Monday, June 18, 2012

Book Review: Lame Excuses by Alle Wells


Hi all,

It is obvious that I am a fan of Alle Wells' writing as shown in my reviews of her other books, RailroadMan and Leaving Serenity. She did not disappoint me with her first novel – which I read last – Lame Excuses. This book is a definite must read for people who enjoy a character-based novel that delves deeply into the life of the main character – her life, her feelings, her emotions. Here is a description of Lame Excuses and my 5 star review.



Lame Excuses
Alle Wells

Book Description:

Forty-year-old Emily Halley sits in a wheelchair in an abandoned lot of a silent, forlorn southern town. She reflects on her life that began in a short-order café that sat on this corner lot in the early 1960’s. She remembers and shares her love for the café that provided everything she needed and demanded nothing from her. As a teenager, Emily’s life at the café ends abruptly with her father’s untimely death.

Emily is forced to find a new life and enrolls in a culinary arts school in a rural farming community. She thrives as a culinary artist and finds a mentor, a lover and a new life in the Sand Fort community. Emily’s life is sprinkled with pleasant surprises, southern humor, disappointments and drama. Her passion for food remains constant and comforts her through the good times and the bad. Emily’s lifestyle begins to take its toll on her at an early age. A medical condition misdiagnosed by a country doctor and ignored by Emily leads her to a tragic and unsatisfied end as she tries to piece her life back together.

My 5 Star Review:

Emily (Ellsley) Halley grew up in a small southern town in her parent's fast-food café. The café was more of a home to her than her actual home, and she loved everything about it from the food to the people they served. She wanted so much to work in the café when she grew up. However, when her father dies suddenly, the life she knew is taken from her and she has to decide what she wants to do. Emily chooses to go away to culinary school to learn the fine art of cooking and soon finds a new life in the small community. The story continues to follow Emily throughout the ups and downs of her life and her struggles with her health.

Alle Wells has brought us another unique work of literature with Lame Excuses. Her style of writing is so different from any other author. You are drawn into the novel from the very beginning, as if you are walking into the café and observing Emily's life first hand. She does not bog the story down with long, descriptive prose or paragraphs that readers tend to skip to get on to the dialogue. Instead, you see, feel and experience life through Emily's eyes, so you feel a part of the story instead of just reading it. I love her style of writing – it's so refreshing. I would recommend this novel – and her other ones as well – to anyone who enjoys reading a unique, historical novel.

I hope you get a chance to read one or more of Alle's novels - they are too good to miss out on.

Cheers,
Deanna

Monday, June 11, 2012

Does Reading a Novel While Writing Affect Your Writing Style?


Hi all,

I have an interesting question for you. Does reading another writer's novel affect the way you write?

Anyone who plays sports knows that watching a teammate or opponent while playing can affect the way you play. All players have their own style. In baseball, a batter doesn't want to watch the batter up before him or else it may change the way he hits the ball. A golfer never wants to watch his teammate or opponent swing otherwise it may upset his own timing and speed. Even in bowling, you don't want to watch the person before you throw the ball or it may affect the way you throw yours. (Yes, bowling – my kids played a lot of sports and were serious about them so I learned a lot too!) The point is, although you learn how to play a sport by watching others, once you've set your own style, then watching others can actually disrupt the way you play.

The same could be said about reading while writing. Certainly, writers learned to love the written word and to write by reading. We are influenced by the great authors and learn from them. However, when we sit down to write, we want to project our own style and not copy other writers. But sometimes, at least for me, reading a good book in my off time can influence the way I write.

How does it influence my writing? Well, let's say I've been reading the latest Danielle Steel novel. Now, I realize she has sold millions of books and has been at the top of her genre for years and years, but in all honesty I feel sometimes that she gets a bit lazy with her writing. She repeats herself throughout her books and starts a lot of sentences with 'But' and 'And' – something first-time novelists would never get away with. I find that when I'm reading one of her books, some of that laziness filters into my own novel and I have to go back later and clean it up.

Then I pick up a fun book, like one written by Janet Evanovich, which is generally fast-paced, witty and downright hilarious. My own novel may start reflecting this with quick, to the point sentences or ill-placed humor. Or, I might be reading a serious book by Elizabeth Buchan and suddenly my own prose becomes heavy in details and emotions (actually, not such a bad thing!).

While these influences may seem like they would improve on your writing, they actually don't. I lose my own personal timing, pace and style and that can cause the novel to become disjointed and awkward. So, I now make sure not to read right before sitting down to write, that way I've had some time to let the other author's words clear from my mind before I begin weaving my own story.

I'd love to hear from other writers about this. Does reading affect your writing?


Cheers,

Deanna


Saturday, June 9, 2012

Book Review: Railroad Man by Alle Wells


Hi all,

I had read LeavingSerenity by Alle Wells and loved it, so when her novel, Railroad Man was being offered for only $0.99 cents, I scooped it up. I was not disappointed! Here is a description of the book and my 5 star review of Railroad Man.



Railroad Man
Alle Wells

Book Description:

Railroad Man follows the life of handsome railroad engineer, Mick MacDonald, from 1929 to 1978. Mick looks back on a fulfilling career and a turbulent private life. His career moves the reader from the steam engines of the Great Depression into the diesel age. Mick looks through the lens of history at his relationships with his mother, sisters, cousin, and wife. As he guides us through the vast changes during his lifetime, one constant remains...Mick’s love for women.

My 5 Star Review:

It's 1933 and Mickey MacDonald is one of the lucky ones, having secured a job with the railroad when so many people are out of work. Mickey is riding high; he's young and has his whole life ahead of him. But when he's told he can't marry the girl he's loved since childhood, he begins heading down the wrong road which leads him to unhappiness. But that is not the end – there is much more!

Railroad Man tells a realistic story of railroad man Mickey MacDonald and spans a period of over 50 years of his life. This is not a fairytale romance with a happily-ever-after ending, but it is not a sad story either. Most of us have had love, success, heartache, failure and loss, and so has Mickey. In Railroad Man, author Alle Wells immerses us in a time in history when life was hard and people had to be tough to survive. She succeeds in portraying this time period with perfection and gives the reader a feel for what the early to mid-1900s were like. This novel is truly a unique story and is perfect for anyone who enjoys historical fiction.

Cheers,

Deanna


Sunday, June 3, 2012

Book Review: Dunaway's Crossing by Nancy Brandon

Hi all,

I picked up Dunaway's Crossing by Nancy Brandon in early May when she was offering this book for free. I enjoy reading historical fiction so after reading the description of this book, I decided it sounded interesting. Am I ever glad that I downloaded it. If you love historical fiction, be sure to pick up a copy. Here is a description of the book via Amazon and my 5 star review.


Dunaway's Crossing

Nancy Brandon

Book Description:

One rural town paralyzed by disease,
Two women secluded in a remote cabin.
Only one man stands between them and death.

One reader describes Dunaway's Crossing as "a little like The Help but much better" and a cross between "James Lee Burke and Laura Ingalls Wilder...with a little Fried Green Tomatoes mixed in."

It's 1918, and Bea Dot Ferguson thinks she's coming to Pineview, Georgia to visit her pregnant cousin, Netta. But upon arrival, she learns the town has been infected with Spanish influenza. With the help of Great War veteran Will Dunaway, they retreat to the country to avoid contagion, but find themselves confronting obstacles along the way. Together the three struggle to survive in the Georgia back woods to avoid the deadliest virus the world has ever known.

If you liked the drama of The Color Purple and the setting of Wickett's Remedy, you'll love Dunaway's Crossing.


Amazon Kindle Edition


My 5 Star Review:


Beatrice Dorothy Ferguson (Bea Dot) is the victim of an abusive husband and harbors the secret of an abusive past which she does not want her family and friends to discover. The time period is 1918, the setting, Savannah and rural Georgia. WWI is nearing an end and a deadly influenza outbreak is terrorizing the country, killing people from all walks of life. Bea Dot leaves Savannah to visit her cousin who lives in a small town in rural Georgia. Her cousin, Nettie, is married to the town's doctor and is expecting their first child. When the influenza starts spreading throughout their small town, Nettie's husband sends the two women out of town to live with Will Dunaway, a close family friend, who has just opened a small country store. Bea Dot soon finds she is falling in love with Will, and thus begins one of the many stories immersed in this historical romance/drama.


Dunaway's Crossing is more than just a romance – it is a historical piece which clearly paints a realistic picture of a time period when women had no rights, segregation between blacks and whites was the norm and death was a sad but common reality. It also shows how resilient people can be when times are tough. Author Nancy Brandon is able to bring the reader back to this time period and immerse them into the lives of these characters, breathing life into them on each page. The characters and situations hold the reader's attention and after the first few pages, you just don't want to put the book down. This story is a testimony to Ms. Brandon's research of the time period and the 1918 influenza breakout and I applaud her for hard work. If you are looking for a light, fun summer beach romance, then this is not the book for you. However, if you enjoy a historical novel with both a good story and depth, you will enjoy Dunaway's Crossing.   

I hope you get a chance to read this book and enjoy it. Currently, I am reading Railroad Man by Alle Wells. I am certain this book will be a winner!

Cheers,
Deanna

The Romance Reviews

The Romance Reviews