Memory Filtered Through Imagination
Written by Jerry Craven and Reviewed by Carol Smallwood

Exploring Change
Written by Carol Smallwood and Reviewed by Aline Soules
In the award winning author’s preface, Jerry Craven relates that his novel came from memory “filtered through imagination.” The author manages the difficult task of capturing a boy’s point of view. The Wild Part is multi-layered fiction for youth and adults that begins when Don and Rosita leave their village of El Tigrito to catch a ride to a village to see a shrunken head supposedly hung in a shop; they end up in the interior of Venezuela.

Rosita is a strong native girl who knows how to live off the land and tells Don: “Where there are frogs, there will be snakes. We should climb a tree to keep above the snakes.” Don worries about his family who are probably looking for him but after all their adventures, wonders if instead of returning home, they should return to the jungle where Rosita wouldn’t be laughed at.

I would have liked to have had more about the lives of the two main characters before they began their trip-what their families, home, and village were like, and something about how their trip related to their future: more development of the other people in the novel also would give contrast to events.

At the end of the paperback are very helpful discussion questions for teachers and book club leaders about faith, God, and a variety of native snakes that appear in different scenes. The novel won Foreword’s Book of the Year Wards Indiefab Finalist for Best Novel of the Year in two categories.

Carol Smallwood has appeared in: The Writer's Chronicle and  English Journal. Some anthologies she edited include: Library Services for Multicultural Patrons: Strategies to Encourage Library Use (Scarecrow Press 2013); Bringing the Arts into the Library: An Outreach Handbook (American Library Association, 2014).

One of the most interesting aspects of Carol Smallwood’s Water, Earth, Air, Fire, and Picket Fences (Lamar University Press, 2014, ISBN 978-0991107483) is the contrast between the eternal elements of water, earth, air, and fire and the thematic references to the inconstancies and inconsistencies found in life.  “Ephemera” speaks of the short life of the mayfly.  In “A Stick in a Glass,” the poet tries to “catch when it changes angles…but you never can.”  In “Passage,” the poet notes that “Evaporation could be measured / if I had days enough, time enough.”  She sees constant change in a world with insufficient time.

Despite the philosophical qualities of Smallwood’s themes and her focus on the fundamental elements, she never strays from reality.  In Earth, she remembers “All the Neighborhood Kids” of her childhood and the “house on the hill” whose old lady was thought to be a witch.  She remembers the “Keep Out” signs, kids daring each other to approach the house on Hallowe’en, and going back to visit and finding everything gone but the drive that was “still coiled.”

In Picket Fences, she visits Mrs. Simons “to try and figure things out.”  Mrs. Simons “showed me how to fold napkins into Bishop’s Hats” and “adjusted her glasses to see about.”  This sestina juxtaposes the large and the small, but it is the small-the napkins, the glasses-that give the poem its strength and illuminate the larger idea.

Detail is her watchword.  “From a center” describes the “yellow onion’s new growth” that “came from a center seeking light,” its “outer layers shriveled, turned brown.”  In “The Sermon,” she still hears “rosaries rattle like / bones on the backs of wooden pews.”  In “Ashes,” “utility lines dropped as if stretched too often in high-wire acts.”

Smallwood finds the large in the small, the ephemeral in the real, and her theme through the detail.

Aline Soules' work has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies. Her latest poetry chapbook, Evening Sun: A Widow’s Journey is available at Meditation on Woman is available at
Power, Publicity, and Personality
Written by Terence Crimmins and Reviewed by B. Lynn Goodwin
How does the news media shape our perceptions? Your insights will grow when you read Terence Crimmins novel, Hostages, and discover the power of press
conferences and publicity tours. You may begin to wonder if the media sometimes takes unwary citizens hostage and how that much publicity might affect

Tom O’Malley is substituting for a pizza delivery boy on what should have been his graduation night when he is taken hostage by a man from Beirut named
Andre. Andre releases him the next day, and the government and the media want interrogate him. Tom is thrust into an unfamiliar world of relentless
pressure as he’s engaged in a media frenzy in an effort to capture Andre. He’s riding on the coat tails of a power trip he won’t soon forget, and we are
allowed to observe from the safety of an armchair.

How will the experience alter him and will his girl friend still want to marry him? More importantly, how do hostage situations alter our lives and our
perceptions? This book may trigger your imagination, make you more cautious, or help you embrace adventure, depending on who you are and how you
respond to the unexpected.

Crimmins, a graduate of Boston College who majored in history, studied people when he worked in restaurants and was a cab driver. His observant, alert mind
sees story possibilities all around him. He has previously published some short stories, and he continues to look at the world and people’s motivations through
his unique vision as a historian. This book will particularly appeal to anyone who’s ever been unexpectedly thrust in the spotlight as well as those who like to
imagine “what if” scenarios. Learn more about the author and his work at
The Beauty Queen Who Panhandles
Written by Judith Glynn and Reviewed by B. Lynn Goodwin
An Italian beauty queen winds up sleeping on the street. A travel writer watches from afar. Intrigued by her outbursts and panhandling, author Judith Glynn finally makes contact with Michelle Browning, the beauty queen who panhandles when she’s not doing even more destructive things.

Michelle mourns a lost lover who died of alcoholism, and drowns her sorrows in the bottle. Judith is fascinated, intrigued, and frightened by her behavior. Michelle is dying, her family’s rejected her, and ultimately Judith and her son, Dean accompany Michelle to Italy and a rehab hospital .

Dealing with an alcoholic is troubling for the author. At times she finds herself angry because Michelle is draining her energy and stealing her time as she obsesses over her dead husband, Steve. Their relationship between the author and her subject is like a wild vine, twisting and turning but always reaching for sunlight and clarity.

Glynn, a travel writer by profession, reports objectively on the physical and emotional impact of Michelle’s alcoholism on its immediate and peripheral victims. Everyone is affected. She’s drawn to the woman behind the disease and the insidious nature of alcohol. Glynn presents a realistic portrayal of an intervention that lasts two years or longer.

20/20 was going to present Michelle’s story to the world. They backed out because the disease progressed at its own rate and did not meet their time frame. Judith took up the slack and told a story that will make anyone look at panhandlers and those who sleep in doorways in a whole new way. Although the plot line is thin, the human drama is intense. The story will stick with you long after you turn the last page.

Star Crossed Lovers Defy Rules
Written by Ann Brashares and Reviewed by B. Lynn Goodwin
Written by Ann Brashares and Reviewed by B. Lynn Goodwin
ISBN # 978-0-385-73680-0
Delacorte Press

Written by Carol Smallwood and Reviewed by Aline Soules
ISBN 978-0991107483
Lamar University Press, 2014

Written by Terence Crimmins and Reviewed by B. Lynn Goodwin
Create Space
ISBN # 978-1490307435

Written by Jerry Craven and Reviewed by Carol Smallwood
# ISBN-10: 0988384418
Angelina River Press, Fort Worth, Texas 2013

Written by Judith Glynn and Reviewed by B. Lynn Goodwin
ISBN #: 978-0-9834595-5-2
Fox Point Press
When a girl from the future is unable to hide her real identity from a boy in her
high school, their worlds clash-and I do mean worlds. One of them is not from
here, but her culture runs like an undercurrent in New York Times Bestselling
Author Ann Brashares’ newest YA, The Here and Now. 

A mosquito-borne illness mutates into a pandemic at the end of the twenty-
first century. Seventeen-year-old Prenna James and other survivors travel back
to a previous era where they are not allowed to tell where they’re from,
interfere with history, or become intimate with anyone outside their own
community. Ethan Jarves, who’s always lived in the present, has a talent of his
own. When Prenna arrived, he saw the texture of the air change, saw a
splintering light, and found himself clutching a “shivering skinny girl.”

He never forgets that moment, and two years later he become good friends
with Prenna. She follows Earth’s rules hoping to prevent a plague expected to
ravage Earth, until Ethan opens her eyes and she sees her circumstances and
the people in her life with new clarity.

Time travel meets star-crossed lovers in this imaginative, poetic exploration of
right and wrong, love and self-denial, hope and despair. The story is a timely
look at what could happen if we don’t care for the earth. These characters
have the ability to prevent a disaster. It’s implied that those of us alive right now could do the same.

Can a girl from the future save us? Can we save ourselves? Titillate your imagination, heighten your awareness, and prepare to be inspired by Brashares newest novel. It’s not just for young adults. 
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Hooked On Books
October 2014 - December 2014
Editor's Note:

1.Do you have a favorite author to recommend?

2. Do you have a favorite book that everyone should read?

Writer Advice welcomes reviews of recently published books. Be balanced, be fair, and pick a book you want to honor. Let your voice come through. Submit your reviews of approximately 250 words to Unless there is a byline, the reviews in this issue are written by B. Lynn Goodwin.

“Literature is a textually transmitted disease, normally contracted in childhood.” 
-- Jane Yolen, Touch Magic: Fantasy, Faerie & Folklore in the Literature of Childhood

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