Curiosity House Books.

Bookstore  -  Online Journal  -  Publishers

 
 

UPCOMING EVENTS

 
 

We're on Instagram

@curiosityhousebooks

 
 

Publishing.

Our Current Publications.

Curiosity House Books Publishing, founded in 2014, is a small press specializing in high-quality non-fiction and children's picture books. We have published 4 titles to date, with several more in production. Please contact us to learn and/or to purchase our books.

When Everything Falls Apart - Book One: The End by Simon Heath

A Bird Chronicle - by Rina Barone, illustrated by Ruth Ann Pearce

The Petun: People of the Hills by Pat Raible

The Village and I: Ten Life Stories - created by Sara Sniderhan, edited by Rina Barone

 

Our Blog.

 
 

Book Reviews

Reviewed by C. Bernard Dunk

The Gulf is a detailed and exhaustive work of environmental history that takes us from the pre-Columbian to the present. A rich world of sea captains, Victorian ornithologists, sport fishermen, and past presidents.


With clear crisp prose Davis opens up a world of flora and fauna jammed up hard against centuries of heavy industry, and tourism. Comprehensive, yet lyrical and lucid, it is highly recommended. 

 

 The Gulf: The Making of an American Sea

by Jack E. Davis

(Published by WW Norton, April 17, 2018. 608 pages)

Book Reviews

Reflections on Topics of Conversation by Miranda Popkey


By Sandy Poitras



In Miranda Popkey’s first novel, Topics of Conversation, it almost feels as if one is watching a movie where the actors are encouraged to ad-lib. You know when you are having a conversation with someone - a real conversation - and the sentences don’t flow perfectly? How you may add little inflections, maybe wave a hand, flick a cigarette, look away, pause? That’s how Popkey writes the conversations. They flow so naturally, in their imperfect state, that you can easily visualize the whole scene roll out before you like a play.


The book has the feel of a memoir. Each chapter is written as a “memory” in one year of the life of the fictitious narrator, as she navigates from young adulthood to middle-age. As we read through her memories of specific conversations she has had with various people in her life, we come to know the narrator (she doesn’t mince words) and how she has been shaped and changed by these social interactions.


While Popkey’s narrator is sharing stories of conversations, I think she is also conversing with the reader. She reveals to us her own ways of seeing situations – it’s as if she is confessing her deeper thoughts - while she tells us about a conversation she had with her mother, her university girlfriends, a man at a bar, a boyfriend, various women. The reader may also see a bit of themselves in these personal reflections.


Popkey is clearly an observer of humans. What I especially liked, at the end of the book, was her inclusion of “Works (Not) Cited,” something she says she was inspired to include by Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi’s novel Fra Keeler. Here, she reveals over 200 sources of inspiration for her novel, from books to essays, articles and movies. It was fun to read this, to see how many of those I had read or watched (and how many I now want to read or watch). For readers who may also be aspiring writers, it gives insight into the creative process, by revealing the breadth of sources from which one can draw inspiration.


While reviews highlight Topics of Conversation as a novel that addresses views about female sexuality, desire, attraction, repulsion, loneliness, power, rage and gender, I think it also invites one to slow down and observe people with more curiosity. I imagine a director like Woody Allen bringing this book to life on the big screen. Not so much the comedic side of Allen, but the more reflective side, the one that really examines the inner workings of human beings and what makes them who they are.


Popkey’s book may inspire creative types to take a closer look at life, at the little details often missed: the way a person behaves while they are speaking, for example. Or it may even inspire one to don the detective’s cap, observing a person’s body language and picking up little clues about what they might be feeling inside.

(You could be completely wrong about your observations, of course, as the narrator discovers she has been, on several occasions, but that’s life.) The conversation, in a sense, goes beyond the words, it lies in our body language too; we reveal so much of ourselves in the silence and movement between the words.

 

Topics of Conversation by Miranda Popkey


(Published January 2020. Knopf. 224 pages)

Book Reviews

The Outsider by Stephen King


(Published May, 2018. Simon and Schuster. 584 pages)

 Reviewed by Sandy Poitras



Do your reading choices reflect your “mood of the moment” ? Mine do. Because of this, I tend to have many books on the go at the same time. Sound familiar?


Recently, I was in the mood for a good, creepy mystery. Nostalgia for my teenaged years, when I devoured many a deliciously disturbing Stephen King thriller late at night, lead me to one of his latest page-turners, The Outsider. (Now a series on CRAVE TV, of which I cannot review because I have not seen it.)


Late one evening I delved in, and for the next several nights, looked forward to the next layer of development in what on the surface seemed to be a clear-cut tale of a (grisly) murder-committed-murderer-apprehended situation. But of course, happily, it was not. So I read on. Hungrily. Until I finished, fully satiated.


The reason I enjoy King’s writing, despite the often gruesome spats of crime scene detail, is because he tends to overlay his stories with a philosophical question. In this story, for example, he starts with some accepted “truths”: A person can be found guilty of a crime if there is enough hard evidence to prove it. But what if that wasn’t the case? What if there are truths in our universe of which we’re not yet aware? Ones that force us, for example, to question our established methods of confirming the identity of a killer? What if we must believe in the impossible?


In his iconic fast-paced style, King brings these “what if’s” to light in The Outsider, creating a highly believable small-town setting populated with all kinds of vividly detailed characters, whose personalities range from endearingly witless to narcissistic, eccentric, calculating and, of course, evil.


All in all a satisfying read for the mystery-loving night owls among us.