Archive for the ‘book list’ Category

Ten Books To Read On Valentine’s Day

Some people like Valentine’s Day, and quite a few others despise it, but despite what the Hallmark corporation has done to capitalize on the world’s collective love life, the fact remains that love and relationships are an indelible part of what it means to be human. These ten books span a range of genres and feelings on the subject—from fiction to poetry to self-help, from gooey sentimentality to brooding cynicism—so no one should feel left out.

 THE HISTORY OF LOVEThe History of Love by Nicole Krauss

This cool breeze of a novel can be read in an afternoon, and tells a complex love story that spans a century. After World War II, Leo Gursky fell in love and wrote a book; decades later, a young girl named after one of the characters in his book takes off on a quest to save her family. The manner in which these two threads are woven together should delight and move even the coldest of hearts.

WUTHERING HEIGHTSWuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

“If all else perished, and he remained, I should still continue to be; and if all else remained, and he were annihilated, the universe would turn to a mighty stranger.” This stone classic of a novel bursts at the seams with a youthful sense of love’s cataclysmic possibilities. Surprisingly sophisticated given the author’s youth—life, death, and eros merge in a serpentine tale of broken hearts, familial drama, and rugged handsomeness.

First Love And Other ShortsFirst Love and Other Shorts by Samuel Beckett

A man visiting his father’s grave turns over in his mind the memories and follies of his youth, evoking both the sweetness of young love, and the bitterness of its foibles. Beckett’s outlook on life could hardly be called optimistic, but in the title story to this collection he comes as close as he ever did to allowing the reader a glimpse into the workings of his sullen heart.

One Hundred Poems From The JapaneseOne Hundred Poems From the Japanese, Kenneth Rexroth trans. & Women Poets of China, Kenneth Rexroth & Ling Chung trans.

These two volumes of poetry, translated by Kenneth Rexroth, contain some of the most romantic lines ever inscribed, proving that, though millennia have passed, though empires and kingdoms have risen and fell, that most simple yet inscrutable of human emotions, love, endures.

Love & WillLove and Will by Rollo May

Philosophically dense but highly readable, this stunning work manages to coalesce 2000 years of literature, philosophy, and psychology into a cohesive picture of the meaning and role of love in a modern world that, in its sheer modernness, seems to have forgotten it.

PikhalPIHKAL: A Chemical Love Story by Alexander and Ann Shulgin

Aren’t all love stories ultimately based on chemistry? Alexander Shulgin, who died last year, is known as the father of MDMA (the “love drug”), and the book he wrote together with his wife of 33 years, Ann, will expand both your mind and your heart. Part memoir and part chemical index, PIHKAL is their shared testament to a range of lifelong devotions: to pharmaceutical research, to furthering humanity’s understanding of consciousness, and most of all, to each other.

How To Be An AdultHow to Be an Adult in Relationships: The Five Keys to Mindful Loving by David Richo

Having relationship problems? “Most people think of love as a feeling, but love is not so much a feeling as a way of being present,” writes David Richo in this manual to becoming a more loving and realistic person. The key is mindfulness in the Buddhist sense of the term. This book will empower you to move away from the default setting of judgment, fear, and blame to one of openness and compassion.

A Midsummer Night's DreamA Midsummer Night’s Dream by Shakespeare

Endlessly parodied and reenacted, Shakespeare’s timeless comedy captures like few other works the madcap frenzy of love and desire. Chances are you’ve read it before, but the massive depth of its language and the range of content on display (not to mention the happy ending) make it one to be revisited again and again.

I Like YouI Like You by Sandol Stoddard Warburg

As simple and powerful a declaration of romantic feeling as you will ever find, this children’s book from 1965 can be read in five minutes, but those five minutes will stay with you for a lifetime. Read it out loud with someone you love, and dare each other not to cry.

by Alex Fulton

Nine Books You Can Read In The Time It Takes To Watch The Super Bowl

According to Nielsen Holdings, the average length of a Super Bowl broadcast is 3 hours and 35 minutes. We’ve rounded up nine novels, novellas, and chapbooks you can read in less time than it takes to watch the biggest game of the year.


Kimzey_cover-250x386Families Among Us by Blake Kimzey

Blake Kimzey’s collection of stories can probably be read in the time it takes to get to the second quarter. Small and special, the characters in these six stories sprout wings and slither. They grow snouts, claws, and fur. Kimzey’s stories have been called, “beautifully written universes” and they are exactly that. Take a Super Bowl break and enjoy this wonderful little chapbook.



Cover1-3-4-195x300-175x250An Elegy for Mathematics by Anne Valente

Anne Valente’s recent story collection By Light We Knew Our Names is one of the best books we read last year and her chapbook, An Elegy for Mathematics, is just as special. Valente’s prose takes us to fantastic worlds in thirteen beautiful short stories. The perfect Super Bowl oasis from Origami Zoo Press.



together-apart-mockup_7Together Apart by Ben Hoffman

Together Apart is another beautiful chapbook from Origami Zoo Press. Ben Hoffman won the press’s first-ever chapbook contest. The characters in his collection are constantly grappling with the difference between their desires and the realities they are presented with. It is in this impossible, transitional space that Hoffman’s stories flourish. Duck out of the game and enjoy this little gem.


61aUlQj4PSLI Am Legend by Richard Matheson

The book came before the movie and in our opinion has more to offer. In this creepy zombie/end-of-the-earth/vampire novella, a man is left alone to deal with dangerous changlings that emerge at night. Stephen King and Dean Kootz have both cited I Am Legend as a major inspiration for their work. It was considered a groundbreaking story for its time and is one that inspired an entire zombie and vampire movement in literature.



sleep-donationSleep Donation by Karen Russell

In less time than it takes to get to the halftime show, transport yourself with Karen Russell’s novella about an insomnia epidemic turned deadly. In this story, Russell’s protagonist, Trish, works for an organization called Slumber Corps, traveling the country telling the story of her sister’s death in hopes of gather “sleep donations” from healthy sleepers. In our review of the novella Sadye Teiser writes: “…we may be alone in our dreams, but as Sleep Donation shows us, we are useless without them.”

51DwmeeKbCL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_A Familiar Beast by Panio Gianopoulous

Publisher Nouvella books describes this title as: “In the wake of an affair that has cost him his marriage and career, Marcus is a lost man. Desperate for reprieve from his loneliness and regret, he accepts an invitation to go to the outskirts of North Carolina and visit Edgar, an old high school classmate burdened with mysterious troubles of his own. In Edgar’s beautiful, empty home, their separate sorrows draw Marcus into a series of unnerving situations, culminating in a proposed deer hunt.” It’s a wonderful read and the perfect way to spend an afternoon.

Short Novels

jacksonWe Have Always Lived in The Castle by Shirley Jackson

Shirley Jackson’s novel about the Blackwood sisters who live in isolation on the outskirts of town is a mysterious tale about a dark family secret. This scary story is quick and complex, and will keep you on your toes throughout. You won’t soon forget the agoraphobic Constance and the increasingly volatile Merricat.



vandermeerAnnihilation by Jeff Vandermeer

Annihilation begs to be read. Vandeermeer’s story about Area X, which has been cut off from the rest of the continent for decade, begins with four women who are part of an expedition to provide information on this strange land. An anthropologist, surveyor, psychologist, and biologist must gather data and avoid contamination if they hope to return home. Annihilation is the first in a trilogy of stories that are impossible to put down.


lernerLeaving the Atocha Station by Ben Lerner

Ben Lerner’s book about a young poet in Madrid is a difficult title to summarize, simply because nothing suffices to capture just how special it is. This much-awarded short novel is a funny and poignant meditation on the arts. James Woods says: “Lerner is attempting to capture something that most conventional novels, with their cumbersome caravans of plot and scene and ‘conflict,’ fail to do: the drift of thought, the unmomentous passage of undramatic life. . . .” Need we say more?


Fifteen Books We’re Looking Forward to This Year

2015 promises to be an exciting year in books. Here are some books we are excited about to start the year off right. From debut fiction and nonfiction titles to acclaimed short story writer Laura van den Berg’s first novel to Kelly Link’s long-anticipated third collection—here is the list of books from the first half of 2015 that we can’t wait to read.

Hall of Small MammalsHall of Small Mammals by Thomas Pierce

This book is already out, but we’ve only just started reading it. We are loving Pierce’s debut collection, in which the domestic meets the extraordinary. A woman’s son brings home a wooly mammoth, and then leaves her to care for it. A man is jealous of the other husband his wife has in her dreams. Full of invention and Southern charm, these stories astound us.

Publication date: January 8

The First Bad ManThe First Bad Man by Miranda July

After reading Miranda July’s brief, radiant stories, we’re eager to see how her eccentric style translates to a longer form. In The First Bad Man, Miranda July’s debut novel, narrator Cheryl’s idiosyncratic, solitary life changes dramatically when her bosses’ daughter moves in with her. In her recent New York Times review, Lauren Groff writes of July’s debut: “It has a heartbeat and a pulse. This is a book that is painfully alive.”

Publication date: January 13

Trigger WarningTrigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances by Neil Gaiman

As Neil Gaiman devotees, we know we are not alone in our excitement about his forthcoming collection Trigger Warning. Gaiman’s previous stories incorporate everything from trolls to the Holy Grail—in new and jarring ways. We can’t wait to see what he does next. Check out an excerpt from the introduction here.

Publication date: February 3

Get in TroubleGet in Trouble by Kelly Link

It’s no surprise that Kelly Link has developed a cult-like following for her dense, dark, and electrifying stories. “Stone Animals” remains one of our favorite scary stories of all time. Now comes Link’s long-awaited third collection for adults, Get in Trouble. Sarah Waters says of the stories: “These are not so much small fictions as windows onto entire worlds.”

Publication date: February 3

Find MeFind Me by Laura van den Berg

We’ve been anxiously awaiting Laura van den Berg’s debut novel since she discussed it with us in an interview. In Find Me, America is overtaken by a pandemic that robs people of their memories. The narrator, Joy, who is immune to the disease, travels first to a hospital in Kansas and then journeys to Florida to find her long-lost mother.

Publication date: February 17

MisadventureMisadventure by Nicholas Grider

We loved A Strange Object’s  two previous titles Three Scenarios in Which Hana Sasaki Grows a Tail and Our Secret Life in the Movies. They are back again with another debut collection: Misadventure by Nicholas Grider. In ASO’s own words: “In Misadventure, men search for themselves, for each other, for the sources of sanity and sickness, power and grief.”

Publication date: February 18


The Masters Review’s Best Books of 2014 List

To celebrate the year in books, our editors compiled a list of favorite titles we reviewed in 2014. Of course, this only represents a tiny slice of all the wonderful releases this year. Cheers to the books of 2014! Here is a look back at our highlights.


Wolf in WhiteWolf in White Van by John Darnielle

This is why I love novels. You get a chance to be inside someone’s head, to understand their mistakes, even when you can’t condone them. Wolf is dark dark dark—it revolves around a wrongful death suit filed against our narrator, the survivor of a botched suicide. But Sean’s fertile imagination and resilience remind us of the beauty that can grow in the darkest places. I’ve already bought copies of this for other people; it’s one of those.

Farrar, Straus and Giroux; October

Loitering by Charles D’Ambrosio

I bet Charles D’Ambrosio is terrific at Scrabble. I mean, I don’t know if he’s quick to the corners or bingoing with power tiles, but I had to keep a dictionary handy while reading Loitering, an updated collection of his nonfiction output. There’s a lot of big guns here, ten-dollar words that had me questioning the net worth of my diploma. Then I investigated these mystery words and realized they are PERFECT CHOICES. And it happens sentence-after-achingly-well-crafted-sentence. He is so precise, so articulate, that every clause seems to achieve maximum expression. I’m looking forward to rereading this the first chance I get.

Tin House Books, November

Thrown by Kerry Howley

Hands down, this literary nonfiction book is the one that I’ve wrestled with most in the past year. And although “wrestle” feels pun-tastic given the mixed martial arts subject matter, I have spent an embarrassing amount of time debating this one in my head and with friends. Howley’s use of Kit, a fictional narrator, to profile two MMA athletes called into question, well, everything about the NF category: If Kit’s fake, how fake? Is she a complete fiction? Why do I equate fake with nonfiction but not with fiction? It had me questioning my views on entire floors of the library. Did I mention it’s also the sweatiest, bloodiest, most gut-wrenching book I’ve read in years? It is, and now I’m a believer. Damn you, Kit. Thank you, Kerry.

Sarabande, October

American Fun: Four Centuries of Joyous Revolt by John Beckman

Beckman’s history chronicles the fun bits of the last four hundred years, from the Boston Tea Party and the trickster Br’er Rabbit to drug culture and underground music clubs. The author posits that participants in provocative fun are active and their actions spontaneous, which provides the rebellious and sometimes destructive nature of joyous revolt absent from the homogenous and corporate versions (PT Barnum, Playstation, Broadway, etc.) hoping to make a dollar off of you. The lines are a bit blurry on what it means that “fun” can sometimes lead to evil or murderous acts. And how from there, it’s only a small leap to the debased humor of modern day lulz-seekers. But he never did say that fun has to be innocent. It’s also a thrill to know that there were early colonists who pulled pranks on the Puritans. Thomas Morton is now my spirit animal.

Pantheon, February


Dysfunction Reigns Supreme – 5 Novels About Dysfunctional Families

Have you ever gone home with a friend for Thanksgiving or another holiday and found their family to be strangely happy and polite? Folded napkins, everyone is excited to see one another, they may even sing carols in front of you. And isn’t it profoundly disturbing when you realize you might have to reciprocate the invite and show your friend the deep dysfunction that plagues your visits home? All the mumbled complaints, the piercing clatter of chipped dishes being stacked, Grandma trying to show off the weal on her neck in the middle of dinner.

Am I projecting? HELL NO, because guess what: WE are the normal ones. Dysfunction reigns supreme. And if you’re reading this thinking, “What? My happy family is completely normal,” then please realize you are wrong and need to speed-read the novels in this reading list if you want to fit in with the rest of us weirdos.

Children’s Books That Still Scare Us Me


It is publicly acknowledged that I am fearless and dread nothing. But that isn’t to say I cannot recognize the creepiness of some children’s books, including some that were actually meant to frighten.

1325218Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark series by Alvin Schwartz (with illustrations by Stephen Gammell)

Supremely unsettling tales of folklore and urban legends, illustrated with spidery, surreal drawings that are guaranteed to creep you out at any age. To the pre-Goosebumps generation, this is the cornerstone text of scary-ass children’s literature. Extra kudos for not only being a frequent guest on the Banned Books list, but having entire stories removed for subsequent editions.  


The_Twits_first_editionThe Twits by Roald Dahl (with illustrations by Quentin Blake)

Dahl has a bevy of beloved bestsellers, but this anti-beard screed about scary neighbors never seemed to be as widely-read as his hits. Which is to say, I was the only one I knew who wrote a book report on it. Because it scared me to death. Mr. Twit eats food out of his beard? They play cruel pranks upon each other for fun? Why are they so goddamned abusive to their pets? And let’s be real here, twit is also clearly one of the greatest words of the English language. It almost sounds like an obscenity but it’s not. TWIT! What a word!

242041The Amazing Bone by William Steig

In The Amazing Bone, a pig named Pearl finds a bone that lets her speak any language. As she walks home, she encounters a number of perilous obstacles. It’s pretty basic stuff, but worth it for the drawings. Steig is someone who I appreciate more now that I’m older, especially for his illustrations. His art is childlike, almost outsider fare, but for some reason it creeps me out big time. Perhaps because of the primitive quality, some illustrations looks like they were scrawled in the witness box by a child who saw their parents tortured. Most importantly, the image at the top of the page really freaked me out when I was young. I wondered if I was supposed to be seeing things like this at such a young age. It seemed R-rated.

lord-of-the-fliesLord Of The Flies by William Golding

Golding’s 1954 novel, set in the midst of an unspecified nuclear war, begins with a plane crashing into a remote island. The only survivors are adolescent boys. Even as an adolescent boy reader, I knew this book was my living hell. Then the kids start to argue and fight with one another, a clash of groupthink mentality and individuality themes that meant nothing to my child mind because, come on, no parents, no girls, and no bathrooms?! It was later assigned for school reading; I distinctly remember everyone in class seemed impressed that I had already read the book. Little did they know my childhood innocence ended when the savages brained Piggy.

The_Giving_TreeThe Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein

You remember this one, of course you do. The beautiful tree gives selfless love to the little boy, providing him a trunk to climb, apples to sell, branches to build a boat with. By the time the book is done, the little jerk has grown into an old man. Having used up every last piece of wood, the old man finds just a stump where his beloved apple tree once stood proud and majestic. Fittingly, and to my eternal horror, he pops a squat on the corpse. This book is like an S/M primer.

by Andrew Wetzel

Banned Books Week: Read a Graphic Novel!

Banned Books Week is a national celebration of the freedom to read, which is something we are very enthusiastic about here at The Masters Review. This year’s celebration is September 21-27, and across the country, libraries and bookstores will participate by highlighting banned and challenged books, hosting events, and encouraging adventurous reading. The focus for 2014 is on comics and graphic novels, a literary medium that’s often under fire—in fact, Captain Underpants currently holds first place in the ALA’s 2013 ranking of the most challenged titles. The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund has released a handy Banned Books Week Handbook for this year, which is available as a free download from their site.

Below are some fantastic graphic novels and the stories of how they have been challenged. This coming week, take a few hours to nab one from your library or bookstore and judge for yourself.

1271704108-1271455736-bone_jeff_smithThe Bone series, by Jeff Smith

The bestselling Scholastic children’s series Bone, by Jeff Smith, has been challenged for a variety of reasons, including “political viewpoint,” “violence,” and “unsuitability to age group.” In fact, the series ranks #10 out of the ALA’s 2013 list of most-challenged books. Most well known is the 2010 challenge by a Minnesotan parent, Ramona DeLay, who believed that the book encouraged children to smoke and drink. While character Smiley Bone does often smoke a cigar, and a beer-selling competition is a significant plot point in one of the volumes, the activities are shown in a neutral light—as just something the characters do. The challenge was rejected by a 10-1 vote.

funhomeFun Home, by Alison Bechdel, and Blankets, by Craig Thompson

Fun Home is a graphic memoir about the author’s relationship with her closeted father and its implications on her own life and sexuality. It won numerous awards, including an Eisner, and the author, Alison Bechdel, just won a MacArthur “genius” grant. Fun Home was challenged along with another semiautobiographical book, Blankets, which is the story of the author’s religious upbringing and its effects on his first love. The challenger was Louise Mills of Marshall, Missouri, who requested that they be taken off the shelves of the library because of  “pornographic images.” She also feared that children might be drawn to them because of their classification as comic books. Both books do in fact depict sex—they’re both about relationships and sexuality, after all—but obviously, that does not make them obscene or pornographic, and neither was categorized as children’s literature. While the challenge did spur the library to draft a materials selection policy, they eventually chose to retain the books in their catalog.

Persepolis ReturnPersepolis: The Story of a Childhood, by Marjane Satrapi

This graphic memoir about the author’s childhood in Iran during the Iranian revolution was removed from all Chicago public schools due to “graphic illustrations and language” and concerns about “developmental preparedness” and “student readiness.” In response, students protested by checking out all the copies from the library, talking on social media, appearing on local TV and radio, and writing articles and blogs about it. The book was reinstated in a victory for student involvement and the freedom to read.




MausMaus, by Art Speigelman

The first graphic novel to win the Pulitzer Prize, Maus is the story of a son trying to understand his father. It is told in two timelines: the present day, as he interviews his father, and in the past, as his interpretation of his father’s life as a Polish Jew who survived the Holocaust. It is a tremendous piece of literature and incredibly moving. Spiegelman illustrates the story with anthropomorphized animals—Jews are drawn as mice, Germans as cats, and Poles as pigs—which, while an effective narrative device, has often been the reason it is challenged as “anti-ethnic” or “unsuitable for children.” Yet again, we run into the false idea that all graphic novels and comics are for kids, not serious literature, and when they fail that idea, the books are challenged as inappropriate.

24242-LIn the Night Kitchen, by Maurice Sendak

Lastly, a book that actually is for children, by beloved author Maurice Sendak. In the Night Kitchen is the story of a little boy’s dream adventure through a baker’s kitchen; however, the protagonist, Mickey, was drawn nude in some panels. This was so upsetting to many parents and librarians that they censored the book by painting diapers or underwear on Mickey. In some cases, the book was actually burned. I’m fairly certain that I read a censored copy when I was a kid, and I’m also fairly certain that I would not have minded the original in the least.

Share your own favorite banned book in the comments!

Ten Books We’re Looking Forward To This Fall

It’s starting to feel like fall, and along with the changing leaves comes an impressive new crop of books. Here are ten fresh debuts we can’t wait to curl up with this season.  


Wolf in WhiteWolf in White Van by John Darnielle

John Darnielle, of popular band The Mountain Goats, has written a novel, and editor Andrew just loved it. The hermetic narrator Sean spends most of his life creating a role-playing game that his clients play through the mail. But he is forced to confront reality when tragedy befalls two of the game’s most fanatic fans. In his upcoming review, Andrew writes: “ . . . through deft construction and well-earned empathy, Darnielle has crafted a memorable character who is guided through the darkest patches of his life by an inner intensity that burns like a magnesium flare.”

WallflowersWallflowers by Eliza Robertson

Eliza Robertson’s debut story collection, Wallflowers, is out mid-September. This young Canadian author has already garnered wide acclaim, and with good reason. The seventeen stories in this thick collection are exquisitely crafted worlds. In the opening story, a teenage girl finds herself alone, the only one in her neighborhood to survive a flood. In another story, Robertson focuses on the fiery, complicated relationship between two roommates. Editor Arielle thoroughly enjoyed this collection. In her upcoming review, Arielle comments: “As a whole, the collection stands as evidence of a truly great new literary talent with a handle on craft, character and subtlety. Robertson can handle the quick turn as well as she can build the slow burn.”

Doll PalaceDoll Palace by Sara Lippmann

We loved Dock Street Press’s second release Naked Me by Christian Winn, and we are eagerly awaiting the next book from this new publisher: Doll Palace by Sara Lippmann. This is Lippmann’s debut story collection, but you can sneak a peak at her writing in Joyland, Wigleaf, and SmokeLong Quarterly, among other lit mags. Rachel Sherman, author of Living Room and The First Hunt, has said of Lippmann: “Her female characters see motherhood, womanhood and self-hood through a raw and funny lens: I am about to cry, when I laugh.”


The WildsThe Wilds by Julia Elliott

Julia Elliott’s The Wilds is the perfect October book. According to the Publishers Weekly starred review, “Elliott’s gift of vernacular is remarkable, and her dark, modern spin on Southern Gothic creates tales that surprise, shock, and sharply depict vice and virtue.”



By Light We Knew Our NamesBy Light We Knew Our Names by Anne Valente

We are beyond excited about By Light We Knew Our Names, Anne Valente’s debut short story collection, out from Dzanc Books. The collection features an all-woman fight club,  ghosts, and pink dolphins. We are so there. If you can’t wait until October 14 to be introduced to Valente’s stories, check out her chapbook from Origami Zoo Press.



Howley7Thrown by Kerry Howley

Essayist Kerry Howley closely followed the lives of two cage fighters for three years. Thrown is the miraculous result: a serious, literary, and entertaining work of nonfiction. John D’Agata said, of the book: “Out of the dank basements and glitzy arenas of a brutal sport, Kerry Howley has created a story that is virtuous, rapturous, and utterly consequential.” This one is not to be missed.


WomenWomen by Chloe Caldwell

Women, Chloe Caldwell’s elegant, palm-sized novella is, in the words of publisher SF/LD Books, “about falling in love with a woman, about loving women, about being a woman.” Caldwell has already published an essay collection and has a strong fan base. Elisa Albert, author of The Book of Dahlia, said: “I’ll read anything Chloe Caldwell writes. She’s a rare bird: fearless, dark, prolific, unpretentious, and truly honest.” (more…)

Best Summer Books

Summer isn’t over yet, but with our eyes on the upcoming season we thought we’d recap some of our favorite books from the last few months. If you’re looking for a final summer read, consider these five from our book reviews section.

18815488 2AM AT THE CATS PAJAMAS by Marie-Helene Bertino

We tore through this debut novel, which is fast, jazzy, funny, and heartfelt. A nine-year-old girl loses her mother and wants to be a jazz singer, a club risks foreclosure, and a fifth grade teacher rediscovers a lost love. This one is full of gorgeous prose and clever writing. It’s a stunner.

Read the full book review for 2AM AT THE CAT’S PAJAMAS.



Crutchfield-Cover-Front copyHOW TO CATCH A COYOTE by Christy Crutchfield

Crutchfield’s prose is simple and straightforward, as it should be. It is compulsively readable. Though the book shifts in perspective, form, and time, the reader is never lost. How To Catch A Coyote is as audacious as it is admirable.

Read the full book review for HOW TO CATCH A COYOTE.


Hemenway.ElegyKinderklavierELEGY ON KINDERKLAVIER by Arna Bontemps Hemenway

Masters Review editor, Andrew Wetzel says there is a creative restlessness that drives the stories in this collection, which he calls “astonishingly confident”. He goes onto say, “Hemenway’s sentences don’t run circles around other writers; they do donuts.”

Read the full book review for ELEGY ON KINDERKLAVIER.



DSP-NakedMe-cover1NAKED ME by Christian Winn

The stories in this collection are plainly absurd, however, these stories aren’t in love with their absurdity. More often than not, they bemoan it. Winn does new things with familiar words, a true mark of the strength of his craft.

Read the full book review for NAKED ME.




51sjX+QNcGLSTAY by Zachary Amendt

Granted, we’re biased. We published the title story of this debut collection earlier this year. However, we can say unequivocally, that Zachary Amendt dazzles in this series of stories set place in the Bay Area. There’s something about the American mythos that makes baseball poignant, even if you’ve never set foot in a ballpark.

Read the full book review for STAY.

The Five Best Books To Read While You Are Camping

It’s camping season. The lakes beckon, the rope swings are practically screaming your name, and your tent poles are politely gathered in a trusty rucksack just waiting to be assembled in bleary-eyed haste after everyone has had a chance to pee on the campfire. But you’ll have time to kill between morning swims and toasted s’mores, so let’s find you something to read.


Walden – Although Thoreau admits his cabin was a couple miles from town and not a brutal three-week hike in, as your college roommate used to assume, this pleasant tome on the beauty and importance of nature and self-reliance has spurred many a failed back-to-the-land commune.

A Walk in the Woods – After moving back to his native US, travel writer Bill Bryson became fascinated by the segment of Appalachian Trail running through his hometown. He recruits an out-of-shape pal to tag along on his quest to tackle the entire 2200-mile trail, recounting his hilarious undertaking while also waxing rhapsodic on the AT’s history and the general disappearance of wilderness and greenways.

Wild – Let’s take the previous book and flip it to the West Coast: Cheryl Strayed’s mega-bestselling memoir details the author’s 1100-mile hike down the Pacific Crest Trail after a series of personal traumas, much to the delight of Oprah and everyone’s respective aunts. But don’t be reductive! Oprah and everyone’s respective aunts were spot-on when it came to Jonathan Franzen. Respect is due.

The Monkey Wrench Gang – Sure, all the meat eating and casual littering from the “heroes” of this 1975 novel might steer your Earth Liberation Front friends away, but Edward Abbey’s novel of a group of disparate misfits hellbent on stopping the logging industry from paving over the American West’s forested majesty basically remains the founding text for the direct action eco-defense movement. Bring-your-own-caltrops.

Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark – Alvin Schwartz’s collection of urban legends and scary folk tales probably won’t affect you the way it did in elementary school, but holy crap have you checked out Stephen Gammell’s illustrations in the last ten years? They’re terrifying, the perfect accompaniment to this classic children’s series. If the Vinder Viper has stuck with you, I think that means this deserves a reread. When I have children, I’m going to make them read these books by flashlight when they misbehave on camping trips.

by Andrew Wetzel

Five Books To Read With Your Kid On MLK

You can also read these books with your sibling, your niece, your best friend’s child, or any young person you care about. Take this opportunity to share a good book while discussing the civil rights movement with the next generation of Americans.


1. Child of the Civil Rights Movement, written by Paula Young Shelton and illustrated by Raul Colón.

Written by the daughter of civil rights activist Andrew Young, this book recounts a child’s perspective on growing up among a community of civil rights families, eventually culminating in the historic march from Selma to Montgomery. Grade Level: K-3


01162014-Martin-Luther-King-Jr-Picture-Books-For-Preschoolers-martins-big-words2. Martin’s Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., written by Doreen Rappaport and illustrated by Bryan Collier.

Author Doreen Rappaport weaves Martin Luther King Jr.’s own words into this picture book about his life. A Coretta Scott King Honor book, it’s a beautifully illustrated and lyrical story that’s accessible for all ages and perfect for lap-reading. Grade Level: K-4


6a00e54faaf86b88330147e2df6a8d970b3. The Story of Ruby Bridges, written by Robert Coles and illustrated by George Ford

When she was six years old, Ruby Bridges was one of the first African American children to integrate into a whites-only school in New Orleans. She walked through protesters and sat in empty classrooms after white parents pulled their children out. Ruby persevered, showing bravery and strength. The anniversary edition has an afterword by Ruby herself, fifty years later. Grade Level: 3-5

summer-44. One Crazy Summer, written by Rita Williams-Garcia

Set in 1968 Oakland, this book tells the story of Delphine and her two younger sisters as they spend the summer with their estranged mother. She sends the girls out to the local community center, run by the Black Panthers, and over the next four weeks the girls learn a good deal about the revolution. A touching and hard-won story about that ways that movements affect personal lives and about building family. Grade Level: 3-5


51efEuEpSLL._SL500_AA300_5. Martin Luther King, Jr.: Let Freedom Ring, by Michael Teitelbaum and Lewis Helfand, and illustrated by Sankha Banerjee

For the kid who loves comics, here’s a graphic novel that tells the story of Martin Luther King Jr.’s life, including the issues that spurred his involvement in the civil rights movement. Using quotations from his actual speeches, this book would be an ideal read for an older child who’s ready to learn more about this pivotal time in history. Grade Level: 4-6

The Books Behind the Golden Globes

The Golden Globes kick off later tonight and beyond the red carpet gowns, the gushing acceptance speeches, and the dazzling wit of Amy Poehler and Tina Fey (fingers crossed!), are the books behind the big screen.

twelve-years-a-slave-book-cover-01-379x60012 Years a Slave: This film is based on the true story — and memoir — of Solomon Northup’s harrowing tale of being kidnapped as a free man in New York and sold into slavery; an experience he endured for twelve years. The official subtitle of the book is: Narrative of Solomon Northup, citizen of New-York, kidnapped in Washington city in 1841, and rescued in 1853, from a cotton plantation near the Red River in Louisiana. This book was published in 1853, just one year after Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin, and was considered a bestseller at 30,000 copies sold.


davevanronkjpg-180e60ab9156d544Inside Llewyn Davis: This Coen Brothers movie is actually based on the memoir of Dave Van Ronk titled, “The Mayor of MacDougal Street.” Published posthumously, the book recounts the folk music revival of the 1960s and Van Ronk’s role in said revival. While the era and platform for the movie are largely tied to elements of the book, both are worth examining separately. If you love the movie you will adore this book.

9781401310448_p0_v5_s260x420Captain Phillips: This Somali Pirate thriller is widely known to be based on true events, but the book is called, “A Captain’s Duty” and tells the story of the ship’s hijacking from Richard Phillips firsthand. The book jumps between Captain Phillips’ experience at the mercy of Somali hijackers and what his family in Vermont suffered watching the events unfold through the news. As a real-life event the story is excruciating, and the film offers a wonderful rendition. However as many of us know, nothing beats the book.


philomena-bookPhilomena: This Best-Drama-nominated film is based on a true story — and book — about a pregnant teenager in Ireland in the 1950s whose child was “sold” into US adoption at the age of three. As the movie and book both recall, Philomena was coerced into signing a document giving up any rights to the child, in addition to tying her to an agreement that said she, “Never to Seek to Know” anything about the boy. Renamed Michael Hess, Philomena’s child grew up to be a prestigious lawyer and work for the Bush administration. The story doesn’t stop there, and movie-lovers will enjoy the books rendition of two lives torn apart.

B1595_RushGlory_DRush: The book told the story before the film and is titled, “Rush to Glory: Formula 1 Racing’s Greatest Rivalry.” The story of Niki Lauda and James Hunt is familiar to Formula 1 fans, but to the rest of the world this bitter rivalry is edge-of-your-seat excitement waiting to be consumed. Two of racing’s best drivers approach success and excellence in very different ways and both are vying for the title of World Champion. Those who enjoyed the Senna documentary will no doubt love this tale, as will anyone who appreciates a story rich in personality, danger, speed, and wonderfully flawed characters.