A Few Reviews

Screen shot 2016-04-25 at 9.09.18 AMIt’s been far too long since I talked about what I’ve been reading, and I hope to get back to doing this on a regular basis. Here are a few stories I’ve particularly enjoyed lately.

Rainbow’s Edge by Leland and Angelo Dirks

If you’ve read any of the TwoMinutesGo flash fiction either here or on JD Mader’s blog, then you might know Leland Dirks. I’ve been a fan of his writing since I read Jimmy Mender and His Miracle Dog, and I was fortunate to receive an advance copy of Rainbow’s Edge. And I could not stop reading it. In fact, I read it twice. I was completely pulled into the world of this story, a journey of a father and son unspooling the truth of a troubled past as the son lays comatose in his hospital bed. It would have been so easy to push a story like this into melodrama and sentimentality, but in the hands of this skilled author, it is neither of those things. If you enjoy magic realism and tales of redemption and forgiveness, I highly recommend this moving and beautifully written story. (Available for preorder here until April 30.)

FScreen shot 2016-04-25 at 9.02.23 AMinding Travis by Melissa Bowersock (No Time for Travis, Book One)

As of this writing, Finding Travis is up for nomination on Kindle Scout. I am a fan of Melissa Bowersock’s smooth, agile writing style. And I think this story is one of my favorites of hers. Travis is adrift, his marriage all but over, spending his free time as a historical re-enactor for tourists visiting Arizona’s Fort Verde. Then a celestial anomaly—we think—pulls him back in time to the frontier days at the same location, where he is assigned to medical duties in a world before the existence of penicillin and modern surgical hygiene practices. The historical details are seamlessly woven with the plot and the character development (I have a book-crush on Travis’s assistant, Riley), making for a lovely, engaging read. I hear there’s a sequel coming, and I can’t wait to read it.

Wife Material: A Novel of Misbehavior and Freedom by Deborah Cox

I like getting out of my comfort zone once in a while, so I chose this title. Wife Material tells a story of religious abuse and sexual repression in the modern Church of Christ. This was one powerful, fascinating, heartbreaking, gut-wrenching story. I was so deep into the reading that at one point, my husband popped into my room and I actually got angry at the disruption. I couldn’t even talk for a while, after reading some parts. The scenes bounce around in time, which as a reader intrigues me, especially when it’s done well.

What have you been reading lately?

 

Flash in the Pantone

pantone-book-11Another Friday, another two-minutes-go writing challenge over at JD Mader’s Unemployed Imagination site. We joke each week about “breaking the blog,” but I think this time we actually did it. Flash fiction bits were going up, comments followed, until…well, let’s just say that we kicked some serious interwebs. Here are three pieces I threw down. Hope you’ll pop over to that link and see some amazing writing by David Antrobus, Julie Frayn, Mark Morris, Ed Drury, Leland Dirks, Lynne Cantwell…hope I’m not leaving anyone out…and of course, our own wicked awesome Pied Piper. Enjoy. As always, lightly edited for your protection.

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To Die, To Sleep: a story by Leland Dirks

My friend Leland Dirks posted this story in a book group on Facebook. I was riveted to every word, and as it unfolded, I had to blink away the tears to keep reading. Yet I had to continue. I’m sharing it with you because of the many ways it personally touched me,  because of the many people I’ve known who have been on that bridge, and because of the few who did not return.

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To Die, To Sleep

A bitterly cold night in January, 1977. Boulder, Colorado. Home to the best party school in the United States, according to Playboy magazine—and they ought to know. The 1960s had left their mark on the town, which some called the Berkeley of the Rockies. Beautiful girls, handsome guys, so many perfect smiles.

The smiles hid ugly ghosts—rapes, drug overdoses, and abuse. Some of the abuse bruised bodies, some bruised souls. Some of the smiles hid secrets—secrets so terrible that lives could be destroyed. There was a lot of talk about freedom and civil rights and Gay Liberation in the 1970s, but just a whisper of the word “homosexual” could destroy a career and stop a life. What would Mom and Dad say?

Read the rest here. Please share.

My Year of Living Indie

poetry_readingJacqueline Hopkins-Walton, a member of a Facebook group I belong to, recently asked us to kick in our “top ten” favorite books we read in 2012. Five immediately came to mind, several others I can’t name because they’re not officially published yet or I had a hand in editing, and the rest resulted from a quick consultation with my Kindle.

Only one book was put out by a large publisher.

In fact, a further consultation with the K-dude revealed that with the exception of The Maltese Falcon, nearly every book I read in 2012 was written by an indie author.

Curiosity? Solidarity? Poverty?

Yes, all are true. When, in late 2011, I started testing the waters prior to self-publishing my second novel, Drawing Breath, I met a bunch of great, funny, quirky, generous authors who’d decided to chuck pitching to the Big Guys and go their own way. Curious, I read a bunch of affordable—and frequently free—books that didn’t have a flightless waterfowl on their spines. Some needed some work. Some were good. Some were pretty amazing.

I didn’t consciously make a choice to avoid the big names. A few of my favorite trad-published authors, like Michael Chabon, Joyce Carol Oates, and Ian McEwan came out with books this year and I will read them, eventually, when the budget allows. (Before you suggest my local library, I am a big fan, although Marion the Librarian does not care for my slow reading pace, which resulted in my returning Ian McEwan’s Solar only halfway done under threat of large fines and manual dispossession.)

My TBR indie list sort of…evolved. Friends came out with new books. Other authors recommended their favorites. One thing led to another. My involvement with Indies Unlimited brought me closer to inspirational, heartbreakingly talented, funny, smart authors from around the world.

Doesn’t mean I won’t sink into a big-name book again. In fact, two are waiting on my nightstand: Jeffrey Eugenides because I’ve adored him since Middlesex and The Virgin Suicides, and Jane Green, because I won her latest in a Goodreads Giveaway.

This year in reading just happened. And I’m very happy about it. It’s a lovely feeling, looking down my Kindle directory and seeing so many friends’ names.

So, in no particular order, these were my favorite books I read in 2012:

Jimmy Mender and his Miracle Dog by Leland Dirks
Joe Café by JD Mader
Dissolute Kinship: A 9/11 Road Trip by David Antrobus
My Temporary Life by Martin Crosbie
Upgrade by Stephen Hise
Bad Book by Stephen Hise, KS Brooks, and JD Mader
Mini Skirts and Laughter Lines by Carol E. Wyer
The Sable City and Death of a Kingdom by M. Edward McNally [from the same series; The Norothian Cycle, so it counts as two!]
Charmed Life by Susan Bennett

What were some of your favorites?

Disclaimers:

1. I am a relatively slow reader, and it’s been a busy year.
2. Which means I probably read about thirty books.
3. So I do what I can. And this only one reader’s opinion.
4. There are many, many wonderful authors I’ve yet to read.
5. Even ones I know.
6. Your actual mileage may vary.