Book Review

January 2020 Book Review – Where the Crawdads Sing

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Glenda Bonham

This 2018 fiction by a first-time author, has out-sold new novels by John Grisham, Margaret Atwood and Stephen King combined. It has spent 28 weeks on the New York best-seller list.

For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a

quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called “Marsh Girl”. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life–until the unthinkable happens.

Perfect for fans of Barbara Kingsolver and Karen Russell, Where the Crawdads Sing is at once an exquisite ode to the natural world, a heartbreaking coming-of-age story, and a surprising tale of possible murder. Owens reminds us that we are forever shaped by the children we once were, and that we are all subject to the beautiful and violent secrets that nature keeps.

Be aware the reviews on ‘Where the Crawdads Sing’ have been mixed, for a 6 year-old child to survive in predator infested swamp is high fiction. Some reviews report it’s unbelievable to point of fantasy.

Book Review

November Newsletter: Joy Express

Joy Express
by Jody Bailey Day

Critique Café member Jody Bailey Day is set to launch a new book on November 8th. Joy Express is the third offering in the Washout Express Series. The series is inspirational fiction and follows the journey of two thirty-somethings, Bailey and Scott, as they overcome many obstacles to finally arrive at the alter.

“This one is different,” states her publisher, Pelican Ventures. “There is some tragedy in this one, as in the others, but it’s ramped up a notch in Joy Express. As always, in Jody Day’s books, faith brings the situation to a satisfying conclusion. Not necessarily tied up in a nice neat bow, but the reader is left knowing there’s something, rather Someone, to hold on to in times of trial.”

Day will celebrate the launch of her new book alongside the launch of Critique Café’s new anthology at the Fort Stockton Public Library on Monday night, Nov. 18th.

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An early review: “Reading anything that Jody Bailey Daywrites is like coming home—and like home, there are fusses and fights, and a lot of suspense and drama built into Joy Express, but faith winds through it. It draws you to toast your hands over the warmth, and hug yourself with the blazing joy she brings to everything she writes. I don’t often read faith-based fiction, as writers can sometimes get heavy- handed. You can tell by this book that Day writes like she lives, with the warm fire of faith in every word. I have read everything she writes, and wait eagerly for her next. Every. Single. Time.”

Lisa C. Hannon
Author, “She’s Thinking Out Loud”

Book Review

October Newsletter: Atonement book review

atonementAtonement by Ian McEwan
A book review by Richard McGee

I have been reading novels selected to Best Lists.

Atonement was listed as one of the best novels written in the 20th century and was nominated for several awards.

Atonement is the story of a thirteen-year-old girl, Briony, that is a witness to a crime and falsely accuses a young man, the boyfriend of her older sister. Her testimony leads to his conviction and incarceration and it alienates the sister from the family. As Briony grows into adulthood, she realizes the error of her testimony and the story evolves into her attempt to correct her wrong.

This is not a simple read. The author delves into extensive details of the life of Briony so that some scenes may remind you of the painstaking detail in Virginia Wolfe’s “Mrs. Dalloway”. I first read about a fourth of this book before setting it down for several months. When I picked it back up, I began again at the first and am glad I finished it.

The story began slowly but hooked me so that I could hardly lay it down to sleep at night. The big plot turns in the story pulled me toward the end. When I started this book, I wanted to watch the movie it inspired after I read it; but after reading the book, I no longer desire to see the movie. The author does such a great job of taking us into Briony’s thoughts, that I am certain a movie will disappoint in comparison. I recommend this book as an excellent read.

Book Review

October Newsletter: The Monkey’s Paw

The Monkey’s Paw by W.W. Jacobs

Glenda Bonham

If you’re searching for a classic Halloween tale, The Monkey’s Paw won’t let you down. First published in 1902, the short story has been a horror/suspense standard over 100 years.

The story of the Monkey’s Paw has been adapted by the Simpsons, Are You Afraid of the Dark, the X-Files, Tales from the Crypt and more. Stephen King seems fond of the tale as the theme of Pet Semetary centers on the unintended consequences of bringing back the dead. Another King story, The Dead Zone, features a reference to the classic tale when protagonist John describes his psychic powers as being similar to the Monkey’s Paw.

The basic lesson learned in The Monkey’s Paw is “be careful what you wish for.” That to desire more than you have is one thing, but to cheat, to skip steps and cut corners to get there, will rarely if ever end well for you. It’s a warning to the reckless. It’s also one of the best short stories ever penned.
Happy Halloween!

This short story can be read online free of charge at:

monkey's paw

Book Review

September Newsletter Book Review: The Far Pavilions

The Far Pavilions by M.M. Kaye

Submitted by Glenda Bonham

the far pavillionsM. M. Kaye (Mary Margaret Kaye) won worldwide fame for her epic novel The Far Pavilions, an international best-seller in 1978. The book was made into a movie and a Broadway show.

It took her 10 years of writing and editing before she submitted the first draft of The Far Pavilions to a publisher. The story is set in India during both national and tribal conflicts of the turn of the 20th century. It opens with the birth of a British child born during his parents touring in India. After the deaths of both his parents, he is adopted by his father’s housekeeper and lives his childhood as a poor Indian subject. In his teens he is discovered by the British and sent to England for formal studies. His story is one of conflict of cultures, faiths, and loyalties for he returns to India as an adult. Here he finds romance, danger, and a struggle for his own identity.

The Far Pavilions has been recognized as one of the finest historical fiction novels of the 20th Century, alongside such epics as Gone With the Wind. It has won acclaim in English speaking countries and translated into dozens of foreign languages.

This was followed by Shadow of the Moon and Trade Wind. She also wrote and illustrated The Ordinary Princess, a children’s book and authored a dozen detective novels, including Death in Kashmir and Death in Zanzibar.