Book Reviews

Sarah’s Secret

Sarah’s Secret: A Western Tale of Betrayal and Forgivenes by Beverly Scott, reviewed by Maurice L. Monette If you enjoy being transported to another time in U.S. history, to an unfamiliar place and culture, with people who are different from yourself, then you may like Sarah’s Secret as much as I did.  Written with sensitivity from a mother and wife’s perspective, the story immerses the reader into the arduous life of women homesteading in the prairie and desert states at the turn of the last century. The details are so vivid that they could only emerge from the mind of an author who has intimately experienced motherhood and marriage, and has carefully researched history. Particularly delightful to this lover of history are the many detailed descriptions, such as living in a dugout with no windows, surviving winter snowstorms on the plains, driving cattle to market, scraping for food and water…

Book Reviews

Dance Life

Dance Life by Lisa Alpine, reviewed by Mary Jo Rice. Lisa Alpine’s Dance Life is a colorful page turner. Whether a seasoned traveler, dancer, or neither, you will be captivated by Lisa’s daring solo adventures around the globe and her freedom connecting with fascinating locals, especially those to share her passion for dance – anywhere, any hour, any form – atop a table, on a beach, under the full moon, or occasionally under the influence. Lisa’s engrossing and enchanted tales transport me to an expansive potential within to invite the unknown and to welcome a broader scope of experience for the pure joy of living more freely and more fully. Love this book! WARNING: Read at your own risk: Spinoff symptoms may develop including intense wanderlust and an overwhelming desire to sway, gyrate, and spend the rest of your life traveling and dancing! Mary Jo Rice safeguards whales and dolphins…

Book Reviews

I’ll Be Seeing You

People magazine described Elizabeth Berg’s latest book, “I’ll Be Seeing You,” as “a memoir of dementia’s ravages.” And therein lies the decision whether or not to read this book. I chose to read this book because I’m a huge Elizabeth Berg fan. I have read all of her books and like most of them. But I wasn’t straining at the bit to read this one because I wasn’t sure about Elizabeth as a memoirist and wasn’t sure I wanted to read about anyone’s decline into Alzheimer’s. Elizabeth is an amazing writer, able to get to the heart of her characters. I think that’s because she is so authentic, so genuine, and so lovely. Her writing in this book does not disappoint. However, a caution: If someone you care about is experiencing Alzheimer’s, or if you are worried that you are, this book might not be for you. On the other…

Book Reviews

The Most Fun We Ever Had

“The Most Fun We Ever Had” by Claire Lombardo is one of a handful of books I read a second time, right after the first reading. I read quickly the first time to find out what would happen. I read carefully the second time to savor passages and to try to understand the structure. The second reading also helped to understand the characters and their actions. This book is complex with traveling back and forth in time, and switching point of view, making it hard to know who “she” and “he” are referring to. I think, with some editing, the pronouns could be made clearer and there could be consistent ellipses and em-dash usage. I grew to like this family, like comfortable slippers. They took some getting used to. I didn’t really like the parents until trouble, in the name of Gillian, surfaced. Reading this during the Covid-19 pandemic, the…

Book Reviews

She’s Got This

She’s Got This, Essays on Standing Strong and Moving On, edited by Joanne Hartman and Mary Claire Hill is refreshing and riveting. After I started reading it, I didn’t want to put it down. It’s uplifting and inspiring in its authenticity and revelations of humans . . . as we are . . . flawed. After I finished reading it, I wanted to immediately re-read it. It’s that good. Available on Amazon.

Book Reviews

Writing as a Path to Healing

In reference to The Write Spot:  Writing as a Path to Healing, author Elizabeth Beechwood said, “The contributing writers delve into the pain of their past, reveal their vulnerabilities, and share the lessons they’ve learned with all of us. Their courage is written on every page of this collection.”  After reading my contributor’s copy of editor, Marlene Cullen’s newest anthology, I am in full agreement with Ms. Beechwood. Especially the last sentence regarding courage written on every page. It is not easy to write about traumatic events, but twenty-one people have done so and were willing to share stories and poems with readers. The writers come from various walks of life and offer readers a look into difficult times they experienced at some point. These writers all used writing as a step on their path to healing and to offer support to others. Some who write about troubled parts of their…

Book Reviews

Taking Root by Brenda Bellinger

Brenda Bellinger’s Taking Root is an engaging story with believable characters that drew me in, welcoming me to join them. Taking up residence in this community is like biting into a warm blueberry muffin and sipping a hot mocha . . . warm, endearing, and nurturing. I look forward to reading more of Brenda’s books. — Marlene Cullen, Editor, The Write Spot Books “From the very first page I was drawn into Delaney’s unfortunate life of coping with panic attacks while trying to become independent at the tender age of seventeen. With no family support and a relentless elderly woman and young music store owner who befriend her, she is determined to change the course of her life but a startling discovery from her past threatens to destroy her success.  I found myself cheering for Delaney on every page!”  — Janet Pierce, Court Appointed Special Advocate for children in the…

Book Reviews

How To Walk Away

Sometimes a person needs a story to help forget their worries. How to Walk Away by Katherine Center is a prescription for getting lost in a story, realizing that things could be worse. I enjoyed the character development, unraveling personalities like a box in a box as the story went deeper with complex issues. A memorable story. NEW YORK TIMES Bestselling Author Katherine Center wrote her first novel in the sixth grade (fan fiction about Duran Duran) and got hooked. From then on, she was doomed to want to be a writer—obsessively working on poems, essays, and stories, as well as memorizing lyrics, keeping countless journals, and reading constantly. Katherine won a creative writing scholarship in high school, and then went on to major in creative writing at Vassar College, where she won the Vassar College Fiction Prize. At 22, she won a fellowship to the University of Houston’s Creative Writing…

Book Reviews

Little Bee

Little Bee by Chris Cleave is a haunting tale, based on a true story (with significant altered details), of astonishing courage, awareness, understanding, unforgiveness, and selflessness. The story unfolds gradually. The last section, with twists and reveals, is a page turner. Excerpt from the back of the book, “Author Q & A” section: “You mention that the book is, in some way, about ‘the horror of being alive in a world where atrocities happen.’ Are there particular human rights issues you’d like to call attention to? In the face of such monumental tragedy as is exposed in Little Bee, how can one person make a difference?” “. . . Evil is not going to be vanquished. Our job is to resist it, and to plant the seeds of further resistance so that goodness never entirely vanishes from the universe. There are degrees of resistance. It starts when you give a…

Book Reviews

All The Houses

All The Houses by Karen Olsson explores family relationships, Washington D.C., and the Iran-Contra Affair. Published in 2015, it’s especially timely in 2020, exploring the United States’ history with Iran.  Olsson expertly nudges the blurred lines between a father’s loyalty to the government and the conflicts within his family. She “writes about how Washington turns people into unnatural versions of themselves, how outside forces can warp family relationships, and how the familial nostalgia that sets in during early adulthood can prove counterproductive to actually becoming an adult.” Easy to read, entertaining, and informative.