Weather Report, November 15

43,284 Guatemala Stock Photos, Pictures & Royalty-Free Images - iStock
Guatemala (photo from istock).

Our currently featured books, “The Mason House,” by T. Marie Bertineau, “Reinventing Jenna Rose,” by Joni Marie Iraci and “The Buddha’s Bone,” by Leilani Stewart, can be found by scrolling down below this post, or by clicking the author’s name on our Authors page.

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UPCOMING ON SNOWFLAKES IN A BLIZZARD, NOV. 16-22.

“PACIFIC,” BY TREVOR J. HOUSER.

On a remote Puget Sound Island, police chief Bell navigates his job and marriage in the wake of his son’s near-death brain surgery. When his wife no longer wants to tempt the fates of experimental medicine, he takes matters into his own hands. With the help of his spaced-out fisherman friend, Bell kidnaps his boy and sets sail for Guatemala in search of the mysterious Dr. Haas. On the way, they’ll brave the seventh biggest storm, befriend two behemoth fly-fishing Nords, and try to outrun the ex-Navy captain hired by his wife to find them.

“THE TOWN CRAZY,” BY SUZZY ROCHE.

Engaging, excellent storytelling that sums up a small town in the early ’60’s. The Town Crazy also delves into the terror and cruelty of childhood, the dangerous loneliness of failing marriages, sexual repression and desire, and the intersection of art and religion, all culminating in a tragedy for which everyone in the town bears some responsibility. 

“HERMAN AND THE PRINCESS GULL,” BY LEW MAURER.

Writes Lew: Herman and the Princess Gull was inspired by a true event on a beautiful beach in Costa Rica, twenty years ago. While I was out surfing, my girlfriend Debbie discovered a hermit crab hiding under some seaweed. The poor crab had no shell for protection, so the hunt was on, and we eventually found an empty shell that was just the right size. It was heartwarming to see him crawl into the shell and we put him on the sand to join his friends.

“THE GIRL WHO TALKED TO PAINTINGS,” BY SHANNON K. WINSTON.

The Girl Who Talks to Paintings is an ekphrastic collection that conceives of ekphrasis as a type of translation: as a movement between images and words, as well as between lived and imagined experiences. These poems dramatize visual art personas who come alive and become confidants for speakers who are too timid to express themselves otherwise. Artwork becomes an entry point and a catalyst for self-exploration and self-discovery. At its core, The Girl Who Talks to Paintings explores many intertwined themes, including gender and sexuality, family, loss, and language.

The Mason House

The Mason House by [T. Marie Bertineau]

This week’s other featured books, “Reinventing Jenna Rose,” by Joni Marie Iraci, and “The Buddha’s Bone,” by Leilani Stewart, can be found by scrolling down below this post, or by clicking the author’s name on our Authors page.

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THE BOOK: The Mason House.

PUBLISHED IN: 2020

THE AUTHOR: T. Marie Bertineau.

THE EDITOR: Christine Neulieb.

THE PUBLISHER: Lanternfish Press

Lanternfish Press, founded in Philadelphia in 2013, publishes literature of the rare and strange: fiction that crosses the boundary between literary and speculative; real or imagined tales of characters at the margins of history; essays rooted in a strong sense of place; a cabinet of curious Victorian reprints. We seek the grotesque, the alien made familiar, the “I don’t know what this is—but I love it.”

SUMMARY: After her father’s untimely death, Theresa faced a rocky and unstable childhood. But there was one place she felt safe: her grandmother’s house in Mason, a depressed former copper mining town in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Gram’s passing leaves Theresa once again at the mercy of the lasting, sometimes destructive grief of her Ojibwe mother and white stepfather. As the family travels back and forth across the country in search of a better life, one thing becomes clear: if they want to find peace, they will need to return to their roots.

The Mason House is at once an elegy for lost loved ones and a tale of growing up amid hardship and hope, exploring how time and the support of a community can at last begin to heal even the deepest wounds.

THE BACK STORY: The Mason House was born of two reasons: first, because I was experiencing a period of grief and transition in my life, and I wanted to do something positive to help me navigate that. The second was that it had been my life’s dream to pay tribute to my Cornish grandmother in some way because she had meant so much to me, not only during our short time together, but throughout my life. Those two elements came together at exactly the right space in time, and that’s how The Mason House came to be.

Writing the manuscript itself became a healing journey for me. The first draft took about a year to write—a year filled with the emotion of memory. I didn’t expect to experience all that through the writing of the story, but I’m glad I did. I discovered it was exactly what I’d needed all my life—to process the events of childhood and finally come to understand how those events impacted me as an individual and my family as a whole.

WHY THIS TITLE?: The Mason House was the working title of the book. It was the heart of the book. But I knew I would most likely have to part with it once I signed with a publisher. When I did sign with Lanternfish Press, I braced for the news. Lo and behold, one day my publisher contacted me to say they felt “The Mason House” was the perfect title for the book and asked how I felt about keeping it. Of course, I was thrilled!

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? The Mason House is a story about family. And all that “family” entails. It’s a book about healing, about hope and perseverance, and about learning forgiveness. It’s also a story of connecting with one’s cultural identity, and how that can bring about a sense of peace and acceptance in our lives. It’s a full-circle story, much of it centered in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula in the 60s and 70s.

The Mason House was named a 2021 Michigan Notable Book by the Library of Michigan. It is also the recipient of the 2021-2022 Stuart D. and Vernice M. Gross Award for Literature as presented by Saginaw Valley State University.

REVIEW COMMENTS:

“A powerful celebration of the ties that bind us and eccentric, laugh out loud moments of love, grace and what it means to be kin.” —Tiffany Midge, Author of Bury My Heart at Chuck E. Cheese

“Written in prose that is both stark and lyrical as well as intrinsically intertwined with the landscape of the homeland, Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, “The Mason House” is an engaging and heartening read.” —Linda LeGarde Grover, Author of In the Night of Memory (Special to the Star Tribune)

“Touching and authentic.” —Faith Sullivan, author of Good Night, Mr. Wodehouse

“In this graceful and moving memoir, Bertineau offers a series of stories about love, tenacity, resilience, and hope . . . The Mason House manages to capture the intimate striations of multi-generational trauma without ever losing its humor or hope, even as it paints an intimate and complicated portrait of life in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.” —M. Bartley Seigel, author of This Is What They Say

AUTHOR PROFILE: I’ve lived in numerous locations throughout the country, but no matter where I roam, home remains Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. It’s where my history begins and my roots run deepest.

As an Anishinaabe and a Michigander, I hold close the gifts of nature in our beautiful region. This includes a love and respect for all our Great Lakes, but Lake Superior especially, whose waters have always been a part of my life. My concern for the waters, land, and wildlife in the state has served to strengthen my connection with my Indigenous community. Together we strive to bring awareness to the industrial and climate-related perils our waters face. We also work to preserve biodiversity in our woodlands, including the preservation of our peninsula’s healthy wolf community.

At home, you’ll find me at work with my cat at my side, where my keyboard often shows signs of construction dust. Our tiny residence is in a constant state of renovation and repair. Long live old homes!

Catch my latest writing venture, “Hankies in My Pocket: Tender Thoughts from the Keweenaw,” a quarterly online column at https://carrotranch.com/author/bertsbees/, home of Carrot Ranch Literary Community.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: The Mason House touches on the issue of Indian residential schools. The book was published before the verification of hundreds of unmarked residential school graves throughout Canada. At this writing, residential school sites in the U.S. remain to be examined. May the remains of each precious spirit be recovered by their birth communities, where they may be honored and, at long last, find peace.

LOCAL OUTLETS: Snowbound Books, Marquette, MI: https://www.snowboundbooks.com/book/9781941360439.

Birchbark Books and Native Arts, Minneapolis, MN. https://birchbarkbooks.com/products/the-mason-house?_pos=1&_sid=3649ea405&_ss=r.

Grandpa’s Barn, Copper Harbor, MI: https://bookshop.org/books/the-mason-house/9781941360439?aid=14742&listref=grandpa-s-barn-book-club-2021.

North Wind Books at Finlandia University, Hancock, MI:https://bookstore.finlandia.edu/collections/midwest/products/the-mason-house

The Well Read Raccoon Books & Curiosities, Houghton, MI: https://bookshop.org/books/the-mason-house/9781941360439?aid=54481&listref=raccoon-favorites-best-sellers

Schuler Books, Grand Rapids and Okemos, MI: https://www.schulerbooks.com/book/9781941360439

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Apple Books, Kindle, Nook, Barnes & Noble, Amazon.

PRICE: $18.00

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: Connect with me! Website: https://www.tmariebertineau.com/ Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/t.mariebertineau/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tmbertineau Twitter: https://twitter.com/tmariebertineau

Reinventing Jenna Rose

THE BOOK: Reinventing Jenna Rose.

PUBLISHED IN: 2019.

THE AUTHOR: Joni Marie Iraci.

THE PUBLISHER: Fat Dog Books (traditional indie publisher — Michael Stringer)

SUMMARY: “Reinventing Jenna Rose,” propels the reader on a fast-paced journey through the life of a young girl who’s determined to realize her self-worth and overcome the trauma of a childhood where she was forced to be the “muse” for her child photographer father’s “art.” Left alone after her parent’s divorce, Jenna uncovers evidence of a grandmother living in New York City. Jenna resourcefully takes herself across the country and lands on the Upper West Side of Manhattan doorstep of her affluent maternal grandmother. A street-smart New York neighbor girl, a quirky therapist, a white German Shepherd and a story-telling grandmother, join forces to help Jenna overcome the hardships of her past and the shattering family secrets that soon come to light. This sad, funny, quirky novel, is infused with humor and literary references while relating a multi-generational family saga and legal thriller in the voice of a courageous young woman. It is filled with the sights, sounds and flavor of New York City.

THE BACK STORY: I grew up in a story-telling family. This story is based on stories I’ve heard and stories I imagined. I spent much of my childhood exploring my grandmother’s Upper West Side of Manhattan neighborhood. I spent 2 months as a juror in Federal Criminal Court where I learned first-hand the lay of the land of the court. All this came together to become the novel. Reinventing Jenna Rose was my thesis as I earned an MFA from Columbia University. It was workshopped every week for 2 years and read by the former editor of Harpers. It took 5 years to complete.

WHY THIS TITLE?: I’m a retired R.N, wife and mother of three who reinvented myself and became a writer. Jenna Rose casts aside her past and reinvents herself as she adapts to her new life and achieves success. The title seemed perfect.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? Reinventing Jenna Rose is less about a victim of abuse and more about surviving and overcoming it with determination. Jenna demonstrates bravado in the face of trauma. She takes the initiative to take control of her own life. Women who have suffered abuse will relate and hopefully be inspired to step up and find their way to healing. The novel portrays the importance of female relationships, the ability of women to find strength in the face of adversity and to move forward as well the importance of a grandmotherly influence on the life of young girls.

REVIEW COMMENTS:

“Jenna Rose is a prisoner in her own home. Shut off from the world and abused by her parents, she sees an opportunity to escape across the country and takes it. Reinventing Jenna Rose is a story of overcoming trauma and taking control of one’s life.

“We meet Jenna, a lost seventeen-year-old, who is abandoned in her California home once again by her mother, Meghan. For fear of her father and his heinous gaze, Jenna escapes to New York City to find a grandmother she didn’t know existed. Through her grandmother, Katherine, Jenna learns of generations of female suffering. Joni Marie Iraci tackles sexual abuse and neglect in this fast-paced novel to reveal that reclaiming one’s self after tragedy and controlling one’s identity is always possible.

“Jenna learns it is not just her who has dealt with abuse, but Katherine, too. Katherine carefully explains her connection to her guardian’s brother who took advantage of her, but due to the time period she was made to believe the abuse and that the consequences of it were her fault. Iraci uses this scenario to comment on the victim blaming nature of society, in which a child was assaulted yet forced to continue to care for the man who assaulted her.

“”Through this truth-telling, the two women find common ground in trauma and are able to move forward.

“The characterization of Jenna and the way she deals with her trauma is realistic; so realistic that, at times, perhaps it is a detriment to the pacing of the novel. Moments happen rapidly, relationships are formed and then lost, years pass by within a paragraph. Even so, when dealing with a character like Jenna who wants to repress her childhood and focus on her exciting new life in New York City, it makes sense that the world we see through her eyes is rapid and disjointed. She grew up with a lack of social skills making her relationships often one-sided, but that does not discount the love found within them.

“Iraci shows us that the family we are born with can destroy us, yet it is often the family we choose that supports us. Jenna’s childhood is weighed down by her father’s disgusting mistreatment of her. He steals her innocence from her, which he argues was merely a part of his “art,” but Jenna gets her retribution in the end.

“As the story of her life continues, she takes control of her path. Her path is awkward, usually emphasized by the delivery of dialogue in which the language is overly-expository and stiff. Jenna tells a story about her childhood with dialogue that says, ‘Yeah, well, quirky was what Alan called me. He said it when he first noticed me picking the chipped paint from the wainscoting on my bedroom wall…Picking at the peeling paint made me feel like I was in control of something. A little scratch on the paint and down it would fall in pieces behind the bed and onto the pink carpet in that sickly pink room, which Alan decorated just for me’ (p. 168).

“Often characters will speak for long blocks with very little importance, and years and relationships get fogged into the background, but isn’t that so true to life? After Jenna gets justice, she focuses on herself, seemingly signifying that the little things do not matter as much.

“Even though the second half of the novel is quick paced–which makes it difficult to sink into moments of Jenna’s life–we are able to see how life after trauma can get better with passing time. We can’t help but root for Jenna and her journey, and through her bravery and thoughtful relationships, we are excited to see what every twist in her life will bring her.” — Taylor Blum.

“Jenna Rose is a profoundly sympathetic teenager, but not one likely to come to a good end. Her mother is neglectful and manipulative; her father is a drunk and a pervert. But Jenna is smart, strong, edgy, resourceful, and daring. She knows that to survive, she needs to start over. To start over requires some significant prevarication and not insignificant larceny. We fear for her as she embarks on her journey to find her grandmother, and we root for her every triumph along the way to finding herself, This emotionally charged debut novel is one to share with your mother, your daughter, your best friend, and the troubled kid who lives next door.” — Binnie Kirshenbaum, author of An Almost Perfect Moment and The Scenic Route

“In Iraci’s debut novel, a Californian teenager tries to escape her traumatic childhood by tracking down her grandmother in New York City. Jenna Rose’s mother, Meghan, leaves her 17-year-old daughter home alone while she’s away on business. This certainly isn’t an uncommon occurrence, so the teenager is unconcerned—until she learns that her estranged father, Alan, whom Meghan divorced four months earlier, will be stopping by during Meghan’s absence. Jenna doesn’t want to see him, so she concocts a plan that will allow her to avoid him: She’ll visit her maternal grandmother, Katherine O’Connor, whose existence Jenna only recently discovered; Meghan had previously told her that all of her other relatives were dead.

“Using her mom’s shiny new platinum credit card, Jenna books a flight to New York and shows up at Katherine’s door. The older woman, whom Jenna eventually dubs ‘Grand,’ willingly takes her in. The teen slowly adjusts to her new life in the city, which entails attending private school with snarky classmates, including the rather contemptible Nicole Elliott.

“However, Jenna also makes her first real friend: Gabrielle Yvonne ‘Gypsy’ Puteri, an uninhibited but good-natured professional model. Grand knows that there’s something harrowing in Jenna’s past, and it’s unquestionably related to Alan—a photographer whom cops later arrest on serious and disturbing charges. Jenna opens up to Grand and therapist Christine Gautier about her childhood trauma, and struggles with her impending testimony at a trial in open court.

“Iraci’s sharply written tale incisively tackles the subject of child abuse. Such abuse has clearly affected Jenna deeply, as she’s now prone to what appear to be severe panic attacks. The teenager aptly states in her narration that Alan “raped” her childhood and stole from her “a normal child’s life.” As might be expected, the book’s tone is often grim, as the protagonist endures not only her considerable trauma, but also a largely neglectful mother and terrible classmates. But Jenna’s allies help to alleviate the bleakness of the narrative. Grand, for example, keeps Meghan and Alan away from Jenna long before she knows the full details of her granddaughter’s secret. The teenager also receives a good deal of emotional support from Gypsy and Jenna’s loyal German shepherd, Gracie. Jenna herself offers some occasional moments of humor, as when a nurse asks her if she wants to sign an organ donor card, and she wearily responds, ‘Sure, take whatever you want.’

“An astute, respectful treatment of a serious issue, featuring a strong protagonist.” — Kirkus Reviews.

AUTHOR PROFILE: In the 1970s, Joni Iraci worked as a staff and charge R.N. in a northern New Jersey hospital, before moving to New York City where she worked as a night nurse on the breast and bone oncology unit at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. She subsequently made a life changing career move when she accepted an offer to work as a staff nurse on the EENT (eye, ear, nose, throat) and plastic surgery unit at Lenox Hill Hospital. It was there where she met her husband, who was a surgical intern at that time. They married and relocated to Pittsburgh for one year to do a critical care fellowship. Returning to New York, Joni helped her husband with his surgical practice and raised three children. Once the nest was semi-empty, Joni returned to school to pursue her life-long dream of becoming a writer. In 2013, at the age of 60, she earned a BA in liberal studies with a concentration in writing and literature from Sarah Lawrence College; in 2017, she earned an MFA in creative writing from Columbia University.

She is a fiction writer. After publishing several short stories in literary journals such as The Grief Diaries, Beneath the Rainbow and Review Americana, her debut novel, ‘Reinventing Jenna Rose,” was published in May. It has received favorable reviews on Amazon, Kirkus, Goodreads and Glassworks. She gave a talk to the Rotary Club in Rye, NY. where she discussed her journey as an adult returning to school to pursue a dream. She was invited to talk at The Strand bookstore in New York City. Along with Hollywood Historian and author, Tom Santopietro, she gave an in-conversation talk which can be found on youtube.com.

She is a retired R.N. who has also completed a novella, and her second novel, “Vatican Daughter,” which is being considered by several traditional top publishers. She is vehemently working on its sequel and tending to her rescued animals. Joni Marie Iraci welcomes emails from readers and is available for speaking engagements be it in relationship to her work or the joys and angst of returning to college in one’s older years. She is an elite member of The Author’s Guild.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: In the wake of the “Me too” movement, awareness of the abuse of women and girls has come to the forefront. “Reinventing Jenna Rose,” is a fictionalized embodiment of this movement. It serves to demonstrate in story form that abuse of any kind is not okay and hopefully will serve an abused reader to stand up and not be afraid to do so. Grandmothers and granddaughters will enjoy the heartwarming relationship between Jenna and her newly-discovered grandmother. As a native New Yorker, I was able to infuse the story with the energy and scenery only Manhattan has to offer.

SAMPLE: See the Amazon Authors page.

LOCAL OUTLETS: Amazon, Barnes & Noble.

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Contact the author for a signed, personalized copy.

PRICE: $16.95, Kindle available as well.

CONTACT THE AUTHOR:

FACEBOOK -JONI MARIE IRACI: AUTHOR@JoniMarieIraci.author.

JoniMarieIraci.com; jmi2118@columbia.edu; jmi10805@gmail.co

The Buddha’s Bone

The Buddha's Bone by [Leilanie Stewart]

THE BOOK: The Buddha’s Bone

PUBLISHED IN: October 2021

THE AUTHOR: Leilanie Stewart

THE EDITOR: Amy Finlay

THE PUBLISHER: Leilanie Stewart

Leilanie Stewart (Author of Gods of Avalon Road)

SUMMARY: (From the back cover) 

Death

Kimberly Thatcher wasn’t an English teacher. She wasn’t a poet. She wasn’t an adventurer. Now she wasn’t even a fiancée. But when one of her fellow non-Japanese colleagues tried to make her a victim, she said no.

Cremation

In Japan on a one-year teaching contract at a private English language school, and with her troubled relationship far behind her in London, Kimberly set out to make new friends. She would soon discover the darker side of travelling alone – and people’s true intentions.

Rebirth

As she came to question the nature of all those around her – and herself – Kimberly was forced to embark on a soul-searching journey into emptiness. What came next after you looked into the abyss? Could Kimberly overcome the trauma – of sexual assault and pregnancy loss – blocking her path to personal enlightenment along the way, and forge a new identity in a journey of … Death. Cremation. Rebirth.

THE BACK STORY: I was inspired to write this novel after working as an English teacher in Japan for four years. I wanted to explore the feeling of the protagonist being out of her depth in terms of understanding the language and culture and how this not only opened up her vulnerabilities, but created an opportunity for her to learn and grow through the people she met and experiences she had – both good and bad.

WHY THIS TITLE: It’s based on a cremation ritual in Japan. The protagonist is told of the ritual by one of her students and feels it’s reflective of her own inner journey of death, cremation and rebirth of her soul.

WHY SOMEONE WOULD WANT TO READ IT: Readers who enjoy stories where the main character overcomes trauma and experiences personal growth as a result would enjoy this story. Those looking for a travel story of being a foreigner in another country and the accompanying sense of alienation and culture shock would also like The Buddha’s Bone.

REVIEW COMMENTS:

From Goodreads:

“The Buddha’s Bone is a read about all the strongest emotions: grief, anger, love, regret, and hope. Kimberly’s imperfections and struggles are raw and relatable.”

“Kimberly’s story touches on a lot of important topics: misogyny, sexual assault, trauma, female friendship, loss, mental health.”

“The titular ‘Buddha’s Bone’ story of Japanese tradition is beautiful and creative; it was like a shining beacon of hope for Kimberly in her darkest moment.”

“Readers catch a glimpse into the intimate thoughts of  Kimberly through her poetry. They were such a great addition to Kimberly’s character and an insight into what she was really feeling.”

“Leilanie Stewart artfully invites us deep into the thoughts, poetry, and personal exploration of the main character and first-person POV.”

AUTHOR PROFILE: Leilanie Stewart is an author and poet from Belfast, Northern Ireland. Her writing centres around protagonists who are on a journey of self-discovery and who explore their identity by overcoming adversity. She began writing for publication while working as an English teacher in Japan, a career pathway that has influenced themes in her writing. Her former career as an Archaeologist has also inspired her writing and she has incorporated elements of archaeology and mythology into both her fiction and poetry.

In addition to promoting her own work, Leilanie runs Bindweed Magazine, a creative writing ezine, with her writer husband, Joseph Robert. Aside from literary pursuits, Leilanie enjoys spending time with her husband and their lively literary tot, a voracious reader of construction vehicle books.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: There are some trigger topics in the novel: it deals with sexual assault, miscarriage and mental health issues of the protagonist and also racist language by one of the antagonists. Some readers might want to take care for these reasons.

SAMPLE CHAPTER: Chapters 1 to 3 can be sampled on Amazon Kindle: https://read.amazon.com/litb/B09BL92LCC?f=1&l=en_US&r=92578b3f&rid=KMB03Y8C9KQ18J34AYAY&sid=135-4941646-7594958&cid=A1JKUXIOE62S8&ref_=litb_m

You can also listen to an excerpt reading on my YouTube channel at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2dHdyOi3giM&t=46s

LOCAL OUTLETS: It’s available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble (US), Waterstones (UK) and the Book Depository in Paperback and Hardcover and additionally as an Ebook from Kindle, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, Apple and Scribed.

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: It can be ordered from any of the major online retailers.

PRICE: UK £1.99/ US $2.99 for the Ebook, UK £8.99/ US $12.44 for the Paperback and UK £14.99/ US $18.99 for the Hardcover.

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: My email address is contact@leilaniestewart.com

Weather Report, November 8

Kyoto, Japan (Interest).

Our currently featured books,  “Witch’s Dance,” by Erin Almond, “Cold Blessings,” by Maxmilian Werner and “Be the Thing of Memory,” by Carrie Adams, can be found by scrolling down below this post, along with the First Tuesday Replay. Or, simply click the author’s name on our Authors page.

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UPCOMING ON SNOWFLAKES IN A BLIZZARD, NOV. 9-15.

“THE BUDDHA’S BONE,” BY LEILANI STEWART.

Kimberly Thatcher wasn’t an English teacher. She wasn’t a poet. She wasn’t an adventurer. Now she wasn’t even a fiancée. But when one of her fellow non-Japanese colleagues tried to make her a victim, she said no.

In Japan on a one-year teaching contract at a private English language school, and with her troubled relationship far behind her in London, Kimberly set out to make new friends. She would soon discover the darker side of travelling alone – and people’s true intentions.

As she came to question the nature of all those around her – and herself – Kimberly was forced to embark on a soul-searching journey into emptiness. What came next after you looked into the abyss? Could Kimberly overcome the trauma – of sexual assault and pregnancy loss – blocking her path to personal enlightenment along the way, and forge a new identity in a journey of … Death. Cremation. Rebirth.

“REINVENTING JENNA ROSE,” BY JONI MARIE IRACI.

“Reinventing Jenna Rose,” propels the reader on a fast-paced journey through the life of a young girl who’s determined to realize her self-worth and overcome the trauma of a childhood where she was forced to be the “muse” for her child photographer father’s “art.” Left alone after her parent’s divorce, Jenna uncovers evidence of a grandmother living in New York City. Jenna resourcefully takes herself across the country and lands on the Upper West Side of Manhattan doorstep of her affluent maternal grandmother. A street-smart New York neighbor girl, a quirky therapist, a white German Shepherd and a story-telling grandmother, join forces to help Jenna overcome the hardships of her past and the shattering family secrets that soon come to light. This sad, funny, quirky novel, is infused with humor and literary references while relating a multi-generational family saga and legal thriller in the voice of a courageous young woman. It is filled with the sights, sounds and flavor of New York City.

“THE MASON HOUSE,” BY T. MARIE BERTINEAU

After her father’s untimely death, Theresa faced a rocky and unstable childhood. But there was one place she felt safe: her grandmother’s house in Mason, a depressed former copper mining town in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Gram’s passing leaves Theresa once again at the mercy of the lasting, sometimes destructive grief of her Ojibwe mother and white stepfather. As the family travels back and forth across the country in search of a better life, one thing becomes clear: if they want to find peace, they will need to return to their roots.

The Mason House is at once an elegy for lost loved ones and a tale of growing up amid hardship and hope, exploring how time and the support of a community can at last begin to heal even the deepest wounds.

Witches’ Dance

erin-eileen-almond-wCt4.png

This week’s other featured books, “Be the thing of memory,” by Carrie Olivia Adams and “Cold Blessings,” by Maxmilian Werner, can be found by scrolling down below this post, along with the First Tuesday Replay. Or, just click the author’s name on our Authors page.

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THE BOOK: Witches’ Dance

PUBLISHED IN: 2019

THE AUTHOR: Erin Eileen Almond

THE EDITOR: Christine Neulieb.

THE PUBLISHER: Lanternfish Press

SUMMARY: Witches’ Dance explores the charged relationship between a teenage violinist named Hilda Greer and her teacher, Phillip Manns, a former prodigy who believes he is the reincarnation of Niccolo Paganini. When Phillip becomes romantically involved with Hilda’s mother, it causes Hilda to question her own feelings for her teacher, as well as her belief in him as Paganini. The climax of the novel takes place in Genoa, Italy, as Hilda prepares to compete in the prestigious Premio Paganini, the contest where Phillip’s career — and, perhaps, his madness – began.

THE BACK STORY: I started playing the violin in my elementary school’s music program when I was nine years old, and I studied it pretty seriously until I got to high school and gave it up for heavy metal guitar. (My parents were duly horrified.) But, even as a terrible lead guitarist for bands with names like The Virgin Saints, I was obsessed with virtuosity. And eventually that obsession led me back to the violin, because violinists – especially the 19th century virtuoso Niccolo Paganini, who was obviously a big inspiration for Witches’ Dance – were the original rock stars. I enrolled in a professional program at the Hartford Conservatory when I was nineteen, with the intention of becoming a violin teacher and performer. But that experience essentially confirmed what I’d long suspected – that I just didn’t have the talent, or maybe even the confidence, to really go for it as a professional musician.

When I started writing seriously, violinists started appearing almost immediately on the page. My first published story was about a violinist who had to stop playing because he’d broken his hand, and you probably already know enough of my background to have a sense of where that story came from in my own life. So I think, in a way, writing Witches’ Dance was a way to process my own grief about not being able to accomplish this thing that I’d really, really wanted, and had devoted many hours to trying to accomplish, but ultimately couldn’t pull off.

WHY THIS TITLE: Witches’ Dance is actually the title of a piece by Niccolo Paganini – in Italian it’s Le Streghe, which translates literally as “The Witches.” This piece of music plays a significant role in the novel – Phillip Manns performs it before announcing to the world that he is the reincarnation of Paganini, and it’s the piece Hilda plays when she first auditions for him. It has an irresistible melody – one Paganini actually “borrowed” from Franz Sussmayr, the composer most famous for finishing Mozart’s Requiem – followed by increasingly virtuosic variations that push the violinist’s technical skills to the limit.

WHY SOMEONE WOULD WANT TO READ IT: You don’t have to love the violin, or even classical music, to enjoy this novel. Although my main characters are violinists, their struggles are ones I think many people can relate to: the search for identity, the pursuit of artistic ambition, and the exhilaration and confusion of sexual awakening.

REVIEW COMMENTS:

Witches’ Dance is a symphony of genius and insanity, love and danger. It is a novel about the secrets we keep and the dream of acceptance. Intricate and beautifully complex. —Ramona Ausubel, author of Sons and Daughters of Ease and Plenty and Awayland

“Erin Almond’s moving tale of brilliance and madness illuminates the power of music and the challenges of nurturing genius. A love story, really—love for another being and for music, the two so interwoven they are almost fatally inseparable. Witches’ Dance is mesmerizing, with characters both flawed and sympathetic who captivate to carry us toward a dramatic conclusion.” —Daphne Kalotay, award-winning author of Sight Reading and Blue Hours

“Witches’ Dance elegantly explores the desire for immortality through art, the desire to lose one’s body to music, to lose one’s private miseries to something greater. It’s a matryoshka doll of identities—psychological, supernatural—secret mothers, hidden wolves—and it’s a treat to travel alongside these enchanting characters as they reveal yet another power, yet another vulnerability in their striving for success, love, triumph, oblivion.” — Whitney Scharer, author of The Age of Light.

AUTHOR PROFILE: I grew up in East Hartford, CT, and spent most of the nineties renting instruments, setting up drum sets, and restringing guitars at my local music store. My fiction, essays, and reviews have appeared in The Boston Globe, Colorado Review, Literary Mama, Normal School, WBUR’s cognoscenti column, and The Rumpus.net. I’m a graduate of the UC-Irvine MFA program and Wesleyan University, a recipient of a St. Botolph Foundation Emerging Artists Grant, and a finalist for the Barbara Deming Money for Women memorial fund. I live outside Boston with my husband, Steve, our three children, and two shy black cats.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: Although you don’t have to be a fan of the violin to enjoy this novel, I do hope that readers will come away from the book curious about classical music. That’s one of the reasons why I included a list of recommended recordings at the end for all of the major pieces mentioned in the book. I also hope readers appreciate the complexity of what all my main characters are up against: Hilda, in her quest to establish her own artistic identity, Phillip, in his struggle with the double burden of virtuosity and madness, and Claire with her maternal ambivalence and broken dreams.

SAMPLE CHAPTER: (Provide link). Sample pages are available to read on Amazon.com.

LOCAL OUTLETS: Witches’ Dance can be ordered from your favorite local independent bookstore, and is also available on bookshop.org. Two of my favorite local indies in the Boston area are Belmont Books and Harvard Books.

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, , and directly from Lanternfish Press.

PRICE: $18.00

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: I can be reached through my website at: https://erineileenalmond.com

Be the thing of memory

THE BOOK: Be the thing of memory

PUBLISHED IN: 2021

THE AUTHOR: Carrie Olivia Adams.

THE EDITOR: Heather Lang-Cassera.

THE PUBLISHER: Tolsun Books.

SUMMARY: Drawing on found text from a variety of historical sources, Be the thing of memory is composed of four long poems built from erasures, specifically from the autobiography of Sophia Tolstoy, a mid-century girl scout handbook, an auditory testing guide, and writings on or by Sarah Hackett Stevenson and Alice Magaw, two of the earliest women in medicine in the United States. Part archivist, part architect, Carrie Olivia Adams excavates the stories of women—famous, forgotten, and ordinary—from history and enters into dialogue with them, giving voice to the continuity of experience and humanity that is our shared foundation. The poems move from feral fields to a dark trail in the woods to the fire of the mind while the weight of tiny things converges with the weight of story itself. Uncertainty. Disbelief. Resilience. Tell me What do you hear And with what ear do you hear it?

THE BACK STORY: The poems were written over a period of five years during which I was closely involved in collaborations with choreographers, dancers, and an experimental musician, and they are the direct output of that work, either forming the foundation of a dance or created in response to a composition in-progress. They are also formed by collaboration with texts, both historic and esoteric, and the long poem The Pain Killer was written during my time as artist-in-residence at the International Museum of Surgical Science.

WHY THIS TITLE?: The title comes from a line in the “Proficiency Badges” series, and I think that much of my work is in conversation with memory, both reliable and unreliable, comforting and unnerving.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? I write my poems for the shy quiet places and for those of us trying to stitch together some sense of the world one word at a time. I want the poems to be a companion to our imperfections.

REVIEW COMMENTS:

Praise for Carrie Olivia Adams

“This poetry is magic. Ultimately, Adams challenges her readers to observe intensely the world around us, to decide for ourselves which particulars are clues to be deciphered and which questions are asking for our answers.”—Marisa Siegel, Rumpus

“As Adams nimbly unfolds language, she opens tunnels of thought and illuminates the misconceptions we have of our emotions and our selves. Her precise and insightful language shifts and reshapes us, causes us to pause and reconsider the world we thought we lived in, the things we thought we knew.”—Laura Isaacman, Coffin Factory.

“Adams offers a graceful synthesis of poetic and scientific language. Everyday experiences become a locus for vastly different discourses—literary, scientific, and historical—which overlap and intersect as they are inscribed upon a single concrete image.”—Kristina Marie Darling, Colorado Review

“You read a lot of books of poetry when you’re a poet yourself. Some will move you and some will not. But I love the ones where you can’t read a page without wanting to write some poetry of your own because this writer inspires you that much. Carrie Olivia Adams is just such a writer.”—Chris Mansel, Galatea Resurrects

AUTHOR PROFILE: Carrie Olivia Adams lives in Chicago where she is the Promotions and Marketing Communications Director for the University of Chicago Press and the co-founder and poetry editor for the indie press Black Ocean. She is the author of four full-length poetry collections, Be the thing of memory (Tolsun Books 2021); Operating Theater (Noctuary Press 2015); Forty-One Jane Doe’s (book and companion DVD, Ahsahta 2013); and Intervening Absence (Ahsahta 2009) in addition to the chapbooks “Proficiency Badges” (Meeking Press 2020); “Grapple” (above/ground press 2017); “Overture in the Key of F” (above/ground press 2013); and “A Useless Window” (Black Ocean 2007). When she’s not making poetry, she’s usually making biscuits. Fittingly, she is a curator of the Poetry and Biscuits salon reading series.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: My work, including pieces made while the Artist-in-Residence at the International Museum of Surgical Science, draws on found text and antique source material to tell the quiet stories of overlooked women. I like to collaborate with dancers, choreographers, and musicians to create works that expand beyond the static page.

LOCAL OUTLETS: You can order books direct from me via email.

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: The book is available from the publisher, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Bookshop.org, and your favorite bookseller through indiebound.org.

PRICE: $18.00.

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: Find me on Twitter @publicityspy and through my website.

Cold Blessings

THE BOOK: Cold Blessings

PUBLISHED IN: May 2019

THE AUTHOR: Maximilian Werner

THE PUBLISHER:  Educe Press

Maximilian Werner

SUMMARY: Cold Blessings is at once lyrical and meditative, mournful and celebratory. The book is both timely and relevant even as it honors the poetics of the past. Readers will hear echoes of Whitman and Rilke, Roethke and Wright, and yet at no time will they ever doubt that Werner’s voice is wholly his own.

THE BACK STORY:  I wrote Cold Blessings for my MFA dissertation, which I finished way back in 1997.  Most of these poems were written just as the internet was taking off, so they belong to another world.

WHY THIS TITLE: The title is taken from a poem I wrote in my first creative writing class with Professor Fred Dings, an excellent poet in his own right.  Although the poem itself didn’t make it into the book, I’ve always liked the title because of how it captures the tension of what it means to be alive.    

WHY SOMEONE WOULD WANT TO READ IT: Because it’s thoughtful and meditative and memorializes a world no one will ever see again.

REVIEW COMMENTS:  

“These are poems that haunt the reader as much as the speaker, poems that create a sensibility well beyond observation or meditation. They take place in a world that might be thought of as a universal ruralism, a place that creates its own set of rules, rules unto itself, using whatever comes to hand or eye. This is a place bigger than we are, even as its structures and actions may seem miniscule. “Everything’s hungry in the country,” says one speaker. Hungry for what—this remains a looming, and disturbingly effective, theme. That hunger goes on to create an intimate gothic heartbeat, keeping the past alive in the dailiness of people we know and sit next to. However quietly they present themselves, don’t be fooled: These are powerful poems.” — Alberto Rios.

AUTHOR PROFILE:  Maximilian Werner is Associate Professor (Lecturer) of Rhetoric and Writing Studies at the University of Utah. He is the author of seven books, including Wolves, Grizzlies, and Greenhorns — Death and Coexistence in the American West, which was published in May.  

AUTHOR COMMENTS:  Wallace Stevens once said that the purpose of poetry is to help people live their lives.  I hope that’s true for readers of my poems.

SAMPLE CHAPTERInterims (swosu.edu)

LOCAL OUTLETS: The Kings English in Salt Lake City.

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Maximilian Werner – Bringing Out the Literary (educepress.com)  Cold Blessings: Werner, Maximilian: 9780996571685: Amazon.com: Books

PRICE: $15.00

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: mswerner@gmail.com

First Tuesday Replay, Nov. 2

This feature has a two-fold purpose: 1. To allow those recently added to our followers list to discover books they might have missed and 2. To make sure previously featured authors and their work aren’t forgotten. If you’d like to learn more about any of the books revisited here, simply click on the “Authors” page, then on that author’s name.

“ABLOOM AND AWRY,” BY TINA KELLEY.

Writes Tina: “Abloom & Awry expresses the awe I feel toward the beauty in the world, and also its disasters and destruction. It contains poetry informed by a journalism career, infused with the love of language, fact, music, nature, family, and their interplay. In Abloom & Awry, I praise strange truths and windshield dings. I pay close attention to the dark, trying to move through it with an affirmation. Containing multitudes of human foibles, natural phenomena, questions from children, plus a little roadkill and some hope, Abloom & Awry sings yes to forever, and to forever’s darkest side. My poetry is strongly influenced by Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass,” “Firekeeper,” by Pattiann Rogers, and the spirit, accuracy and close attention of James Agee, David Wagoner, Sharon Olds, D. Nurkse, Bob Hickok and Naomi Shihab Nye.

“FINDER OF LOST OBJECTS,” BY SUSIE HARA.

According to one reviewer: “There are so many tired variations on the mystery novel, that it is a welcome surprise to find something fresh and just a little different that still retains the sharp edges and fast pacing of a good Who-done-it. Susie Hara has done just that, making her debut novel  ‘Finder of Lost Objects’ a welcome addition to the genre, though it is more accurately a Where-is-it. Her protagonist, Sadie Garcia Miller, is not a detective, nor is she a private investigator. She does not solve mysteries or find missing people. She finds lost objects for a living, working out of a bare bones office in San Francisco’s Mission District. One might think this is not the most lucrative way to make a living, but Sadie gets by, with an almost uncanny way of finding her next client just as the last fee is exhausted. The serendipity is one of the subtle touches of mysticism and Fate that Hara scatters throughout her story. Sadie finds objects by a combination of analysis, common sense, and the feelings she gets when she centers her thoughts and waits for answers to rise up in her quiet mind. It is well done, and not so insistent nor as obvious as to be off-putting if you are not a person with a metaphysical bent.”

“CRAVE: SOJOURN OF A HUNGRY SOUL,” BY LAURIE JEAN CANNADY.

Laurie Jean Cannady is most recognizable through her voice. Lyrical and august, yet strangely intimate, her lucid memory for the texture of daily existence weaves the reader into the fabric of the story. We discover that the most slender threads bind the strongest.

It is no surprise this memoir is a narrative about a victim who becomes a survivor. Cannady is assertive, motivational, and unafraid to reach her target audience: women, African Americans, high-school students, college students, survivors of physical and sexual abuse, veterans, people raised by single parents, and folks who are living in or have lived through impoverishment.

“METAPHYSICAL GRAFFITI,” BY RANDALL AUXIER.

Writes Randall: “I think the book is a really fun ride for the right reader. What people enjoy most about it is having their own ideas validated. What I mean is that lots of people have these philosophical thoughts when they hear a song, or consider an album concept, or watch a music video, and the reason they have these thoughts is because (1) they are human and humans are philosophical, and (2) the artists who make this music have philosophical thoughts too, and they put them into the art. It’s true of good film and television and theater and other kinds of entertainment as well. But I see myself as a sort of tour guide, showing you many of the thoughts you’ve already had and, since I do this for a living, hooking those disparate thoughts together and hanging them on various great philosophers’ works, which is where the feeling of validation comes from –some important person in the past, renowned as a philosopher, had the same thought you had while listening to The Rolling Stones.”

“JUST ANOTHER WEEK IN SUBURBIA,” BY LES ZIG.

Just Another Week in Suburbia by [Zig, Les]

When Casper Gray finds a condom in his wife’s handbag, he suspects that she may be cheating on him. So begins a week where Casper obsesses about the possibility, while his life unravels spectacularly. The main themes of JAWiS are trust (how well can you ever know somebody?) and masculinity (Casper being forced into a situation where he has to take control of his life.)

Says Les: “I love flawed characters – especially characters who are trying to find their place in the world, and who are trying to make sense of things. Casper’s world unravels because of a single small discovery. Life is made up of those small moments. Do I turn left or do I turn right? Most of the time, we’re on autopilot. But, sometimes, some small thing leads to something that jars us from that mindset and into an existence of hyperawareness.”

“RESTLESS SOULS,” BY DAN SHEEHAN.

Set in the early-mid 1990’s, Restless Souls tells the story of the friendship between three wayward Irish lads in their late twenties. Tom, Karl and Baz grew up together in down-on-its-luck Dublin. Friends since childhood, their lives diverged when Tom left home to be a war correspondent. Now, after three years embedded in the Siege of Sarajevo, he returns a haunted shell of the lad who went away.

Karl and Baz have no idea what they’re doing but they are determined to see him through the darkness, even if it means traveling halfway around the world. Hearing about an unlikely cure at an experimental clinic, they embark on a road trip across California. But as they try to save Tom from his memories, they must confront their own – of what happened to their childhood friend Gabriel. And in doing so, they must ask how their boisterous teenage souls became weighed down, and why life got so damn complicated and sad.

Weather Report, Nov. 1

Paganini Niccolo - La Campanella - Sheet Music - Free - - Adagio Mode  Musical Collective
Niccolo Paganini (From Adagio Mode)

Our currently featured books,  “The Prodigal’s Brother,” by Paul Castellani, “A Woman Always Knows,” by Libby Belle and “Cummiskey Alley,” by Tom Sexton can be found by scrolling down below this post, or by clicking the author’s name on our Authors page.

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UPCOMING ON SNOWFLAKES IN A BLIZZARD, NOVEMBER 2-8

“WITCHES’ DANCE,” BY ERIN EILEEN ALMOND.

Witches’ Dance explores the charged relationship between a teenage violinist named Hilda Greer and her teacher, Phillip Manns, a former prodigy who believes he is the reincarnation of Niccolo Paganini. When Phillip becomes romantically involved with Hilda’s mother, it causes Hilda to question her own feelings for her teacher, as well as her belief in him as Paganini. The climax of the novel takes place in Genoa, Italy, as Hilda prepares to compete in the prestigious Premio Paganini, the contest where Phillip’s career — and, perhaps, his madness – began.

“BE THE THING OF MEMORY,” BY CARRIE OLIVIA ADAMS.

Drawing on found text from a variety of historical sources, Be the thing of memory is composed of four long poems built from erasures, specifically from the autobiography of Sophia Tolstoy, a mid-century girl scout handbook, an auditory testing guide, and writings on or by Sarah Hackett Stevenson and Alice Magaw, two of the earliest women in medicine in the United States. Part archivist, part architect, Carrie Olivia Adams excavates the stories of women—famous, forgotten, and ordinary—from history and enters into dialogue with them, giving voice to the continuity of experience and humanity that is our shared foundation. The poems move from feral fields to a dark trail in the woods to the fire of the mind while the weight of tiny things converges with the weight of story itself. Uncertainty. Disbelief. Resilience. Tell me What do you hear And with what ear do you hear it?

“COLD BLESSINGS,” BY MAXMILIAN WERNER,

From the poet: “I wrote Cold Blessings for my MFA dissertation, which I finished way back in 1997.  Most of these poems were written just as the internet was taking off, so they belong to another world.

“Cold Blessings is at once lyrical and meditative, mournful and celebratory. The book is both timely and relevant even as it honors the poetics of the past. Readers will hear echoes of Whitman and Rilke, Roethke and Wright, and yet at no time will they ever doubt that Werner’s voice is wholly his own.”

FIRST TUESDAY REPLAY

This month, we will revisit “Abloom and Awry,” by Tina Kelley, “Finders of Lost Objects,” by Susie Hara, “Restless Souls,” by Dan Sheehan, “Just Another Week in Suburbia,” by Les Zig, “Metaphysical Graffiti,” by Randall Auxier and “Crave: Sojourn of a Hungry Soul,” by Laura Jean Cannady.