Don't let the opening pages of this novel confuse you. Lily and the Octopus is an utterly charming, grab your heart, find the tissues story of a man and his ageing dachshund. More than just another dog story, at its heart this is a keen observation on the courage it takes to love unconditionally. ~ Reviewed by Jen Canfield
For anyone who ever came to appreciate the inimitable brilliance of the music of Steely Dan in the 1970's, Sweet's newly updated and rereleased review of their evolution from college friends to struggling songwriters to the toast of the music industry has all the answers to all the questions you ever had or never even got around to posing.
For years, Sweet had been the publisher of Steely Dan's fan newzine. In presenting this all-encompassing profile of the band/duo to the world, he obligatorily points out that Becker and Fagan- founders, songwriters, Steely Dan themselves- did not agree to offer input for his book. Yet “Reelin” doesn't suffer at all in this absence; firstly, Sweet dug up enough prior interviews that Becker and Fagan had given during the earlier days to make up for any lack of new interview material, but additionally, in his extensive research, the author has touched based with every other significant contributor to “The Dan's” music from day one- countless musicians, producers, engineers. There is a true treasure trove of inside and insightful information here sure to delight fans, especially given Steely Dan's previously notorious skimpiness when it came to album notes.
Which player had just finished building his instrument in the parking lot just three hours before recording one of the group's most famous guitar parts? Which musician performed the impossible feat of acing their part in one take on one of the band's all-time most intricate compositions? The evolution of Fagan the vocalist from self-loathing self-doubter to iconic interpretive master, the story behind the crafting of every song, from draft board to studio and the contribution of every “hired gun” studio musician- as well as the tales behind those famously cryptic lyrics- it's all here, comprehensively and skillfully presented by Sweet. ~ Reviewed by Jon Fine
In her second novel, the author has moved into the 20th century. World War II and the Spanish Civil War are fermenting rampant familial, personal, and political dissent. An art dealer and his family flee the anti-Semitic atmosphere in Germany and find love, solace, inspiration, and pain in the southern wilds of Spain. A great read. ~ Reviewed by Maeve Noonan
Seventeen-year-old Ivan Isaenko has lived his entire life at the Hospital For Gravely Ill Children in Belarus. His universe shifts when recently orphaned, terminally ill, gorgeous Polina arrives. This is their original, shocking, beautiful and absolutely sad love story. I loved Stambach's writing style and humor even when I was cringing. ~ Reviewed by Gail Cosgriff