RaveForeword Reviews... a treasure of a book in multiple ways ... As if they live elsewhere, inmates refer to life on the outside as the \'real world.\' Hummingbird turns this distinction inside out: it’s within the prison walls that its real story, in real time, featuring real people, unfolds ... While Tobola’s beacon shines upon the virtues and vices of those living and working in prisons, Hummingbird also ventures into the self-serving politics, businesses, and unions lurking in the darkest corners of the prison system itself.
PositiveForeword ReviewsAlthough excerpts from sources as stylistically disparate as tabloids, texts, novels, and the Physicians’ Desk Reference curb the fluidity of the prose, they enrich the scope of the book’s analysis to an extent otherwise impossible. Tracing the journey of viciously persecuted people necessitates traveling treacherous, unmapped roads where the final picture is more of a mosaic in progress than a complete work of art ... James Polchin’s Indecent Advances inspires further exploration into the hidden histories of marginalized populations and how the violence they suffer might be the result of a system that excludes some people from its protections, exiling them to places where they are made more vulnerable.
RaveForeword ReviewsReminiscent of centuries-old legends told and retold from one generation to the next. They read like stories designed to preserve a culture’s history, traditions, and way of life ... Instead of attempting to resurrect memories of all that was destroyed, they explore mystical kingdoms accessible only to those who, through the loss of all they held most dear, discovered that life and death’s greatest treasures are invincible ... Nothingness weaves through these stories as if nothing could be more substantial or meaningful ... Even the nothingness of linguistic voids are used to their best advantage. When an ideal word or phrase fails to exist in the English language, this void becomes a laboratory where words are cajoled into serving functions not normally within their job descriptions.
PositiveForeword ReviewsChapters feature other narrators who reveal nothing about themselves or their circumstances until it is absolutely necessary. This technique of divulging only whatever the storytellers see, hear, feel, or remember in the instant they become aware of it imbues every unfolding scene with palpable intimacy ... Never lacking in forward momentum, tension, or suspense, Stephanie Allen’s Tonic and Balm could easily be a page-turner except that the sooner the pages are turned, the sooner Doc Bell’s medicine show must be summoned back to history. The lure of finding out what happens next pales against the opportunity to spend more time with a captivating clan of cast-offs who were only misfits prior to stumbling upon one another.
RaveForeword ReviewsMaureen Aitken’s The Patron Saint of Lost Girls pretends to be a collection of short stories but is not. Instead, advantages of both short-story and novel formats are fused into a mutation which is neither. By the time this subterfuge is exposed, it is more deserving of a standing ovation than an apology ... Tension mounts and dissipates as danger and doom dance with laughter and a relentless search for meaning. Every story delivers its punch: either some fleeting sensation too extraordinary for words or an epiphany worth the weight of whatever agony preceded it. Metaphors, dialogue, playful cynicism, and suspense spur plots, characters, and relationships toward their unexpected (but, in hindsight, inevitable) conclusions ... Since only information essential to each narrative is included, resulting gaps function like those optical illusions created by white space in visual art: enhancing perceptual depth of all that appears on the page through the absence of what doesn’t ... Given the astounding result of Aitken’s web of independent yet intimately related stories, The Patron Saint of Lost Girls reveals a previously underexplored genre, one that storytellers have failed to take advantage of. Its rare technique is far worthier of being the norm than the exception.