April Read of the Month: “To the Bones,” by Valerie Nieman

Reviewed by Donna Meredith Edgy suspense, Scottish paranormal legend, and a beautiful river transformed into a wicked orange brew—these ingredients in the skilled hands of journalist Valerie Nieman create a whip-smart novel, To the Bones (West Virginia University Press, 2019). The story presents a classic hero’s quest in which an ordinary person discovers new strengths […]

“Bells for Eli,” by Susan Beckham Zurenda

Reviewed by Philip K. Jason Coming of age narratives, particularly about young women, have long been a staple in the literature of the American South. Zurenda’s marvelous book is a major achievement in this genre. It is deeply moving, troubling, and gloriously poetic. It brings to life small town South Carolina during the 1960s and […]

March Read of the Month: “A Spy in the House of Anais Nin,” by Kim Krizan

Reviewed by Donna Meredith Confession: I have only read one volume by Anais Nin. That was decades ago when I was in college and I don’t recall the title. The stories provoked a wide range of emotions. I was alternately shocked, titillated, appalled, and aroused by the content. Although I admired Nin’s storytelling ability and […]

February Read of the Month: “Midnight at the Tuscany Hotel,” by James Markert

Reviewed by Claire Hamner Matturro Lush, mystical, and complex, Midnight at the Tuscany Hotel by Kentucky author James Markert is a stunning book. It begins with a foundling child abandoned at an orphanage in Florence, Italy, 1866, and ends on a California cliff in modern times—but oh what a journey the author takes his readers […]

“Handkerchiefs and Handcuffs,” Essay by John S. Maguire

Essay by John S. Maguire  I woke up Saturday morning, early as usual, so I could have the one TV in the house to myself. I was an avid cartoon watcher and I wanted to watch the Saturday morning cartoons that I looked forward to every other day of the week. Entering the living room […]

“Chita: A Memory of Last Island,” by Lafcadio Hearn (edited by Delia LaBarre)

Reviewed by Adele Annesi The nineteenth-century novella Chita: A Memory of Last Island, by Lafcadio Hearn, blends fact with fiction in a lavishly haunting tale of a Louisiana isle whose serene beauty is destroyed, leaving a legacy of sorrow, joy, and warning. The real L’Île Dernière (“Last Island”) is gone, but her story remains. Set […]

January Read of the Month: “The Moonshiner’s Daughter,” by Donna Everhart

Reviewed by Philip K. Jason It’s 1960 in Wilke’s County, North Carolina and sixteen-year-old Jessie Sasser has a problem. In fact, she has several problems. One is an awkward and demeaning relationship with her father. He seems remote and silently critical. Jessie has asked him over and over to explain the death of her mother, […]

“Catacombs,” by Mary Anna Evans

Reviewed by Claire Hamner Matturro Below the surface in Oklahoma City, a vast system of catacombs exists where a community of Chinese people once lived underground in the early twentieth century. These catacombs are not fiction, though the book Catacombs (Poisoned Pen, 2019) is. Mary Anna Evans, the author of Catacombs, explains, “The parts of […]