and remind us that trauma can occur unexpectedly. Despite the keening (there is a poem with such a title about a dying nation) in the volume, there are glimmers of hope to be had.

"Keening" (pg. 2)

My country is dying and I,
I am singing the night to sleep.

While fireflies rise from their
diurnal graves to torch the dark, I sing.

While the owl's great winds sweep
clean the sightless air, I sing.

From the mountains to the prairies
I sing, and from ocean to ocean, we weep.

We weep together for our song
is as much a lament as it is a battle-cry."

Jett’s imagery in these poems, like in “Spinning,” place the reader at the center of the action. Readers will feel the body in the air after the car makes contact, and the hot breath of the wolf at the narrator’s back in “Canary.” Many of these images are at first subtle until their power creeps up on the reader, and it is perfectly on display in “Canary” and many other poems.

Our Situation by W. Luther Jett does not strike heavily with its message about the current political and social situations we find ourselves in as a nation, like the narrator says in “Canary:” “A wolf is walking/down my backbone — and you don’t/believe me.” and “he’ll lunge and bite — and you/you won’t believe it’s happening/even as you watch me/disintegrate into a smear of viscera./” (pg. 5) And in many ways, Jett gives many the hope they need that we can recover from the darkness, like in “Love Song for A Dismembered Country:” “A voice you have forgotten/will return, wearing/night-colored slippers// Then these words at last/may roll the way honey does/over your parched tongue.//” (pg. 24) Don’t miss this collection.

**Note: Jett is part of a poetry workshop group to which I belong.**

RATING: Quatrain

About the Poet:

W. Luther Jett is a native of Montgomery County, Maryland and a retired special educator. His poetry has been published in numerous journals, such as The GW Review, Beltway, Potomac Review, and Little Patuxent Review as well as several anthologies, including My Cruel Invention and Proud to Be. His poetry performance piece, Flying to America, debuted at the 2009 Capital Fringe Festival in Washington D.C. He has been a featured reader at many D.C. area venues. He is the author of two poetry chapbooks: Not Quite: Poems Written in Search of My Father, released by Finishing Line Press in the fall of 2015, and Our Situation, released by Prolific Press, summer, 2018.

The Secrets of Darcy and Elizabeth by Victoria Kincaid (audio)

Source: Audible
Audiobook, 10+ hours
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The Secrets of Darcy and Elizabeth by Victoria Kincaid, narrated by Stevie Zimmerman, is a variation in which Darcy and Elizabeth find they have a second chance to get to know one another in France after a disastrous proposal at Hunsford. There’s a brief lapse in the tensions between England and France, allowing the English to take holidays in France.

Here, Darcy is trying to escape his embarrassment and the loss of the woman he loves, as Colonel Fitzwilliam tempts him with parties and outings in France. Unexpectedly, he runs into Elizabeth at a ball as the Gardiners take her on holiday in France, while her uncle conducts business. Will this be a moment for Darcy to redeem himself in her eyes, or will he have to accept that she is still angry and not interested in him?

Kincaid places her characters in untenable situations, especially when Darcy and Elizabeth have to pretend they are barely acquainted when back in England thanks to Lydia and other scandalous activities of family members on both sides. Darcy is hard-pressed to keep Elizabeth happy, even as his jealousy almost reveals every secret they hold from their weeks in France before they were forced to flee when England declares war.

Zimmerman is an excellent narrator for both male and female characters. She embodies their different stations in society and their personalities well. The Secrets of Darcy and Elizabeth by Victoria Kincaid, narrated by Stevie Zimmerman, is a delightful story, even if it presses the bounds of society’s rules. There are moments where purists will shake their heads, but others will thoroughly enjoy these improprieties.

RATING: Quatrain

Other Reviews:

About the Author:

The author of numerous best-selling Pride and Prejudice variations, historical romance writer Victoria Kincaid has a Ph.D. in English literature and runs a small business, er, household with two children, a hyperactive dog, an overly affectionate cat, and a husband who is not threatened by Mr. Darcy. They live near Washington DC, where the inhabitants occasionally stop talking about politics long enough to complain about the traffic.

On weekdays she is a freelance writer/editor who specializes in IT marketing (it’s more interesting than it sounds) and teaches business writing. A lifelong Austen fan, Victoria has read more Jane Austen variations and sequels than she can count – and confesses to an extreme partiality for the Colin Firth version of Pride and Prejudice. Visit her website. View her blog, visit her on Facebook, GoodReads, and on Amazon.

The Teahouse Fire by Ellis Avery (audio)

Source: Audible
Audiobook, 17+ hours
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The Teahouse Fire by Ellis Avery, narrated by Barbara Caruso, was our September book club selection (unfortunately, I missed the meeting). Aurelia is a young girl who lives with her housekeeper mother in a Catholic school until her mother falls ill before they are set to embark with her uncle to Japan. Without her mother, she becomes despondent and longs for a home, but her uncle, a priest, is less equipped to provide that for her, even in Japan. When a fire rips through the area, Aurelia is alone and hiding in the grounds of the Shin family when the daughter, Yakako, finds her. She’s soon adopted into the family, less as a daughter and more as a servant.

Tea ceremonies are the life blood of the Shin family, but in the late-nineteenth century, the nation faces a number of political changes. Even though she is young and eventually reaches puberty in the Shin family, she becomes integral to the household and feels more at home with them than those from the West. There are still moments where she stumbles, unsure of the customs and eager to indulge Yakako’s need for freedom, until they paint themselves into a corner with her father.

Caruso’s voice is a perfect fit for a novel about tea ceremonies in Japan, a ritual only executed by men. Like many women in Japanese society, their actions are based on ceremony and deference to the men in their lives — a father and a husband — but even then, they can find small comforts among themselves. Aurelia is no different. There is much hard work, conflict with the father, and anxiety due to the changes in Japan — a westernization that could brush aside the importance of tea ceremonies.

There are moments when readers will have to suspend disbelief — how can Aurelia (Urako) learn about Japan from books in 1866? Or learn the language to make it passable just from those books and a cook on the ship over — but the interactions of Aurelia with her protector Yakako are delightful as they navigate the differences in their cultures and misunderstandings. But the narrative gets bogged down in the historical detail, leaving readers wondering what the point of it all is and why they didn’t just pick up a history book instead.

The Teahouse Fire by Ellis Avery, narrated by Barbara Caruso, spans about 40 years and much of the Shin family’s time is spent decrying the modernization and westernization of Japan, which is reasonable given the dedication the family has to tea ceremonies. However, Aurelia seems to merely be an observer in her life most of the time, doing little to grow other than what her benefactors tell her. A well-researched and written novel, but the plot and characters plod along in what seems to be merely a history lesson from the eyes of a westerner thrust into a the role of imposter as the Shin family adopts her as their own servant. Her return home is less than climatic.

RATING: Tercet

About the Author:

The only writer ever to have received the American Library Association Stonewall Award for Fiction twice, Ellis Avery is the author of two novels, a memoir, and a book of poetry. Her novels, The Last Nude (Riverhead 2012) and The Teahouse Fire (Riverhead 2006) have also received Lambda, Ohioana, and Golden Crown awards, and her work has been translated into six languages. She teaches fiction writing at Columbia University and out of her home in the West Village.

In Good Conscience by Cat Gardiner

Source: Purchased
eBook, 356 pgs.
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In Good Conscience: The Final Adventure by Cat Gardiner (READ THEM IN ORDER) is the last in one of my favorite series by this author, and while reading, I did not want to let these characters go. Danger is ever-present in the Darcy’s lives because of Iceman’s covert past, but in this one, the danger is front and center and threatens to take everything they have and obliterate it.

“‘I know. I know. You have every right to swear like a deranged sailor, sweetie. The world is upside down. …'”

Without spoiling the adventure for you, Liz and Iceman are both tested and tested again by the drug cartel and Morales — yes, that evil, evil man is back. Like all great spy thrillers, Gardiner ensures our heroine and hero are forced apart only to be reunited in the most unexpected ways. Iceman has been dormant for a long while as he shares a quiet life in Virginia with Liz, but when Morales comes calling, you can imagine that all bets are off and he’s back in business….contract killing business.

What’s fantastic about this story is that Liz becomes her own powerhouse. She’s heard from Darcy just how strong she is and that she can tackle anything, but when he’s not there, does she still believe that? How can she prove that to herself and own it for good? It will take her slaying a dragon and learning to travel on her own to get there, but the end game is the stuff of dreams. She a woman who has found her own strength with a little help from Dixon, a personal body guard Darcy insists she needs.

In Good Conscience: The Final Adventure by Cat Gardiner is the final installment in this series, and while I love these characters and didn’t want to let them go, they ended up in the right place. The conclusion of their story is just what you’d expect Jane Austen to have. Iceman will always be my favorite modern Darcy, even when he’s being ice cold.

***Be aware there is graphic sexual content and language***

RATING: Cinquain

Other Reviews:

About the Author:

Cat Gardiner loves romance and happy endings, history, comedy, and Jane Austen. A member of National League of American Pen Women, Romance Writers of America, and her local chapter TARA, she enjoys writing across the spectrum of Pride and Prejudice inspired romance novels. Austenesque, from the comedic Christmas, Chick Lits Lucky 13 and Villa Fortuna, to the bad boy biker Darcy in the sultry adventures Denial of Conscience, Guilty Conscience, and Without a Conscience, these contemporary novels will appeal to many Mr. Darcy lovers, who don’t mind a deviation away from canon and variations.

Cat’s love of 20th Century Historical fiction merges in her first Pride & Prejudice “alternate era,” set in a 1952 Noir, Undercover. Her most recent publications are time-travel WWII P&P short stories: A Vintage Valentine, A Vintage Victory, and A Vintage Halloween as part of the Memories of Old Antique Shop Series.

Her greatest love is writing Historical Fiction, WWII–era Romance. Her debut novel, A Moment Forever was named a Romance Finalist in the 2017 Next Generation Indie Book Awards. She is currently working on her second novel in the Liberty Victory Series.

Married 24 years to her best friend, they are the proud parents of the smartest honor student in the world—their orange tabby, Ollie and his sassy girlfriend, Kiki. Although they live in Florida, they will always be proud native New Yorkers.

Lucky 13: Matchmaking and Misunderstandings by Cat Gardiner

Source: Purchased
eBook; 294 pgs.
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Lucky 13: Matchmaking and Misunderstandings by Cat Gardiner is a modern twist on Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice set during Christmas and Thanksgiving. Liz Bennett is a successful marketing executive but she considers herself unlucky in love and everything else dealing with her matchmaking and dissatisfied mother. She was born on a Friday the 13th, and she’s been considered unlucky by her family ever since. But she’s decided that this year would be different and that finding dates in every way possible in the modern age, she plans to find a Christmas dinner date and possibly someone to take her to her super model sister Jane’s wedding to Charles Bingley. She’s closed herself off to all else.

Enter hunky, part-time New York City firefighter Will Darcy, a man who smolders just standing still and captures her attention immediately only to open his mouth and ruin her first impression. Regardless, she finds that she can’t take her eyes or keep her hands off him when he’s selected as Mr. December for a holiday calendar to raise money for a charitable burn foundation.

“How did you know I’m from the East Side?”

“It’s in your swagger, the way you wear your Armani. I don’t know, maybe it’s the fact you get your nails manicured. Guys like you love to play on the wild sided behind closed doors.”

“So you think you know me, Charlotte?”

Charlotte teams up with her own hot bod, Will’s cousin, to help the star-crossed lovers realize they’re prefect for each other. But Liz is left mostly in the dark until it is too late. She has her work cut out for her on the dating seen and in some cases, she should be thanking Will for his observations and interventions in her dating life, even if he does infuriate her.

Gardiner has done it again with these characters, making them her own and creating steamy situations that will have readers blushing. Liz and Will continue to fight their feelings, but even when they give in, they both back away to guard their hearts. Readers will be cheering on Will as he tries to woo his lady until she finds that she’s the luckiest Bennet of them all in Lucky 13: Matchmaking and Misunderstandings.

RATING: Quatrain

Other Reviews:

About the Author:

Cat Gardiner loves romance and happy endings, history, comedy, and Jane Austen. A member of National League of American Pen Women, Romance Writers of America, and her local chapter TARA, she enjoys writing across the spectrum of Pride and Prejudice inspired romance novels. Austenesque, from the comedic Christmas, Chick Lits Lucky 13 and Villa Fortuna, to the bad boy biker Darcy in the sultry adventures Denial of Conscience, Guilty Conscience, and Without a Conscience, these contemporary novels will appeal to many Mr. Darcy lovers, who don’t mind a deviation away from canon and variations.

Cat’s love of 20th Century Historical fiction merges in her first Pride & Prejudice “alternate era,” set in a 1952 Noir, Undercover. Her most recent publications are time-travel WWII P&P short stories: A Vintage Valentine, A Vintage Victory, and A Vintage Halloween as part of the Memories of Old Antique Shop Series.

Her greatest love is writing Historical Fiction, WWII–era Romance. Her debut novel, A Moment Forever was named a Romance Finalist in the 2017 Next Generation Indie Book Awards. She is currently working on her second novel in the Liberty Victory Series.

Married 24 years to her best friend, they are the proud parents of the smartest honor student in the world—their orange tabby, Ollie and his sassy girlfriend, Kiki. Although they live in Florida, they will always be proud native New Yorkers.

Musings of a Netflix Binge Viewer by Kateema Lee

Source: Purchased
Paperback, 25 pgs.
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Musings of a Netflix Binge Viewer by Kateema Lee speaks to the mind of a grieving daughter easing her sadness with popcorn thrillers, classics, and so much more. Characters pulled from Hitchcock to Kung Fu movies fill these poems with whimsy and darkness, but it is the gray areas that shine brightest. Lee has a knack for blending these iconic characters with real life memories and emotions. Imagine sitting alone in the dark watching late night movies, delving deep into the past and its tumultuous emotions to try to make sense of those disappointments to find peace.

From “Hiatus: Why I Bought a Mustang” (pg. 21)

like Steve McQueen in Bullitt, down sunny,
California streets; then busy streets changed to long,
tree-lined highways, windows down, air
blinding me in short bursts and celebrating
me at the same time. In the dream, my father
was the man he wanted to be, a military hero,

That’s the thing about dreams, we can be anyone we want to be. Much like when we watch movies, we can place ourselves in those alternate lives leaving our cares behind. Our fantasies can find us driving fast in a sports car or visiting different countries with people who have passed on. But there is that “buffering” that happens when our lives seem to be paused or stuck between what came before and what is to come.

Lee’s Musings of a Netflix Binge Viewer is a meditative examination of one’s life and memories through the lens of the movie camera and the lens of our desires for different outcomes. But it is also a review of a life lived and coming to peace with what has passed in order to move forward.

RATING: Quatrain

Other Reviews:

About the Poet:

Kateema Lee is a Washington D.C. native. She earned her M.F.A in Creative Writing at the University of Maryland at College Park. She’s a Cave Canem Graduate Fellow, and she’s a Callaloo Workshop participant. Her work has appeared in anthologies, print, and online literary journals, including African American Review, Gargoyle, Word Riot, and Cave Canem Anthology XIII. When she’s not writing, she teaches English and Women’s Studies courses at Montgomery College.

How the Elephant Got Its Trunk and Other Wild Animal Stories by Rudyard Kipling (audio)

Source: Purchased
Audiobook, 4+ hours
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How the Elephant Got Its Trunk and Other Wild Animal Stories by Rudyard Kipling, narrated by Virginia McKenna, is a delightful rendition of Kipling’s Just So Stories, which provide imaginative answers to simple questions, like how did the elephant get its long trunk?

In the first story in the collection, a curious elephant drives his parents crazy with his incessant questions and curiosities, until they and his other relatives send him away on his own to find out the answer to a question he’s asked. Kipling’s stories have a dark lining too them, but they also have a fantastical and humorous way of looking at the world.

McKenna narrates as a mother would to her child, engaging them with the vivid animal kingdom’s cast of characters — good and bad, king and ferocious. Her voice undulates as the stories unwind.

How the Elephant Got Its Trunk and Other Wild Animal Stories by Rudyard Kipling, narrated by Virginia McKenna, would be even more delightful to listen to with a full-color book to share with your children. Vivid imagery like the sunset cover of this Audible version attests to how well these stories could be rendered in color and illustration. Thoroughly enjoyable world of animals and the simple questions asked by children.

RATING: Quatrain

About the Author:

Joseph Rudyard Kipling was an English journalist, short-story writer, poet, and novelist. He was born in India, which inspired much of his work.

Hourglass Museum by Kelli Russell Agodon

Source: Purchased
eBook, 108 pgs.
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Hourglass Museum by Kelli Russell Agodon creates its own gallery of art in which human interaction with artists’ work, ranging from Andy Warhol to Frida Kahlo and Georgia O’Keefe, is on display for readers to generate yet another level of interaction and interpretation. These poems are similar to the recursive style of painting in which a painter is seen painting himself inside of painting, etc., or something similar.

Agodon leaves readers with a number of verses to think on, including: “You said, Sometimes I still want to be needed, so I let our kitchen become a flood of time and you” and “To be master of your own fate means sometimes you have to rip up the instruction manual” and “to know the theme parks in our minds are really just a hall of mirrors.”

Even as she explores art that is recognizable, she’s also exploring human behaviors and how in some ways we self-sabotage and in others we seek solace and find little. I found many lines rang true, especially: “Poem: a form of negotiation for what haunts us.”

Hourglass Museum by Kelli Russell Agodon has an apt title in which human interaction with art is explored and the reality remains that our time is finite. She raises questions about societal norms, including the urge to thank fathers for taking their daughters by friends and teachers as if those fathers are not related to their children and not equally responsible for their care. Such innate reactions to simple acts of parenting bring this collection to life, grounding it in the personal.

RATING: Cinquain

About the Poet:

Kelli Russell Agodon is the author of Hourglass Museum (White Pine Press, 2014). She lives in the Seattle area and is the cofounder of Two Sylvias Press. Visit her website.

Selected Stories of Anton Chekhov translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky

Source: Purchased
Paperback, 496 pgs.
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Selected Stories of Anton Chekhov translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky, which was out June book club selection, demonstrates the best of Chekhov’s short story writing. He uses an economy of words to depict the every day lives of clerks, former actresses, professors, young boy orphans, and so much more. His stories carefully illustrate the mundane lives of these Russian people and the struggles they faced. There are tales of lost love, actresses who want more than to be a pretty face, and men who strive to be more than they are and fail.

For the book club, we chose to read and discuss 10 of the stories in this collection: The Death of a Clerk, Small Fry, The Huntsman, The Malefactor, Panikhida, Anyuta, Easter Night, Vanka, The House with the Mezzanine, and The Lady with the Little Dog. I have read the others since the meeting, except “The Boring Story” that I had previously and had turned me off Chekhov until college when we read his plays.

What I love about Chekhov is his sparse language and his ability to paint a full picture of someone’s life in so few words. Each word matters, and he often will choose words for a dual purpose, like the use of the word “stranger” in “The Huntsman.” It can literally be someone who is unknown to you or someone you haven’t seen in a long time and you feel that they have become a stranger. I found this translation very readable and the stories relatable even today — these stories were written in the late 1800s.

Selected Stories of Anton Chekhov translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky will keep readers on their toes, as some situations can be a bit odd. However, the concepts of lost love, jobs that are unsatisfying, and husbands who become strangers to their wives are issues that persist even today.

RATING: Quatrain

What the book club thought:

We found a great deal to discuss in these stories, even though some were just 2-5 pages. It is fascinating how so few words can generate so much discussion, even for stories that we barely understood.We had a great deal of discussion about “Chekhov’s Gun” about the functionality of every element in a story and the idea that promises are made and should be kept.

Everyone seemed to find reading these short stories worthwhile, even if not all of them were enjoyable. There are some fascinating pieces in this collection.

About the Author:

Anton Chekhov was a Russian playwright and short-story writer, who is considered to be among the greatest writers of short fiction in history.

Villa Fortuna by Cat Gardiner

Source: Purchased
EBook, 342 pgs.
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Villa Fortuna by Cat Gardiner begins when three girls are read the will of their aunt in New York, a place Lizzy Clemente has not lived since the death of her father. They soon learn that they have inherited a prize piece of property in “Snobsville” but to keep it, they must go to confession at church and make other changes.

Her sisters, Gina and Nikki, are eager to open up their own salon in the building and start earning their own money, and Lizzy begrudgingly stays to help them. She’s got her work in Los Angeles as a podiatrist, and she’s hoping that she can return to that life soon before the Italian-American heritage she’s buried for so long sneaks up on her. But her flight back to LA has her thinking about the altar boy she glimpsed at the church when her sisters were making confession.

“Seven figures a year, a body like David with a face like Cary Grant and you resort to selling yourself like a used Mercedes in need of an overdue tune up.”

Little does Lizzy know that her dreamboat has a conniving grandmother who is after Villa Fortuna, which she claims is rightfully hers and stolen by the Clemente sisters’ long dead mob-tied relative. Stella De Luca is a grandmother no one wants meddling in their lives, and Dr. Mike Garin is no exception. Gardiner has a flare for the dramatic in this variation of Pride & Prejudice, which strays far from the original as it must given the modern setting. I loved the characters, particularly Toni(y) the cross-dressing salon receptionist with a heart of gold and Rusty (the rival hair stylist) at Halo. These characters are hilarious, as are the situations they find themselves in. But readers will love the heat between Dr. Garin and Dr. Clemente.

Villa Fortuna by Cat Gardiner is a modern love story with mobster vendettas, over-the-top drama, and salon gossip to get you in trouble if you believe it. Lizzy and Dr. Garin must use their heads to lead their hearts, but sometimes assumptions can lead to trouble, especially when there are Machiavellian strategies afoot.

RATING: Quatrain

Other Reviews:

About the Author:

Cat Gardiner loves romance and happy endings, history, comedy, and Jane Austen. A member of National League of American Pen Women, Romance Writers of America, and her local chapter TARA, she enjoys writing across the spectrum of Pride and Prejudice inspired romance novels. Austenesque, from the comedic Christmas, Chick Lits Lucky 13 and Villa Fortuna, to the bad boy biker Darcy in the sultry adventures Denial of Conscience, Guilty Conscience, and Without a Conscience, these contemporary novels will appeal to many Mr. Darcy lovers, who don’t mind a deviation away from canon and variations.

Cat’s love of 20th Century Historical fiction merges in her first Pride & Prejudice “alternate era,” set in a 1952 Noir, Undercover. Her most recent publications are time-travel WWII P&P short stories: A Vintage Valentine, A Vintage Victory, and A Vintage Halloween as part of the Memories of Old Antique Shop Series.

Her greatest love is writing Historical Fiction, WWII–era Romance. Her debut novel, A Moment Forever was named a Romance Finalist in the 2017 Next Generation Indie Book Awards. She is currently working on her second novel in the Liberty Victory Series.

Married 24 years to her best friend, they are the proud parents of the smartest honor student in the world—their orange tabby, Ollie and his sassy girlfriend, Kiki. Although they live in Florida, they will always be proud native New Yorkers.

The Hunger by Alma Katsu

Source: Purchased
Hardcover, 376 pgs.
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A shadowy mist of sin plagues this wagon train led by the Donner family as a group of families make their way west to California. The Hunger by Alma Katsu is a story that creates an unsettling atmosphere as the pages turn, and as the party nears the mountain range where most of us know they became trapped by an early and heavy snowfall, readers will feel the darkness closing in on them even as the bonfires are lit to keep the darkness at bay.

“Everyone agreed it had been a bad winter, one of the worst in recollection.” (pg. 1)

“It was untrustworthy, that snow: It hid crevices, steep drop-offs. Snow kept secrets.” (pg. 2)

Throughout the novel, Katsu draws in her readers with the tales of woe that follow many of the wagon train’s members, including Charles Stanton, James Reed, and Tamsen Donner. These characters are integral to the success and failure of the wagon train, but they also enable Katsu to weave in her supernatural element with roots in Native American myth. Even the trail becomes a character, offering false paths, danger, and hope.

Katsu has a deep understanding of how humans act and react in scary situations, particularly those in which a wrong move could lead to death. From a man so eager to lead even when he doesn’t have the necessary experience to the man on the outskirts of the group because he is a single man in a wagon train of families, Katsu’s characters are nuanced, dynamic, and struggling internally as much as they are with the harsh environment they agreed to take on. Her writing just gets better and better with each book; this is one of her best written to date.

The Hunger by Alma Katsu creeps into your soul, searching for the wisps of guilt that hide in our own shadows and whispering dark thoughts that will leave you awake at night. This is suspenseful and horrifying, and it’s not just the expected cannibalism that will eat away at you.

RATING: Cinquain

Other Reviews:

About the Author:

Alma Katsu is the author of The Taker, The Reckoning, and The Descent. She has been a signature reviewer for Publishers Weekly and a contributor to The Huffington Post. She is a graduate of the Master’s writing program at the Johns Hopkins University and received her bachelor’s degree from Brandeis University. Prior to the publication of her first novel, Katsu had a long career as a senior intelligence analyst for several US agencies and is currently a senior analyst for a think tank. She lives outside of Washington, DC, with her husband.

Poe: Stories and Poems adapted by Gareth Hinds

Source: Purchased
Paperback, 120 pgs.
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Poe: Stories and Poems by Edgar Allan Poe, adapted by Gareth Hinds into a graphic novel, is gorgeous from the cover to the very last page. Hinds has a firm grasp of Poe’s macabre style and his illustrations are complementary to Poe’s prose and poems. In many ways, Hinds’ dark imagery enhances Poe’s words for the modern audience. I loved that there were several poems included and not just Poe’s stories. While Gothic horror is often thought of in prose form, many of Poe’s poems are just as haunting and macabre.

Hinds also includes a checklist of Poe’s favorite themes and corresponding images — from death depicted as a skull to insanity depicted as a straitjacket – -that he uses as a key for each story and poem. Hinds also offers some insight into his selections for the collection, which is by no means comprehensive. I loved that he included my favorite story — The Masque of the Red Death — which he says is the least well-known. I’ve always felt that in some ways, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Mask of the Red Death scene in The Phantom of the Opera was in some ways inspired by this story.

Poe: Stories and Poems by Edgar Allan Poe, adapted by Gareth Hinds into a graphic novel, is a welcome and permanent addition to my personal library. I’ve loved Poe for most of my life, and this volume breathes life and vibrancy into these classics. I cannot recommend this enough, and I’m looking forward to getting more of his graphic adaptations.

RATING: Cinquain

About the Illustrator:

Gareth Hinds is the author and illustrator of critically-acclaimed graphic novels and picture books based on classic literature and mythology. Through his work he shares his love of literature with readers young and old. His recent adaptation of The Odyssey received four starred reviews, and he is the recipient of the Boston Public Library’s “Literary Lights for Children” award. He lives in the Washington, DC area with his wife. When he’s not working on a book he enjoys painting landscapes and practicing aikido.