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Profile for Mary Chrapliwy / Reviewer's Diary > Reviews

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Reviews Written by
Mary Chrapliwy / Reviewer's Diary (NJ, USA)

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If You're Writing, Let's Talk: A Road Map Past Writers' Blocks from Page One to the End
If You're Writing, Let's Talk: A Road Map Past Writers' Blocks from Page One to the End
by Joel Saltzman
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars Like sitting down with a few friends..., 13 Jan. 2008
This excellent book by Joel Saltzman chronicles the trials and tribulations of a group of writing students through a 10 week course with him. This is like a dream course I wish I could have partaken in. The writer's are supposed to write freely during the days they are not in his class -- which takes place at his home rather than an a cold, impersonal classroom. Some of these writers don't try very hard at it and give up easily. Some are gritting their teeth through bouts of writer's block and insecurity. Some are so captivated by their art that they go on to write through their blocks and fears, conquering the challenge writing brings to us all. There are six students. Three master their craft enough to complete their stories, which are published in the back of the book.

At the beginning of this review I said this book was like sitting down with a few friends. Here's why, the class most closely resembles a writer's group in that the participants bring in their work and read it to the group where it then is critiqued by their teacher and their fellow students. In reading this, you recognize things in yourself and your writing that need improvement as well as those that you have accomplished. A couple times you will smile and say, ah, I've done that. These are writers with fears and accomplishments that you can enjoy identifying with. And ... the whole thing is written in a style that makes you feel you are there, an observer of the group.

Now! Buy this book -- sorry mine will never be for sale. Get in gear, and write! This book will make you feel that you can.

Jamaica Inn (Virago Modern Classics)
Jamaica Inn (Virago Modern Classics)
by Daphne Du Maurier
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.29

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars WOW -- fabulous story, great suspense!, 13 Jan. 2008
As this story opens, Mary Yellan's mother dies leaving this young adult on her own in a dangerous time. On her deathbed her mother tells her to go live with her Aunt Patience at an inn called Jamaica Inn near the Cornish coast (Corwall, England). Immediately upon arrival at Jamaica Inn she knows something is wrong since her once colorful Aunt Patience has turned into a simpering wimp and her Uncle Joss Merlyn is a towering cruel character with dubious past and present. Soon Mary learns about criminal activities surrounding Jamaica Inn and it's inhabitants. She is drawn into a mystery so intense and frightening that she'll brave the trecherous moors to escape.

This is one Daphne Du Maurier's best books. Don't miss this tale of twisted greed and terrible peril -- this is an EXCELLENT book that'll keep you up past your bedtime as you won't be able to put this book down! Buy it! This book earned itself a permanent place on my shelf!

Where Old Bones Lie (A Mitchell & Markby Cotswold Whodunnit)
Where Old Bones Lie (A Mitchell & Markby Cotswold Whodunnit)
by Ann Granger
Edition: Paperback

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars spellbinding & delightful all at once, 13 Jan. 2008
This is a well woven story of a murder and the tangled web the main characters Meredith Mitchell and Chief Inspector Alan Markby must untangle to find the killer ... or killers.
The story opens with a young Ursula Gretin, an archeologist on a dig with a former married lover, Dan Woollard. Ursula broke off the affair with Dan who refuses to give up on her. He's married to a romance novelist Natalie Woollard. During the opening of the story, Dan calls Ursula to come to his home to see him on an urgent matter. Urgent to him that is. Once there, Ursula realizes that his main motive is to try to rekindle their relationship. She flatly refuses, insisting that their relationship is over. While there Dan tells her that his wife has gone off to visit her mother ... yet, Ursula spots her pocketbook, complete with wallet and car keys and begins to suspect the worst. What woman in their right mind would leave home without her purse, wallet or keys. Ursula suspects the obvious, that Dan has done away with his wife so he can spend his life with her .... or did he? Ursula confides to her friend Meredith her suspicions that Dan has done something to his wife, who then confides to her friend and police detective Alan. Together the two sleuths unravel a few mysteries -- not only the present one of Natalie Woollard's disappearance, but also a murder that is some 25 years old.

This is a well written, well told, spellbinding tail of love, betrayal, murder, guilt and innocence. Find this book and find out the conclusions. You'll hang on each and ever page until you come to the amazing conclusion. This is a great read!

Perfect Stranger [DVD] [2007]
Perfect Stranger [DVD] [2007]
Dvd ~ Halle Berry
Price: £2.74

21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrifying cat and mouse game with an amazing twist, 13 Jan. 2008
I almost didn't watch this movie due to the bad reviews here on Amazon. I'm so glad I did watch it.

This movie is about an investigative reporter, played by Berry, and high profile advertising executive, played by Willis. The plot is very well paced with no lagging moments and was seamlessly acted by the cast.

This is not the usual, predictable woman in jeopardy type movie. Predictability would have made it a complete yawn fest. Instead, the plot takes off relentlessly and culminates in a twist that will blow your mind. Also, there is more than one secret being kept. I can't say more as it might ruin the experience for future viewers.

Grab yourself a copy of this brilliant thriller.

Lovers / Dark / Dangerous (3 Novels in 1)
Lovers / Dark / Dangerous (3 Novels in 1)
by Lindsay McKenna
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly good reading!, 5 Jan. 2008
I don't normally read a lot of romance, but saw this book in a thrift shop and was intrigued by the story ideas -- psychic powers, ghosts and evil spirits. I wondered how a romance book could be built around all that.

Well, I was pleasantly surprised at how well written this book is and how intense the three stories were! Romance was a part of these stories, but more than anything they delved into these special people and their experiences and was really quite well written. My favorite story was the last one! One cautionary note: if you don't like romance books which allude to sex then don't buy this book -- it's not graphic, but it isn't spotlessly clean either.

There are three stories. I won't say too much because I don't want to spoil it for anyone.

"Seeing is believing" which is about a sensitive psychic and a war weary-mercenary. The two go on a quest to find a missing person. The relationship develops between the two of them (this was more romance than the other two) -- the hardened mercenary learns to share his feelings and rekindles the sensitivity in his soul. Along the way Diana experiences different psychic feelings which Wes, who only believes in what he can see or touch, learns to trust and respect. When they reach their goal the conclusion is one that is completely different from what you would expect.

"Storm-tossed" is a ghost story. It was a story that starts with few people left behind in a hurricane to fend for themselves. A mysterious person arrives on the scene with the main focus of trying to save these people from certain death. This person arrives out of no-where, and one of the people he is trying to save believes he is a ghost. The writing makes you feel and hear the storm around them -- well written. It has a touching and unexpected conclusion.

MY FAVORITE "The Ancient One" is a story of good and evil and ancient wonders -- it has mythical qualities. There is a mysterious village that can only be seen by a certain trick of the moon. The main character finally finds her way there and that's when the battle between good and evil begins. It deals with keeping a horrible evil entombed away from the world. If I say much more I'll give away the entire story. The romance is secondary to a very well written story-line that captured my attention more than the other two.


Magic by Daylight
Magic by Daylight
by Lynn Bailey
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More fantasy novel than romance. Fun reading!, 5 Jan. 2008
This book doesn't fit the usual romance mold - in bed by a certain page, etc. It is far more of a fantasy novel than a romance novel, but it has just enough romance - a fun read for romance readers & fantasy readers alike.

It's about a woman living in the early 1800s England. She's wealthy and has a devoted staff and devoted tenants on her land. She wanders one night and finds herself on a "tor" where a rider comes out of nowhere and rides off, she has not been seen by the rider, but is completely terrified of him. She is alternately attacked by a "dark rider" and protected by one who has been sent by the faeries to protect her. About half the book takes place in the faery world -- full of intrigue, danger, war. I won't say more because I don't want to destroy the story for anyone.

On balance, die-hard fantasy reader's will feel this is more romance than fantasy & die-hard romance fans will feel this is more fantasy than romance. All will have different take on this book. All in all though, this book was a lot of fun to read!

Fahrenheit 451
Fahrenheit 451
by Ray Bradbury
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars Darkly disturbing, engrossing, kept me up past my bedtime, 5 Jan. 2008
This review is from: Fahrenheit 451 (Paperback)
My daughter has received this for the second time now as required reading for school (summer reading requirement). "Oh Mom this book is awful" she said, now for the second time. She read me a paragraph of the book and sure enough, it does sound awful when you read small snippets of the book. This book is not an easy read at all, not because it is overly intellectual -- it's not written very well, sorry Mr. Bradbury -- the author wrote in the afterward, that he wrote it in his early days of writing in various rooms of his house, finally ended up sequestered in his garage. I imagine that if the book was written later in Mr. Bradbury's career, that it would have been written far better than it was -- this is no literary masterpiece, but the concept it contains is a timeless one.

That said, my daughter gave it to me to read and I read it in one sitting, wondering what was going to happen to the main character and how this book would end. This book is about a future society where books are illegal. The government has built a society where simple pleasure is the main goal in life, not meaningful pleasure. People live their lives around TV that takes up entire walls of their homes, no truly educational programming is allowed for the same reason that no books are allowed. The TV in this book creates not just light programming for society, but a family in the wall/screens -- it is mind numbing for that society. People become puppets where they live their lives out in simple ignorance and if you dare question the way things are or attempt to hide any books you are persecuted for it. People are simple minded and unquestioning. Enter Clarissa, the sweet teenage next door neighbor who takes simple pleasure in taking walks, letting the rain fall on her tongue, staying up late in the night actually talking to her family, no TV walls active in her home -- people actually listen to each other. The government is suspicious of her family -- not because they are subversive or publicly questioning society, but because of the way they live and think. Though Clarisse is a character in the book for a very short time, she makes an impact on the main character, Guy the fireman, who envies that she and her family talk to each other, listen to each other, and care so much for each other in a society that only cares about keeping the status quo and not getting in trouble. He begins to question what he is doing, burning books -- not so much because of the book burning itself, but for the lives of the book lovers he wrecks in the process. He begins to wonder what is inside the pages of books that people are willing to die for them and steels one of the books from a home his is destroying. He adds this book to the huge stash of books he has already hidden in the air ducts of his home and actually begins to read them and thus begins his own persecution.

Though this isn't a literary masterpiece, as I said earlier, it is engrossing and very disturbing. The future society created in the pages is a nightmare. The importance of education, reading, and simply caring about your fellow man are the concepts the reader walks away with. I suspect that's the reason it is tirelessly assigned to kids at school.

The Mistletoe and Sword (Coronet Books)
The Mistletoe and Sword (Coronet Books)
by Anya Seton
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

35 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Britain during the time of the Druids & Romans, 5 Jan. 2008
This is a colorful story about the pre-Christian period in Great Britain during the time of Roman domination of the country. It is obviously very well researched. Rich in historical detail, this fictionalized account of the time period depicts some Druid rituals and the country's resistance to Roman rule. It also depicts the view that Rome had that it improved upon the quality of life for citizens of countries they ruled. Not only did Anya Seton write colorfully about the time period, but also wove a bit of mystery, a lot of suspense, as well as a love story. All wrapped up in one, this is a thoroughly satisfying read. I'm keeping my copy forever. Read this, you'll be glad you did!
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 31, 2008 11:47 PM BST

13 Conversations About One Thing [2001] [DVD]
13 Conversations About One Thing [2001] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Matthew McConaughey
Price: £5.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars very thought-provoking, you'll think about this one for many days after, 5 Jan. 2008
Before I saw this movie I noted that Alan Arkin is one of the stars of the movie and made the assumption that there would be some comic relief involved - there is none at all. This is a very serious movie with the main theme being "are you happy" - deadly serious.

The movie opens with a very happy lawyer having won a case celebrating with a drink at a bar. He gets a serious talk from Alan Arkin about luck and happiness. He brushes off Arkin's character and ignores him. He leaves the bar and rides off in his car and accidently hits someone with his car. The person is lying in the street - believing that he has killed the person he drives off in fear of prosecution, but then punishes himself.

Don't worry, I haven't given anything away here - that's how the movie opens. Thus begins the story about happiness, guilt, betrayal, and finally redemption.

All the characters also begin with independent story lines that ultimately tie together in one larger theme and end up with some connection to each other.

This was very well, written, very well acted, all around well done. Be prepared though when you see this, it can be a very depressing movie ... but it's worth your time for sure.

When the Wind Blows
When the Wind Blows
by James Patterson
Edition: Paperback

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You'll want to finish it in one day! Great story, 5 Jan. 2008
This review is from: When the Wind Blows (Paperback)
I've read a few James Patterson books and enjoyed them immensely -- this one is the first I would characterize as a bit of science fiction fantasy. He carries off a science mystery thriller with flair and skill that'll keep you glued to the edge of your seat. I must say this is one of the BEST books I've read by Mr. Patterson.

The main character, Frannie O'Neill, is a veterinarian whose doctor husband was killed a year and a half earlier outside the local hospital/clinic where he worked. More recently, a friend's husband, also a doctor at the same clinic, is brutally murdered as well. Is there a connection? You'll have to read to see the answer. Enter the next character, Kit Harrison, an FBI agent on a mission forbidden by his agency. He's on the trail of a band of rogue scientists who had been carrying on illegal genetic experiments. He suspects they're back at work on those experiments in an instillation hidden somewhere in Colorado. He is also fighting his own demons, the death of his beloved wife and two sons a few years ago. Both Frannie and Kit are committed to their work and struggle to reconcile their pasts with their present. Kit has rented a house Frannie owns and after going over a few stumbling blocks they develop a friendship where finally Frannie feels brave enough to confess something to Kit that she has never told anyone else -- she has seen a little girl with wings and watched her fly away. Soon both Frannie and Kit find the little winged girl again and the evil medical mystery begins.

This novel takes off at break neck speed and never lets up. Though it has a science fiction aspect with it's portrayal of genetic experimentation and the outcome, it still has the classic James Patterson flair we all know and love -- tons of action, murder and mayhem, fast pacing, solid plot, and a story you can sink your teeth into. Don't let this excellent story pass you by. It's a MUST READ that'll keep you glued to the edge of your seat until it's stunning, action packed conclusion!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 20, 2011 9:59 PM GMT

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