Book Review: writercize #18 (A-Z Challenge 2)

Inspiration can come to writers from all different sources - dreams, nature, politics, friendship, history, even blogs.  One source of inspiration that I'm sure most writers share is books and articles written by other authors, especially those they wish to emulate in some way.

Take a moment to reflect on a book that has inspired you with its story or narrator's voice.  What was it that made that a particularly memorable story?

writing exercise:  Write a book review on Amazon about a book you would recommend to other readers.  Please share the link in the comments here so others can learn about the book!  Fiction or nonfiction ok.

(Click "read more" for writercizer sample response.)
writercizer response:

review: The Sixteen Pleasures: A Novel by Robert Hellenga

Hellenga's heroine is so believable as a young woman going through her quarter-life crisis that I found myself flipping back to the cover several times expecting to find that the author was truly a Roberta instead of a Robert.  Based on this book, I would call him one of the most talented male authors in uncovering the nuances of the female psyche.  She puts too much pressure on herself, has too many expectations, doesn't always speak up when she should, wants to save the world, has many doubts and a little naivete'.  It's a lovely mix.

His primary strength though, is the lyrical voice throughout the book.  For example, while the heroine is gazing out the train window jet-lagged, she describes the landscape during a train journey as "flat, gray, poor, dreary, actively ugly rather than passively uninteresting."  

The basis of the story is a woman who travels to Italy at the last minute after the Arno floods in the 1960's to save the books.  As a librarian and lover of books seeking meaning in life, she feels the natural disaster has been her calling, to help the world by saving and restoring the books water- and mud-logged.  Along the way, she find out more about herself, relationships and culture.

I appreciate the true historical reference point; it serves as a great backdrop to the story and gives the story a relatable place and time.

People who love Italy, lyrical historic fiction and mysteries about lost books (a la Carlos Ruiz Zafon, but with more emphasis on the character and her journey rather than the story in the book) will enjoy this read, as will most anyone who enjoys a little romance, history and culture.

I should advise those who do not speak a romance language to read near a computer or translator - the book does include several phrases in French and Italian and does not offer the translation.  I would say there are enough of these phrases (always in Italics) that the full meaning and lyricism of the book could be somewhat compromised by not understanding the English equivalent.

Link to Writercizer's Amazon Review: Lyrical Historic Fiction for Lovers of Italy and Books 

(Please note, though I read this novel 2-3 times and enjoyed it at the time, it has been ~10 years since I last read it so my memory of the details of the story itself are a little hazy, but I absolutely remember loving the structure and historical bits thrown in.  Time to pick it up again...)


  1. I would love to take part in this exercise and I will but I have to wait until after the challenge as I swamped with writing a post a day!

    I'll have to check this book out. I'm amazed that a male author is able to capture the female pysche! If he can do it, why can't all men? Ha! See we aren't that hard to understand :)

  2. Deirdra - thank you so much!!!
    Brianna - indeed. ;) Now, I do have to read it again to make sure my memory does not deceive me, but I remember being very impressed! Can't wait to hear which book you write about. A post a day is a MAJOR challenge, huh?!?


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