Category Archives: out of things to read

The Monday Book: FISH by L.S. Matthews

I picked up this book while on a week-long writing retreat, one evening when I couldn’t face my own writing any more. It was short, easy to read in an evening, and I stayed up and read it before bed.

LS Matthews has written a charming and deceptively simple story of Tiger, the child of foreign aid workers in a war-torn country. Tiger is the only character in the book who gets a name. The wise guide who takes the family on their harrowing journey says his name is too hard to pronounce so call him Guide. The donkey (also a major character) is Guide. And Tiger’s parents are Mom and Dad.

The country itself is not named. The novel uses childhood innocence to observe the building horror of the situation, and the difficult questions that the horror will stop for Tiger’s family but not the rest, because they are being evacuated if they can reach the airplane. Tiger wants to know what will happen to his friends. His parents try hard to soft-petal that answer, but readers get it.

A journey fraught with hardships resulting from the drought and war that ruined the country shows perils from natural to human. They cannot cross the easiest border because it is now closed to refugees. They are a target, as foreign workers, for kidnapping and ransom. And they don’t know how to navigate the mountains that separate them from the plane that will not wait, and cannot communicate with the plane.

If the book sounds dark, it isn’t. Donkey and Fish are two of the most human characters in the book; on the day they have to leave, Tiger rescues a fish from a receding mud puddle. The fish would have died, the puddle drying up and leaving him noplace to live. Fish continues to be a metaphor for the family’s survival, placed in a water bottle, and eventually…. well, you read the book. You’ll find it interesting.

Spoiler alert: the donkey makes it. :]

Although written for children, I found the simplicity of the story and the metaphor-rich writing lovely, and moving in their stark poetry. Two fins up.

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Filed under animal rescue, book reviews, Life reflections, out of things to read, post-apocalypse fiction, publishing, reading

WENDY’S NEW BOOK IS OUT ONLINE

bad-boy2OK, kids, the new book is out! It is fiction, set in a bookstore (where did I get that idea) and based on a true incident. Jack came home from his prison visits one day with a napkin covered in drawings and figures. The prisoner he visited at Lee Penitentiary–a tunneler who had escaped several times– had drawn him a diagram of how to reinforce our bookstore basement. Jack felt this was safe because, “I didn’t tell him where we lived.”

I stared at Jack, “We’re the only bookstore for miles and I’ve never seen his face. What if someday he escapes again and comes here? He could pretend to be one of the Quaker prison visitors and I wouldn’t know if you weren’t here.”

Jack laughed, so that night I murdered him in this book. The rest, as they say, is history.

When you buy the book, you own the rights to sell it on. Seriously. You can put it on a platform of your choosing (Lisa Dailey, owner of Sidekick Press, can help but she’s a pro so value her time) and sell it from there. Or you can pass it on to a friend from your own download, but you cannot GIVE it away. The rules are simple: sell it for $4.95 if you sell it for money. You may also trade access to the book for a favor (someone going to the grocery store for you? Mowing your yard, dropping off meals?)

A lot of us have spare time right now and need something fun to read. Plus a lot of us have lost our jobs and need a little help. Lisa and I will be using 100% of the money paid for Bad Boy to help people in her native Seattle and my beloved Southwest Virginia. YOU can use the money for any good purpose – including keeping yourself afloat. Proceeds or barter, it’s yours to do with as you see fit. ENJOY

Purchase Bad Boy Here

Need a little enticement?

When Mary Ferguson’s beloved husband Henry dies, she quits her job at the college to run their bookstore and café in the tiny town of Bramwell, West Virginia. Resigning herself to the quiet life of a widow, Mary receives an email from an old friend of Henry’s–and something deep inside her catches fire. This friendly yet awkward and shy man says he was a fellow Quaker working alongside her husband, visiting lifers in prison whose families couldn’t or wouldn’t visit them.

He is still a good listener, and Mary soon feels alive again. Despite the dire warnings of everyone from her dog Ringo to the café’s cook Paige, Mary throws herself into a dark adventure that could have graced the bookshop’s “Romantic Fiction” shelves. Or was that “True Crime?” As her life plummets down a rabbit hole, Mary struggles to figure out what’s real, what’s imaginary, what’s literary, and what’s going to happen next.

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Filed under book reviews, bookstore management, Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap, out of things to read, publishing, reading, small town USA, Uncategorized, VA, Wendy Welch, writing