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Posts from the ‘books’ Category

Poetry to the People BookMobile Tour

Tomorrow is the beginning of our 1,800- mile journey with House of SpeakEasy where we are traveling to 10 cities during the next 10 days to bring books and poetry to readers. We will be delivering books to undeserved communities and partners along the way on workshops, story exchanges, readings and more. The tour will depart from Pioneer Works in Red Hook, Brooklyn, New York tomorrow, Thursday, June 13. We hope to see you there!

Source: Poetry to the People: A BookMobile Tour – Narrative 4

A bookmobile in an Internet age? Yes, and why not. This story just makes me smile and feel good about the good people in the world.

Malcolm

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Review: ‘Redemption Road’ by John Hart

Redemption RoadRedemption Road by John Hart
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

There’s enough darkness in this book to cause an eclipse of the sun soon after you begin reading. Elizabeth, the protagonist is a good cop with a good heart that is filled with life-affirming love and infinite grit. Her past was cruel to her and it’s neither gone nor forgotten.

Her story in this thriller will carry you through the darkness stemming from multiple characters whose self-righteous evil is as unflinching as Elizabeth’s heart. Thirteen years prior to the beginning of the novel, a policeman was convicted of killing a young woman and leaving her body on the altar of the church where Elizabeth’s father preaches. Elizabeth, who was a rookie cop at the time thought he was wrongly convicted. As a cop, he has a hard time surviving prison. When he gets out, the killings start again with the same MO. This appears to prove that everyone else on the police force is right about him and that Elizabeth is naive.

Meanwhile, Elizabeth is having her own troubles with the authorities over a case she’s involved in. The plot is complex and well constructed, the writing is superb, and the characters have more dimensions, secrets, and agonies than you can shake a stick at. At all times, the notion of a redemption road out of this chaos seems to many as an unlikely nirvana or simply a dead end.

The story is adeptly told and highly recommended.

–Malcolm

View all my reviews

‘Eulalie and Washerwoman’ and ‘Lena’ now available in hardcover

Thomas-Jacob Publishing has just released the hardcover editions of Eulalie and Washerwoman and Lena. The first book in the Florida Folk Magic Series, Conjure Woman’s Cat, was released in hardcover last month. The books are also available in e-book, paperback, and audiobook editions.  All e-book editions are also available together in one e-book volume.

Bookstand and hoodoo supplies not included!

Enjoy the stories.

Malcolm

A few books for your to-be-read list!

BigAl’s Books and Pals Review: ‘The Sun Singer’ by Malcolm R Campbell

This is one of Campbell’s earlier books (first published 2010) and already his gifts for drawing warm characters and laying out a story so it flows towards and immerses the reader are well developed.

Source: BigAl’s Books and Pals: Review: The Sun Singer (Mountain Journeys Book 1) by Malcolm R Campbell

First Edition

Seeing this unexpected review appear on my Facebook news feed this morning makes my week (much more than yesterday’s after-supper lawn mowing), brings back a ton of nostalgia, and makes me wonder once again whether I made a very bad decision pulling it away from the agent who had my typewritten manuscript for the book in the 1980s.

The reviewer mentions that the book was inspired by the mountains of Glacier National Park Montana where I worked two summers as a hotel bellman. Those of you who have read my blogs for years also know that it was also inspired by a famous statue called “The Sun Singer” which I saw at Allerton Park, Illinois when I was (I think) in junior high school.

The novel is a bit earlier than the reviewer knows. I wrote it in the 1980s, got it accepted by a small but influential agent, and then waited for almost a year with no word. She liked the novel, but her small agency had also taken on a novel that turned out to be as huge then as The Game of Thrones is now. (I refuse to mention the title of the book or its sequels.) She said my wait would be an even longer one, so I took the manuscript back.

Was that a mistake? I guess I’ll never know. She might have found a publisher when she finally got around to actively shopping it, or she might not. The fact that an agent liked it led me to believe I could find a publisher who liked it. That took 24 years. I was gratified by the fact the book’s 2004 first edition was a “Foreword Reviews” book-of-the-year finalist but less than pleased that my publisher was iUniverse, a vanity press. But I would always wonder if the book might have received a wider audience in less time if I’d left it with that agent.

Current Edition

Later, several small traditional publishers wanted it, and this led to the 2010 edition. That publisher and I ultimately had a contractual disagreement, and that led to the current (2015) Kindle edition.

It’s interesting to me that several passages in the novel that happened more or less simultaneously were typeset by iUniverse in side-by-side columns. Nobody else has been able to do that since, including several other prospective publishers. I grew up in a letterpress-evolving-to-offset printing world where those columns wouldn’t have been a problem. “Progress” into a print-on-demand/Kindle world has taken away an option for small-press authors.

Nonetheless, this weird history of the novel doesn’t take away my gratitude that a reviewer found and liked the book after all these years. With a bit of luck, maybe my first novel will find a few more readers.

Malcolm

 

 

National Poetry Month: ‘Ariel’ by Sylvia Plath

“The collection contains some of her most celebrated poems: Lady Lazurus, Daddy; The Moon and the Yew Tree and the titular piece Ariel.  Many of these are poems written in a burst of creativity shortly before she took her life. They are poems I’ve read many times over, but only ever as individual pieces of work. When you read them as a collection, the intensity and darkness that’s visible in an individual poem is heightened and magnified many times over.”

Source: Ariel by Sylvia Plath: #1965club read ‹ BookerTalk ‹ Reader — WordPress.com

I first read Plath’s novel The Bell Jar and her collection of poems entitled Ariel when they first came out in the United States. Their combined impact on me was enormous. and, to this day, “Ariel” remains my favorite poem, second only to “Fern Hill” by Dylan Thomas.

The original edition of Ariel was published after Plath’s death wasn’t what she intended. Her husband, poet Ted Hughes, changed the selection. I see that as a travesty and an arrogant intrusion into her work. I still have the original version of Ariel on my bookshelf. But if you want what the poet intended, take a look at the restore edition from 2004 shown here.

Malcolm

New ‘Conjure Woman’s Cat’ Hardcover Edition

Thomas-Jacob Publishing has released a hardcover edition of Conjure Woman’s Cat by Malcolm R. Campbell. Also available in paperback, e-book, and audiobook, the story set in the Florida Panhandle in 1954 follows the efforts of a conjure woman to find justice after her granddaughter is assaulted in a small town. The novel’s sequels, Eulalie and Washerwoman and Lena will also be released in hardcover in the coming months.

Copies are already available at Amazon.com and Barnesandnoble.com and can be obtained by your nearest indie bookstore via their Ingram catalogue.

“I dearly loved Eulalie and Willie, I could easily have been friends with them both. The more I read the name Eulalie the more I adored it. It has a beautiful rhythm and made me smile every time I read it. Eulalie was a wise woman and deserved the respect she was given. Kudos to Malcolm R. Campbell for a story well told.” from Big Al’s Books and Pals

“Listeners will marvel at the magical realism in this story and benefit from the helpful glossary of the charming local dialect.” S.G.B. © AudioFile 2016

“For me to truly love a book, it needs the following: great plot with something to get fired up about, intelligent, engaging storytelling, well-defined characters, at least one of whom makes me wish I could conjure them into my life and my living room, and a deeply satisfying conclusion. Campbell’s work delivers beautifully on all of the above.

“The book is narrated by Lena, cat and spirit companion to Eulalie, Conjure Woman and human being extraordinaire. Eulalie (don’t you just love that name?) has an innate goodness that can’t be denied, but she’s no saint. She’s devout and dedicated to doing God’s work, and has a willingness to confront what others refuse to acknowledge. Her determination to set straight the injustices in her world, combined with her resilience and wisdom, made this reader fall in love with her.” – WordNerd on Amazon

“This was a delightful read, mostly because of the unique narrator … Eulalie’s cat Lena. I was taken into the heart of a world so foreign to my own, and ended up grateful for the glimpse. Poetic justice for inexcusable cruelties abounds but only because of Eulalie’s faith and intervention.

“More than simply characters in a fictional piece, I soon believed in their culture and social conventions. Most of us don’t believe in hoodoo and conjuring, but there was a time when those beliefs were much stronger. The novella took me back to that period. This book is magic.” L. Record on Amazon

Enjoy the book!

–Malcolm

Thomas-Jacob is a traditional publisher in Florida.

 

 

 

Review: ‘Line of Sight,’ a Jack Ryan Jr. Novel

Line of Sight (Jack Ryan Universe, #25)Line of Sight by Mike Maden
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Jack Ryan, now President of the United States, and his son, Jack Ryan, Jr., analyst and black ops specialist at “The Campus,” are enduring characters in the Tom Clancey series ever since “The Hunt for Red October” appeared in 1984. As fans know, the series has been written by other authors since Clancey’s death.

Mike Maden, the author of “Line of Sight,” has written a fair number of the books sharing the series with Mark Greaney and others in what has been an amazingly consistent run of political action thrillers that has maintained the Clancey Style, fast-paced plots, and love of military equipment. Fans of the series will appreciate the tangled plot in this yarn that focuses on Jack Ryan, Jr. as he goes to Bosnia look for a former patient of his mother (Cathy Ryan) who saved the girl’s sight and then lost track of her.

Other forces are, of course, at play, including terrorists who want to destabilize Bosnia’s fragile peace and an international crime organization that has placed “kill orders” on several people, including Jack. Unaware of either group, Jack focuses on tracking down Dr. Cathy Ryan’s former patient and friend Aida Curić. The disparate subplots of this story turn toward each other like an impending train wreck as other members of The Campus become involved in minor roles.

The weakness of the book comes from the fact that the subplots need time to develop and while they are brewing, the reader is treated to lengthy travelogue sections for entertaining Jack with others or alone. Every tourist destination but the kitchen sink in the surrounding area becomes a sightseeing stop, interspersed with a love interest that, while well handled, doesn’t reduce the author’s reliance on in-country experience and/or Internet research to pad out the story. Potentially, 25% of the text is the kind of travel and historical information we usually get in a Dan Brown novel.

The book reads well, especially if one skims the travel sections, and in spite of those sections, the conclusion doesn’t disappoint.

View all my reviews

Malcolm

Wow, new followers

WordPress keeps sending me notices that more and more people are following this blog. That’s a little scary because it means I can’t slack off and write these posts drunk and blindfolded. Thank you!

While many of my posts do sound drunk and blindfolded, I also have fun reviewing a few books, talking about authors, and occasionally saying a few things about writing. Yet, I have madness in my method and that is something that I believe needs to be said. I say it in fiction. This Facebook cover picture pretty well sums it up:

 

My publisher is working on a new edition. She just sent me photographs of it this morning. Wow, for a grey and rainy day, they really make me happy. You’re going to like it. More on that later, of course.

Malcolm

 

Seriously, a long title is nothing to be scared of

Several great titles come to mind:

Tom Wolfe’s 1965 collection of essays  The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby The story originally appeared in Esquire Magazine in 1963.

Gloria Sawai’s short story “The Day I Sat With Jesus on the Sun Deck and a Wind Came Up and Blew My Kimono Open and He Saw My Breasts” in her 2002 short story collection A Song for Nettie Johnson The story originally appeared in 1976.

Peter Weiss’ 2001 play “The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton Under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade.”

David Rakoff’s 2006 satire (with a bite) Don’t Get Too Comfortable: The Indignities of Coach Class, The Torments of Low Thread Count, The Never-Ending Quest for Artisanal Olive Oil, and Other First World Problems.

Having said that, here’s a bit of shameless promotion from your sponsor (AKA, me)

My 2017 Kindle short story “En Route to the Diddy-Wah-Diddy Landfill While the Dogwoods Were in Bloom” has a long title. But it reads fast, is satirical (with a bite), and is based on Florida folklore about a magical sound called Diddy-Wah-Diddy. The place was hard to find, but if you did find it, you could eat all you wanted to eat.

My re-telling takes a lot of liberties with the original because, well, I felt like setting it in modern times and made it about a junk food junkie obsessed with finding the town and providing it is real.

I don’t advise looking for it, but if you happen to find it, let the rest of us know where it is.

Malcolm