by St. Augustine
You're a sinner, you're a saint, you do not feel ashamed. Well, you
might feel a little ashamed of your past, but it did such a good job of teaching you
what not to do. Now you've become a devout Christian and have spent more time
ruminating on the world to come rather than worldly pleasures. Your realizations and
ability to change will bring reverence upon you despite your hedonistic transgressions.
Florida will honor you most in the end.
Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.
Sunday, May 31, 2009
I read 14 books for a total of 3881 pages. This brings me to 63 books for the year. If someone would have told me in January that I would have read this many books so far, I would have never believed them!
- Fire Me by Libby Malin
- Dear Mom by Melody Carlson
- Madewell Brown by Rick Collignon
- Mama's Got a Fake I.D. by Caryn Dahlstrand Rivadeneira
- Always Watching by Brandilyn and Amberly Collins
- The Lake That Stole Children by Douglas Glenn Clark
- The Four Corners of the Sky by Michael Malone
- Pleasure Unbound by Larissa Ione
- Frenchman's Creek by Daphne du Maurier
- Why Shoot a Butler? by Georgette Heyer
- A Girl's Guide to Modern European Philosophy by Charlotte Grieg
- The Convenient Marriage by Georgette Heyer
- Thimble Summer by Elizabeth Enright (review pending)
- What the Dead Know by Laura Lippman (review pending)
Least favorite was probably The Lake That Stole Children - this was sort of a fable type book and not really my cup of tea.
There were two challenges that ended this month:
The Book Awards II - I finished 2 books short of the 10 I needed.
The Unshelved Reading Challenge - I did get 1 book of 3 started, but did not get it finished - so we are going to chuck this one!
My other challenges are shaping up like this:
|Daring Book for Girls||4/9|
|Themed Reading Challenge||0/4(-6)|
|The Countdown Challenge||29/45|
|Series Challenge Season 3||3|
|9 Books from '09||7/9|
|100+ Reading Challenge||63/100|
|18th and 19th Century Women Writers||0/4|
|2009 ARC Reading Challenge||49|
|2009 Chick Lit Challenge||23/10|
|2009 Pub Challenge||20/9|
|2009 Suspense and Thriller Reading Challenge||8/12|
|A to Z Challenge (authors)||18/26|
|A to Z Challenge (titles)||19/26|
|Art History Reading Challenge||0/6|
|Celebrate the Author challenge||3/12|
|Centuries Reading Challenge||2/4|
|Colorful Reading Challenge||2/9|
|Dewey's Books Reading Challenge||1/6|
|New Author Challenge||50/50|
|Read Your Name Challenge||14/19|
|Romance Reading Challenge||15/5|
|Science Book Challenge||1/3|
|Serial Readers Challenge||10|
|Support Your Local Library||14/50|
|What's in a Name||5/6|
|World War II Challenge||0/5|
|5 Under 35||0|
A few of these I have finished, but I haven't had time to write the wrap ups!
Ok - time to put May behind me and start on June - I will be driving to and from my mom's house this month (about 7 hours one way) so I hope to get some audio books listened to! I will have my 4 year old with me so not sure if I will really get to listen to them or not! I hope to be able to get some extra reading done at my mom's though!
- Holly's Inbox by Holly Denham
- Miranda's Big Mistake by Jill Mansell
- Last Night in Montreal by Emily St. John Mandel
- April and Oliver by Tess Callahan
- Living a Charmed Life by Victoria Moran
- Nothing but Trouble by Susan May Warren
- The Unit by Ninni Holmquist
- Beach Trip by Cathy Holton
- 20 Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler
- Secrets to Happiness by Sarah Dunn
- Scared by Tom Davis
- You Make Me Feel Like Dancing by Allison Bottke
- A Short History of Women by Kate Walbert
- Cousin Kate by Georgette Heyer
- The Disappearance of Irene Dos Santos by Margaret Mascarenhas
- Surviving High Society by Elizabeth Marvin Mulholland
- Ms. Taken Identity by Dan Begley
- The King's Legacy by Jim Stovall
- Talking to the Dead by Bonnie Grove
- Wildcard by Robin Shope
- The Texicans by Nina Vida
- Live Deeply by Lenya Heitzig and Penny Rose
- Live Relationally by Lenya Heitzig and Penny Rose
- Swimsuit by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro
- The Devlin Diaries by Christi Phillips
- How to Raise a Modern Day Joseph by Linda Massey Weddle
- Any Minute by Joyce Meyer and Deb Bedford
- One Scream Away by Kate Brady
- Tamed by a Laird by Amanda Scott
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
- Cemetery Dance by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child
- The Scarecrow by Michael Connelly
- Secret Speech by Tom Rob Smith
To Beguile a Beast - 5 copies (ends June 5)
One Deadly Sin - 5 copies (ends June 5)
Bound to Please - 5 copies (ends June 5)
The Scarecrow audiobook - 3 copies (ends June 15)
Cemetery Dance audiobook - 3 copies (ends June 15)
The Secret Speech audiobook - 3 copies (ends June 15)
The Way Home audiobook - 3 copies (ends June 15)
The Night Watchman - 1 copy (ends June 16)
Stealing Home (June 1 - June 22)
I will probably also give away some of my gently read ARC's if no other giveaways enter my horizon.
Have a great reading month and enjoy the weather!!!!
- Never Let Me Go by Kazua Ishiguro (Alex Award)
- Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen (Alex Award)
- From the Mixed up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg (Newbery Award)
- The Road by Cormac McCarthy (Bookseller's Award)
- Holes by Louis Sachar (Newbery Award)
- The House on Mango Street by Hannah Cisneros (American Book Awards)
- What the Dead Know by Laura Lippman (Quill Award) - Review not yet written
- Thimble Summer by Elizabeth Enright (Newbery Award) - Review not yet written
My least favorite was The House on Mango Street - but only because I am not a fan of short stories.
Mailbox Monday hosted at The Printed Page or In Your Mailbox at The Story Siren. Please stop by those posts and take a look at what packages everybody else got this week! Don't forget to check out my giveaways! I missed doing this post the last couple of weeks, so I am going to start again, it is just going to take a different format for me.
1. Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin (Goodreads win)
2. Critical Care by Candace Calvert (for First Wild Card Tour)
3. The Crying Tree by Naseem Rakha (from Broadway Books/Shelf Awareness)
4. Sweeping up Glass by Carolyn Wall (from Delta/Shelf Awareness)
5. The Last Ember by Daniel Levin (from Penguin/Shelf Awareness)
6. Dragon House by John Shors (from John Shors)
7. The Texicans by Nina Vida (from Nina Vida)
1. Austenland by Shannon Hale
2. One Deadly Sin by Annie Solomon
3. Willing Spirits by Phyllis Schieber
1. Reader's Digest containing The Lucky Ones by Nicholas Sparks, The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch, Envy the Night by Michael Koryta, and A Foreign Affair by Caro Peacock
1. A whole slew of 17 books from garage sales.
The Morning After by Lisa Jackson
Darker by Simon Clark
Secret Prey by John Sanford
Midnight Voices by John Saul
Without Pity by Ann Rule
Traitor's Gate by Anne Perry
Whisper of Evil by Kay Hooper
Haunted by Heather Graham
Bedford Square by Anne Perry
Dear Emily by Fern Michaels
Running Blind by Lee Child
Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
M is for Malice by Sue Grafton
The Daring Book for Girls
Machines at Work (board book) by Byron Barton
Where the Heart Is by Billie Letts
Body of Lies by Iris Johansen
I won this book from Jenn at Jenn's Bookshelf. She was lucky enough to get to go to the BEA and has some great updates posted about the trip!
About the book: Both teachers in their forties, Jane Hoffman and Gwen Baker have a friendship that has helped them endure. It was Jane who looked after Gwen when her husband left her with two young sons to raise. And when Jane comes home one day unexpectedly and finds her husband in a shameless act of betrayal, she turns to Gwen for support.
Now, tested by additional personal crises, Jane and Gwen face new challenges as mothers, as daughters, as women. And in the process, they will learn unexpected truths about their friendship and themselves.
About the author: The first great irony of Phyllis Schieber’s life was that she was born in a Catholic hospital. Her parents, survivors of the Holocaust, had settled in the South Bronx among other new immigrants. The new mother was apparently so nervous she barely slept the entire time she was in the hospital, fearing her fair-skinned, blue-eyed newborn would be switched with another baby.
When Phyllis’s paternal grandfather, an observant Jew, came to see his newest granddaughter in the hospital, he was so uncertain of how to behave around the kindly nuns that he tipped his yarmulke to them each time one passed. It was in this haze of paranoia and neuroses, as well as black humor, that the makings of a writer were launched.
In the mid-Fifties, the Schieber family moved to Washington Heights, an Upper West Side enclave for German Jews, known as “Frankfurt-on-the-Hudson.” The area offered scenic views of the Hudson River and the Palisades, as well as access to Fort Tryon Park and to the cool and serene corridors of the Cloisters. Phyllis graduated from George Washington High School. Among its famous graduates was Henry Kissinger, former US Secretary of State (her grandmother played cards with his mother at the YMWHA on Nagle Avenue). By the Sixties, it was also the school where an undercover reporter was sent in to see how long it would take to buy drugs. The reporter succeeded the first day.
Phyllis graduated from high school at sixteen, went on to Bronx Community College, transferred to and graduated from Herbert H. Lehman College with a B.A. in English and a New York State license to teach English. She earned her M.A. in Literature from New York University and later her M.S. as a developmental specialist from Yeshiva University. She has worked as a high school English teacher and a special education teacher. She taught freshman composition at Iona College in New Rochelle and was a learning disabilities specialist at Seton College in Yonkers and Mercy College in Dobbs Ferry.
Reading was always easy for her, both as an indulgence and as an escape. “I’m reading,” was an excuse her parents never challenged. Learning was paramount in their home. There were weekly trips to the library, and the greatly anticipated Friday afternoon story hour. Everything about words was at once mysterious and reasonable to Phyllis. She could make sense of the world if she put it on paper. She could even make the world better; people could become smarter and more attractive, and she could make them laugh and cry at her will. Writing was powerful. She thought in stories, answered questions in her head and added, “she said” at the end of the sentence. She still does.
Her first novel, Strictly Personal, for young adults, was published by Fawcett-Juniper. Willing Spirits was published by William Morrow. Her most recent novel, The Sinner’s Guide to Confession, will be published by Berkley Putnam on July 1, 2008. Shortly thereafter, Berkley Putnam will issue the first paperback publication of Willing Spirits.
Married and a mother, Phyllis Schieber lives in Hastings-on Hudson, New York. She works privately with students, teaching writing, and is currently working on a new novel. (author's information is from her website)
Publisher/Publication Date: Penguin, March 2009
Publisher: Soho Press
I received this book directly from the author, Nina Vida. Thanks Nina!
About the book: It's 1843, San Antonio, the Republic of Texas. Mexican-born Aurelia Ruiz finds that she may have the power to heal-as well as to curse. She definitely has the power to attract men. Willie Barnett, a young Texas ranger, becomes infatuated with her. Her father sells her to him but insists on a wedding. To the other rangers such a marriage is anathema. When Barnett is killed by Native Americans, pregnant Aurelia finds shelter in a Comanche camp.
Joseph Kimmel, a teacher in Independence, Missouri, and son of a Polish Jew, receives word of the death of his brother in San Antonio and sets off for Texas. On the way, his horse is stolen by a runaway slave. Rescued by Henry Castro, who is importing immigrants to populate his planned city, Joseph agrees to marry an Alsatian girl to save her from the Comanches, and they go forth to start their own ranch.
Then Joseph meets and is enthralled by Aurelia. When the Texas rangers hear of the Kimmel ranch, where runaway slaves and a Mexican woman live as equals with the owner and his wife, they lynch the black men and kidnap the women and children. To his wife's consternation, Joseph cannot forget Aurelia.
About the author: Nina Vida is the author of six previous novels: Scam (Macmillan, 1984), Return from Darkness (Warner, 1986), Maximillian's Garden (Bantam, 1990), Goodbye Saigon (Crown, 1994), Between Sisters (Crown, 1996), and The End of Marriage (S&S, 2002). She lives with her husband in Huntington Beach, California.
Publisher/Publication Date: Soho Press, October 2006
I received this ARC directly from the author, John Shors. Thanks John!
About the book: Set in modern-day Vietnam, Dragon House tells the tale of Iris and Noah—two Americans who, as a way of healing their own painful pasts, open a center to house and educate Vietnamese street children.
Iris and Noah find themselves reborn in an exotic land filled with corruption and chaos, sacrifice and beauty. Inspired by the street children she meets, Iris walks in the footsteps of her father, a man whom Vietnam both shattered and saved. Meanwhile, Noah slowly rediscovers himself through the eyes of an unexpected companion.
Resounding with powerful themes of suffering, sacrifice, friendship, and love, Dragon House brings together East and West, war and peace; and celebrates the resilience of the human spirit.
About the author: After graduating from Colorado College, John Shors lived for several years in Kyoto, Japan, where he taught English. On a shoestring budget, he later trekked across Asia, visiting ten countries and climbing the Himalayas. After returning to the United States, he became a newspaper reporter in his hometown, Des Moines, Iowa, winning several statewide awards in journalism. John then moved to Boulder, Colorado, and helped launch GroundFloor Media, now one of the state’s largest public relations firms.
John has been lucky enough to spend much of his life abroad, traveling in Asia, the South Pacific, Europe, Africa, and North America. Now a full-time novelist, John spends his days writing and going on family outings with his wife, Allison, and their two young children, Sophie and Jack.
John’s first two novels, Beneath a Marble Sky and Beside a Burning Sea, have won multiple awards, and have been translated into more than twenty languages.
Title: The Convenient Marriage
Author: Georgette Heyer
Publisher/Publication Date: Sourcebooks, February 2009 (original publication date 1934)
Genre: Regency Romance
First sentence: Lady Winwood being denied, the morning caller inquired with some anxiety for Miss Winwood, or, in fact, for any of the young ladies.
About the book: Horatia Winwood is simply helping her family. When the Earl of Rule proposes marriage to her sister Lizzie, Horatia offers herself instead. Her sister is already in love with someone else, and Horatia is willing to sacrifice herself for her family's happiness. Everyone knows she's no beauty, but she'll do her best to keep out of the Earl's way and make him a good wife. And then the Earl's archenemy, Sir Robert, sets out to ruin her reputation. . .
The Earl of Rule has found just the wife he wants. Unbeknownst to Horatia, the Earl is enchanted by her. There's simply no way he's going to let her get into trouble. Overcoming some misguided help from Horatia's harebrained brother and a hired highwayman, the Earl routs his old enemy, and wins over his young wife, gifting her with a love that she never thought she could expect.
My review: Ok, I am officially a Georgette Heyer fan. I admit that I did not like the mystery that I read, Why Shoot a Butler? - but I am not really a big fan of that genre as a whole. This one, on the other hand, was delightful. The characters were charming and at times a little outrageous - especially for the time period. Like in the very beginning when Horatia takes it upon herself to visit Lord Rule and ask him to marry her in place of her sister Lizzie. And of course, she does all this behind her family's back. Horry proceeds to become the Earl's wife and quickly becomes the toast of the town. She is burdened with a stammer and I got the impression that as the youngest Winwood she was not always taken seriously. Once she becomes a wife, and a wealthy one at that, she lets nothing stand in her way to do whatever she feels she wants to - including catching the eye of Lord Lethbridge. I believe she pursues him only because everyone warns her to stay away from him - and he uses her as a pawn because of his dislike of the Earl. If you are a fan of Jane Austen type romances - and haven't yet tried Georgette Heyer - pick this one up soon. Sourcebooks is reissuing a slew of Georgette Heyer books - mysteries, romances and historical fiction. A whole new generation will be able to appreciate these works!
The Convenient Marriage
Publisher/Publication Date: Sourcebooks, February 2009
Author: Charlotte Greig
Publisher/Publication Date: Other Press, LLC/May 2009
First sentence: I woke up late that morning.
About the book: Susannah’s official boyfriend, Jason, is the perfect foil for her student lifestyle. He is ten years older, an antiques dealer, and owns a stylish apartment that prevents her from having to live in the seedy digs on campus. This way, she can take her philosophy major very seriously and dabble in the social and sexual freedom of 1970s university life. But circumstances become more complicated than Susannah would like when she begins to have an affair with her tutorial partner, Rob. Soon she is dating two men, missing her lectures, exploring independence and feminism with her girlfriends, and finding herself in a particularly impossible dilemma: she becomes pregnant. Forced to look beyond her friends and lovers for support, she finds help and inspiration from the lessons of Kierkegaard and other European philosophers. A Girl’s Guide to Modern European Philosophy is a delightfully insightful, bittersweet coming-of-age romp, in which love is far from platonic and the mind—body predicament a pressing reality. It even succeeds where many introductions to philosophy have failed, by effortlessly bringing to life the central tenets of the most important European philosophers of modern times. (from the book cover)
My review: I really enjoyed reading this book. The book was set in the 1970's - and even though the date is never mentioned, there are many clues regarding fashion, cars, etc, that lead you to the time frame. Susannah is very engaging and she drew me in immediately. Even though she did not want to live on campus and be a normal student, she seemed to crave the quiet that she found when she stayed at her friend's empty dorm room. It was almost like she was still a little girl who seemed to think she was supposed to be an adult, but didn't know how to get there. (I guess that is why they call it a coming-of-age book. . .) It was excellent in that regard. I wanted to shake her at times when I felt that instead of taking control of her life, she was letting it just sort of happen to her. Don't be intimidated by the European philosophers that they mention. The book is divided into sections depending on the philosophers that she is studying in her philosophy class. It does a nice time laying out what they believe and how she tries to apply these belief systems to her current situations. So not only do you get an entertaining read, but you also pick up some knowledge at the same time.
About the author: Charlotte Greig worked as a music journalist in print and radio before becoming a folk singer and songwriter. She has made five albums and written a book on girl groups, Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?: Girl Groups from the 50s On. She is also a playwright, for radio and stage. She lives in Cardiff, Wales, U.K., with her family. A Girl’s Guide to Modern European Philosophy is her first novel.
A Girl's Guide to Modern European Philosophy
Publisher/Publication Date: Other Press, LLC, May 2009
Devourer of Books
Friday, May 29, 2009
I found this book this week over at Sharon Loves Books and Cats.
An electrifying story of science, faith, love, and self-destruction in a world on the brink.
It is a June unlike any other before, with temperatures soaring to asphyxiating heights. All across the world, freak weather patterns—and the life-shattering catastrophes they entail—have become the norm. The twenty-first century has entered a new phase.
But Gabrielle Fox’s main concern is a personal one: to rebuild her life after a devastating car accident that has left her disconnected from the world, a prisoner of her own guilt and grief. Determined to make a fresh start, and shake off memories of her wrecked past, she leaves London for a temporary posting as an art therapist at Oxsmith Adolescent Secure Psychiatric Hospital, home to one hundred of the most dangerous children in the country. Among them: the teenage killer Bethany Krall.
Despite two years of therapy, Bethany is in no way rehabilitated and remains militantly nonchalant about the bloody, brutal death she inflicted on her mother. Raised in evangelistic hellfire, the teenager is violent, caustic, unruly, and cruelly intuitive. She is also insistent that her electroshock treatments enable her to foresee natural disasters—a claim which Gabrielle interprets as a symptom of doomsday delusion.
But as Gabrielle delves further into Bethany’s psyche, she begins to note alarming parallels between her patient’s paranoid disaster fantasies and actual incidents of geological and meteorological upheaval—coincidences her professionalism tells her to ignore but that her heart cannot. When a brilliant physicist enters the equation, the disruptive tension mounts—and the stakes multiply. Is the self-proclaimed Nostradamus of the psych ward the ultimate manipulator or a harbinger of global disaster on a scale never seen before? Where does science end and faith begin? And what can love mean in “interesting times”?
With gothic intensity, Liz Jensen conjures the increasingly unnerving relationship between the traumatized therapist and her fascinating, deeply calculating patient. As Bethany’s warnings continue to prove accurate beyond fluke and she begins to offer scientifically precise hints of a final, world-altering cataclysm, Gabrielle is confronted with a series of devastating choices in a world in which belief has become as precious - and as murderous—as life itself. (from Barnes and Noble)
I found this one over at Mom - Musings.
Half-vampire Catherine Crawfield is going after the undead with a vengeance, hoping that one of these deadbeats is her father—the one responsible for ruining her mother's life. Then she's captured by Bones, a vampire bounty hunter, and is forced into an unholy partnership.
In exchange for finding her father, Cat agrees to train with the sexy night stalker until her battle reflexes are as sharp as his fangs. She's amazed she doesn't end up as his dinner—are there actually good vampires? Pretty soon Bones will have her convinced that being half-dead doesn't have to be all bad. But before she can enjoy her newfound status as kick-ass demon hunter, Cat and Bones are pursued by a group of killers. Now Cat will have to choose a side . . . and Bones is turning out to be as tempting as any man with a heartbeat. (from Barnes and Noble)
* Grab the book nearest you. Right now.
* Turn to page 56.
* Find the fifth sentence.
* Post that sentence (plus one or two others if you like) along with these instructions on your blog or (if you do not have your own blog) in the comments section of Storytime with Tonya and Friends.
*Post a link along with your post back to Storytime with Tonya and Friends.
* Don't dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST.
Aurelia began to howl and Flying Braid called for a second midwife, and this one poked at Aurelia's arms and legs with a sharp stick, and soon there were other women in the tepee, and everyone was singing Flying Braid's song, and Aurelia imagined herself standing with the women, and although she didn't know the language of the song, she began to sing, too, and the singing seemed to take her away from the pain so that she barely felt the first midwife prodding her with her knees and blowing on her neck, and couldn't tell if the second midwife was jabbing her with a stick now or pummeling her around the head, or if their arms were at her sides or being yanked out of their sockets. (The Texicans by Nina Vida, p56)
You never know when I might play a wild card on you!
and the book:
FaithWords (May 13, 2009)
Plus a Tiffany's Bracelet Giveaway! Go to Camy Tang's Blog and leave a comment on her FIRST Wild Card Tour for Be Strong and Curvaceous, and you will be placed into a drawing for a bracelet that looks similar to the picture below.
Award-winning author Shelley Adina wrote her first teen novel when she was 13. It was rejected by the literary publisher to whom she sent it, but he did say she knew how to tell a story. That was enough to keep her going through the rest of her adolescence, a career, a move to another country, a B.A. in Literature, an M.A. in Writing Popular Fiction, and countless manuscript pages. Shelley is a world traveler and pop culture junkie with an incurable addiction to designer handbags. She writes books about fun and faith—with a side of glamour. Between books, Shelley loves traveling, playing the piano and Celtic harp, watching movies, and making period costumes.
Visit her book site and her website.
It's All About Us is Book One in the All About Us Series. Book Two, The Fruit of my Lipstick came out in August 2008. Book Three, Be Strong & Curvaceous, came out January 2, 2009. And Book Four, Who Made You a Princess?, came out May 13, 2009.
List Price: $9.99
Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: FaithWords (May 13, 2009)
AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:
Like the T-shirt says, life is good.
My name’s Shani Amira Marjorie Hanna, and up until I started going to Spencer Academy in my freshman year, all I wanted to do was get in, scoop as many A’s as I could, and get out. College, yeah. Adulthood. Being the boss of me. Social life? Who cared? I’d treat it the way I’d done in middle school, making my own way and watching people brush by me, all disappearing into good-bye like they were flowing down a river.
Then when I was a junior, I met the girls, and things started to change whether I wanted them to or not. Or maybe it was just me. Doing the changing, I mean.
Now we were all seniors and I was beginning to see that all this “I am an island” stuff was just a bunch of smoke. ’Cuz I was not like the Channel Islands, sitting out there on the hazy horizon. I was so done with all that.
Lissa Mansfield sat on the other side of the fire from me while this adorable Jared Padalecki look-alike named Kaz Griffin sat next to her trying to act like the best friend she thought he was. Lissa needs a smack upside the head, you want my opinion. Either that or someone needs to make a serious play for Kaz to wake her up. But it’s not going to be me. I’ve got cuter fish to fry. Heh. More about that later.
“I can’t believe this is the last weekend of summer vacation,” Carly Aragon moaned for about the fifth time since Kaz lit the fire and we all got comfortable in the sand around it. “It’s gone so fast.”
“That’s because you’ve only been here a week.” I handed her the bag of tortilla chips. “What about me? I’ve been here for a month and I still can’t believe we have to go up to San Francisco on Tuesday.”
“I’m so jealous.” Carly bumped me with her shoulder. “A whole month at Casa Mansfield with your own private beach and everything.” She dipped a handful of chips in a big plastic container of salsa she’d made that morning with fresh tomatoes and cilantro and little bits of—get this—cantaloupe. She made one the other day with carrots in it. I don't know how she comes up with this stuff, but it’s all good. We had a cooler full of food to munch on. No burnt weenies for this crowd. Uh-uh. What we can’t order delivered, Carly can make.
“And to think I could have gone back to Chicago and spent the whole summer throwing parties and trashing the McMansion.” I sighed with regret. “Instead, I had to put up with a month in the Hamptons with the Changs, and then a month out here fighting Lissa for her bathroom.”
“Hey, you could have used one of the other ones,” Lissa protested, trying to keep Kaz from snagging the rest of her turkey-avocado-and-alfalfa-sprouts sandwich.
I grinned at her. Who wanted to walk down the hot sandstone patio to one of the other bathrooms when she, Carly, and I had this beautiful Spanish terrazzo-looking wing of the house to ourselves? Carly and I were in Lissa’s sister’s old room, which looked out on this garden with a fountain and big ferns and grasses and flowering trees. And beyond that was the ocean. It was the kind of place you didn’t want to leave, even to go to the bathroom.
I contrasted it with the freezing wind off Lake Michigan in the winter and the long empty hallways of the seven-million-dollar McMansion on Lake Road, where I always felt like a guest. You know—like you’re welcome but the hosts don’t really know what to do with you. I mean, my mom has told me point-blank, with a kind of embarrassed little laugh, that she can’t imagine what happened. The Pill and her careful preventive measures couldn’t all have failed on the same night.
Organic waste happens. Whatever. The point is, I arrived seventeen years ago and they had to adjust.
I think they love me. My dad always reads my report cards, and he used to take me to blues clubs to listen to the musicians doing sound checks before the doors opened. That was before my mom found out. Then I had to wait until I was twelve, and we went to the early shows, which were never as good as the late ones I snuck into whenever my parents went on one of their trips.
They travel a lot. Dad owns this massive petroleum exploration company, and when she’s not chairing charity boards and organizing fund-raisers, Mom goes with him everywhere, from Alaska to New Zealand. I saw a lot of great shows with whichever member of the staff I could bribe to take me and swear I was sixteen. Keb’ Mo, B.B. King, Buddy Guy, Roomful of Blues—I saw them all.
A G-minor chord rippled out over the crackle of the fire, and I smiled a slow smile. My second favorite sound in the world (right after the sound of M&Ms pouring into a dish). On my left, Danyel had pulled out his guitar and tuned it while I was lost in la-la land, listening to the waves come in.
Lissa says there are some things you just know. And somehow, I just knew that I was going to be more to Danyel Johnstone than merely a friend of his friend Kaz’s friend Lissa, if you hear what I’m saying. I was done with being alone, but that didn’t mean I couldn’t stand out from the crowd.
Don’t get me wrong, I really like this crowd. Carly especially—she’s like the sister I would have designed my own self. And Lissa, too, though sometimes I wonder if she can be real. I mean, how can you be blond and tall and rich and wear clothes the way she does, and still be so nice? There has to be a flaw in there somewhere, but if she’s got any, she keeps them under wraps.
Gillian, who we’d see in a couple of days, has really grown on me. I couldn’t stand her at first—she’s one of those people you can’t help but notice. I only hung around her because Carly liked her. But somewhere between her going out with this loser brain trust and then her hooking up with Jeremy Clay, who’s a friend of mine, I got to know her. And staying with her family last Christmas, which could have been massively awkward, was actually fun. The last month in the Hamptons with them was a total blast. The only good thing about leaving was knowing I was going to see the rest of the crew here in Santa Barbara.
The one person I still wasn’t sure about was Mac, aka Lady Lindsay MacPhail, who did an exchange term at school in the spring. Getting to know her is like besieging a castle—which is totally appropriate considering she lives in one. She and Carly are tight, and we all e-mailed and IM-ed like fiends all summer, but I’m still not sure. I mean, she has a lot to deal with right now, with her family and everything. And the likelihood of us seeing each other again is kind of low, so maybe I don’t have to make up my mind about her. Maybe I’ll just let her go the way I let the kids in middle school go.
Danyel began to get serious about bending his notes instead of fingerpicking, and I knew he was about to sing. Oh, man, could the night get any more perfect? Even though we’d probably burn the handmade marshmallows from Williams-Sonoma, tonight capped a summer that had been the best time I’d ever had.
The only thing that would make it perfect would be finding some way to be alone with that man. I hadn’t been here more than a day when Danyel and Kaz had come loping down the beach. I’d taken one look at those eyes and those cheekbones and, okay, a very cut set of abs, and decided here was someone I wanted to know a whole lot better. And I did, now, after a couple of weeks. But soon we’d go off to S. F., and he and Kaz would go back to Pacific High. When we pulled out in Gabe Mansfield’s SUV, I wanted there to be something more between us than an air kiss and a handshake, you know what I mean?
I wanted something to be settled. Neither of us had talked about it, but both of us knew it was there. Unspoken longing is all very well in poetry, but I’m the outspoken type. I like things out there where I can touch them.
In a manner of speaking.
Danyel sat between Kaz and me, cross-legged and bare-chested, looking as comfortable in his surf jams as if he lived in them. Come to think of it, he did live in them. His, Kaz’s, and Lissa’s boards were stuck in the sand behind us. They’d spent most of the afternoon out there on the waves. I tried to keep my eyes on the fire. Not that I didn’t appreciate the view next to me, because trust me, it was fine, but I know a man wants to be appreciated for his talents and his mind.
Danyel’s melody sounded familiar—something Gillian played while we waited for our prayer circles at school to start. Which reminded me . . . I nudged Carly. “You guys going to church tomorrow?”
She nodded and lifted her chin at Lissa to get her attention. “Girl wants to know if we’re going to church.”
“Wouldn’t miss it,” Lissa said. “Kaz and his family, too. Last chance of the summer to all go together.”
And where Kaz went, Danyel went. Happy thought.
“You’re not going to bail, are you?” Carly’s brows rose a little.
It’s not like I’m anti-religion or anything. I’m just in the beginning stages of learning about it. Without my friends to tell me stuff, I’d be bumbling around on my own, trying to figure it out. My parents don’t go to church, so I didn’t catch the habit from them. But when she was alive and I was a little girl, my grandma used to take me to the one in her neighborhood across town. I thought it was an adventure, riding the bus instead of being driven in the BMW. And the gospel choir was like nothing I’d ever seen, all waving their arms in the air and singing to raise the roof. I always thought they were trying to deafen God, if they could just get up enough volume.
So I like the music part. Always have. And I’m beginning to see the light on the God part, after what happened last spring. But seeing a glimmer and knowing what to do about it are two different things.
“Of course not.” I gave Carly a look. “We all go together. And we walk, in case no one told you, so plan your shoes carefully.”
“Oh, I will.” She sat back on her hands, an “I so see right through you” smile turning up the corners of her mouth. “And it’s all about the worship, I know.” That smile told me she knew exactly what my motivation was. Part of it, at least. Hey, can you blame me?
The music changed and Danyel’s voice lifted into a lonely blues melody, pouring over Carly’s words like cream. I just melted right there on the spot. Man, could that boy sing.
Blue water, blue sky
Blue day, girl, do you think that I
Don’t see you, yeah I do.
Long sunset, long road,
Long life, girl, but I think you know
What I need, yeah, you do.
I do a little singing my own self, so I know talent when I hear it. And I’d have bet you that month’s allowance that Danyel had composed that one. He segued into the chorus and then the bridge, its rhythms straight out of Mississippi but the tune something new, something that fit the sadness and the hope of the words.
Wait a minute.
Blue day? Long sunset? Long road? As in, a long road to San Francisco?
Whoa. Could Danyel be trying to tell someone something? “You think that I don’t see you”? Well, if that didn’t describe me, I didn’t know what would. Ohmigosh.
Could he be trying to tell me his feelings with a song? Musicians were like that. They couldn’t tell a person something to her face, or they were too shy, or it was just too hard to get out, so they poured it into their music. For them, maybe it was easier to perform something than to get personal with it.
Be cool, girl. Let him finish. Then find a way to tell him you understand—and you want it, too.
The last of the notes blew away on the breeze, and a big comber smashed itself on the sand, making a sound like a kettledrum to finish off the song. I clapped, and the others joined in.
“Did you write that yourself?” Lissa removed a marshmallow from her stick and passed it to him. “It was great.”
Danyel shrugged one shoulder. “Tune’s been bugging me for a while and the words just came to me. You know, like an IM or something.”
Carly laughed, and Kaz’s forehead wrinkled for a second in a frown before he did, too.
I love modesty in a man. With that kind of talent, you couldn’t blame Danyel for thinking he was all that.
Should I say something? The breath backed up in my chest. Say it. You’ll lose the moment. “So who’s it about?” I blurted, then felt myself blush.
“Can’t tell.” His head was bent as he picked a handful of notes and turned them into a little melody. “Some girl, probably.”
“Some girl who’s leaving?” I said, trying for a teasing tone. “Is that a good-bye?”
I wished I had the guts to come out and ask if he’d written the song for me—for us—but I just couldn’t. Not with everyone sitting there. With one look at Carly, whose eyes held a distinct “What’s up with you?” expression, I lost my nerve and shut up. Which, as any of the girls could tell you, doesn’t happen very often.
Danyel launched into another song—some praise thing that everyone knew but me. And then another, and then a cheesy old John Denver number that at least I knew the words to, and then a bunch of goofy songs half of us had learned at camp when we were kids. And then it was nearly midnight, and Kaz got up and stretched.
He’s a tall guy. He stretches a long way. “I’m running the mixer for the early service tomorrow, so I’ve got to go.”
Danyel got up, and I just stopped my silly self from saying, “No, not yet.” Instead, I watched him sling the guitar over one shoulder and yank his board out of the sand. “Are you going to early service, too?” I asked him.
“Yeah,” he said, sounding a little surprised. “I’m in the band, remember?”
Argh! As if I didn’t know. As if I hadn’t sat there three Sundays in a row, watching his hands move on the frets and the light make shadows under his cheekbones.
“I just meant—I see you at the late one when we go. I didn’t know you went to both.” Stutter, bumble. Oh, just stop talking, girl. You’ve been perfectly comfortable talking to him so far. What’s the matter?
“I don’t, usually. But tomorrow they’re doing full band at early service, too. Last one before all the turistas go home. Next week we’ll be back to normal.” He smiled at me. “See you then.”
Was he looking forward to seeing me, or was he just being nice? “I hope so,” I managed.
“Kaz, you coming?”
Kaz bent to the fire and ran a stick through the coals, separating them. “Just let me put this out. Lissa, where’s the bucket?”
“Here.” While I’d been obsessing over Danyel, Lissa had run down to the waterline and filled a gallon pail. You could tell they’d done this about a million times. She poured the water on the fire and it blew a cloud of steam into the air. The orange coals gave it up with a hiss.
I looked up to say something to Danyel about it and saw that he was already fifty feet away, board under his arm like it weighed nothing, heading down the beach to the public lot where he usually parked his Jeep.
I stared down into the coals, wet and dying.
I couldn’t let the night go out like this.
“Danyel, wait!” The sand polished the soles of my bare feet better than the pumice bar at the salon as I ran to catch up with him. A fast glance behind me told me Lissa had stepped up and begun talking to Kaz, giving me a few seconds alone.
I owed her, big time.
“What’s up, ma?” He planted the board and set the guitar case down. “Forget something?”
“Yes,” I blurted. “I forgot to tell you that I think you’re amazing.”
He blinked. “Whoa.” The barest hint of a smile tickled the corners of his lips.
I might not get another chance as good as this one. I rushed on, the words crowding my mouth in their hurry to get out. “I know there’s something going on here and we’re all leaving on Tuesday and I need to know if you—if you feel the same way.”
“About . . . ?”
“About me. As I feel about you.”
He put both hands on his hips and gazed down at the sand. “Oh.”
Cold engulfed me, as if I’d just plunged face-first into the dark waves twenty feet away. “Oh,” I echoed. “Never mind. I guess I got it wrong.” I stepped back. “Forget about it. No harm done.”
“No, Shani, wait—”
But I didn’t want to hear the “we can still be friends” speech. I didn’t want to hear anything except the wind in my ears as I ran back to the safety of my friends.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
Publisher: Hachette Book Group
I won this book over at So Many Books, So Little Time. This is a great blog with some really good reviews - she is very thorough! I love the background of her blog, also. If you haven't visited her blog, give her a little peek today.
After I had already won it - I was then offered the opportunity to host a giveaway - so I currently have a giveaway going for One Deadly Sin.
About the book: COMING HOME IS MURDER...
Revenge. Edie Swann has hungered for it since she fled her hometown as a little girl. Now she's returned, ready for payback. Armed with a list of names, she leaves each one a chilling sign that they have blood on their hands. Her father's blood. What happens next turns her own blood cold: one by one, the men she's targeted start dying.
Sheriff Holt Drennen knows Edie is hiding something. She has a haunted look in her eyes and a defiant spirit, yet he can't believe she's a murderer. As the body count rises and all evidence points to Edie, Holt is torn between the town he's sworn to protect and the woman he's come to desire. But nothing is what it seems. Long buried secrets begin to surface, and a killer won't be satisfied until the sins of the past are paid in full--this time with Edie's blood. (from Barnes and Noble)
About the author: A native New Yorker, RITA-winning author Annie Solomon has been dreaming up stories since she was ten. After a twelve-year career in advertising, where she rose to Vice President and Head Writer at a mid-size agency, she abandoned the air conditioners, furnaces, and heat pumps of her professional life for her first love--romance. An avid knitter and mother of a daughter attending college, she now lives in Nashville with her husband.
What’s all the hubbub about Amish fiction? Major media outlets like Time and ABC Nightline are covering it, and authors like Cindy Woodsmall are making the New York Times bestseller list regularly. What makes these books so interesting?
Check out the recent ABC Nightline piece here about Cindy and her titles When the Heart Cries, When the Morning Comes, and When the Soul Mends. It’s an intriguing look at Amish culture and the time Cindy has spent with Amish friends.
And don’t forget that Cindy’s new book The Hope of Refuge hits store shelves August 11, and is available for preorder now.
Publisher: Riverhead Books/Penguin
I received this ARC from the publisher through Shelf Awareness.
About the book: A gripping literary thriller about the highstakes search for the legendary Tabernacle Menorah, a priceless historical artifact stolen from the Second Temple in Jerusalem two thousand years ago and never recovered.
Jonathan Marcus was a promising young archeologist studying at the American Academy in Rome when a terrible accident during an illegal excavation resulted in a friend's death and Jonathan's expulsion from the academy. Jonathan abandoned archaeology for the law, developing a reputation as a skillful advocate for some of the art world's less scrupulous antiquities dealers.
When his firm sends Jonathan to Rome to discredit the testimony of a prominent U.N. antiquities official, he's stunned to discover that the expert is Dr. Emili Travia, a friend and fellow student at the academy who was also at the excavation. This chance reunion prompts Jonathan, against his better judgment, to help Emili as she searches for the fabled Tabernacle Menorah, a priceless historical artifact seized by Roman invaders in the first century A.D. and brought to Rome where it disappeared. As they scour the ancient sites of Rome for hints to the menorah's whereabouts deciphering clues to its location left by ancient spies and eighteenth century art restorers it quickly becomes clear that they are not alone in their quest.
What follows is a treasure hunt like no other, a race to find the menorah in order to control a historical perspective of who can define and redefine the past.
By turns a riveting page-turner and a compelling character study, set in the high-stakes arenas of art, politics, and terrorism, The Last Ember is a provocative and fast-paced glimpse into history, religion, and international law. (from Barnes and Noble)
About the author: Daniel Levin earned his undergraduate degree in Roman and Greek civilization from the University of Michigan and is a graduate of Harvard Law School. He won a visiting scholar's fellowship at the American Academy in Rome and has practiced international law at Debevoise & Plimpton in New York.
Publisher/Publication Date: Riverhead Books/August 6, 2009
Publisher: Delta/Random House
I received this ARC from the publisher through Shelf Awareness.
About the book: Olivia Harker Cross owns a mountain, or thinks she does, in Pope County, Kentucky, a land where wolves - Olivia's wolves - howl in the night. But now someone is killing the wolves of Big Foley Mountain - and Olivia is beginning to realize how much of her own bitter history she's never fully understood: Her mother's madness, now building toward a fiery crescendo. Her daughter's fight to California, leaving her to raise Will'm, her beloved grandson. And most of all, her town's rage, for Olivia has real and dangerous enemies.
Now this proud, lonely woman will face her mother and daughter, her neighbors, and the wolf hunters of Big Foley Mountain. And when she does, she'll ignite a conflict that will embroil an entire community - and transform her own life in the most surprising ways. (from the book cover)
About the author: Carolyn Wall is an editor and lecturer. As an artist-in residence, she has taught creative writing to more than 4,000 children in Oklahoma, where she is at work on her second novel, The Coffin Maker, coming from Delta in 2010.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Publisher: Broadway Books
I received this book from the publisher through Shelf Awareness.
About the book: Irene and Nate Stanley are living a quiet and contented life with their two children, Bliss and Shep, on their family farm in southern Illinois when Nate suddenly announces he’s been offered a job as a deputy sheriff in Oregon. Irene fights her husband. She does not want to uproot her family and has deep misgivings about the move. Nevertheless, the family leaves, and they are just settling into their life in Oregon’s high desert when the unthinkable happens. Fifteen-year-old Shep is shot and killed during an apparent robbery in their home. The murderer, a young mechanic with a history of assault, robbery, and drug-related offenses, is caught and sentenced to death.
Shep’s murder sends the Stanley family into a tailspin, with each member attempting to cope with the tragedy in his or her own way. Irene’s approach is to live, week after week, waiting for Daniel Robbin’s execution and the justice she feels she and her family deserve. Those weeks turn into months and then years. Ultimately, faced with a growing sense that Robbin’s death will not stop her pain, Irene takes the extraordinary and clandestine step of reaching out to her son’s killer. The two forge an unlikely connection that remains a secret from her family and friends.
Years later, Irene receives the notice that she had craved for so long—Daniel Robbin has stopped his appeals and will be executed within a month. This announcement shakes the very core of the Stanley family. Irene, it turns out, isn’t the only one with a shocking secret to hide. As the execution date nears, the Stanleys must face difficult truths and find a way to come toterms with the past.
Dramatic, wrenching, and ultimately uplifting, The Crying Tree is an unforgettable story of love and redemption, the unbreakable bonds of family, and the transformative power of forgiveness. (from Barnes and Noble)
About the author: NASEEM RAKHA is an award-winning broadcast journalist whose stories have been heard on NPR. She lives in Oregon’s Willamette Valley.
Read an excerpt of The Crying Tree.
I won this book and a beautiful bookmark over at Mari Reads. She had a"show us your bookmarks contest" - and as I am a firm believer that - like books, you can never have too many bookmarks, I entered the contest! She also likes to knit and as I am a lover of anything that involves needles and thread/yarn I enjoy visiting her blog. Go check her out!
About the book: Jane Hayes is a seemingly normal young New Yorker, but she has a secret. Her obsession with Mr. Darcy, as played by Colin Firth in the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, is ruining her life. No real man can compare.
When a wealthy relative bequeaths her a trip to an English resort catering to Austen-crazed women, Jane's fantasies of meeting the perfect Regency-era gentleman suddenly become realer than she ever could have imagined. Decked out in empire-waist gowns, stripped of her modern appliances, Jane throws herself into mastering Regency etiquette and flirts with gardeners and gentlemen - or maybe even, she suspects, with the actors who are playing them.
It's all a game, Jane knows. And yet the longer she stays, the more her insecurities seem to vanish. Is she about to kick the Austen obsession for good, or could all her dreams actually culminate in a Mr. Darcy of her own?
With humor, charm, and perfect sympathy, award-winning author Shannon Hale delivers a novel that will delight every reader who has ever dreamed of escaping into Austenland. (from the book jacket)
About the author: Shannon Hale is the award-winning author of the young adult novels The Goose Girl, Enna Burning, River Secrets, and Princess Academy, a New York Times bestseller and a Newbery Honor Medalist. She is an avid Austen fan and admirer of men in breeches. She lives with her husband and two small children in Salt Lake City, Utah. (from book jacket)
Publisher/Publication Date: Bloomsbury/May 2007