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Welcome! The ultimate luxury for me is curling up with a good book and a warm blanket. The next best thing is reviewing books and sharing them with others.

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Review: We Are Still Tornadoes by Michael Kun & Susan Mullen

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we are still tornadoes book coverReviewed by Alisha Churbe

We Are Still Tornadoes is written entirely in letters. It is classified as a Young Adult read, but hits on the older end of the spectrum, as the characters have just begun their first year of college after high school, on the edge of turning 19 years old. The novel is set in the early 1980s, making the letter style normal, as the characters do not have much access to technology.

The book is just short of 300 pages, but there is plenty of white space due to the letter format. There is plenty packed into the letters filling out the story nicely. The story is entirely told with letters to and from two characters: Cath and Scott.

Review: Moonglow by Michael Chabon

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moonglow book coverReviewed by Alisha Churbe

Chabon’s newest book, Moonglow is a literary treat. It’s a departure from a regular novel in that it is, at least in part, biographical. The novel follows Chabon as he sits with his grandfather during his grandfather’s last days. His grandfather tells him stories about his life and Chabon is able to piece together the past based on stories he’s heard and the new stories and retellings his grandfather tells him during these final moments. The book begins with an Author’s Note that is fitting for a memoir that isn’t necessarily a memoir, but one that reads more like a novel, “I have stuck to the facts except when facts refused to conform with memory, narrative purpose, or the truth as I prefer to understand it. Wherever liberties have been taken with names, dates, places, events, and conversations, or with identities, motivations, and interrelationships of family members and historical personages, the reader is assured that they have been taken with due abandon.” This declaimer of sorts sets the reader up for one very engaging novel.

By | February 27th, 2017|Categories: Family Life, Genre Fiction, Literary, Literature & Fiction, Urban Life|Tags: , , |10 Comments

Review: Wangs vs. the World by Jade Chang

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wangs vs the world book coverReviewed by Alisha Churbe

Jade Chang’s novel, Wangs vs. the World is highly entertaining. It is a portrait of a family complete with all of their similarities and their differences. She shows them as they come together and also when they fall apart. The novel is a very quick read. Chang’s prose is energetic and flows flawlessly. She peppers in thoughts about immigration and politics but it is not heavy-handed and fits within the confines of the novel well. The thoughts propel the story to its conclusion.

Charles Wang has lost everything. He once had everything–fancy cars, a lucrative business, many factories, enough money to be comfortable and then some. He has three children, Grace, Andrew and Saina. He’s married to his second wife, Barbra.  His first wife was killed in an accident six months after his youngest daughter, Grace, was born.

Review: Mothers, Tell Your Daughters by Bonnie Jo Campbell

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mothers tell your daughters book coverReviewed by Alisha Churbe

Bonnie Jo Campbell’s short story collection, Mothers, Tell Your Daughters is honest, bitter, sad and powerful. The book consists of sixteen short stories, two of which run only about a page. The collection of stories centers around women, many about motherhood and the complicated relationships between mothers and daughter. The stories will remind you of your own mistakes. Many of the stories have been published in other publications prior to this collection.

The stories are far from happy tales of weddings and grandchildren, the stories are centered around the effects of relationships with men, the effect of life-altering decisions and how mothers and daughters cope with each other and the mistakes that are made. Campbell illuminates what its like to be a mother and how to cope as a daughter.

Review: Sex and Death: Stories

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sex and death book coverReviewed by Alisha Churbe

A substantial anthology of 20 stories by both American and European authors, Sex and Death is a short story collection edited by Sarah Hall and Peter Hobbs, writers of both short story and novel. They both reside in Great Britain and have published widely. Many of the authors within are well-established and award-winning such as Kevin Barry (“City of Bohane”) and Ali Smith, a Scottish author of many short story collections and novels such as “How to be Both” that was released in 2016.

The stories of the book all revolve around the centric themes of sex and death and how each of these events/emotions drive us through life.

By | October 24th, 2016|Categories: Literary, Literature & Fiction, Short Stories|Tags: , |2 Comments

Review: Postmodern Deconstruction Madhouse by Peter Quinones

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postmodern deconstruction madhouse book coverReviewed by Alisha Churbe

Postmodern Deconstruction Madhouse is a collection of nine short pieces, some of which are stories, some more essays and one of the title pieces, “Postmodern Deconstruction Madhouse (i)” is a list of what is described as, “explorations of the one sentence short story” and numbers 98 different lines/stories. The words used by Quinones are vast, his vocabulary is impressive, but the use of obscure words seems to be used as the reason for each sentence rather than the stories themselves.

Quinones appears to be the narrator and/or main character of many of these stories. This suggests pieces of the collection may be more biographical than fiction, but the author’s intent is unclear.

By | October 4th, 2016|Categories: Literature & Fiction, Short Stories|Tags: |1 Comment

Review: The Summer That Melted Everything by Tiffany McDaniel

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the summer that melted everything book coverReviewed by Alisha Churbe

Fielding Bliss is our narrator, he’s an old man when he spins us the tale of The Summer That Melted Everything. The story waffles from current day, his reflection back to his childhood and any other memory or event he deems relevant between those two moments of time. The summer he reflects back to is 1984 when he was 13 years old. The year his father, Autopsy Bliss,
invited the devil to Breathed, Ohio. The devil arrives along with heatwave like the town has never seen (both environmental and metaphorical). This heat proceeds to melt everything.

McDaniel is clever and cunning with her word choices throughout. If you are someone who loves words and twisted meanings and innuendos, the book is a puzzle of double-meaning and McDaniel is a mistress of metaphor. In some books, authors try to show their creativity by using odd character names or descriptions and it distracts from the story. McDaniel uses it to feed her story and it works.

Review: The Green Road by Anne Enright

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green road book coverReviewed by Alisha Churbe

Another gem from Anne Enright. If you haven’t read her previous stuff, I highly recommend her novels.

The Green Road is the story of the Madigan family and it spans practically 30 years. It steps in to show stories of the mother, Rosaleen and her four children, Dan, Constance, Emmet, and Hanna. It follows them across continents and decades. We watch the Madigan family grow up, grow apart and we see how they are when they come back together. Though they were raised together and share like experiences, the siblings have taken their own paths and become very separate and unique.

By | September 12th, 2016|Categories: Family Life, Genre Fiction, Literary, Literature & Fiction|Tags: , |2 Comments

Review: Root, Petal, Thorn by Ella Joy Olsen

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root petal thorn book coverReviewed by Alisha Churbe

Olsen’s debut novel, Root, Petal, Thorn is journey through one women’s grief and her quest to understand the women who have occupied her historical home in an old neighborhood in Salt Lake City, Utah. Olsen does a nice job of setting the story in Utah with only touching on the Mormon religion, rather than focusing the entire novel on it. Her descriptions of the town, characters and house transport you to the town and into the lives of the inhabitants.

The novel is about Ivy Baygren, a mother of two who loses her husband unexpectedly and needs to figure out how to handle her own grief while also managing her household and children.

Review: Night at the Fiestas by Kirstin Valdez Quade

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night at the fiestas book coverReviewed by Alisha Churbe

Kirstin Valdez Quade’s debut short story collection, Night at the Fiestas is well written, dramatic and memorable. The collection consists of ten short stories, all quite long for short stories (ranging from 24 – 33 pages). Many of the stories have appeared previously in publications such as The New Yorker, Guernica and The Narrative Magazine. The first story, “Nemecia,” a story of x and y appeared in both The Best American Short Stories 2013 and The O. Henry Prize Stories 2014.

Valdez Quade has a proven track record. We will see much more by her before the end of this decade. She’s a name worth recognizing and a name that will appear on many more lists and shelves.

By | August 29th, 2016|Categories: Hispanic American, Literary, Literature & Fiction, Short Stories|Tags: , , |0 Comments