Tag Archives: Fiction

Debut Novel, The Isolation Door by Anish Majumdar | TLC Book Tours

Cover of The IsolationAdvance Praise:

“Believable and inspires contemplation.”

Bookish Ardour Blog

“Anish’s language brims with the confidence and emotional gravitas of a seasoned author -there is that distinct cadence in the way he frames his words: always pleasing, calming, as he reels you deeper into his tale.”

New York Book Pundit

Synopsis: 

Neil Kapoor, 23, is desperate to create a life beyond the shadow of his mother’s schizophrenia. Years of successive relapses and rehabilitations have forced his father into the role of caretaker and Neil into that of silent witness. But there is no light within this joyless ritual, and any hope for the future rests on finding an exit. 

Amidst her latest breakdown, Neil attends drama school in pursuit of a role that might better express the truth of who he is. What started as a desperate gambit becomes the fragile threads of a new life. A relationship blooms with Emily, and each finds strength – and demons – in the other. New friendships with Quincy and Tim grow close and complex. But the emotional remove needed to keep these two lives separate destabilizes the family. Neil’s father, the one constant in the chaos, buckles under the pressure. Enlisting the aid of an Aunt with means and questionable motives, Neil plies ever-greater deceptions to keep the darkness at bay. But this time there will be no going back. As his mother falls to terrifying depths a decision must be made: family or freedom?

In this powerful fiction debut, acclaimed journalist Anish Majumdar shines a much-needed light into the journey of those coping with serious mental disorders and the loved ones who walk alongside them. Incisive and filled with moments of strange beauty, it marks the arrival of a unique voice in American letters.

[Synopsis and image via Goodreads]

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My Thoughts:

Anish Majumdar in his debut novel, The Isolation Door, stole my reader’s heart the moment I began to read his words. Majumdar has a writing style that is both lyrical and atmospheric from the perspective of great storytelling. 

Within the pages of this book, Majumdar tells a fictional story of a young man dealing with immense problems at home, problems which are not of his doing nor his solving, and yet Neil feels compelled to try to fix everything that has gone wrong. As I read along, Majumdar wrote so realistically as to cause me to forget these were not real people living next door nor was this a story about real circumstances. That is great writing!

Do not despair for Neil, however, he finds love and is able to float for a time between the two lives he creates for himself. On the one hand, his parents struggle with his mother’s mental health issues and on the other hand, Emily, someone willing to accept him for who is. And yet a time comes for decisions. A beautiful love story is centered in Neil’s struggle with his family’s life journey filled with disappointments and cruelties and his desire, like so many of us, to be set free from that life.

My Recommendation:  

If you are fond of reading a book which presents characters so real you believe the struggles in the book’s pages to also be real, coupled with a beautiful love story which gives hope to those who struggle in similar ways on life’s journey, then The Isolation Door is for your shelf! Pick it up soon and enjoy Majumdar’s beautiful writing.

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Listen to Anish Majumdar talk about the circumstances in his own family and life which led him to write The Isolation Door:

Meet the Author:

Anish MajumdarAs a child growing up in Montreal, Canada, Anish Majumdar’s first creative writing lessons came courtesy of his mother, a former English teacher. Witnessing her struggle with schizophrenia had a profound impact and inspired The Isolation Door, his first novel. His non-fiction work, appearing in many publications, has garnered Independent Press Association Awards for Feature Writing and Investigative Journalism. His short fiction has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. He lives with his wife, son, and a growing menagerie of pets in Rochester, NY.You can connect with Anish via the following:

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Book Details:

  • TLC Book Tours Tour HostFile Size: 577 KB
  • Print Length: 276 pages
  • Publisher: Ravana Press; 1 edition (January 25, 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00I29CL8A

Dates for the TLC Book Tour for The Isolation Door may be viewed here.

Disclaimer: I received an ARC of The Isolation Door from the publisher via TLC Book Tours in exchange for a fair and honest review. The opinions expressed here are solely my own.

Little Joe, Book One of Round Rock Series by Michael E. Glasscock III

Little Joe Cover, book written by Michael Glasscock IIISynopsis: 

When Little Joe Stout survives the car accident that took his parents’ lives, he is sent to live with his maternal grandparents in the small town of Round Rock, Tennessee. Orphaned and missing his Texas home, Little Joe is reluctant to adapt. But his grandparents, especially his grandmother, are up to the challenge of raising him despite their own struggles. Soon, childhood friendships are forged in the oddball duo of Sugar and Bobby, and—with the help of a new canine companion—Little Joe begins to see that his new home offers the comfort and love he thought was lost forever.

Set against the drama of World War II and the first sparks of the civil rights movement, Little Joe’s new home is a microcosm of America in the 1940s. A frightening incident with a Chinese motorist traveling on the wrong side of town, the migration of troops across the countryside, and a frank discussion of Jim Crow laws are just a few of the local events mirroring the radio broadcasts that bring the news of the day into his grandmother’s kitchen.

Little Joe begins a four-part series from Michael E. Glasscock III that explores the intricate social cloth of Round Rock, Tennessee.

(Cover image and synopsis via Goodreads)

My Thoughts:

Recently I selected Little Joe by Michael E. Glasscock III from my To Be Read pile looking for a charming story, hopefully intriguing characters, and a lighter tale than I have read lately. When I selected Little Joe, I realized it was Book One of a Four-Part Series. Reading Little Joe hasn’t charged me with the will to read Book Two.

Growing up in Nashville, TN, which is near the region Glasscock uses as his central geographic point, I was impressed with the accuracy of his descriptions of Hwy. 70, the impact of fog along its narrow lanes and shoulders, and the intensity of rain storms and the amount of water drenching highways.

The depicted region is captured well so I anticipated good character development and an emotional read based on this nine-year old boy’s sudden transition from his parents to his grandparents. Not having had grandparents who were still alive when I was born, I always enjoy a book with beautiful grandchildren/grandparent relationships.

Nothing could be farther from the situation in Little Joe. Although his grandmother is a strong Christian woman and is quite pleasant to those among her community who are African-American, she is quite bigoted when it comes to Catholics. I waited for the author to tell me why, but he never expanded on this. Perhaps it will come in Book Two.

Under the circumstances of his parents’ sudden death, I expected a softer heart from the grandmother and not such harsh judgments and punishments. I did not like her character at all.

During a time when emotion could have filled paragraphs and perhaps pages, it was sadly lacking. I did not feel that Little Joe was given an opportunity to grieve for his parents as a child should and likely would have, nor did I get the sense that, other than with his two young friends, was he allowed to be a boy child.

All in all, I was sorely disappointed with this book and have a difficult time recommending it to anyone else to read. If I were in the habit of assigning ratings to book in my reviews, Little Joe receives 2 stars.

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Meet the Author:

Glasscock, Michael E III, AuthorFor the first eight years of his life Michael E. Glasscock III lived on his grandfather’s cattle ranch a few miles south of the small community of Utopia, Texas. At the beginning of World War II, he moved to a small town in Tennessee not unlike the mythical Round Rock portrayed in his fiction series. Michael decided to study medicine, and he graduated from the University of Tennessee Medical School at age twenty-four.

Nashville, Tennessee, was the site of his otology/neurotology practice, where he was associated with Vanderbilt University as a clinical professor, and where he continues to be part of the faculty as an adjunct professor. He retired from full-time clinical practice in 1997 and moved back to Texas where he continues to work as a consultant for three major medical device companies. He currently resides in Austin, Texas.

(Image and bio via Amazon)

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DETAILS ABOUT THE BOOK | DISCLAIMER:

  • Series: Round Rock (Book 1)
  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Greenleaf Book Group Press (June 1, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1608325660
  • ISBN-13: 978-1608325665

I received a copy of Little Joe from Greenleaf Book Group Press via NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. The opinions expressed here are solely my own.

Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler

“… while I bathed, while I tried but failed to sleep, I considered how I might become more like the women I respected and admired. Surrounded as I was by ambitious, accomplished women, I couldn’t ignore the little voice in my head that said maybe I was supposed to shed halfway, and do something significant. Contribute something. Accomplish something. Choose. Be.” 

~ Therese Anne Fowler,
Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald

Synopsis: 

When beautiful, reckless Southern belle Zelda Sayre meets F. Scott Fitzgerald at a country club dance in 1918, she is seventeen years old and he is a young army lieutenant stationed in Alabama. Before long, the “ungettable” Zelda has fallen for him despite his unsuitability: Scott isn’t wealthy or prominent or even a Southerner, and keeps insisting, absurdly, that his writing will bring him both fortune and fame. Her father is deeply unimpressed. But after Scott sells his first novel, This Side of Paradise, to Scribner’s, Zelda optimistically boards a train north, to marry him in the vestry of St. Patrick’s Cathedral and take the rest as it comes.

What comes, here at the dawn of the Jazz Age, is unimagined attention and success and celebrity that will make Scott and Zelda legends in their own time. Everyone wants to meet the dashing young author of the scandalous novel—and his witty, perhaps even more scandalous wife. Zelda bobs her hair, adopts daring new fashions, and revels in this wild new world. Each place they go becomes a playground: New York City, Long Island, Hollywood, Paris, and the French Riviera—where they join the endless party of the glamorous, sometimes doomed Lost Generation that includes Ernest Hemingway, Sara and Gerald Murphy, and Gertrude Stein.

Everything seems new and possible. Troubles, at first, seem to fade like morning mist. But not even Jay Gatsby’s parties go on forever. Who is Zelda, other than the wife of a famous—sometimes infamous—husband? How can she forge her own identity while fighting her demons and Scott’s, too? With brilliant insight and imagination, Therese Anne Fowler brings us Zelda’s irresistible story as she herself might have told it.

 (Synopsis via website of Therese Anne Fowler)

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My Thoughts:

Having read some of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s books and listening to my mother and her sisters talk about the “jazz age,” images and words predisposed me to a strong desire to read about Fitzgerald’s wife, Zelda. Growing up in the deep South, certain actions were expected by a young woman. Zelda was having none of this before she met Scott and had even less of it after meeting him.

Zelda was full of fun, somewhat brazen, unconventional, and felt little fear at the prospect of defying the norm in Montgomery, Alabama. I read Zelda’s story and wish in 1965, at Zelda’s age, I possessed the courage to be different, to step outside the box, to follow my dreams. No matter how reckless they seemed to others.

And this is what Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald did. At times, their marriage seemed vitriolic. Yet the two could not seem to survive alone. Dependent, co-dependent, they mirrored the marriages and lives of many creative geniuses — Ernest Hemingway, Henry Miller, Dashielle Hammett and others.

I thoroughly enjoyed my trip through the lives of F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald. Although they moved about the country and world, every scene instills a bit of Zelda’s Southern heritage — languorous movements, hints of mint julep in the air, the softening of words — and her determination to be her own woman retaining that Southern heritage while fighting against it.

Fowler has done her research well, especially into the years abroad and the persons met and socialized with during those years. She also is specific in her descriptions of Zelda’s dark times with respect to treatments in mode during the 1920-30s.

Definitely, we’ll never know who brought down whom, but I can assure you when you turn the last page of Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald, you will be begging for more.

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My Recommendation: 

Lovers of historical novels will find Theresa Anne Fowler’s work on the Fitzgeralds’ story one worth reading. But don’t start it if you have some work to do, because your work will quickly be forgotten. This is a page-turner replete with images of glitzy, fringed flappers, gin mills, and drugstore cowboys.

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Participating in Books Speak Volumes

jazzage

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Meet the Author:

FowlerTherese Anne Fowler (pronounced ta-reece) is the third child and only daughter of a couple who raised their children in Milan, Illinois. An avowed tomboy, Therese thwarted her grandmother’s determined attempts to dress her in frills–and, to further her point, insisted on playing baseball despite her town having a perfectly good girls’ softball league. Thanks to the implementation of Title IX legislation and her father’s willingness to fight on her behalf, Therese became one of the first girls in the U.S. to play Little League baseball.

Her passion for baseball was exceeded only by her love of books. A reader since age four, she often abused her library privileges by keeping favorite books out just a little too long. When domestic troubles led to unpleasant upheaval during her adolescence, the Rock Island Public Library became her refuge. With no grounding in Literature per se, she made no distinction between the classics and modern fiction. Little Women was as valued as The Dead Zone. A story’s ability to transport her, affect her, was the only relevant matter. She would eventually earn a BA in sociology/cultural anthropology and then an MFA in creative writing. Though her reading preferences have become more particular over time, her standard for what makes a good read remains unchanged.

Therese is currently a visiting professor at North Carolina State University, where she teaches Advanced Fiction Writing.

(Image by Tom Clark; bio from Fowler’s website)

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DETAILS ABOUT THE BOOK | DISCLAIMER:

Publication Date: April 2013
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Historical Fiction, Historical Novel, Fiction
Hardcover: 375 pp
ISBN: 9781250028655
Source: Personal library

Heathers | Collection of Short Stories, edited by Evangeline Jennings et al

Cover for HeathersSynopsis: 

Twenty four bittersweet slices of teenage life, HEATHERS tells adolescence the way it is – a struggle.

Expect no handsome princes or unicorns. This book comes with a body count.

Heroin or ice cream, what’s your damage?

A collection of true fiction for Young Adults of all ages, HEATHERS is the work of exciting emerging writers from the US, UK, Spain, Canada, and China.

 (Synopsis and image via Goodreads)

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My Thoughts:

When I was first asked to review a collection of short stories centering around YA true fiction stories and the teenage years of “our lives,” I shuddered and asked myself why — why were they writing these stories, why would I want to review an entire collection, and why would anyone in his right mind read them.

I now have the answer to all these questions: Because. These. Are. Really. Good. Stories! And written by really good writers. Not only that, the stories are edgy, honest, sad, funny, charming, and truly about the stage of life called teenage angst.

And I knew at the Introduction, I had not fallen victim to anything less than genius when they quote Margaret Atwood:

…When you’re young,  you think everything you do is disposable. You move from now to now, to crumpling time up in your hands, tossing it away. … You think you can get rid of things, and people too — leave them behind. You don’t know about the habit they have, of coming back.

Life itself comes back at us and to us, and the memories make certain we can never run away from where we have been in the past.

We’ve all had it, been through it, suffered it, and settled large doses of it on our parents. Take the story, “Hat,” by Karen Eisenbrey. Eisenbrey writes of things we have all felt: turning ourselves invisible to avoid discomfort and disliking/hating our names. Remember not raising your hand even if you knew the answer to avoid being conspicuous? Opting out of playground games because of the silly rules that ended up with everybody running around and yelling? And this all happened in grade school. To see what Eisenbrey writes about in junior high and high school, you’ll have to read the book.

Eisenbrey writes with a comfortable, genuine style and made me feel as if I were right there with her as her childhood morphed into the teenage years. Her characters are somewhat quirky and that makes them more believable as I remembered my teens and the characters I grew up with.

This is just one example of the excellent writing found in this collection of short stories. What I took away that is most important about these stories is that nothing about those teenage years changes. We weren’t bad kids then, and today’s kids aren’t bad kids either (perhaps just bored). We didn’t intentionally hurt those around us, and today’s kids don’t mean to either (things just happen). We were quirky, and so are today’s teens quirky (so they have green hair and wear their jewelry more permanently than we did). We are in this collection, people!

Yes, we have problems among our teenagers today but we have to remember too that media plays to the worst in all of us, if they get the chance. But truly not much has changed, as shown by Heathers.

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My Recommendation: 

Heathers is a good read for those who are lovers of short stories, no matter the subject. I believe it would be a good read for parents of teens to reflect back on what they were like when they were the ages of their children. Maybe that would be scary, but not too much so. I also think it would be an excellent teaching tool for those teachers charged with teaching our kids to write short stories.

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Meet the Editor(s):

Evangeline Jennings, editor of Heathers

Evangeline Jennings

Evangeline Jennings is an unreliable narrator. She tells lies for fun and profit. Mostly fun.

If Evangeline was a song – and she’d really like to be, she’d be “Public Image” by PiL or possibly “You Don’t Own Me” by Lesley Gore.

Born and raised in Liverpool, where they invented football and popular music, she now lives in Austin, Texas. The black sheep of her family, she comes from a long line of Californian beauty queens on her mother’s side. As she so often says, Northern Scum, Southern Belle.

Evangeline watches an awful lot of movies and TV. During the break she cooks popcorn and writes stories about revenge.

Note: Evangeline Jennings was joined by Lucy Middlemass and E.R. McTaggart as editors on this project.

(Bio and image via Amazon)

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DETAILS ABOUT THE BOOK | DISCLAIMER:

Paperback Publication Date: December 13, 2013
Publisher: Starshy
Genre: Anthology, Short Stories, YA, True Fiction
File Size: 340 KB
Printed: 239 pp
ASIN: B00HB96FZ2

I received a copy of Heathers from one of the authors in exchange for a fair and honest review. The opinions and recommendations expressed are my own.

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