Category Archives: Literary Fiction

Still the Night Call by Joshua Senter

Reviewed by Lisa Brown-Gilbert

Joshua Senter’s Still the Night Call traces a memorable and emotionally rending journey to self- realization, with a tale which rattles the heart and mind into giving pause and reflecting on how you may value your life and the world you live in.

Told through the lens of central character Calem Honeycutt, a dairy farmer, whose whole life is centered around making a living through farming which he does mainly by helping his father work his farm. Moreover, at thirty-two years old, Calem is a man who has lost hope. A quiet man of few words, the narrative is fueled by his internal mentations, more so than his face- to-face interactions. Ultimately a bit of a loner, he does not often venture far from his life as a dairy farmer; however, for the most part, he seems to enjoy his life that way and sees his life as nothing worthier than that.

Immediately the curiosity is piqued when Calem, who comes across as an intelligent, determined and sympathetic character, seems convinced he is living his “last day”. Consequently, the story traces the events of his self-prophesied last day counting time down, to his final “night call”, a time known when your activity ceases to go to bed, but for his intents and purposes it would mean much more. As he lives out the hours of his last days he ruminates over his life’s events, experiences, and memories as well as comes across a life altering experience which would teach him the hardest lesson of all to value your life, live it your way no matter what is happening in your world externally.

Dak Ackerthefifth and the Ethics of Heroism by Joshua S. Joseph

Reviewed by Ray Palen

“You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain.” – The Dark Knight

That quote from filmmaker Christopher Nolan resonated with me as I read this complex and extremely satisfying novel from Joshua S Joseph. The protagonist in this, a young Indian man with the unique name of Dak Ackerthefifth — a name blamed on the same slip of the entry pen used on Ellis Island while in-taking droves of new American citizens to our country.

DAK ACKERTHEFIFTH AND THE ETHICS OF HEROISM is more of a spiritual journey than a work of fiction and the reader is privileged to go along for the ride. Throughout Dak’s life he seeks to understand the precept of what it means to be a hero. We understand that for one to be a hero you must pick a side — hero or villain — but we also learn that life is not that black and white and often times it is not clear as to which side you are on. The story begins with the death of his parents, Richard and Rudy. Our narrator indicates that the death of parents is the way every good hero story starts — but be mindful, this is no Disney tale.

Richard Ackerthefifth was a ballpoint pen magnate who allegedly died during a business trip to the Congo — or so Dak’s mother told him. Rudy was left to raise 8-year-old Dak and his younger sister, Emily. Regrettably, or in keeping with the hero plan, Rudy passes away when Dak is 14. Her death is blamed solely on Crazy Uncle Ji. He was not an actual ‘Uncle’, but was given that honorific title by their mother. Shortly after Rudy was diagnosed with cancer, Crazy Uncle Ji gave her a cocktail of various supplements which initially helped her but then quickly pushed her into a physical nosedive that she never recovered from.

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Reviewed by Allen Hott

I have been reading and hearing about this one for quite a-while and was not too sure that I wanted to read it. Thought it would be too poo-poo or womanly if you prefer. But not only was I surprised but really I have to agree with everyone else. Where the Crawdads Sing is truly a great read.

“Marsh Girl” or Kya Clark which is her real name lives quite a different life from most folks. She grows up in the marshland outside of Barkley Cove, North Carolina. She has one of the strangest lives that can be imagined. Her family lives in a run-down shack and is pretty much bossed by the father of the family. But one day her mother leaves (because of the father’s actions) and never returns. Then as time passes each of Kya’s brothers and sister also leave.

Short Fiction of William H. Coles 2000-2016

Reviewed by Laurie Weatherlow

Short Fiction of William H. Coles 2000-2016The Short Fiction of William H. Coles 2000-2016 is a collection of 33 short stories, a novella and two graphic novels. Illustrations enhance each story, supplementing the readers experience and understanding. Peter Healy wonderfully illustrated the two graphic novels, which are the retelling of previous short stories in the collection.

Click Here for More Information on The Short Fiction of William H. Coles 2000-2016

The characters and themes throughout this book are unique. While they share the connectedness of human struggles and moral issues, they do not intertwine. There are many messages taught through these stories which include unconditional love, acceptance, stereotyping, anguish, faith, death, birth, family values and narcissistic behaviors. Most of the stories are dark and have a miserable ending. Some offer a glimpse of hope, while others are down right horrifying.

I felt I could connect to many of the stories because they accurately portray the world we live in. I was left wanting more information and personality from some of the stories; characters that had a little more feeling. My two favorites were The Gift and SISTER CARRIE, the novella. I would highly recommend reading this contemporary collection of stories.

Author William H. Coles, has won many awards, including The Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction and the William Faulkner Creative Writing Competition to name a few.

The Millennial Reincarnations (The Millennial Trilogy) (Volume 1) by Daniel Mark Harrison

Reviewed by Suzanne Odom

The Millennial ReincarnationsDaniel Mark Harrison’s book, begins with a forward explaining about China’s five different types of leaders. Reading this proved very helpful in understanding the rest of the novel which tended to jump from character to character throughout the book. It’s a collection of stories set in the time frame of 1990 – 2014 with a variety of interesting characters and story lines.

Click Here for More Information on The Millennial Reincarnations

The beginning tells of a man driving through New York City with his 14 year old daughter, Alyssa, and her friend. Tragically and unexpectedly, they are involved in a horrible car accident and the two young girls are killed.Thus begins a story whose characters are so interwoven amongst each other, and a story that asks the popular question, “Why are we here?’.

Finding Flipper Frank by Patrick Garry

Finding Flipper Frank

Reviewed by Rich Stoehr

One of the first things I wondered, before I started reading ‘Finding Flipper Frank,’ was just who (or what) “Flipper Frank” was. Fair warning – if you’re wondering about that, you will find out about it, but it won’t be until about two-thirds of the way in. And by the time you get there, you’ll likely be so involved in the unfolding story that you’ll forget you were looking for it in the first place.

On its most basic level, ‘Finding Flipper Frank‘ is the story of a road trip. Three people, mostly strangers to one another, linked by the need to get from Montana to Baltimore…or thereabouts. On the way, they share the same space and get to know one another. There’s Izzy, an older man full of stories about his youth and more than willing to tell them at any time, whether his audience wants to hear them or not. There’s Moira, a woman in her thirties on her way home, bringing with her an air of optimism and hope in everything she touches. And there’s Walt, our uncertain hero, who mostly listens and doesn’t feel he has much to contribute. Middle-aged, kind of aimless, not sure where he’s coming from or where he’s going, Walt is headed to Baltimore to see Cal Ripken break a baseball record in a game he’s not even sure he wants to be at.

The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach

The Art of Fielding

Reviewed by Allen Hott

As a reviewer I will be honest and explain that basically I read mysteries, suspense stories, sports stories of all types, and even historical novels. But I have never considered reading “literature” since my school days long ago.

However The Art of Fielding, at least to me qualifies as literature. This is quite a story and it is a riveting one! Chad Harbach has taken baseball with all of its quirks, smells, and primarily male composites and used it to write a terrific intense tale.

Perhaps instead of The Art of Fielding Harbach might have named the book, Feelings because that literally describes the story. Schwartz, the heart and soul of Wetish College sports, spots a shortstop from South Dakota in an American Legion game. Schwartz is so in awe of the ability of Henry that he finagles a scholarship to Wetish for him.

Under the guidance of hard-nosed Schwartz, Henry begins building his body which has been very undernourished it appears. And he also develops his hitting abilities until by the end of his freshman year Henry has become one of the stars of Wetish and their conference.

While all of this is transpiring Schwartz begins having an affair with the daughter of Wetish College’s president. Pella has just retuned to be with her dad and reenter the collegiate world. She and Schwartz seem to be a perfect pair.

The other major event outside of the baseball world, at least somewhat outside of it, is that President Affenlight, Pella’s dad, appears to have undergone a strange transformation. Although he has always been a typical female loving man somehow he begins to have feelings for one of his students.

The infusion of romance, if that is what these two situations really are, enters into the story but doesn’t really detract from baseball and Henry. If anything they become quite intermeshed with the whole plot. Henry continues his growth as an outstanding baseball player and is being viewed by some major league baseball scouts as quite a prospect for their clubs.

Voice of Conscience by Behcet Kaya

conscience2Reviewed by Nancy Eaton

Revenge is defined as “the act of taking vengeance for injuries or wrongs; retaliation.” We all know that revenge, if we let it, will keep gnawing away at one until it almost destroys a life. Keep this in mind as you read this book.

This novel takes place in Atamkoy which is located in northeastern Turkey. The reader is introduced to the Ozocomert Family. They have a son, Ramzi, and a beautiful daughter, Erin. As is the tradition in this culture, families normally arrange marriages for their children. The Korucu family wants to make arrangements for their son to marry Erin. However, she wants to marry the man she really loves. The Ozocomert Family denies their request.

Ramzi is now old enough to go with his father on a logging trip. Ramzi was looking forward to this trip as he wanted to prove himself to his father. When a tree almost fell on his father, Ramzi jumped on top of him. Ramzi’s father often wondered what would happen if he were no longer around. After this trip, he now had no doubt in his mind that Ramzi, Jr. would be able to handle everything that might come his way.

Then something terrible happened. Ramzi Sr., his wife and their daughter, Erin were murdered. As mourners gathered for prayers, an old man stated “Of all human weaknesses, none is more destructive, or unprofitable as intikam, vengeance.” He continued by saying “vengeance offers nothing and takes everything.” Ramzi, Jr. knew he had to leave or he would be the next one to be killed. The way Ramzi, Jr. was brought up will play a major role in his will to survive. After all, it was a tradition to “teach young boys the tricks of hide and seek”.

Ramzi boarded a train and began his journey to start a new life. While on the train he met many travelers who were seated in his compartment. Among them were a brother and sister who carried on a conversation that got a little heated at times. A merchant who was also there got involved in the conversation and made the remarks “Animals are instinctively driven, while man has conscience and respect for the law of the land.” This statement really brought out many emotions in Ramzi as he thought about the terrible tragedy that happened to his family. Ramzi did not know what was happening to him. He now realized that all of his customs, traditions and everything dealing with his family have now turned to dust. He finally got control over his emotions and knew he had to forget the fears and think about the future.

While on the train, a pickpocket stole Ramzi’s wallet. With the help of a Colonel who was a passenger on the train, the thief was caught. The colonel held the thief while Ramzi punched away at him. Ramzi realized that for the first time in his life he felt really good. This was the feeling of revenge.

Upon his arrival, Ramzi’s plan was to go to the home of Safki Ozturk, a distant relative of his mother. His wife, Nazmiye, was a distant relative of Ramzi’s father. Nazmiye warmly greeted Ramzi but Safki told him he was not running a hotel. Through Nazmiye’s coaching, Safki decided to let Ramzi stay.

During the next several years, Ramzi became Safki’s assistant. The business was growing. In his spare time, he finished his schooling and took English lessons.

Ramzi became quite concerned when he heard an ambulance and saw a large crowd gathered. One of the men he worked with, Husnu, was being placed into the ambulance. Now he wondered. Was this a case of mistaken identity? Was he the one who should be in the ambulance? After all, he felt he and Husnu did look somewhat alike. Did his enemies find him?

In order to help pay for his schooling, Ramzi worked at the Texas Pancake House. A beautiful woman came in and caught the eye of many of the male waiters. It almost became a contest to see which one would be able to get a date with Megan. After several failed attempts by the other waiters, it was now Ramzi’s turn to wait on her. He did manage to get her to agree to go on a date with him. It took no time for them to fall in love. Megan could not get over how Ramzi reminded her of her father.

Ramzi and Megan got married and had children. He worked for Megan’s father and they lived in his house. Ramzi did not like this arrangement because he always felt he was being scrutinized by Megan’s father. One day he decided it was time to start his own business. With Megan’s father’s approval, he did just that and became quite successful.

Ramzi, now in his forties, had a successful business, a beautiful wife and lovely children. However, something was not right. Ramzi wondered what was wrong with him. He kept having nightmares about the way his parents and sister died. His “thoughts of revenge filled his soul, the voice of conscience constantly reminding him”. He did not want any more time to slip away before he was too old to do something about this terrible tragedy. He decided on a course of action.

What did Ramzi decide to do and what was the end result?

The author does an excellent job with his descriptive writing. He not only describes his characters in great detail but also creates a picture for the reader about everything from what the family is eating to what traditions they might be following at that very moment. Behcet Kaya has created a protagonist that is so filled with feelings of revenge that life could not be normal even though he had everything one could want. I have read many books but have never experienced the great detailed writing that this author provides.

Voice of Conscience is a story that is rich with traditions and customs. Readers will be awed by the insights the author provides especially when the family is preparing for Erin’s wedding and how everyone in the town is involved. He really brings everything to life and makes it seem so real for the reader. This story brings out all the emotions one can have including everything from love to hate.

Behcet Kaya is a great storyteller. Readers will be engrossed as they read this well-written book. The author has the special ability to tell the readers just enough to keep them interested and at the same time keep them captivated by not giving too much away. Be prepared for a surprise ending.

This novel is a Shakespearean Tragedy done at its best. I can imagine this story as a big screen movie. Voice of Conscience is story the reader will not forget.