Full disclosure: I was sent a copy of this book to read and review for my blog. All opinions are my own. This post contains Amazon affiliate links.
Giveaway details will be given at the bottom of this post!
One of the wonderfully unexpected perks to starting this blog has been the opportunities I have been granted to read books I otherwise wouldn’t have chosen on my own.
To be clear, there have been many books that authors have offered to send to me which I have denied. I deny books that I genuinely don’t have a desire to read based on topic, genre, etc. However, if a book sounds interesting to me AND one that I genuinely would want to read and review for all of you, I gladly accept!
When Donna Baier Stein contacted me and offered to send me a copy of her book, Sympathetic People, I admittingly was a bit hesitant. I had never read a book of short stories before and wasn’t sure if I would enjoy it.
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Both the beauty and frailty of human connections are seen in the thirteen stories collected in Sympathetic People. Here are women and men struggling to find love, meaning, happiness in marriage, adulterous affairs, art, meditation, and even the passage from life to death. Longing generated by loss is everywhere–in the death of a son, the end of a marriage, the slide from hope ignited by Neil Armstrong’s moon walk to hopelessness after President Kennedy’s death. In “Hindsight,” Jessie, a hippie in Lawrence, Kansas, opts for what she assumes is stability in a world of change, only to be brought up short years later when her life veers off its predicted path. “The Secrets of Snakes” reveals the early ruptures in a marriage and a wife’s futile attempts to stop them even as she tries to care for her son’s pet racer. In “The Jewel Box,” a grandmother promises to let her granddaughter know what Heaven is like after she passes and if, in fact, it looks like the Art Deco greenhouse built in St. Louis during the 1904 World’s Fair. And in “Versions,” a newlywed in Plano, Texas, entertains her sometimes angry husband’s first wife and realizes too late what she has given up in choosing him. “The Second Time the Bird Escapes” brings the collection full circle as a woman vies for attention with her husband’s new girlfriend and watches a peacock race across the yard to freedom, its dazzling tail open like an invitation. (less)
I will be very honest…this turned out to be one of my favorite books that I read in 2018. I can’t believe that I was ever hesitant to read it!
This book has opened up a whole new world to me in terms of reading short stories! My absolute least favorite aspect of any book is the amount of background the author needs to provide in order to “catch the reader up” to the present day story. It is rare that I truly love a book before I am well into it.
Short stories aren’t like that! Each one is just a few pages long and somehow (how???) Donna Baier Stein was able to tell the complete story within just a few pages. I laughed, I cried, and I found myself completely wrapped up in the characters and stories from just the short amount of time I had with each one.
I read “The Jewel Box” (one of the short stories) while sitting in my car in Target’s parking lot and was sobbing so hard that mascara was EVERYWHERE when I was finally able to go inside. Of course I ran into my daughter’s former preschool teacher and of course I had to explain my appearance. That story was so incredibly beautifully written. I cried all over again just telling her about it. 🙂
I read the entire book (13 short stories total) over the course of a few days. Being that each story is so short, it was easy to to read an entire story in one sitting.
If you love short stories, you will love this book. If you are like me and have never read short stories before, this is a perfect introduction. Either way you will devour this book.
I had posted this on Instagram:
On a side note…the cover is stunning! Clearly I just love everything about this book. I’m so excited to be able to share it with you today!
I also had posted this on Instagram:
Beautiful book + Bath and Body Works holiday scented candle = perfection.
A Conversation with Donna Baier Stein, in Her Own Words:
How did you create the idea for your book?
Each of the stories was written individually, from various seed ideas. For instance, “The Yogi and the Peacock” was prompted by an ad I saw in a local newspaper; “The Second TIme the Bird Escaped” was prompted by the fact that a former neighbor did keep a peacock on his farm; and “Versions” (which was the first story I ever published in a literary journal) was prompted by a visit from my former husband’s ex-wife. Sounds complicated, I know 🙂 A few of the stories, though by no means all, started brewing in my head based on something that happened in my life. But then I fictionalized those events. Mostly, the seeds for the stories were emotions or thoughts I had that I wanted to further explore. That’s the great gift of writing, in my opinion – we get to figure out what we really think about things and see how complex our lives in this world are.
What audience would be most interested in your book?
I suppose the stories appeal primarily to women. Only one of the stories has a male protagonist. The issues touched upon – love, marriage, children, infidelity – may be universal but they certainly provide great fodder for book club discussions!
Where can your book be purchased?
The book is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound, and at many local indie bookstores. If your local store doesn’t carry it, please request it. It is distributed by Ingram. Readers may also email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
to request a signed copy.
Use 3 adjectives to describe your book:
Words used in blurbs for the book include “brilliant,” “edgy,” “graceful” – it’s easier for me to let others describe the book, in a way. If you want my own description, I’d say “realistic,” “thoughtful,” “candid.”
Any additional information that you would like to provide about you or your book:
Readers can see more about the book on my website here: https://donnabaierstein.com/books/sympathetic-people/
. They are also invited to sign up for my free newsletter which announces upcoming readings, etc. I do have a new book coming out in Spring 2019, Scenes from the Heartland. And my historical novel, The Silver Baron’s Wife is continuing to garner good attention for which I’m grateful.
Winner will receive an autographed copy of Sympathetic People (if located internationally, you will receive an e book).
To be entered, please complete these 3 simple steps:
1. Follow and/or subscribe to my blog
2. Leave a comment below telling me if you already enjoy reading short stories or if this would be your first short story experience!
3. Be sure to also tell me in your comment if you are located internationally or in the US!
**You must complete all 3 of these steps to be eligible for the giveaway and you must complete them here on my blog (not on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram)**
Giveaway will end Friday morning at 6:00 CDT and the winner will be randomly chosen and announced in Friday morning’s blog post.
Make sure you check back on Friday to see if you’ve won (you will have 48 hours from the time I post the winner to email me your mailing address. If I don’t hear from you within 48 hours, I will pick a new winner).
If you already follow and/or subscribe to my blog, you are still eligible…just leave a comment below to be entered 🙂
Good luck! Can’t wait to read your comments!
It would really help me if you could follow/subscribe to my blog. Also, please “like” my Facebook page , follow me on Twitter, and follow me on Instagram!
Click the image below to order the book through my Amazon affiliate link. When you order through this link, I receive a tiny commission. Thank you for your support, Xo