How Winter Began by Joy Castro

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They’re not for sale

There’s a pull quote on both the front and back cover of Joy Castro’s new short story collection How Winter Began from American Book Award winning author Sandra Cisneros which in its entirety reads, “Joy Castro’s writing is like watching an Acapulco cliff diver. It takes my breath away every time.” Yes, but no. Cisneros isn’t wrong per se, but she has failed to adequately convey the full effect that the power of Castro’s words can have on an unsuspecting reader. Watching implies that you’re standing a safe distance away from the action. There’s nothing even remotely safe about Joy Castro’s writing. You may be emotionally harmed by these stories. You will be changed by them. That’s their purpose. That’s her gift.
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West of Sunset by Stewart O’Nan

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When most readers think of F. Scott Fitzgerald, they conjure up Gatsby-esque images of fame, fortune, and prohibition speakeasies – where the booze, smoke and creative ideas swirled.  The fact that we romanticize the Jazz Age comes as no surprise, but I believe a lot of readers also tend to romanticize the Fitzgeralds personally, as if they spent their entire lives dancing and drinking in the presence of other brilliant and tortured minds.  Which, of course, they did for some time.  But when money runs short and addictions prevail, sometimes you do what you have to do.  For F. Scott Fitzgerald, that meant accepting a desk job as a Hollywood screenwriter so he could support his ailing wife and teenage daughter.

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Sphinx by Anne Garreta

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To Appease Is Not The Same As To Fulfill

With sexes mixed and genders blurred Anne Garreta’s spectacular debut novel forces us to challenge our most deep-seated beliefs when it comes to dealing with matters of the heart. Though the people that swirl around them are clearly defined as being either male or female, Sphinx’s nameless narrator and their love interest A**** have broken free from this constraint and have elevated both themselves and their relationship to a place where gender markers no longer hold any relevance. With these arguably important identifying traits stripped away, what’s left to behold is a shockingly intimate portrait of the complexities of desire, what it’s like to truly lose yourself in another person, and the hidden costs of finally conquering the object of your ultimate affections.

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The Library of Unrequited Love by Sophie Divry

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Never The Silence Of The Book

Tip to the worldly traveler on a tight budget: when visiting France, don’t ever attempt to save a buck or two by sleeping in a local library overnight, because if you do, when you awaken the next morning, refreshed and ready to be on your way, you may discover that there is no quick escape to be had from the librarian whose section you slumbered in. She might be a middle-aged spinster. She might be more than a little bitter. She might have a heck of a lot to say, and you my friend, may find yourself with no recourse but to sit there and take it all in because the library isn’t officially open yet and she can’tnayshe won’t, let you leave before partaking in a friendly chinwag.  The only thing though? You’ll never get a word in edgewise.

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Crime Novel by Petri Tamminen

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Put a Little Love in Your Heart

How many times have you heard that tired old phrase about never judging a book by its cover? When it comes to Petri Tamminen’s Crime Novel, a book that features a giant fingerprint and the word “Crime” in a rather large black font on its front, no one would blame you for thinking that what you’re about to read is a classic detective story. Heck, fingerprint aside, the title alone all but implies this. Don’t get me wrong, there is a police inspector in this one, and much of the surface plot does revolve around him tracking the whereabouts of an elusive felon, but there’s much, much more at work here then simply taking a quick glance at the cover would lead you to believe. Trust me friends, this one is anything but your standard game of cat and mouse.

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