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The Listening Path ~~ Book Review

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reviews, authors, writing

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 5 out of 5 quills 

Back in 2006, The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron was published.  I had just begun my journey as a dabbler in watercolors and( since 1998), had been writing stage plays. In that same year, I still considered myself a dabbler in watercolors and a junior level playwright….learning as you go.  I certainly would never have called myself an ‘artist‘ in those early days. This was a workbook that I treasure to this day. 

Now Ms. Cameron has written another lovely, insightful, encouraging book, The Listening Path. A successful communicator’s first skill is LISTENING.  A successful artist and human being should be listening; not just to other people but listening to their surroundings, and even listening to silence. Much can be learned.

This book is not only instructional but filled with tasks to practice your listening and become a better communicator. 
I highly recommend this book to my readers who are interested in furthering their self-awareness and their world around them. 

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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!     December: Lauren Willig, January: Madeline Hunter, February: Mike Lupica, March: Lee Matthew Goldberg, May: Jenny Colgan
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Book Review~~Picnic in Someday Valley

reviews, authors, writing reviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writing reviews, authors, writing                                        
4 out of 5 quills   

Author, Jodi Thomas, never lets her readers down. This sequel to the Honey Creek series is a satisfying read, re-visiting Someday Valley and the strong characters that Jodi Thomas has drawn. Pecos and Brand being my favorites in this new one.  

The readers get to return to Honey Creek and Someday Valley, two small towns in Texas. While set in current times, there’s still a flavor of the old west and small town closeness and politics that you cannot escape from to this day.  The story is rich in twists and turns with vibrant, quirky characters.

I highly recommend it to my readers. 

Did you miss the wonderful interview we did with this author? 

Coming Soon! (Oct. 2021, Book 3 Honey Creek series)

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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!     December: Lauren Willig, January: Madeline Hunter, February: Mike Lupica, March: Lee Matthew Goldberg
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Book Review ~~ Band of Sisters

reviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writing                                5 out of 5 quills                         BOOK REVIEW

This is an exceptional, sweeping saga about a group of women, all alumni of Smith College, who volunteered to go to Europe to assist the ravaged French villages during World War I.  What is extraordinary is, if an event happened in this book, it happened in real life. Based on old documents and letters, the new Smith College Relief Unit, composed of women from all walks of life, signed up for six months to try and assist villagers who were devastated by the war raging across Europe. They were later to be affectionately known as ‘the Smithies’. 

Their careers in social work, medicine, teaching couldn’t prepare them for the conditions they found when they disembarked from a train from Paris onto the muddy track leading to the village, Gricourt. The village existed hand in glove with an always changing ‘front line’ of battle between the Allied Forces and the German juggernaut.

Each woman’s life is showcased with beautiful writing from this author, Lauren Willig.  Sometimes novels that are based heavily on actual historical events slip into being dry and dusty reading.  It never happened in this novel, I am happy to report.
A real page turner to the end. A beautiful book of prose and an exciting, action-filled, story.  

Released March 21st
Did you miss my INTERVIEW with Lauren Willig?
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    November: Ella Quinn, December: Lauren Willig,
January: Madeline Hunter, February: Mike Lupica  March: Lee Matthew Goldberg
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Book Review: Someone To Watch over Me by Ace Atkins

reviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writing  4 out of 5 quills           Book Review reviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writing

The good news: Everyone is back!  Hawk, Susan, Henry at the Harbor Health Club, Quirk, Belson, Mattie, the new side kick of Spenser’s and Pearl, the pup. (spoiler alert!)  

The bad news: The ‘ick’ factor is off the charts with  Robert B. Parker’s  new Spenser novel.  Loosely based upon the case against Jeffrey Epstein and his notorious band of child molesters, I felt I needed a shower after each chapter. The book refers to the old, white men who followed Epstein around the globe. Politicians who ‘might be President one day’, senators, and pervert millionaires.  Even though the archival video tracks clearly shows Donald Trump whispering in Epstein’s ear, giggling like some awkward teenage boy, as he purveys a group of young girls dancing at one of Epstein’s parties, the book doesn’t go far enough on this one important point.  

It’s surprising how phrases like:’ human traffiking’, ‘lost and exploited children’, and ‘child abuse’ all sort of whitewash the reality. Atkins’ new Spenser story uses no whitewash and is in the reader’s face about the details of the sickening truth.

I can’t say I liked this book. But I can say, as is true of all Ace Atkins’ writings, it is very well written. I did enjoy having the old gang back around Spenser!

Release Date: January 12, 2021
Did you miss my Interview with Ace Atkins?
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    November: Ella Quinn, December: Lauren Willig, January: Madeline Hunter, February: Mike Lupica 
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New Fiction for Women: Mini Book Reviews

         I am always on the prowl for new authors (to me) to read, review and interview. If I’m lucky I find them to my taste for my pleasure reading too. An added bonus! These mini-reviews are books I wanted to share with my readers and unsolicited by the authors.

Christmas at the Beach Hotel by Jenny Colgan          reviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writing 4 out of 5 quills

A wacky little story set in a wacky little village on a remote rock (really) jutting out of the north Atlantic sea. The sentence structure, the run-on sentences and the odd flavor and cadence of the language made this writer/reader wonder if English was the author’s first language.  Rather than distract from the story, it turned out (at least for me) to add charm and credence to the unlikely characters living, willingly, on the harsh and unwelcoming island that is Mure.
It took a couple chapters in to fully believe in said characters and stop wondering why anyone in their right minds would live there. I recommend this book and look forward to the next one I shall be opening soon.
 

Seabreeze Inn by Jan Moran   reviews, authors, writing reviews, authors, writing reviews, authors, writing reviews, authors, writing   
                                                                   4 out of 5 quills

I’ve been reading Jan Moran for awhile now. Very enjoyable contemporary stories set along the coast of southern California.

Seabreeze Inn is a series set in what was an old private home, now, out of necessity, turned into a charming Inn by a reluctant widow. Her husband, recently deceased, had neglected to tell her about his acquisition. She is quite surprised to find herself the sudden owner of an old house, with back taxes past due, broke on top of everything else. Its beautiful location on the beach and steps from the sand inspires her to convert the house into an inn. Throughout the series the old house gives up its secrets and becomes another vibrant character in the story line. 

The characters are well drawn and very plausible. The reader will be  happy to know that there are more challenges, conflict, surprises and love interests in the following books. 

    reviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writing        5 out of 5 quills 
                                    Married To The Rogue  by Mary Lancaster

This Regency romance is a perfect mix of good writing.  A fun, interesting story, several love stories woven in, and a hint of sex. Written in the style of Barbara Cartland, Georgette Heyer and Mary Balogh, the raciest romance scenes go no further than the kissing of fingers, the inside of a lady’s wrist, one or two passionate kisses….and the rest is left to the imagination of the reader.  This is my favorite approach to sex scenes in this genre. When an author is blatant, for no apparent reason, I find it is frequently to compensate for weak writing. A Literary Commentary

Married To The Rogue is strongly written. Deborah is a self assured young debutante who finds herself painted into a corner of scandal where there appears to be no escape.  Christopher is a young peer who has political ideas far ahead of his time and has an urgent need for a wife. 
Having just discovered Mary Lancaster, I look forward to reading more of her books. (Hurry up, Amazon!) 
I highly recommend this book to my readers.
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    November: Ella Quinn, December: Lauren Willig, January: Madeline Hunter, February: Mike Lupica 
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Book Review ~~ The Daydream Cabin

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

Light, funny with a twisty, ‘feel good’ ending. Piney Wood Academy sounds like a well-heeled, private school for boys or girls whose parents can afford it. Wrong. It is a well-heeled, private boot camp for juvenile delinquents whose parents can afford it. And it’s a last stop  before serving serious time in ‘juvie’. The girls who are sent there are incorrigible and are not going to go quietly. 

The Daydream Cabin teaches the readers what boot camp is really like. This reviewer enjoyed learning something new. The writing is good, as we have come to expect from author, Carolyn Brown. The characters are well drawn and empathetic. I recommend this book to my readers. 

Did you miss my Interview with Carolyn Brown?

 

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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    November: Ella Quinn, December: Lauren Willig, January: Madeline Hunter, February: Mike Lupica 
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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 by the writer.  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 the plot is about divorce. Women of that era (1800’s), were lobbying for ‘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, January: Madeline Hunter, 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

haiku, poetry, pen and ink art, poems, Japanese haiku,

Haiku Poetry

 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.  Purchase here
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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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