Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Review: Flowing in the Gossamer Fold

Read 3/24/11 - 3/29/11
3.5 Stars - Strongly Recommended to readers familiar with genre
Pgs: 164

Meet Malcolm. He is a motivational speaker who is about to lose his motivation, and eventually his mind, after his wife asks him to leave.

Malcolm's life is told in a string of events that are not necessarily laid out in order. Sometimes they follow each other sequentially, other times the chapters run parallel to the main plot. Each chapter varies in length - some are only a few paragraphs, while others span 10 pages.

The real events of Malcolm's life are sometimes difficult to distinguish from events that might be taking place in his head. Post divorce announcement, a girl who heard one of Malcolm's presentations blows him in the front seat of his car. His wife leaves him a small plastic bag with her pubic hair in it as a parting gift. These things, I believe. But when he describes how part of his wife splits off and becomes a sparrow that follows him around whispering logical and cruel things to him - like "You can't leave, where will you go?" - and talks about the mannequin that is always there in his peripheral vision, I begin to question poor Malcolm's mental stability.

When Malcolm moves out of his marital home and into a strange cabin with countless holes in the walls and floors, he - and his story - seem to lose their grasp on reality. And here is where the reading can either become interesting... or frustrating.

Author Ben Spivey experiments with language, sentence structure, and clarity in a way that challenges his readers to focus, pay attention, and decide for themselves which events are truly taking place and which ones are taking place only in Malcolm's mind.

In Flowing in the Gossamer Fold, the inside of our protagonist's head is like a wall in a house. Everything looks great until you start peeling away the wallpaper, and discovering the tiny cracks and nicks it had been covering up. Once exposed to the air, those cracks and nicks begin to deepen and widen and the dry wall suddenly starts to crumble and fall to the floor.. slowly at first, then gradually in larger and larger chunks, which causes the ceiling above it to begin to sag and leak, and quickly put the integrity of the home into question.

Spivey's novels is very much unlike anything you have ever read before and will read in the future, though fans of Blake Butler would appreciate this novel as the writing techniques are somewhat similar.

Thanks to Ben, and his publishing company Blue Square Press, for making this review copy available.

10 Authors Who Deserve More Recognition

The Broke and the Bookish host Top Ten Tuesday - which, as the title suggests, asks bloggers to compose a list of their top ten...whatevers. This week's top ten caught my eye because it's highlighting authors who deserve more recognition.

I decided to jump on the back of this bandwagon, not because I am a follower or giddy lover of meme's, but because I support Indie and Self-Published authors... and they could ALL use a little more recognition.

I promise to keep my list to just ten, although you and I both know that there are enough indie and self-published authors out there to generate a never ending list! * Note, a large percentage of authors listed here are currently independent. This is not strictly a list of indie/self-published authors.

So let's get started:

1. David Maine - He was the first author to reach out to me on Goodreads (back in the day) and thank me for reviewing his novel Fallen. He was also the first author I went out to NYC to meet and the first to sign my copies of his novels. He writes amazing biblical fiction and is the most down-to-earth, thoughtful, humble author I have yet to meet.

2. Joshua Mohr - Not only is this guy an incredibly adorable, incredibly loyal indie author, he is also an incredibly talented writer as well! His novel Termite Parade takes a deep dark look at lying and the internal turmoil that guilt can cause. He also wrote a kick-ass story for my new blog feature, for which I am extremely grateful!

3. Ben Tanzer - This guy right here is one of the most active, interactive authors out there right now. He runs a blog, online 'zine, podcast page, guest posts, tweets, raises his kids, and runs...! Phew! How does he manage to write as much as he does with a schedule like that? In novels like You Can Make Him Like You and Most Likely You Go Your Way and I'll Go Mine, Tanzer rips open the heads and hearts of his male characters so you can see what's really going on in there. His novels also have this comfortable retro-90's feel to them, which I adore.

4. Michael Kimball - Michael is another one of these incredible multi-taskers. He writes life stories on a postcard, blogs, created (and hosts) the Five:Ten author readings, and even gives out thoughtful advice when asked how someone like little ol' me can start my own reading series here in town. Oh, and did I mention that his novel Dear Everybody is amazing?

5. D.R. Haney - Ok, world. Are you listening? (Tap..Tap..) Is this thing on? Can you hear me back there? Duke is probably one of the most lowest flying "under the radar" authors out there. His novel Banned for Life was a nine year, self-published project. His non-fiction collection Subversia was the first book published under The Nervous Breakdown's brand new publishing label. He might be quiet but his writing packs a superhuman punch.

6. Greg Olear - Not only is Greg a great writer, but he introduces me to other great writers! His awesomely twisted novel Totally Killer is a 90's retro look into the world of publishing, as only Greg can tell it! He is also the senior editor for The Nervous Breakdown, an indie 'zine (and publishing company) that should be read by each and every one of you!

7. Blake Butler - Another high energy internet author, Blake runs two blogs, tweets, and recently pulled a marathon reading in NYC for his newest novel There is No Year. His previous collection of connected stories, Scorch Atlas, has created quite an underground buzz.

8. David Moody - if you like Zombie books, you have to check out David Moody. He puts an interesting spin on zombies in his Autumn series, and has created a brand new sympathetic monster in his Haters series. He is a brilliant story teller who works hard to promote his novels. Did you know his novel Autumn was released as a film?

9. Glenn Duncan - Hold on tight to your religion people, because this author is sure to tear it right out of your hands. Glenn's novels deal with Satan in human form, the after-life, priests who witness miracles, and a terrorist crucifixion, you are certain to be wowed and awed by his writing. I have his latest novel, The Last Werewolf, lined up and ready to go!

10. C.G. Bauer - Another great story-teller, Bauer knocked me over with his gothic, small town mystery Scars on the Face of God. He plagues his characters will intense flaws, and masters the whole suspense thing. You really need to check out this novel. There is something in it for everyone.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

A Digitally Interactive Chapbook?

No words on the pages. Just a barcode that is read by your laptop's webcam. Which projects images of text onto the screen. Kinda neat, kinda weird. Worth the hype? Download a page here and test it out for yourself.

A nod to The Big Other, who posted about this interesting chapbook on their blog.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Review: Drinking Closer to Home

Read 3/17/11 - 3/23/11
4 Stars - Strongly Recommended

Taste is a funny thing. My taste in novels, for those of you who may not know, tends to run a bit left of centre. I prefer burying myself nose-deep in bizarro, drug-induced, run-on sentenced, experimental fiction. Or inhaling amazing "fly so low under the radar that there is no radar low enough to fly under" indie fiction. Very rarely do I indulge in what I like to call straight-laced, main stream "your mom could totally read this book" fiction.

And yet, when I do indulge in it, more often than not, I find myself thoroughly enjoying it. Of course, it certainly helps when said main stream fiction contains some one of the most dysfunctional cast of characters I have read about in a long, long time.

You've heard of escapism fiction, yes? Books that are marketed as "beach reads" that require no thinking whatsoever and promise to magically whisk you away from your stressful, hectic, crazy life?

Well, Jessica Anya Blau's novel is the complete opposite! Drinking Closer to Home is the type of book you read when you want to escape your boring hum-drum life to be magically whisked into a world where everyone is having affairs, and is addicted to drugs, sex, and drinking. Where your grandparents humiliate you by showing off your soiled underwear, inviting their friends to check out your "tits" and announcing that you are so dumb you had to attend dummy school. Or a world where your parents grow pot in the backyard, and treat your sisters bouts of bulimia and anorexia like they were passing fads. Where your stay at home mother announces that she quits being a mom and teaches you how to care for your siblings, cook, clean, and do laundry. Or where everyone around you appears to have a "Stinky" (family nickname for the people your family members are having an affair with), while your husband has left you for a stinky of his own.

It's the story of going home again and all of the unexpected baggage that brings. It's about coming together as a family and accepting one another, when everything you've put behind you is attempting to bubble back up to the surface.

Doesn't sound like your typical straight-laced, main stream fiction novel, now, does it?

I want to thank author Greg Olear for initially pointing this novel out to me, and to Jessica for reaching out to me and making a copy available for review. I promise that their kindness did not influence my positive review.

Take a peek at the book trailer for Drinking Closer to Home, which I posted on the blog yesterday. And be sure to grab yourself a copy the next time you hit the bookstore. If for nothing else, do it for the dysfunction!

"What Are You Reading" Wednesdays

"What Are You Reading" Wednesdays is really just my way of sneaking a peek at your night-stand, coffee-table, book-shelf... where ever it is that you stack your current reads, when you aren't reading them! And of course, returning the favor by allowing you a peek at mine...

In the right hand column of my blog, you will see a section entitled "currently reading". I update this as I start each new novel. As you can see, I am currently spending time with Jessica Anya Blau's second novel Drinking Closer to Home.

Though it is not typically what I read, I can't tell you how refreshing it is to read a book that contains a family with more issues than my own! This novel has great book club potential - there are so many layers to the story line and the characters that it begs to be discussed.

If you post what YOU are reading on your blog, link me back to it by commenting here.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

5 Books That I Never Wanted to End

I know I've said this before, but I want to say it again just incase you missed it last time - I'm not really one for the whole meme fetish... but every once and awhile I see one that I just can't pass up.

Indie Reader Houston hosts a weekly meme called "5 Best Books". This week, she asks "what are the 5 best books that you never wanted to end?"

And I totally have to answer that, don't I? I dare you to show me a reader that hasn't ever fallen so hard and invested so much into a book that they haven't wished for it to go on forever!

Here are the 5 books that I never wanted to end:

1. The Mysterious Island - Jules Verne

Ooohhh. This novel hit my Lost-soft spot like no other book ever could. It's got mystery and mayhem, secrets and sneak attacks. A bunch of prisoners and their dog get stranded on an uncharted island in the middle of nowhere when escaping jail in a hot air balloon. While they wait for rescue, they must put their collective brain power together in an effort to survive. So much of the early Lost story line was inspired by this book. I devoured it in 11 days, though as I raced from page to page to uncover the island's secrets, I was also secretly wishing it would last forever....

2. Blindness - Jose Saramago

The book that began my addictive and obsessive love for all things Saramago! Blindness, with it's run-on sentences and multi-paged paragraphs, it's nameless characters and tormented governmental statements, wowed me on the first page. I had never read anything like it before, and it just kept getting better and better. A devastating look at what humankind would be reduced to were we to suffer a seemingly incurable, irreversible plague. While I wanted the characters to stop suffering, I also wanted to remain enveloped in Saramago's words forever...

3. The Divine Farce - Michael Graziano

This book blew me away. Published by Leapfrog Press, this little novel packs a gigantic punch. In it, we are introduced to three naked strangers who find themselves confined in an incredibly small, pitch black concrete tube. Unsure whether they will be there for eternity, but convinced it is some sort of Hell, they surrender themselves to their wretched predicament. Until one day, the concrete wall that holds them in begins to crumble ... An amazing allegory for the human condition. The author toys with our natural curiosity towards heaven and hell and God. A short 125 pages that I wished went on much, much longer...

4. The Book - M. Clifford

This book shows us what the future could look like if the government were to force all it's citizens to purchase and read only ONE book - a digital book that is governed, updated, and edited by the government. A book that is full of lies. An eery peek into an almost-so-real-I-can-picture-it-happening future. Twists and turns and a semi-opened ending left me craving more...

5. Death of an Ordinary Man - Glen Duncan

Glen Duncan puts his twist on the afterlife. Waking to a world of bright whiteness, with the ability to see and hear his loved ones, drawn into objects that hold specific memories for him, we follow a man as he searches for his dead daughter and attempts to figure out how he died. I wish this book would have investigated the "other side" forever, and never solved the mystery of the man's death... I was really wrapped up in what was happening to him - both externally and internally.

And there you have it, guys. A difficult choice, since I've read so many great books that I wished would never end... but there you go.. the best of the best.

What 5 books do you wish never ended???

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Review: The French Revolution

Read 3/2/11 - 3/16/11
2.5 Stars - Recommended Lightly to people familiar with genre or author

Oh my. It is very unlike me to take two full weeks to read a 300 page book cover to cover. Though partially due to the fact that most of my days off this month have been packed to the gills with errands and day trips, it's also due to the novel itself and my lack of motivation to pick it up once it had been put down.

The French Revolution was recommended to me by an author friend, and also pitched to me by author Matt Stewart himself. I initially hemmed and hawed over it, feeling very strongly that the story line did not match my genre/style preference. But I had recently come off a great experience reviewing K. Stephen's The Ghost Trap, which also went against my typical preference yet I had loved it, so I was feeling open and hopeful.

You decide to take the gamble. You win some. You lose some. Right?

It's a family saga, spread across many years, detailing the lives of the grossly overweight ex-pastry chef Esmerelda Van Twinkle, a coupon street hawker named Jasper Winslow, and their twin children Marat and Robespierre.

It started off with a bang - Matt Stewart's description of Esmerelda, her love affair with food that oftentimes ended in orgasmic coma's and a ghastly loss of bodily functions were vile and disgusting, yet surprisingly hilarious. His choice of adjectives for her are unlike any I ever read before : " seven chinned face shaped like a lima bean", "pumpkin shaped hindquarters", and "pachyderm legs". Reading through the first chapter of the book, it was one of the few times that I can recall having experienced a physical reaction to a story. His main character was repulsive, and you could sense Stewart's immense pleasure at creating and poking fun at such a monster. He was enjoying himself. And damn it, his readers would too!

By page 8, this 400 pound, wheelchair bound woman had been wooed and impregnated by the not-quite-entirely-right-in-his-mind Jasper in a community pool, and by page 16 she was unexpectedly giving birth to twins in a gas station restroom.

As wacky and quirky as this all sounds, the break-neck speed at which the events of the novel took place quickly began to confuse and frustrate me. Over the span of 10 or 15 pages, an entire decade seemed to blow right by. Characters moved so rapidly from one situation to the next that sometimes I didn't even realize the setting had changed, the characters had aged, and the situation had been resolved.

I'm all for authors going light on descriptive narration, but if you're going to sacrifice time and place in the name of brevity, then at least develop your characters slowly and noticeably. The Van Winkle family members developed - don't get me wrong. The characters, at the end of the novel, are most certainly not emotionally or physically identical to the way they were when the novel began... but they appeared to change almost immediately, from chapter to chapter, without tangible explanation.

The thing that is most difficult for me, as a reader and reviewer, is the fact that I can see so much potential in this book. If Matt had taken his time, and say... written out an additional 300 detailed pages or so in the middle of the story, he could have had an epic novel on his hand. Or, oppositely, he could have shaved off 20 years from the timeline while keeping the page count the same and focused his plot more specifically and intricately. That would have opened up the possibility of sequels - book one could contain the Esmerelda and Jasper years, up to giving birth and raising the twin babies; book two could contain the "troublesome" years with Marat and Robespierre coming of age and becoming young adults, as Esmerelda struggled to lose weight and raise them on her own; and book three could detail the twins as full fledged adults, bucking the system, and rebuilding their relationships with Esmerelda and Jasper.

That said, I quite enjoyed Stewart's writing style and the way his words worked together, the tongue-in-cheekiness of it all. You can tell he had a good time writing this story.

He even created an iPad / iPhone app that unlocks additional information, deleted scenes, and videos that are supposed to enhance your reading experience. All you have to do to access them is download the free app, and take a photo of any page within the novel. Unfortunately, the app is not available for Android users, so I was not able to experience this for myself. But Matt created this video to show us how it's done:

Click here to read an excerpt of the novel.
Did you know that Matt broadcasted his novel via Twitter before landing a deal with Soft Skull Press?

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Libraries, Bookshops, Parades, Oh My!

Today was a great get-out-of-the-house day. I kidnapped my mother and my youngest son and we headed off to Bethlehem, PA for a day of bookish delights.

We began the afternoon by browsing books at the Bethlehem Library Book Sale. This sale is quite large, and runs on the first Thursday and Saturday of very other month. I used to make a killing at this thing - bringing home 20+ books each trip, causing my bookshelves to groan under the weight of the new additions. Though, as the months wear on and my TBR piles grow larger, I find less and less books to grab. Today, sadly, I only rescued three:

Even more sadly, when I arrived home and updated the books on my Goodreads shelves, I discovered that I already own The Decameron. Huh. I guess this is a sign of having too many unread books in the house! Apparently I have so many, I don't even remember which ones I've already purchased! (My Goodreads "owned but not yet read" shelf shows 389 books. Yikes.)

My youngest, however, made a killing - he took home a total of 20 books!

From the library, we walked down Church Street, gawking at the old but extremely well kept homes, and turned the corner onto Main Street - home of Moravian Book Shop - The world's oldest continuously running bookstore. Deceivingly small from the sidewalk, Moravian Book Shop has endless nooks and crannies that contain something for everyone. Equal parts bookshop, boutique, cafe and bakery, candle and kitchen shop, Moravian has a quaint olde world feel that you will not find duplicated anywhere else.

I had the pleasure of meeting Christine, book buyer/seller for Moravian, after months of following the shop on Twitter. I love when I have an opportunity to meet the person behind the tweets!

After taking in the beauty of the shop, we headed to the back and gorged ourselves on soup, salad, and sandwiches at their Retro Deli, then hit the streets once again as the Saint Patrick's Day Parade began slowly making it's way down the hill. The 1st Annual parade contained numerous marching bands, gymnastic teams, irish dance students, irish themed floats, and men playing the bagpipes in kilts! The streets were packed with people (and their pets) dressed head to toe in green.

After the parade, we snapped a few photos of the older, abandoned buildings below the bridge. The recent floods left the paths and surrounding fields a muddy mess, which only added to the eerie atmosphere.

The weather held up nicely, and the sun joined us for most of our excursion. It was nice to finally have a break from all the wind, rain, and snow we had been experiencing lately. And it was a lovely way to spend the day with family. I'm especially thrilled to bits that I had the chance to visit two new-to-me independent bookstores, and meet the women between their tweets, in less than a week!

Get up off your couches, world! Spring is here. It's time to take a trip out to your local book sales and independent book stores. There are lovely, lonely books waiting for you there. Go and claim them as your own. go on....

Thursday, March 10, 2011

I Caught the Blake Butler Express

Every so often, I feel an irresistible urge to visit NYC. It's like my body is keeping track of how many days have passed since my last trip out there. Some women have a biological clock that tick-tocks within them. I have a big-apple clock. It's tick-tocking down the days that I've been away from the city. I'm certain of it.

The There is No Year marathon reading event, hosted by Harper Perennial and HTML Giant, was the perfect excuse to head out into New York, visit the Word Brooklyn bookstore which I have been following on Twitter for quite awhile now, and meet the incredibly creative Blake Butler.

The ride down was a stressful and nerve wracking experience. I do not like to drive in NYC. I like to pop out of the Lincoln Tunnel and drive right up the Port Authority parking ramp. Sure, parking there bleeds you dry, but you know exactly where your car is and you have complete access to it all day long. You are free to walk throughout the city any which way you like without worrying about being sideswiped or pushed along past your turn because no one will let you merge!

My partner in crime (we shall call her "mommy") decided she should drive us THROUGH the city into Brooklyn for the event. Being a nervous first time city driver, I decided to mapquest the directions to Word while using the GPS to navigate us should we get lost.

For an idea of just how horrible this ride was... allow me to share my now-humorous, then-terrified tweets:

Ack! Gps is taking us one way when my directions tell me to go another. Trust in gps. Trust in gps. Trust in.....
Made it to the midtown tunnel. Don't know how, but we did. My mom makes me so fucking nervous! And I gotta pee.

Oh my god! Gps said exit 17w. My directions say exit 13. Holy fucking fuck. I have no clue where you are taking me ms. Gps

Sure, I can laugh about it now, but at the time it was quite the butt-clenching experience. Props to my mom, though, for getting us there in one piece, and in plenty of time to grab a quick bite to eat before things got started. We swung into the bookstore first, so I could personally thank the ladies of Word Brooklyn for the twitter help they offered me before I embarked on my trip.

At the suggestion of Harper Perennial's Marketing Manager, Erica Barmash, we walked up to Manhattan Ave and ate at the extremely cozy Calexico restaurant. You must try their pulled pork burrito. So yummy!

Back at Word, we snuck downstairs just in time to hear Editorial Director Cal Morgan introduce the event and the readers for the night. Some of them were amazing. It was very interesting to see how each reader interpreted Blake's stories. This is Erica, reading a section of There is No Year -->

(For a list of all of the readers, scroll to the end of this post.)

Blake Butler took the stage last. Commanding and passionate, he wowed the crowd with his reading. I have watched his live webcasts before, but they do not do him justice. His stage presence is amazing.

After the three hour event came to a close, everyone crowded Blake to congratulate him. I waited patiently, chit-chatting with Erica and eventually got to turn "fan-girl" on him, asking if he would mind signing the review copy of Scorch Atlas he had mailed me a few months earlier. A quick photo later, with rushed thanks and goodbyes, my mother and I hopped into the car for the 2 hour + drive home, having thoroughly enjoyed our trip to the city.

It never fails to weave it's spell on me. The people, the places, the overall atmosphere. If it wasn't so large and intimidating, I could actually believe that I belong there. NYC, I was in you. And I will be back... sooner this time, rather than later.

Thanks to Erica and Blake for putting on such a fantastic event, and I hope the final two nights were as wonderful as the one I was able to attend. Happy on-sale date this April, and here's to hoping that This is THE Year!

A list of the readers at Word Brooklyn: Wednesday, March 9th -

Giancarlo Ditrapano
Erica Barmash
Kendra Malone
Sasha Fletcher
Melissa Broder
Heather Davidson
Claire Donato
Mark Doten
Jeff Johnson
Jonny Diamond
Emma Straub
Blake Butler

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Friday, March 4, 2011

Holy Crap!

Imagine walking down a busy NYC street. You mosey on up to the corner, waiting for a shot to dart across the intersection, and your eye catches a flash of white paper taped to a light post. In large font, you see "7 Holy Crap" typed on an 8x11 sheet of paper. Would you walk over to read the rest?

An unnamed author has been posting pages of his novel all over NYC this week, attempting to captivate an audience by sending them on a wild goose chase to locate each page...

I gotta hand it to the guy, that's damn creative!

There are quite a few articles out and about covering it, and I hope the author steps into the spotlight soon to claim his 15 minutes of fame.. I would be interested in interviewing him!

What do you think? Is this a new form of marketing? Would you embark on this "Novel Hunt" just to see what happens next?

(thanks to Danie of Booktacular for posting this over at TNBBC)

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

TNBBC's Backwards Birthday Bash!!

Put on your party hats and turn the music up!

Yours Truly is celebrating her birthday today!!

While I generally hate making a fuss over "officially" turning one year older (wouldn't it be great if after a certain age, you could celebrate your birthday by turning one year younger??), I thought it would be cool to GIVE a present away, instead of being the one to RECEIVE one! So......

TNBBC is going to give away a
Backwards Birthday Book Pack
to one lucky winner!

Included in the pack are:

* Caribou Island by David Vann (Hardcover)
*The Fates Will Find Their Way by Hannah Pittard (Hardcover)
*When Will Jesus Bring the Porkchops by George Carlin (paperback)
*Spike Light book light

In order to enter for your chance to win the Backwards Birthday Book Pack:

1 - You must be a resident of the US (sorry guys, my wallet can't handle an overseas shipment this large!)

2 - You must post a comment here sharing a horror-birthday story

The contest will remain open until Saturday March 5th and I will chose the winner with the best birthday horror story! Thanks for celebrating with me! I hate to party on my own!

(Thanks to Harper Collins for making Caribou Island and The Fates Will Find Their Way available)
(The book light and all books are brand new, excellent condition)

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Review: The Ghost Trap

Read 2/23/11 - 3/1/11
4 Stars - Strongly Recommended

Every now and again, I find myself gravitating towards a book that I am not entirely certain I will be able to connect with. Something that is just a wee bit outside my typical reading-comfort level. Something I feel I would be taking a risk on. I enjoy stretching my thought-muscles and trying something new on for size, and this last novel certainly did just that.

I am quickly becoming a fan of Leapfrog Press as they impress me yet again - this time with their 2009 release The Ghost Trap. A good deal of patience was required to read K. Stephens story about a man torn between the trap wars of his small town lobstering community and the struggle to provide care for his head-injured fiance.

Now, I am sure most of you are scratching your heads right now, wondering why - based on that brief description - I would consider this book a "risk". You must remember who you are dealing with here. I tend to read books that fall left of center... sometimes VERY left of center... so a straight up literary novel such as this, with it's evident book club appeal, would normally tend to fall outside of my reading preferences. However, in this case, it won me over and proved me wrong!

Stephens has a slow, methodical purpose to her storytelling. She chooses to make the reader wait as she reveals things at the absolute last possible moment. At times, it feels like we are walking around in the fog, much like her very own characters are, discovering things only at the very same moment they do.

For someone who is used to being instantly gratified every step of the way, this took a little time to adjust to. But I quickly learned to enjoy the way Stephens withheld, and then teased out, information. It forced me, as a reader, to think ahead ... to problem solve for myself, and I was surprised to find that, in the end, I had correctly guessed how the story would end.

The Ghost Trap is good for the body - it works on both your head and your heart. It's a sad and gripping tale that is draped in heartache and headaches, fears and frustrations, revenge and retribution, acceptance and, in the end, accountability. It's about holding grudges, making mistakes, and moving on. And it's the result of an author who writes what she knows - placing it all into a setting she understands.

A book that broke the mold for me, and has me thankful that I didn't pass it by.
Great book club potential!

Tell Me A Story - Sean Ferrell

Welcome to TNBBC's 2nd edition of Tell Me A Story.

Tell Me a Story is a monthly series that will feature previously unpublished short stories from debut and Indie authors. The request was simple: Stories can be any format, any genre, and any length. And many amazing writers signed up for the challenge.

This month's short story comes to us from Sean Ferrell. His novel, Numb, is one that I admit I haven't read yet (mainly because I heard him read from it at the 2010 Brooklyn Book Festival and it gave me the willies, so I have to slowly work myself up to it)! He is one of the most active and hilarious authors on Twitter, and was super kind to accept this little blogger's request for a previously unpublished piece of fiction.

Behold.... The Phone Book through the eyes of Sean...


Making the Phone Book Relevant Again

Abbot, Mark 23 West Main Street, 2A 374-9982 Currently eating an entire column of Oreo cookies for lunch.

Baker, Wendy 17 Morgan Avenue 342-4582 On the phone with her mother, defending the fact that her boyfriend hasn't yet proposed; considering the fact that she doesn't want to get married.

Chesterfield, Elizabeth M. 117 Seventh Avenue 982-5348 Having an affair with her employer; faking a pregnancy.

Clayborn, Eric Michael 888 Russian Hill 559-2110 On the phone with his priest, with whom he is uncontrollably in love, trying to convince himself that he is not gay.

Green, Lucille 15 Oxford Place 347-9121 Recovering from breast augmentation surgery; hoping the pain is worth it.

Harbor, Martin 2378 Winding Way Lane 586-9864 Spending the afternoon in a coffee shop reading yesterday's newspaper, sarcastically reprimanding anyone who tries to join him in conversation or even eye contact; desperately lonely.

Lee, George 25 Port View Road 545-8573 Working on edits of a novel he is alternately convinced is terrible or the greatest long-form work ever written; wrong on both counts.

Manchester, Adele R. 1 Shady Acres Terraces, Room 55 Unlisted Worrying about her daughter whom she is convinced is married to a no-good, two-timing son-of-a-bitch; convinced her grandchildren are being raised by an illegal immigrant; wondering what she did to make both her son and daughter so completely cut her out of their lives.

Manchester, Robert Address Unknown, Number Disconnected Planning on unexpectedly dropping by his sister's place; hoping to steal some prescription medication from the master bath; planning on swiping his mother's social security check from her mailbox at the home.

Manson, Terry & Winston 90 Oak Street 887-2931 Wondering how it got to this point (her); wondering why it's taken her so long to recognize how bad things are (him).

Olivetti, Anthony 101 West Side Avenue 874-0274 Holding an engagement ring, wondering if he's really ready.

Peterson, Charles & Gwendolyn 2357 Winding Way Lane 565-0902 Terrified he's gotten his secretary pregnant (him); spending her days in a prescription medication haze (her); being raised by the nanny (the children).

Peterson, Henry 1 Shady Acres Terraces, Room 13 374-0148 Blissfully, blessedly drunk.

Waters, James P. 18 Oxford Place Unlisted Stalking a neighbor, a woman he finds perfect in every conceivable way, even without make-up, even when she takes out the trash, even when all she's doing is staring out her window with a cup of coffee and the morning paper.


Sean encourages everyone to post comments below
by creating your own phone book commentary!

I want to thank Sean for participating in TNBBC's Tell Me a Story. If you like what you've read, please support Sean by checking out his website and book. Help spread the word by sharing this post through your blog, tumblr page, twitter and facebook accounts. Every link counts! And be sure to check back with us next month for the next installment....