Tell Me a Story: My Life with Pat Conroy

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Tell Me a Story: My Life with Pat Conroy is a gift from the heart. Popular author, Cassandra King Conroy must have intuited that legions of her husband’s devotees wanted his wife to speak. Many of us had incorporated Pat Conroy into our lives. We were on an intimate level with the author who bared his soul through story, so when he died, we were blindsided. We hadn’t been given enough time to wrap our minds around a Conroyless world and were totally unprepared. So, Cassandra King Conroy stepped up. In the age-old tradition of a dyed-in-the-wool Southerner, she put her own grief aside and did for others in the only way Southerners know of: she told the entire story with endless detail and heartfelt panache. She gave us exactly what we wanted.

What strikes me about this memoir is its similarity in spirit to all things Pat Conroy wrote. Many of us heard Conroy explain the magic behind his writing by saying he wanted to explain his life to himself in hopes that readers would understand theirs. He unfurled his life on the pages in an artfully veiled manner, and it worked. In Tell Me a Story, Cassandra King Conroy removed the veil completely. With an honesty that can only be described as sheer bravery, she gave us the unvarnished truth, revealing the humanness of not only Pat, but of herself and those lucky enough to be a part of his orbit. The memoir is spellbinding, engaging, heart-tugging, and hilarious. Parts of it read like a madcap ride through a comedy of errors, for how best to describe a union forged later in life, replete with two cause and effect, complicated backstories seeking a semblance of harmony. And yet harmony was achieved, and that bird of a different feather soared. Cassandra King Conroy’s memoir is the construction of a life cobbled together by two world-class authors. It is deeply confessional and told in a voice you’ll never want to quit.

https://www.clairefullerton.com

Life’s Rich Tapestry by Sally Cronin

Life’s Rich Tapestry by Sally Cronin

We come to know a person’s mind through the words they speak; their personality through what they create, and their heart through what they write. Put this all together and you’ve been gifted a glimpse into an artist’s soul. This is how Life’s Rich Tapestry Woven in Words impressed me. Author Sally Cronin’s precious gem of a book is nothing short of fluid insight into all that it means to be human in a round-robin way as to address the entire sphere in bits and pieces that leave a lasting impression. These are musings delivered artfully, the perfect melding of heart, mind, and soul. In sharing her personal views, the author invites us to examine our own impressions of the day-today by shining light on life’s rich nuance. There is something profound in these meditative pages, something joyous and real that takes nothing for granted by sheer virtue of the fact that Sally Cronin has called them by name. In addressing the natural world, celebrating pets, seasons of the year, and random thoughts, Cronin speaks to the reader conversationally in such a manner that told me I’d revisit the pages. Her flash fiction, speculative fiction, and short stories are vignettes to savor—all told, this book is a work of art at its finest. All praise to author Sally Cronin, who has earned a constant and significant place in the blogging world by selflessly serving as the fulcrum of focus for so very many. That she has stepped forth by assembling and publishing this collection of letters has gifted us all with the awe-striking opportunity to see a writer’s career shine at its brightest.

Visit Sally Cronin on Word Press, Smorgasbord!

   

Second Wind by Alison Henderson: Book 1 in the Cypress Coast Book Series.

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I loved every page of this exceptional book. It is action-packed, wonderfully paced, and full of gripping suspense. The story opens with 32-year-old Laurel on the run from her abusive fiance.  In a definitive move, she packs her cat in her car and hits the road from Seattle to the sanctuary of Big Sur, California, where her mother owns and operates a cliffside, vegetarian restaurant, and her two sisters live close by. But home is not an immediate sanctuary, for the truth of her fiance’s hidden life follows her to the coast and unfurls in threatening unforeseen episodes that keep the reader on the edge of their seat. Cleverly written with spot-on dialogue, the breathtaking setting of Big Sur, California and the town of Carmel-by-the-Sea as described by Henderson is much of what’s to love in this delightful story. The Monterey Peninsula is the perfect setting for the life the artistic Laurel hopes to create, but when she is met by one obstacle after another, she is unwittingly helped by a rugged FBI agent named Jake. This story is wonderfully told. I believe it will greatly appeal to all readers because it is so very engaging. It is the kind of book you’ll look forward to returning to until its climactic end. You’ll love the characters, and will feel as if you’re spending time in the expertly drawn Big Sur, California. Five Stars! I look forward to reading the next book in the Cypress Coast Book series!     

Malibu Burning: Nonfiction book review

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I’m sharing my book review here of the wildly popular book, Malibu Burning: the real-life Story Behind LA’s Most Devastating Wildfire. This book is making waves in my seaside, hometown.
I live in Malibu, and this time last year, my husband and I, our two German shepherds and our 15-year-old black cat evacuated in haste, when the Woolsey Fire, which started in Thousand Oaks, California, traveled through the Santa Monica Mountains behind our house and reached the ridge of our property. In frantic urgency, we turned left on the Pacific Coast Highway and headed north, away from Malibu’s town center. It was here we discovered that the 320 acres of the state park near our home were violently up in flames. We were evacuated for 24 days, the first four of which we had no information as to whether our house was standing. It was total chaos in Malibu. The small coastal town was overwhelmed and ill-prepared for a wildfire of such swift, epic proportions. In some ways, it was every man for himself. In others, it was the ultimate exercise of a heroic feat as neighbor helped neighbor.
Once they allowed Malibu’s anxious and traumatized citizens back to their homes to assess the fallout, locals assembled at relief centers, sharing their stories. Among them, writer Robert Kerbeck, who took it upon himself to do a bit of investigative reporting as to how the fire started, then set about the business of collecting the first-person stories of many who refused evacuation orders and remained in the thick of the heinous drama in an effort at protecting their neighborhood.
The stories in Malibu Burning are staggering. Malibu local, Robert Kerbeck, has done a magnificent job in writing this book and getting it published in such a short span of time. Many in Malibu were so independently blindsided, there was little way of telling what went on behind our backs. We now have a larger story.
Book Review:

 

When tragedy engulfs a community, the media report the overarching highlights, typically from an aerial view. In Malibu Burning, author Robert Kerbeck portrays the hidden story—the nuanced blow-by-blow minutia told with such investigative reporting skills as to lend immediate urgency with a sense of present tense. It can’t be easy to shake oneself off and get organized, after surviving what can only be called the surreal worst, which is what Kerbeck basically did in writing this riveting book. Malibu Burning is a boots-on-the-ground story; an impassioned order from chaos, cohesive treatise told with a clear-eyed, objective voice. Weaving facts with vivid personal accounts in this cause and effect human interest story, this is a book so well-wrought as to hold one’s attention with all the characteristics of a gripping novel. It takes a deft hand to avoid judgment or accusation in a painstakingly researched nonfiction book. Robert Kerbeck’s Malibu Burning is a book with a resonating heartbeat. It sobers by threading the true stories of Malibu’s citizens who navigated the devastating Woolsey wildfire and simultaneously warms the heart by depicting the power of spirit.

Malibu Burning by Robert Kerbeck is available at independent book stores and all online book outlets.

 

https://www.clairefullerton.com

 

 

Never Sit If You Can Dance: Book Review

Writing Notes

Who among us hasn’t said, “I could write a book about my mother!” We often say such things in jest, though the quip’s foundation is actually complimentary. We study our mothers throughout most of our lives trying to piece together the enigmatic variables that result in their particular formula. For many, it takes a lifetime, yet author Jo Giese has done just this in her delightful book, Never Sit If You Can Dance, which, as you might suspect, is a line she learned from her mother.
It is baby-boomer times, simpler times that began in innocence only to explode into the roar of changing times, and author Jo Giese is raised by a stay-at-home mom named Babe. She plans to rise above her mother’s station and believes she has actually done so until later years give her the time to pause and reflect.
It is the little things in this…

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Never Sit If You Can Dance: Book Review

Who among us hasn’t said, “I could write a book about my mother!” We often say such things in jest, though the quip’s foundation is actually complimentary. We study our mothers throughout most of our lives trying to piece together the enigmatic variables that result in their particular formula. For many, it takes a lifetime, yet author Jo Giese has done just this in her delightful book, Never Sit If You Can Dance, which, as you might suspect, is a line she learned from her mother.
It is baby-boomer times, simpler times that began in innocence only to explode into the roar of changing times, and author Jo Giese is raised by a stay-at-home mom named Babe. She plans to rise above her mother’s station and believes she has actually done so until later years give her the time to pause and reflect.
It is the little things in this collection of first-person stories that weave nostalgia so touchingly and seamlessly. It is the commonplace, the every day, the mortar of life that matters, and author Jo Giese tells us why in a series of chapter heading, numbered lessons as demonstrated by her mother—“Don’t be Drab;” “Never Show Up Empty-Handed;” “Go While You Can;” and “The Happiness of Giving and Receiving Flowers” are cases in point.
A wonderfully written, quick paced gem of a book, Never Sit If You Can Dance strikes the middle ground between heartwarming and entertaining. It is an important book in that it gifts the reader with the opportunity to ponder their own mother. In the hands of any book club, there is much fodder to discuss.

An enjoyable book trailer is here: https://youtu.be/LzNj97Rs-pE

 

https://www.clairefullerton.com