Monday, August 16, 2010

THE WRITING CIRCLE by Corinne Demas

THE WRITING CIRCLE
By Corinne Demas
Copyright 2010
Published by Hyperion (HarperCollins)

Genre: Mainstream fiction

Nancy is invited to join a writing group made up of established authors. She doesn’t think her novel-in-progress is good enough for this group, but she accepts. How could she refuse such exulted company?

Over a year, the group becomes more than just a bunch of writers. Some become friends, and everyone gets caught up in each other’s personal lives. Sharing one’s writing is such a personal thing that it’s hard to stay aloof.

When one of the group comes out with a new book, they all head to New York for the debut. A writer’s greatest fear is realized, and all hell breaks loose.

This book was sent to me by the publisher months ago. It wasn’t my usual fiction fare, so it sat on the shelf until last week. I finally took it down because I was in a mellow mood. I wasn’t mellow when I finished.

The characters are real people, like people we all know. They love, lose, and live on. I wanted Nancy to find a publisher, for Virginia’s ex-husband to stop hurting their children’s feelings, for Chris to attain a closer relationship with his sons, and for Paul to find happiness and friends. Demas made me CARE about her characters.

There was an undercurrent of urgency through the whole book. It didn’t grab me, but I found myself thinking about it at odd times, wondering what was up next for my new friends. Tonight, I sat down to finish it.

The last quarter of the book held me enthralled. All the hidden secrets started coming to light and havoc reigned. The closer I came to the end, the more breathless I felt. Something terrible was going to happen, I just knew it. And then it did.

Even after disaster struck, Demas held back one vital fact. I was reading as fast as I could, with a small voice in my head crying “No, she couldn’t!” One the very last page, she revealed the terrible truth. I knew it, but didn’t want to face it.

I closed this book near tears. I could feel the anguish of the other characters, although Demas didn’t write it down. Ripples of this event would change many lives, for many years. The characters were so real to me that I could see and hear them when they found out.

I usually read for pure entertainment. This book made me feel. It will stay with me for a long time. You should read it.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Review - Shadow of Betrayal by Brett Battles



Shadow of Betrayal
Written by: Brett Battles
Fiction / International thriller
Rated: Excellent (*****)
Review by: Lisa Haselton

Jonathan Quinn is back on the scene. This time he’s doing three contracts with no questions asked for one of his past clients. The premise sets the tone, doesn’t it? If someone can get a no-questions-asked promise from you, you know the tasks won’t be easy. And they certainly aren’t for Quinn.

Quinn is back to work in Shadow of Betrayal. His apprentice, Nate is ready and willing to do whatever needs done, but Quinn harbors guilt and struggles with having Nate on the job. When Orlando is able to join the duo, Quinn wants some time off to enjoy time with his woman, but that would be too easy. Quinn is a professional “cleaner,” and he has a contract to fulfill. The job comes first.

It pays to have connections and technology to sift through data and find answers, but sometimes being able to do a good job comes down to old-fashioned investigation, observation, and following your gut. Jonathan Quinn is intelligent, crafty, and conscientious about everything he does.

Author Brett Battles pays attention to the details and writes stories that keep his audience engaged. His ability to make the reader care about the readers is remarkable. It’s as though the reader is on the characters’ shoulders every minute of every scene. The fast pace of the circumstances makes for a lot happening in a short time, but Battles keeps the reader focused every step of the way. Battles has crafted a team of characters each with their own lives, yet when they are focused on their work, they are a cohesive team. The writing is detailed without wasting a word.

This is Battles' third Jonathan Quinn novel. The first novel, The Cleaner, was nominated for a Shamus Award for Best First Novel in 2008. The second in the series, The Deceived, won the Barry Award for Best Thriller 2008. The paperback of Shadow of Betrayal released May 25. The next in the series will give the reader a glimpse into Quinn before he became “the cleaner.” Stay tuned!

Brett Battles writes full time from caf├ęs across the globe, but mostly near his home in California. He’s currently putting the finishing touches a middle grade book. He has a standalone novel, unrelated to the Quinn series, No Return, due out in April 2011.

If you love thrillers, have a penchant for James Bond’s international travels, or enjoy a story that gets the adrenaline pumping, Shadow of Betrayal is a must read. It is non-stop action on every page. Once you start reading, don’t plan to stop until the last page.


Title: Shadow of Betrayal
Author: Brett Battles
Publisher: Bantam Dell
ISBN: 978-0-440-24372-4
Pages: 498
Price: $7.99

Friday, January 8, 2010

Review - Struck by Keith Pyeatt



Barry Andrews gets more than he bargains for when he takes a short afternoon hike to check out some Pueblo Indian petroglyphs.

Sometimes you can just feel change in the air, but you accept it and continue with your day. Then there are times, always in hindsight, where you realize you should have heeded nature’s warnings. Barry is lucky to be alive, sure, but can he survive the changes that start happening after the storm?

Using descriptive and well-crafted prose, the author brings the reader back in time with an engaging look into the history of the Pueblo Indians. With touches of paranormal and the overall sense that this could actually happen, the reader is left without a choice but to turn the page and continue reading. The story contains elements of horror, romance, and mystery. The title is literal, but also a metaphoric theme woven through each character.

Keith Pyeatt has been writing novels for fourteen years. He writes his own style of paranormal thrillers he calls “horror with heart.” His method is to create characters that are just as real as he can make them, drop in a paranormal threat they can't ignore, and add a psychological twist. Keith forces his characters to look inside themselves to find their very best before they can save the day, putting the heart in “horror with heart.”

Struck is a engaging and suspenseful. I highly recommend it for anyone who enjoys suspense with a dab of dark.

Stop by Keith’s website to learn more about the author and his books.

Title: Struck
Author: Keith Pyeatt
Publisher: Quest Books
ISBN: 978-1-935053-17-0
Pages: 270
Price: $19.95

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Review - Beach Chair Diaries by Janet E. Spurr



Get away for a few hours and delve between the virtual sandy pages for a seacoast vacation.

Beach Chair Diaries: Summer Tales from Maine to Maui brings you to the seashore, the waves, and the sunshine. From Wells Beach, Maine to the surf in Hawaii

The cover attracted me to this book first: an image of beach chair on a sandy beach in front of the surf. It reminded me of my summers at a beach house in Maine. The title caught my attention next. Beach. Chair. Diaries. All one needs to totally get away (in my opinion) is a soft-sanded beach, a comfortable chair (or blanket), and a book. And the icing on the cake is the book itself. The writing is conversational and runs the gamut on emotions. I laughed out loud in places and got lost in my own thoughts after reading passages that brought me back to my favorite beach.

There’s a bit of an ache now, for knowing how many summers I haven’t been to the beach. But there’s a renewed sense of awe and appreciation for how rejuvenating and memorable a day at the beach can be. The author had fun writing this book, it’s apparent in how she shares her passion for the beach. She wants to bring the beach to the reader, and I think she has done just that.

Janet Spurr is the quintessential Beach Queen and has surfed, boogie boarded, snorkeled, kayaked, sailboat raced against the Kennedys, motor boated, white water rafted the Kennebec River, and swum in seven of the top ten beaches in the U.S. She has lived on Nantucket Island and currently lives in a seashore community.

Beach Chair Diaries is a great, fun read any time of year. If you’ve loved being on the beach and haven’t been in a while, this will bring you back to the surf. If you’ve never been to a beach, you’ll want to plan a trip after reading this book.

Stop by the Beach Chair Diaries website to bask in the sounds of the ocean shore and learn more about the book and author.

This is a fantastic read for anyone.

Title: Beach Chair Diaries: Summer Tales from Maine to Maui
Author: Janet E. Spurr
Publisher: Falmouth Heights Books
ISBN: 978-0-9799850-4-1
Pages: 168
Price: $14.95