Book Reviews, Just Write, Quotes

I don’t know what I’m doing . . .

“Eventually, I stop looking back and being prissy about the beginning, but I’m pretty prissy about it for a long while. At a certain point, I only go forward. I allow myself to write a chunk where I can say, ‘You know, I don’t know what I’m really doing here. It’s a bit messy.’ I cut myself some slack. I can also write with blind spots where I say, ‘I know I’m going to have to figure this out later I don’t know what the answer is right now but that’s OK,’ and I can keep writing.” —Julianna Baggott Excerpt from “Pure Writer,” by Elfrieda Abbe, The Writer Magazine, January 2016 Note from Marlene: When you get to a “stuck” place in your writing, type ‘xyz” or “something here” in red at your sticky spot.You can come back to that unsettled place later and fix it.  Take a break. Get…

Book Reviews

The Write Spot Anthology: Discoveries

The Write Spot Anthology: Discoveries, edited by Marlene Cullen Reading this anthology is like walking into a word bazaar, where the reader is called to taste grief’s shadows, to sample sweet memories. The reader is beckoned by the poetry of human existence, lured to the scents and sounds of places and times. Savor this visit to worlds familiar and unfamiliar. You will leave, feeling satisfied. — Claudia Larson has been published in Tiny Lights, The Write Spot, Searchlights & Signal Flares. Her writing is nourished by nature and her life on the prairies. We all have them . . . Stories tucked away in the recesses of memories.  Stories patiently waiting to be written, polished, and shared. Marlene Cullen, the creator of Jumpstart Writing Workshops, is a master at helping her students bring their stories to life, offering the simple prompt of a word, a painting, a shiny object. Each essay…

Book Reviews

The Trip by Armando Garcia-Davila

The Trip: Speeding Toward the Cliff at the End of the World Review by Elizabeth Kern  Author Armando Garcia-Davila takes us on a trip of a lifetime as four friends travel 7,000 miles cross-country on their motorcycles in the turbulent 1960s. The experiences of his main character, Tino, are alternately poignant, funny, mind-bending, and life-changing as he grapples with the issues confronting him: his first true love, bubbling racial tension, the morality of the escalating Viet Nam war, and a wafer of LSD in his pocket just waiting to be used.  The Trip is a page-turner as Tino and his companions—his older and wiser brother who happens to be a priest, and their two friends—roar from adventure to adventure: spending uneasy nights in small town jails to save money; sneaking out of town under the mask of darkness to avoid the pursuit of Southern rednecks; and finally, for Tino, an…

Book Reviews

Every Moment of A Fall by Carol E. Miller

Every Moment of A Fall by Carol E. Miller Carol’s true account of her life, beginning with a plane crash that killed her sister and severely injured her and her parents, through her turbulent years, ending with healing through EMDR – Eye Movement and Desensitization and Reprocessing. The book jacket describes this as “a brave and revealing  memoir of recovery and a vividly narrated account of the author’s experience using the increasingly popular eye-movement therapy developed to heal the wounds trauma leaves in its wake.”  A good read for anyone who has experienced trauma. An excellent resource for researching alternative methods of therapy.

Book Reviews

The City Baker’s Guide To Country Living by Louise Miller

The City Baker’s Guide To Country Living, Reviewed by Heather Young: The City Baker’s Guide To Country Living by Louise Miller, a novel about a pastry chef running from her mistakes, is a confection. It’s sweet with just the right hints of tartness and salt, and, like a great dessert, it leaves you wanting more. Livvy is living and working in Boston with nothing but her abandonment issues and a married boyfriend. When she accidentally torches her employer’s posh club with an errant baked Alaska, she runs to her best friend’s home in a pastoral Vermont town. One thing leads to another, and soon this big-city baker finds herself making desserts at the quaint Sugar Maple B&B, whose crotchety owner, Margaret, is hell-bent on reclaiming the blue ribbon at the annual apple pie contest. I loved all the characters, especially prickly, funny, warmhearted Livvy, whose journey is never anything less…

Book Reviews

Modern Girls by Jennifer S. Brown

Modern Girls Reviewed by Louise Miller: Modern Girls by Jennifer S. Brown is such an engrossing novel. Once I started, I couldn’t stop reading. Brown has an incredible hand with details, using every one of the five senses. I feel like I know the textures and smells of the streets and cramped apartments of the Lower East Side in the 30’s, the closeness of living in small spaces with large families. I could taste the pickled tongue and smell the scent of Aqua Velva. Brown also has a skillful hand at weaving in historical details. I learned so much about this time in our history, both culturally and politically, and am intrigued to know more. Modern Girls is told from the points of view of both Rose and her daughter Dottie. As a writer, I am impressed with the way Brown effortlessly moves from one distinct voice to the other….

Book Reviews

Folly Cove by Holly Robinson

Folly Cove reviewed by Jennifer S. Brown. Rarely do I read a book in a single day, but Folly Cove absolutely captivated me. Maybe it was because I saw my own relatives in these characters (Sarah reminded me of my own grandmother), but this story about three sisters and their mother gripped me. Folly Cove is an old inn in Rockport, MA, run by single-mom Sarah and her three daughters, at least until two of the daughters are old enough to escape. The third daughter married, had a child, and settled in to continue helping out. At the start of the novel, however, the two other sisters are pulled back to Folly Cove, and all three must work together–despite that not all are speaking to one another–to plan their mother’s birthday. I didn’t want to put this book down so I could find out what all the secrets are–and there…

Book Reviews

Fire Angels by Elizabeth Kern

Fire Angels by Elizabeth Kern Reviewed by Janet Snyder: Fire Angels by Elizabeth Kern will touch your soul with its grace, its grit, and its gravitas. It’s a tragic story of a fire that took place at the Our Lady of the Angels school in Chicago on December 1, 1958, and resulted in the deaths of 92 children and three nuns. Kern guides her narrative through the viewpoints of a janitor, teachers, survivors and their families, church leaders, firemen, the suspected arsonist, and his parents. But the most unique and powerful voice is that of Fire itself, a lofty and sardonic protagonist if ever there was one. Fire’s voice is woven deftly throughout this tale of despair and grief and bravery and hope. Whenever a match is struck, Fire makes its appearance. Sometimes Fire struts like a peacock, preening and showing off. Other times it’s alternately cruel and egotistic, like…

Book Reviews

The Best Little Grammar Book Ever! by Arlene Miller

Reviews for: The Best Little Grammar Book Ever!: Speak and Write with Confidence / Avoid Common Mistakes 2nd Edition, by Arlene Miller. Joel Friedlander reviews The Best Little Grammar Book Ever! In this delightful book, Arlene Miller demystifies the basics of grammar to help you communicate with more clarity. And she does it without talking down to the reader, and without boring you to tears. This is not a compendium of grammar practice; it’s a streamlined overview with lots of tips and hints that will have you writing better right away. Joel Friedlander is an award-winning book designer, a blogger, the author of A Self-Publisher’s Companion: Expert Advice for Authors Who Want to Publish and The Self-Publisher’s Ultimate Resource Guide. He’s been launching the careers of self-publishers since 1994 and writes, a popular blog on book design, book marketing and the future of the book. Sheri Graves reviews The Best Little Grammar Book Ever!…

Book Reviews

The Ones Who Matter Most by Rachael Herron

The Ones Who Matter Most by Rachael Herron reviewed by Shelly Tracy Gilliland: Rachael Herron never disappoints! Her characters are so believable you might think you live next door to any one of them. Her story lines and dialogue are real, too. I don’t read a book I don’t like because my TBR (to be read) list is far too long for that. The Ones Who Matter Most will engage you from start to finish. Shelly Tracey Gilliland reads voraciously, writes and quilts at her cozy home in northeast Indiana. Review by Marlene Cullen: Herron has the unique ability to write a scene that feels and sounds so real, it’s as if I’m right next to these characters as they move through their lives —at work, at home, running errands. I ride alongside the heroine as she navigates new and tricky waters. I clutch onto her jacket as she is…