Category Archives: book reviews
Paperback: 272 pages
“Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he’d had three months to write. It was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother’s shoulder, and said, ‘Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.'”
What I got out of Bird by Bird is the love and respect for the craft. Writers shouldn’t get into writing because they want to be the next John Grisham or Jackie Collins, or to make thousands of dollars, or to see their name up in lights. Writers don’t write for fame, fortune or accolades. They write because they love the art and respect the craft.
This was the first book I’ve read by Anne Lamott, and I enjoyed her voice and writing style. She writes from the heart and in truth about the craft and her life. She doesn’t avoid difficult topics, and tackles them with humor.
She doesn’t sell you pipe dreams or pie in the sky fantasies about writing. She encourages you to write, and not stop, even if your work never gets published.
This excerpt spoke volumes to me:
“Writing and reading decrease our sense of isolation. They deepen and widen and expand our sense of life: they feed the soul. When writers make us shake our heads with the exactness of their prose or their truths, and even make us laugh about ourselves or life, our buoyancy is restored. We are given a shot at dancing with, or at least clapping along with, the absurdity of life, instead of being squashed by it over and over again. It’s like singing on the boat during a terrible storm at sea. You can’t stop the raging storm, but singing can change the hearts and spirits of the people who are together on that ship.”
All in all, Bird by Bird is a wonderful book which I will read again. This is a book you will want to keep in your library. If you write or want to write, I highly recommend this book.
Anne Lamott is the New York Times bestselling author of Help, Thanks, Wow; Small Victories; Stitches; Some Assembly Required; Grace (Eventually); Plan B; Traveling Mercies; Bird by Bird; Operating Instructions, and the forthcoming Hallelujah Anyway. She is also the author of several novels, including Imperfect Birds and Rosie. A past recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and an inductee to the California Hall of Fame, she lives in Northern California.
Part memoir, part master class by one of the bestselling authors of all time, this superb volume is a revealing and practical view of the writer’s craft, comprising the basic tools of the trade every writer must have. King’s advice is grounded in his vivid memories from childhood through his emergence as a writer, from his struggling early career to his widely reported, near-fatal accident in 1999—and how the inextricable link between writing and living spurred his recovery. Brilliantly structured, friendly and inspiring, On Writing will empower and entertain everyone who reads it—fans, writers, and anyone who loves a great story well told.
I’ve had this book on my book shelf for awhile. I was intending to read it, but never got to it until a week ago. Now I could kick myself for not reading it sooner.
In my opinion, On Writing is one of the best books on the craft of writing. Novelist Stephen King gives you the nuts and bolts of what it takes to be a writer.
If I were to sum up the book in a few words, it would be… “Read a lot, Write a lot.”
What I found encouraging (since I don’t have a college degree), is that Stephen King says it is not necessary to attend college to be a writer. He doesn’t deter people from attending college, he just says you don’t need a degree to write books. You just need to read a lot and write a lot. Every day. Without fail.
Writing requires work, discipline and perseverance to succeed. There are no short cuts.
On Writing is a goldmine filled with helpful nuggets. It is the kind of book you want to have in your library to refer to. I highly recommend it.
Stephen King is the author of more than fifty books, all of them worldwide bestsellers. His recent work includes The Bill Hodges Trilogy, Revival, and Doctor Sleep. His novel 11/22/63 was named a top ten book of 2011 by The New York Times Book Review and won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Mystery/Thriller as well as the Best Hardcover Book Award from the International Thriller Writers Association. He is the recipient of the 2003 National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. He lives in Bangor, Maine, with his wife, novelist Tabitha King.
Jeannette Walls grew up with parents whose ideals and stubborn nonconformity were both their curse and their salvation. Rex and Rose Mary Walls had four children. In the beginning, they lived like nomads, moving among Southwest desert towns, camping in the mountains. Rex was a charismatic, brilliant man who, when sober, captured his children’s imagination, teaching them physics, geology, and above all, how to embrace life fearlessly. Rose Mary, who painted and wrote and couldn’t stand the responsibility of providing for her family, called herself an “excitement addict.” Cooking a meal that would be consumed in fifteen minutes had no appeal when she could make a painting that might last forever.
Later, when the money ran out, or the romance of the wandering life faded, the Walls retreated to the dismal West Virginia mining town — and the family — Rex Walls had done everything he could to escape. He drank. He stole the grocery money and disappeared for days. As the dysfunction of the family escalated, Jeannette and her brother and sisters had to fend for themselves, supporting one another as they weathered their parents’ betrayals and, finally, found the resources and will to leave home.
What is so astonishing about Jeannette Walls is not just that she had the guts and tenacity and intelligence to get out, but that she describes her parents with such deep affection and generosity. Hers is a story of triumph against all odds, but also a tender, moving tale of unconditional love in a family that despite its profound flaws gave her the fiery determination to carve out a successful life on her own terms.
For two decades, Jeannette Walls hid her roots. Now she tells her own story.
[Click to see my vlog review here: https://youtu.be/LniPt3nakdw]
The Glass Castle is one of the best memoirs I have ever read, and I have read many.
Jeannette Walls is a beautiful writer, and her memoir reads like novel. It is moving and unforgettable. It left a lasting impression on me.
If I were to describe this memoir in one word, it would be resilience.
If you have never read a memoir before or if you love memoirs, The Glass Castle is the one to read. I highly recommend it.
From the NAACP Image award winner and national bestselling author Victoria Christopher Murray, a novel inspired by the seven deadly sins about a woman caught between an entertainment mogul with a shady past and his childhood friend who is out for revenge.
Tiffanie has lived a sheltered life in a very strict household with her pastor-grandfather and grandmother in Washington, DC. But when she meets Damon King, she falls for the successful entertainment business man despite his history as a drug dealer. Everyone sees nothing but the brightest future for the couple—but there’s one person who wants to destroy them.
Trey Johnson is Damon’s childhood best friend with whom he built quite a successful drug business. But when the game got hot and Damon decided to leave, Trey stayed and continued to sell drugs, until he was arrested and spent seven years in prison.
But now he’s out and able to attend the wedding. While Damon is thrilled to have Trey back and hopes to bring his best friend into his business, Trey has other plans. He blames Damon for his demise and plans to ruin him, even if that means bringing Tiffanie down as well.
Trey is sure he will succeed, but he doesn’t know that there will be deadly consequences. And at the end, there will only be one man standing…
Lust is full of intrigue and suspense. I could not put this book down, which is common in all of Victoria Christopher Murray’s books. She is a phenomenal story teller and master wordsmith.
I have steered away from reading urban books because of the profanity, violence, blood shed and graphic sex scenes. However, Lust is different. This is the kind of urban literature I would like to read, which why I appreciate Victoria Christopher Murray’s writing style. She makes her points, without it being in your face, which is also a tell-tale sign of a good writer.
Lust had a moral lesson in it. I don’t believe it was Victoria Christopher Murray’s intention, as she writes to entertain, however, she dropped a few gems in this story that made think and remember… which is why I identified with the female protagonist, Tiffanie.
While I read this story, my emotions were all over the place. There were some lines in this book, that made me laugh out loud. Victoria Christopher Murray’s character development and pacing is awesome, which is why I love reading her books, and Lust was no exception. I rate this book five stars, and highly recommend it.
In conclusion, I want to thank Touchstone for sending me a complimentary copy of Lust: A Seven Deadly Sins Novel in exchange for an honest review.
Victoria Christopher Murray has been writing inspiration African-American fiction since she left the financial services industry in 1997 to write her self-published debut Temptation. Her most recent novel Stand Your Ground (Touchstone, June 2015) won the 2015 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work. Lust marks the twentieth anniversary since the publication of Temptation.
Do you ever wonder why God created you? The Bible spells it out plainly: God created you to showcase His glory—to enjoy it, display it, and demonstrate it every day to all those you encounter.
After nearly 50 years of living as a quadriplegic, and dealing with chronic pain on a daily basis, Joni has learned firsthand the importance of glorifying God through the toughest of situations. Through this devotional, Joni will help you discover how to put God’s glory on display—how to say no to complaining and say yes to daily following God down even the most difficult paths. Along the way, you will find great comfort and encouragement by focusing on the one who longs to lead and guide you every step of the way, every day.
Don’t ever think your life is too ordinary, your world too small, or your work too insignificant. All of it is a stage set for you to glorify God.
Just as her book spoke to me, so is her devotional. She writes from a deep place. Her words are rich and full of substance. There is no fluff or superficiality.
I relate to her, in that she knows what it’s like to suffer, and not get healed. She had a diving accident which left her paralyzed, and she has been a quadriplegic now for forty-nine years. She prayed that God would heal her, and went to several healing services, but was never healed. Yet, she never lost her faith, which is why she is my hero.
I read A Spectacle of Glory every morning and it ministers to me. I highly recommend it.
In conclusion, I want to thank Handlebar Publishing and Zondervan for sending me a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.
Joni Eareckson Tada is founder and CEO of Joni and Friends, an organization that accelerates Christian outreach in the disability community. Joni and Friends provides practical support and spiritual help to special needs families worldwide, and equips thousands of churches in developing disability ministry. Joni is the author of numerous bestselling books, including Joni, Diamonds in the Dust, Heaven, When God Weeps, and A Step Further, winner of the Gold Medallion Award. Joni and her husband, Ken, have been married for over 30 years. For more information on Joni and Friends, visit www.joniandfriends.org
We’ve all been there. He doesn’t understand what she’s really upset about. He thinks she blows things out of proportion. Neither of you can agree on the right course of action. In every marriage, there is conflict. And with every conflict, there is a choice for resolution. Will you ignore the issue until it seemingly goes away? Or will you work together to find peace?
In Don’t Go to Bed Angry, Deb and Ron DeArmond give you permission to fight. Marriage is worth fighting for. Conflict isn’t the problem, after all; the real issue is how we deal with the conflict. Combining a healthy dose of personal experience with relationship-affirming biblical wisdom, Deb and Ron demonstrate how communication through conflict can lead to greater insight and understanding of thoughts, feelings, and perspectives that can safeguard–and even strengthen–your relationship. Immensely practical features including worksheets, discussion questions, callouts, and prayers make this a definitive go-to resource to help you start fighting–together–for your marriage.
Wow! I have read books on marriage, and I have to say, this book takes the cake. There is so much to like about it. Seriously. You would think for a short book, it wouldn’t contain so much relevant information, but it does and then some.
The main premise of this book is how to communicate in a marriage and tools on how to resolve conflict effectively. I honestly wish this book existed before I married my husband thirteen years ago. I pretty much did everything this book advises against.
I have gotten into conversations with friends about how there isn’t a guidebook on what to do when you get married. Here you have two people coming together, from different worlds, upbringings, and communication styles. You know the saying, the “honeymoon is over?” Well, when you start living with your spouse, stuff starts coming up and if you don’t know how to fight fairly, or resolve conflict, you are going to find yourself in a very precarious situation. Don’t God To Bed Angry can help as it is a guidebook on how to do marriage successfully.
So, for any of you who are thinking of getting married or are married, I highly, and I mean HIGHLY, recommend this book. It doesn’t matter how many years you have been married, or how many problems you have had, or even if you are at the brink of divorce, you need to get this book. The information contained in this book alone, if practiced and applied, can revolutionize and save your marriage. Guaranteed.
This is by far one of the best marriage books I have read in years. I give five stars, but if I could give it more, I would. I will be referring to this book and recommending it to everyone.
In conclusion, I want to thank authors, Deb and Ron DeArmond for sharing their lives by helping me and other married couples. I also want to thank Abingdon Press for publishing this gem of a book, and last but not least, my Litfuse Publicity Group family for sending me a complimentary copy of this book to review. Thank you, it truly blessed my life.
Deb DeArmond is an author, speaker, and coach with a focus on communication, relationships, and conflict resolution. Her writing explores marriage, parenting, in-law and extended family relationships. She is the author of “Related By Chance, Family By Choice” and “I Choose You Today: 31 Choices to Make Love Last.” Deb is the founder of Living-Write, where she coaches aspiring authors. She’s monthly columnist and feature writer for Lifeway’s “Mature Living” Magazine, and has published more than 120 articles online and in print publications. Ron DeArmond has a hungry heart for the Word, and has studied the Bible for 45+ years. Ron’s call to serve men is evident in his previous ministry positions with Christian Men’s Network under Dr. Edwin Lewis Cole and Faithful Men Ministry. Ron is currently the Associate Pastor of men’s ministry at Catch the Fire/ DFW and has ministered around the world. The DeArmonds live in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.
The NKJV Study Bible, the most comprehensive study Bible available, now available in a handy personal size with words of Christ in red! The acclaimed NKJV Study Bible is the most complete study system for all who desire accurate study in God’s Word. The Second Edition includes more features to make it the best all-purpose study Bible. Using the trusted New King James Version, The NKJV Study Bible has “the mind of a scholar and the heart of a pastor.” Nelson’s skilled team of scholars has produced the system to reach for when study in God’s Word is the goal.
- NEW attractive new full-color page design
- NEW stunning Bible-land photos and graphics
- NEW in-text maps and charts
- Full cross-references with textual notes
- Word studies and indexes
- Bible Times and Culture Notes
- Book introductions, outlines, and timelines
- Reader-friendly notes and articles ideal for extended study
- Deluxe NKJV Concordance including proper names
I happen to love Bibles, so I was curious to see what the NKJV Study Bible would offer, and was pleasantly surprised.
Other than the print being too small for my taste and it being on the bulky side, everything else about this particular bible is to my liking.
I love the color photographs showing the locations corresponding with the verses in connection with biblical history. The extensive cross referencing, exhaustive study notes, word studies and more. This bible is jam packed with helpful information, it’s amazing.
If you want to dig deeper in studying the Word of God, then the NKJV Study Bible is the one for you. I highly recommend it.
Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
I am a King among peasants and a wolf among sheep……
With Jasmine locked away safely, Monica may be able to concentrate on the pursuit and capture of King Kochese. If there was one thing that the DEA and FBI had taught Agent Monica Deitrich , it was to check everyone and trust no one. Between Millicent and Noisy Boy they keep her busy and content, that is, until a new love interest threatens to tear down everything that she’s built.
A series of gruesome murders are happening simultaneously, spanning from the east coast to the Midwest and they have Jasmine and King’s signature style written all over them. Monica can feel it in her gut that King is behind the murders, but Jasmine is tucked away in a government asylum awaiting trial.
The body count is rising and all roads lead to King Kochese, but how can Monica track a ghost? How can she corner a ghost with unlimited resources and connections, capable of ruining not only her career, but her life with a snap of his cold blooded and calloused fingers!
Tainted No More is the third installment of Novelist Blacc Topp’s Tainted series. If you love horror, thrillers and suspense, with creative plot twists, then this series is definitely for you.
I have read all of Novelist Blacc Topp’s books and he doesn’t disappoint. He is a talented writer who knows how to weave a story and take you on a rollercoaster ride in your imagination.
What I took away from this book, or the central theme for me was the affects of childhood abuse and how it manifests or plays out if it’s left untreated.
I must confess that I don’t typically read this genre. The only reason why I read the Tainted series is because I love Novelist Blacc Topp’s writing style. I happen to like how he develops his stories and characters. He always keeps you guessing, leaves you in suspense and/or surprises you.
I rated Tainted No More five stars for the uniqueness of the story, his writing style, pacing and character development.
Novelist Blacc Topp was born to a father that was a gangster turned preacher and a mother that was a singer, artist, and scholar. He was born into a family of preachers, pimps, prostitutes, drug dealers, dope fiends, and squares. Blacc Topp was raised on the streets of South Dallas, Texas. After the death of his father, feeling as though he had nowhere to turn he turned to the gang. The neighborhood gang, Dixon Circle 357um Gangsta Crips is where he would learn to become ruthless and unfeeling. Although he was deep in the gang and game, he continued his studies for fear that his mother would make him move to Florida.
By the age nineteen he had been shot three times and was on his way to the Texas Department of Corrections with a forty year prison sentence for distribution of narcotics. While inside he lost his youngest sister to the violence of drugs in 1996. After serving seven years, he was granted parole (mainly due to his mother’s efforts). He used the education that he obtained inside to land a job at a top engineering firm in Texas. He used his love of word play to push himself to local fame on the hip-hop scene in Texas and Florida but, he would lose his mother to cancer in 2006, only to lose his oldest sister to cancer in 2008 and he knew something had to change. He began to chronicle his life, his mishaps and his capers which gave birth to The Hustle Chronicles, his debut novel and soundtrack of the same name.
“Feathers—no matter what size or shape or color—are all the same, if you think about them. They’re soft. Delicate. But the secret thing about feathers is . . . they are very strong.”
In the pre-Katrina glow of New Orleans, Amanda Salassi is anxious about chaperoning her daughter’s sixth-grade field trip to the Big Easy during Halloween. And then her worst fears come true. Her daughter’s best friend, Sarah, disappears amid the magic and revelry—gone, without a trace.
Unable to cope with her guilt, Amanda’s daughter sinks into depression. And Amanda’s husband turns destructive as he watches his family succumb to grief. Before long, Amanda’s whole world has collapsed.
Amanda knows she has to save herself before it’s too late. As she continues to search for Sarah, she embarks on a personal journey, seeking hope and purpose in the wake of so much tragedy and loss.
Set amidst the murky parishes of rural Louisiana and told through the eyes of two women who confront the darkest corners of humanity with quiet and unbreakable faith, The Feathered Bone is Julie Cantrell’s master portrait of love in a fallen world.
The Feathered Bone is a fictional account on human trafficking and its aftermath. The story centers around Sarah, who was abducted on a school field trip in New Orleans on Amanda’s watch. The premise of the book surrounds Sarah’s sudden disappearance and its effect on everyone, predominantly Amanda and Ellie, who was Sarah’s best friend.
Instead of Amanda getting the help and support of her husband Carl, she received the complete opposite. The irony is Amanda was a counselor for victims of domestic violence, yet she herself was one. Carl was unable to see beyond himself and placed the blame on Amanda for anything and everything. He was abusive, and eventually left her for a younger woman, when she and their daughter Ellie needed him the most. This pushed Ellie’s depression further, until yet another tragedy ensued, leaving Amanda shattered and hopeless.
The Feathered Bone is a sad, but redemptive story about faith, hope, love and forgiveness.
Personally, I had a difficult time reading this book. One, because it was depressing and two, certain parts of it dragged for me. However, I still rated it five stars based on its original content and writing.
Julie Cantrell is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Into the Free, the 2013 Christy Award winning Book of the Year and recipient of the Mississippi Library Association’s Fiction Award. Cantrell has served as editor-in-chief of the Southern Literary Review and is a recipient of the Mississippi Arts Commission Literary Fellowship. Her second novel, When Mountains Move, won the 2014 Carol Award for Historical Fiction and, like her debut, was selected for several Top Reads lists. Visit her online at juliecantrell.wordpress.com, Facebook: juliecantrellauthor, and Twitter: JulieCantrell.
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
It is the urban-lit classic that breaks all the rules. It introduces a player who will use any means necessary to dominate the streets-and beyond.
There isn’t an angle he can’t work or a woman he can’t seduce. And it’s taken Bernard James, Jr. aka Dutch, no time at all to turn an African drug lord’s stolen heroin business into the East Coast’s most feared drug empire. And there’s no shortage of enemies vowing to take him down, including a vengeful Mafia heir, an ambitious DA and a conscience-stricken former friend. But none of his enemies can stop what they can’t see. And Dutch has everyone right where he wants them in the end. With his life on the line, and the face of the enemy in everyone he sees, Dutch plays the game and scores a winning hand in the face of all that betrayed him. But, there is one woman Dutch just can’t resist who will shake his ice-cold control to its core. And it will be the one betrayal that he never sees coming that will put more than he ever imagined at risk.
Dutch by Kwame Teague is a street classic. The main protagonist, Bernard James, goes by the name of Dutch, moves up the ranks by first stealing cars with his crew. He gets caught and thrown in jail on his first major heist at the port, and swears to never return to prison again. He devises a plan with his crew to go after a major kingpin who everyone feared, that’s until Dutch discovers his weak link and kills him.
After he kills him, he pays a visit to the Italian mafia, and presents them with a surprise. The leader is convinced Dutch is ruthless, and decides to reluctantly agree to his proposition of working in collaboration with him. It was then that Dutch becomes the most feared man on the streets. Unfortunately, this didn’t last for long because many were not happy with the arrangement, and that’s when things took a drastic turn for the worst. The next thing Dutch knew he was on trial for crimes he allegedly committed.
Kwame Teague is a creative genius and gifted story teller. This book read like a movie. To me, Dutch is the perfect gangster. All the characters were real, and the way the story was written kept you in suspense. The ending was shocking as it was explosive.
If you want to get your first taste of urban/street literature, I highly recommend this book.
Hailing from Newark, New Jersey, Kwame Teague is the award winning, critically acclaimed, and Essence #1 bestselling author of the street classic Dutch trilogy. His other novels include Above The Law, the Dynasty trilogy, ? (pronounced Que), The Adventures of Ghetto Sam and the Glory of My Demise and Thug Politics under the pseudonym Dutch. With a passion for writing, Kwame is always hard at work on his next novel.