These Days: Short Stories, Scenes and Sketches by Nick Fuller is a collection of short stories that depict the chaotic contrasts that are present in the modern world. Each chapter contains a new short story related to a specific aspect relevant in today’s age. Be it poverty, exploitation, homelessness, immigration, climate change or a pandemic, Nick is able to showcase the very important human problems that have engulfed the lives of so many across the world.
Our current fast-paced way of living has taken its toll on people’s lifestyles and has left a lot of us behind. The emergence of serious problems, like modern slavery, are illustrated throughout the book in such a way that it is hard to ignore the pain that it must be causing. Fuller, through his short stories, displays brilliantly the humanity caught in these grim, modern realities and the desperation and need for survival that people so constantly feel in their lives. This is a book that everyone, in every part of the world, can relate to, given the fact that the problems described in it are global.
The book also exposes the current division that is present in many countries: racial, political and economic divisions. These Days is able to capture and portray these problems in a concise yet though-provoking way. Each new chapter brings a new set of characters through which one can see the hurt and pain that have been a direct result of these modern crises. Compassion and empathy is immediately felt for them, but also worry, for these people are real and are out there all over the world.
These Days is a call for reflection. A reflection that demands urgency. Despite the many societal imperfections that are described in every story, the book also depicts the beauty that humanity posses and how that beauty lives inside every single one of us.
This is a collection of impassioned short stories that are intellectually invigorating and emotionally stirring. These Days is a necessary read that will put our lives into perspective. The unheard voices of so many are carried in this book and leads us to acknowledge the need to protect our humanity at all costs.
Pages: 180 | ASIN: B099X4XC8C
Tags: author, book, book recommendations, book review, book reviews, book shelf, bookblogger, books, books to read, ebook, fiction, goodreads, kindle, kobo, literature, Nick Fuller, nook, novel, read, reader, reading, short stories, short story, story, These Days, writer, writing
Goods & Effects by Al Schnupp is a heartwarming story about a Mennonite woman in the 60’s named Hannah Mercer who’s trying to find her way in the world after the passing of her family. To help her gain independence and explore the world around her, she opens up a little shop on wheels called Hannah’s Goods & Effects. Along the way, we watch her grow into herself and face backlash from the town deacon because she has decided to march to the beat of her own gigantic drum. This inspiring story left me craving more in the best way possible!
Schnupp is a master at conveying real human emotions. Hannah and the side characters in this story felt realistic and fully-fledged. That comment is typically hard to give for books of this length. We received enough backstory about our protagonist without drowning in useless information. In a matter of 174 pages, our author managed to bring his characters to life and execute it beautifully. Further speaking on the character development, I appreciated Schnupp’s ability to write a female main character without her seeming like a mystical fantasy. That is a rare accomplishment from modern male authors. I also wanted to share my appreciation for diverse representation, especially for the time period the story takes place. We read about characters from different races as well as different abilities. Darla was an absolute treat to read about! This review wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the stunning writing and language used throughout the novel. It is simple yet carefully crafted. I felt that Schnupp spent a great deal of time choosing how to depict the story through language alone. Despite the simplicity, there was never a dull moment in the story. I was always waiting to see what Hannah would do next! Although parts of the story were sad, it was predominantly heartwarming.
Goods & Effects is a fantastic fall read, and I can’t wait to read it again in the future. If you get the chance, I highly recommend picking this book up, curling up on the couch, and sipping a mug of your favorite warm drink. You will fly through it, and it’s the best way to consume this story.
Pages: 166 | ASIN: B08XW1S1N6
Tags: Al Schnupp, author, book, book recommendations, book review, book reviews, book shelf, bookblogger, books, books to read, ebook, fiction, goodreads, Goods & Effects, historical ficiton, kindle, kobo, lgbtq, literature, nook, novel, read, reader, reading, story, womens adventure, womens fiction, writer, writing
Memoir of a Nerd, by Hank Mancini, is a personal account of the many situations Mancini has gotten himself into throughout his lifetime. From pranking his grandmother, Mormonism, and general lifetime shenanigans, Mancini writes from an upbeat and comical perspective. Memoir of a Nerd is a more detailed retelling of Mancini’s original book, The Cat That Ate a Thousand Bananas. What sort of antics can a self-proclaimed nerd get into? What exactly did a nerd do back in the 50s and 60s? Hank Mancini gives his readers a vivid retelling of the positive goings-on a nerd would partake in during that time.
This memoir is a good depiction of what life was like in previous decades and it gives its reader a clear window into the regular day-to-day happenings of the time. So often, we only hear about major life-altering events in terms of previous decades — JFK, the moon landing, Vietnam — it’s refreshing to read accounts of everyday life. Memoirs are meant to give readers insight into the author’s past experiences. Good memoirs will transport the reader back in time to each moment the author speaks about. Great memoirs will leave a reader wanting to go back and reread the book over and over again. This particular memoir was witty, humorous, and heartfelt and kept my attention to the very last page. I appreciate that each chapter was 2-3 pages long, but I would have liked more substance in each chapter. At the beginning of the book, Mancini mentions that he doesn’t want to dwell on the bad aspects of his previous memories, but I feel like that would’ve strengthened the story.
Memoir of a Nerd is a short but humorous memoir with a unique voice that makes this book stand out. It was nice to read a memoir from someone that does not aggrandize their life, but instead shares a life filled with humor and the same ups and downs we can all relate to.
Pages: 243 | ASIN: B096YRW48K
Tags: author, biography, book, book recommendations, book review, book reviews, book shelf, bookblogger, books, books to read, ebook, goodreads, Hank Mancini, humor, kindle, kobo, literature, memoir, Memoir of a Nerd, nonfiction, nook, novel, read, reader, reading, short stories, story, writer, writing
With its setting in Hope Falls, New York, C.H. Eryl’s romantic fiction novel The Reindeer Ranch is a simple tale revolving around two people who possess no hope of meeting a significant other given the failure of recent relationships. Darci Grisbane, a recently divorced mother of two, gets a flat tire in the middle of an unfortunate day, adding to her bad luck. It’s only later that she realizes the glimmer in that gloomy day when she meets Brian, her neighbor’s brother. As their convergence draws nearer amid the Christmas events and festivities, the two find themselves hindered by the shackles of their past. This is an emotional story about their endeavor to overcome their past and form a relationship.
Christmas celebrations are full of festivities and we get to see all of that in this romance novel and it adds a fairy-tale element to the story. The major reason why I enjoyed this book so much was because of the straightforward love story. The story is told simply, and because of that I looked forward to picking up this book again and again.
I was enchanted by the descriptions of Christmas gatherings and the jubilant events surrounding them. For instance, the reindeer rides with snowflakes drifting overhead fancied me and delighted my senses.
While I enjoyed the story overall, I felt that the ending left a some things unresolved. Though we get a seemingly happy ending, I felt that struggles still seem to loom over the couple as the dark elements of their pasts still linger over them, if temporarily absent. But I suppose this is a better reflection of life and how things don’t really end, but instead move on to the next chapter.
The plot of the story slowly develops as the novel progress, but the romantic feelings between the characters develop quickly. They both have failed relationships, and the characters and their relationship is intriguing, if not relatable. I would have loved to have delved deeper into their thoughts and emotions because I found them and their past to be so fascinating.
The Reindeer Ranch illustrates the apprehension some people have after divorce, and also shows the glimmer of hope we find in new love. While this is an impassioned novel I also enjoyed the comical touches of parenting throughout the story, as seen in Darci’s parents.
The Reindeer Ranch is an enjoyable and sweet read. This is a fantastic romance novel if you are looking for a quick light-hearted read that is filled with festivity, hope, and kindness.
Pages: 198 | ASIN: B09DTBWCYY
Tags: A Black Eyed Witch Novel, author, book, book recommendations, book review, book reviews, book shelf, bookblogger, books, books to read, C.H. Eryl, christian fiction, christmas, ebook, fiction, goodreads, kindle, kobo, literature, love story, nook, novel, read, reader, reading, romance, story, The Reindeer Ranch, womens fiction, writer, writing
Lara is grieving the death of her son but feels suffocated by her failing marriage. She constantly tries to run away from confronting her own emotions and is unable to make peace with her loss. She is afraid of facing the harsh reality and questions plague her mind. But when she stops in Montana, she is offered a job by Miriam at the local cafe. Lara impulsively agrees to be a live-in help for Miriam’s brother, Peter, a blind young man who lived on a farm with his three horses and a dog. What they don’t know is how this sudden encounter would drastically change each of their lives, inspiring them to ultimately let go of their past traumas and begin life anew with Hope.
Written in a sensitive and empathetic voice, the story grabs our attention right from the beginning as Lara mindlessly speeds over the freeway towards Montana late one night, desperate to escape the stifling emptiness that grips her soul. Her grief is introduced to us in patches of flashbacks and random anxiety attacks that leave her feeling numb and drained. The trauma of losing her son to a car accident, sits heavily in her heart. The wound is still fresh and the fear of experiencing such agony once again makes her build a wall around herself. But when she meets the roguish young man, Peter, with a tragic backstory of his own, she finally discovers true love and with it, her walls come crashing down.
This book can easily make a reader cry because of the heart wrenching emotions described within it, especially the overwhelming sense of guilt that Lara feels when she is happy with Peter after a long time since losing her son. It makes her question her own right to be happy in the first place. It is wonderful to watch how the characters grow and evolve in the span of the book but the author ties off all the loose ends, creating an ending that’s almost too perfect. However, it is significant to note that the protagonist remains disabled until the very end which ensures that there is no kind of appropriation of the identity of Peter that could compromise his personality. It is also important to note that there is a conscious effort and decision behind the representation of marginal figures in this book.
What remains in our mind after reading this story are the lines quoted from Cohen, that reflects its core theme, “There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.” Light Among the Shadows is a heartwarming story about overcoming anguish and letting go of pain, and to re-embrace life with new vigor.
Pages: 274 | ASIN: B09B6HNTC5
Tags: author, book, book recommendations, book review, book reviews, book shelf, bookblogger, books, books to read, contemporary romance, ebook, fiction, goodreads, grief, Jennifer Leigh Pezzano, kindle, kobo, Light Among the Shadows, literature, love story, nook, novel, read, reader, reading, romance, story, womens fiction, writer, writing
Winterset Hollow keeps readers on edge throughout this riveting story. The author is expressive, entertaining and writes in an intriguing manner which really benefits this alluring story. Winterset Hollow is a great book to read if you enjoy suspense, drama, and plot twists all delivered with a good sense of humor. The construction of the plot, development of characters and the style of narration were all excellent. Jonathan Durham does an amazing job with his writing as he describes events and characters in a way that the reader can visualize.
Winterset Hollow will have you experience all sorts of emotions through the chapters. The book opens with a backstory on each character which sets up the characters nicely before we get into the depths of the mystery at the heart of this dark fantasy novel. I enjoyed how the tone of the novel slowly changes as the story progresses from cheerful to somber, but does so almost effortlessly, to the point where I really didn’t think about it until the story was over and I reflected on what happened.
Winterset Hollow follows the story of a group of friends that enjoy adventure and exploring. These friends have the best of times among themselves. Certain eerie events however have them questioning reality, wondering what is real and what is not. I love how curious they were and appreciate the author for making the characters diverse and relatable.
I recommend Winterset Hollow to readers that enjoy books that easily combine action, melodrama, and engaging dialogue. While I wish the story was a bit longer, I think this novel provides a fantastically refreshing mix of dark fairytale storytelling with a contemporary edge. With a lot going on and unexpected twists around every corner, the solid writing ensures readers always know what is going on in this captivating novel.
Pages: 326 | ASIN: B09F9YKSRT
Tags: author, book, book recommendations, book review, book reviews, book shelf, bookblogger, books, books to read, dark fantasy, ebook, fairytale, fantasy, fiction, goodreads, horror, Jonathan Edward Durham, kindle, kobo, literature, mystery, nook, novel, paranormal, read, reader, reading, story, supernatural, suspense, Winterset Hollow, writer, writing
Becoming a Woman of Substance, the sequel to Beguiled, finds Miriam Levine Butler at age 38, having had an epiphany. No longer could she mourn her lost years, dutifully taking care of her handicapped daughter Alice. No longer would she bear the dismissive attitude of her once adoring husband, Noel. No longer would she resort to unhealthy means of numbing herself. The Great Depression rages on and on in 1938. Her beloved son Aaron is in California trying to be a screenwriter. Her immigrant mother, who now owns a grocery store, advises her daughter to “get out and do something. Do you want to end up like I did when you were a child? A nothing?”
Miriam heeds Ma’s warning. She ventures out of her purgatory, goes back to her old haunt, Romany Marie’s café, where she hears about the Federal Theatre Project and its daunting director, Hallie Flanagan. This launches her new life as she returns to her early love of theater, but this time as a field investigator of drought victims in the growing fields of California.
This still beautiful and intelligent woman prospers on all fronts: finding engaging new work, friends, and a lover. Her early inclination to be self-absorbed, her desire to be a stage star all dissolve as she finds fulfillment in helping others, in expanding the circle of people she welcomes into her life. The backdrop of the Depression, WWII, and the Holocaust challenge Miriam’s equanimity, but she finds new strength within herself. Follow Miriam’s journey to becoming a woman of substance as she confronts her fears and self-doubt, untrustworthy people, racial prejudice, and losses of loved ones.
Posted in book trailer
Tags: author, Becoming a Woman of Substance, book, book recommendations, book review, book reviews, book shelf, book trailer, bookblogger, books, books to read, booktube, booktuber, ebook, fiction, goodreads, historical fiction, karma kitaj, kindle, kobo, literature, nook, novel, read, reader, reading, story, trailer, womens fiction, writer, writing
Under the Grapevine is the second book in your riveting family saga, The Women of Campbell County. What were some new ideas you wanted to introduce in this book that were different from book one?
I wanted the reader to know that love is powerful and can overcome deceit and hatred. Despite having a wretched mother, the Bailey children develop into adults, minimally scathed, due to the nurturing of Tabs’ love.
What were some challenges you set for yourself as a writer with this book?
My biggest challenge writing Under the Grapevine was the transition from Olive to Harriett as the main character. It’s difficult for Olive’s impudence to play second chair.
What were some obstacles in the story that you felt were important to defining your characters?
Life during the first half of the last century is often depicted as a simpler lifestyle. I wanted to remind my readers that living through the Great Depression and WWII was complicated and stressful, resulting in self-sacrifice on multiple levels.
What can readers expect in the next book in The Women of Campbell County series?
The next book in The Women of Campbell County series revolves around Harriett coming into her own, garnering the education her mother coveted, and succeeding as a corporate woman. In contrast, it also follows her husband Eddy’s journey after being drafted into the Army. Unlike the first two books which cover several decades, Hill House Divided, takes place over three years, 1950 to 1953.
Posted in Interviews
Tags: author, book, book recommendations, book review, book reviews, book shelf, bookblogger, books, books to read, ebook, family saga, fiction, goodreads, historical fiction, kindle, kobo, literature, nook, novel, read, reader, reading, S. Lee Fisher, story, Under the Grapevine, womens fiction, writer, writing