Book reviews |

Book reviews


By Maura Winton-Bojorquez

With all the ruckus about James Frey’s ” A Million Little Pieces,” a memoir about his drug addiction that was proved to be fraught with fiction, “Godspeak,” by Grass Valley resident Maura Winton-Bojorquez, is the real deal.

How do I know? Because the author has not been shy about her lifetime of heroin addiction – beginning when she was 17 years old. Now in her 50s, she is active in Nevada County’s recovery community and a mentor to other addicts trying to get off drugs. Like many addicts, she started with alcohol as a child and later graduated to cocaine and heroin.

Her stories of living in a truck with her then-husband Marion, with little to do but think about where, when and how to get the next fix, are decidedly not glamorous. When sharing needles with other addicts resulted in her HIV-positive status, she soldiered on with her drug use. It became a vicious circle as the drug lifestyle was almost the only one she knew.

When Marion’s liver failed and he died, she spent his $21,000 death benefit on drugs. The spiral continued downward.

Although Maura had been raised in a religious home, the God she knew hadn’t been helping her.

So Maura, sick with drug use and dying from AIDS, ended up in a San Jose jail where the other inmates called her the “walking dead lady.” After jail, Maura ended up in a residential treatment facility. Deprived of the drugs that formerly fueled her, she began to come out of her fog. One day she discovered she could even begin to read.

She had one relapse 13 months later but now boasts of more than four years of clean and sober living. It is a miracle she credits to God and the “living angels” who helped her regain a life.

“I had to learn how to cleanse and bare my soul to God and another human being, using the 12 steps of recovery and always putting my recovery first,” she says in “Godspeak.”

“Godspeak” is published by and will be released March 27. In April, it will be available at, Borders, and Barnes and Noble. Its ISBN # is 1-4241-1018-1. If you want to reach Maura, her e-mail is

“Hat Trick”

By Lisa Kusel

Nevada City resident Lisa Kusel’s second book, “Hat Trick,” revolves around that timeless theme of relationships and how they fade and change as we age.

She has a keen ear for subtleties and nuances in conversation, as well as in relationships, which gives her novel the richness and depth to make you care about the three central characters, Mona, Hannah and Peter.

Her descriptions of the tepid, but serviceable, relationship between Hannah and Lucas early in the book conjure up every relationship you’ve ever been in which should have been perfect, but wasn’t.

“She did love him. He was kind. Honest. Certainly devoted. But with Lucas she knew there would never be any frenzy or fire, just warmth. Was that enough?”

The novel takes place when Mona, Hannah and Peter are in their 30s. The two women were best friends in high school until they both fell for the same guy – Peter. The power of a first love who comes between two girlfriends results in losses all around and wounds that burst open more than a decade later.

The themes of three in the book relate back to its title, “Hat Trick,” which means the scoring of three goals in one game by a single player or a succession of three victories, successes or related accomplishments.

There are surprises and twists in “Hat Trick” that I don’t want to spoil for you, but as the secrets slowly unfolded and came together, I could hardly wait to return to its pages each evening. Kusel made me care about the richly drawn characters, who were likable partly because they weren’t perfect – or sometimes even nice.

You will relate to the sense of place as the book ends in East Africa with smatterings of New York and California along the way. In a totally Nevada County moment, Kusel thanks yoga teacher Katie Carter in the book’s acknowledgments.

Kusel’s writing is crisp and bright with a level of detail that pulls the reader into the story. Oftentimes, books with fabulous writing tend to lag in the story line, but that is not the case here. Kusel is clearly a talent who can honestly call herself a wordsmith, praise she rightfully deserves.

– Dixie Redfearn, The Union’s readership editor, reviewed both books.

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