Book review: No Turning Back

 No Turning Back

No Turning Back
In full compliance with FTC Guidelines,
I received this book for free in exchange
for a fair and honest review.
I was in no way compensated for this post
as a reviewer,
and the thoughts are my own.
No Turning Back
Dan Burns 

Publisher: Chicago Arts Press
Pub. Date: April 29, 2014


Pages: 280
Collection of short stories

Source: Received from author


Buy the book

= also available as ebook and audiobook!


This book counts for the following Reading Challenges:

         New author challenge


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As I explained yesterday, I met Dan Burns at Chicago Printers Row Lit Fest back in June. He offered me his collection of short stories, No Turning Back, and I promised to review it. My regular followers know this is not a genre I usually read, so this was a delightful experience to try something new to me. This book contains excellent elements I am glad to share with you.

What’s really unique about this book is its personal side, in the sense that the author shares with his readers how he launched into writing. Moreover, after each story, he explains where his inspiration came from. This made for a very original and friendly read, I mean that I had the feeling to getting to know more about the author himself.
Ray Bradbury is THE author who gave Dan the desire and impulse to write, especially when he read Dandelion Wine:

It was the first time I became part of the story. It was the first time I experienced words and sentences strung together in such a unique way: literature with doses of realism and lyrics and poetics.

And one day, Dan had the opportunity to meet Bradbury!

These 10 short stories present an interesting mix of autobiographical elements (his rescue of a man who almost drowned, meeting with Bradbury), of local elements with Chicago sites (and heat!!), of plots related to the world of politics and also of cinema that Dan knows quite well.

There is an overall wisdom message to the collection, pithily conveyed by the title itself. The stories are

linked by a similar theme: that every day we come to a crossroads in life and going back the way we came is not an option.
Each breath we take brings us to, and past, a crossroads in life, and there is no turning back.

Living myself as an expat an ocean away from my original country, and having dramatically changed of life style almost ten years ago, I can only say Amen to that.
This message is often put here in the context of a major disaster in the life of the different protagonists: in such cases, the healthy solution is to break with one’s past and start afresh.

I also enjoyed the fact that different genres are present: you will encounter drama, comedy, scifi and thriller. Some stories try something different, like double narrator in At The End of The Day.
A couple of stories left me a bit disappointed, as they felt to me as mere drafts for some longer projects, which indeed some are. The already excellent Letting Go is actually the plot for A Fine Line which is due to be published as a novel and is now a screenplay – see under Dan’s bio here below.

But in all stories, I really enjoyed the wonderful flow of the writing. It feels natural and leads you irresistibly to turn the pages for more.

Each story is illustrated by Chicago artist Kelly Maryanski, and the book jacket was designed by Hugh Syme.

Don’t try to re-live the past, for the future has so much in store for us. Just keep moving forward.

VERDICT: With a nice flow in the writing and rich diversity of genre and content, Dan Burns offers a captivating collection of short stories. A great invitation to lean forward and jump.


In No Turning Back, author Dan Burns shares an eclectic mix of stories that expand the boundaries of genre and imagination. Told with realistic and thought-provoking prose, each of the stories shine light on characters who, as a result of a particular experience, realize that they can’t go back—in time or to the way life used to be. Moving forward is the only option, and what comes next is anyone’s guess.

Published by Chicago Arts Press, this beautifully crafted hardcover edition includes story illustrations by Chicago artist Kelly Maryanski and an original cover design by world-renowned graphic artist Hugh Syme (album cover designer for the rock band Rush). Additionally, the author accompanies each story with his personal notes regarding the thoughts and ideas that inspired him to write the story, adding a unique behind-the-scenes perspective of the writing process. [provided by the author]



Dan BurnsFrom Dan Burnswebsite:
In addition to being a teacher,
I am fortunate to be able to pursue a challenging and rewarding career as a writer.
I published my first non-fiction book,
The First 60 Seconds (, in May of 2009
and followed that with an eighteen-month public speaking and book tour.
It was a wonderful opportunity to talk with thousands of people
about how to be more effective in their job search and career efforts.
In 2013, Eckhartz Press released my first novel,
a contemporary family drama titled Recalled To Life,
and my first collection of short stories, No Turning Back,
was published by Chicago Arts Press on April 29, 2014.
I am currently working on a new novel, A Fine Line,
which is a crime mystery set in my hometown of Chicago.
In addition to writing novels and short stories,
I also write screenplays for the big screen.

A Fine Line, won the Best Screenplay Award
at the 2014 Naperville Independent Film Festival (NIFF) Awards Gala on September 20th, 2014.

Follow Dan on his website   | Twitter  | Facebook  | Subscribe to his newsletter






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