Shadow Show is a collection of stories "in celebration of Ray Bradbury". In other words, each author used a similar style to Bradbury's or dropped hints about one or more stories that Bradbury wrote. As I was reading Shadow Show, the word that kept coming to mind was "stellar". The stories are unusual in that they are written by a truly fabulous group of writers. Some I knew, some names were unfamiliar. Each wrote a little about his or her story and there is a bio of each author in the back of the book.
I found myself eager to chase down a few of the authors I've missed. Some favorites:
"The Companions" by David Morrell
"The Tattoo" by Bonnie Jo Campbell
"Earth (A Gift Shop)" by Charles Yu
Highly recommended. Chris wrote a beautiful review of Shadow Show that's much more detailed than mine. I agree that this collection would make an excellent addition to any spooky/atmospheric reads pile, particularly if you're joining in on this year's RIP VII Challenge.
Enchanting Lily by Anjali Banerjee is a stand-alone tale that follows up Haunting Jasmine (<-- link to my review). Both take place on the same island off the Washington coast.
Lily is a widow who has moved to Shelter Island to start a new life. When she opens a vintage clothing store, she's certain that she'll easily draw people away from the hackneyed modern store across from her shop with her service and knowledge. But, she's mysteriously unable to draw in many customers. A beautiful white cat who shows up in her store and makes herself at home becomes the catalyst to change. Is the cat enchanted? Will Lily succeed at business and find new love?
Enchanting Lily is a light, romantic read that would make excellent beach/vacation fare -- not much brain power required and it's definitely an upper. I had a little more trouble buying into the romance in this book than that of Haunting Jasmine and I was disappointed that the cat's role was more limited than I'd hoped, but I recommend Enchanting Lily and I hope Anjali Banerjee will continue to write more sweet, breezy romances set on Shelter Island.
The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving by Jonathan Evison really stunned me. I attempted to get into Evison's first book, West of Here, twice before decided it simply wasn't for me. The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving, on the other hand, grabbed me from page one.
Ben Benjamin has lost everything: His wife, his home, his children and possibly even a reason to carry on. He finds a job caring for 19-year-old Trevor, a wheelchair-bound young man who is trapped by his deteriorating body, overprotected by his mother and a little lost without the father who abandoned him. Trev is not particularly interested in doing much of anything apart from watching the Weather Channel, so Ben comes up with a virtual road trip of sorts, marking sites of interest on a map tacked to the wall.
When Trevor's father shows up, turning out to be nothing at all like Ben expected, and Trevor's mother must go on an important business jaunt, Ben and Trevor end up going on a crazy road trip that helps lead to healing for Ben and an important turning point for Trevor.
Oh, how I loved this book. It's tender, sometimes gut-wrenching, clever, packed with lovable characters, endlessly surprising and full of hope. Ben appears to be a bit of a bum, at first, but as his story unfolds, it is truly a gut-punch. He blames himself for the tragedy that caused him to lose everything, but is he really to blame? You must read the story to find out. Highly, highly recommended. I laughed, I cried, I was deeply moved by The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving. At times, the story can be a bit plodding but it's necessary foundation-building. You have to understand Ben and Trevor before the road trip can possibly have any meaning. I never felt tempted to put the book down; in fact, it was nearly impossible. I had to know what happened to Ben.
All's well that ends well:
Actually, this maneuver didn't end well. The suitcase Isabel was trying to jump onto has wheels.