Compulsive Reader

Compulsive Reader News
Volume 21, Issue 9, 1 Sept 2019



New Reviews at Compulsive Reader
Literary News
Competition News
Sponsored By
Coming soon


Hello readers.  Following is the latest batch of reviews on site:

A review of out of emptied cups by Anne Casey

out of emptied cups is a gorgeous rich collection. Despite how dark it sometimes gets as it explores the injustices of humans towards one another; men towards women; leaders towards their constituents; people towards nature and the earth; the strong against the weak, the work always leans into a shared wonder of the deep complexity of life. Read more:

A review of Swan Song by Stewart Kellerman

The heartwarming story of the three women friends is a unifying thread in the novel. They met as children living on Livonia Avenue in Brooklyn, and became inseparable. Kitty, “the brave one”, introduced the other two to Chinese food, and pursued her love of dance into a career at Radio City Music Hall. Read more:

A review of Patterns by Carol Smallwood

Patterns help people connect with one another because of the universal and fundamental fact that everything is interconnected because of the diversity that defines the world and its inhabitants.  Carol Smallwood’s newest poetry collection, Patterns: Moments in Time, explores the sublime nature of reality that reveals how life can be truly extraordinary. Read more:

An interview with Sarah Kornfeld

Sarah Kornfeld was born and raised in the experimental theatre of New York City. She is a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College and has taught cultural curation at the University of San Francisco. She is a founding member of the Blue Mind Collective studying the impact of the ocean on our lives and well-being. In this in-depth interview, she talks about What Stella Sees, her debut novel. Read more:

A review of Spinster Kang by by Zoë S. Roy

The novel is rich with sensual details, from the delicious Chinese, Russian and Canadian foods that are prepared at holiday gatherings and recollected through the story to the experiences that Kang has as she falls in love, faces her past, and travels. Spinster Kang is a warm-hearted, delightful story that will engage readers of all interests. Read more:

A review of Scarlet and Ivy – The Last Secret by Sophie Cleverly

Sophie Cleverly is very descriptive. When I read her books I feel like I am watching a Scarlet and Ivy movie. To get the most out of this book, I would recommend reading the entire series from book one, which is The Lost Twin, which I highly recommend as well. As with the other books in this series, I loved everything about The Last Secret. Read more:

A review of Active Labour: Memoirs of a Working-Class Doctor by Percy Rogers

This is an eloquent and delightful book to read, and is rich with compassion, humour, and experience. Percy Rogers is careful not to use jargon and explains medical disease and treatment and procedures simply and clearly.  Read more:

A review of Finding Dorothy by Elizabeth Letts

Finding Dorothy is a hymn of praise to creativity: the ability to blend inspiration, experience, knowledge and skill to produce something magical. “Magic,” Maud tells Judy, “is when we … all escape ourselves a little bit and we meet up somewhere and…taste the sublime.” Read more:

A review of A Man Called Ove By Fredrick Backman

An incredibly moving novel, I am glad I read this book as a ‘gateway’ book to other adult books. I would suggest this is a book for young adults (15-18) and adults, as some themes can be quite intense for younger readers. Overall, a beautiful story with strong messages and an emotional ending – you’ll need the tissue box for this one! Read more:

Only Disconnect: A review of Television: A Biography by David Thomson

All told, Thomson’s is a critical assessment of television’s effects on society. At times, the author appears to accept the medium for the lurid wasteland that it is—says the film critic, “snobbery melted away with television, and worthlessness became entirely acceptable. Time could be wasted.” Still, at no point does Thomson quit his suspicion that this new way of living—of watching life in living rooms—warps our conceptions of civic duty, morality, and life itself.  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 2,498), which can be browsed or searched from the front page of the site.



In the literary news this month, vale Toni Morrison, one of the great voices of 20th-century American literature and the only African-American laureate of the Nobel Prize in Literature, who died at Montefiore Medical Center in New York on August 5. She was 88.  Morrison’s novels are celebrated by the worlds of literature. She was among the most decorated authors in American letters, having been awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1988 for Beloved, the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1993, the National Book Foundation’s Medal of Distinguished Contribution to American Letters in 1996, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012. Reviewer Daniel Garrett wrote a short blurb on Morrison for Offscreenhere: has provided me with a few links for those who want to read more about this phenomenal author: Writers Remember Toni Morrison: James McBride on Morrison’s essay collection, Source of Self-Regard:

The finalists for the 2019 Ngaio Marsh Awards, honouring the best in New Zealand crime writing, are: This Mortal Boy by Fiona Kidman, Money in the Morgue by Ngaio Marsh & Stella Duffy The Quaker by Liam McIlvanney, Call Me Evie by JP Pomare, and The Vanishing Act by Jen Shieff. For best First Novel, One for Another by Andrea Jacka, Crystal Reign by Kelly Lyndon, and Call Me Evie by JP Pomare. Winners will be announced September 14.

Jessica Martinez has won the 2019 Eleanor Taylor Bland Crime Fiction Writers of Color Award, sponsored by Sisters in Crime and given annually to an emerging writer of color who has not yet published a full-length work. Named in honor of pioneering African-American crime fiction author Eleanor Taylor Bland, the award carries a $2,000 grant and was established in 2014. Judges Cheryl Head, Mia P. Manansala and Tonya Spratt-Williams said in a joint statement: “Ms. Martinez has great potential as a fresh new voice within the crime fiction community and capably displays a proficiency with humor. Her submission introduced the committee to a fun and witty protagonist and left the committee looking forward to her completed novel.”

London bookseller Goldsboro Books has unveiled the shortlist for the £2,000 (about $2,430) Glass Bell Award, which celebrates “compelling storytelling with brilliant characterization and a distinct voice that is confidently written and assuredly realized,” the Bookseller reported. The winner, judged by Goldsboro Books founder and managing director David Headley and his team, will be named September 16. The shortlisted titles are: The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris, Swan Song by Kelleigh Greenberg-Jephcott, VOX by Christina Dalcher, Snap by Belinda Bauer, Our House by Louise Candlish, and The Puppet Show by M.W. Craven.

The State Library of New South Wales announced that Behrouz Boochani’s No Friend But the Mountains: Writing from Manus Prison won the AU$25,000 (about US$16,885) National Biography Award “for a published work of biographical or autobiographical writing aiming to promote public interest in these genres.” The judges praised Boochani’s work for its poetic and epic writing, calling the book “profoundly important, an astonishing act of witness and testament to the lifesaving power of writing as resistance.” The inaugural $5,000 (about US$3,375) Michael Crouch Award for a Debut Work was presented to Sofija Stefanovic for her memoir Miss Ex- Yugoslavia, which the judges described as a “finely observed and ambitious debut memoir which is a thoughtful and tender addition to the genre of migration stories.”

The Poetry Foundation and Poetry magazine announced the five recipients of the 2019 Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowships, which are given to “encourage the further writing and study of poetry” and are open to U.S. poets between the ages of 21 and 31. Franny Choi, Jane Huffman, José Olivarez, Justin Phillip Reed, and Michael Wasson each receive $25,800. The fellows will make their first joint appearance at Poetry Day on October 3 in Chicago in honor of the 30th anniversary of the program, and a forthcoming issue of Poetry will feature samples of their work. “The fellowship program recognizes poets who are already creating wonderful work, and exists in order to encourage them to further their craft,” said Poetry magazine editor Don Share. “It is a pleasure to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the program with this outstanding group of poets. Educators, organizers, editors, and much more besides–all of them are as committed to making room for other poets as they are to their own writing.”

Winners of the £10,000 (about $12,090) James Tait Black book prizes were announced at the Edinburgh International Book Festival. The biography winner was Lindsey Hilsum for In Extremis: The Life of War Correspondent Marie Colvin. The fiction winner was Olivia Laing for Crudo, which judge Alex Lawrie called “fiction at its finest: a bold and reactive political novel that captures a raw slice of contemporary history with pace, charm, and wit.” Laing announced at the ceremony that she will be dividing the prize money among her fellow shortlisted writers, including Will Eaves, Jessie Greengrass and Nafissa Thompson-Spires.

The six winners of the 2019 Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Awards have been unveiled. The honor, which this year comes with a $40,000 award to each author, is given to a selection of women writers who, per the organization, “demonstrate excellence and promise in the early stages of their careers.” This year’s winners are: Selena Anderson (fiction); Magogodi oaMphela Makhene (fiction); Sarah Passino (poetry); Nicolette Polek (fiction); Elizabeth Schambelan (nonfiction); and Debbie Urbanski (fiction/nonfiction).  The award, founded by novelist Rona Jaffe, is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. The only literary honor in the country dedicated to supporting women writers, it has awarded over $2.5 million since its inception in 1995. At the celebration of this year’s winners, set for September 12 in New York City, Jacqueline Woodson will be the guest speaker.

Winners have been named for the 2019 Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Awards, given annually “to identify and support women writers of unusual talent and promise in the early stages of their writing careers.” Each of the six receives $40,000 and will be honored at a private reception September 12 in New York City. This year’s winners are Selena Anderson (fiction), Magogodi oaMphela Makhene (fiction), Sarah Passino (poetry), Nicolette Polek (fiction), Elizabeth Schambelan (nonfiction) and Debbie Urbanski (fiction/nonfiction).

Shortlists have been unveiled for the 2019 Ned Kelly Awards for Crime Fiction, sponsored by the Australian Crime Writers Association and celebrating the “best crime fiction and true crime writing in the country.” The winners will be named September 6 during the BAD Sydney Crime Writers Festival. Check out the complete shortlists in three categories here:

Finally, the Dayton Literary Peace Prize Foundation today announced the finalists for its 2019 prizes in fiction and nonfiction. Inspired by the 1995 Dayton Peace Accords that ended the war in Bosnia, The Dayton Literary Peace Prize is the only international literary peace prize awarded in the United States. This year’s winners will be honored at a gala ceremony in Dayton, Ohio, on November 3. Writer N. Scott Momaday will receive the 2019 Ambassador Richard C. Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement Award, named in honor of the noted U.S. diplomat who helped negotiate the Dayton Peace Accords. A winner and runner-up in fiction and nonfiction will be announced on September 17. Winners receive a $10,000 honorarium and runners-up receive $5,000. The 2019 Dayton Literary Peace Prize fiction finalists are:Insurrectoby Gina Apostol, Soho Press, Sadness Is A White Bird by Moriel Rothman Zecher, Atria Book, The Overstoryby Richard Powers, WW Norton & Co, There There by Tommy Orange, Knopf, What We Owe by Golnaz Hashemzadeh, Houghton, Mifflin, Harcourt, and White Chrysanthemum by Mary Lynn Bracht, GP Putnam’s Sons

Have a great month!



Congratulations to Julie Tift who won a copy of The Fourth Beginningby Paul Georgiou.

Congratulations also to Vicki Wurgler who won a copy of The Art of Regret by Mary Fleming

Our site giveaway is for a copy of Rewriting Stella by Dan Tuttle. To enter the giveaway, send me an email at with the subject line “Rewriting Stella” and your postal address.

We also have a copy of 1 print copy and 1 kindle copy of The Neon Jungle by Tim Smith. To enter the giveaway, send me an email at with the subject line “Neon Jungle” and your postal address if you want the print copy or your email address if you want the Kindle.

Finally, we’ve got a copy of Wearing Paper Dresses by Anne Brinsden.  To enter the giveaway, send me an email at with the subject line “Paper Dresses” and your postal address.

Good luck, everyone!



We will shortly be featuring reviews of the Returns by Philip Salom, Empirical by Lisa Gorton, World Heritage Sites of Australia by Peter Valentine, Stars of Alabama by Sean Dietrich, and lots more reviews and interviews.

Don’t forget to drop by The Compulsive Reader talks (see widget on right hand side of the site) or at listen to our latest interview with Eliana Gray, who reads from and talks about her poetry book Eager to Break.  To listen, visit the show page or you can listen directly from the site widget (right hand side of the site).

You can also subscribe to the show via iTunes and get updates automatically, straight to your favourite listening device (in my case, that’s the phone – as I usually listen to podcasts in the car). Find us under podcasts by searching for Compulsive Reader. Then just click subscribe.


(c) 2019 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.


Is this email not displaying correctly? View it in your browser

unsubscribe from this list