October 6, 2019

“Evidence of V” a Novel by Shiela O’Connor

“Evidence of V” a Novel by Shiela O’Connor

Reviewed by Honorah Creagh In her novel Evidence of V: A Novel in Fragments, Facts, and Fictions, Sheila O’Connor pieces together the true story of her maternal grandmother, V, a woman whose existence was a family secret. O’Connor’s mother, June, was adopted by V’s sister, and O’Connor did not know about V until she was sixteen years old. Working from incomplete information, O’Connor colors in the spaces between the facts, transforming V from a name on court documents into an effervescent, audacious girl. In the process, O’Connor tells an affecting story not just about the injustices V and other young women like her suffered, but about what it means for someone to be family, and how a person’s influence reaches through generations. In 1935, fifteen-year-old V lives in Minneapolis and spends her nights singing at…

Continue reading →

June 27, 2019

“The Age of Light” – Reprising Our Interview with First-Time (And Very Successful!) Author Whitney Scharer

“The Age of Light” – Reprising Our Interview with  First-Time (And Very Successful!) Author Whitney Scharer

A little over a year ago, we published an interview with Whitney Scharer, whose novel had landed her a million-dollar book deal. Only problem was, we had to wait another year to read her book. At the time, we wrote: “Barista Rachael Allen meets the novelist everyone will be talking about. Whitney Scharer and her fierce protagonist are set to take the literary world by storm! At this time next year, Whitney Scharer’s debut novel, The Age of Light, will stare up at you from your nightstand. The book will not stare at you so much as, potentially, display a woman staring into the distance, anonymously cropped at the neck, with scenic Paris blurred behind her. As much as she hopes for something different, Scharer says wryly, audiences are familiar with this kind of book…

Continue reading →

June 1, 2019

Charming Indie Bookstores of Brooklyn

Charming Indie Bookstores of Brooklyn

By Simran P. Gupta Living in an “outer borough” of New York City has made me appreciative of what lies beyond the hustle and bustle of Manhattan. While many of the best-known NYC bookstores are on the island, there are a number of hidden gems that warrant a subway ride across the river to Brooklyn. While it’s true that certain neighborhoods are facing waves of gentrification, the borough as a whole has held on to its roots. That is to say, community spaces still reign supreme. And of course, at the heart of it are its independent bookstores. Molasses Books             Specializing in secondhand books only, visitors will immediately feel relaxed and at home at Molasses. It’s easy to miss from the outside, tucked away as it is on a quiet street between two busy…

Continue reading →

May 22, 2019

“All Artists are Anarchists”

“All Artists are Anarchists”

Anarchy, Jack’s third Nathaniel Hawthorne Flowers Novel Set amid the tumultuous days of American dissent against the Vietnam War and nationwide student riots, Anarchy brings Tim Rosencrantz, from Wild Blue Yonder, back into Nathaniel Hawthorne Flowers’s life, intent on evil and disruption. Tim, student protester, SDS member, avowed Communist and now discharged from the Air Force, has had a transformation on the bombed-out streets of New York and is now a full-fledged member of Weatherman. Bent on bombing America to its senses, he wants Nate at his side. It’s now 1971 and Nate’s writing career has launched with the publication of The Pieces Fit, his collection of short stories. While he is anti-war and intellectually empathetic, Nate is unwilling to participate in Tim’s anarchy – until, that is, Tim coerces him. Their lives become an…

Continue reading →

May 15, 2019

“Madrone,” Because People Asked “What Happens Next?”

“Madrone,” Because People Asked “What Happens Next?”

It’s March, 1969. Twenty-five-year-old Nathaniel Hawthorne Flowers, two months out of the military, arrives in California and into the arms of Jane Chandler, the girl he left behind. Jane, now a junior at the University of California, Santa Cruz, wants Nate to join her in the creative writing program, headed by Professor Gerald “Gerry” Iron Moccasin, a Lacota Sioux Indian with a penchant for literary theory. Nate is thwarted in his application for admission to Santa Cruz by his poor grades from the University of Chicago, giving him cause to rethink his academic career path. Pressured on every side by Gerry, Jane’s father Will, his widowed mother and the button-down American path to success, Nate increasingly questions whether a college degree—even from prestigious UC Santa Cruz—will help him become a writer. He spurns the college…

Continue reading →

May 8, 2019

“Wild Blue Yonder,” The Novel That Started It All

“Wild Blue Yonder,” The Novel That Started It All

It’s 1965. Nathaniel Hawthorne Flowers has lost his father, flunked out of the University of Chicago, and finds himself facing the draft. He opts for four years in the US Air Force over two years of Vietnam in the army. He and four like-minded troops are thrown together at a small remote air base in Germany, where they try to make sense of their lives and the strange world in which they find themselves. These are military misfits whose behavior doesn’t quite qualify for a dishonorable discharge, yet are sufficiently problematic that if they were sent into the Southeast Asia war zone it would look like punishment—therefore more trouble for the military brass. So they are sent to a place irreverently known in the military as “Bumf**k,” where they can be forgotten about until their…

Continue reading →

January 8, 2019

We Asked. You Replied. Now It’s Our Turn.

We Asked. You Replied. Now It’s Our Turn.

Last week we asked you, our faithful Coffee Club members, to share your favorite book(s) of 2018 (after all, it’s a time-honored ritual). We were delighted with your responses and your choices. As promised, now it’s your baristas’ turn to share our 2018 faves. (You can see our bios and pictures of us here.) Our hope is that all of us get to tip one another off to a good read! Jason: “Absolutely THE MARROW THIEVES, I’M AFRAID OF MEN, and THE GHOST KEEPER. Three very different books by amazing authors.” ** Ruby: Sea Swept of The Chesapeake Bay Saga by Nora Roberts is one of the sweetest books I read in 2018. Set on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, each book focuses on one of the four Quinn men. In true Roberts fashion, she provides the reader…

Continue reading →

October 17, 2018

Ghostographs: An Album by Maria Romasco Moore

Ghostographs: An Album by Maria Romasco Moore

NOTE: Ghostographs is a chapbook of short fictions inspired by old photographs by Maria Romasco Moore. It will be published November 1 by Rose Metal Press. The following review was written by Simran P. Gupta, Fictional Café’s Poetry Barista. Ghostographs: An Album by Maria Romasco Moore   The Perfect Book to Welcome Fall Reviewed by Simran P. Gupta The sun is setting earlier and earlier, the temperature is dropping steadily, and it’s time to pull out our long sleeves and warm socks. If you’re like me, you’ll switch from your favorite sweet iced coffee at Starbucks to all the drinks that symbolize fall and its accompanying chill: hot apple cider, cocoa, herbal teas, all things pumpkin. And of course the return of hot coffee! I’ve always been fond of dedicating October to books that make…

Continue reading →

September 3, 2018

“Deluge,” A New Novel by James D. Best

“Deluge,” A New Novel by James D. Best

Jim Best lives in Kansas, where lately raging rain has caused rivers to rise and towns to be flooded in epic proportions. So perhaps his latest novel, Deluge, is prescient. Taking a break from his phenomenally successful Steve Dancy westerns, Deluge is set in the present, but its antecedents are in 1862, when a sixty-five-day downpour pummeled the western United States. California suffered the brunt of the storm. Almost a third of the state was under water, roads were impassible, telegraph lines down, rivers overflowed, hundreds of people died, and hundreds of thousands of animals drowned. Sacramento remained under water for six months, forcing the state government to move to San Francisco. Geological evidence shows that a flood of this magnitude hits the western United States every one to two hundred years. Well, it’s been a…

Continue reading →

August 10, 2018

Exploring Literary Trilogies and Tetralogies by Victoria Merkle

Exploring Literary Trilogies and Tetralogies by Victoria Merkle

Editor’s Note: The trilogy and tetralogy are commonplace in genre fiction: science-fiction, fantasy, mystery. But what of literature? Tori Merkle dissects the phenomenon and helps us understand its often unrecognized significance, not only in storytelling but in an author’s oeuvre.  Literary Chronicles: An Exploration of Trilogies and Tetralogies in Literary Fiction by Tori Merkle It’s a fact of storytelling: chronicles sell. Series novels, commonly a trilogy or tetralogy, are especially popular in genre fiction—we sit waiting and watching for the next sci-fi or fantasy saga to top the bestseller list and then hit the box office. Once we get the first luscious taste of a fictional world, we’re ravenous for more. We become attached to the characters as if they’re intimate friends. We’re eager to know what happens next. This is the same energy that…

Continue reading →