The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas #bookreview #YA

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does or does not say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life. –

This will be a brief review because I don’t possess the words to do this book justice.  Crucial, timely, powerful, honest, uncomfortable, gut-wrenching – I can’t recommend this novel enough.  Stellar characterization, especially with Starr’s loving, supportive, and occasionally hilarious family.  I could easily have finished it in one sitting – it’s that riveting.  My only regret is that it took me nearly a year to get to it.

Writer’s Reading Corner – Sarah Brentyn #amreading #shortreads #literature #FridayReads

Stories that affect us don’t always have to be full length novels.  Sometimes, they’re short stories, and today’s author shares how one in particular changed her life and helped shape her writing career.  Welcome Sarah Brentyn!

Winning the Lottery

It won’t surprise most of you that the last book I read is not a book. It’s a short story.

I was introduced to “The Lottery” during a lit class for my undergrad degree.

It spoke to me.

It said something like, “Hey! You, there! College chick. Check me out. I’m short and spectacular. I mean, seriously, I’m awesome. Read me again!”

I did. And still am (obviously) many years later.

One dark and stormy (actually, it was clear and starry) night in January, I decided to revisit this favorite. I fell asleep thinking about it, woke up thinking about it.

I could not stop thinking about it.

Her writing…

She weaves different moods seamlessly throughout this piece. The setting in contrast to the plot is perfect. The dialogue is fantastic. The foreshadowing is just enough to keep you guessing. The characters’ personalities, which we learn a lot about, are both expressed and implied. How does she do all this in so few words?! 

The story…

It’s surreal yet believable that a community would behave this way. How far are people willing to go to hold on to tradition? To pacify their superstitions? I wonder what it would be like to grow up there, how it would change you, if you’d be able to form healthy attachments, what your relationships would be like. I wonder if the lottery will continue. I wonder what would happen if they stopped. I wonder how long it would take for everyone to agree or if they ever would. I wonder… 

Jackson gives readers a psychological slap. She makes us uncomfortable in a captivating way that’s not easily dismissed. The build-up, revelation, and subsequent reactions of characters leave readers with questions that intensify curiosity and creativity. I don’t care how silly this sounds—I’m going with it. Full force. (You have been warned.) This story changed my life.

It showed me what can be accomplished with a few, well-chosen words. It fed my desire to think, analyze, and contemplate. It appeased my fascination with human nature. It set my mind ablaze.

It is one of the stories that set me on my path. Short fiction can be done. And done well. It’s something I strive for when I sit down to write.

Author Bio

Sarah Brentyn is an introvert who believes anything can be made better with soy sauce and wasabi.

She loves words and has been writing stories since she was nine years old. She talks to trees and apologizes to inanimate objects when she bumps into them.

When she’s not writing, you can find her strolling through cemeteries or searching for fairies.

She hopes to build a vacation home in Narnia someday. In the meantime, she lives with her family and a rainbow-colored, wooden cat who is secretly a Guardian.

She is the author of two collections of flash fiction: Hinting at Shadows and her latest release On the Edge of a Raindrop.


Blurb (On the Edge of a Raindrop)

These are stories of lives on the edge.

A girl tortured by the world within her. A boy powerless to escape his home. A mother doomed to live with her greatest mistake. A man lost in a maze of grief.

Each raindrop provides a microscopic mirror of ourselves and those around us. But we can’t always trust what we see. The distorted images disorient the mind, altering our view of reality.

This second collection of flash and micro fiction explores the depths of the human condition and the fragile surface of our perceptions.

Dive into these tales of darkness and discover what life is like On the Edge of a Raindrop.


Contact Information (blog, website, etc.)

Book Links:

On the Edge of a Raindrop

Hinting at Shadows

Author Page


Blogs / Social Media:

Lemon Shark

Lemon Shark Reef

Twitter, Google+, Website

Hinting at Shadows by Sarah Brentyn #bookreview #anthologies #microfiction #TuesdayBookBlog

No One Escapes Life Unscathed 

Delve into the deeper reaches of the human condition and the darkness that lives there.

A girl haunted by her sister’s drowning. A boy desperate for his father’s affection. A woman forced to make a devastating decision. A man trapped by his obsessions.

Experience tales of love, loss, murder, and madness through this collection of flash and micro fiction.

Take a peek behind the smile of a stranger. Get a glimpse inside the heart of a friend. Scratch the surface and discover what is hidden beneath.

These stories will open your mind, tug at your thoughts, and allow you to explore the possibility that, even in the brightest moments, something is Hinting at Shadows.

Each selection is approximately 100 words, with a bonus section of Microbursts in which each story is told in 50 words or less. –

I’m dumbfounded at how much this author conveys and the emotions she evokes with so few words – it’s such a gift.  She takes the reader through dark valleys that twist and turn, journeys through more light-hearted moments, and even touches on humor occasionally.  I laughed out loud at replacing chocolate with carob, a Spinal Tap reference, and a dragon talking about coconut cakes.  With many of these, I was left wanting more and they could easily be built on and expanded into full length short stories or even novels.

This is a quick read, but take time to savor this collection and fully appreciate the poignant writing.



Circumstances of Childhood by John W. Howell #TuesdayBookBlog #paranormal #familylife

When a former pro football star and broadcaster, now a Wall Street maven is accused of insider trading, will he be able to prove his innocence and expose those who are guilty?

Greg and his boyhood pal dreamed of big success in professional football and then later in business. Greg was the only one to live the dream. Now the founder of an investment fund Greg is faced with a routine audit finding by the SEC. The audit points to irregularities and all the tracks lead to Greg. The justice department hits him with an indictment of 23 counts of fraud, money laundering, and insider trading. His firm goes bust, and Greg is on his own.

His best friend knows he is innocent but has been ordered under penalty of eternal damnation not to help.

If you enjoy stories of riches to rags, redemption, brotherly love, and a little of the paranormal, Circumstance of Childhood will keep you riveted. –

I’ve read this author’s thoroughly engaging John Cannon Thriller Trilogy, but Circumstances of Childhood is a new path for him, and one I enjoyed cover to cover.

This novel will appeal to a wide range of readers – sports, business, mystery, family drama, and even supernatural fans.  Overflowing with themes of family, love, forgiveness, and justice – with some twists along the way, the story makes you think about what’s really important in life and ponder what happens beyond.  Highly recommend.

I received a digital ARC from the author.

Bathing The Lion by Jonathan Carroll

Neil Gaiman praises as “Brain-smooshing work. As if John Updike were to write a Philip K Dick novel.” A bathingsurreal apocalypse novel that tackles a world of domestic strife and fragile friendships.

In Jonathan Carroll’s surreal masterpiece, Bathing the Lion, five people who live in the same New England town go to sleep one night and all share the same hyper-realistic dream. Some of these people know each other; some don’t.

When they wake the next day all of them know what has happened. All five were at one time “mechanics,” a kind of cosmic repairman whose job is to keep order in the universe and clean up the messes made both by sentient beings and the utterly fearsome yet inevitable Chaos that periodically rolls through, wreaking mayhem wherever it touches down—a kind of infinitely powerful, merciless tornado. Because the job of a mechanic is grueling and exhausting, after a certain period all of them are retired and sent to different parts of the cosmos to live out their days as “civilians.” Their memories are wiped clean and new identities are created for them that fit the places they go to live out their natural lives to the end.

For the first time all retired mechanics are being brought back to duty: Chaos has a new plan, and it’s not looking good for mankind…

This book was many things – lit-fic, fantasy, sci-fi – and I found it wonderful, but could I tell you what happened?  Probably not.  This is one of those books readers may interpret in entirely different ways.

The writing was intelligent, flowed well, and a pleasure to read.  In the first sixty or so pages, the reader is introduced to the characters going about their normal lives and I enjoyed getting to know them, but wondered when the “mechanics” were going to show up.  It happened suddenly.  After that, I was never quite sure what was real and what wasn’t, but I liked the idea of learning what was happening as the characters did.  We were all clueless together.

This was the first book for me by this author and it was a different kind of read, but if you allow yourself to be led along a path through this world, a dream world, and another universe you may be like me and come out on the other side not really knowing what happened, just that it was a fantastic experience.  Take from it what you will – it’s all subjective and open to interpretation.

Bathing The Lion is scheduled for publication October 21, 2014.  This review is based on a digital ARC from the publisher through NetGalley.

The Hunger of the Wolf: A Novel by Stephen Marche

A breakout book from Stephen Marche, The Hunger of the Wolf is a novel about the way we live now: a 22609421sweeping, genre-busting tale of money, morality, and the American Dream and the men and monsters who profit in its pursuit set in New York, London, and the Canadian wilderness.

Hunters found his body naked in the snow. So begins this breakout book from Stephen Marche, the provocative Esquire columnist and regular contributor to The Atlantic, whose last work of fiction was described by the New York Times Book Review as “maybe the most exciting mash-up of literary genres since David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas. The body in the snow is that of Ben Wylie, the heir to America’s second-wealthiest business dynasty, and it is found in a remote patch of northern Canada. Far away, in post-crash New York, Jamie Cabot, the son of the Wylie family’s housekeepers, must figure out how and why Ben died. He knows the answer lies in the tortured history of the Wylie family, who over three generations built up their massive holdings into several billion dollars worth of real estate, oil, and information systems despite a terrible family secret they must keep from the world. The threads of the Wylie men’s destinies, both financial and supernatural, lead twistingly but inevitably to the naked body in the snow and a final, chilling revelation.

The Hunger of the Wolf is a novel about what it means to be a man in the world of money. It is a story of fathers and sons, about secrets that are kept within families, and about the cost of the tension between the public face and the private soul. Spanning from the mills of Depression-era Pittsburgh to the Swinging London of the 1960s, from desolate Alberta to the factories of present-day China, it is a bold and breathtakingly ambitious work of fiction that uses the story of a single family to capture the way we live now. –

I’m not really sure what to say about this book.  The origins of the Wylie family business and how they went from nothing to multi-billions was the most interesting part of the novel for me.  The rest of the book was filled with loathsome characters whose sole purpose in life seemed to be about getting more – more money, more house, a more attractive and wealthier partner, more attention – they nearly made me bail before the halfway point.  Most of the wealthy characters spent their time blaming money for ruining their lives.  It quickly grew tiresome.  George Wylie was the only person with admirable traits  – he was smart enough to know he was incapable of running the family business, subsequently stepping aside, and he genuinely loved the person he was with, having no ulterior motives.

As for the terrible family secret (I won’t give it away), maybe it was just over my head, but I didn’t see its purpose or relationship to the story.  Yes, it was very strange and fascinating, but inconsequential and something that just – happened.

This novel was well-written and if the book had focused more on business and the mystery of Ben Wylie’s death, I might have connected with it more, but the characters made it a difficult read for me.

The Hunger of the Wolf is scheduled for publication February 3, 2015.  This review is based on a digital ARC from the publisher through NetGalley.

How I Got Here

If you’re wondering why I began this blog, what my books are about, and what I’ve done to get them published, you’re in the right place.  If you really don’t care, indulge me anyway.

I began writing my first book, a YA fantasy, while I was waiting at soccer, basketball, or football practices for my oldest son.  That’s a lot of time – enough to write an 86,000 word novel.  If you’re a parent who has also waited interminable amounts of time at practices, think about what you could do with all that time if you got it back – endless possibilities, right?  I’ve been reading all my life, but that was the first time I was able to conceive a beginning, middle, and end of an actual story of my own, so I decided to go with it.  During the development of the story, I was forming an image in my mind of what the main character – a 17-year-old male teenager – would look like.  I had a pretty good idea, but it was solidified when he walked in my    gym one day.  Seriously – this guy was exactly who I’d pictured in my head (he looks a lot like the late Brandon Lee).  I’d never seen him in the gym before and he gave me a much needed creative boost.  I’ve learned a lot in the three years since I’ve written it – including the fact that it needs extensive reworking.  Before I realized that valuable piece of information, I sent out numerous queries – and got rejections or no reply at all to every one.  Although I knew that was part of the process, I was feeling pretty low one day and asked for a sign that I should continue with this book – or any book.  I’m a big believer in signs and things happening for a reason.  I was in the gym again that day, looked up, and there was the guy again.  I’d never seen him before that first time and I’ve never seen him again since the last, so I took that to be my sign to keep trying.  This book has been put on the backburner for the time being – I plan to heavily revise it, but my protagonist for my second book wouldn’t stay quiet, so I had to move on.

My second idea for a book- a YA Horror/Paranormal – came from our cat, if you can believe that.  If it ever gets published and you see the name Shadow in the acknowledgements, you’ll know who I mean.  This book   took less than a year to write and has gone through several revisions, but I’m hopeful.  I’ve gotten some good feedback at online critique sites for my query and have sent out a few queries to agents so far, but I’ve only gotten one rejection.  No news is good news, right?

So I’ve continued with my journey – taking classes, attending writer’s conferences, getting honest critiques on a couple of writer websites, and taking advantage of some of my son’s friends and girlfriend by asking them to read my books.  I’ve also met some wonderfully helpful authors in person and online.  You’d be amazed how willing these authors are to take time out of their own busy schedules to make suggestions and give advice to aspiring writers – and they just seem like genuinely nice people.  You definitely don’t find that in all industries.

So keep your fingers crossed that I get at least a request for a partial of my book from an agent over the next week – or at least not another rejection letter!  If not traditional publishing, there’s always self-publishing, right?