BOOK RECOMMENDATION: Father's Violin by John Hope

World War II has always been a source of such tremendous fascination for me, not just because my grandfather served in the American Infantry on D-Day, but because it's so incredibly hard for me to fathom a a time in which people were so horrible to each other on such a grand scale. Not that these modern times are filled with peace and love, but to read about events such as those suffered by the characters in this novel are practically unthinkable. War isn't hell. It's worse.


My Father's Violin is a succinct tale of the healing power of music, even in the bleakest of times. It's also a story of family and friendship and how all of it became ripped apart by war. The writer offers flashbacks of the main character's life, which serve as an effective contrast to how bad things have become. More than anything, this novel (novella?) is a bleak demonstration of how much war effects the most helpless among us--children. It's pretty heartbreaking.


Not sure how I feel about the illustrations. It feels as though they're mainly there to make the book longer but are ultimately unnecessary. Nothing wrong with them. It just didn't feel as though they added anything.

To purchase this incredible book, please click on the picture above!



It is my pleasure to host author Lee Anderson on my blog today.
Me: Have you always wanted to be a writer?

Lee: Always. When I was little, my dad was a voracious reader, and I was perplexed by what could possibly hold him mesmerized for so long like that. Where was he? My fascination with books was born. An inclination to become a writer naturally came next, I guess. I even wrote my first novel in 2nd grade. It was 2 pages-long and was called “Jaws.”  
What made you pen this down?
Varies. There’s stories in this collection that are twenty years old, and others I wrote late last year. Some were writing assignments from college while others were just inspired by people I’ve met. Or people I heard about and never wished to meet. Mostly, these are just stories made by whatever odd thing hit my antennae.

What should readers expect from the Dark Lords of the Trailer Park?
Hopefully, a trip. A ride through underbelly of our country. Joseph Campbell once mentioned how the best way to study any society is to examine its dark side. The shape of its shadow. I did my best to do this while also keeping it somewhat humorous. Life is nothing if not funny, no matter how seedy it gets.
What made you write a collection of short stories right after writing a novel, What Happened at Sisters Creek?
That novel was something I’d always wanted to do. I’d always wanted to write a horror novel. See if I could actually be scary. As with anyone who came of age in the Eighties, I’ve read some Stephen King. It’s impossible not to. Love or hate him, his stuff grabs you. It’s powerful. I wanted to see if I could do it, too. Thankfully reviews of the book have been mostly great. Even the Amazon reviews from people saying they had to put it down, I take that as a compliment. Go hard or go home, right? I saw Dark Lords of the Trailer Park as a great companion piece since Sisters Creek is pretty short. You can easily read it in one sitting.  
How are these two books different (leaving aside the length of course) and similar when catering to a reader’s base?
Well, a horror novel is certainly more commercial. People adore getting freaked out. Being scared. It’s exhilarating. Reading short stories can be more challenging because you’re being pulled in and out of different worlds so much. There’s a heightened level of attention needed. That’s why it tends to only attract people who are pretty damn serious about their reading.
What according to you makes or breaks the horror genre?
Has to be unexpected. It nearly angers people to guess what’s going to happen in a book and – presto – it happens. The cardinal sin of any writer is to be boring. I’m quoting with that, but I can’t remember who said it.

Do you check out your book reviews? If yes, how does that impact you?
I do read them, yes. Feedback is important. Nobody writes in a vacuum. All those cliches. Also, if I ignore what people think of my work, then why am I doing it?
Are there any new projects underway?
A fantasy series with unicorns and spaceships. Just kidding. Or I don’t know. I could write that. But my very next project is to edit another anthology soon. I would enjoy that again.
Lee has written short stories and essays for a multitude of small and large press publications, including Fiction International, The Citron Review, The Remington Review, The Miami Herald, and The Broadkill Review. His two plays “Supper’s Ready” and “Little America” were produced and staged in New York City.
He wrote the horror novel What Happened at Sisters Creek and the experimental, short story collection Dark Lords of the Trailer Park.
He lives in Westchester, New York with his wife and calico.
Interview originally appeared in hjbookblog

BOOK RECOMMENDATION: The Vagabond King by James Campion Conway


Wow, wow, and wow. What a heavy book. I almost don’t know where to start. This is a powerful novel which had me hooked from the beginning. Finally! I’ve just finished a bad line up of terrible books and this was just what I needed. A novel with substance. Sometimes maybe too much substance. There were points where I didn’t exactly know what the narrator was talking about since his message could often get lost in so much purple prose, too much intellectual conjecture. I didn’t care though. Because I cared so much about this character and what he was going through. The Vagabond King touts itself as a “coming of age” story and, boy, does it ever nail that. Almost any American kid can empathize with the struggle to find their identity and place in the world while struggling with an irrational infatuation. I was right there with him. I was so impressed with this book that I was willing to forgive the typos, grammar, and tense issues. In the case of a book like this, these kinds of errors can even lend a shabby sort of charm. I loved it.


To purchase a copy of this intense novel, please click on the image above!

BOOK RECOMMENDATION: Black Sheep Rebel Girl by Rachel Hutcheson


I was worried this book might turn out to be the random ruminations of a bored teenager believing themselves deeper than they really are, rather than the playful exercises of an experienced writer. Thankfully it’s the later. This book is a fun, thoughtful read. While some “stories” are better than others, it’s a mostly solid collection of creative pieces held together by themes of hope, humor, and a sense of peace sorely lacking from most works published nowadays...






BOOK RECOMMENDATION: Firefanged (Demon in Exile Series, Book 1) by Rory Surtain


This is a very well-written, intelligent fantasy adventure novel. Ara is an easily relatable main character whose heightened powers of perception and his skills for fighting demons leads him into getting recruited into a guardian force for the kingdom. During his training he comes into contact with a race of dark elves and half-breeds as well as a coming invasion from Hell. Though there are superhuman elements in Ara’s character, he is far from indestructible. Nearly every battle he engages in leaves him with considerably painful, life-threatning wounds. This is liable to happen with a warrior who seems to prefer diving headfirst into battle rather than planning his attack that much.


The writer here has done such a great job of world building that my only issue with the book is that it’s written in first person. This not only strips the suspense away from Ara’s survival, but it narrows the focus of the story. It would have been enlightening to know about certain events happening outside his perspective every once in a while. This is a world so rich with interesting characters and supernatural events that a few other POV’s could’ve done nothing less than help enrich the adventures even more.



BOOK RECOMMENDATION: The Unwinding Cable Car by Andrew J. Brandt

  I tried twice to put this novel down, wanting to savor it since I was enjoying it so much. However, I couldn't help myself and I picke...