Wednesday, April 4, 2018

The Book Review Club (April 2018)

Welcome to the April edition of The Book Review Club. You're in for a marvelous spring treat as my critique partner, Kelly Hayes, is in charge of the review on my blog this month. And she's reviewing the most recent book by Patricia Abbott, one of our very own reviewers. Win-win! Oh, and did I mention I Bring Sorrow has a starred review from Publishers Weekly?! So, win-win-win! Please scroll down after Kelly's posts to links to everyone else's reviews.

by Patricia Abbott (short stories)

The short stories in Patricia Abbott's new collection, I Bring Sorrow and Other Stories of Transgression,  are incredibly varied in genre, style, and time period and so rich in unique characters and subject matter, I worry I won't do them justice in just a few paragraphs. But I will do my very best. Perhaps my best bet is to share the impressions that still linger with me after reading this collection.

The last three words of the subtitle: "Stories of Transgression" offer a clue as to the underlying themes and motifs that run through these stories. Almost all the characters have transgressed somehow, gone awry, or off the deep end. There is a haunting sense of lapse and failure, all the more moving because it is so recognizable.

For instance, Andrea, narrator of the first story, "On Pacific Beach," who flies into San Diego periodically to check on her aging homeless mother who no facility can keep off the street for too long and who long ago stopped recognizing her daughter. Andrea's anxiety for her mother's safety is palpable and her feeling of helplessness is universal.

Or Gas, the failing old school fisherman in "Um Peixe Grande" who saves the life of a gangster whose gratefulness is a double-edged sword. Complacency makes Gas eventually ignore his warning first impression of the gangster, and take a reward from him. Gas thinks he can tell good guys from bad guys and friends from enemies. But he's wrong.

And then there's the sci-fi story, "The Annas," set in the year 2097 in a post apocalyptic society where fifty women are taxed with nurturing and preparing fifty android copies of themselves for the new world. Our narrator, the original human Anna is a stickler for excellence and has a rather Eugenicist bent. She takes her role as mentor very seriously and even hatches a plot to overthrow the other mentors. One could say she is a victim of her own success.

One thing is clear from reading these stories: Abbott is not concerned with giving her main characters the moral high ground which is one of the things that makes her stories and her characters so interesting. Another is her obvious mastery of the suspense element. Many of these stories have twists, which I find an added bonus in a short story, especially when it's done well.

Despite their myriad transgressions, the characters in these stories don't just bring sorrow. They bring the heat of human connection with all its jagged edges and the inevitable transgressions.

(Dear FCC: Kelly received an ARC to read for this review. But do you know Kelly? She has strong ideas and can't be budged. She wouldn't review a book she didn't like, ARC or no ARC. 

And now....onto the rest of our reviews. Please click through. You won't want to miss a single one!


Jody Feldman: THE LAST BOY AT ST. EDITH'S by Lee Gjersten Malone (MG, contemporary)

Phyllis Wheeler: ALCATRAZ VS THE EVIL LIBRARIANS by Brandon Sanderson (MG, fantasy)

Ellen Booraem: TESS OF THE ROAD by Rachel Hartman  (YA, fantasy )


Jenn Jilks of Cottage Country: BONE BOX by Faye Kellerman (mystery)

Linda McLaughlin: A CURIOUS BEGINNING by Deanna Raybourn (historical mystery)

Patti Abbott:  THE PERFECT NANNY by Leila Silimani (crime)

Ray Potthoff: THE INVENTION OF WINGS by Sue Monk Kidd (historical)

Sarah Laurence: THE BEAR AND THE NIGHTINGALE by Katherine Arden (fantasy, historical)
                           THE GIRL IN THE TOWER by Katherine Arden (fantasy, historical)
Tanya Sutton: THE LONEY by Andrew Michael Hurley (horror, mystery, historical)


Margy Lutz: GUMBOOT GIRLS by Jane Wilde and Lou Allison (memoir)

Note to Reviewers: Any errors (broken link, missed review, etc), just shoot me an email or leave a comment. Thank you so much for your reviews!


  1. Many thanks for the wonderful, thoughtful review. I am thrilled that you liked my stories.

  2. Many thanks to Kelly for such a wonderful review. How kind you were to undertake this.

  3. I haven't read many short story collections. I do like books about women so this might be a good start. - Margy

  4. Margy, and it's an extra treat as the author is one of our own reviewers!

  5. I'm so glad Kelly enjoyed and reviewed your book, Patti! I loved both your mysteries (Concrete Angel and Shot in Detroit) and I love short stories, so I'll definitely read I Bring Sorrow.

  6. Great review by Kelly and a big congratulations to Patti!

    Ray, if you see this, I tried to comment on your wonderful review but the link had stopped working.

  7. Congrats, Patti! Your new collection sound enticing. Nicely reviewed, Kelly! Thanks for hosting, Barrie! I will be late to visit this week but hope to catch up with reviews this weekend.


Comments are always welcome!