Compulsive Reader

The Compulsive Reader News
Volume 18, Issue 10, 1 October 2017



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Hello readers. Here is the latest batch of reviews:

A review of That Stubborn Seed of Hope by Brian Falkner

With great writing skill Brian Falkner uses simple but effective language to continue the exploration of human emotions throughout the book. Some of his stories are sad, some quite dark and one or two almost funny but at the turn of each page the reader feels a tugging of the heartstrings, or worse, something delving into the mind stirring up those repressed feelings that nobody wants to talk about. Read more:

Interview with Brian Falkner

The author of That Stubborn Seed of Hope talks about writing and how it came to be his calling, the draw of short stories, on fear and hope, belonging and inclusion, and lots more. Read more:

A review of She’s Like a Rainbow by Eileen Colucci

Colucci weaves a delicate narrative sure to intrigue readers who may want to know more of their own personal story including attributes, ethnicity, and heritage. The book provides a strong moral around our common humanity, whatever our ethnicity, cultural differences, or where in the world we may live. Read more:

Environmental Justice: Nature and Nation, Wealth and Waste in Carl A. Zimring’s scholarship (Clean and White)

Some questions remain. How will different perspectives be reconciled? How will a nation’s citizens conserve what is good, while achieving progress beyond what is bad? How will people get what they need from the earth, while still protecting the land—and respecting all its people? True prophecy is rare—and arrogance can lead to destruction. Read more:

A review of Dark Signal by Shannon Baker

It’s January and absolutely frigid in Fox’s world. Her little town of Hodgekiss really exists with one bar/restaurant, a new vet but no doctor, and eccentric, white characters who either work for the railroad or are ranchers. A few refer to ‘yotes, which intrigued me as I’ve never heard it before. It’s the dimunitive version of coyotes. Read more:

A review of The Ninja’s Daughter and Betrayal at IGA by Susan Spann

Spann skillfully navigates us through a large cast and new setting with multiple pivotal locations, as well as Hiro’s hidden emotional landscape. As the investigation goes on, tensions between Iga and Koga escalate. The flashpoint is coming; daggers and katana swords are drawn, Hiro and Neko grapple, and when it finally happens, the book’s title takes on more than one meaning. Read more:

A review of The Choke by Sofie Laguna

As has become something of a trademark for Laguna, Justine’s voice forms the narrative backdrop for the book. It’s an extraordinary combination of naïve, descriptive, and poetically dense, driving the reader through a story often harrowing and dark, but always with a sense of discovery. Read more:

Interview with Mark Brandi

Wimmera is a patently Australian tour de force, following two inseparable youths, Ben and Fab and the hardships their mateship endures slipping from childhood into adulthood in the titular country town, a familiar coming-of-age story that takes a sudden, tragic turn, forever altering both their lives and their attachment to one another. Read more:

A review of The Island of Dreams by Gregory James Clark

The premise hooked me into agreeing to review it. In the distant year 2107 a young, faceless British man can’t find a job or girlfriend and still lives with his parents, although he seems to be a decent, if desperate kind of chap. Read more:

A review of Be Still the Water by Karen Emilson

Be Still the Water is full of nuance, small moments that add dimension to the larger story. It’s the story of a family and how that family helped to build a community in a brand-new place. It’s the story of a young girl and how she was the anchor of her family in so many ways. Read more:

All of the reviews listed above available at The Compulsive Reader on the front page. Older reviews are kept indefinitely in our extensive (and growing) categorized archives (currently at 2,153!), which can be browsed or searched from the front page of the site.



In the literary news this month, the Poetry Foundation and Poetry magazine have awarded $129,000 in prizes to five young poets through the Ruth Lilly & Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowships, which are “intended to encourage the further study and writing of poetry” and are open to all U.S. poets between the ages of 21 and 31. Fatimah Asghar, Sumita Chakraborty, Cortney Lamar Charleston, Roy G. Guzmán and Emily Jungmin Yoon will each receive $25,800.

The 2017 NSW Premier’s History Awards were announced at the State Library of NSW. The winner of the Australian History Prize ($15,000) was From the Edge: Australia’s Lost Histories, Mark McKenna (Melbourne University Publishing). The General History Prize ($15,000) was Japanese War Criminals: The Politics of Justice After the Second World War, Sandra Wilson, Robert Cribb, Beatrice Trefalt and Dean Aszkielowicz (Columbia University Press), the NSW Community and Regional History Prize ($15,000) was Stories from the Sandstone: Quarantine Inscriptions from Australia’s Immigrant Past, Peter Hobbins, Ursula K. Frederick and Anne Clarke (Arbon Publishing). The Young People’s History Prize ($15,000) was Maralinga’s Long Shadow: Yvonne’s Story, Christobel Mattingley (Allen & Unwin), and the Multimedia History Prize ($15,000) was The Amboyna Conspiracy Trial, Adam Clulow (Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media).

The winners of the Ned Kelly Prizes, awarded by the Australian Crime Writers Association, are Best novel: Police at the Station and They Don’t Look Friendly by Adrian McKinty, Best first novel: The Dry by Jane Harper, True Crime: Getting Away with Murder by Duncan McNab and The Drowned Man by Brendan James Murray. The Lifetime Achievement award went to Peter Corris.

Extinctions by Josephine Wilson has won the A$60,000 Miles Franklin Award, Australia’s most prestigious literary award, given annually “to a novel which is of the highest literary merit and presents Australian life in any of its phases.” Wilson is the fifth Western Australian to take out the prize.

World Literature Today announced the shortlist for the $50,000 Neustadt International Prize for Literature, which “recognizes significant contributions to the world of literature and has a history as a forerunner to the Nobel Prize in Literature.” The winner will be named November 9 during the Neustadt Festival. This year’s finalists are: Emmanuel Carrère (France), Edwidge Danticat (Haiti and U.S.), Amitav Ghosh (India), Aracelis Girmay (U.S.), Mohsin Hamid (Pakistan), Jamaica Kincaid (U.S.), Yusef Komunyakaa (U.S.), Patricia Smith (U.S.), and Ludmila Ulitskaya (Russia).

The shortlist for the €25,000 2017 German Book Prize has been announced. The winner will be made known on October 9, just before the Frankfurt Book Fair. The shortlist consists of: Romeo oder Julia by Gerhard Falkner, Das Floss der Medusa by Franzobel, Schlafende Sonne by Thomas Lehr, Die Hauptstadt by Robert Menasse, Die Kieferninseln by Marion Poschmann, and Ausser Sich by Sasha Marianna Salzmann.

Three American authors made the shortlist for the 2017 Man Booker Prize, which also includes a debut novel by British bookseller Fiona Mozley. The winner, who receives £50,000 (about $66,285), will be announced October 17. This year’s shortlisted titles are: 4 3 2 1 by Paul Auster (U.S.), History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund (U.S.), Exit West by Mohsin Hamid (Pakistan-U.K.), Elmet by Fiona Mozley (U.K.), Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders (U.S.), and Autumn by Ali Smith (U.K.).

The shortlist has been announced for the £10,000 (about $13,420) 2017 Goldsmiths Prize, which is given to a book of fiction “that is deemed genuinely novel and which embodies the spirit of invention that characterises the genre at its best.” The winner will be announced on November 15. The six shortlisted titles are: H(a)ppy by Nicola Barker, A Line Made by Walking by Sara Baume, Playing Possum by Kevin Davey. Reservoir 13 by Jon McGregor, First Love by Gwendoline Riley, and Phone by Will Self

Finalists have been announced for the CA$50,000 (about US$40,385) Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, recognizing authors of the year’s best novel or short story collection. The winner will be named November 14 at the Writers’ Trust Awards ceremony in Toronto. The five finalists are: Bad Endings by Carleigh Baker, The Last Neanderthal by Claire Cameron, Brother by David Chariandy, American War by Omar El Akkad, and This Accident of Being Lost by Leanne Betasamosake Simpson

Sinéad Morrissey won the £10,000 (about $13,440) Forward Prize for the Best Poetry Collection for On Balance. Chair of the judges Andrew Marr said Morrissey’s poems were “beautifully written, emotionally charged and filled with a wonderful complexity…. This is writing that successfully comes right up to the edge, again and again. We were taken by the openness, the capacity and the exuberance of this work. On Balance is a collection that readers will keep and go back to for a long time to come.”

Finally, the £5,000 (about $6,720) Felix Dennis Prize for Best First Collection was awarded to Ocean Vuong for Night Sky with Exit Wounds. And the winner of the £1,000 ($1,345) prize for Best Single Poem was Ian Patterson for “The Plenty of Nothing.”

Have a great month!



Congratulations to Christine Martin who won a copy of Crush: Stories about Love edited by Simone Corletto, Amy T. Matthews, Jess M. Miller and Lynette Washington

Our new site giveaway is for copy of OMG Don Quixote & Candide Seek Truth, Justice and, El Dorado in the Digital Age LOL by Stefan Soto. To win, send me an email at with the subject line “OMG” and your postal address.

Good luck everybody!



Fantastic! Fun-tastic! Fawn-tastic!

The award-winning Adventures of Fawn series is the ‘New Christmas Classic’! (Book Room Reviews) Legendary reindeer Comet and Vixen have a precocious young daughter, Fawn. She thinks she knows better than her parents, and against their wishes sneaks out of Santa’s Village each day in search of fun, friends and excitement. She’ll find them! But…she’ll also find plenty of danger along the way. Adventure, heart-warming friendships that will last ’til the last snowflake falls, excitement and lots of fun combine for a North Pole series worth the reading!

Melissa Smith of Jessica and Gracie’s Tree writes: “I’m giving…a five for the whole trilogy. They are very good books and they should become Christmas classics. If these books had been published by one of the big publishing houses, they already would be and we’d probably be getting movies soon.”




We will shortly be featuring reviews of The Last Days of Jeanne d’Arc by Ali Alizadeh, an interview with Because of You’s Pip Harry, Interweavings by Carol Smallwood, an interview with The Squad’s Yoni Bashan, The State of the Music: Rihanna, Ann Powers, David Bowie, Patti Smith, Diana Ross, Sam Smith and Music Conferences in Barcelona and Britain, and lots more reviews, news, interviews, and giveaways.


(c) 2017 Magdalena Ball. Nothing in this newsletter may be reproduced without the written consent of the publisher, however reprint rights are readily available. Please feel free to forward this newsletter in its entirety.

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