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

Book Reviews

The Tubbs Fire

The Tubbs Fire – A Story of Survival and Recovery by Rob Koslowsky A visceral accounting of a horrendous situation. Told from a first person experience what it’s like to lose all possessions and the challenges of rebuilding. Richly annotated with photos and stories that will de-mystify what happened during and after the Tubbs Fire devastation. Rob Koslowsky is a skilled story teller. This hard to put down book is alternately heart-breaking and hopeful, showing the resilience and strength of humans, who came together in this time of need. Available at Amazon. Robert K. Koslowsky spent three decades in high technology with a focus on leading edge telecommunications and solar energy solutions. After graduating from the University of Manitoba (1981), Rob worked for Nortel Networks, startup Cerent Corp., and then Cisco Systems. He also consulted with startups PVI (later renamed Enphase Energy) and Cyan (later acquired by Ciena).  Rob’s early…

Book Reviews

We Are All Welcome Here

Elizabeth Berg is uniquely talented to be able to write in many different authentic voices. We Are All Welcome Here is a perfect example of her capabilities as an extraordinary writer. Berg skillfully weaves a tender story about Paige, paralyzed from the neck down, and her strength in raising her daughter, Diana, with the help of her “tough-talking black caregiver,” Peacie. Each character’s voice is unique as if Berg has inhabited their bodies and their minds to get into their psyche. Published in 2006, the story takes place in Tupelo, Mississippi in 1964. The story line is still relevant today: “As tensions mount over civil-rights demonstrations across the state, fourteen-year-old Diana is trying to live a normal life. She wants to make money for clothes and magazines, to figure out the puzzle that is boys, and to escape the oppressiveness she sees everywhere in her small town.” — Back cover…

Book Reviews

The Write Spot: Reflections

The Write Spot: Reflections reviewed by Nancy Julien Kopp. I read Marlene Cullen’s newest book cover to cover in one evening. The Write Spot: Reflections is the third in a series of books meant to help writers and wannabe writers. In the introduction, editor Marlene Cullen, says: “If you want to write and don’t know how to get started, this book is for you.    If you are a writer and feeling stuck, this book is for you.  If you like reading a variety of writing for enjoyment, this book is for you.” The book is a collection of short stories, poems and vignettes to entertain but also to inspire writing. Each contributor includes a short bio and a few paragraphs on Why I Write after their writing contributions. I found some illuminating statements in the Why I Write sections. I also found so a great deal to enjoy in the offerings of the different authors….