I am blessed to have wonderful friends who encourage me in all kinds of ways. For example, this weekend 8 people descended on my house to help me prepare it for sale. . . they were bribed with only pizza and drinks, and they did an amazing amount of work with no complaint. I am very grateful.
I also have wonderful writerly friends who encourage me often, people like my friend Cate who graciously reads my work over and over again and people like Gayle Brandeis and Laraine Herring who know me only in spits and spurts but still support me lovingly.
Finally, I have you, my blog friends, who read these posts and respond to them thoughtfully and who, when asked for help, respond with lovely reviews, like the one Gautami wrote below . . .
to all of you, thank you.

So because of all this kindness, I have three reviews for you. . . . if you have read these books, post your comments or links to your own reviews, and as I can, I”ll link them up . . . Thanks.

Review of Dear John by Norma L. Betz – Reviewed by Gautami Tripathy

Plot summary from Back Cover:

When financial aid administrator Susanna Smith goes to Massachusetts to settle her aunt’s estate, she doesn’t suspect that her well-ordered life is about to take an unusual turn. Susanna
and her faithful Weimaraner companion, Quincy, embark on a journey to the past that not only reveals a connection to a famous ancestor whose circumstances parallel her own, but also results in an important discovery about her own life.

What did you like most about the book?

Although it is fiction, it relates to history, that is star of The American Revolution and tells us about women in the eighteenth entury who were very liberated. I liked the letters Abigal wrote to her husband. They are the main stay of the novel. As we get to know about the historical significance via the letters. These letters are what make Susanna realise her roots as they provide great insight into her ancestors mind.

What did you like least?

It tends to get long winded at places. I felt too much detailing spoiled the flow at times. However, it is a well researched novel.

What did you think of the writing style?

Her writing style is good. Not very complicated, very readable and sucks us into it.

What did you think of the main character? What is the central character’s biggest problem?

Susanna is an independent woman who has only herself to care care of save her dog, Quincy. She
is very fond of him and thinks of him as her dear friend. She even talks to him. Her biggest problem is she does not wish to get emotionally closer to any other human being. Not even her aunt when she was alive.

What effect do the people in the book have on one another?

William Shaw had a great relationship with Susanna’s aunt. He transfers his affection to Susanna. Mrs O’Hara is a very motherly woman who loves Susanna for what she is. John, William’s son develops some kind of feelings for her. And then the Local librarian is also a very likeable character. The local police too is very co-operative. There is a community feeling and all are supportive of each other. Jerry is the only villain here.

Any other particularly interesting characters?
I found the dog, Quincy very interesting. He can understand whatever Susanna says. He loves his mistress to distraction and is very protective of her.

What did you think of the ending?

Quite good, under the circumstanes. It ends with a positive note.

Do you recommend this book? If you use a rating system, what’s your rating?
Yes, I do recommend this book to anyone who is interested to read about history with a bit of mystery and also to those who wish to learn about woman’s rights in the eighteenth century. I would rate it 3.5/5.

Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer
Okay, so I got this book out of the library, after putting it on hold; I never put things on hold because I’m never sure I have time to read them and don’t want to keep them from someone else if that’s the case. But here, I felt the need. (Don’t read on if you haven’t finished the book yet – I will be spoiling your fun.)

And it was worth it . . . Finally, we see Bella have some strength, amazing strength that almost makes up for her weakness in the earlier books. And while I feel this may be a bit too crafted on Meyer’s part, I did appreciate – for the sake of my own sanity – the way the author wrapped up her relationship with Jacob, giving her a reason to be so heartless, at least in one level. I do wonder, however, if that was Meyer’s intention all along?

Still, I love the Cullens, love the idea of “people” going against their natures because it’s the right thing to do. The same with the “shape shifters.” To me this is a valuable lesson, although I will hope for the sake of not wanting to be moralistic, that Meyer did not intentionally choose to give us a moral lesson here. . . I think so often humans excuse our behavior because we say we are simply like that – we’re aggressive or violent or addicted or apathetic because there’s something innate in us that we can’t control . . . and while we certainly can’t control much in life, we can control how we treat others – here I think Meyer illustrates something wise . . .

Finally, I liked the resolution to this book . . . all is wrapped up without any massive problems waving in the wind, just a few loose threads to keep it from seeming too neat and tidy. The Volturi are still there; Renesmee will still have to drink blood her whole life; the Cullens will have to move eventually. . . but all in all, I felt like Meyer wrapped the saga in just the right way, not too trite but not too complicated either.

Now, I must read The Host.

Fruitflesh: Seeds of Inspiration for Women who Write by Gayle Brandeis (Note – in the interest of full disclosure, I must say Gayle is a friend of mine.)

Because I’ve been talking about this book so much here, I thought it only proper that I give it a formal review. It deserves it. . . often I find books full of writing prompts to be cliche at best. But here Brandeis pushes beyond the typical into new and fresh ways of writing and thinking about writing. Most of this freshness is achieved because she keeps these prompts centered in the writer and in the writer’s body more specifically. I wasn’t being asked to go out and find a perfect leaf and describe it . . . instead, I was asked to find out what I would be if I was a leaf. . . and I found this practice opening me up in new ways . . .

Additionally, Brandeis chose beautiful passages to open the various sections of the book, writings from other authors, all of them having to do with fruit. I found some beautiful quotes there and some new writers as well.

Most importantly, this book gave me access to things I have never written before – sex and divorce and fear and most of all hope . . . new blossoms that will turn into fruit. Thank you, Gayle.


Thank you all for reading, and again, please post your links to your reviews of these books or share your thoughts – be as lengthy as you want – in the comments. Have a glorious day.