Category Archives: Book Reviews

Book Review: Talking As Fast As I Can by Lauren Graham

I’m on record as admitting that my favorite TV show of all-time is Gilmore Girls (#TeamLogan) and I’ve binge watched A Day in the Life twice (but only, after reading this book, did I get the Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall episode titles/order were based on Carole King’s You’ve Got a Friend…don’t know how I missed that). I’m also a huge fan of Lauren Graham and loved her, and the rest of the ensemble cast, in Parenthood (which sadly never got the traction it deserved).

I’m telling you all this because as much as I wanted this book to be good, I was prepared for the worst. I don’t usually read books by celebrities, since most of them are what Graham’s literary agent calls “monkey doodles” and others are clearly ghost written.

This isn’t either. Instead, you can hear Graham’s voice shine through in every essay, and if she has a love affair with exclamation marks (something I, as well as Elmore Leonard, really hate), it’s a small thing. This isn’t a tell-all, it’s more of a “thanks for this great ride” told honestly and with liberal doses of humor and self-deprecation. You get the sense that you’d really like Lauren Graham if you met her in person.

Perhaps the most surprising thing is that Graham gives writing advice AND IT’S GREAT ADVICE! In fact, I intend to start the “Don Roos” method today and see where it takes me.

This is a quick read..I literally read it from cover to cover in two days, but that’s also because I found myself picking it up whenever I had a spare minute. Trust me, that doesn’t happen very often.

Is part of my love of this book because I’m a fan of Lauren Graham? Probably. But I was ready to be disappointed, and this book, just like the 4-part series, A Day in the Life, didn’t let me down. Instead it lifted me up, and somehow, somewhere along the way, it made me believe in myself again at a time when I needed it most. You can’t ask for more than that.

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Book Review: The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn

I received an Advance Reader Copy of this book at Bouchercon Toronto. I’ll admit my first thought was “Please, not another book with girl or woman in the title.” Then I read the first chapter and I was hooked.
The woman in the window is Dr. Anna Fox, a psychologist with a serious drinking problem who also suffers from an acute case of agoraphobia. To pass the time, she spies on her neighbors, in much the same way Jimmy Stewart does in Hitchcock’s classic Rear Window. It’s not the only nod the author gives to Hitchcock: beyond the fact that her protagonist is a classic movie buff, the pacing of this suspenseful thriller pays homage to Hitchcock’s style (there are even a couple of MacGuffins).
The chapters are short, often no more than one or two pages, which makes for a quick read (I can read one more chapter before bed…maybe another…and another…). Each chapter represents a new day in the life of Dr. Anna Fox, gradually unraveling the reason for her downward spiral, and cleverly juxtaposed against her fascination with the Russell family across the way. The end result is a fast-paced psychological suspense thriller with a believable plot, plenty of twists and turns, and a satisfying end with a couple of surprises I didn’t see coming. One, in particular, I actually gave a little gasp. Love when that happens!
The Woman in the Window is scheduled for release in January 2018, with a major motion picture already in the works. Word has it several A-list actresses are vying for the role of Dr. Anna Fox. Kudos to A.J. Finn for a phenomenal debut novel.

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Book Review: The Child by Fiona Barton

We were first introduced to Kate Waters in Fiona Barton’s excellent debut novel, The Widow, but I’m always a bit concerned when it comes to a second book, especially if I loved the first one. So often, book 2 just doesn’t hold up to the hype. Happily, that’s not the case with The Child. The main characters are back, as is Barton’s signature multi-POV style, as she tells the story of the skeleton of a baby found at a construction site.
Told from the perspective of four women and covering a timeline of several decades, the protagonist is Kate Waters, a journalist fighting to keep her newspaper job by looking for the next big story. Her boss isn’t convinced that a long-dead baby is the ticket (“Madonna’s veiny hands,” he tells her, “that’s all people want to read today. Celebrity news.”) Undeterred, Kate follows lead after tenuous lead, all the while training a recent grad, Joe Jackson, in “old fashioned reporting.”
As a mystery writer, I’m often disappointed when I see the ending coming midway through, or worse, feeling cheated at the end when the clues are unfair. Barton plays fair, and the ending comes as a satisfying surprise.
Fiona Barton is reportedly at work on her third book. I, for one, can’t wait to read it. Five stars.

Book Review: Do You Have a CATHARSIS Handy? by Kathleen Kaska

Do You Have A CATHARSIS Handy? Five Minute Writing Tips is a handy reference guide of do’s, don’t and maybe-sometimes by award-winning author Kathleen Kaska. Originally published as individual posts Five Minute Writing Tips on the Cave Art Press blog, topics include writing styles, grammar and punctuation rules, removing writer’s block, an insight into publishing and marketing your work, and much more.

Combining razor sharp wit with clear, concise detail, Kaska elevates what could be dry, dusty content into a series of educational and entertaining entries that run the gamut from Leave the Egg-laying to Chickens: Ten Confusing Words You’ll Never Misuse Again to Just When You Thought You Knew It All: What, No Semi-Colons in Fiction? 

Whether you’re looking for a chuckle over malapropisms (the book’s title refers to the author’s husband asking for a catharsis instead of a thesaurus), a refresher on metaphors and similes, or simply a reminder about things you’ve learned in school but have long since forgotten (or ignored), you’ll find it in these pages. Do You Have a CATHARSIS Handy? is a terrific addition to any writer’s bookshelf. Find it in paperback at all the usual suspects, including directly from the publisher.