Category: Book Reviews

Book Reviews

A review of Claws of the Cat by Susan Spann

Spann effortlessly brings us into Hiro’s world of both violence and grace where katana swords and ritual burial armor coexist with the intricate art of flower arranging. The details reflect rigorous research, down to the measure of a room based on the number of tatami mats and the cadence of the characters’ speech. You can almost smell the cherry blossoms.

A review of Imperial Plots by Sarah Carter

Government and Canadian Pacific Railway officials (all men), subscribed to the myths that women lacked the technological and physical ability to farm successfully. In practice, wives and daughters of homesteaders frequently performed hard physical toil and operated machinery.  Carter’s study uncovered many women who farmed and ranched, some quite successfully.

A review of Writing True Stories by Patti Miller

Miller, the “writing whisperer” as Jessica Rowe puts it, has created a vital guide to memoir and other forms of creative nonfiction. Though there are many how-to guides on the market, this one is special, both for its depth of wisdom – Miller has over 26 years of experience in teaching others how to write creative nonfiction, as well as her own experience as a nonfiction author/memoirist – and for the simplicity and practicality of its approach.

Veracity and Transformation: A Review of Grief Cottage by Gail Godwin

The book is wonderfully informed by multiple metaphorical depictions of our inner and outer struggles. Young Marcus loses his mother, his only parent, and goes to live with his eccentric and spiritually bruised great Aunt Charlotte on a small island in South Carolina at the beginning of the summer. Aunt Charlotte has past wounds that haunt her, rendering her a reclusive but renowned local painter.

A review of Those Wild Rabbits by Bruce Munday

I found Bruce’s fascinating book packed full of information, statistics, photographs, and historical accounts His style is relaxed and friendly. Enormous amounts of facts are delivered in a pleasant and easy to read delivery, that carries the engrossed booklover from chapter to preceding chapter at an unexpected rate of pace. This is entertaining and informative reading at its best.

A review of An Accidental Profession by Daniel S. Jones

Undoubtedly, it’s rather nice to think that others are toiling away while we read about them, and the similarities and differences with our own working lives emerge with unusual clarity: occupations do not have to be exotic or abstruse for us to find them fascinating. An Accidental Profession is all about work: its organization and administration, what it does to people, the power of the corporation, our ambivalent relationships with our co-workers.

Common Denominators: A review of If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on my Face by Alan Alda

The title to his newest and third book, If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face? and its subtitle, “My Adventures in the Art and Science of Relating and Communicating” reflects an intellectual sensibility conveyed clearly and directly. It underscores the very points he is trying to make in this book. Alda has a gift for speaking about lofty ideas in layman’s terms, and his fervor for his subject matter shines through. This passion is at the heart of what engages us.

A review of Muir Woods or Bust by Ian Woollen

There’s never been a more welcoming time in America than now for irreverent social satire, such as embraced by Ian Woollen’s latest called Muir Woods Or Bust. It winks and grins slyly as you determine to pick it up, a premonition of what you’ll soon be engaged in doing. I certainly welcome Woollen’s earthy, ground-shaking wit on display in its pages and you likely will also.

A review of Devil’s Spring by Aaron Paul Lazar

Lazar is the master of the extended series, building his characters over years, slowly and richly so they become real to the reader. Little by little the characters backstories are revealed, even as we move forward in time and meet children and grandchildren. For readers coming back to the stories, there are plenty of ‘easter eggs’ or references to pick up on.