Category Archives: Book reviews

Next Step on the Blog Tour: Aimee Parkison

In Wreckage of Reason II, Aimee Parkison’s contribution is a selection titled “Save Her” from her latest novel, The Petals of Your Eyes.

Aimee PAimee Parkison is an associate professor of English at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Parkison has received a Christopher Isherwood Fellowship, a Writers at Work Fellowship, and a Kurt Vonnegut Fiction Prize from North American Review. Her first collection, Woman with Dark Horses, won the Starcherone Prize for Innovative Fiction, judged by Cris Mazza. Parkison has an MFA in creative writing from Cornell University.

I like the way the bio on her website reads:

Critics have hailed Aimee Parkison as a new distinct voice in contemporary fiction. Characterized by her sense of imagination and creativity, Parkison’s writing slowly peels away layers of social interaction to consider the magical, frightening and essential elements of  life.  Parkison learns from her own characters as her stories progress, attributing her decision to become a fiction writer to a desire to gain control over elements of life… Parkison is a fiction writer and a poet.” 

Here, on the WoRII Tumblr site, Darby Ratliff reviews the novel, The Petals of Your Eyes, and writes that it “is surreal in its literary illustration.” Ratliff also says, “… in contemporary literature, prosetry has become something of elegant art, one that is executed cleanly and excellently by Aimee Parkison.” Prosetry. 

Wreckage of Reason II: Back to the Drawing Board, an anthology of experimental writing edited by Nava Renek. Wreckage of Reason is available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Powell’s, and other fine bookstores.

Gently Read Literature, New issue is available

Gently Read Literature

Reviews of Contemporary Poetry & Literary Fiction

Daniel Casey’s GRL: The Winter 2014 issue includes fiction reviews of authors such as Peter Cherches, Kirby Gann, Pamela Erens, Bonnie ZoBell, George Guida, Valerie Fioravanti, Adam Berlin, Luanne Rice, Bruce Holbert, Linda Lappin, and Juliet Marillier.

I’ve reviewed Bonnie ZoBell’s short stories from The Whack Job Girls and Adam Berlin’s novel, The Number of Missing.

Daniel Casey, Robin Martin, book reviews, chapbook,

New issue of Gently Read Literature–read real reviews

The new issue of Gently Read Literature has been released. Another collection of fine books reviewed by fine reviewers, including a review of Terese Svoboda’s Bohemian Girl by Yours Truly. Find it here.

Terese Svoboda, Robin Martin, Sacramento editor, literary review

New Reviews in the latest San Francisco Book Review

After experiencing some technical difficulties, 1776 Productions, the publishers of the Sacramento Book Review and the San Francisco Book Review, are back in business.  The latest issue is on newsstands and here, digitally. If you don’t see it, ask for it!


San Francisco Book Review

One of the things I like to do, when I have “free” time, is write book reviews.

I have been writing for SFBR and the Sacramento edition for several years now, and recently began doing “sponsored reviews” for them, which often entails reading books not unlike what I primarily help clients write and produce: Self-published titles.

For this March issue, I reviewed a book thematically identical to my client Brad DeHaven’s Defining Moments.

I recommend both books for two different and original takes on parenting drug addicts.  Each has a unique hook: Dina Kucera’s Everything I Never Wanted to Be feels a bit like the old Roseanne show– for any of you old enough to remember it.  The author is a comedian, and her self-deprecating humor allows the reader to experience her pain and her life-saving way of laughing at her pain.  If she couldn’t make a joke of all these awful circumstances, she wouldn’t be able to survive.

Brad has a great sense of humor, but his memoir is less funny and more true crime, as he takes the reader with him into the line of fire, where he voluntarily placed himself to keep his drug-dealer son out of jail.

Both good reads.  I love my job, and my “free time” too.

Nahoonkara: Phrasing, pacing, crafting beauty

NahoonkaraNahoonkara by Peter Grandbois
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

” I have heard that when some people murmur through the dark grammar of their lives, they actually believe they understand. ” ~Peter Grandbois Nahoonkara, 32

This book, which takes place in a small American mountain mining town in the 19th century, incorporates elements of historical fiction with experimental fiction, but nothing that pulls the reader out of the fictional dream. The characters, who tell their own stories for the most part, are distinct and complex. The conflict runs throughout, holding the tension high and carries the reader along the tumultuous river of story to a conclusion that made me cry for more.

The best thing about this novel is the author’s skill with language. Every sentence is beautiful; every observation stunning.

Some of my favorites:

“The difference between knowing and doing,” I replied, “is greater than the space between stars. Greater even than the vast distance between one person and another. I believe that’s the truest thing I’ve learned yet in this life.” (91)

“Jess holds the afterbirth before us so we can get a good look, then proceeds to tell us of the tree of life, the blue vein running from the cord up through the center of it, a vein stronger and clearer than any vein of silver ore Henry ever found in the mountain. / It starts with the pulsing cord, and I reach out and take it in my hand, right there at the base, to see if the pulsing life running through it is real. I feel it as I feel my own beating heart, wondering at the force that drives it. It’s then Jess takes my hand in hers and guides my finger as it traces the pulse to its source. I follow the trunk through its infinite branches and I feel the pulses as if they were singing in the branches of my brain.” (48)

View all my reviews

Do you Goodreads?

Do you keep track of your reading via Goodreads?

Why do you do it?

Have you tried to remember all of the books you’ve ever read?

Who are you following?

Do you write reviews? Are you tight with your stars?

I do it sporadically.

Because I want to know what my friends are reading, and as a writer/editor, feel it is part of a necessary social networking presence.

I have remembered back for quite a few, but have never taken the time to try and remember all; doubt I could.

I follow Daniel Grandbois. I’m not sure what it means to follow someone on Goodreads- maybe you don’t know them well enough to befriend them but you still want to know what they’re reading?

I don’t usually write reviews, but I tell people they can find my reviews at San Francisco Book Review.

I am very tight with my stars. Harper Lee, John Irving– they get 5. That to me is hard to achieve. I’ve noticed others seem rather generous with stars, or else they are madly in love with everything they read.