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The Compulsive Reader News
Volume 15, Issue 8, 1 August 2014


New Reviews at Compulsive Reader
Literary News
Survey News
Competition New
Coming soon

Hello readers. Here is the latest batch of reviews this month:

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. For the full review visit:

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. For the full interview visit:

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. For the full review visit:

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. For the full review visit:

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. Read more:

A review of Seals, Sea Gulls and other Sounds by Dolly K. Elligson

Seals, Sea Gulls and other Sounds covers do not do justice to the original work. Sometimes the old books we have in Osage County First Grade are some of the most favored by the six year old set. Dolly K. Elligson’s marvelous work is as pertinent today as it was back in 1966 when it was printed. For the full review visit:

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. For the full review visit:

A review of Timepieces Masterpieces of Chronometry by David Christianson

I found this work to be abundantly filled with scientific information presented in a straight forward, effortlessly read manner. I enjoyed reading the book, and envisioning the evolution of time pieces from earliest days to the present. Read more:

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. For the full review visit:

A review of Monday Morning Motivation by David Cottrell

Right from the dust jacket protecting the cover and continuing through the pages of the copy, David Cottrell’s Monday Morning Motivation provides the reader with much to contemplate about leadership and how to encourage optimistic energy as is found in the most effective organizations. Read more:

All of the reviews listed above available at The Compulsive Reader on the first and second pages. Older reviews are kept indefinitely in our extensive categorized archives, which can be browsed from the front page of the site.



In the literary news this month, Eimear McBride has beat fellow debut novelists Robert Allison and DW Wilson to win the GBP10,000 Desmond Elliott Award award. McBride’ debut, A Girl is a Half-formed Thing, tells of a woman’s relationship with a brother who has a brain tumour as a child, was rejected by all the major publishers before it was eventually picked up by small Norfolk independent Galley Beggar Press. It went on to win the Baileys women’s prize for fiction, and is, said Cleave at Thursday’s Desmond Elliott prize ceremony, “the kind of novel that is written once in a generation and takes the art to an entirely new place”. A former Chairman of Oyo State chapter of the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA), Akin Bello, has been named by judges of the Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature in Africa as the winner of the fifth edition of the prestigious prize in Literature. Bello was crowned by Wole Soyinka, assisted by the board of the Lumina Foundation, organisers of the prize, Governor of River State, Rotimi Amaechi, and Globacom’s Head of GloWorld, Titi Ebinisi, at the grand finale of the award at the Civic Centre, Victoria Island, Lagos, at the weekend. The fifth edition of the award, sponsored by the National Carrier, Globacom, was keenly contested by three authors, Bello, Othuke Ominibohs and Toyin Abiodun, whose entries were considered the best three of the total of 163 works submitted from across Africa. Before now, Bello had published three novels and a poetry collection. His first play, ‘Egbon of Lagos’, has now won him recognition and fame at the Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature in Africa.

The winner of the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award is Irish author Colin Barrett for his debut collection Young Skins. The €25,000 award is the single most lucrative in the world for a collection of short stories and is named after the writer whom W.B. Yeats described as the Irish Chekov. The award has been hugely influential in raising the profile and esteem of the short story form in recent years. Previous winners have included Haruki Murakami, Edna O’Brien, Ron Rash and Yiyun Li amongst others. The book was first published in Ireland by the Stinging Fly Press in 2013, and has been published in the UK this year by Jonathan Cape – it is set to be published in the United States by Grove Atlantic in spring of 2015. The book will be published in translation in the Netherlands by De Bezige Bij, in November 2014 and in France, Editions Rivages in 2015. DMC Film, the production company set up by Michael Fassbender and Conor McCaughan in 2010, are optioning the longest story in the collection Calm With Horses to adapt for feature film release. The award will be presented to Barrett in September at the closing of the Cork International Short Story Festival which is the world’s oldest annual short story festival.

Poet Owen Sheers has won Wales Book of the Year at a ceremony in Caernarfon for his work, Pink Mist, about three young soldiers. Pink Mist also took the Roland Mathias poetry award. Francesca Rhydderch won the fiction prize with The Rice Paper Diaries and Meic Stephens took the creative factual award for Rhys Davies: A Writer’s Life. In Welsh, Ioan Kidd won the book prize and people’s choice award with his work, Dewis. Each category winner was awarded £2,000, and the main award winner in each language received an additional £6,000.

Kenya’s Okwiri Oduor won the £10,000 (about US$17,165) Caine Prize for African Writing for her short story “My Father’s Head.” The winner is given the opportunity to take up a month’s residence at Georgetown University, as a Writer-in-Residence at the Lannan Center for Poetics and Social Practice. Chair of judges Jackie May praised Oduor’s work as “an uplifting story about mourning–Joycean in its reach. She exercises an extraordinary amount of control and yet the story is subtle, tender and moving. It is a story you want to return to the minute you finish it.” Author of the novella The Dream Chasers, Oduor is a 2014 MacDowell Colony fellow and is currently at work on her debut novel.

The 2014 Man Booker Prize longlist, which, for the first time in the prize’s 46 year history, includes writers outside of the U.K. and Commonwealth, has been announced. The judges for the prize, AC Grayling, Jonathan Bate; Sarah Churchwell; Daniel Glaser; Alastair Niven and Erica Wagner, will announce the shortlist of six books on September 9. The shortlisted authors each receive £2,500 and a specially bound edition of their book. The winner of the prize, announced October 14, will receive another £50,000. Titles include: Joshua Ferris TO Rise Again at a Decent hour, Richard Flanagan’s , The Narrow Road to the Deep North, Karen Joy Fowler’s We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, Siri Hustvedt’s The Blazing World, Howard Jacobson’s J, Paul Kingsnorth’s crowdfunded novel The Wake , David Mitchell’s The Bone Clocks, Neel Mukherjee’s The Lives of Others, David Nicholls’ Us, Joseph O’Neill’s The Dog, Richard Powers’ Orfeo, Ali Smith’s How to be Both, and Niall Williams’ History of the Rain.

Kristina Olsson and Kate Richards have won the 2014 Kibble awards for new and established female writers. The Kibble and Dobbie literary awards are among Australia’s most prestigious female literature prizes. Olsson was awarded $30,000 as an established author for her book Boy, Lost: A Family Memoir by the Kibble Literary Award, and newcomer Richards won $5,000 for her debut Madness: A Memoir by the Dobbie Literary Award.

The longlist has been announced for the £30,000 (about US$51,145) Dylan Thomas Prize, which “celebrates and nurtures international literary excellence across all genres and is open to novels, short stories, poetry and drama. It is open to writers of 39 years old and under. The shortlist will be announced September 4 at the National Waterfront Museum, Swansea, as part of ‘Dylan Unchained’, the Dylan Thomas centenary conference being hosted by Swansea University. The winner will be unveiled in November. The full list of titles can be found here:

PEN is pleased to announce the winners of the 2014 Literary Awards. Each year, the PEN Awards celebrate some of the most outstanding voices in literature, spanning a wide array of genres and including both distinguished and emerging writers alike. This year’s recipients include, among others, acclaimed poet Frank Bidart, Tony Award-winning playwright David Rabe, journalist and cultural critic James Wolcott, Nina McConigley for her debut short story collection, and playwright Laura Marks who will receive the inaugural award honoring an emerging dramatist. All of the winners will be honored at the Literary Awards Ceremony to be held on Monday, September 29, 2014 at The New School’s Auditorium at 66 West 12th Street in New York City. The full shortlist can be found here:

Have a great month!


SPONSORED BY: is the place to go for all your reading needs. We have book reviews, book giveaways and many other interesting places to visit. Visit:


An intensely personal invocation of the Sophocles tragedy, The Antigone Poems questions power, punishment and one of mythology’s oldest themes: rebellion.




Congratulations to Linda Jo Block, won a copy of Good Morning, Mr Mandela by Zelda la Grange.

Congratulations to Diane Pollock, who won a copy of Diana’s commonplace book as featured in Shadow of Night, along with a set of Holographic Book of Life buttons.

Finally, congratulations to Sandra Capron, who won a copy of The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert.  Our new site giveaway is for a copy of Marine Park by Mark Chiusano. To win, send me an email at with the subject line “Marine Park”.

Our new site giveaway is for a copy of Marine Park by Mark Chiusano. To win, send me an email at with the subject line “Marine Park”.

We’ve also got a copy of The Magician’s Land by Lev Grossman (check out his interview above!). To win, send me an email at with the subject line “Magician’s Land”.

Good luck everybody!



We will shortly be featuring reviews of Autoethnographic by Michael Brennan, The Double by Maria Takolander, an interview with John M Cummings, and lots more reviews, news, interviews, and giveaways.

Don’t forget to drop by The Compulsive Reader talks (see widget on right hand side of the site) or at to listen to the latest interview with the delightful Brooke Davis, author of Lost & Found. You can also subscribe to the show and get updates automatically. Just find us under podcasts by searching for Compulsive Reader. Then just click subscribe.


(c) 2014 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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