March Book Reviews

Happy April! Time for some reading!

I’m planning to take some time away from the blog to finish up my WIP and spring clean my house. Yeesh. I need a band of house spirits to help with that second task. One of the challenges with a log house, is wiping down each and every dusty log.

Wish me luck.

March book reviews include my 4 and 5 star reads of fantasy, a medical thriller, two poetry collections, a short story, and a Vietnam War memoir.

Click on the covers for Amazon global links.

*****

Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson

I loved The Enchantment of Ravens and looked forward to reading another of Rogerson’s books. Just imagine a fantasy set in a Great Library where books ruffle their pages or grumble or sniff or snap at your clothing as you pass. Some of them are talkative, others love to sing opera, and a few are so wicked they have to be chained and locked in a vault. Imagine a world where demons can be bound as servants and where love tests the limits of evil. Where a haunted sorcerer and librarian’s apprentice join forces to save the world. Oooooh. This book is so magical.

The story is told from the POV of the apprentice. Elizabeth is quite daring, full of energy, genuinely emotional, and mostly fearless. Secondary characters are equally rich with distinct personalities. There’s a lot of humor in the relationships as well as tenderness and a touch of clever banter. The book isn’t a skinny little thing, but the plot moves well, and the story kept me turning pages.

And if that isn’t enough, the writing is beautiful, visual, and evocative. I love the imagery: “As the afternoon shadows deepened, the coach clattered into the Blackwald, the great forest that slashed through the kingdom like the stroke of a knife. Everything grew dark and damp. Here and there among the undergrowth stood shocking white stands of birch trees, like specters floating among the black gowns of a funeral party.”

Highly recommended to fans of fantasy, beautiful writing, and giant libraries full of magical books.

*****

Acts of Convenience by Alex Craigie

The opening of this book got me all riled up! It starts with some political maneuvering that might strike a little close to home depending on where you live. The lives of people are reduced to statistics, and their value is measured based on a cost-benefit analysis. In the case of healthcare, old people are deemed a burden on the system, and the government devises ways to help them into an early grave.

Cassie is a nurse in said healthcare system and doesn’t at first acknowledge that a broader conspiracy is at play. She notices poor care and unfair decisions, but there always seems to be a justification and excuse. Time moves forward, and the situation only gets worse. After 40 years in nursing, she has no choice but to acknowledge that something nefarious is occurring at her hospital. And she can’t let it go.

The story starts in 2017 and extends decades into the future. It becomes completely Cassie’s tale at about the 20% mark, and what a thriller. I had a hard time putting the book down and, over several nights, reading wrestled with my need for sleep. The plot is riveting as Cassie engages with an underground group who is dedicated to the truth and willing to risk their lives. Her secret life puts her at odds with her husband and family, and the danger ratchets up until the final showdown.

The characters are well-rounded and distinct with a full range of emotions. Cassie’s evolving relationships are varied and believable, the dialog natural. I especially liked Cassie and her granddaughter, Seren, and the closeness of their relationship. I also was delighted to read a thriller with an “older” main character. The pace speeds up as the stakes rise. Highly recommended.

*****

The Prince’s Son by Deborah Jay

Deborah Jay can write fantasy. This is the second book in The Five Kingdom series. The story focuses on several main characters: One, Rustam Chalice, who has been ordered by the Prince to escort two young women over the treacherous Tylocian mountains. Two, Nessa Haddo, one of the women who is kidnapped by the barbarian clans and must use her wits and burgeoning magic to escape. And three, Resada, the prince’s wife who is pregnant and conflicted about her life.

This is a long read, almost 500 pages. The worldbuilding is fascinating and politically complex, and it’s easy to see the depth of work that went into crafting it. For most of the book there are three related but independent plots, one for each main character. Despite some page-turning action, the navigation between the multiple storylines does make for a modest pace. The three narratives converge and wrap up well with a few dangling problems for the next book.

The characters are three dimensional and emotionally rich, and all three grow during the book with Nessa making the largest leap. To me, she stole the show in this read, though my heart also ached for Rustam and Resada. Highly recommended for fantasy readers who love an epic story with a lot of depth to the worldbuilding and characters. Start with Book One, The Prince’s Man.

*****

Midnight Haiku by Sue Vincent

I read this lovely collection of 365 haiku over a few days, but honestly it should take a year to fully savor them. For that reason, I plan to read the book again, one poem a day, which is how the author crafted them. The poems loosely follow the seasons. They’re reflections on the beauty and wonder of nature and the passage of time. They explore the mysteries of an ancient landscape and the human connections to sacred places. Some return home to the heart, to the magic and poignancy of love and the mysteries of life. In every sense, I found this a deeply spiritual read. Highly recommended to readers who enjoy haiku, daily inspiration and reflection, and beautiful, thought-provoking imagery. A few favorites:

walk forward in grace
stars have strewn a path of gold
bounded by beauty

from a darkling shore
dreamers can walk on water
a land of light calls.

closer to earth
a child’s eyes sees miracles
we have forgotten

we pass as shadows
ephemeral fallen leaves
on the path of time

*****

Minus One by Elizabeth Merry

Merry describes her collection of poetry as “The Story of a Life” and as I read her poems, I was aware of an underlying and poignant theme of loss—sometimes as a result of death, but also those losses brought about by change, time, growth, and aging. The poems are touching. The imagery digs deep, offering glimpses with carefully chosen details more than telling stories.

The book took about an hour to read, and I used the time to reflect and savor the words. It includes a combination of free-form poetry, haiku, and a selection of photographs to complement the poems. A stand out collection from start to finish, I had a difficult time picking favorites. A few that I highlighted are Minus One, The Red Petticoat, Seascapes, Landscapes, In a Yellow Dress, and Frances. Recommended to readers who enjoy reflective poetry from the heart.

As an example, here is the first stanza of Frances:

Here I will rest
My ashes falling
Into swirls of bog-brown water
In Spring perhaps
The river quiet
And the birds gone mad
My ghost will hover –
A shape in powdered white
Casting chills on my attendants…

*****

Brother’s Keeper by Jan Sikes

This short story touches on the relationship of two brothers, Quentin and Rowdy. For his whole life, Quentin has been his brother’s keeper, but when Rowdy kills a man, what will Quentin do? The story is a quick read, almost a character study, and moves at a speedy clip. The ending left me thinking about the family dysfunction and how it impacted every character and relationship, as well as the choices the two men made and were willing to live with. No one walks away unscathed. A grim tale. Well written and recommended for fans of short stories.

*****

Waiting for Westmoreland by John Maberry

John Maberry’s memoir tracks his life from his childhood in a struggling family through his disillusionment with the Vietnam War, and how that experience compelled him to make a positive difference in the world. That difference came first as an anti-war activist, second through getting a law degree, and finally, through embracing Buddhism and the recognition that change comes from within.

I most appreciated the account of his childhood and his years in the service. I was a child during the Vietnam War and “protected” from much of the grim news by my parents. John provides a personal glimpse into the war, and his account of his experiences, particularly the devaluation of human life, is heart-wrenching. The callousness and corruption of US political and military leadership, is infuriating.

I found the account of the subsequent years of activism and academic pursuits detailed and not quite as engaging, though they are part of his search for belonging and a way to facilitate change. How that search led to an understanding of Buddhism and the role of karma in his choices brings the memoir to a conclusion. I recommend this story to readers who enjoy memoirs and anyone interested in a soldier’s experience of the Vietnam War, the anti-war movement, and the search for wholeness that followed.

Happy Reading!

176 thoughts on “March Book Reviews

  1. Wonderful selection and reviews Diana and they will filter in to the cafe updates in coming weeks..hugs Sally

    Liked by 2 people

  2. MD Nayem says:

    Nice a Book

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Baydreamer says:

    Wonderful reviews, Diana, and all the books sound good, but Acts of Convenience has piqued my interest. Enjoy your break and good luck with that cleaning. 🙂 💗

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks for browsing, Lauren. Acts of Convenience was certainly a page turner. My break is going well. Making steady progress on all fronts. So much dust! Lol. I hope you had a lovely Easter and wish you a beautiful week.

      Like

  4. Mansi says:

    I think your image of blog attracts the most

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Sheri Dye says:

    I wish you luck on your cleaning journey.. Hopefully it won’t be as tedious as it sounds! (Being an adult is hard.) 😳🤭
    Great review and thank you for sharing it with us!

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Wonderful selection of books, Diana. Your reviews are excellent and insightful highlighting the strengths of each book. It’s great to see Sue’s Midnight Haiku and Jan’s Brother’s Keeper here.

    It’s the joy of living in your log house. I don’t know how you clean the logs on the top of the walls though, use a swing, maybe! I wonder if there are some teenagers who look for a spring break job! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Teenagers would be wonderful. But I enlist the aid of the husband and big ladders! Thanks for browsing, Miriam. Lots of fun reads here including Sue’s beautiful book. And Jan’s is an interesting and quick read. 🙂 Have a wonderful weekend.

      Liked by 1 person

      • You’re very lucky to have the best help, Diana! I had a good time walking with a friend for two miles in the afternoon. She usually walks about three miles, but two miles is the most I could walk.
        A wonderful weekend to you! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Alex Tafur says:

    Creadors is a lovely community

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Vashti Q says:

    Awesome collection of books, Diana! I was curious about a few of these. Thanks for sharing these fabulous reviews. Congrats to all the authors! 😀

    Liked by 3 people

  9. CarolCooks2 says:

    Your reviews always inspire me…I am a big fan of fantasy and they are calling me I mean that library…It must have been difficult reviewing Sue’s book knowing she won’t be reading it but it will serve to keep her memory alive in our hearts…Good Luck with the cleaning the sunshine always shows the dust fairies as they dance across the glass shelves…Happy Easter, Diana x

    Liked by 3 people

    • Some great fantasy here, Carol. Sorcery of Thorns with its Great Library of living books is awesome. Sue got to read the review, but it was still a poignant experience adding it to my month-end wrap up. Our little community lost a lovely person. Yes, I’ve started cleaning… little by little! Happy April.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Jan Sikes says:

    Oh, and I forgot to comment on Sue’s “Midnight Haiku” book. It is a true treasure and I’m finding inspiration on every page!

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Jan Sikes says:

    I am beyond honored to have “Brother’s Keeper” thrown into this mix with such amazing authors! Thank you, Diana!

    Liked by 3 people

  12. Bikshya says:

    Interesting books. The haikus are beautiful 🧡 and have been hearing great things about a sorcery of thorns. Have to read that one soon

    Liked by 3 people

  13. Annika Perry says:

    Diana, kudos to you for reading and reviewing all these books and congratulations to all the authors! (Words tinged with sadness at the passing of Sue this week.) I’ve ordered Sue’s book and look forward to soaking up her haikus – I have a feeling this will become a favourite on my bedside table. The examples you give here are wonderful and I’m particularly taken with :
    ‘we pass as shadows
    ephemeral fallen leaves
    on the path of time.’ Wow!

    As for the rest, you spoil us. You’ve got me seriously into fantasy and with one set in a magical library – how can I resist!

    Have fun with sprucing up the house and good luck with your WIP! Happy Easter, Diana! xx

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks for the visit, Annika. Sue’s book of 365 haikus would make a wonderful daily read to start or close the day. Very sad over here, but she leaves us a beautiful legacy on so many levels. And Sorcery of Thorns is magical. I think you’ll fall in love with the Great Library. Happy Reading, my friend. And Happy Easter.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Teri Polen says:

    Wonderful reviews, Diana! I’ve seen nothing but positive reviews for the Rogerson book, but I haven’t gotten to it yet. If you can spare any house spirits, send them my way. I’m tackling spring cleaning today and not looking forward to it. I usually listen to a book or music to make it more bearable. Have a great weekend!

    Liked by 5 people

    • Rogerson is amazing and the books are full of wonderful magic, Teri. I really enjoyed Enchantment of Ravens too. And you’re spring cleaning in one day?? I’m so jealous. I need a month! Ha ha. Put out snacks at night to entice those house spirits into helping out. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  15. ayushsharma8 says:

    Thanks for sharing….👏👏👏👏👏

    Like

  16. Have a good break. It is rather poignant to see Sue Vincent’s work included.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks so much for the visit and comment, Derrick. It was poignant pulling this together too, knowing that Sue wouldn’t be reading it. It’s been a tough few days. I appreciate the visit and wish you a wonderful April in your garden. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  17. arlene says:

    Hello Diana. Love your reviews.

    Liked by 4 people

  18. petespringerauthor says:

    I’m just finishing one of Alex’s books right now. (Someone Close to Home) It’s been an engaging read.

    Liked by 4 people

  19. hsampson says:

    Good luck with the logs D!

    Liked by 4 people

  20. Nice reviews, Diana! Grabbed a copy of ‘Brother’s Keeper.’ Thanks! 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

  21. Toni Pike says:

    More wonderful reviews, Diana – your reading is an example to us all. Toni x

    Liked by 4 people

  22. acflory says:

    Wonderful reviews, Diana. I’ve read the Prince’s Son and thoroughly enjoyed it, and I will read Sue Vincent’s poetry. She has left us a glorious body of work to remember her by. Huge hugs and commiserations on the cleaning. And as it’s Easter Friday here already, Happy Easter.

    Liked by 5 people

  23. I think I’m in the mood for the poetry. The books sound contemplative and calming

    Liked by 3 people

  24. Have to say, Diane, I love the grumbling books snapping at your clothes when you walk by. I think I hear mine whisper on occasion, “Pick me up and read me again.” Sometimes I do.
    Good luck with spring cleaning! –Curt

    Liked by 4 people

  25. Wonderful reviews Diana and especially Sue’s which I will take to heart and is in my cart. Thank you again for the introduction to her. It was such a gift to experience her heart and beautiful writing in the short time I got to know her.
    Good luck with the cleaning and glad you’ll take a much needed break. Oh yes, I had a log cabin for 15 years and it is no easy feat. happy spring! 💖💖💖

    Liked by 3 people

  26. Deborah Jay says:

    Thanks for including Prince’s Son in this post chock-full of wonderful books – I am in awe at your reading capacity alongside your writing!

    Liked by 4 people

    • Thanks, Deborah, and my pleasure to include your book! Your writing is wonderfully polished. I figured out how to make my phone read to me, which doubles my reading time (I can “read” while folding laundry). Lol. Thanks for taking a peek at the reviews. Happy April.

      Liked by 2 people

  27. […] Get the rest of the post from Diana Peach here. […]

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  28. Good reviews! I have been trying to read more poetry lately, so I’m interested to see two poetry collections in your list. Off to check them out…

    Liked by 5 people

  29. A lovely collection of reads, Diana. Interestingly enough, I have also read Minus One and Sue’s lovely book this month. I will share my review of Sue’s book soon. I am still getting over her passing this week. It always takes me time to digest pain and loss. Alex’s book sounds fascinating and I’ve added it to my TBR.

    Liked by 4 people

    • It was strange pulling together this post with her book, knowing Sue wouldn’t see it. It’s been a very difficult few days for me too, Robbie. That’s okay. She leaves a big hole in the world. And I think you’ll enjoy Alex’s book. She writes a great thriller. Thanks for the visit and Happy Reading.

      Liked by 2 people

  30. You’ve given me an appreciation for fantasy, so Sorcery of Thrones is tempting me 🙂
    Wonderful reviews, Diana.
    My theory is to keep the inside of the house dark and cozy, that way you won’t see the dust! lol

    Liked by 6 people

    • LOL. I like the method to your house-keeping madness, Jacquie. We are way beyond hiding in the dark here, though. I have to clean. Ha ha. Rogerson is wonderful. Her book the Enchantment of Ravens is spectacular (I don’t know which I enjoyed more). Happy Reading!

      Liked by 3 people

  31. That’s a beautiful poem of Sue’s. Feels like she’s still reaching out to us.

    Liked by 5 people

  32. joycemaryj says:

    Acts of convenience seems to be a quite interesting one. I think I would really love to read it.

    Have fun with Spring house cleaning 🙊 and see you soon.

    Liked by 6 people

  33. balroop2013 says:

    As usual, your review are inspiring Diana. Wishing you all the best for completing your WIP and spring cleaning. A good combination. 🙂

    Liked by 5 people

    • Thanks for browsing, Balroop. I’m feeling a little worn out these days and need a little time to regroup and refresh and see to some tasks that have been tapping on my shoulder for a year! Thanks for stopping by and Happy Reading! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  34. John Maberry says:

    Reblogged this on John Maberry's Writing and commented:
    Some wonderful, solid reviews from a great writer.

    Liked by 5 people

  35. Enjoy your break, Diana! A log house, how cool, but I understand your work is cut out for you. Getting situated in our new home with dirt for a yard means lots of floor sweeping as we move boxes and furniture. Take care!

    Liked by 5 people

  36. John Maberry says:

    Thanks for all the great reviews of intriguing readings–and for including your review of Waiting for Westmoreland!

    Liked by 5 people

    • Your welcome, John. I just discovered that I hadn’t shared my review of your book in January, and made myself a note to include it. It was well worth the read and I hope you find a few fans here. Thanks for browsing and Happy Reading!

      Liked by 2 people

  37. alexcraigie says:

    Now that I’ve stopped bouncing off the walls with delight, I’ve read all of these reviews and I’m afraid my Kindle’s in for another stretching. I already have one of Deborah’s to read, and I finished reading Sue’s beautiful book two days ago but will write a review when I feel less sad about her no longer being with us.
    Good luck with the spring cleaning – at least you’ll be able to see where you’ve been. Our house looks like Miss Havisham’s at the moment…

    Liked by 4 people

  38. alexcraigie says:

    To say I’m thrilled by your review of Acts of Convenience would be understating things! Thank you so much for taking the time to read the book and then even more time to write such a perfect review of it. xx

    Liked by 7 people

  39. D.L. Finn, Author says:

    Great reviews and list of books, Diana 🙂 I’ve read a couple and agree they were good reads. I found one to add to my TBR list, but they all sound good. Happy reading xo

    Liked by 5 people

  40. What a list, Diana! I’ve read some, read most of the authors, should get every one of these in my TBR pile.

    BTW, if you need early readers for your next book, let me know.

    Liked by 6 people

  41. Tessa says:

    Sorcery of Thorns sounds wonderful! Hope your time away is productive. Logs must be dusted every now and again (that sounds like it should be a metaphor for something. lol)

    Liked by 6 people

    • LOL. Dusting logs is a cautionary tale about romantic ideas of any sort, Tessa. There’s a bit of work to every undertaking. 🙂 And Sorcery of Thorns was wonderful. So very creative and beautifully written. Thanks for checking out the reviews and Happy April!

      Liked by 2 people

  42. Marcia says:

    Absolutely wonderful to see friends of mine featured here today, Diana! I agree 100% on Deborah Jay’s fantastic series, and though I haven’t read Alex Craigie’s Acts of Convenience yet, I know her to be a very good writer, as well as a dear friend. I’m looking forward to reading Jan’s short story, too, and always happy to add new authors to my list. SUPER selection. THANKS! 🙂

    Liked by 7 people

  43. I enjoyed your reviews, Diana. Thanks for sharing them.

    Liked by 4 people

  44. A couple of these caught my attention. Thanks Diana. Enjoy your time away. Maybe the muses will cooperate or give them cleaning duties!

    Liked by 4 people

  45. noelleg44 says:

    Great reviews, Diana. Sue’s midnight haikus were always a joy to greet me in the morning! Sorcery of Thorns sounds intriguing but who wouldn’t like talking books!
    April has arrived with high winds (March apparently didn’t provide enough) and cold temps. But we have flowers and leaves are beginning to emerge.
    We thought about having a log home – but this one, with all the construction, requires twice-weekly dusting and vacuuming – good exercise but boring. Find some fun with yours!

    Liked by 6 people

    • Thanks for dropping by to browse, Noelle. I did enjoy the library full of books with such personality. Ha ha. And Sue’s book is lovely. Her passing has made for a sad week. Enjoy your blustery spring. It will warm up soon. Happy Reading!

      Liked by 3 people

  46. All the best with the spring cleaning will miss you Diana, on our WP and your beautiful and profound reviews of lovely book collections. Good reviews sounds very interesting.

    Liked by 4 people

  47. Boy, March sure passed quickly. Thanks for the great reviews, Diana. Looks like some good ones!

    Liked by 5 people

  48. More interesting suggestions to add to the TBR pile. Good luck with the WIP and the spring cleaning. Two huge tasks!

    Liked by 6 people

  49. Staci Troilo says:

    Excellent selections and thoughtful reviews. Thanks for sharing.

    And if you find any of those house spirits, please send them my way when you’re done with them. 😉

    Liked by 6 people

    • Ha ha ha. Thanks for browsing, Staci. Regarding those house spirits, I have to start leaving them snacks at night to win their favor. 🙂 The lofty cobwebs and lowly dust bunnies are out of control! Happy Reading!

      Liked by 3 people

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