Book Review & Giveaway: The Benefits of Breathing by Christopher Meeks

Publisher: White Whisker Books (May, 2020)
Category: Short Stories, Literary Fiction, Women’s Fiction, Relationships
ISBN: Coming Soon
Available in: Print & ebook, 238 Pages

The Benefits of Breathing

In The Benefits of Breathing, his third collection of short stories, Christopher Meeks dives again into the human condition, particularly within relationships.  As one reader wrote on Amazon, “Some authors need a lot of words to describe their worlds and their people. Christopher Meeks says a lot with a little.” The Los Angeles Times has called his stories “poignant and wise.”

In this volume, “A Dog Story” captures a crumbled marriage and the love of a dog named Scrappy. “Joni Paredes” shows the birth of a new relationship that starts at a daughter’s wedding. “Nestor by the Numbers” follows one man’s often hilarious online dating experiences after he finally accepts his wife is gone. “Jerry with a Twist” shows an actor on an audition while his pregnant girlfriend helps him through a crisis. These and seven other stories will bring you into the special world of Meeks.

As reviewer Grady Harp notes, if you’ve previously “discovered the idiosyncrasies of Meeks’ writing style and content, rest assured that this new collection not only will not disappoint, but also it will provide further proof that we have a superior writer of the genre in our presence.” Try this book. You’ll have a lot to think about.

Amazon 

My Review

I chose to read this book after receiving a free e-copy from the author. All opinions in this review are my own and completely unbiased. I had read A Death in Las Vegas and gave it 5 stars, so I was looking forward to reading something else by Christopher Meeks.

The Benefits of Breathing is a collection of short stories about relationships, lost love, divorce, and finding new love. Some of the stories are longer than others, some of them I didn’t care much for (but I’m a romantic at heart), and some I enjoyed and connected to. I like Christopher Meeks’ writing style so, even if I didn’t like how a story ended, it still flowed with the rest of the stories.

We, as human beings, are pretty messed up. That shows clearly in these stories. I want happy endings, but we don’t always get those. I don’t want to go into specifics and ruin anything, but some of the stories have sad endings but some are happy. One even tickled me in a macabre sort of way.

If you’re a fan of short stories, I’m sure you’ll enjoy The Benefits of Breathing. The people and situations in it are so realistic, that even those who aren’t big fans of short stories may find these interesting and thought-provoking.

Praise for Benefits of Breathing

“Chris Meeks is a descriptive writer whose style paints a clear picture of everyday real life traumas. This story is about ordinary people and common problems; including how effective communication is so difficult to cultivate, especially when working through an emotional situation like a divorce. The reader can easily sense the strain of the failing relationship.”-T.M.S., Amazon

“Thoroughly enjoyed this short but bittersweet divorce story. It’s impossible to read anything Chris writes and fail to see pieces of yourself in the lines. Hope you keep them coming, Chris!”- Ksinteriors, Amazon

“I’ve read much of Meeks’ work. His attention to detail and ability to show rather than tell is unique and engaging.”-Kevin Gerard, Amazon

“While James Joyce was a trailblazer in the genre of literary fiction, Meeks surpasses him with crisp plainspoken prose abundant with brilliant humor and wit. Chris Meeks is one of those rare prolific and masterful writers whose stories and novels leave his audiences with a sense of satisfaction and enriching views of the human condition and humanity.”- James V Jordan, Amazon

Awards and Recognition

Book of the Year Bronze Award from ForeWord Reviews (2017): ‘The Chords of War’

ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year Finalist award (2011)- ‘Love At Absolute Zero’

Three book critics’ Ten Best Books of 2011-‘Love At Absolute Zero’

Three book critics’ Ten Best Books of 2009- ‘The Brightest Moon of the Century’

About the Author

Award winning author, Christopher Meeks has five novels and two collections of short fiction published. The Benefits of Breathing’ is his third collection of short stories.

He has had stories published in several literary journals, and they have been included in the collections “Months and Seasons” and “The Middle-Aged Man and the Sea.” Mr. Meeks has had three full-length plays mounted in Los Angeles, and one, “Who Lives?” had been nominated for five Ovation Awards, Los Angeles’ top theatre prize.

Mr. Meeks teaches English and fiction writing at Santa Monica College, and Children’s Literature at the Art Center College of Design. He lives in Pasadena, CA.

Website at: www.chrismeeks.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Christopher-Meeks-212382392140974/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/christopher.meeks1
Twitter: https://twitter.com/MeeksChris

Giveaway

This giveaway is for the winner’s choice of print or ebook however, print is open to Canada and the U.S. only and ebook is available worldwide. There will be 3 winners. This giveaway ends June 27, 2020,midnight pacific time. Entries are accepted via Rafflecopter only.

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Follow the Tour

Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus May 4 Guest Post

Amy Locks, Hooks and Books May 5 Review & Excerpt

Angel Goodreads May 6 Review

Infantina The Periodical Gazette May 7 Review & Excerpt

David Goodreads May 8 Review

Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus May 13 Review

Cremona Mythical Books May 14 Review (postponed)

Lu Ann Rockin’ Book Reviews May 15 Guest Post

From Isi May 18 Review

Gud Reader Goodreads May 19 Review

Lu Ann Rockin’ Book Reviews May 20 Review

Dawn Bound4Escape May 21 Review

Bookgirl Goodreads May 22 Review

Jas International Book Promotion May 26 Review

Lisa’s Writopia May 27 Review

Lisa’s Writopia May 27 Guest Post

Penny Amazon May 29 Review

Kathleen Celticlady’s Reviews June 1 Guest Review  & Excerpt

Linda Lu Goodreads June 5 Review

Betty Toots Book Reviews June 8 Review & Interview

Dee Donadees Corner June 12  Review

Lisa Goodreads June 19 Review

Lillie Amazon June 22 Review

Mindy Room Without Books is Empty June 26 Review

Short Story Review: The Town that Feared Dusk by Calvin Demmer

Sylvia Bernstein doesn’t want to end up on a dead-end path like a former journalism colleague. She begins searching the tabloid’s archives for a story that can get her career back on track. A strange bridge, with an abnormally high rate of suicides, seems like the perfect place to start. She journeys to the little town, eager to investigate, but encounters a tale far more sinister than she ever expected…

My Review

I chose to read this story after receiving a free e-copy from the author. All opinions in this review are my own and completely unbiased.

After Sylvia’s mentor commits suicide, she looks through his files to see if there’s anything she can work on that he left undone. What she finds is an interesting story about Suicide Bridge. She doesn’t understand why no one has followed through on this story when so many people have committed suicide by jumping from the bridge in the past few years.

When Sylvia goes to the small town to investigate, she finds a story but she finds so much more. Will she even be able to escape the town to write her story?

I like Calvin Demmer’s writing style. The Town That Feared Dusk is short and can be read in one sitting, but it still powerful, definitely worth your time.

About the Author

Calvin Demmer is the author of The Sea Was a Fair Master and Dark Celebrations. When not writing, he is intrigued by that which goes bump in the night and the sciences of our universe.

Website: http://www.calvindemmer.com
Twitter: CalvinDemmer

New Releases

Jack and Dudley go on an epic journey where they encounter many adventures and meet new friends.

“To the Rescue!” is the first in a series of Lumberjack and friends books set for release and sees the two best friends go on a huge journey to assist their Aunt Betty in a new country.

The book is suitable for children aged 2 - 9 years and teaches them about friendship, caring for others and caring for animals, which is brought to life in the colouring book so children can engage more.

The next book in this series entitled “A New Day” will be published later this year.

Excerpt from the book: 

“George, his workmate, came running up and said, “Jack, you have a message from your Aunt Betty in Scotland. You must come and read it at once.”

Jack and George walked back across the yard as quickly as possible. As they reached the office, they went inside and into the warm. Waiting for them was Mr Stevenson, the boss and owner of the timber yard.

Mr Stevenson handed Jack a mug of tea and the telegram. They all sat down while Jack opened the message.

It read: ‘Hello Jack, I hope you’re well. I’m sorry to worry you, but I need help. The roof of my house has been badly damaged in a great storm. It has caused many problems here in Glenlockie. I know you are a very long way away but please help if you can. Love, Aunt Betty.”

“Lumberjack and Friends to the Rescue” is available to purchase in paperback (RRP £7.99) from Amazon UK at:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Lumberjack-Friends-Rescue-Nick-Carter/dp/1789557887

This story is also available as a colouring book (RRP £6.99) from Amazon at:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Lumberjack-Friends-Rescue-Colouring-Book/dp/1789559278

Press/Media Contact Details:

New Generation Publishing
Tel. 01234 712 064
E-mail: info@newgeneration-publishing.com

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The current homeless crisis in the UK has become a major concern across a broad spectrum of society. In particular, homelessness is a tragedy for vulnerable young people, many of whom do not want a hand-out but rather an opportunity to lead a normal life. The issues raised in the book are supported by many real life experiences from young people in crisis. 

The book:
•    examines the current, false perception of youth homelessness;
•    provides a better understanding of the required support needs;
•    identifies deficiencies in the current provisions of housing and support;
•    explores ways in which housing and support can be improved;
•    considers the roles of the state, charity sector, private sector and the public;
•    examines how to create a caring home to effect a transition to an independent life;
•    considers the funding and resourcing to significantly reduce youth homelessness;
•    considers what individuals can do to assist in the process. 

The book examines initiatives that have proven to be successful in other countries and those that have succeeded in the UK. It moves past the current broad intentions of homeless reduction and considers the basis of a fully costed national plan that is monitored against performance, which if publicised should give rise to a greater trust in the process.

All royalties received from this book will be donated to youth homeless charities.

About the Author: 

Barry Stillerman was born in London in 1953. Over the past decade, he has been working with charities in the UK and overseas to reduce youth homelessness. He sees the opportunity for more people to assist in taking action that can permanently reduce youth homelessness and has written “Young, Homeless and Forgotten” with this in mind. In the past, Barry has written financial self-help books including The Stoy Hayward Guide to Personal Financial Planning, Inheritance Tax – A Practical Guide and The Daily Telegraph Pensions Guide

Extract from the Book: 

“It is estimated that there are thirteen times more hidden homeless people in London than those who are sleeping rough and that 225,000 young people have stayed in an unsafe place because they have nowhere safe to call home.  An added problem with this group is that some people may feel that if they have a roof over their head and there are support services available, they are a less urgent problem that other causes. 

The inability for homeless young people to move forward due to the chaotic situation that they find themselves in is not well understood.  Stories about how people lapse into homelessness (for example through drug and alcohol addiction) raise unproductive questions about whether this person (or any homeless person) is worthy of help from society.  While substance abuse is not uncommon, the main reason among youth homelessness is relationship breakdown.

There are various support needs required by homeless young people covering issues such as mental health, substance abuse, poverty and criminality – in some cases a resort to petty crime has been a reflection of the need for food or a room at a hostel to get off the streets rather than a disrespect for property.”

Young, Homeless and Forgotten is available in paperback from Amazon at:

This book can also be downloaded in e-book format from Amazon at:

Press/Media Contact Details:

Grosvenor House Publishing
Tel. 020 8339 6060
E-mail: info@grosvenorhousepublishing.co.uk

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Travelling through the Welsh Marches of yesteryear and today

When Richard Dobson toured the border county of Herefordshire in 2005, following in the footsteps of Victorian artist Henry Thornhill Timmins, he recorded the experience in his subsequent book In My Own Time.

Join him in his latest tour as he describes, in their words, what earlier writers discovered as they travelled through the Welsh Marches, even before the word ‘tourism’ was first used.

About the Author:

Richard Dobson was born 1943 in West Didsbury, a district of Manchester, England.  He spent his early years exploring the English countryside and never regretted missing out on University.  Richard retired in November 2008 after running his own sales and marketing business for 30 years.

His first book ‘In My Own Time’ tells of a journey made on foot through the English midland county of Herefordshire and enjoyed every minute writing it.  His second book ‘Border Crossings – Then and Now in the Welsh Marches’ was even more enjoyable and increased his knowledge and gained him many friends.

Excerpt from the Book:

The custom of touring in England and Wales began in the sixteenth century and gained momentum when turmoil in Europe during the 18th century interrupted the traditions of the Grand Tours. Gentlemen of leisure took to travelling the highways and byways for weeks or even months to discover hitherto undiscovered home territory. Professional travel guides were made available at Post-houses but travellers were often dependent on local men, who might have been expected to recognize any diversions or danger points en route. The terrible conditions of the roads up to the nineteenth century were a constant theme of the writings of Sir Richard Colt Hoare and his erstwhile travelling companion Archdeacon William Coxe. Another, Arthur Young, was so appalled at the state of the roads in Wales during his tour in 1768, he wrote accusingly about turnpikes being of little use.

‘What am I to say of the roads in this country! From Chepstow to the half-way house between Newport and Cardiff, they continue mere rocky lanes, full of hugeous stones as big as one’s horse, and abominable holes. The first six miles from Newport were so detestable, and without either direction posts or milestones so that I could not persuade myself I was on the turnpike.’

“Border Crossings:  Then and Now in the Welsh Marches” is available in hardback from numerous retail sites including:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Border-Crossings-Then-Welsh-Marches/dp/1786235420

https://www.waterstones.com/book/border-crossings/richard-dobson/9781786235428
https://www.hive.co.uk/Product/Richard-Dobson/Border-Crossings--Then-and-Now-in-the-Welsh-Marches/24744652
https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/border-crossings-richard-dobson/1136145733
https://wordery.com/border-crossings-richard-dobson-9781786235428
https://www.foyles.co.uk/witem/history-politics/border-crossings-then-and-now-in-the,richard-dobson-9781786235428
https://blackwells.co.uk/bookshop/product/Border-Crossings-by-Richard-Dobson-author/9781786235428


Press/Media Contact Details:

Grosvenor House Publishing
Tel. 020 8339 6060
E-mail: info@grosvenorhousepublishing.co.uk

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An excellent collection of 14 gripping short stories

A ‘Gambling Man’ tries to win the money but will he win the girl? What kind of man kidnaps a child and leaves him alone in a cold dark place? In a relationship, can ‘A Worm Really Turn’? In the future, men live alone in capsules depending on the mainframe computer to take care of everything. An R.A.F. officer seeks ‘Cold Revenge’ when he discovers the real truth behind his parents’ accident. How do you gain revenge on a wife who no longer has any interest in your marriage? A top radio disc jockey is supposed to entertain his public, not murder them!

See what you think after reading ‘Cold Revenge’.

About the Author:

Bip Wetherell is a retired musician and businessman still doing occasional Gigs with sixties pop group ‘The Tornados’.  He also raises money for ‘ProsTaid’, a local Prostate Cancer Charity, putting on theatre shows and live music, concerts and festivals.  Bip’s first novel was entitled “Chopped” and he is currently working on his second novel “The Reluctant Assassin”.  He lives in Corby, England and is married to Elaine and has four children.

Excerpt from the Book:

“Alan was captivated by the carousel and stood watching it. Billy just sat down on the grass bored.

“I want an ice cream,” said Billy.

“Wait until Lynda has finished. I cannot get you an ice cream as she has the money.”

‘Do you want to go on the carousel, son?” A strange man with a squinty eye had bent down to talk to Alan.

“I can’t, I’ve got no money, and I have to watch my little brother.”

“No problem,” said Squinty. “The first ride is free and I’ll look after your little brother for you.”

‘Would you?” Alan’s reply excitedly.

“Of course I will, son.” Squinty lifted Alan onto the carousel, waited for it to start moving and, looking down at Billy said, “Do you want an ice cream, son?”

Young Billy enthusiastically nodded his head and held the man’s hand whilst they walked away to find the ice cream stall.

Lynda was on the waltzer, Alan was on the carousel.

Lynda, Alan, their mum and Dad never saw Billy again.”

“Cold Revenge” by Bip Wetherell is available in paperback from Amazon UK at:

This book can also be downloaded in e-book format from Amazon UK at:

Press/Media Contact Details:

Darin Jewell (Bip Wetherell’s literary agent)
Managing Director
The Inspira Group Literary Agency
darin@theinspiragroup.com
tel. UK +208 292 5163

Book Review: Miscreants, Murderers, & Thieves edited by Samuel W. Reed

Miscreants, Murderers, & Thieves is a unique collection of short stories celebrating the distinctive styles of thirteen emergent independent authors from across the United States, as they reinterpret and reimagine the concept of crime using their personal artistic voice. From doctors with a taste for the macabre to cat burglars who would rather give than take, this collection offers something tasty for everyone.

Featuring contributions by award-winning writers Dori Ann Dupre, David Beeler, Will Wallace, Suzanne Crain Miller, and Shawn D. Brink, among others, and edited by author/filmmaker Samuel W. Reed.

My Review

I chose to read this book after receiving a free e-copy. All opinions in this review are my own and completely unbiased.

Miscreants, Murderers, & Thieves is a collection of stories that are each unique and a bit off the wall. I liked most of them, but my favorites were Beneath the Veils, Equity, and The Scoop.

I could tell these stories were written by different authors because the writing style was a little different each time. There was one story, The Win, that although I liked the story overall, it was not my favorite style of writing.

Many of the stories had some kind of twist at the end. Sky Riders ending was a big surprise. Equity made my skin crawl!

If you’d like a break from reading a full-length novel, this would be a good book to read.

About the Editor/Author

Samuel W. Reed is a novelist, screenwriter, director, and film producer with a keen insight for emotionally impactful, character-driven stories. He was instrumental in the decade-long production of the groundbreaking disability-rights documentary “CinemAbility: The Art of Inclusion” starring Jamie Foxx, Ben Affleck, Marlee Matlin, and others. He contributed narration to the SXSW award-winning documentary “Take Me To the River,” starring Terrance Howard, Snoop Dogg, and Mavis Staples, and he served as ghostwriter on the Sony Pictures International film “Beyond Valkyrie: Dawn of the Fourth Reich.” A frequent collaborator with notable producers, directors, actors, and writers, Sam is always on the lookout for a great new story, and the perfect cup of coffee.

Website https://www.samuelwreed.com
Twitter samuelwreed

Book Review: The Fall of Icarus by N.R. Bates

Three interconnected short-stories set in Paris explore the issue of choice, survival and transformation. In the first story, a young man on his first business trip is waylaid by an aberrant elevator. In the pivotal tale, a young scientist re-imagines the Greek myth of Icarus and his fall to earth. In the final story, a young woman who cannot recall her own name relates the fantastical tale of a girl who can fly.

Amazon

My Review

I chose to read this book after receiving a free copy. All opinions in this review are my own and completely unbiased.

The Fall of Icarus is 3 short stories. These stories are so short that I wasn’t able to connect with any of the characters, but it was fast reading and I didn’t get bored.

In the first story, The Elevator, I kept waiting for more to happen but it never did. The last sentence almost made up for waiting though.

The second story, The Fall of Icarus, was the shortest and I didn’t care much for it. There just wasn’t a lot to it.

The last story, The Girl, was my favorite of the three. It’s about a girl who tells a couple she meets the story of a girl who can fly. The story she tells kept my interest and there was a surprise at the end.

If you’re looking for a good quick read, I recommend The Fall of Icarus. Even though I didn’t care for one of the stories, it was only 6 pages long.

About the Author

NR Bates was born in London, grew up in Wales, and lived in Canada and Bermuda. He shares his life with his wife and his house with seven cats, one dog and the subtropical wildlife of lizards, wolf spiders and ant colonies that seek out a better life indoors. He is an oceanographer and scientist, and has published more than one hundred and thirty scientific papers on ocean chemistry, climate change and ocean acidification. He is a Senior Scientist at the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences and Professor of Ocean Biogeochemistry at the University of Southampton, UK. His novels focus on epic fantasy and magic realism, and inspired by his deep love of the ocean and environmental sciences. He has also recently published a small book of short-stories set in Paris, entitled “The Fall of Icarus (The Elevator, The Fall of Icarus, and The Girl)”.

Website http://www.nrbates.com

Short Story Review: The Woman of the Void by Sunshine Somerville

A tyrant with a vendetta.
A witch with a destiny.
All’s fair in war and magic.

Raised in an isolated Kota village, Vedanleé uses her gifts to draw magic from the ancient lands of her coastal home. The Clan Eldress, the most powerful woman in the village, has a vision about the prophesied Woman of the Void – a woman destined to wield unfathomable power. To her surprise, Vedanleé is named as this woman.

Then Thurston Olander, Lord High Commander of the Dominion global empire, comes to fulfill an old custom. The women of the clan uncover a whole new danger, and Vedanleé must go with Thurston to ensure their safety.

Living in the Dominion’s technologically advanced world, Vedanleé’s power over the void grows as she discovers the science behind her magic. But she lives in fear, for Thurston is not what he seemed.

Will she ever become the Woman of the Void? Escape is her only option, but where will she ever be safe in Thurston’s empire?

Amazon

My Review

I chose to read this e-book after receiving a free copy from the author. All opinions in this review are my own and completely unbiased.

The Woman of the Void is a short story about Vedanleé’s childhood and how she is taken from her magical village to give birth to the children of Thurston. Once she fulfills this “duty,” she isn’t of much use to him anymore. What will happen to her and her boys?

Even though this is a short story, the character of Vedanleé is well developed and sympathetic. Being a companion story to the Kota series, The Woman of the Void definitely wants me to check out the series.

About the Author

Sunshine Somerville is a Science Fantasy author who loves blending genres. She has a degree in English Literature and self-published her first book at the ripe old age of nine.  Originally from the beachy side of Michigan, she now lives in the Detroit area with her husband, two fur babies, and one human daughter. 
The Kota Series is a Science Fantasy epic based on youthful obsessions with X-Men, Star Wars, The Chronicles of Narnia, Dark Angel, and A Wrinkle in Time.
The Alt-World Chronicles is an Urban Fantasy series inspired by weird recurring dreams, a brainstorming session in the shower, and one ridiculously hot summer lived in Kansas City.
A Fairly Fairy Tale is Sunshine’s first Middle Grade Fantasy book. She got the idea from her family’s crest, which portrays a dragon shooting flames from both ends, and from a niece whose second favorite word is farts.

FACEBOOK WEBSITE
TWITTER

Book Review: Why Animals Love Santa by Edit Engel & Alan McBrearty

All you hear about is Santa’s one big night, but in his new book “Why Animals Love Santa,” he shares four cute little bedtime stories that everyone will enjoy before Christmas and throughout the year.

Follow Santa on his daily exercise routine to get in shape for his special night, and meet some of his little animal friends along the way. You will find out how Santa’s lost clothing becomes very helpful to others in need.

You will see how Santa’s exercises turn into little adventures. Santa has a big heart, and he is always there to help his little animal friends in the forest.

Santa shows the importance of having kindness and love for one another and all of God’s little creatures.

Amazon

My Review

I chose to read this book after receiving a free copy. All opinions in this review are my own and completely unbiased.

To prepare for Christmas night, Santa takes walks in the woods in the weeks before Christmas. Why Animals Love Santa has four cute stories about Santa’s adventures in the woods and what he does to take care of the animals who live near him. Whether it’s baby birds who are cold and hungry, mice or rabbits who need a home, or a stuck goose, Santa is ready to help.

The illustrations are cute and have vivid colors that will keep the interest of young children. This is a great addition to any child’s Christmas books.