A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of hearing at a local bookstore the author Stephen L. Carter speak about his paternal grandmother Eunice Huston Carter (1899-1970). Sometime later, after the Q&A session, I had the opportunity to speak with Professor Carter as he autographed my copy of this book.
"INVISIBLE: The Forgotten Story of the Black Woman Lawyer Who Took Down America's Most Powerful Mobster" puts the reader into an era in U.S. history barely half a century behind us, when African Americans were restricted by law and what was accepted custom from realizing their full potential in what was an overtly racist America (Jim Crow segregation). Notwithstanding all that, what I found to be deeply inspirational from reading this book is learning about the life of this most remarkable woman - as well as the lives of her parents (who were both fully engaged social activists; Eunice's father with the YMCA (its 'colored' section) for whom he worked tirelessly both in the U.S. and abroad til his death in 1916 and her mother Addie was a graduate of Boston Latin School, and a college graduate who later served as a teacher and worked with a variety of organizations promoting racial and gender equality til her death in 1943) and younger brother, from whom she became estranged.
This is a book that would be instructive (as well as inspirational) to any reader who wants to learn about the value of living -- in spite of the obstacles and challenges arrayed against someone because of his/her color and/or gender -- a purposeful, committed life wholly dedicated to advancing socio-economic justice, as well as racial and gender equality.
In Wedding Knight Katrina Trapp takes her nervous twin sister's place at the altar, only to find out her sister never had any intentions of marrying Alfred Theodious Knight in the first place...
This was a quick, quirky and funny little romp about a woman switching places with her sister, who ends up disappearing and leaves her in the lurch of being married to a supposed tyrant of a man. But as the two newlyweds come to get to know each other, they also rediscover themselves, and dare we hope fall in love?
I liked the two protagonists, although I felt Katrina was a tad too bratty at times, and I loved how they slowly changed for one another as they got to know each other and developed tender feelings of one another. Of course, seeing how everything was based on a switch, the inevitable twist had to come.
I felt it was resolved a little too quickly, but that's scandal for you.
A lovely little budding romance story.
In Have Mercy Winifred Mackland, having failed to deliver a good manuscript, is packed away on a forced writing retreat by her agent...Who turns out to have matchmaking tendencies...
Quick, funky and hot as hell.
Initially, I felt it was all moving a tad too quickly (even for a short story), but as it moved along, and the two got into their easy rhythm beyond jumping naked into the hot tub on the day they met, I came to love them and their little romance.
The progress and the reservations thanks to Mac's profession, was organic and realistic, and they were super cute and super hot together. Besides, the story made me smile, which is always a plus.
WELCOME TO THE SHOW is a themed anthology with all of the stories revolving around, (or involving in some way), a rock n' roll club named The Shantyman. That's it! There's no hard thread connecting all the tales other than the club itself. That makes WELCOME TO THE SHOW different because there's no one "bad guy" to blame things on. In this case, the "bad guy" is anyone or anything the writer wanted them to be. In this regard, I think the authors involved had a lot more leeway as far as the direction each story would take and I think that resulted in an above average anthology as far as the quality AND the variety of the stories within.
I can't get into all of them here, because I don't want this review to be as long as the book itself, but the tales that stood out the most to me were:
WHAT SORT OF RUBE by Alan M. Clark was a perfect start to this book, providing a bit of history and setting the tone. (I've never read any of Clark's work before, but he's on my radar now.)
NIGHT AND DAY AND IN BETWEEN by Jonathan Janz. This story went in a totally different direction than what I had expected. Loved it!
TRUE STARMEN by Max Booth. I'm not sure that it was supposed to, but this story cracked me the hell me up! It's the first time THE SHANTYMAN hosted pod-casters instead of a band, and the results just made me laugh.
OPEN MIC NIGHT by Kelli Owen. The 27 Club-you know, those singers and musicians that never made it past that age? I thought this anthology would be a shoe-in for stories about that club, but this was the only one. I was glad because it made this tale stand out even more.
PARODY by Jeff Strand. Zany Chester and his plans to be the next Weird Al fizzle out before they even got started. (It's birdies, not bodies!) Chester had to go to a few back up plans, actually, and none of them were pretty.
DARK STAGE by Matt Hayward. This tale spoke to me in a personal way which made it that much more horrifying at the end.
A TONGUE LIKE FIRE by Rachel Autumn Deering. The end was NOT what I was expecting at the beginning. Usually I can see that coming..in this case I saw something coming, but not what I got. Well done!
Brian Keene's tale RUNNING FREE made me laugh at the premise before it got all serious. (A man trying to run himself to death by heart attack, thereby evading death from the cancer already running through his body. Come on, that's kind of funny! [All right, I know I'm messed up.]) Anyway, this story didn't go the way I thought it would and I loved how it tied into previous tales in this book.
WE SING IN DARKNESS by Mary SanGiovanni. This story had everything that I've come to expect from Mary's work. A terrifying future where music is banned is only the beginning.
I enjoyed this collection and even though it was a little uneven throughout, the variety and quality more than made up for that. I liked that everyone didn't have quite the same view was to what was going on at The Shantyman because that allowed for more creativity in the tales. Variety is the spice of life and all that, you know?
I read a lot of collections and anthologies over the course of a year and there is no doubt in my mind that WELCOME TO THE SHOW will be among the best I've read this year. For this reason, I highly recommend it!
You can get your copy here: WELCOME TO THE SHOW
*11.12.18 We are currently reading this book, along with most of the authors in the Horror Aficionados Group at Goodreads. Feel free to join us, read along, and ask questions of the writers, if you like! (Our read continues until the end of this month.) Here's a link: WELCOME TO THE SHOW at Horror Aficionados
**I bought this book with my hard earned cash and these opinions are my own.**