Category: Book Reviews

Book Reviews

A review of Datsunland by Stephen Orr

This selection of short stories concluding with the major work “Datsunland” is beautifully written by a literary craftsman. They take the reader through and within the landscape of South Australia’s unique ecosystem, into places tinged and contaminated with saturnine and fateful conclusions. As I searched through the pages I found myself trapped within a boiled down distillation of this state’s home-style miseries and heartbreaks.

A review of The Bookshop at Water’s End by Patti Callahan Henry

Novels about girlhood friends reuniting as adults and reinventing their relationship are always popular. In The Book Shop at Water’s End by Patti Callahan Henry, the “summer sisters” are Bonny and Lainey, now in their fifties, who have kept in touch since their three pre-teen summers at Watersend, South Carolina, in the 1970s. As the story opens, Bonny is about to leave her domineering husband and her job as an Emergency Room doctor in Charleston, SC for a better position in Atlanta, GA.

A review of Kylie’s Ark by Rita Welty Bourke

It’s invariably true that Herriot’s animal stories ended happily, as she notes. Her stories, well, invariably do not. They resist a chipper ending and, indeed, conspire to break her heart. Being a veterinary student certainly is no picnic for her, but when she’s finally graduated and chosen to set up her practice, the life still is no picnic. Not that Wheeler wishes it was! Her last words confess that she’ll look for another line of work if she ever stops struggling to save suffering animals in her care.

A review of The Memoirs of Billy Shears by Thomas E Harriet

Suggestions that the original Paul was getting a little too big for his britches, that his interests were veering into subversive areas and that he was considering using his notoriety and influence to confront some of the bedrock pretenses of the world he lived in, abound on internet forums devoted to this topic. Perhaps one day even this stunning tome will be superseded by yet another more revelatory dissertation that tells the whole truth. It could well be that a still more unimaginable, mind-blowing story is waiting in the wings.

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.