Friday, December 15, 2017

Book Your Stocking with Regi Claire

Book Your Stocking: December 15

Every day of December, readers of all stripes and literary inclinations are sharing their To-Give and To-Read lists. Please welcome today's reader, Regi Claire.


My Reading Wish-List

Bark by Lorrie Moore (stories) 
Stone Mattress: Nine Wicked Tales by Margaret Atwood
The Girls by Emma Cline
Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates
Dalila by Jason Donald
Robicheaux: You Know My Name by James Lee Burke


My Reading Give-List 

I hardly ever read non-fiction, but The Girl with Seven Names: Escape from North Korea by Hyeonseo Lee held me spellbound. Life truly is stranger than fiction, almost unbelievably so in Hyeonseo’s case. I have bought a stocking copy for my mother.

Nora Chassler’s Madame Bildungsroman’s Optimistic Worldview is the perfect gift for anyone who appreciates reading between the lines: a near-poetic sequence of fragments and aperΓ§us – witty, moving and searingly intelligent. I purchased an extra copy for just such a friend.

T. C. Boyle's The Relive Box and Other Stories is a wild, funny and deadly serious collection of futuristic fictions I got for my husband, with an ulterior motive (I’ve already made room for it on one of my bookshelves…).

Talking of my husband (Ron Butlin), his new YA novel Steve and FranDan Take on the World appeals to all those who can’t help indulging their inner child. I have set aside a copy for an eighty-seven-year-old lady with a sense of fun and adventure.


About today's reader:

Regi Claire, photo by Dawn Marie Jones,
used with permission
Regi Claire is a Swiss-born novelist (The Waiting, The Beauty Room) and short story writer (Fighting It, Inside~Outside) based in Scotland. Her work has twice been shortlisted for a Saltire Scottish Book of the Year award and longlisted for MIND Book of the Year and the Edge Hill Prize (for best collection). She is the recipient of several writers’ bursaries and a UBS Cultural Foundation Award.
Her work has appeared in Best British Short Stories and numerous other anthologies and literary journals in the UK, Europe, Australia and the USA.
Regi is an alumna of ChΓ’teau de Lavigny International Writers’ Residence in Switzerland and a former Royal Literary Fund Fellow and RLF Lector for Reading Round Scotland.
She is an experienced creative writing tutor (eg National Galleries of Scotland, Universities Scotland, Zurich University for Teacher Training) and runs her own writing and reading groups in Edinburgh, where she lives with her husband and their golden retriever.
She is currently completing her third collection of stories.


Want to grow your own reading wish-list? More recommendations from Book Your Stocking contributors, here:

Thursday, December 14, 2017

WSJ reviews The Whole World at Once: Words with the "strength of tempered steel"

So, here's some good news that all of us missed in May: The Whole World at Once received a write-up in The Wall Street Journal. And a good write-up, to boot:

The dangers of childhood are central to Erin Pringle's story collection "The Whole World at Once" (Vandalia Press, 243 pages, $17.99) and Tessa Hadley's "Bad Dreams and Other Stories" (Harper, 224 pages, $26.99). Ms. Pringle casts a somber gaze at the formative traumas that beset blue-collar America. In "The Wandering House," a young woman is disfigured in a meth-lab explosion. The subtly disquieting tale "The Boy Who Walks" depicts a child's personality change after he nearly freezes to death while wandering through the snow. "After that day, the boy's different. Like his own ghost thinks he died, though he didn't, but now tags him everywhere he goes." You can feel that Ms. Pringle has labored over her sentences, giving them the strength of tempered steel. She has a knack for the cinematic image as well. In "When the Frost Comes," when a girl discovers her mother dead of a brain aneurysm, she notices a tire outside "swinging from the tree in large sweeps." Hours later they are still alone in the house and the tire swing has stopped.
(excerpt from "Shelf Help" 
by Sam Sacks, 5/19/17)


Book Your Stocking with Christie Grimes

Book Your Stocking: December 14

Welcome back today's Book Your Stocking, a new holiday series this December, in which readers share their Reading Wish-lists or Give-Lists. 

Please welcome today's reader, Christie Grimes.


To Give and To Read
To Give:
To Read:

To Give:
To Give:
To Read:

Short Story Collections
To Give:
To Read:

To Give:

YA to read: Warcross by Marie Lu


About today's reader:

Christie Grimes,
used with permission
Christie Grimes writes fiction and poetry. Her fiction has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and has been a noted finalist in contests held by Gulf Coast, Glimmer Train, and the Cincinnati Review. Her poems have been published in journals, as well as in two anthologies. Her narrative poetry collection, Finding Fruit Among Thorns, was published in 2016 by Jane’s Boy Press. Find out more at


Check out more recommendations from Book Your Stocking contributors: 

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Book Your Stocking with Stephanie Noll

Book Your Stocking: December 13

All month long, readers are sharing their Book Lists: To Give, To Read. We're over halfway to Christmas, and my own reading list has doubled, if not tripled, in size thanks to all the wonderful discoveries. And here's another day of additions, thanks to today's reader, Stephanie Noll.


Giving List

  1.  Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward. National Book Award winner. Stunning sentences and a story that is a page-turner. 
  2. The Mothers by Brit Bennet. I loved this book so much that I only allowed myself to read a little bit at at time because it was so good and I didn't want it to end.
  3. Hollow by Owen Egerton. An incredible book that asks:  how do you live a life when the unthinkable happens? I thought about this book for a long, long while after finishing it--I'm thinking about it still.
  4. Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson. Damn, this woman can write. This book takes the "coming of age" story to a whole new level. Gorgeous, gorgeous book and compelling story.
  5. Wait Till You See Me Dance by Deb Olin Unferth. An incredible collection of stories that will delight those who enjoy more experimental fiction and those who appreciate more traditional form--Unferth masters both, sometimes at the same time. 


About today's reader:
Stephanie Noll,
used by permission

Stephanie Noll is a writer, teacher, and storyteller living in Austin, Texas. Her work has appeared in Modern Loss, Motherwell, and is forthcoming in The Ocotillo Review.


Check out more recommendations from Book Your Stocking contributors: 

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Book Your Stocking with John Kenny

Book Your Stocking: December 12

Well, December keeps moving along, and with it a new edition of Book Your Stocking, a new holiday reading series in which readers of all sorts share their Reading Wish-Lists and/or Give-Lists. (All titles are linked to their publishers or IndieBound/your nearest bookstore.) 

Please welcome today's reader, John Kenny.


My Reading Wish-List:
  1. A Natural History of Hell by Jeffrey Ford. Had the privilege of meeting Jeff here in Dublin last Summer for a couple of drinks. Really nice guy. I've read isolated short stories by him over the years and really liked them. Time I investigated his work properly.
  2. The Unconsoled by Kazuo Ishiguro. Loved his The Remains of the Day and Never Let Me Go. I'm told The Unconsoled is the other must read.
  3. Trout Fishing in America by Richard Brautigan. Been meaning the read this guy for years and a friend has been extolling his virtues to me recently, so I really should take the plunge.

My Give-List:
  1. The Fortress of Solitude by Jonathan Lethem. This novel blew me away because the time and interests of the main character really resonated with me. It's a largely autobiographical novel and the author is the same age as me, so I guess that's part of the reason I found it so affecting.
  2. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon. A tour de force novel that covers a forty year span of time and really brings the New York of the 40s to 70s to life.
  3. Jesus' Son by Denis Johnson. A collection of linked stories featuring a supremely unreliable narrator.


About today's reader: 

John Kenny,
photo used by permission
Winner of the 2014 Independent Literary Industry Award for Best Editor, John Kenny works as a freelance writer, editor and creative writing tutor in Dublin, Ireland. His short stories have appeared in Revival Literary Journal, The Galway Review, The World SF Blog, Jupiter, First Contact, Woman's Way, Emerald Eye (an anthology of the Best of Irish Imaginative Fiction), Transtories, Fear the Reaper and many other venues. John has been co-editor of Albedo One since its inception in 1993. Prior to that, he wrote extensively for Stargate, the magazine of the Irish Science Fiction Association, and was editor of FTL, the successor to Stargate. He is editor of original horror anthology Box of Delights for Aeon Press, Writing4All: The Best of 2009, and Decade 1: The Best of Albedo One


Check out more recommendations from Book Your Stocking contributors: 

Monday, December 11, 2017

Book Your Stocking with Donna Miscolta

Book Your Stocking: December 11

Welcome back to Book Your Stocking, a new series this holiday season, in which readers of all stripes share their Reading Wish-Lists and/or Give-Lists. (All titles are linked to their publishers or to Indiebound/your nearest bookstore.)

Please welcome today's reader, Donna Miscolta, author of Hola and Goodbye.


Gift-Giving List

Novel: The Veins of the Ocean by Patricia Engel, who brings the reader directly against the beating hearts of her characters.

Story collection: In the Country by Mia Alvar, whose powerful and moving stories about the diaspora of Filipino migrants and asylum-seekers I’m constantly recommending.

Poetry: Killing MarΓ­as: A Poem for Multiple Voices by Claudia Castro Luna, whose commitment to social justice and art are beautifully rendered in this book.

Non-Fiction: Lolas' House: Filipino Women Living with War by M. Evelina Galang, who provides
a grim, but fearless and necessary look at women’s lives that must not be forgotten.

Also, these novels: 
A book I’m enjoying now is Pretend We Are Lovely by Noley Reid about family, its fragility and tenacity, and about the bonds of sisterhood.

A book I look forward to reading is Daughters of the Air by Anca Szilagyi, whose writing I admire.


Donna Miscolta, photo by Meryl Schenker
(used with permission)
About today's reader: Donna Miscolta’s short story collection Hola and Goodbye was selected by Randall Kenan for the Doris Bakwin Award for Writing by a Woman and publication by Carolina Wren Press in 2016.  It won the Independent Publishers gold medal for Best Regional Fiction and an International Latino Book Award silver medal for Best Latino Focused Fiction in English. She is also the author of the novel When the de la Cruz Family Danced (Signal 8 Press, 2011). Her work has appeared in a variety of journals, most recently in Moss and Blood Orange Review. She lives in Seattle with her husband, their daughters having left to make their way in the world, one in Los Angeles and the other off to Ecuador soon.


Check out more recommendations from Book Your Stocking contributors: 

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Book Your Stocking with Michael Noll

Book Your Stocking: December 10

Every day of December, readers are sharing their reading wish-lists and/or give-lists. To support publishers, writers, and local bookstores, all books are linked to their publishers or IndieBound.

Please welcome today's reader, Michael Noll.


Buckskin Cocaine by Erika T. Wurth. A story collection in which every character is involved one way or another in the Native American film industry. If you know that industry well, you'll obviously love this book. But if your knowledge of Indians in film and television consists of old Westerns, Dances with Wolves, and that one actor from The Red Green Show, then this collection will show you something you've never seen. In each story, a different character speaks in voices that are sharp, funny, angry, sad, and utterly captivating.

Tropic of Kansas by Christopher Brown. A novel about everything awful in today's America but set a couple of decades in the future, when everything has gotten worse but the technology has improved. A young woman from the Upper Midwest is working as a government lawyer and gets sent back home to investigate a rebel group that includes her own, sort of, brother. Together they fight through militias, drone strikes, and environmental wastelands using only their wits, some unexpected combat skills, and an underground technological innovation involving TV static.

Witchtown by Cory Putman Oakes. A YA novel about a teenage girl and her mother living in an America in which witches exist and have been confined/segregated to small, walled-off communities. The two go from town to town, scamming and robbing the residents out of their valuables. But then they arrive at the most famous of the towns, Witchtown, and find that things are not as they appear. It's a cool premise, and Oakes has an incredible talent for quickly setting up intriguing character relationships and can't-put-down plots.

The Dog Man series by Dav Pilkey. If you have kids, then you've likely heard of Pilkey, whose Captain Underpants books have sold a bajillion copies and inspired a not-very-good movie this summer. If you care about interesting characters and plots, that's not why you're buying these books. Instead, you're doing it because reading was really easy for you yet, inexplicably, it isn't for your kids. Or, you've got a first-grader who can read pretty well but not well enough to tackle an actual novel or most of the graphic novels out there. So, you need something easy to read, zany in that mind-numbing scatalogical way of little kids, and with pictures that kids love. Plus, the Dog Man books have cleaned up "girls are gross and dumb" misogyny that was under the surface of the Captain Underpants books. As an adult, will you like these books? Probably not. Will your kids? They'll love them.

Any of the picture books by Don Tate. With picture books, I'm hesitant to recommend one because there are so many and it depends upon your kids' taste. But with Don Tate, you can't go wrong with any of them. They're mostly nonfiction, about interesting individuals from history. Tate has long been known as an incredible illustrator, and now he has begun writing his own books.  Recent titles (written and/or illustrated) include Strong as Sandow: How Eugen Sandow Became the Strongest Man on Earth, Whoosh!: Lonnie Johnson's Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions, Poet: The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton, and The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch.


Michael Noll,
used with permission
About today's reader: Michael Noll is the author of The Writer's Field Guide to the Craft of Fiction, due out February 27. He's also the editor of Read to Write Stories and Program Director at the Writers’ League of Texas. His short stories have been published in American Short Fiction, Chattahoochee Review, Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, Indiana Review, and The New Territory, and been nominated for New Stories from the Midwest. His story, “The Tank Yard” was included in the 2016 Best American Mystery Stories anthology. He lives in Austin, TX, with his family.


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