Book Reviews and Writing Tips

Book Reviews and Writing Tips

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

ANNOUNCEMENT - My books now available on kindle

Hello All,

I hope the holiday was merry for everyone. I spent it getting my three novels into kindle format. Iwill have the other ereader formats available soon.

Thanks to all who visit my pages. I wish you the very best in the new year. Never give up on your dreams.


A Winter's Poem

Pull my cape close and tight
On the cold frightful night
Winter's snow upon the limbs
All your dreams are but whims
Alas it’s time for the plants to rest
So summer flowers are at their best

Huddle by the winter’s fire
For soon you’ll have your heart’s desire
And when the spring returns
You’ll bask in what your body yearns
To be warm again is what I require
Oh how it is my heart’s desire.

A lovely moon above my head
Winter’s gloom I can shed.
Flowers bloom again at my feet
I’m thankful for spring again to meet.

BOOK REVIEW - A Band of Gypsies

A group of exchange students meet up in turbulent Spain to spend seven months working there. We get to know them as they navigate a foreign country amid all the chaos and random attacks. However we never learn the backgrounds of the other interns even though we know they are full of enthusiasm and a sense of adventure.

Jaime Aragon flees the violence of Manila only to enter another country where violence is run rampant. The picturesque city he imagined to be arriving in is anything but – full of pollution and crumbling tattered buildings, but he grows to like the place that is made even more pleasant by his new-found friends.

He must learn Spanish quickly before he takes up his new job in two weeks time. This is all prearranged for him before he arrives in Bilbao as well as his assigned apartment space that accommodates different interns from across the globe every year. He manages to learn enough of the language to get him by until he learns more and he ends up excelling in his new job.

The small town called Bilbao that he lives in temporarily is in the Spanish Basque country where everywhere there are acts of terrorism going on. This book contains lots of action while also describing local events and characters in detail. For instance, there may be an ambush at a marketplace full of party goers celebrating some event. You never know when and where disaster may strike.

Two of the people in the group, Allison and Jaime, fall in love but are afraid to let go because they both have a terrifying past where people they love have met demise. Tragedy seems to follow this couple around.

This novel is well written and intriguing with all the festivals, bombings, love and lust between the interns, etc. The book is full of captivating stories and is a fast moving tale that will keep you reading to see what happens to all the people involved. The cover is colorful and is a good match for the story being told.

Be prepared for lots of excitement and adventures as our group of interns gets into all sorts of predicaments. I think perhaps it would have been nice to know about the other intern’s backgrounds, but we do get to see the background of Jaime and Allison as the story goes on and thus know why they have a slow moving relationship.

There were many Spanish words and phrases used in this book, but it was all translated so non-Spanish speaking readers could follow the story with no problem.

This is a novel of romance written from the male perspective. Jaime is smitten with Allison but too shy to tell her so. He finds her mysterious and beautiful and she captivates him, but she always seems to be out on dates with different Spaniards he meets. When he finally makes his move, the story is written around them as they yearn to uncover each others backgrounds.

BOOK REVIEW - Banshee Fires of Revenge

There are many misspelled words and left out words in this book, but the bones of the story are very good and it was an interesting read despite that.

The whole story centers around a haunted cottage in the woods that has sat abandoned since the 1960’s when an unsolved murder took place there. But the stories of it being haunted persisted way before that. There was one girl who escaped the murders by jumping from an upstairs window. When she’s found on the street the next day she claims amnesia and soon after leaves town only to return when her nephew is murdered in the same cottage thirty years later.

After the funeral she confesses to her sister she has been plagued by nightmares and knew she must come back to put an end to the banshee that lives in the cottage. At first no one believes her until the banshee decides to leave the woods after a hundred years and venture into town on some evenings.

The inspector on the case finds it hard to let it go because even though he doesn’t believe in ghosts he still has a niggling feeling there is something there that they are all missing. However, his boss tells him the case is closed and so his hands are tied until the nephew is murdered.

Add to this a nosey reporter trying to make a name for herself at the local paper by coming up with the big story. She seems to turn up where the inspector is and is doing a behind-the-scenes investigation of her own by talking to the local historian and questioning the gossipy neighbors.

The book is a bit predictable in places, but still interesting enough to keep reading with new action happening throughout.

This is haunting story with a surprise conclusion that would make a good Halloween read.


Caz Tallis restores rocking horses for a living. We learn quite a bit about the horses throughout the story. Caz isn’t used to living an intriguing life. She’s more like the nice, hard-working girl who puts a lot of hours in for little pay, but pursues her art for the sheer joy it gives her of seeing the completed rocking horses like the day they were first made. Many of them come to her as broken down wrecks with pieces missing from lots of wear and tear. She enjoys the calm peacefulness of restoring the horses in her workshop and the casual friendship she has with James, her childhood friend, who she sees at least once a week.

But suddenly her world is turned upside down when she finds a supposedly dead rock star and his dog on her roof terrace. She isn’t quite sure what to do with this scruffy but charismatic character. As Caz finds out the real story from Ric she agrees to help him find the actual murderer of the crime that he supposedly committed three years earlier – the murder of a band mate. The case has been closed long ago by the police who were convinced that Ric did it.

The more Caz talks to Ric the more she becomes certain he didn’t commit the crime. It doesn’t hurt that he’s gorgeous and polite and she feels herself falling for him. She ignores the pleas of James to turn him in to the police and decides its okay for Ric to stay at her place temporarily. Thus begins a page turning read.

Ric can be quite persuasive and although Caz is reluctant at first, she agrees to be a private eye and to question all the possible suspects for him. Of course she’s totally out of her element here and James is crazy with worry over her safety. In his mind it is bad enough with her letting Ric stay in her flat not really knowing if he is a murderer or not. Her sleuthing around leads to many dangerous situations and lots of action and there are times Caz wonders why she even agreed to help in the first place and perhaps her judgement is clouded by the growing feelings she has for Ric.

As the investigations continue, they both learn that there are people who will kill to keep this secret hidden.

All the characters aren’t as lovable as Caz, Ric and James, but they are wonderful and well drawn and fit in the novel perfectly. It’s easy to picture all these people and the nerve wracking situations they face as the story unfolds to a gripping conclusion.

This is a great book and not just for female readers.

BOOK REVIEW - The Mountaineer's Dance

The Russian “mail order” bride meets a lonely American bachelor. Claudia is working hard as a nurse’s aid trying to make ends meet while living with her mother and sister whose husband left her with two kids to support. The five are living in a run down apt. while Claudia commutes by bus on a two hour journey to work everyday at Ambrosi Hospital a couple of towns away. Dr. Maddiwar, a new Indian doctor notices all the extra things Claudia does for the patients and the dedication she gives to her nursing. Ultimately, she falls for her boss, the Indian doctor, and moves in with him, glad to be out of the squalor she’s been living in. He has a deluxe and roomy apt. near the hospital. However this romance is short lived and she ends up back at the apt. with her mom and sister because the Indian doctor’s wife is coming for a visit. Once back home Claudia’s sister, Marina, talks her into entering her picture and info into a Russian “mail order” bride’s catalogue, which Claudia isn’t too thrilled about. Marina was always the pretty one and she was just ordinary and thinks it would be a waste of time. Nevertheless, she follows Marina’s advice.

Meanwhile, across the ocean in America there is Freddie, a cab driver in NYC that never has fit in with the family. He lacks self esteem and keeps trying to impress his parents through his various endeavors. They are somewhat appalled when he takes the job of driving a cab, but he becomes quite a good cab driver and learns all the ins and outs of the business. After dropping off a fare he finds a catalogue about “mail order” brides. He stuffs it away to look at later and when he does he decides to write to Claudia whose picture catches his eye because she’s different than the other girls and isn’t all made up and blonde like so many of the available women in the magazine. Claudia’s family is shocked when she gets a letter from Freddie in NY. After corresponding they decide to meet so Freddie goes to Russia on a tour sponsored by the people who put out the catalogue. Everyone in the small dilapidated village Claudia and her family live in become very excited at the thought of an American coming to visit, so in anticipation of Freddie’s arrival they go all out to prepare a feast for him

Deciding he needs a wife to impress his parents, Freddie ends up taking Claudia back to America where they marry and live in a small apt in NYC. She quickly makes friends with other Russians immigrants in town and starts to fit right in to her new life while Freddie is out driving his cab. All is well and good until Freddie decides it’s time to stop driving the cab, get a better job and to move closer to his parents. Of course by then he can afford the big house with the manicured gardens and swimming pool, etc., but Claudia is anything but happy. She had to leave all her new-found friends behind and there is no one to talk to in the area of big estate homes. She had grown used to the lifestyle of sitting around talking to your neighbors daily and seeing children playing in the street and the new environment was very sterile to her with not a soul around and something she can’t get used to. Of course there is a big fight and she feels awful because Freddy has given her money to send home to her mom and sister all this time.

They take off in separate cars after storming out of the big, new house. You’ll have to read this book to find out if Claudia and Freddie can pull their relationship together. This is an interesting, worthwhile read and is well written.