Writing Life Stories – A Book Review

Bill Roorbachs Book

I’ve read a lot of books on writing, but none that has helped me as much as Bill Roorbach’s “Writing Life Stories”, and I’ve only just begun reading it.

Early on, like No. 3, is a section on map-making that spoke to my visual side. He suggested you “make a map of the earliest neighborhood you can remember”, and then describe it. Use details, sights, smells, sounds, etc and see what pops up. It was an incredible experience. And allowed me to write about the house my dad built when I was 4-5 years old. The memories were wonderful and laid the groundwork for many others I had long since forgotten about.

Then I went digging for images that matched those memories and they made for a wonderful family story that is not just verbal. Do try it and do read his book. I’m grateful he took the time to write it and I’m glad Writer’s Digest recommended it.

Until next time.

The Bone Feud – Book Review 4/27/2015

Spirit of 13 - Book Review

Historic Fiction comes in all types of styles, genres and themes.  The Bone Feud is a story of two “Professors” that are in a race to find the most dinosaur bones and get them identified so they can name them.  The true story is fictionalized by adding wonderful characters to the tale and making one of the participants the bartender  and storyteller.

I was captured from the beginning of my #fridayread.  From P.T. Barnum to Wild Bill Hickok, the authors ability to bring other characters of interest into the story was great fun.  His writing style is clear and the story flowed nicely.  However, I missed hearing from the storyteller himself in the middle of the tale.  He got lost, and so did I, in the middle.  Thankfully, he was found and once again took charge at the end.

For a fun #fridayread, it’s great and is well deserving of 4*’s.


The Crimson Petal & The White – Review

An historical novel of England and its many houses of ill repute. One Lady of the Night, Miss Sugar, has her special story told when she’s discovered by a wealthy industrialist.

There were three issues I had with the book that made it a difficult read for me. First, the author spent 1/3 of the book in lurid sexual scenes and encounters that really, in my opinion, added little to the overall quality of a great story.

Second, Miss Sugar spends hours following her benCrimson Petalefactor and his wife around in public places and is never noticed? I found that difficult to believe and that made it hard to believe in the other characters.

Third, the author missed an opportunity to introduce Miss Sugar and her mother at the beginning of the story to give the ending more significance.

The ending has been discussed by some of our book club members, and other reviewers as awful. I didn’t mind it. The author really had no place to go except there and he did leave an opening for Book 2. But Book 2 would have to be better organized for me to purchase it.

This long, wordy novel would be a fine check-out for Prime Club Members, but not for your hard-earned dollars, thus I rated it 3 Stars.

Before Versailles: Before the History You Know…a Novel of Louis XIV

Before VersaillesBefore Versailles

Karleen Koen writes the life of Louis XIV during a three month period in 1661.  At 22 years of age, he has the opportunity to change the face of the court and its workings by taking charge of departments upon the death of  Cardinal Marzarin.  Although he is replaced by an equally powerful man, Viscount Nicholas, ultimately King Louis removes him from office.

The intrigues of court would not be complete without the intrigues of the women that made the court their life.  Intrigue, rivalries, jealousies, and outright power struggles between the women were normal and the writing helped to define the role of women in society at the highest level.  The dress, help, social mores and values help to clearly define the progress for women from slave and bedmate to business owners and elected officials.

I found the social aspects of the period colorful, dangerous, and full of intrigue.  Written from a woman’s perspective, it may not have the swashbuckler of other authors about the King, it has immense value in defining “the game of court”, the concept of marriage, and the true test of the period – loyalty.



The Devil’s Queen – A Book Review

By Jeanne Kalogridis
ISBN -10:0-32-36843-7
St Martin’s Press


‘“Madame’, he said gently.  “You and I understand each other well, I think – better than the rest of the world understands us.  You and I see things others do not.  Too much for our comfort.’”  The words of Monsieur de Nostredame to Madame la Reine – Catherine de Medicis, Queen, Consort of Henry II, King of France 1519-1589 to Catherine during one of his visits before being removed for an astrologer.

The Devil’s Queen was fond of astrology and much of her life, Catherine De Medici  practiced the art whenever possible.  Her childhood friend, Cosimo Ruggieri, was the son of Bernozzo a physician and psychic.  His date of birth is unknown, but appears to be about the same as Catherine and both are from Florence.  Cosimo, the magician, would play a deep and abiding role in Cathrine’s entire ife.  From amulets to spells, Cosimo watched over and loved Catherine from afar for most of his life.

This version of Catherine’s life is uniquely different from any other I could find.  And the reviews, for the most part, failed to give Author Kalogridis credit for her unique approach to a much written subject.

Cosimo gave Catherine a black stone with a bit of greenery – the Wing of Corvus Resing held the power of the raven’s star and the wing would shelter her from harm.  Although she died before Cosimo, Catherine depended on Cosimo for comfort, guidance, and the necessary spells to provide heirs, escape harm, and keep her family in power.  Was the Saint Bartholemew massacre fate, or a result of Catherine’s actions?  Read The Devil’s Queen and decide for yourself.