Reviews

I invite you read the reviews posted on this page or click on the links. You can find more reviews at the online retail outlets where my books are sold. 

Walking with Elephants

Beth V. Boose for womenwriters.net

...the story is interesting and funny.  The characters are memorable; from David, the old flame (will she? won't she?) and Elliott the flaming homosexual to Suze's best friend Marcia the mattress and arch enemy Wanda the jack-booted thug on the fashion police most wanted list.  But Walking With Elephants shines a light into a dark corner I find myself examining more often than is good for me.

Why do women live the lives we do?  Why do we allow others to place demands on us that are not only virtually impossible but would probably not be reciprocated?  Why do we work all day (like our significant others) and yet still feel responsible for the dust bunnies under the sofa and junior's soccer practice?  found myself silently fuming at Suze for not standing up to her husband, children and boss; but wait -- that's my life! (Well, sort of, I can just imagine the laugh I'd get if my husband rattled off a list of errands for me to run for him).  Walking With Elephants brings to mind the question; can we really have it all? and if so, do we really want it?  But enough of the deep thoughts; Walking With Elephants has all the elements of a good book, with a little slapstick thrown in for effect.

Anne K. Edwards, Reviewer http://www.ebook-reviews.net

Life can spin out of control sometimes. At least that's what Suze Hall learns. She has a husband who seems to be having a small mid-life crisis, three children on the verge of adulthood, and a job she doesn't find rewarding. She doesn't know what to do. Her husband, the person she should be able to discuss things with,is suddenly taken up with a new turn in his career. Her two best friends have also become involved in personal matters and aren't available when she needs them. A man from the past adds to the chaos her life has become. Karen S. Bell has created a believable series of characters with very real problems that will keep you reading. Some of the problems faced by Suze may seem familiar, as though you or someone you know has experienced them. You may have a flash of recognition when she encounters someone or a situation you feel you might know. Suze Hall is a modern, you-can-do-it all woman, whose life has centered in the suburbs where home and job are located. It is a narrow path that has demanded little of her. Suddenly she finds that path has become a maze and she must earn to navigate around the blocks and twists that spring from nowhere.  If you enjoy a good story with well-known characters, you will find this to your liking. Ms. Bell exhibits an understanding of the human personality and what makes it tick. I recommend this as a very enjoyable read.

Here is a review from the Florida Times Union. Click here to read the review online: Book review

The Fiction Forum gives 4 stars. Please read the review
 by clicking on the graphic.

Sunspots

Tahlia Newland Awesome Indies

SUNSPOTS is a moving, beautifully-written mystery about the devastating consequences of obsessive love.

Bell’s elegant prose not only describes the events and scenery of this self destructive love story in riveting detail, but also skillfully evokes the atmosphere both internal and external. The structure of the story is very clever. At the beginning of the book, our empathy is aroused for grieving widow Aurora Goldberg. It appears that she had the perfect marriage to charming Jake, but as the story progresses, we and Aurora discover Jake’s secrets, so shocking to her that she is forced to re-evaluate their love. Through eyes opened by the truth—and helped along by the visions provided by a ghost—she sees that all was not as rosy as she had believed. Not only that, but the legacy he left her could be life-threatening.

Popular fiction tends to romanticise love where one looses themselves in the other, or feels completed by the other, or feels they cannot live or be happy without the other; Sunspots takes this kind of notion to its extreme to show how disempowering an obsession with the object of our love actually is. Obsession not only blinds you, it makes you weak, needy and boring. Your partner is likely to turn elsewhere to get away from your clinging, especially if you end up harping on at him that he never gives you any attention anymore. It’s dangerous to let your whole life revolve around one person, for when they leave you—by death as it is in this case—you are devastated. As the book progresses we come to see how much Aurora has brought her crippling grief upon herself. She literally looses herself in this obsession.

Bell brings a metaphysical element to the story with the addition of Viola Parker, the ghost of the sister of Aurora’s last incarnation. With her help, Aurora sees that this pattern of obsessive love and betrayal by Jake—in his previous incantations—has been repeated in past lifetimes that ended with Aurora’s suicide. Viola urges her to take a different path in this life and cut the cycle of self-destruction.

Bell deals with interesting themes here, that we tend to repeat patterns until we make a conscious effort to change them, that the past can be changed by actions in the present, and that when someone ‘saves’ us with love, in a healthy, balanced relationship we also to some extent ‘save’ them.

Highly recommended to anyone who likes psychological depth in their romance. I give it 5 stars and a place on the Awesome Indies list.

Jessica: Once Upon a Book

Beautifully written and deeply moving, Sunspots is the kind of book that will resonate with readers, especially those who have grieved a loved one, felt betrayed by someone they trusted, or who have lost themselves in their love for another person. Karen S. Bell has a magnificent gift for creating a realistic atmosphere; at times evoking a heartbreaking sadness, and at others the joys of new-found love. This author has a true skill with words that is absolutely beautiful to behold. I loved how the story unfolded and how all of the pieces of the mystery that is Jake Stein fell into place. I was honestly sad when I read the last sentence. I didn’t want it to come to an end. I just cannot praise this book enough. There really isn’t much more I can say about it, except READ IT! READ IT NOW! I guarantee you will not be disappointed.

Delena Silverfox: The Printed Fox

I was actually surprised how much I really did enjoy this book. There was enough from the blurb to let me know what to expect, and I had guessed at Viola Parker's identity (I was close), but what I really loved was the psychological affirmation that we do, indeed, contribute to our own situations much more than we realize.

We have the power to be as happy or as miserable as we choose to make ourselves, even when that choice is subconscious. I see this studying psychology more and more, but seeing it in a romance was probably one of the best examples of putting that concept into action. Ms. Bell did a superb job there.

My heart absolutely ached for Aurora Goldberg. Her pain was so sharp, and even when it struck me as obsessive, it was still really hard to watch her be that much in pain. The obsession made me wonder, at first. But as I learned more about her, I realized it was her defining characteristic and the light bulb came on. "Aha! This is why she chooses her pain! Because she chooses the clingy kind of love." It made my heart hurt even more for her, because I was able to understand her.

She lost so much of herself in her relationship with Jake. It was as if she had become merely an extension of him. Aurora had so many people to help her, and there were times my eyes got a little misty. I've had moments like those, and Ms. Bell captured the feelings --all of them!-- so poignantly.

Definitely  recommended if you're looking for something a little deeper, with painful truth and aching wisdom, yet still enjoyable with characters that you can grow to love.

  © Karen S. Bell 2017