Book Reviews

A Sense of Place

Armchair travelers, people who like to read biographies, the curious, the interested . . .  A Sense of Place by Michael Shapiro is for you. Michael explores travel writers’ views about the craft of writing, the world, and home, wherever that may be. Michael travels the globe, engaging in intimate conversations with these authors in their homes. Isabel Allende in San Rafael, California Bill Bryson in Hanover, New Hampshire Tim Cahill in Livingston, Montana Arthur Frommer in New York City Jeff Greenwald in Oakland, California Pico Iyer in Santa Barbara, California Peter Matthiessen in Sagaponack, New York Frances Mayes in Cortona, Italy Tom Miller in Tucson, Arizona Jan Morris in Llanystumdwy, Wales Eric Newby in Guildford, England Brad Newsham in Oakland, California Redmond O’Hanlon in Oxford, England Jonathan Raban in Seattle, Washington Rick Steves in Edmonds, Washington Paul Theroux in Oahu, Hawaii Sara Wheeler in London, England Simon Winchester in Great…

Book Reviews

The Creative Spark

Isn’t this a beautiful cover? The Creative Spark: How musicians, writers, explorers, and other artists found their inner fire and followed their dreams by Michael Shapiro. People are talking about The Creative Spark Michael has interviewed some of the world’s most creative minds, bringing sparks of joy, enlightenment, and entertainment into our lives. It makes sense for the next endeavor for Michael to publish these extraordinary interviews in a book. After reading the Lucinda Williams chapter, Solas House publisher James O’Reilly “went straight to listen to her album, Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone. I must have been living under a rock to not know her. I love her voice and music and intensity. This book is all about meeting people you’ll love who you never knew, or who you thought you knew but didn’t.” “I’ve been asking myself, why did I let music drift out of my life?…

Book Reviews

The Write Spot: Possibilities

Here’s what people are saying about The Write Spot: Possibilities ~ Stories and poems in this aptly named collection remind us of the possibilities that exist when we give ourselves the gift of time to reflect on our life experiences. Writing prompts and resources are generously shared to inspire and encourage readers who might wish to reach for a pen and capture thoughts and memories of their own. These words will touch your heart and might even move your pen.”— Brenda ~ The Write Spot: Possibilities is a collection of playful, experimental, insightful stories as well as prompts, resources, and words of encouragement for the beginning writer. Part anthology, part craft book, Possibilities is a welcome addition to any reader or writer’s bookshelf. —Elizabeth ~ A delightful mix of stories and writing advice. — Adair Lara, author of Naked, Drunk, and Writing OTHER BOOKS IN THE WRITE SPOT SERIES The Write…

Book Reviews

True to Form

True to Form by Elizabeth Berg. Elizabeth Berg has a unique ability to create characters who could live down the block, or they could be characters who peopled my growing up years. Berg’s writing style draws in readers to nuances and complex relationships, revealed through subtle actions and detailed dialogue. Her characters face the consequences of their decisions in ways that are remarkable because they are so familiar and yet told with such grace and eloquence that the story seems fresh and heretofore untold. It is such a pleasure to read an Elizabeth Berg Book.

Book Reviews

The Secret Spice Café Trilogy

Patricia V. Davis, author of spellbinding and captivating stories and creator of complex characters, weaves stories with unique twists aboard an unusual location in The Secret Spice Café Trilogy. Book One of The Secret Spice Café Trilogy: Cooking for Ghosts A Vegas cocktail waitress. An Indian herbalist. A British chemistry professor. An Italian-American widow. Four unique women with one thing in common: each is haunted by a tragedy from her past. Cynthia, Rohini, Jane, and Angela meet on a food blogging site and bond over recipes. They open The Secret Spice, an elegant café on the magnificent ocean liner, the RMS Queen Mary, currently a floating hotel in Long Beach, California. Rich in history and tales of supernatural occurrences, the ship hides her own dark secrets. The women are surrounded by ghosts long before they step aboard, and once they do, nothing is quite what it seems. Not the people they meet, not their brooding chef’s mystic recipes,…

Book Reviews

Joy School

Elizabeth Berg creates characters so lovable you want them to solve their problems and live happily ever after. Joy School’s Katie is adorable. Her growing pains are palpable and yet she carries on with admirable determination. Berg’s story endings are satisfying, leaving the reader hopeful for a better future and an improved world. Excerpted from the end of Joy School: “Now a cold wind blows suddenly, pushes my hair across my face and I get to see everything in slats. I put my hands deep in my pockets, find Jimmy’s stone. I take it out and look at it. It’s a pretty thing . . . I put the stone against my face, right where he touched me. And then I fling it far out into the pond. . . I didn’t mean to throw it. I wish I hadn’t done that. I’m cold. I start for home. Winter will…

Book Reviews

The Author Blog

Do you wonder if you should have a blog? If you have a blog, are you happy with how that’s going? The Author Blog: Easy Blogging for Busy Authors by Anne R. Allen  contains clear, concise, succinct information to guide you in the blogging process. Anne explains: How an author blog differs from a business blog. What authors should and shouldn’t blog. Choosing the topics for your genre and audience. How blogging can build your platform. And much more, including topics most of us don’t think about, like what happens to your blog when you die? Myths and Realities about Blogging. Lots to learn and ponder about blogging.

Book Reviews

The Write Spot: Memories

Marlene Cullen’s collection of short essays compiled in The Write Spot: Memories unfolds like a gently-made, multi-colored origami box. Each story is its only piece, its own regretful, loving, confusing, humorous, illuminating tale, yet held together by one theme that touches us all—our fathers and our memories of them when we were children, and our awakenings about them as we became adults. The Write Spot: Memories is for anyone who has had a father—whether present or absent, loving or distant, authoritarian or goofball. Authentic and relatable, each story is written with deep insight and love. —Julie Wilder-Sherman I love this book and the way it encourages, instructs and gives writers practical ideas to keep on writing. The stories are captivating and written from the heart. Each author ends with an honest description of their Inner Critic and how they tame it! I read this book twice because of the honest…

Book Reviews

Talk Before Sleep

Talk Before Sleep by Elizabeth Berg. In the beginning of Talk Before Sleep, at a party, Ann Stanley tells her husband, “I hate that woman.” She points to a “raven-haired, blue-eyed, neatly petite” woman. Her husband asks, “How do you know her?” Ann answers, “I don’t. But I know about her. Can’t stand her.” And then Ann meets The Woman, Ruth, in the tiny downstairs bathroom and everything changes. “I knew we had a lot to talk about. I could forgive her good looks. She was capable of a scary kind of honesty I was ready for, although until that moment, I hadn’t realized how much I’d been needing to meet someone I might be able to say everything to.” And so, they become best friends. Ann, a former nurse, takes care of Ruth, navigating her last days through the maze of cancer. Elizabeth Berg : “I lost a very…

Book Reviews

Durable Goods

I spent the summer of 2019 re-reading books by Elizabeth Berg, reminding me of my pre-teen summers when I read Nancy Drew books. Like the Nancy Drew books, Berg’s writing also transports me from my world to fictional worlds. I suppose Durable Goods, published in 1993, can be considered an oldie but goodie. It has a timelessness quality covering issues many face: a difficult home life, the challenges of growing up (changing bodies, confusing emotions, loyalties and betrayals, friends, commitment, making and losing connections with one another). — Marlene Cullen, The Write Spot Blog, editor, The Write Spot anthologies “Elizabeth Berg writes with humor and a big heart about resilience, loneliness, love, and hope. And the transcendence that redeems.” —Andre Dubus