A review of Small Blessings by Martha Woodroof

Small Blessings touches on issues like the consquences of adultery, along with alcoholism and drug abuse, but uses them as devices rather than serious themes. At the end of Small Blessings we find Rose crossing her fingers, “hoping against hope that life really might be that simple.” Unfortunately, real life isn’t as simple as it is presented in this feel-good romance.

An interview with Lev Grossman

The author of The Magician’s Land talks about his latest book, about his ‘conversation’ with Lewis and Rowling, about writing genre fiction, about the diverse reader response, major influences, about his literary revolution, on the juxtaposition of tech with magic, on leaving academia, being a twin, and lots more.

A review of The Handkerchief Map by Kiri English-Hawke

Written by Kiri English-Hawke when she was a schoolgirl, this short, insightful narrative affirms that the current generation of young people are still affected and troubled by the Holocaust of WW2 when ordinary citizens’ lives were scarred by an horrific and hideous conflict that made no sense. It is a remarkable achievement as it offers a very positive picture on the resilience of the human spirit in the landscape of war.

A review of purple. emerald. gold. by Victoria Norton

Her roles as daughter, sister, wife and mother coupled with her nursing career have provided Victoria with a plethora of experiences and observations around which to weave her stories. Beatrice Fed the Ducks is a poignant story of aging and memory failure, which is sure to pierce even the hardest heart. White Shoes and A Weather Eye bring memories of fellow nurses who influenced Victoria’s attitudes to work and life, while Code of Denial draws on her knowledge of drugs and their dangers.

A review of Phoning Home: Essays by Jacob M. Appel

Subject matter for these often humorous, always provocative compositions show-case the writer’s New York City childhood, his often whimsical family, his Jewish culture, life in general and more. There is something in Phoning Home: Essays for every reader. The tales portray the writer’s inimitable voice, a merging of nostalgia and insights, mitigated through his education including degrees in ethics, law and medicine. Appel is a man who questions, learns and seeks more answers.

A review of Faulkner and Friends by Vicki Salloum

Like Faulkner, Salloum writes impressionistically and uses stream-of-consciousness narration, demanding that the reader do some work to put together the strands of the characters’ stories. While his main themes are race, and the Southern heritage while hers is poverty. In some respects, Salloum’s novel resembles John Steinbeck’s Cannery Row in its celebration of people on society’s fringes.

A review of One Plus One by Jojo Moyes

Moyes’s novel reminded me of The Middle Ground, a 1980 work of fiction by Margaret Drabble, which centres upon a single mother and shows the disparity between the comfortable classes and the struggling ones. Moyes’s plot is also akin to that of Jane Eyre, in centring on an intelligent woman with a strong sense of fairness, who meets a rich man. Like Mr. Rochester, Ed must be humbled by misfortune before he can fully appreciate Jess – though there is no madwoman in the attic and no fire in One Plus One.