Neither Predictive nor Prescriptive, “The Bestseller Code” is Anything But

Book Review: “The Bestseller Code: Anatomy of the Blockbuster Novel” by Jodie Archer & Matthew L. Jockers, published by St. Martin’s Press, 2016

We’ve all read about studies that made us scratch our heads—research results that told us things we already knew, such as a healthy diet is key to living longer and people who exercise are in better shape than couch potatoes. “The Bestseller Code” is one of those studies. (more…)

Two Chinese-American Novels Redefine the American Dream

(Image courtesy of Penguin Random House)

All the political talk about the place of immigrants in America under the present political climate got me on an immigrant-saga kick in my readings. I was happy to discover two excellent debut novels:  Celeste Ng’s “Everything I Never Told You” and Jade Chang’s “Wangs vs. the World.” (more…)

Jess Row’s “Your Face in Mine”: Would You Change Your Race if You Could?

Image courtesy of Penguin Random House.

Image courtesy of Penguin Random House.

Book Review:  “Your Face in Mine” by Jess Row, published by Riverhead Books, 2014

Would you change your race if you could? In Jess Row’s provocative novel, Martin Lipkin does just that. He undergoes a racial reassignment surgery, changing his looks from white to black. He assumes a new identity and culture as Martin Wilkinson, a successful businessman.   (more…)

Paula Munier’s “Guide to Beginnings”: Why the Opening Can Make or Break Your Novel

writersguidetobeginnings-cindyfazzipicBook Review—“The Writer’s Guide to Beginnings: How to Craft Story Openings that Sell” by Paula Munier, published by Writer’s Digest Books, 2016

The image of an open door graces the cover of Paula Munier’s latest writing book. It’s an invitation to learn and keep an open mind. It also reminds me of the proverbial door being slammed in a novelist’s face. “Competition is fierce—and that’s why your words must be fierce as well,” says Munier. (more…)

Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451” Transcends Science Fiction Genre

Fahrenheit451CoverImage-CindyFazziBook Review: “Fahrenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury, published by Simon and Schuster, 2012 (originally published in 1953)

In the futuristic society depicted in “Fahrenheit 451,” books are illegal and intellectual pursuits are considered dangerous. (more…)

Are You Ready for Rotten Tomatoes for Books?

Books4-CindyFazziPicLiterary Hub (LitHub) wants to be the Rotten Tomatoes for books. It recently launched Book Marks, which aggregates book reviews. Depending on your attitude, this is the latest sign of either our love affair with algorithm or overreliance on it. (more…)

“The Circle” by Dave Eggers is the Satire for Our Times

TheCircleImage-CindyFazziBook Review: “The Circle” by Dave Eggers, published by McSweeney’s, 2013

Imagine an all-encompassing global tech company responsible for creating “one button for the rest of your life online”—integrating and synchronizing all of your activities on the Internet, from shopping and banking to social media and entertainment, and possibly voting, too. The company is called the Circle in this wonderful satire for our tech-crazy, social-media-addicted times. (more…)

Paula Munier’s “Writing with Quiet Hands” Delves Deep Into Effective Writing Practice

Writingwithquiethands-ImageBook Review—“Writing with Quiet Hands: How to Shape and Sell a Compelling Story Through Craft and Artistry” by Paula Munier, published by Writer’s Digest Books, 2015

Writing is many things to many people—a job, a career, a calling, or perhaps a hobby or a fantasy. Paula Munier says writing is so much more. “Writing is nothing less than a path to enlightenment,” she says in this ruminative and inspiring book. And the best writers are those who write with quiet hands, she adds. (more…)

Top 5 Book Reviews: A Popular Writing Book Leads the List

PlotPerfectCoverbyCindyFazziIt’s December—time for year-end roundups. In this article, I’m highlighting the five most popular book reviews posted on this blog. (more…)

“The Girl on the Train” is No Ordinary Commuter in this Excellent Thriller

Girlonthetraincover-CindyFazzipicBook Review: “The Girl on the Train” by Paula Hawkins, published by Riverhead Books, 2015

At first glance, Rachel is just like the thousands of people who ride the train to and from London daily. Anyone who commutes, as I have done for almost a decade traveling from New Jersey to Manhattan and back every day, will appreciate her experience. But, unlike most commuters, Rachel has an enormous emotional and psychological baggage that slowly unravels in this excellent thriller. (more…)