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I love reading so much I will read the tag on your shirt if nothing else is available.

And Another Thing...

One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories - B.J. Novak

Ever wonder what would happen if the tortoise and the hare had a rematch?


Or what made Elvis, well, ELVIS?


B.J. Novak wondered, and imagined, and here you have the answers to these intriguing questions and many more you never, ever thought to ask but will be glad he did.


One More Thing features short stories, snippets of thought, and ideas that will make the corners of your mouth curl up even as you're thinking "What the h*** was that?!"


Mischief, mainly.





Author! Author! Looking Forward to Seeing Who Enters this Contest!


2014 CIPA EVVY Awards Submission Now Open!

Hello and thank you for your interest in submitting to the 20th annual CIPA EVVY book awards!



This is a big year for the CIPA EVVY’s—we’re one of the longest-running independent book awards in the United States. Our goal with the CIPA EVVYs is to help audiences everywhere know which are the “best of the best” books published from 2010 to 2013.


Below you will find specific directions on how to submit your book (or books!) for awards.  We ask that you do the entire submission process on-line.



We are opening the competition to print, eBooks and audio books.  However, please note the following:



IMPORTANT—if your book is in both print and electronic formats (eBook and/or audio book) you must submit a print book for all print and appropriate technical categories. If your book is produced in an eBook or audio book format, then you may submit only those files.


For example: You have a children’s book that you want to submit for the children’s story book and the children’s illustration categories.  You have a print and an ebook. ONLY send the print books to the address listed below.  If you submit your children’s book for the eBook technical category, then you would submit an ebook as well as the print books.  If your book is ONLY produced in eBook or audio book format, then you would submit the eBook or the audio book for all categories.



The process for submitting books to the 2014 CIPA EVVY competition includes several steps.  



2014 CIPA EVVY Submission Process


PLEASE Read the Rules and Guidelines for a FULL EXPLANATION of the submission process


Gone, But Not Forgotten

The Disappeared: A Novel - Kristina Ohlsson

A body found, the truth still at large

BookPage® Review by Sheila M. Trask



The third installment in award-winning author Kristina Ohlsson’s Fredrika Bergman series is a crime fiction fan’s dream. With The Disappeared, Ohlsson creates both an elaborate police procedural and a multilayered mystery that engages readers in a complex case with an unexpected ending.


Read the rest at BookPage.


Friends in High Places

Hill Country Greed: An Austin, Texas Mystery - Patrick     Kelly

As the ’90s dot-com bubble swells, it’s all high-stakes money, sex, and murder in Kelly’s gripping debut.


Like the dot-com business with big dreams at the heart of Patrick Kelly’s debut novel, Hill Country Greed shoots for the moon. The first entry in Kelly’s Austin, Texas Mystery series has it all: ruthlessly ambitious characters, mystifying murders, and sexual escapades—all dependent on high-stakes business deals.


Hill Country Greed opens on Austin in 1999, when financial whiz kid Joe Robbins joins an up-and-coming company that promises great riches for a select few. As Connection Software’s new CFO, Joe is among the elite, and his future hangs on taking the company public and walking away with millions. It’s heady stuff, and Kelly convincingly portrays the naïveté of the dot-com bubble. Details like Joe’s snap decision to relocate his family to an expensive neighborhood where folks are known by what model of Lexus or BMW they drive illuminate a time when wealth seemed like it could grow forever.


Of course it couldn’t, and Kelly builds his story on the ways things could go horribly wrong. Much of this is gripping, especially the unexpected and disturbing murders that Joe must unravel to save his own hide. The first-person narrative convincingly takes Joe’s viewpoint as he tries to figure out how the murders are related to the double-crossing deals that seem to be going down at Connection Software. Kelly is strongest in these scenes, able to provide shocking details that are as riveting as they are repulsive.


Seduced as he is by the prospect of unimaginable wealth, Joe gets sidetracked from the murders, and so does the plot. Board room squabbles and explicit but not terribly unique sex scenes take up large chunks of text. The dialogue in both instances is clear, though unoriginal. Rather than show how enticing his lover is, for example, Joe observes: “When the tension began to build we stroked the sensitive spots until we were ready.” While Joe is still telling the story, his voice becomes distant during scenes that should be absorbing.


Including so many high-drama elements leaves little room to deeply develop characters and their motives. Connection Software CEO Webb Elliot, for example, is known for his charismatic leadership, but there is little that explains why people are so willing to follow him. Joe’s wife, Rose, remains largely an enigma; she’s a smart, sexy housewife and little more. The characters’ superficiality makes it difficult to sympathize with the many players in Joe’s drama. The drama itself, however, is often fast-paced and engaging, particularly the ever-changing cat-and-mouse games at the story’s peak. Kelly succeeds in keeping the mystery unsolved until the very end.


Hill Country Greed is a light read, enjoyable for the uncomplicated but wild ride. More of Joe Robbins is forthcoming in the continuing series.


Sheila M. Trask for Foreword Reviews


Voices from a War Zone

Gaza Writes Back (#1) - Refaat Alareer

Fiction can reveal truths that are difficult to face directly. That’s the case with Gaza Writes Back, Refaat Alareer’s stunning and sobering collection of short fiction by young-adult Palestinian writers. The twenty-three pieces in this collection offer fictional yet hyperreal experiences during the Gaza War, also known as the Cast Lead Operation. While no two stories are exactly the same, they all carry a palpable sense of urgency and expose a violent, terroristic world that few of us have seen so clearly before.


Alareer, a literature and creative-writing professor at the Islamic University-Gaza, has selected these stories as much for their unique voice as for the particular place and time they illuminate. All are originally written in English, though their authors’ first language is Arabic. This allows a “much-needed Palestinian youth narrative without the mediation or influences of translation or of non-Palestinian voices,” writes Alareer in his introductory notes.


The pieces themselves are short. A few entries are only three pages long. The spare format reflects the urgency of day-to-day life during the Gaza War, when one bomb blast could change a family’s fate in a second. There’s no time to explain it all, so we drop into people’s lives mid-flow and experience the disruptions of war along with them. One minute, a child watches a football match in the street, and the next all he can see is smoke, blood, and his neighbors running for shelter.


The writers are a talented lot, most of them current or former graduate students who worked with Alareer. But the editor’s own contributions rise above the other slice-of-life vignettes to become thought-provoking, allegorical lessons in human nature. In “House,” for instance, we are privy to a twisted psychological power struggle between the occupiers and the occupied. Similarly, in “The Old Man and the Stone,” Alareer uses symbols to show the strengths and weaknesses of knowledge, innocence, and faith. These more complex pieces stand out as stories you will want to read again, to yourself and to others.


Gaza Writes Back is not an easy book to read, but it effectively shines light on the effects of war on the civilians caught in the crossfire. Readers will come away with a deeper understanding of Middle East politics and the mind-set of the latest generation to live amidst the ongoing struggles there.


Sheila M. Trask for Foreword Magazine
February 27, 2014


Tell Me a Story

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry - Gabrielle Zevin

Even the stories have stories in Gabrielle Zevin’s thoroughly charming novel, The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry. Open the doors at bookseller AJ Fikry’s Island Books and find tragedy, comedy, romance, mystery, and more. Open this book and find an affectionate portrait of a curmudgeonly bookseller who faces loss through literature, with surprising results.


Readers who delighted in the eccentric neighbors in The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows, will get the same feeling from AJ Fikry’s community at Alice Island in a small, tucked-away corner of New England. Although Zevin’s story is not historical fiction, it carries an old-fashioned, small-town feel. If there’s an accident, it’s probably Chief Lambiase you’ll talk to. He’ll call your sister-in-law to help you. She’ll let herself into your apartment above the bookstore because you never lock the front door. Others seem to know what you need before you do.


Just because it’s a small town doesn’t mean nothing ever happens, however. That open-door policy lets in a lot more than well-meaning relatives, things that will turn life around for the man who keeps a rare volume of Poe in a climate-controlled case but hates the uber-cheerful Muppet Elmo because he’s “too needy.” Zevin never explicitly tells us what AJ is like but rather shows us through unique—and often humorous—details like these.


AJ’s personality also shines through in the “shelf talkers” scattered throughout the narrative. While most of the book is written in the third person, here AJ gets a chance to talk to us directly. In each of these notes, the book lover describes a piece of classic fiction, his take on it, and his prediction of the reader’s reaction. From Flannery O’Connor to Roald Dahl, AJ’s notes on works reveal important bits of his own story as it unfolds. It’s fascinating to speculate about exactly who he is writing these notes for, and why.


After each shelf talker, we get right back to the story in progress, and a lively story it is, told largely through dialogue. Each character has a unique voice, which comes through clearly in peppy conversations. The topic of many conversations is literature, with AJ himself in the lead in comparing real life to books and finding life wanting. Book lovers will be thrilled by each literary reference (though they do lie a bit thick on the ground at certain points), but the book banter generally feels natural and always serves to move the story along.


Sheila M. Trask for Foreword Magazine
February 27, 2014


Rock of Ages. All Ages.

Wonderkid: A Novel - Wesley Stace

Welcome to the rock-and-roll Romper Room, where juice boxes vastly outnumber Solo cups. That’s the view from the stage, as road-tested musician Wesley Stace paints it in Wonderkid, a perfectly pitched coming-of-age novel that’s as playful and provocative as rock music itself. Here you’ll meet nascent band the Wonderkids as they take America’s under-ten set by storm and learn a few adult lessons along the way.


Equally ironic and innocent, lead singer Blake Lear brings a band of musical misfits from Britain to America at a time when Baby Boomers want something a little less Raffi and a little more Ramones on their children’s playlists. That’s something the Wonderkids can provide. Stace expertly sets the scene: a tour bus full of imagination and angst, as seen through the eyes of Blake’s protégé, his adopted son, Ed Sweet. Never mind that Sweet, as he is called, is barely ten years Blake’s junior. The absurdity of the parent-child arrangement captures Blake’s cavalier attitude toward established rules.


Stace brings the road alive with exquisitely authentic details. He knows what he’s talking about: while Stace is an accomplished author, he’s perhaps better known for his years as a recording artist, under the name John Wesley Harding. He’s been where Blake and Sweet are, and it feels like you’ve just stepped onto the bus yourself when you encounter bass player “Mum” doing yoga in the corner while Blake recites Lewis Carroll from the couch, and his brother Jack records the whole thing on his video camera.

The concert scenes are equally convincing, and hilarious, as Stace delights in the ironies of rock and roll delivered to toddlers and breastfeeding mothers. Even as you fear that Blake will take things too far for his audience, you also hope he will. It’s not far from peanut butter and feathers to biting the heads off bats, and you’re never sure where he will draw the line.


Banter at its best keeps the pace up even as the band slogs through their inevitable evolution from Top Ten kiddie rock band to a gathering of disaffected artists who all want to do their own thing. The characters are flawed, funny, affectionate, and angry at turns, which Stace shows through dialogue. “Can you get me a pig’s head?” Blake asks road manager Mitchell, acting on a whim, as always. Level-headed Mitchell coolly replies, “No, I cannot get you a pig’s head.” The voice of reason speaks. Plenty of the action is distilled by Sweet, who quietly ponders each of these “grown-ups,” but the brightest moments are when they simply talk to each other and you find yourself smiling in recognition.


The familiarity is entirely engaging, and it’s likely that you’ll worry about the band’s trajectory, the looming loss of innocence, and probably the fate of rock music. Stace doesn’t take things in the usual direction, though, so don’t give up on these guys. In the end, they prove that the spirit of rock and roll might grow up a bit, but, indeed, it never dies.


Sheila M. Trask
February 27, 2014


ForeWord Looking: Indie Reviews Galore!

Foreword Reviews reboots for consumers, predicted victory of indie publishing 16 years ago

Independent book-review magazine and website grows beyond librarians and booksellers


TRAVERSE CITY, Mich., Feb. 18, 2014 — The literary magazine Foreword Reviews, which has spent 16 years quietly accomplishing something rare among print publications—expanding and becoming profitable—is rebooting to focus on a consumer market hungry for unbiased reviews and information about indie and self-published books.


Foreword Reviews has been a best-kept secret among librarians and booksellers across the country. Now, with a new, consumer-friendly look, the magazine is sharing its knowledge of indie books with the rest of the world.


“Because of the breathtaking growth in the number of books being published each year, and a shrinking number of credible, objective review publications, our work at Foreword Reviews is ever more vital to the book publishing universe, particularly readers,” said Publisher Victoria Sutherland. “We are well-established curators in the publishing industry. Plus, if you’re an avid reader and value books from small publishers, we can steer you to the best.”


Numbers tell the story of how indie and self-publishing have quickly changed the landscape of the publishing world. In 2012, self-published titles jumped 59 percent over 2011, according to the bibliographic research firm Bowker. Self-publishing can no longer be dismissed as “vanity press.” New technology is enabling authors and small indie publishing houses to produce and market great books that the big houses miss. So, if it isn’t published by the Big Five corporate publishing houses, it’s “indie” and Foreword Reviews has it covered.


Foreword Reviews launched in a small northern Michigan town in 1998, zeroing in on independently published books when no one else was, and has since grown into a $1 million company. Its founders correctly anticipated the future of publishing was in small, indie houses and individual authors boldly defying the giant publishers.


The Spring 2014 issue introduces a stylish new design that emphasizes an increased outreach to the consumer market. Also, a relaunch of will feature original analysis and commentary in addition to a daily stream of reviews by a team of more than 100 writers worldwide.


Every Foreword review is written by a talented, professional freelance writer, who evaluates each book and produces unbiased critiques. Potential book buyers receive an honest, thoughtful appraisal. The fresh, new look introduces simple, easily identifiable icons and colors to strengthen the identity of Foreword Reviews’ core products while growing the subscriber base. It also includes a rebranding of the annual Book of the Year Awards as IndieFab, and easier ways to identify the brand on social media through icons and hashtags. And this is just the beginning of exciting changes over the next six months that will include expanded book discovery and a larger voice in the growing online discussion about indie books.


Foreword Reviews is distributed quarterly to librarians and booksellers and is also available at most Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million newsstands and by subscription. Our website,, features a daily stream of reviews of independent books written by a team of more than 100 professional, objective writers. You can also find us on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest. Our office is located in downtown Traverse City, Mich., 425 Boardman Ave., Suite B, Traverse City, MI 49684.


For more information or an interview with the Foreword Reviews publisher, contact Jennifer Szunko 231-933-3699


Indie Publishing vs. Big 5, From One Who Knows

Wool Omnibus (Silo, #1) (Wool, #1-5) - Hugh Howey Shift Omnibus Edition (Silo, #2) (Wool, #6-8) - Hugh Howey

The 7K Report: A must-read on indie and traditional publishing trends, from Hugh Howey, an author who has seen both sides of this equation:


Lots of excellent data.


Interesting that review ratings go up as book cost comes down.




Attacking Addiction from All Directions

How One Parent Engaged Addiction

Deni B. Sher reports from the trenches of motherhood and middle age in the pages of this sincere memoir.


How One Parent Engaged Addiction: A Mother’s Healing Journey Through Her Son’s Addiction chronicles her son Ryan’s recovery from drug and alcohol addiction, as well as her own personal reinvention after her grown child got well. While the content of Sher’s story is not new, her presentation is. Inspired to create not only a journal-like narrative, but also a musical production to honor her family’s experience, Sher offers a unique memoir that’s part diary, part poetry, and part musical theater.


Sher has devised a literary scrapbook that captures various aspects of how she reckoned with her son’s illness and her own role in it. Anybody who has had an addict in their family will recognize the stages of denial, discovery, controlling, and codependency that Sher went through as her son’s health deteriorated before her eyes. She is articulate about her dawning recognition of the problem, and she shows exactly what the process was like through journal entries, letters, e-mails, poetry, song lyrics, stage dialogue between imaginary characters, and Ryan’s artwork.


While the variety allows Sher to create a multifaceted portrait of her struggles, some of the entries are quite lengthy and repeat themes already addressed. For instance, readers probably don’t require reproductions of entire e-mails between Sher and her son’s girlfriend, Michelle. Email excerpts and the many songs shared here would suffice to showcase Sher’s creative approach to recovery.


The five chronologically based sections of this memoir set up an unrealistic expectation that the story is told in a linear fashion. Instead, the time line of events gets a little confusing, particularly in the final sections devoted to Sher’s own biography. She chooses to “‘fess up” to her own dysfunctional behaviors—workaholism, serial marriages—only after she has essentially finished telling Ryan’s story. Her confessions, however, require her to mine memories that are directly related to the earlier material, and might have been more useful to readers in Parts I and II. Stories about Ryan’s reckless, undependable father, for instance, might be better integrated into Ryan’s own story, where their relevance would be evident.


In addition to her own thoughts, Sher shares insightful quotations from a number of authors, reflecting the evolution of self-help theories from Melody Beatty’s codependency theories in the 1990s to Rhonda Byrne’s law of attraction methods that are so popular today. A list of recommended books encourages readers to explore their ideas and many others.


While Sher’s story is sometimes more creative than cohesive, her consistently upbeat tone brings a unifying voice to the book. Throughout her story, the author conveys her intention to inspire others. Indeed, the title itself includes an uplifting acronym—How One Parent Engaged Addiction—that quite intentionally contains the word “hope.” While readers may wish for further refinements in Sher’s storytelling choices, they will never doubt her message about the power of perseverance and a positive outlook.


Sheila M. Trask for ForeWord Reviews
February 10, 2014


To Love and Be Loved

The Rosie Project - Graeme Simsion

If you're a fan of The Big Bang Theory, you'll hear Sheldon Cooper's voice all over this unconventional romantic comedy. I love Sheldon, and I loved Don, the "differently-wired" narrator at the heart of Graeme Simsion's charming and thought-provoking novel.


Don is a brilliant geneticist who has worked very hard to live a life that makes sense to him. He's got a meal plan, and accompanying grocery list, for each day of the week. He knows precisely how many minutes it takes to clean his bathroom. He has exactly two friends, and calls his mother on Sundays.


Surely he can apply the same organizational skills to his latest project: finding a wife. All he needs is a simple questionnaire and he can eliminate all but the most compatible women. He doesn't need the complications of dating. He has science!


Enter Rosie, a smoking, drinking bartender who would fail every question on Don's test, and yet Don can't stay away from her. Chaos ensues, much to Don's chagrin.


Simsion nails Don's voice throughout, making him both brilliant and awkward. Several scenes are laugh-out-loud funny, and would be perfect movie scenes, as when Don practices dance steps with--what else?--a skeleton from the biology department.


Don is always trying to sort out the world, and so shows us that he's just like everyone else, even with his Asperger's Syndrome traits.


And we're all just trying to sort it out, aren't we?




Share and Share Alike

Sharing Eden: Green Teachings from Jews, Christians and Muslims - Natan Levy

Sharing Eden covers a wide range of religious beliefs in a package small enough to make us believe there are really very few crucial differences in our various belief systems.


Authors Natan Levy, David Shreeve, and Harfiyah Haleem offer this small guidebook as a place to start talking about the places where different faiths may intersect, particularly on environmental issues. As Jewish, Christian, and Muslim writers, the authors offer a sampler of varied readings and teachings that show how the common threads of stewardship, conservation, and cooperation run through each of the Abrahamic faiths.


To this end, they share quotations from the Torah, the Bible and the Qu’ran and discussion about how these teachings relate to six modern environmental issues: sustainability, water, energy, climate change, food, and biodiversity. It’s a daunting list, but one of the book’s strengths is that it comforts us with reminders us of our shared human agreement to care for our environment and each other.


Sharing Eden is not a thorough discussion of each faith’s perspective, or the science of climate change. Instead, it is a welcome introduction to these ideas, a starting point for constructive and hopeful planning for the future.

The Ins and Outs of Societal Change

Dreams of Totality: Where We Are When There's Nothing at the Center - Sherry Salman

Dreams of Totality

Where We Are When There's Nothing at the Center


This fascinating examination of our reaction to change is both impressive and inspiring.


Although at first glance it may seem like a New Age self-help book, Dreams of Totality: Where We Are When There’s Nothing at the Center is instead a serious and subtle study of societal reaction to change. Psychoanalyst and neuropsychologist Sherry Salman brings her considerable knowledge to bear on the ways humanity has coped with transitions in the past, and how we might approach things differently with the accelerated pace of change in the twenty-first century.


The term “dreams of totality” refers to humankind’s penchant for creating “visions of utopias and dystopias, of perfect worlds and apocalyptic end-times, of holy lands and holy wars, of universal saviors and of evil agencies,” says Salman. Her writing is rich with historical examples of humans’ attempts to create societal systems that contain chaos and distress by focusing on a central vision, from the Roman Empire to al-Qaeda. Each time we create what Salman calls a “magic circle” for protection and a sense of belonging—a religion or an economic system, for instance—we also draw boundaries that discourage new ideas and halt growth.


Salman comes at this idea from several directions. As a Jungian psychoanalyst, she offers an in-depth look at the ideas of Carl Jung and his compatriots on the power of imagination to create and destroy systems of meaning. She also presents images from art, as well as excerpts from poetry and literature that describe the cycle of grouping and regrouping that has characterized human history. Readers may be alternately exhilarated and overwhelmed by the wealth of reference points Salman offers. In just a couple of pages, she writes about the Olympians, astrology, the idealization of nature in Rousseau’s art, and modern films like Avatar. Comprehensive notes follow each chapter and offer readers a chance to pursue the different threads at greater depth.


While Salman’s writing style is academic, she doesn’t abandon readers who may not be familiar with particular concepts like Jung’s idea of archetypes or Hannah Arendt’s work on totalitarianism. She always provides adequate context. One doesn’t need to have read Brave New World, for example, to follow her description of the utopian/dystopian society Aldous Huxley created. There is a fair bit of jargon here, but again, Salman works to make it understandable. She introduces terms like “mythopoetic imagination” and “pharmakon” before regularly using them in her text so that her ideas remain accessible but not diluted.


Salman’s central tenet—that the network-based globalization of the Internet age is essentially “centerless” and may force us out of old patterns into a new level of connectedness—sometimes gets lost amid the intellectual ponderings. Each piece of information is fascinating, but as the text moves from the oracle at Delphi to the Ndembu tribe of Zambia to the poetry of Rilke, the musings can start to feel tangential. On the other hand, Salman’s vast knowledge is impressive and inspiring, and her refusal to tie everything up in a neat bow allows readers to interact with her ideas and come to their own conclusions about what the future might bring.


Sheila M. Trask for ForeWord Reviews
January 28, 2014


In Doctors We Trust?

Doing Harm - Kelly  Parsons

Really enjoyed interviewing thriller author Kelly Parsons about his new book.

It's a page-turner that will make you think twice about your next hospital visit!


Find a brief review and the interview on BookPage:


Family Reflections

Angel Hair - Margot Griffiths

Angel Hair


The tradition of the wise child in literature is long: from Mary Lennox in The Secret Garden to Scout Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird, we have learned a lot about the adult world by looking through the eyes of a child. With her beautifully written debut novel, Margot Griffiths follows in the tradition of Burnett and Lee by exposing society’s hypocrisies through a child’s coming-of-age. Angel Hair paints a moving portrait of Myfanwy Morgan, an observant and resourceful girl growing up in Victoria, British Columbia, in the 1960s, when assumptions about men’s and women’s roles were shifting right under her feet.


Griffiths convincingly places Myfanwy, or Maffy, in the aptly named Uplands, a suburban center of social climbing that doesn’t quite suit her quirky family. While the neighbors trade snarky gossip about husbands with faltering careers and wives with garish remodeling projects, Maffy’s family recites poetry, studies the stars, and rewrites fairy tales. They also drink too much, suffer unpredictable mood swings, and leave much of the grown-up work to ten-year-old Maffy, whose innocent yet world-weary perspective Griffith captures expertly.


When Maffy comes home from school, for instance, she’s brimming with pride over her model of Venus, like any child whose teacher picked her project as the best. Still, she is not at all surprised to stumble over her father’s rum bottles on the way in, or to meet with her mother’s indifference, even wrath, when she opens the door. She’s seen it all before. Griffiths never interrupts the story to explain Maffy to us but instead shows us her life through powerful moments like this quick turn from excited kid to jaded survivor.

Even though she doesn’t shy away from life’s hard lessons—Maffy has to not only cope with her unstable parents but also take over raising her handicapped younger brother—Griffiths softens the blow with lyrical turns of phrase and evocative symbolic imagery. The angel hair of the title, for example, adorns the Christmas tree Maffy carefully decorates each year, each piece of tinsel reflecting the light but also capable of cutting deeply, like “spun glass.” Or, perhaps, like family. It’s an exquisite image that contrasts so clearly with the snooty neighbor’s pink-coated tree that shows no sign of its green and growing origins. Griffiths’s writing is rich with these images, adding sophisticated depth and dimension to the story.


The story is not without drama—suspicious deaths and scandalous couplings abound—but the plot seems secondary to the complex rendering of time, place, and emotion. Particularly poignant are the parallels Griffiths draws between adolescence and middle age. Snatches of conversations shouted between Maffy and her friend Janna as they bicycle around town evoke the girls’ growing independence, for instance, while Maffy’s mother quotes Tennyson on the looming regrets of old age, mourning the loss of freedom that comes with motherhood.


Angel Hair, with its opening quote from Wordsworth—“Our simple childhood sits upon a throne / That hath more power than all the elements”—and the softly-lit child’s portrait on the cover, seems at first glance to be solely an ode to youth and innocence. But read on and you’ll find a multilayered world that reflects the complex process of growing up.


Sheila M. Trask
January 21, 2014 for ForeWord Reviews


Read It and Weep (In a Good Way!)

The Long Awakening, a memoir - Lindsey O'Connor

I read a lot of memoirs. I never cry. Except this time.


Lindsey O’Connor’s memoir of awakening from a medically-induced coma did it to me. I’ve read many memoirs of medical trauma and recovery, and while O’Connor’s descriptions of her rise to consciousness are unique in their clarity and refusal to resort to cliché, it wasn’t the medical struggle that made me cry. It was the emotional struggle.


Waking up in the hospital with three months missing from your memory, a body that barely functions, and a maddening inability to communicate with others should be more than enough for one woman to handle. But O’Connor faced another, stranger truth: the day before her medical nightmare began, she gave birth to a baby girl. And she doesn’t remember a thing about her.


It’s this story that pushed me over the edge, the story of a mother struggling to bond with a baby she barely recognizes. O’Connor is brutally honest about her doubts, her shame, and her pure astonishment that she could have a 3-month old baby and actually forget about her. Even when she began to realize the depth of crisis she survived, and envision the long road to recovery, she still felt guilty that she wasn’t doing a better job parenting this baby. Of course she wasn’t! She could barely breathe! But, mother guilt knows no boundaries, and there it was on top of everything else. She was failing her baby.


I appreciated the other themes of O’Connor’s book—the strengths and weaknesses of marriage, the puzzle of faith in the face of prayers answered and unanswered—but it was the bonding-with-baby struggle that fascinated me. Perhaps this is because I adopted my son when he was 7 months old, so I know what it feels like to miss those first precious days. And to be stunned that bonding wasn’t instant the moment they finally put that much-hoped-for child in your arms. O’Connor was able to portray both this emptiness and the crystalline moment that comes later, when you fall head over heels, hopelessly in love with this child of yours. There’s no going back.