Bonds of Love & Blood

Fiction - General
244 Pages
Reviewed on 09/27/2015
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Marylee MacDonald is a former carpenter with an M.A. in Creative Writing. Her short story collection, BONDS OF LOVE & BLOOD, was a finalist for the Eric Hoffer Award and Foreword Review's INDIEFAB Awards.

Her novel, MONTPELIER TOMORROW, won a Gold Medal from Drama from the Readers' Favorite International Book Award.

MacDonald's stories have won Illinois Arts Council Awards as well as the Barry Hannah Prize, the Rash Award, the Matt Clark Prize, and the ALR Fiction Prize. Her stories have appeared in American Literary Review, Bellevue Literary Review, Blue Moon Literary & Art Review, Folio, New Delta Review, North Atlantic Review, Raven Chronicles, Reunion, River Oak Review, Ruminate, StoryQuarterly, The Briar Cliff Review, The Broad River Review, The Chattahoochee Review, The Yalobusha Review, and others.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Tracy A. Fischer for Readers' Favorite

Wow!! I just finished reading the absolutely wonderful collection of short stories by author Marylee MacDonald, Bonds of Love & Blood, and I simply cannot get over how fantastic this book was! Anyone who knows me knows that I love short stories in general. Being able to pick up a book and read a complete story as I'm riding the bus to work or sitting in a waiting room for an appointment is simply a delight. But when I started reading Bonds of Love & Blood, I found a completely different experience. I simply could not put this down. I read story after story; once one was done, I simply could not wait to see what author Marylee MacDonald had in store for her readers next.

From the story of a mother and daughter struggling to love an alcoholic husband and father, to the man who feels disfigured by the birthmark on his face but finds, on a trip to Thailand, what just might lead to his happiness, to the story of tough workplace situations, the stories may seem disparate, but are all linked by the common themes of love and loss. Author Marylee MacDonald has done an absolutely masterful job of presenting her readers with short stories so beautifully written that the characters will stay in your mind long after the story, and indeed the book, is done. If that isn't a hallmark of an amazing writer, I don't know what is. Any reader who loves works of short fiction, or just great fiction in general, will love Bonds of Love & Blood. I highly recommend this book, and will certainly be watching carefully for the next work released by author Mary MacDonald. If it's anything like this one, it will absolutely be worth the read!

Francine Zane

Bonds of Love & Blood by Marylee MacDonald is a collection of short stories set in both exotic and familiar locations. The commonality among the stories is the struggle between love and commitment and learning to cope with bad situations. How the conflicts end is as varied as the characters who are forced to confront their own demons.

From the love of a parent to an unappreciative child to the love lost between a man and a woman, Marylee MacDonald makes the Bonds of Love & Blood reader think about everyday dilemmas that plague relationships. From feeling too old to be a part of a grandchild’s life to struggling with what to do with a dead marriage, the stories are vividly written and invite the reader to take an emotional ride.

Perhaps her strongest talent as a writer, MacDonald does a terrific job with adding international elements to her stories that draw the reader into foreign cultures without sounding like a guidebook. When she creates her stories, you get a feel for the people through their interactions, their language and their backstories. These glimpses into other cultures play important roles in the plots and are expertly balanced with universally relatable emotional turmoil. I also appreciated that in a world of happily ever afters she gave me a good dose of reality where love doesn’t always mean forever nor is it always on the main character’s terms.

Paula Tran

Marylee MacDonald's Bonds of Love and Blood is a very well written, heart gripping anthology of short stories that will interest any reader. Writing in perspectives of different characters from different cultures, MacDonald presents stories that highlight the importance of human interactions and bonds with others.

I loved this book particularly because the characters are all really relatable and very real. These characters share the same problems and issues we do, and they share the same feelings we do. The characters are also very distinct from each other; each character has his/her own unique personality, thought processes, and reactions. Even the dialogue and interactions are all very realistic.

This anthology also portrays an excellent writing style. Each story's tone is drastically different and amazingly well written. I like how you are able to feel different emotions through the texts and how you are able to get close to the stories, characters, etc. The writing also helps paint a picture in my head: not too much detail, but not too little to leave me dazed and confused.

The stories featured in this anthology also make use of great cultures. The author obviously has a good grasp of each culture and it really shows in the writing. There are no petty stereotypes and overused descriptions, each culture is well rounded and realistic and jumps off the page. This keeps the reader interested. I absolutely loved the anthology/book for this.

Dianna D.

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