Saturday, September 01, 2012

A few minis - Shadow Show, ed. by Weller and Castle; Enchanting Lily by Anjali Banerjee and The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving by Jonathan Evison

Surprise! A post!!! I've been waking up at 3:30 to 4:30, every morning. Usually, I read until I fall back asleep but today I wasn't sleepy and decided, "What the heck. Might as well take advantage of the time to whip out a few mini reviews." So, here you go . . .

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.

©2012 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery and Babble or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email for written permission to reproduce text or photos.


  1. Must reading Haunting Jasmine. Must read Enchanting Lily. Must laugh at the thought of Isabella not making it onto the suitcase :-) Happy Birthday, my friend!

    1. Yes, you must read them, Melissa. :)

      Izzy is so funny. She has to try to climb on absolutely everything. Sometimes it works; sometimes it doesn't. I told her I didn't think that was a good idea, and just as I got "idea" out of my mouth, she and the suitcase slid in opposite directions. At least she didn't hurt herself!

      Thank you! It was another packing day. Same old thing, but I'm fine with that. Can't wait till we're finished and out of that house for good!!!

  2. The kitty with the different colored eyes is lovely. I'd pick up the book just be cause of the cover. I really wish I could have seen Isabel's adventure. ;)

    1. Isn't that a beautiful cover? I think that may have been part of the reason I wanted to read the book. The cat was a very sweet part of the story but not as prominent as I hoped.

      Isabel is endlessly entertaining. I think she may be the most active, curious cat I've ever been owned by. You'd love to see her escapades.

  3. Oh The Tattoo!!! I should've added that one!!! That was such a good story too. There were really just too many to include in my post about Shadow Show :p Have you read Looking for Bapu by Anjali Banerjee? It's how I learned of her and I've spoke with her quite a few times over email since then! Love that book and she's such a sweet person. And OMG I think I need to get the Revised Fundementals of Caregiving NOW!! Sounds so good!!

    1. I figured you probably loved The Tattoo, Chris. It was so unique! Yes, hard to cover them all. I haven't read Looking for Bapu, yet, but I got a copy when you recommended it! If I did Bad Blogger points, you'd have gotten one. :) I think you really must read The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving. It's your kind of book. I've passed on my ARC, unfortunately, or I'd share it with you.

  4. I'm so glad you posted about the Evison novel because I have had it for a long time and can't bring myself to start it. Glad to hear you enjoyed it!!!

  5. The Evison novel sounds really good. You got me interested in it. thanks!


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