Tag Archives: Book Review

Book Review: “Legacy of the Highlands” by: Harriet Schultz

We all say the words “where did time go” at on time or another. I have been saying it a lot lately.  In 2012 I took a break from blogging. This is my first time back!  Five years!!

The first book I would like to review, as I begin again, is the book I was working on when life interrupted:  “Legacy of the Highlands” by Harriet Schultz.

Legacy - Schultz

This is a fabulous novel.  It is a jam packed plot, as to rival all good mystery writers.  I am inclined to say, including your favourite authors.  The beginning lulls the reader into a false sense of security in that the beginning is not what it appears – not all pleasure and romance.  The characters are multi-dimensional, soon to be among the reader’s favourite.

Goodreads summary of this novel is as follows:

Young, good-looking, successful and wealthy. Will and Alexandra Cameron had it all until the night he went out to buy ice cream after an evening of passionate sex and never returned. When his body is discovered in a nearby Boston alley, the only clue to his murder is a Scottish sgian dubh dagger left beside it. Will’s grieving widow finds refuge in the Miami villa of his best friend Diego Navarro, who has the means, power and temperament to solve the puzzle and to avenge his friend’s murder. The sinfully handsome and charming womanizer’s feelings for Alexandra run deep, and he becomes equally determined to win the devastated widow’s heart. The attraction between them grows as they follow leads from Miami to Buenos Aires and Scotland, unraveling the Cameron family’s centuries-old secrets.

Do yourself a favour, pick up a copy of Harriet Schultz’s “Legacy of the Highlands”, and you will find joy in the written word.

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Book Review: “Beatrice Munson” by Lorena Bathey

In Vista Heights, the women of the neighborhood have started to look like their homes, varying shades of beige.  Lost in this world of suburbia, Marissa Lyons learns her high school nemesis has bought the house right across the street from her. Afraid that her arch enemy, Beatrice Munson, will move in with Marissa’s high school crush as her husband and cause Marissa to relive the insecurity of high school in her forties, she decides to face the music and heads to Beatrice’s house with warm cupcakes. But what Marissa finds is something she never expected.  How will Marissa and the rest of the women of San Martino deal with someone like Beatrice Munson, whose defining moment in her life was to get a boob job or go on a trip to Egypt. This story is about friendship, love, learning to look at things differently, and great parties. Step into the world of Vista Heights where you might recognize the women, or you might be one of them. (from Goodreads) 

 

When Lorena Bathey was looking for reviewers, for her book “Beatrice Munson”, I jumped at the opportunity.  Many months ago, as I was cruising around on Goodreads, I came across “Beatrice Munson”, and immediately fell in love with the cover!  I think the cover is beautiful, and enticing, and is among my favourite book covers. Lorena Bathey generously mailed the book to me, in exchange for an honest review.  I could not wait for the book to arrive!!  And when the book did arrive, just holding the book in my hand brought a smile to my face.  Then I started to read about Beatrice, and all the ladies in the community of San Martino, a suburb of San Francisco. 

Lorena Bathey’s narrator, Marissa Lyons, is a character who captured my heart in the very first paragraph, (truly, she did!).  I identified with part of her story, of her high school experiences, and her challenge to find her true place in life. 

The character of Beatrice Munson moved into a house across the street from Marissa Lyons.  Once Beatrice settled into her home, decorated in her own personal style, Marissa came for a visit.  The vision of Beatrice’s house was described through Marissa’s voice.  I say vision, because that is the word that came to mind, as I read Lorena Bathey’s beautiful description of Beatrice’s house.  It was a house that I wanted to be in, a living room that I wanted to settle into a chair, with a cup of coffee, and a really good book.  Lorena’s talent with words drew me into the San Martino community, made me feel welcomed. 

Lorena Bathey

The action in this novel moved smoothly and quickly.  The only reason I did not finish the book in one sitting, was because family commitments called me away.  But I did finish the book in my second sitting – reading into the wee hours of the morning!  I could not go to sleep without knowing how everyone’s life turned out! 

In following the characters’ daily lives, the reader sees how each character develops. The enjoyable thing was that Lorena Bathey showed this development through conversation and action, rather than pages of description.  The humour in “Beatrice Munson” is at times elegantly displayed, in beautiful phrases that bring the reader further into the world of all the San Martino ladies.  Sentences like this:   

“….Graydon was like the high dive in the male dating pool, and on the female scale I was about halfway down to the deep end with floaties on my arms.” 

San Francisco – Lorena Bathey Facebook Page

I laughed out loud, and re-read the line a few times before moving on!  Lorena Bathey also brings humour and memories together: 

“Her hair was teased up to the level of a Jiffy Pop popcorn container,….” 

Ah, yes, Jiffy Pop foil container just about ready to burst, before Mom removed it from the stove, cut the foil, and we dived in – nice memories, and an excellent description of a hair style! The book description on the back cover, also part of the Goodreads summary, reads:  “Step into the world of Vista Heights where you might recognize the women, or you might be one of them.”   And that happened to me as I read through the book.  A couple of times I found myself thinking, “hmmm, that sounds like (insert name)” and “oh, my goodness, that’s me!”  Such is the gentle, yet powerful, word pictures created by this author.  Talent, pure talent. In my book reviews, I do not like to give books a ‘number rating’, or a ‘star rating’, rather I stay with word recommendations, (or not!).  And fiction is so personal; each person experiences the story through their own life experiences.  But with all that said, if I was to give “Beatrice Munson” a number rating, it would definitely be 5 out of 5, in my mind, without question, a 5 star rating.  So, my recommendation to my readers is to definitely read “Beatrice Munson” by Lorena Bathey, and enjoy!! 

photo – Gavin Hellier

Where is the Joy of the Written Word in this book?  The answer is: from cover to cover, from beginning to end. 

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Choose Joy!  

Patricia

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Book Review: “Everblossom: A Short Story and Poetry Anthology” by Larissa Hinton

Everblossom is a journey through poems and short stories that may seem ordinary on the surface but dig a little deeper and the world not only shifts. It changes.  From the author who brought you Iwishacana/Acanawishi, she now brings you a dash of everything from dark fantasy to the paranormal to even romance. So prepare yourself to delve into the three stages of the flower from bud to blossom then back to seed, you’ll go through them all with a whole new perspective on what it all truly means (from Goodreads) 

A mix of poetry and prose; blended together perfectly, with a smooth flow from beginning to end, back to the beginning, and through the book again.   

“Everblossom: A Short Story and Poetry Anthology” by Larissa Hinton has become one of my favourite books of poetry.  Even some of the prose has poetic elements.  I had received the eBook from Larissa, in exchange for an impartial review.  But just a few poems and stories into the book, I knew I needed to hold this book in my hand!  So, I ordered the paperback version, and finished the book that way. 

In the introduction, Hinton speaks of the order of the book, compared to the non-linear scope of her writings.  Beginning with ‘Seed’ – some of Hinton’s earliest work; moving into ‘Bud’, then ‘Blossom’, the reader can visualize some of the flow of Hinton’s writing.  The Goodreads synopsis, which I show above, says that the book highlights three stages of the flower from bud to blossom then back to seed.  That held true for me.  When I reached the final poem, the writing that ended the book, I instantly flipped back to the ‘Seed’ beginning poem; I had the desire to see again how it all began.  After my second read through, I took extra time reading pieces that touched some unknown place in my heart, and have gone back to individual pieces since that time. 

The book contains some of Hinton’s favourite pieces, and some writing that was among her most challenging work.  The flow of the book was not strictly an upward incline; the reader will find some of the author’s earlier writings more appealing than those in the ‘Blossom’ section.  I believe this is highly influenced by personal preference, rather than author driven.  The skill of the author in the use of words is evident. 

Larissa Hinton

One of the poems that caught my attention is titled: “Sprout”; and is the first poem in the ‘budding’ section of the book.  The last three lines read:  ‘from bud to blossom – this is the beginning – of the end’.  I first read these lines in dismay, a feeling of sadness coming over me, the feeling that death is everywhere.  Later reading sparked feelings of youth, that feeling we all experience as we spread our wings, and begin to live fully as an adult, having moved from the child stage – the seedling stage. 

The mix of poetry and prose gives this book the feeling of a story, with a beginning and an end.  There were times that I forgot I was reading individual writings, and saw the sequence as planned – planned from the start.  The sequence for the book was clearly planned, but the writing of individual pieces did not have the same sequence.  I saw this as a strength of the book itself. 

As an anthology of poetry and prose, I do recommend the reading of Larissa Hinton’s “Everblossom”.  With its variety of writing styles, as well as Larissa’s ability to cross genres seamlessly, it will be a welcome addition to any bookshelf.  Enjoy!

photo by Heather Fraser

“The Joy of the Written Word”: 

Larissa Hinton’s book, ‘Everblossom’, is a reminder to me of why I write this blog.  One of the reasons is that I might share with my readers, the joyful feeling I receive from many forms of the written word.  Be it poetry or prose, structured or free, new world thinking or biblical, the joy of the written word reaches a part of my inner being.  And I attempt to share that joy within this blog.

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Choose Joy! 

Patricia

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Book Review: “The Imitation of Patsy Burke” by John J. Gaynard

World-renowned sculptor and hell-raiser Patsy Burke comes to in a cheap hotel in Paris covered in blood and with a broken arm—and no idea what happened the night before. Thus begins a journey through the bars of Paris, during which Patsy, with the help of a few “friends,” including Caravaggio and the Scandal Man, attempts to unravel the events of the previous day and night. Along the way, he relives the major occurrences of his past, most of which involve a combination of women, drink, and violence. Has he ever been truly responsible for the man he is, whether for his successes or for another crime he suspects he may have committed? His “friends” take him to breaking point. If he does not wish his life to finally come full circle, he must make one final, possibly fatal choice. (from Goodreads) 

One of the classic lines in “The Imitation of Patsy Burke” must be:  “What came first?  Was it the overdrinking or was it the voices?”(page 10).  If the reader has not figured it out by this early point in the novel, this quote ensures a better understanding of the narration.  The “voices”, the “friends”, exist within the very compelling mind of the main character, Patsy Burke; in actual fact, the only true character in the novel.  The other characters exist, but they exist within Patsy’s very complicated mind.  It is from this perspective that John J. Gaynard spins this tale of emotion, action, and vivid description.  The tone is raw, irreverent, racy, provocative, and infrequently loving. 

When I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author, it was in exchange for an impartial review.  At that time, I thought I was about to read an action packed thriller, with a psychological bent.  That was not how it turned out!  But the writer’s style caught my attention after only a couple of pages.  Then the plotline caught my eye, and I was hooked.   

Due to the use of offensive language, there were times when completion of the novel seemed out of reach.  Throw in some graphic violence, and it is not my pick for summer afternoon reading.  However, the author still held my attention.  You see, each of the voices in Patsy Burke’s mind, made up an aspect of Patsy’s personality.  The skill of the author is in holding the reader’s attention to see how all the voices fit together, and how the author can actually create quite a storyline, all from the voices in the lead character’s mind.  Are you intrigued yet?? 

As a word of caution, I would suggest that the reader keep in mind that this is a work of fiction – even though at times it reads like history.  I choose not to expand on that comment, as I try to avoid ‘spoilers’ in my book reviews. 

One skill of Gaynard’s is the ability to remain neutral throughout this book.  By that I mean, the reader is left guessing about Gaynard’s own history and personal beliefs.  And I think in a book of this nature that is key to the plotline and readability of the book itself.  Keep your mind open, and your wits sharp, and this book may be just what you are looking for! 

Where is the Joy in the Written Word of this novel?  While not a ‘joy-less’ story, the word ‘Joy’ does not come to my mind in this instance.  If you have read, or do read, this novel, I invite you to leave me a comment on where you do, or do not see Joy.  And in all humility, John Gaynard, if you read this post, I truly welcome your thoughts on “The Imitation of Patsy Burke” and on where you see the Joy of the Written Word.

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Choose Joy! 

Patricia

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Book Review: “The Nature of God: 50 Christian Devotions About God’s Love and Acceptance” by Mona Hanna

The Nature of God contains 50 Christian devotions, focusing on God’s true love and acceptance of us. The devotions portray God’s kindness, sweetness, grace, mercy and forgiveness. These devotions break down the notion that God judges us, and has strict requirements for how we should think, feel and behave. Mona’s stance is that God loves us like a parent loves their child, with the same intimacy and compassion that a loving parent would have. Immerse yourself in heart-warming declarations of God’s love, and remind yourself of the true nature of God. (from amazon.com) 

Before I was a few pages into this devotional book, it was clear to me that the author herself has a real and heartwarming relationship with her God.  Mona Hanna is right up front with her Christian faith, and through the 50 Christian Devotions in this book, shares her faith openly with her readers.  

Mona shares how she experiences the many characteristics of God, and gives the reader a look into her own perception of God’s personality.  This is done through short daily devotions.  But rather than 365 devotions, the 50 devotions in the book are each given a title, which the reader can view in order to choose the devotion that aligns with their present need.  Alternatively, the reader can open the book, turn to a random page, and read how that particular page can be actively applied to their current life place.  This is one of the positive characteristics of this devotional. 

“The Nature of God” gives us the author’s perspective of God: as being less judgmental and less of a rule enforcer, than may have been implied in the reader’s previous life descriptions of God.  Mona Hanna sees God as all loving, all giving, and all protecting of His children; and would like her readers to walk away with the same feelings, or similar feelings to her own, that which is expressed in this book.  Mona reinforces this as what she believes is the true nature of God.

The author uses everyday language in each devotion, which brings the reader close to the heart of the meaning in that particular day’s words.  But, at the same time, Mona’s language is not too simplistic, and therefore can reach a level of shared experience.   

The writing style allows for “The Nature of God” to be used in many settings, and over repeated time frames.  Basically, the book may be used as the reader sees fit.  This is a wonderful asset, when people are learning and growing in their faith environment. 

My word of caution pertains to readers, who may choose this book as an introduction to Christian faith.  The reason for this caution is that some of Mona’s comments could be perceived as theologically true, when in fact they are strictly from Mona’s life experience.  To be clear, the author does not claim anything other than offering devotional prayer.  However, given the writer’s style, thoughts may be construed as theological fact.  For that reason, I would recommend this book be used by a strong Christian, who is versed in some elements of theology, as related to their own doctrine of practice.  This critique may be remedied by the author’s use of a theological or doctrinal editor. 

On the whole, Mona Hanna has done what she set out to do: provide the reader with a closer look at God’s love and acceptance of humankind.  A job well done! 

I asked myself where I found Joy in this book, or in my book review.  I would say that I found Joy in both places.  But, primarily, I found Joy that someone, Mona Hanna, cares enough about her faith, to want to share her faith with others.  And I thank Mona for doing just that. 

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Choose Joy! 

Patricia

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