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Reviews and Ratings
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reviewed Somewhere Over the Pachyderm Rainbow. July 13, 2012
Somewhere Over the Pachyderm Rainbow
Another election looms, and while this collection of political poetry musings by Jennifer C. Wolfe is dated for the 2010 elections, little has changed; they apply just as well today, if only with a few …
reviewed Sarabande by Malcolm R. Campbell. July 07, 2012
Sarabande by Malcolm R. Campbell
Matter of taste, and mine has never led me, not easily, to fantasy or science fiction reading--yet Malcolm R. Campbell, with his fantasy novel Sarabande, easily pulled me in. The main character, our mythic …
reviewed Keepsake by Kristina Riggle. May 25, 2012
Keepsake by Kristina Riggle
A mother's fear: a knock on the door from family protective services talking about taking away your child. What good mother wouldn't turn somersaults to keep her child home and her family intact? Any …
reviewed Into the Rumored Spring by Joannie St.... March 18, 2012
Into the Rumored Spring by Joannie Stangeland
There's a reason, oh many, why Joannie Stangeland is the poetry editor on my masthead at The Smoking Poet—she knows, lives, breathes poetry. Into the Rumored Spring is her gift to a friend who had, but …
reviewed Not Famous Anymore by Michael Loyd Gray. February 07, 2012
Not Famous Anymore by Michael Loyd Gray
Elliott Adrian is famous. Very famous. And he hates that. He hates *that* and he also hates *it*—the mystical qualities with which some are blessed (or cursed, depending on one's perspective) and that …
reviewed Prelude: A Novel about Secrets, Treac.... December 22, 2011
Prelude: A Novel about Secrets, Treachery and the Arrival of Peak Oil by Kurt Cobb
  Before I'd even opened the cover of Prelude, the novel about peak oil by Kurt Cobb, I knew this was going to be a good read—and an unnerving one. After all, I had heard the author speak before; …
reviewed Naked in the Stream: Isle Royale Stor.... December 22, 2011
Naked in the Stream: Isle Royale Stories by Vic Foerster
Michigan's Upper Peninsula, the U.P., is easily one of my favorite areas around, and within that, the Keweenaw Peninsula. On a clear day, standing on the Keweenaw and looking across the sparkling mirror …
reviewed A Cache of Corpses, A Steve Martinez .... December 20, 2011
A Cache of Corpses, A Steve Martinez Mystery by Henry Kisor
When I recently remarked to a writer-friend who writes a mystery series based in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, "But you're the only one who writes about the U.P., right?," he gave me a long, meaningful …
reviewed How to Build Your Dream Cabin in the .... December 15, 2011
How to Build Your Dream Cabin in the Woods by J. W. Fears
So many of us have a dream cabin in the woods envisioned in our minds—I do, too. Most of us never do get to realize it, but it can still be fun to dream. Actually, as I write this, I seem to be nearing …
reviewed Base Ten. December 09, 2011
Base Ten by Maryann Lesert
According to publishing industry research, women make up the majority of readers. I'm not going to argue the popularity of romance for female readers, as I have worked in libraries before and seen the …
reviewed Grip, A Memoir of Fierce Attractions .... December 06, 2011
Grip, A Memoir of Fierce Attractions by Nina Hamberg
When I received an advanced reader copy of Grip for review, I anticipated a memoir about a woman's survival of abuse. With so many women experiencing abusive relationships (one out of three is the last …
reviewed Diary of a Wilderness Dweller. November 15, 2011
Diary of a Wilderness Dweller
When people read and heard about what Chris Czajkowski, a woman in her early 40s, had achieved in the wilderness, they exclaimed: How brave! How courageous! Ridiculous, Czajkowski would respond. To her …
reviewed Murder in the Keweenaw by Harley L. S.... October 24, 2011
Murder in the Keweenaw by Harley L. Sachs
This Kindle reading is still pretty new to me, but when I browsed for e-books recently, I was intrigued to find one that took place in my favorite northern haunt and one-time residence—the Keweenaw Peninsula, …
reviewed Force of Blood: A Woods Cop Mystery b.... October 18, 2011
Force of Blood: A Woods Cop Mystery by Joseph Heywood
Couple days prior to writing this review, I had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing on air the author, Joe Heywood, at Kalamazoo, Michigan's WMUK radio station, the local NPR affiliate. Am I now …
reviewed Until I Smile at You. October 11, 2011
Until I Smile at You
With a title taken from Frank Sinatra's song, "Until I Smile at You," the daughter of Anna Lauro and Tony Lombardi, Roseann Lombardi, has written the story of her parents, set in Long Island, New York, …
reviewed Bear Down, Bear North: Alaska Stories.... October 08, 2011
Bear Down, Bear North: Alaska Stories by Melinda Moustakis
It's been many years, too many, since I set foot in Alaska, but opening the pages of Melinda Moustakis' debut collection of character-linked Alaskan stories brought me back instantly into that …
reviewed Grief Suite: Poems by Bobbi Lurie. September 24, 2011
Grief Suite: Poems by Bobbi Lurie
I am one of those people who starts to hiss when I get too much positive attitude pushed at me. You know the kind: it's storming outside, and they are dancing in the rain. You just lost your job, and …
reviewed A 1,000-Mile Walk on the Beach: One W.... September 21, 2011
A 1,000-Mile Walk on the Beach: One Woman's Trek of the Perimeter of Lake Michigan by Loreen Niewenhuis
  Lake Michigan is a short drive from where I live, and I, too, like the author of A 1,000-Mile Walk on the Beach, have grown up on or near the beaches of Lake Michigan. Yet, inexplicably, I …
reviewed Forest Song: Finding Home by Vila Spi.... September 02, 2011
Forest Song: Finding Home by Vila SpiderHawk
     As if inviting us into a warm and cozy room, the first page opens like a door, and we are greeted by an elderly woman who invites the reader in to tell the tale of her life. Somewhere …
reviewed Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows .... August 31, 2011
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
I'd read all six of the Harry Potter series long ago, and yet I held off longer still to finally open the covers of the massive final volume in this remarkable series. For young adults, it's said, yet …
reviewed Skeletons in the Swimmin' Hole by Kri.... August 09, 2011
Skeletons in the Swimmin' Hole by Kristi Petersen Schoonover
Maybe I should be a tad embarrassed about this, and it's true I almost never read the horror and thriller genre … but for most of this book, I thought I was reading a story collection for young …
reviewed In the Palms of Angels by Terri Kirby.... August 06, 2011
In the Palms of Angels by Terri Kirby Erickson
  In one of her poems, "Miller Street," Terri Kirby Erickson writes: "You can't be something you don't understand."    The poet follows her own rule well. As I read through …
reviewed The Single Girl's Guide to Meeting Eu.... August 05, 2011
The Single Girl's Guide to Meeting European Men
When I received the advance reader's copy of this book, The Single Girl's Guide to Meeting European Men, in the fall of 2010 with a request for a review, I was curious at best. I was packing to go to …
reviewed The Feast Nearby by Robin Mather. August 04, 2011
The Feast Nearby by Robin Mather
The subtitle of Robin Mather's The Feast Nearby is a mouthful (pun intended), but it sums the book up nicely: "How I lost my job, buried a marriage, and found my way to keeping chickens, foraging, preserving, …
reviewed The Dirty Life: A Memoir of Farming, .... August 02, 2011
The Dirty Life: A Memoir of Farming, Food, and Love by Kristin Kimball
Various factors are contributing to the renewed interest in family farms. To name only a few—there is the fast-growing interest in organic foods and the sustainable lifestyle that goes hand in hand with …
reviewed The Lacuna: A Novel. July 29, 2011
The Lacuna: A Novel
With each book that I've read by Barbara Kingsolver, whether fiction or nonfiction, it becomes increasingly established that I am a standing-ovation fan. She ranks up in among my top three most admired. …
The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration
The older we get, the more we read, the more we realize that the history textbooks given to us in public schools when we were children left gaping holes where the shadow side of this nation's history …
reviewed Water the Moon. July 15, 2011
Water the Moon by Fiona Sze-Lorrain
  How that is that we tend to shy away from that which sees too deeply into us, I don't know, I can't say. I have carried Fiona Sze-Lorrain's debut poetry collection, Water the Moon, along with …
reviewed Radiance by Rick Chambers. July 08, 2011
Radiance by Rick Chambers
Oh, admit it. Spot the imprint of a well-known self-publishing outfit on a book, and immediately you think: this is going to be sub-standard. Copy in need of editing, writing that no traditional publisher …
Bright and Distant Shores by Dominic Smith
Since I met the author, Dominic Smith, in 2006 for an interview in Austin, Texas, to talk about his then newly published first novel, The Mercury Visions of Louis Daguerre—I was working on an article …
reviewed The Distant Hours: A Novel. July 05, 2011
The Distant Hours: A Novel
Oh no. One look at that cover and I winced. A gloomy castle on the side of a mountain, overlooking a lake below, and overhead a rather dusky and stormy sky … so not my type of book. The immediate impression …
The Good Life: How to Create a Sustainable and Fulfilling Lifestyle by Sherry Ackerman
From the book description of Sherry Ackerman's The Good Life:      "For many people, consumer culture has lost its appeal. So have debt accumulation, time poverty, exteriority …
White Field, Black Sheep by Daiva Markelis
Opening this autobiography of a woman born to immigrant Baltic parents and growing up in the United States was like looking into a mirror. Indeed, the similarities between the life of Daiva Markelis, …
reviewed Meet Me at the Met by Eric G. Müller. April 08, 2011
Meet Me at the Met by Eric G. Müller
Being an artist's daughter and dabbling in various art forms myself, I was instantly drawn to Eric G. Müller's novel, Meet Me at the Met. I have walked a great many art museums with my father, painter …
reviewed Strike Dog (Woods Cop Mystery Series).... March 31, 2011
Strike Dog (Woods Cop Mystery Series) by Joseph Heywood
Fifth in the Woods Cop Mystery series, Strike Dog is another engrossing murder mystery by Michigan author, Joseph Heywood. Heywood, in fact, lives in the very same town that I do, and spends a great deal …
Pacietības Mērs (The Limit of Patience) by Lelde Stumbre
  What a treat, on my last birthday, to receive a book from Latvia from a good friend. My first language, after all, is Latvian—the only language spoken in my childhood home. I learned to read …
reviewed Once Upon a River. March 08, 2011
Once Upon a River by Bonnie Jo Campbell
Reading a Bonnie Jo Campbell book is like sitting down for a cuppa, or a cold one, with your very best gal pal. You can let loose and relax, kick your shoes off, loosen your girdle, because she does, …
reviewed Elijah's Coin: A Lesson for Life. February 08, 2011
Elijah's Coin: A Lesson for Life
This compact book fit nicely into my hands as I opened it to read. It is marketed for teens and young adults, but I have often enjoyed literature for younger age groups. I am curious to see things as …
reviewed Life is a Trip: The Transformative Ma.... January 30, 2011
Life is a Trip: The Transformative Magic of Travel by Judith Fein
The reasons why we who are travelers do so are probably as varied as we are. Just as the places to which we travel and the ways in which we travel can differ widely, no doubt, so do the resulting experiences. …
reviewed I Want What She's Got! The Secrets of.... January 30, 2011
I Want What She's Got! The Secrets of Creating an Outrageous Life by Bette James Laugrun and Kathie Nelson
I'm not keen on most self-help books, because most of them are too gimmicky, too passing-fad oriented, and have very little new to offer. When a review copy of this book was offered to me, however, I …
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