“Voice Lessons” by Karen Salyer McElmurray

Reviewed by Donna Meredith The sixteen essays in Karen Salyer McElmurray’s Voice Lessons are best savored one at a time, with deep breaths and pauses between readings to let the author’s soul and pain and voice seep into your bones. Her writing employs the best of creative nonfiction techniques, wheeling between subjects, then returning to […]

“With Teeth,” by Kristen Arnett

Reviewed by Donna Meredith Kristen Arnett’s novel With Teeth (Riverhead Books, 2021) is a literary novel that bites. From the first scenes, it sinks its teeth in and refuses to let go. Yet it is a deeply troubling read. It left me wondering if some women, like the protagonist Sammie, might be born without mothering […]

August Read of the Month: “Wayward Girls,” by Claire Matturro and Penny Koepsel

Reviewed by Donna Meredith What dark secrets lurk behind the walls of Talbot Hall for Girls? Which adults might prove allies of the teens—and which ones can’t be trusted? Can the girls even trust each other? Sizzling with tension and intriguing characters, Wayward Girls, by Claire Matturro and Penny Koepsel, is set in a creepy […]

June Read of the Month: “Coyote Loop,” by L. C. Fiore

Reviewed by Donna Meredith If you like larger-than-life, irascible, narcissistic, rich, foul-mouthed muckspouts—think Tony Soprano—you will like the narrator of L. C. Fiore’s Coyote Loop. Granted, the setting is totally different. The trading floor of a Chicago Board Options Exchange. The beginning of the 2008 recession. But John Andrew Ganzi, also known as JAG, rules […]

May Read of the Month: “The Tender Grave,” by Sheri Reynolds

Reviewed by Donna Meredith The Tender Grave, by Sheri Reynolds, not only offers interesting characters and strong imagery, but it also builds an unusual level of tension and suspense for a literary novel. Witness this early passage: She hadn’t been to bed, not all night, and though she’d brushed her teeth before she left, her […]

February Read of the Month: “Goshen Road,” by Bonnie Proudfoot

Reviewed by Donna Meredith Bonnie Proudfoot’s Goshen Road dives deep into West Virginia rural life with a tale that sweeps across multiple generations. The novel has been selected for the Women’s National Book Association’s Great Group Reads program and is longlisted for the 2021 PEN/Hemingway Award for Best Debut Novel. The novel provides multiple viewpoints, […]

“Wanting Radiance,” by Karen Salyer McElmurray

Reviewed by Donna Meredith The pages of Wanting Radiance, a luscious literary novel by Karen Salyer McElmurray, are haunted by characters yearning for love—or something else they can’t quite name. As Ruby Loving says, she is “hungry and what she wanted was a miracle to fill her up.” Her daughter Miracelle thinks the emptiness might […]

“The Good Luck Stone,” by Heather Bell Adams

To an outsider, ninety-year-old Audrey Thorpe’s life appears to resemble a fairytale nearing its end, the only conflict caused by her granddaughter Deanna, who thinks Audrey should no longer live alone. But the protagonist in Heather Bell Adams’s novel, The Good Luck Stone, (Haywire Books 2020) is burdened by a dark secret and crippling guilt […]