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Book Review ~~ The Cowboy Who Saved Xmas

          3 out of 5 quills   ~~    Book Review reviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writing

Jodi Thomas contributed a short story to this collection of cowboys and Christmas.  With her fellow authors, Sharla Lovelace and Scarlett Dunn, they have written three stories capturing the spirit of Christmas amidst ranch life. 

Father Goose by Jodi Thomas left this reviewer wanting more!  I was disappointed this wonderful story was not developed into a cozy length novel or a full novel. The story line could have supported either.  93 pages was just a tease but still conveyed Thomas’ unique style of writing and a taste of life on a ranch.  The children were well drawn and delightful. 

Sharla Lovelace and Scarlett Dunn contributed the other two short stories.  I wasn’t impressed. They seemed rushed and not developed. It was almost as if someone said to these two authors, ‘we’re publishing a trilogy of cowboys saving Christmas; your story needs to be 100 pages and your deadline is (date).  Oh, yes and your story needs to have kids in it.’  And that’s exactly what they provided.

I wished the whole book had been filled with pages from Father Goose

Goes on sale today. Click here
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   October: George Scott, December: Lauren Willig, February: Mike Lupica 
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A Literary Commentary and a Book Review

Historical romances are fun reading and in the good ones, the reader learns a little history along the way. Second only to ‘sci-fi’, this genre is the most popular with the reading public. It is part of the ‘bodice ripper’ tradition that sex scenes range from vague titillation to  down-right pornographic in their descriptions.  In the well written ones, it’s a fine line between eroticism and blatant porn. Sometimes the most provocative is what is not said.  As in the case of my two favorite authors in this genre, Grace Burrowes (early books) and Annie Grace, who are masters at this. They suggest, they titillate, they let you use your imagination.  It is so much more satisfying than crude, blatant sex described in lurid detail which is porn written on paper and not to my taste.  In the case of sex scenes, less is more. 

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 5 out of 5 quills           ~~  Book Review

Madeline Hunter deftly walks this line successfully in her earlier books. She seems to know when to stop and let her readers participate with their imagination.  Lady of Sin was such a great story with many layers. Lady M. was a strong, independent woman. Nathaniel, our sexy hero was strong, confrontational and opinionated, but was a softie in love with Lady Charlotte.  The plot had lots of twists and turns and led our reader around by the nose until the very last page.

The main thread of plot is about divorce. Women of that era, 1800’s, were pursuing ‘divorce’ laws more favorable to and including women who were victims of domestic abuse. They were not allowed a position in the House of Lords or House of Commons (our Congress) so they had to petition through the influence of their fathers, husbands, or brothers.
Then add in a wonderful sub-plot about a ‘lost boy’ of aristocratic birth, if it can be proven. No spoiler alerts here. All I am saying is the plot is sophisticated and rich in layers.  Excellent writing that never needs the crutch of flagrant sex scenes to prop it up. 
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    October: George Scott, November: Ella Quinn, December: Lauren Willig, February: Mike Lupica 
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Book Review ~~ Haiku Journal

Book Review             D. Donovan, Midwest Book Review 

Haiku Journal acts as both an inspirational collection of diverse haiku by master writers such as Matsuo Basho and Masaoka Shiki and an encouragement for readers to fill in their own blank books with haiku creativity. It pairs lovely black and white drawings with examples of the diversity that can be incorporated into the traditional haiku form.

Where creative writing books might focus on the three-line stanza approach of its poetic structure, Trisha Sugarek provides a deeper interpretation of what makes a haiku piece stand out: “A haiku is a way of looking at the physical world and seeing something deeper, like the very nature of existence. It should leave the reader with a strong feeling or impression. Traditionally the natural world is mentioned.” She also includes works by master poets which didn’t always strictly adhere to the 5/7/5 haiku foundation because “They were too beautiful to ignore and not be included.”

This note advises readers that there is an attention to excellence, here, that goes beyond strict regimentation. Any poem that is uplifting, beautiful, and an example of unique expression is included, such as this: “Well, what must we think of it?/From the sky we came./Now we may go back again./That’s at least one point of view.” –Hôjô Ujimasa

These works appear alongside lined blank pages that encourage readers to become writers through example. The poems are juxtaposed with tips on how Sugarek chooses to write, including creative writing and history information that supports various approaches (i.e. producing a complete poem in three sets of three lines, known as Renku).

Sugarek’s own poetry is juxtaposed with verse and free verse from others, adding just the right blend of encouragement and a flavor of diversity to a haiku journal that serves as both an encouragement and an example.

Wannabe haiku writers looking for inspiration could not find a better wellspring of support than in Haiku Journal. Its format and presentation lend to not just inspiration, but creative effort.
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    October: George Scott, November: Ella Quinn, December: Lauren Willig, February: Mike Lupica 
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Book Review ~~ Return to Virgin River

reviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writing         3 out of 5 quills  ~~  Book  Review

Most fans of the Virgin River series are going to love this latest offering. It’s a good story of loss, grief, and recovery. But!  Remember, I mostly review ‘the writing’.

This story seemed lopsided. The female protagonist, Kaylee, must have described the loss of her mother six ways to Sunday. Almost everyone she met she told her story to, and the reader had to hear it again. Then every couple of chapters the author found a way for Kaylee to reiterate her loss to the readers; albeit, it was clever and smooth, it was still wash and repeat. Kaylee didn’t come across to this reviewer as strong. She seemed weak and lukewarm about everything. The Christmas tree was beyond beautiful in the town square. ‘Yes, but it would have been better if my mother was here’. (Kaylee) The puppies were fat, soft and cuddly. ‘If only my mother could have seen them. (Kaylee)…  You get the idea. 

I think it would have been a better story if (spoiler alert!) Kaylee’s Dad had shown up earlier, if the love interest had had a conflict or two (he was too perfect and his one conflict was slightly unbelievable.) and it would have been a terrific story if Mallory had entered much, much sooner. 

Robyn Carr always delivers with good writing. (I adore the series, Sullivan’s Crossing). She draws good characters.  I think my only problem with this book was the PLOT. I got fatigued with the grief.  I know grief. Believe me, time does not cure all things. But…Robyn, we get it…move on.  I didn’t love this book, nor did I hate it. It left me lukewarm. 
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    October: George Scott, November: Ella Quinn, December: Lauren Willig, February: Mike Lupica 
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Book Review ~~ The Last Mrs. Summers

reviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writing         5 out of 5 quills  ~~  Book  Review

This series,  A Royal Spyness Mystery has entertained fans for years and I never missed a’one.  Lady Georgiana began with not two pennies to rub together in the first book. Every job she got she either hated or the royal family got wind of it and forced her to leave (being the King’s cousin and thirteenth in the line of succession).  In The Last Mrs. Summers, she surprisingly finds herself  a sudden heir to a comfortable fortune, newly married, and rattling around alone in an inherited mansion, without her husband. When one of her best friends, Belinda, invites Georgie on a jaunt into Cornwall, she eagerly agrees. Anything to break the monotony of being left alone with just the servants;  her husband gone off on one of his mysterious assignments for the English government. 

The thing I really enjoy best about this series is the deftness in which Rhys Bowen drops the reader into Georgie’s life. We were last glam-camping with Georgie and Darcy (her husband) in Kenya listening to the lions roar twenty feet from the tent.  Now, we are clumping up and down the streets in London, with Georgie,  trying to find a friend who’s at home and wants to help Georgie break her boredom.  I am immediately picked up out of my boredom (Covid-19) sitting at home and racing into Cornwall in Belinda’s sportscar. She’s a terrible driver, by the way. 

Rhys Bowen has a deft way of showing the reader (rather than telling) who is in Georgie’s world, love life, relationship to the crown, and other murders she’s helped solve.  ‘Showing rather than telling’ is a very familiar term to us writers and it takes real talent to keep the ‘telling’ to a minimum. 

This is a wonderful series and it will be well worth it for new readers to begin with book one. However The Last Mrs. Summers stands alone and is a wonderful read.

Did you miss my Interview with Rhys Bowen
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    October: George Scott, December: Lauren Willig, February: Mike Lupica 
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Book Review ~~ Breakfast at the Honey Creek Cafe

reviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writing         5 out of 5 quills  ~~  Book  Reviewreviews, authors, writing

 

Jodi Thomas has delivered again!  BREAKFAST AT THE HONEY CREEK CAFE is a new series, beginning with this title.  Jodi’s writing style is consistent and reliable. That means (to her fans and new readers) that she will always deliver flawless writing and  well drawn and thoughtful characters. 

Piper Jane Mackenzie, a small town mayor and a ‘travel’in’ preacher, Sam Cassidy meet while an undercover detective Colby McBride circle the wagons to her heart; sounds like a clique, right? Nope. It turns out to be a charming story written in Jodi’s unique voice, with characters that are provocative and intriguing.  You are pulled in before you turn the first page.

I am a fan and I highly recommend this book. 

Did you miss my Interview with Jodi Thomas?
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    October: George Scott, December: Lauren Willig, February: Mike Lupica 
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Book Review ~~ Fool’s Paradise

5  out  of  5 quills  ~~  Book  Reviewreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writing

Delicious! My favorite to date in the Jesse Stone series.  The story intertwines all of the characters in Chief Jesse Stone’s orbit and most of the characters in PI Spenser’s world in Boston. Suitcase, Molly, Jesse, Sunny, Spenser, Spike, and Vinnie Morris.  PI Sunny Randall (another series Robert B. Parker created) and Jesse have danced around each other for years but never have their stars aligned until now. This is a fascinating love/attraction sub-plot wrapped up neatly in a multi-murder plot.

Jesse Stone is back ‘on the wagon’ while he tracks down what appears to be a random homicide. AA’s motto, ‘One Day at a Time’ is particularly poignant for Jesse as he readily admits that he wants a drink every day and it’s only by sheer will power that he stays sober and makes meetings. In the Alcoholics Anonymous world we call Jesse a ‘dry drunk’. Sober but not working the steps. A recipe for failure. 

Mike Lupica, one of the most prominent sports writers in America (huh?) writes  flawlessly with Robert B. Parker’s voice. To have his stories continue posthumously is a gift. These authors, Mike Lupica, Ace Atkins, Reed Farrel Coleman, et al, have written more stories impeccably in his voice. 

I’m thrilled to announce that I will be interviewing Mr. Lupica in February!

To Purchase
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    October: George Scott, December: Lauren Willig, February: Mike Lupica 
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Pay It Forward ~~ A Review

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 5 out of 5 quills   A Book Review

The book is better than the movie….as it should be. I watched the movie (an iconic film) years (decades?) ago and took the lesson in the story very much to heart. I have tried to pay it forward when and where I can. Time pasted and then I discovered the book’s author, Catherine Ryan Hyde, when I read her book, Have You Seen Luis Velez? Only then did I learn that she was also the author of Pay It Forward.  Full circle. I love when that happens.  Not long ago I had the pleasure and honor of Interviewing Ms. Hyde. 

A synopsis (which is not my style of reviewing) is unnecessary as everyone knows the premise of the story. Even fifteen years ago, Hyde was a brilliant writer. But, now reading her more current offerings I can say she improves like a fine wine.  Which is all any writer wants for themselves; that they grow and improve. 

If you haven’t read the book, you must!  If you won’t read the book, you must watch this wonderful movie.  We all need lifting up during this terrible time in our country. The movie or the book will lift you up.

I am slowing reading through the entire collection of work by Catherine Ryan Hyde.  Have You Seen Luis Velez? still remains my favorite to date. And that’s saying something!!
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   June: Mike Maden writing for TOM CLANCY. July: Guest Blogger Desiree Villena, August: Carolyn Brown
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Book Review ~ The Revelators by Ace Atkins

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5 out of 5 quills            BOOK REVIEW

From the first sentence, in the first paragraph, on the first page The Revelators had this reviewer hooked!  As sheriff Quinn Colson lay face up, in a creek bed, shot four times, Boom’s face, like a black moon, hung over him, shouting into his best friend’s face, “Quinn, man. Stay with me brother… Can you hear me?”

I’ve told newbie writers and experienced writers that the first page, if not the first sentence, should grab your reader and not let go. They must feel compelled to read on and find out what happens next in your story. Ace Atkins personifies this rule in his writing.  If you are a fan of Quinn Colson and the goin’s-on in Tibbehah County, Mississippi you don’t need a reason to buy the latest in the series.  If you are aware or not, it’s the fine writing that brings you back again and again.  We love the grit, the gore, we even love the villains. At least, I do. 

The characters are drawn with the precision of a rapier. Caddy, Fannie Hathcock, Sam Frye, Donnie, Lillie, Quinn, Boom, the list goes on and on. And the graft portrayed just below the surface of the genteel south is real. When I lived in Harrison County (Gulfport, 1974) the elected Sheriff’s job was worth $1 million per year to that elected official. Nobody really blinked at the graft that took place every day. Just as long as crime was low and we were safe in our homes. 

I highly recommend this newest release in the Quinn Colson series. 

Did you miss my Interview with Ace Atkins?
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   June: Mike Maden writing for TOM CLANCY. July: Guest Blogger Desiree Villena, August: Carolyn Brown
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Book Review ~ Miss Janie’s Girls by Carolyn Brown

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 5 out of 5 quills                           BOOK REVIEW 

Carolyn Brown has delivered again!  This new release is a heart-warming story of two young girls caught up in the CPS’s foster system. They finally land with Miss Janie until the ‘system’ spits them out at age eighteen.  Separated for years, they both circle back to Miss Janie.  Has their animosity toward each other survived the separation?

The writing is superb and the drawing of the characters flawless. I highly recommend this book for summer, fall or winter reading!

Did you miss my Interview with Carolyn? 

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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   May:  Joram Piatigorsky, June: Mike Maden writing for TOM CLANCY. July: Guest Blogger Desiree Villena, August: Carolyn Brown
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