Category Archives: Book Reviews

Author of the Week, Michael Cunningham, November 29

AUTHOR OF THE WEEK    November 29

Michael Cunningham

(Literary, Novelist and Screenwriter)

“I revise constantly, as I go along and then again after I’ve finished a first draft. Few of my novels contain a single sentence that closely resembles the sentence I first set down. I just find that I have to keep zapping and zapping the English language until it starts to behave in some way that vaguely matches my intentions.”

“Here’s a secret. Many novelists, if they are pressed and if they are being honest, will admit that the finished book is a rather rough translation of the book they’d intended to write.”

“Literature is, inescapably, an act of seduction, whether the writer hopes to seduce millions with a story of an adolescent vampire in love, or a handful of readers, who are willing to take a darker, strange, more enigmatic ride. Which involves a certain element of what I’ll call: You Won’t Believe What Happened Next.”

 

Michael Cunningham (born November 1952) is an American novelist and screenwriter, best known for his 1998 novel The Hours, which won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the PEN/Faulkner Award in 1999. He is a senior lecturer of creative writing at Yale University. His fiction includes A Home at the End of the WorldFlesh and BloodSpecimen DaysBy Nightfall, and The Snow Queen, as well as the collection A Wild Swan and Other Tales.

Interview with Michael Cunningham at University of Iowa (20 minutes):

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trailer for film The Hours:

 

Visit Michael Cunningham’s Amazon Book Page: https://www.amazon.com/Michael-Cunningham/e/B00456O74U 

 

Please join me in my reading nook and discover an author on

Mondays at Reading Fiction Blog!

Browse the Index of Authors’ Tales above to find over 200 free short stories by over 100 famous authors. Once a month I feature a FREE short story by contemporary and classic authors.

 

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Night Sea Journey Wins Silver Medal

Night Sea Journey Wins Silver Medal at Global Book Awards

September 20, 2021

I am pleased and honored to receive the Silver Medal for Night Sea Journey, A Tale of the Supernatural at Global Book Awards.

Book awards benefit the entire reading community and promote the appreciation of literature. Thank you to the literary judges for their recognition and support. Night Sea Journey has been out for several years and is still selling.  From U.S. Review of Books, their review: “Stunning and absorbing plot on par with—if not better than—a Dan Brown novel. Truly an outstanding read, Night Sea Journey is one book that is hard to put down!”

In 2015, Night Sea Journey won an Eric Hoffer Book Award. Their review: “This romantic fantasy is propelled by gorgeous language and imagery…angels and demons…The grime of inner city Chicago, the tranquility of the Rhode Island coastline, and the depths of a phantasmagoric ocean are the stages for this conflict.”

 

SAN FRANCISCO BOOK REVIEW ★★★★★ posts “NIGHT SEA JOURNEY is like reading a Dan Brown book with a wicked twist: it has real demons. Readers will be taken on a continual thrill ride, impossible to put down, a fast-paced thriller.”

 

Thank you to my readers who have consistently read my mysteries and short stories!

 

Buy on Amazon.com

 

On Smashwords:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/275962

 

On Barnes and Noble:

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/night-sea-journey-a-tale-of-the-supernatural-paula-cappa/1114109942

 

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Author of the Week, Anne Morrow Lindberg, July 12

AUTHOR OF THE WEEK   July 12

Anne Morrow Lindbergh

(Aviation Pioneer, Diarist, Fiction, Nonfiction, Inspirational Author)

“The most exhausting thing in life, I have discovered, is being insincere. That is why so much of social life is exhausting; one is wearing a mask. I have shed my mask.”

“I do not believe that sheer suffering teaches. If suffering alone taught, all the world would be wise, since everyone suffers. To suffering must be added mourning, understanding, patience, love, openness, and the willingness to remain vulnerable.”

“It is only in solitude that I ever find my own core.”

“I must write it all out, at any cost. Writing is thinking. It is more than living, for it is being conscious of living.”

“Only love can be divided endlessly and still not diminish.”

Anne Morrow Lindbergh (1906 to 2001), an American author, aviator, and the wife of Charles Lindbergh is the author of the book, Gift from the Sea (considered required reading for every woman in modern society), a bestseller filled with raw emotions on love, happiness, solitude,  contentment, and the path to spiritual harmony. Becoming whole is a dominant theme in many of her works.

“Don’t wish me happiness
I don’t expect to be happy all the time…
It’s gotten beyond that somehow.
Wish me courage and strength and a sense of humor.
I will need them all.”
― Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Gift from the Sea

She wrote  five volumes of diaries and letters from the years 1922-1944.  North to the Orient and Listen! the Wind, Anne Lindbergh is the author of 11 published books (including children’s books). They include Earth Shine, in which she wrote of being at Cape Kennedy for the first moon-orbiting flight and how that Apollo 8 flight and the pictures it sent back of Earth gave humankind “a new sense of Earth’s richness and beauty.”

Interview with Anne Lindbergh at NPR:

https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5232208

 

Podcast by Reeve Lindbergh, Anne’s Daughter:

 

Fiction:

 

Dearly Beloved (A June wedding sets the scene as the family and guests follow the familiar marriage service. They are stirred to new insights. But for the mothers of the bride and groom, and for friends and relatives, the sight of the young couple and the words of the minister evoke more troubling thoughts and deeper questions.)

 

 

 

 

 

 The Steep Ascent (Etched in the pattern of flight over France, the Alps, Northern Italy is the story of a young couple, an English flier, and his wife, who is pregnant. One shares first the mother’s last-moment doubts and regrets as she faces last things, particularly the last evening with her five-year-old son).

 

 

 

 

 

Visit Lindbergh’s Amazon Page: https://www.amazon.com/Anne-Morrow-Lindbergh/e/B001H6S0UI

 

Please join me in my reading nook and discover an author on Mondays at Reading Fiction Blog!

Browse the Index of Authors’ Tales above to find over 200 free short stories by over 100 famous authors. Once a month I feature a FREE short story by contemporary and classic authors.

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Author of the Week, Anthony Horowitz, July 5

AUTHOR OF THE WEEK   July 5

Anthony Horowitz

(Mystery, Suspense, Crime Novelist, Screenwriter, and Television Series Author)

“My writing has always been what you call ‘narrative fiction’ in the sense that it’s got very strong plots and twists at the end.”

“Throughout history, story-telling was at the very beginning of life.”

“I fear dying in the middle of a book. It would be so annoying to write 80,000 words and not get to the end. I’m phobic about it. So when I’m writing a book I leave messages all over the house for people to know how the story ends, and then someone can finish it for me.”

“I had three brilliant English teachers at secondary school. They found the writer in me.”

 

 

Anthony Horowitz (born 1955),  English novelist, screenwriter, and children’s novelist, has written more than 50 books including The Magpie Murders,  The Power of Five series, the Alex Rider series, The Diamond Brothers series, and has adapted many of Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot novels for TV.  He is the creator and writer of  Foyle’s WarMidsomer MurdersCollision, and Injustice.  Also the Hawthorne and Horowitz Mysteries: The Word is Murder; The Sentence is Death; A Line to Kill. In October 2014, the Ian Fleming estate commissioned Horowitz to write a James Bond novel, Trigger Mortis, and Forever and A Day. A third Bond novel is expected to be released sometime in 2022. An underachiever at school, Horowitz started writing at the age of 8 or 9 and he instantly “knew” he would be a professional writer.

 

Interview with Anthony Horowitz about Magpie Murders, film to be released in 2022:

 

Quickfire interview with Horowitz:

https://www.anthonyhorowitz.com/journalism/article/quickfire-interview-anthony-horowitz

 

 

 

 

View his profile page on Amazon.com: https://www.amazon.com/Anthony-Horowitz/e/B000AP7TDG

 

Please join me in my reading nook and discover an author on Mondays at

Reading Fiction Blog!

Browse the Index of Authors’ Tales above to find over 200 free short stories by over 100 famous authors. Once a month I feature a

FREE short story by contemporary and classic authors.

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Author of the Week, Michael Chabon, May 24

AUTHOR OF THE WEEK   May 24

Michael Chabon

(Literary Fiction, Short Stories, Essays)

 

 

 

“Man makes plans … and God laughs.”

“When I finish a first draft, it’s always just as much of a mess as it’s always been. I still make the same mistakes every time.”

“You need three things to become a successful novelist: talent, luck and discipline. Discipline is the one element of those three things that you can control, and so that is the one that you have to focus on controlling, and you just have to hope and trust in the other two.”

Michael Chabon (born 1963), American author, became a literary celebrity with his first novel, The Mysteries Of Pittsburgh at the age of twenty-five.  He wrote the bestselling and Pulitzer Prize-winning  Moonglow, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, and Wonder Boys (1995; film 2000). And two collections of short stories, and one other work of non-fiction.

“Mr. Chabon is that rare thing, an intelligent lyrical writer.”The New York Times Book Review.

Wonder Boys caught me up and carried me along like some kind of flying carpet. . . . Michael Chabon keeps us wide awake and reading.”—Alan Cheuse, All Things Considered, NPR

Visit his Amazon Page:

https://www.amazon.com/Michael-Chabon/e/B00456TWZY

 

 

 

 

Please join me in my reading nook and discover an author on Mondays at Reading Fiction Blog!

Browse the Index of Authors’ Tales above to find over 200 free short stories by over 100 famous authors.

Once a month I feature a FREE short story by contemporary and classic authors.

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Author of the Week, Francine Prose, April 12

AUTHOR OF THE WEEK  April 12

 

Francine Prose

(Novels, Short Stories, Essayist, Nonfiction)

 

 

“If we want to write, it makes sense to read—and to read like a writer. If we wanted to grow roses, we would want to visit rose gardens and try to see them the way that a rose gardener would.”

“There are many occasions in literature in which telling is far more effective than showing.”

“The mystery of death, the riddle of how you could speak to someone and see them every day and then never again, was so impossible to fathom that of course we kept trying to figure it out, even when we were unconscious.”

Francine Prose (born 1947)  is an American author of twenty-one works of fiction, including the New York Times bestseller Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932 and Blue Angel, a finalist for the National Book Award. She is Visiting Professor of Literature at Bard College, and  formerly president of PEN. Prose is well known for her New York Times bestseller Reading Like a Writer. Her newest book is a collection of essays, What to Read and Why.

Interview with Francine Prose, Harvard Magazine:

https://harvardmagazine.com/2010/09/a-garden-of-prose

 

Interview with Francine at Miami Book Fair:

Reviews

“Francine Prose is a keen observer, and her fiction is full of wryly delivered truths and sardonic witticisms that come from paying close attention to the world.” —The Atlantic

“Francine Prose has a knack for getting to the heart of human nature.” —USA Today

 

Visit Francine Prose Amazon Page: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00FJ32YLG

 

Please join me in my reading nook and discover an author every week at Reading Fiction Blog! And browse the Index of Authors’ Tales above to find over 200 free short stories by over 100 famous authors.

Once a month I feature a FREE short story by contemporary and classic authors.

 

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Author of the Week, Richard Yates, March 8

AUTHOR OF THE WEEK   March 8

 

Richard Yates

(Literary Fiction and Short Story Writer)

 

“I’m only interested in stories that are about the crushing of the human heart.”

“Never say anything that doesn’t improve on silence.”

“If my work has a theme, I suspect it is a simple one: that most human beings are inescapably alone, and therein lies their tragedy.”

Richard Yates  (1926 – 1992) was an American novelist and short story writer.  Yates ruthlessly examines the hopes and disappointments of ordinary people with empathy and humor. He is most famous for his novel Revolutionary Road, a nomination for the National Book Award in 1961. He is also revered as a short story author in his first collection Eleven Kinds of Loneliness, The Collected Stories, and Liars in Love.  Kurt Vonnegut said that Eleven Kinds of Loneliness was ‘the best short-story collection ever written by an American’.  He has been praised by such authors as Michael Chabon, Robert Stone, and Richard Russo, and universally acclaimed in reviews across the country. Macmillian Publishers.

We here at Reading Fiction Blog love short stories. We are discovering and rediscovering authors of short fiction. There is a beauty in finishing a story over a lunch time or reading an entire story in one evening. To say short stories are a great break from novel reading is one thing, but honestly the best thing about shorts stories is that they can motivate you back into daily reading of fiction!

 

In this novel,  Young Hearts Crying, sad and funny, Richard Yates  shows his talents about the American Dream and its casualties.

 

REVIEW: “Soft-spoken in his prose and terrifyingly accurate in his dialogue, Yates renders his characters with such authenticity that you hardly realize what he’s done.” —The Boston Globe.

 

The Making of Revolutionary Road (9 minutes)

 

Read Oprah’s interview at O Magazine:

https://www.oprah.com/omagazine/revolutionary-road-interview-with-richard-yates-daughter/all

 

 

Visit Richard Yates’s Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Richard-Yates/e/B001H6NA62

 

Please join me in my reading nook and discover an author every week at Reading Fiction Blog! Browse the Index of Authors’ Tales above to find over 200 free short stories by over 100 famous authors.

Once a month I feature a FREE short story by

contemporary and classic authors.

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Author of the Week, Patrick McGrath, Feb. 8

AUTHOR OF THE WEEK   February 8, 2021

 

Patrick McGrath

 

 

 

“It has seemed to me that for a long time the writer and the psychiatrist have been up to very similar things in terms of the exploration of human dysfunction. The writer wants to create forms of entertainment and to give pleasure, the psychiatrist is engaged in a therapeutic task. But we are both essentially engaged in the exploration of human nature.”

 

“Houses, I have come to believe, like love, like nature herself, should not reassure, should not attempt to soothe, or give comfort, but should, rather, excite.”

 

Patrick McGrath (born February 1950) is the author of several modern Gothic novels, including Asylum and Spider, and two collections of stories. He lives in New York, where he is on the writing faculties of the New School and Princeton University.

 

 

Listen to an interview (8 minutes) at “Don’t Lecture Me” about his book Trauma 

 

Readers, if you are like me, a lover (and a writer too) of Gothic novels and especially ghost stories, you might enjoy reading Patrick McGrath’s stories. Gothic novels allow us to explore deep into the imagination in  worlds beyond the norm with a dash of horror, romance, and sometimes curses and madness. What fun!

 

 

 

View more of his books on Amazon, on Patrick McGrath’s profile page; https://www.amazon.com/Patrick-McGrath/e/B000AP7ISC

 

Join me in my reading nook and discover an author every week at Reading Fiction Blog! And browse the Index of Authors’ Tales above to find over 200 free short stories by over 100 famous authors.

Once a month I feature a FREE short story by contemporary and classic authors.

Leave a comment

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Author of the Week, Christian Picciolini, Jan. 25

 

AUTHOR OF THE WEEK    January 25, 2021

 

Christian Picciolini

 

 

 

“I am a former violent extremist, who as a young man spent almost a decade during the 1980s and ‘90s as a leader in the American white-supremacist movement. Since denouncing racism, I have dedicated my life to ensuring others don’t tread the same dark path I once held.”

 

“It was those people who chose to treat me with compassion, when I least deserved it, that had the most powerful transformative effect on me. Meeting on a fundamental human level is still the most powerful thing that I’ve seen break hate.”

 

Christian Picciolini is an award-winning television producer, a public speaker, author, peace advocate, and a former violent extremist. After leaving the hate movement he helped create during his youth in the 1980s and ’90s, he began the painstaking process of making amends and rebuilding his life. Christian went on to earn a degree in international relations from DePaul University and launched Goldmill Group, a counter-extremism consulting and digital media firm. In 2016, he won an Emmy Award for producing an anti-hate advertising campaign aimed at helping people disengage from extremism. Christian’s life since leaving the white-power movement over two decades ago has been dedicated to helping others overcome their own hate. He now leads the Free Radicals Project, a global extremism prevention and disengagement network.  Hachette Books.

 

Ted Talk

 

Read the interview at The Atlantic 2019  “A Reformed White Nationalist Says the Worst Is Yet to Come.”

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2019/08/conversation-christian-picciolini/595543/

 

NPR’s interview with Picciolini “Reformed Neo-Nazi Discusses President Trump’s Controversial Shared Retweet.”

“I think what President Trump is, is a megaphone,” Picciolini said. “It’s as if Trump kicked over a bucket of gasoline on all of those small fires that have existed for 400 years and created one large forest fire.”

https://www.npr.org/sections/live-updates-protests-for-racial-justice/2020/07/02/886487184/reformed-nazi-discusses-president-trumps-controversial-shared-tweet 

 

Book Review from James Clapper, former US Director of National Intelligence, of Breaking Hate: “This riveting narrative portrays on an intensely personal level the impacts of extremism. Encouragingly, it also identifies a method for recovery. Picciolini’s experience and practice reinforce the truism that hate is a learned behavior, and it can be unlearned. Breaking Hate should be required reading for all citizens who care about dangerous behavior, want to understand it, and are committed to reducing it.”

 

NOTE: After reading Breaking Hate  (220 pages) in one day (it was that compelling), I found a far wider understanding of this white supremacy movement going on in America. I really didn’t fully see that the MAGA (Make America Great Again) campaign was, at the core, an effort to make America white again, essentially make America hate again. Picciolini says that “America was primed for the fires of violent extremism to ignite—and Donald Trump’s incendiary “American First” platform lit the fuse.”  There is a lot in this book to absorb and a lot to learn about WHY and HOW this is happening and what can be done to stop it. I am posting a full book review on Amazon, Goodreads, and separately here on this blog. If you really want  insights into the current racist dangers that threaten America, humanity, our democratic and moral values—especially after the January 6 attack on our Capitol—this is the book to read for 2021. A must-read for every American and every parent.

 

 

 

Join me in my reading nook and discover an author every week at Reading Fiction Blog! And browse the Index of Authors’ Tales above to find over 200 free short stories by over 100 famous authors.

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How Writers Craft Emotion

The Emotion Thesaurus, A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression (Second Edition) 

by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi

Book Review and Commentary  February 26, 2019

Emotion vs. feeling. We tend to use these words interchangeably but they really are different. In writing fiction and creating character expression, it’s important to understand that they are closely related but distinct. The Psychology Dictionary defines emotion (fear, joy, surprise) as a ‘complex reaction to situations around us.’ Feeling is defined as any sensation, a ‘self contained experience of phenomena. Feelings (jumpy, alarmed, brave) are subjective and are independent of the sensory modality.’ To simplify, we might say emotions happen to us physically, and feelings are more of a mental portrait because it requires personal introspection.

In Ackerman and Puglisi’s second edition of The Emotion Thesaurus, they address the power of emotion in fiction. The whole point of the book is that ‘readers don’t want to be told how a character feels; they want to experience the emotion for themselves.’ This book is a great addition to any writers resource library. It’s a how-to and in-depth book on how writers can craft emotion on the page. The advice here is professional and precise, easy to follow, and explores some 130 emotions. For example, for the emotion of dread, they list all the physical signals and behaviors, internal sensations, mental responses, acute or long-term responses, signs of suppression, escalation, de-escalation, and associated power verbs.

The authors cover dialogue, vocal cues, body language, thoughts, visceral reactions, backstory, emotional wounds, and subtext. I have other thesauruses by Ackerman and Puglisi, but this one is really their finest. I prefer the print version to the Kindle because it’s great to have the book open on my desk for a wide view of the lists to jump-start me in exploring character motivation/reaction to discover the precise behavior that fits.

Highly Recommended!

On Amazon

Authors websites: http://writershelpingwriters.net    http://onestopforwriters.com

My Recommended List—

Best Writing Books I’ve Read.

Mystery and Manners, The Nature and Aim of Fiction  by Flannery O’Connor  (review here)

Author in Progress, a No-Holds-Barred Guide to What It Really Takes to Get Published by Therese Walsh, Editor & the Writer Unboxed Community (book review here)

How to Write Short Stories and Use Them to Further Your Writing Career by James Scott Bell (book review here)

Creating Characters, The Complete Guide to Populating Your Fiction, by the Editors of Writer’s Digest (book review here) 

Dialogue, The Art of Verbal Action for the Page, Stage, & Screen, by Robert McKee  (book review here)

The Annotated Dracula (Bram Stoker), Annotated by Mort Castle (book review here) (Also The Annotated Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte) Annotated by K.M. Weiland)

How to Write Like Chekhov, Advice and Inspiration, Editor Brunello and Lencek  (book review here)

Steering the Craft, A 21st-Century Guide to Sailing the Sea of Story, Ursula K. Le Guin (book review here)
Writing Wild, Tina Welling (book review here)
Writing Down the Bones, Natalie Goldberg (book review here)
Method Writing, Jack Grapes (book review here)
Zen in the Art of WritingRay Bradbury (book review here)
On Writing, A Memoir, Stephen King (book review here)

 

More Craft Books I’ve Read and Recommend:

Writing Fiction, A Guide to Narrative Craft, by Janet Burroway. All the basics of how to write: the writing process, show vs. tell, characterization, fictional atmosphere and place, story structure and plot, point of view, theme, and revision.

Story, Robert McKee
Story Trumps StructureSteven James
The Fire in Fiction, Donald Maass
The Art of Fiction, John Gardner (I reread this book once a year, it’s that good)
Making Shapely Fiction, Jerome Stern
The Art of Character, David Corbett
Getting into Character, Brandilyn Collins
The Secret Miracle, the Novelist’s Handbook, edited by Daniel Alarcon
Becoming a Writer, Dorothea Brande
The Faith of a Writer, Life, Craft, Art, Joyce Carole Oates
If You Want to Write, Brenda Ueland
Reading like a Writer, Francine Prose
Elements of Style, Strunk & White

Best Editing Books for Writers:
Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, Renni Browne & Dave King
A Dash of Style, Noah Lukeman
The Grammar Bible, Michael Strumpf & Auriel Douglas
Line by Line, Claire Kehrwald Cook
The Careful Writer, Theodore M. Bernstein
Fowler’s Modern English Usage, Second Edition, Ernest Gowers
Chicago Manual of Style
Words Into Type, Third Edition, Skillin & Gay

Do leave me a comment!

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