Two Fall and Halloweenish short stories – quick reads for the season!

Image: Pixabay

If you’re looking for a couple quick short stories that fit into the Halloween season, here are two excellent choices:

“Gryphon” by Charles Baxter – This fantastic story about an unusual 4th grade teacher takes place in rural Michigan. While not exactly about Halloween, references to fall, mention of the holiday and the passage of time make it worthy of this short list.

“Gryphon” must be a regular on school curricula because it’s the second most viewed post on my blog, especially in the fall, next to “House of Flowers” by Truman Capote. I hope I’m not misleading any high school students with my comments!


“You’re Ugly, Too” by Lorrie Moore – I found this in The Scribner Anthology of Contemporary Short Fiction. It’s a terrific story about a Halloween party, full of shocking sarcasm and over-the-top conversations. It appeared in the July 3, 1989 issue of The New Yorker.

If you like complicated characters and the alarming twists in short fiction, you will enjoy Moore’s writing style.


Do you like reading short fiction? Can you add any fall or Halloween stories?

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Spooky reads for the Halloween season!

Image: Pixabay

Get in the Halloween spirit with these stories about creepy boxes, monsters, spirits, witchcraft and haunted houses!


A Sudden Light by Garth Stein – A family is trapped in generations of dysfunction, haunted by unsettled ghosts and spirits.


Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley – A risky experiment to create life. The result? A grotesque monster that escapes and must deal with a world in which he has no place.


Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë – This classic fits into several categories and Gothic is one of them! What is the secret behind those noises upstairs?


The Caged Graves by Dianne K. Salerni – Caged graves outside a cemetery, mystery, romance and witchcraft fill the pages of this excellent 1800s story about a seventeen-year-old girl who returns to her home town to marry.


“The Oblong Box” by Edgar Allan Poe – What’s in the mysterious box that’s shaped like a coffin?


We Hear the Dead by Dianne K. Salerni – Terrific historical fiction about the Fox sisters who launched the 1850s Spiritualism movement.


Can you add to this list? I know there are many more!

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Two Nights by Kathy Reichs

Two Nights
by
Kathy Reichs

Rating:

Sunnie Night has retreated to a solitary life. After a violent altercation, she has voluntarily stepped down from her military cop job. Nursing a damaged eye and a deeply scarred past, Sunnie lives on the isolated Goat Island off the coast of South Carolina. Her only companion is a pet squirrel named Bob.

But her foster father, Beau has been keeping an eye on Sunnie and he pays her a visit with information of an investigative job he’s sure will help her escape the past.

The case involves a bombing of a Jewish school in Chicago. Opaline Drucker’s daughter and grandson were killed in the bombing and her granddaughter, Stella, is missing. Chicago police investigated for a year, with no solid leads. With a fat stipend, Sunnie heads out to see what she can find.

With an attitude that cuts through steel, Sunnie is an ace investigator with an uncanny instinct and she knows how to handle the bad guys. But she’s not as good dealing with colleagues and superiors who don’t appreciate her sarcasm and attitude. While painful memories often get in the way of her decisions, her sharp instinct saves her from many dangerous encounters. Needing extra support, she calls on her twin brother, Gus to help solve the case. Gus knows what he’s doing and he may be the only person who completely understands Sunnie.

The investigation soon uncovers a religious cult, determined to exact revenge on anything related to Islam. Sunnie is sure they have kidnapped Stella. She won’t stop until she finds her and brings closure to her own similar history.

I enjoyed reading this fast story, but in the end I thought it was just okay, with unremarkable characters. I also found it hard to follow the clipped dialogue and felt that many of the scenes and clues were unrealistic. Maybe that’s the case with the first book of a likely series.

Kathy Reichs is best known for her Temperance Brennan series. Her heroine, Brennan, is also portrayed in the popular Fox TV show “Bones.” Reader comments and reviews say this series is excellent and very different from Two Nights.

Have you read any books by Kathy Reichs? Have you watched “Bones?”

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BC Mom’s Author Update: Pamela Wight announces publication of new children’s picture book, Molly Finds Her Purr

Welcome to Book Club Mom’s Author Update. Open to all authors who want to share news with readers.

Pamela S. Wight is here to announce the publication of her newest children’s picture book, Molly Finds Her Purr.


I’m so pleased to be invited here on Book Club Mom’s Author Update page.

I’m what I like to call a “multi-genre” writer. I publish books of fiction as well as children’s picture books. Additionally, I’m working on an anthology of my flash fiction, which is a combination of fiction and non-fiction. I don’t think we writers need to be pigeonholed into one category. The more, the better! After all, the biggest asset we writers have is our IMAGINATION and CREATIVITY.


I’m excited that my next illustrated children’s book – MOLLY FINDS HER PURR – will be published on October 15. I truly love the message in this book and am thrilled with the illustrations by Shelley Steinle, artist extraordinaire. Shelley is also the illustrator for my first children’s book, Birds of Paradise, and I believe we merge our two talents of writing and illustrating into joyful messages for boys and girls (of any age). We’re both proud that Birds of Paradise is a Finalist in the International Book Awards (Children’s Literature).

In our new illustrated children’s book, Molly the Cat is lonely. No matter how hard she tries to make friends with birds, they all fly away from her. Even other cats don’t seem to like her. Friendless, Molly has no purr. But a wisecracking squirrel opens Molly’s eyes to a world in which friendship comes in all sizes, shapes, and species. This sweet tale shines with illustrations filled with affectionate humor that follow Molly’s search for the universal need of acceptance and love.

Molly Finds Her Purr is available beginning now on Amazon and Barnes & Noble, as well as from the publisher, Borgo Publishing. Discounted price for my blogging friends through Borgo. Just mention in the comments section that you follow Pam at Roughwighting.net.


Pam’s books of fiction are available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble in softback or e-book. And please check out her weekly blog at Roughwighting!


Links for Pamela S. Wight

Website/Blog: www.roughwighting.net
Facebook: @roughwighting
LinkedIn:  Pamela Wight
Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/12334429-pamela
Twitter: @pamelawight
Instagram: pam94920

Molly Finds Her Purr
Birds of Paradise
Twin Desires
The Right Wrong Man


For information about Book Club Mom’s Author Update,
email bvitelli2009@gmail.com.

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Nobel Prizes in Literature 2018 & 2019 awarded to Olga Tokarczuk and Peter Handke

Image: Wikipedia

The Nobel Prizes in Literature for 2018 and 2019 were announced today. The 2018 prize was canceled last year due to a sexual assault scandal. A year ago, the Swedish Academy was in crisis regarding “allegations against Jean-Claude Arnault, a photographer and leading cultural figure in Sweden, who is married to Katarina Frostenson, an academy member and author.” (Read more about the Academy’s decision in this article from The Guardian.)

To catch up, they presented two awards today.


2018 Nobel Prize in Literature – Olga Tokarczuk

Image: Wikipedia

Tokarczuk received the 2018 award “for a narrative imagination that with encyclopedic passion represents the crossing of boundaries as a form of life.”

Tokarczuk is a Polish writer, essayist, poet, screenwriter and psychologist. She is best known for her book Flights, which won the 2018 Man Booker International Prize. You can visit NPR’s page about her here.


2019 Nobel Prize in Literature – Peter Handke

Image: Wikipedia

The Academy awarded the 2019 prize to Handke “for an influential work that with linguistic ingenuity has explored the periphery and the specificity of human experience.”

Handke is an Austrian novelist and playwright. His most notable works are The Goalie’s Anxiety at the Penalty Kick and Slow Homecoming. Read more about Handke on Encyclopӕdia Britannica.


Have you read anything by these authors? Leave a comment below.

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Who’s That Indie Author? Kit Falbo

Author name: Kit Falbo

Genre: Science Fiction – Fantasy

Books: The Crafting of Chess, Intelligence Block

What’s your story and how did you become a writer? Books were my best friends during the entirety of my teenage years. They presented my first mental experiences of many ideas and concepts more than shows or television. How could I not want to write? It just takes a long time and a lot of thinking to get decent. I took college classes, read hundreds of books, dedicated hours and hours. Still, I had to be almost forty before I completed one.  Hard work and practice, how you master anything.

My youth consisted of studying people when I was not hiding in books. I’m autistic, though that wasn’t a thing at the time. To most I was just weird. A valuable tool, studying people, for writers. Then I continued that in college by getting a degree in psychology. I graduated and spent a hellish near decade in Texas, having stumbled out the gate during the post 9/11 recession. A rocky journey back to Oregon, two kids, trials and tribulations of life, and now I finally have books out. I’m currently juggling life and writing in the hopes of getting more works of fiction out for my small group of fans.

How do you balance your work with other demands? Poorly. I find myself sometimes being imperfect at everything, including writing, in order to get everything done. This makes me more of a generalist where people are dissatisfied with any aspect of my work, rather than an expert who gets things done with laser focus. I juggle kids, writing, housework, relationships, bills, etc. Often literally juggling, instead of balancing. Sometimes I drop things and break a few eggs.

Name one of the happiest moments in your life: Marrying my wife. Now I’m contractually obligated to not be alone. (kidding). Still going strong.

What’s your approach to writing? Are you a “pantser” or a planner? I’m a pantser with plans, and my pantsing changes my plans.  I can, and often go without a plan until I have one form. Then once I have one form, it can change if an odd line becomes a major plot thread.

Could you write in a café with people around? Certainly easier than trying to write at home with kids around and something like Super Monsters on in the background. Some noise you can filter out. Others drills into your soul and destroys your brain cells.

Have you ever written dialogue in a second language? If so, how did you do it? Fictional languages yes. Real languages no. When I’m in control of all the rules, I have as many cheats as I want. One of the things I love about fiction.

What’s your favorite book and what are you reading now? I don’t have a favorite book. I have many favorite books. No one is king. Diana Wynne Jones, maybe as the author of my youth. As for what I’m reading right now, I haven’t quite decided yet. I’m between books.

What’s your favorite way to read a book: hardcover, paperback, eReader? I have an ancient paperwhite e-reader that has been known to die and work again on and off at times. Just not as much of a fan of the new ones. I do enjoy a book paper book though.

Do you think print books will always be around? Yes. There was a big debate, but it is clearly settled. As long as there is reading, print books will be around. I just want more people to read. Sure, my books included, just in general as well.

Would you ever read a book on your phone? Web novels generally. Things on Royal Road that appear every week or so. A whole book, not as much. Though by reading web novels, I know I’ve read more than most novel lengths of works on my phone.

What’s your go-to device? iPhone, Android or something else? Whichever one my wife buys me. Since I’m cost concerned, usually Android. I hardly see a point in paying for the Apple brand, unless they want to sponsor me.  I will take sponsorships, they are not beneath me. Product placements even if they pay is right.

How long could you go without checking your phone? Too many responsibilities to go too long without checking. Back before I had kids I could go a day or two. Now, every hour I should check. Just in case I’m needed for an emergency.

Do you listen to audiobooks? If you do, what do you do while you’re listening? I actually don’t. I feel that puts me at a disadvantage with the audiobook aspect of my books. I am working on trying to get audiobook versions out. If I could do it myself I would, but no one wants to hear me speak for hours on end, let alone myself. One day they will be out.

Do you like using social media to promote yourself and your book? If so, what’s your favorite platform? My favorite one is doing guest posts for blogs. I like to educate and inform. It is probably my least productive part of social media due to the fact that I doubt I get many new readers that way. It is still my favorite. I feel more productive doing an article on crafting believable characters or trauma in writing vs. tweeting out.

Website and social media links:  www.kitfalbo.com (mailing list actually doesn’t work, I need to go in and fix stuff but don’t have time)

Twitter: @WritesKit
Facebook: Kit Falbo, Author
Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/KitFalbo

Awards/special recognition: https://www.levelup.pub/bestlitrpg  (#6)


Are you an indie author?  Do you want to build your indie author network? Get your name out on Who’s That Indie Author!

Email bvitelli2009@gmail.com for a bio template and other details.

Refugee by Alan Gratz

Refugee
by
Alan Gratz

Rating:

I don’t know where to begin in gushing about this Young Adult historical novel about three refugee children, caught in different periods of conflict, who flee their countries in search of safety and a better life.

Josef is twelve years old in 1938, living in Berlin, Germany. Hitler is driving Jewish families like his out of the country. To escape, he and his family leave their home and board the St. Louis for Cuba, where they hope to find safety.

Isabel is eleven in Havana, Cuba when her family climbs into a makeshift boat and heads for Miami, Florida. Extreme poverty and dangerous riots have left them no choice. The year is 1994 and Fidel Castro has just announced that anyone who wants to leave is free to go. But will they be welcomed in Miami?

Mahmoud is twelve, living in Aleppo, Syria. It is 2015 and his home has just been destroyed, the result of an ongoing vicious civil war. He and his family take what they can and depart for Turkey, the first of many stops, hoping to make their way to safety in Germany.

In alternating stories, Josef, Isabel and Mahmoud face unpredictable danger and catastrophe as they desperately try to keep their families together. They learn hard lessons on how to choose between being visible and invisible. Each discovers that, by being invisible, they escape many dangers, but miss chances for others to help them. Not knowing when to hide and when to speak out, Mahmoud realizes, “good and bad things happened either way.”

All three children are forced to act as leaders, when family members are hurt or weakened. Gratz describes these heartbreaking transformations in which each understands that they must choose, often quickly, and act on their new-adult instincts in order to save their loved ones.

Although the children are from different times, Gratz has connected their stories through the shared experiences and emotions of leaving their homelands and traveling by boat and foot. Surprise connections make this story even more meaningful.

Refugee was published in 2017 and has gained momentum to be included in many middle and high school curriculums. It is a New York Times Notable Book, an Amazon Best Book of the Year, and both Kirkus Reviews and Publishers Weekly Best Books of the Year. Although it is a Young Adult book, I highly recommend it for all readers because it shows, for all of us, the importance of understanding the desperate plights that refugees have suffered.

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On the touchy topic of ratings and reviews

Image: Pixabay

I had a beloved philosophy professor in college who was well-known for handing out Cs and Ds. In my first year, fall semester, I took a class called “Inner and Outer Freedom.” Professor Huntington Terrell had high standards. He cheerfully told our group that a C meant we had done a good job and that a D meant we were close. Once my good friend got an A on a paper and Hunt read it in class. Her paper became the gold standard.

Yesterday I read about a reader who posted a positive review and gave it 3 stars. The author sent her a message, said it sounded more like a 4-star review, and asked her to change the rating. The reviewer didn’t. In fact, she removed the review.



It’s easy to say you loved a book or you really liked it. Those are clearly 4- and 5-star books. It’s trickier with the 3-star ratings. But why should that be? Three-stars means I also liked the book. And anyway, I’m just Book Club Mom. My opinions are subjective. But I’ve always tried to be true to my opinions because I want people to know my tastes, to know me. That’s why I often talk about my favorite book of all-time, Youngblood Hawke. Not everyone liked that book, but it’s fun to be different and promote discussion. And shouldn’t books like All the Light We Cannot See, To Kill a Mockingbird and Life After Life be on my Book Club Mom pedestal? I think so. One person’s opinion.

Yet I find myself thinking and thinking about how best to give a book a 3-star rating. I worry that people will think I’m too negative, too picky. After all, I’m not writing the books, I’m just reading them. I am sensitive to the hard work that goes into writing a book and getting it published.


I’m particularly sensitive to self-published and indie authors who have to do it all themselves. I worry that even talking about this on my blog will offend these hard-working writers. I also know how hard it is to get people to read indie and self-published books and then post reviews.

And I’ve read many excellent books written by my self-published and indie author friends as well as by friends who have well-known publishers. I highly recommend them. Here are some and I have others in the queue:

Calmer Secrets and Calmer Girls by Jennifer Kelland Perry
Death in a Mudflat, Death in a Dacron Sail
and Death in a Red Canvas Chair by N. A. Granger

The Bone Curse, Eating Bull and The Seneca Scourge by Carrie Rubin
Leaving the Beach by Mary Rowen
Second Chance Romance by Jill Weatherholt
The Storyteller Speaks: Powerful Stories to Win Your Heart by Annika Perry

So my point of this post isn’t to raise hell. It’s more to address the tip-toed-around subject of book reviews, from every side. Because isn’t it normal to have different opinions? If someone says he or she doesn’t like a book, aren’t you interested in knowing why, not to start a fight, but to hear another point of view?

What do you think?

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*For the record, I got a C+ in that class. Huntington Terrell passed away in 2002. You can read more about him here and here.

Who’s That Indie Author and Author Updates – that could be you in the spotlight!

Image: Pixabay

Are you a self-published or indie author looking for a way to tell the world about your books? Who’s That Indie Author is a great way to introduce yourself to readers. It’s also an opportunity to connect with bloggers and expand your network through connections on WordPress, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn and many other social media and business platforms.

And, it’s free! So why not take advantage of a chance to show your talents? Submit an author profile and see your name travel from blog to blog and tweet to tweet!

Check out this recent Who’s That Indie Author:

Who’s That Indie Author? Jennifer S. Alderson

Email Book Club Mom at bvitelli2009@gmail.com to request an author profile template. Who’s That Indie Author is open to all self-published and indie authors.


And if you’ve already appeared on Who’s That Indie Author, but would like to share news about your latest book or project, consider submitting an update. Are you researching a new book? Have you won an award or a writing contest? Did you just update your website? Maybe you just want to tell readers about an experience you’ve had. BC Mom’s Author Update is a great way to share news and information about you and your books.

What’s it all about? Check out this recent BC Mom’s Author Update:

BC Mom’s Author Update: JD Estrada and J.P. McLean

Email Book Club Mom at bvitelli2009@gmail.com for more information. BC Mom’s Author Update is open to all authors – self-published, indie, big-time and anything in between.


Who’s That Indie Author & BC Mom’s Author Update – 2 great ways to spread the word!

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We Are All Good People Here by Susan Rebecca White

We Are All Good People Here
by
Susan Rebecca White

Rating:

What’s the best way to make things right? From within the system or something more drastic? This story about friendship and social change begins in 1962 when Daniella Gold and Eve Whalen become roommates at Belmont College in Roanoke, Virginia. Eve, a future debutante, is from a wealthy family in Atlanta and at home with the established southern ways. Daniella is half-Jewish and from a middle class family in Washington, D.C. Despite their differences, they become fast friends.

The girls begin their journey down widening paths when they learn about their dormitory maid’s hours and living conditions. Eve, despite having a black maid at home, is appalled and feels she must act immediately. Daniella, a careful thinker, thinks there are better ways to help. This is the first of many moments with surprise results that cause friction in the young women’s friendship.

We Are All Good People Here spans thirty years of ups and downs. Set in Virginia, New York and Atlanta, during a period of protests about racial inequality and the Vietnam War, Eve and Daniella both believe they can make a difference. While Daniella prefers to work through the system, Eve hooks up with groups that are ready to take action, and as time passes, becomes more radical in her beliefs as she aligns with violent revolutionaries.

Chasms widen and are then bridged as Eve and Daniella become mothers. Good times are peppered with tragedy and loss, with new pressures on their friendship. Throughout, White’s characters suffer, rebound and emerge in different ways.

While I enjoyed reading this historical novel, I felt the characters were flat and stereotyped, playing second fiddle to the author’s attempt at including as many historical references as she could. That said, I learned a few new things about this time period. I just felt it could have been better balanced.

I also thought the cover was misleading. I enjoyed the optical illusion and was attracted to the book right away, but I did not see how the image, which seems very modern, related to the story.

We Are All Good People is a fast read and highlights an important period of American history and social change.

Want more reviews? Here’s one reader who loved it and one who felt the same as I did. Check them out!

“An extraordinary book that spans generations, explores momentous times in American history, and gives readers a in-depth look into complex family relationships.” We Are All Good People Here by Susan Rebecca White @SimonSchusterCA #HistoricalFiction #Review #BookBlogger

We Are All Good People Here By Susan Rebecca White Demonstrates Her Spectacular Historical Research… But What Happened To The Story? ARC Review- Released 8/6

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