Where I share my love of books with reviews, features, giveaways and memes. Family and needlepoint are thrown in from time to time.

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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Color Purple by Alice Walker (Book Review)

Title: The Color Purple
Author: Alice Walker
Awards: 1983 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the National Book Award


About the book: Celie is a poor black woman whose letters tell the story of 20 years of her life, beginning at age 14 when she is being abused and raped by her father and attempting to protect her sister from the same fate, and continuing over the course of her marriage to "Mister," a brutal man who terrorizes her. Celie eventually learns that her abusive husband has been keeping her sister's letters from her and the rage she feels, combined with an example of love and independence provided by her close friend Shug, pushes her finally toward an awakening of her creative and loving self.


My thoughts:  This is one of those books that I have wanted to read forever, but just hadn't made the time.  I picked it up to read this month in honor of Black History Month, as well as for a Goodreads read-a-long. If you haven't had the chance to read this one yet, you need to make the time.


The story is told in a series of letters - starting out with letters from Celie to God, then later including letters from Nettie (Celie's sister) to Celie and her return letters to Nettie.  In the beginning, Celie is a young black girl, raped by her own father, birthing two of his children - which he takes from her and does who knows what with, and then sold off to be a wife to a man who only wants her for her ability to take care of his own children and home after his wife dies.  


For years Celie lives this existence, with the only bright spot being the short period when Nettie, her sister, stayed with them.  It isn't long before Mister sends her off though (as she is the one he wanted for a wife) as she doesn't want to have anything to do with him. Celie's days don't really change much until Shug, Mister's mistress,  comes to stay with them when she is very ill.  Even though Celie knew who she was, she takes her in and nurses her back to health without any thought about herself or her husband's cheating ways.  Shug and Celie hit it off and because of their friendship, Celie is able to start to live and recognize that she matters, regardless of what has happened in her past.


Many years pass before we hear from Nettie, who has ended up in Africa as a missionary.  The difference in the prose between the two women speaks volumes as to what kind of education they have each had, and how they each view the world around them.  Being able to communicate with Nettie continues the spark in Celie and helps her to begin to transform into an independent black woman.  


This was a wonderful book and because of the language and dialect, I felt myself immediately immersed in the culture and the setting portrayed.  I wish that I would have had the opportunity to read this in school or in a F2F book club as this would be a great book to discuss.  

Commercial interruption

Sorry for the lack of posts the last few days.  Many of you who use google chrome (myself included) received a "something's not right here" warning when trying to visit my blog.  It went on to list a blog, that I had on my blogroll, as to be distributing suspicious malware.  I finally figured out who it was (as the blog name did not match the url, and upon trying to go the url to see who they were, discovering that the site had been taken down.)

Couple that with the fact that I have too many blogs in my google reader to be able to "manage" them and delete blogs that way, and I found myself getting very frustrated!  Well, last night, I sat down with a clear head and was finally able to get them off my blogroll (YEAH!).  I am still getting the warning from google chrome, but I believe that just takes time to flush back through the system to show me as being "clean".  I have sent them a reconsideration request to try to help push it along, but I have no idea how long that will take.

So now I am at least 4 reviews behind as well as one guest post, and feel like I am coming down with strep.  (I should be able to write the reviews feeling like this though, because I tend to not over think them and they come out easier - just forgive me if they don't make sense!  lol)

So now I am done with my rant and will return you back to your regularly scheduled programming.

Not in the Heart by Chris Fabry (Book Review)

Title: Not in the Heart
Author: Chris Fabry
Publisher: Tyndale House

About the book:  Truman Wiley used to report news stories from around the world, but now the most troubling headlines are his own. He's out of work, out of touch with his family, out of his home. But nothing dogs him more than his son's failing heart. With mounting hospital bills and Truman's penchant for gambling his savings, the situation seems hopeless--until his estranged wife throws him a lifeline.


My thoughts:  Even with all of Truman's faults, I found him very easy to like and was pulling for him from the beginning.  He heads home to write the story of a man who is on death row.  A man who claims innocence (Terrell), but knows there is too much riding against him to ever be set free - so he wants to donate his heart to a young man who will die if he doesn't receive one.  That young man happens to be Truman's son.  


As Truman starts to piece together the story, he also starts to build some  bridges with his family.  His daughter takes on the job of his assistant and begins to help him gather some of the background info while also doing a little investigative work on her own.  Truman begins to believe that Terrell may, in fact, be innocent.  But if he is able to prove his innocence, what will become of his son?  


Truman also is struggling with his wife's faith as well as Terrell's.  He doesn't understand how Terrell claims to feel freer than he has ever felt, even though he is in prison.  His wife and Terrell model what it means to have Christ in their lives, and Truman begins to think they might be on to something.  


I really enjoyed this book and the religious message about Christ's redemptive power and love.  It wasn't really pushy about it, but just kept showing how lives had been changed and what was possible with God holding the reigns. In all the ways that I though it could end while I was reading it, the real ending was not one that I had considered.   I liked that I wasn't able to figure it out until I was right there in the midst of the action.  I would really recommend this one, as well as June Bug, another Chris Fabry book that I have had the opportunity to read.


For the first chapter, please go to my First Wild Card Tour post.



Special thanks to Audra Jennings – The B&B Media Group – for sending me a review copy.


Publisher/Publication Date: Tyndale House, Jan 2012
ISBN: 978-1414348612
432 pages



Thursday, February 23, 2012

YA Paranormal Activity Giveaway Hop (Feb 24 - Feb 28)



Young Adult Paranormal Activity Giveaway Hop

Thank you to I am a Reader, Not a Writer and vvb32 Reads for hosting this awesome hop!  There are over 100 blogs participating and all prizes are for a paranormal book of some sort! 

The book I am giving away is an arc of Hades by Alexandra Adornetto.



Even the love of her boyfriend, Xavier Woods, and her siblings, Gabriel and Ivy, can't keep the angel Bethany Church from being tricked into a motorcycle ride that ends up in Hell.  There, Jake Thorn bargains for Beth's release back to Earth.  But what he asks of her will destroy her, and quite possibly, her loved ones, as well.  Can he be trusted in this wager?



To enter my giveaway, please fill out the rafflecopter form below.  This giveaway is open to US entrants only. 



a Rafflecopter giveaway



Now go on out and enter all those other giveaways! I know I am going to!



First Wild Card Tour: Frantic by Mike Dellosso

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!




You never know when I might play a wild card on you!








Today's Wild Card author is:




and the book:


Realms (February 7, 2012)

***Special thanks to Jon Wooten of Charisma House for sending me a review copy.***




ABOUT THE AUTHOR:




Mike Dellosso is the author of numerous novels of suspense, including Darkness Follows, Darlington Woods, and Scream. He is an adjunct professor of writing at Lancaster Bible College and frequent contributor to Christian websites and newsletters. Mike is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers association, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance, the Relief Writer’s Network, and FaithWriters, and he plans to join International Thriller Writers. He earned his BA degree from Messiah College and his MBS from Master’s International School of Divinity. He lives in Hanover, PA, with his wife and daughters. Hometown: Hanover, PA





Visit the author's website.




SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:






Gas station attendant Marny Toogood thinks it’s just another ordinary day on the job until an urgent message from a young girl in the backseat of a car draws him into a daring rescue attempt. Now he is on the run with Esther and William Rose from their insane “uncle” who thinks it is his mission from God to protect William, a boy with incredible faith that gives him supernatural powers.



As they face kidnapping, underground cults, and other evils, can Marny trust the simple faith of a child and stand his ground against a power so twisted?





Product Details:

List Price: $13.99



Paperback: 304 pages

Publisher: Realms (February 7, 2012)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1616384808

ISBN-13: 978-1616384807





AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:







    The night Marny Toogood was born it rained axheads and hammer handles.
His grandfather made a prediction, said it was an omen of some sort, that it meant Marny’s life would be stormy, full of rain clouds and lightning strikes. Wanting to prove her father wrong, Janie Toogood named her son Marnin, which means “one who brings joy,” instead of the Mitchell she and her husband had agreed on.
But in spite of Janie’s good intentions, and regardless of what his birth certificate said, Marny’s grandfather was right.
At the exact time Marny was delivered into this world and his grandfather was portending a dark future, Marny’s father was en route to the hospital from his job at Winden’s Furniture Factory where he was stuck working the graveyard shift. He’d gotten the phone call that Janie was in labor, dropped his hammer, and run out of the plant. Fifteen minutes from the hospital his pickup hit standing water, hydroplaned, and tumbled down a steep embank- ment, landing in a stand of eastern white pines. The coroner said he experienced a quick death; he did not suffer.
One week after Marny’s birth his grandfather died of a heart attack. He didn’t suffer either.
Twenty-six years and a couple of lifetimes of hurt later, Marny found himself working at Condon’s Gas ’n Go and living above the garage in a small studio apartment George Condon rented to
1




    Mike Dellosso
him for two hundred bucks a month. It was nothing special, but it was a place to lay his head at night and dream about the dark cloud that stalked him.
But his mother had told him every day until the moment she died that behind every rain cloud is the sun, just waiting to shine its light and dry the earth’s tears.
Marny held on to that promise and thought about it every night before he succumbed to sleep and entered a world that was as unfriendly and frightening as any fairy tale forest, the place of his dreams, the only place more dark and foreboding than his life.
On the day reality collided with the world of Marny’s night- mares, it was hotter than blazes, strange for a June day in Maine. The sun sat high in the sky, and waves of heat rolled over the asphalt lot at the Gas ’n Go. The weather kept everyone indoors, which meant business was slow for a Saturday. Marny sat in the garage bay waiting for Mr. Condon to take his turn in checkers and wiped the sweat from his brow.
    Man, it’s hot.”
    Mr. Condon didn’t look up from the checkerboard. “Ayuh.
Wicked hot. Newsman said it could hit ninety.”
    “So it’ll probably get up to ninety-five.”
    Mr. Condon rubbed at his white stubble. “Ayuh.”
He was sixty-two and looked it. His leather-tough skin was

creased with deep wrinkles. Lots of smile lines. Marny had worked
for him for two years but had known the old mechanic his whole
life.
    Mr. Condon made his move then squinted at Marny. Behind
him Ed Ricker’s Dodge truck rested on the lift. The transmis-
sion had blown, and Mr. Condon should have been working
on it instead of playing checkers. But old Condon kept his own
schedule. His customers never complained. George Condon was
the best, and cheapest, mechanic around. He’d been getting cars
and trucks through one more Maine winter for forty years.
    Marny studied the checkerboard, feeling the weight of Mr.
Condon’s dark eyes on him, and was about to make his move
    2


Fr antic
when the bell chimed, signaling someone had pulled up to the pump island. Condon’s was the only full-service station left in the Down East, maybe in the whole state of Maine.
Despite the heat, Mr. Condon didn’t have one droplet of sweat on his face. “Cah’s waitin’, son.”
Marny glanced outside at the tendrils of heat wriggling above the lot, then at the checkerboard. “No cheating.”
    His opponent winked. “No promises.”
    Pushing back his chair, Marny stood and wiped more sweat
from his brow, then headed outside.
    The car at the pump was a 1990s model Ford Taurus, faded blue
with a few rust spots around the wheel wells. The windows were
rolled down, which probably meant the air-conditioning had quit
working. This was normally not a big deal in Maine, but on a rare
day like this, the driver had to be longing for cool air.
    Marny had never seen the vehicle before. The driver was a large
man, thick and broad. He had close-cropped hair and a smooth,
round face. Marny had never seen him before either.
    He approached the car and did his best to be friendly. “Mornin’.
Hot one, isn’t it?”
    The driver neither smiled nor looked at him. “Fill it up. Regular.”
    Marny headed to the rear of the car and noticed a girl in the
backseat. A woman, really, looked to be in her early twenties. She
sat with her hands in her lap, head slightly bowed. As he passed
the rear window she glanced at him, and there was something in
her eyes that spoke of sorrow and doom. Marny recognized the
look because he saw it in his own eyes every night in the mirror.
He smiled, but she quickly diverted her gaze.
    As he pumped the gas, Marny watched the girl, studied the
back of her head. She was attractive in a plain way, a natural pret-
tiness that didn’t need any help from cosmetics. Her hair was rich
brown and hung loosely around her shoulders. But it was her eyes
that had captivated him. They were as blue as the summer sky, but
so sad and empty. Marny wondered what the story was between
the man and girl. He was certainly old enough to be her father. He
3




    Mike Dellosso
looked stern and callous, maybe even cruel. Marny felt for her, for her unhappiness, her life.
He caught the man watching him in the side mirror and looked at the pump’s gauge. A second later the nozzle clicked off, and he returned it to the pump. He walked back to the driver’s window. “That’ll be forty-two.”
While the man fished around in his back pocket for his wallet, Marny glanced at the girl again, but she kept her eyes down on her hands.
You folks local?” Marny said, trying to get the man to open up a little.
    The driver handed Marny three twenties but said nothing. Marny counted off eighteen dollars in change. “You new in the
area? I don’t think I’ve seen you around here before. Lately, seems more people have been moving out than in.”
Still nothing. The man took the money and started the car. Before pulling out he nodded at Marny. There was something in the way he moved his head, the way his eyes sat in their sockets, the way his forehead wrinkled ever so slightly, that made Marny shiver despite the heat.
The car rolled away from the pump, asphalt sticking to the tires, and exited the lot. Marny watched until it was nearly out of sight, then turned to head back to the garage and Mr. Condon and the game of checkers. But a crumpled piece of paper on the ground where the Taurus had been parked caught his attention. He picked it up and unfurled it. Written in all capital letters was a message:
    HE’S GOING TO KILL ME
    4

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

First Wild Card Blog Tour: Not In the Heart by Chris Fabry

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!




You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

I will be sharing my review tomorrow on this great book! 






Today's Wild Card author is:




and the book:


Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (January 20, 2012)

***Special thanks to Audra Jennings – The B&B Media Group – for sending me a review copy.***




ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


As a child, Chris Fabry wrote stories, songs and poems. The creative process invigorated him. He may not have been a fast reader, but the words on the page had a deep effect. So he vowed that if he ever had the chance to write, he would take it.



After high school, Fabry attended and graduated from the W. Page Pitt School of Journalism at Marshall University in Huntington, WV. After graduation, Fabry and his wife felt a desire for biblical education, so his pastor suggested they check out Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. At Moody, Fabry met Jerry Jenkins who learned of his desire to write and encouraged him to pursue his dream. In 1998, Jenkins and Dr. Tim LaHaye hired him to write Left Behind: The Kids series. He wrote 35 books in that series over the next six years. He later collaborated with Jenkins on the Red Rock Mysteries series and The Wormling series, and in 2008 he worked solo on the NASCAR-based RPM series.



Since then he has published four novels for adults: Dogwood, June Bug, Almost Heaven and his newest novel, Not in the Heart. Each of his first three books was nominated for a Christy Award in the Contemporary Standalone Category, winning in 2009 for Dogwood and in 2011 for Almost Heaven. In addition to his fiction work, Fabry also collaborated on two best-selling football biographies with Ohio State’s Jim Tressel and Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints. Altogether, Fabry has published more than 70 books for children and adults.



Fabry’s other passion is broadcasting. As part of the DECCA program in high school, he worked at WNST Radio in Milton, WV. During his senior year at Marshall University, he worked for WSAZ-TV as a weekend reporter. In 1985, he began hosting Open Line, a national call-in show which he hosted until 1997. In 1993, he began a six-year stint as co-host of Mornings with Greg and Chris on WMBI in Chicago. Then in May of 2008 he began Chris Fabry Live! which received the 2008 Talk Personality of the Year Award from the National Religious Broadcasters. He can also be heard daily on Love Worth Finding, featuring the teaching of the late Dr. Adrian Rogers.



Chris and his wife of almost 30 years, Andrea, are the parents of nine children.





Visit the author's website.




SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:




Truman Wiley used to report news stories from around the world, but now the most troubling headlines are his own. He’s out of work, out of touch with his family, out of his home. But nothing dogs him more than his son’s failing heart.



With mounting hospital bills and Truman’s penchant for gambling his savings, the situation seems hopeless . . . until his estranged wife throws him a lifeline—the chance to write the story of a death row inmate, a man convicted of murder who wants to donate his heart to Truman’s son.



As the execution clock ticks down, Truman uncovers disturbing evidence that points to a different killer. For his son to live, must an innocent man die? Truman’s investigation draws him down a path that will change his life, his family, and the destinies of two men forever.











Product Details:

List Price: $13.99



Paperback: 432 pages

Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (January 20, 2012)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1414348614

ISBN-13: 978-1414348612






AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:







30 days before execution

The trouble with my wife began when she needed Jesus and I
needed a cat. Life can be that way. That’s part of the reason I was on Sanibel
Island in the cottage I had always dreamed of owning and she was in Tallahassee
tending to the sick son of our youth. But it’s more complicated. There was more
troubling me than religion or people who think problems can be solved with a
leap of faith.
Said cottage was a tiny house that seems to be the rage
among those who believe we are warming the planet with each exhale. I didn’t
buy it because of that, but I recycle my Coors Light cans. My little
contribution to the cause. Lately it’s been a hefty contribution. There was one
bedroom in the back and a little bathroom, a walk-through kitchen, and a living
area that I used as an office. Murrow usually sat in the window looking out at
the beach with as much interest as I have in paying both of my mortgages. It’s
not that I don’t want to pay. I can’t.
I was on the bed, surfing news sites, fueling the ache about
my lack of direction and lack of a job. The satellite TV company disconnected
me a few months ago, so I got my news online from the unprotected network of a
neighbor who can’t encrypt his wireless router.
I could see the downsizing coming in every area of the
conglomerate media company. I knew it would hit the newsroom, but I always
thought when the music stopped, I would have a chair. What I got was severance,
a pat on the back, and a shelf full of awards I stuffed into a suitcase that
sat in the attic of a cottage I couldn’t afford.
I closed my laptop and told Murrow I’d be back, as if she
cared, and walked barefoot out the front door and down the long, wooden
stairway to the beach. I bought this cottage for these long, head-clearing
walks. The sound of the waves crashing against doubts and fears. The smell of
the ocean and its salty cycle of life and death.
A mom and a dad dressed in white strolled along the beach
with two kids who squealed every time the water came close.
I walked the other way.
The phone rang as I passed a dead seagull. Not a good omen.
“Tru, it’s me.”
The woman of my dreams. The woman of my nightmares.
Everything good and bad about my life. The “I do” that “I didn’t.”
“Ellen. What’s up?”
“How are you?” She said it with a measure of compassion, as
if she weren’t holding back years of boiling anger. As if she didn’t have
something else she wanted to ask me and wasn’t just setting the stage for the
coup de grâce.
“I’m good. Just taking a walk on the beach.”
Wish you weren’t here. Wish you
weren’t still in my head. Wish you hadn’t called. Wish the last twenty years
were something I could bury in the sand. What were you thinking marrying a guy
like me? My life is a sand castle and my days are wind and water.
“Hear anything back yet? Any offers?”
“There’s nothing plural about my job prospects. Not even
singular. I did hear from the Fox station in Des Moines yesterday. They went
with somebody with longer hair and bigger lungs.”
She spoke with a wry smile. “It’s only a matter of time; you
know that.”
“Right. It’s always been a matter of time, hasn’t it?”
She let the irony hang there between us, and I could picture
her in her wedding dress and without it. Then the first time we met in the
university newsroom, big glasses and frilly blouse. Hair that smelled like the
ocean and felt like silk. A sharp wit, infectious laugh, and the tenacity of a
bloodhound on every story she covered. I thought we were always going to be on
the same page, but somehow I kept chasing headlines and she moved to the Life
section.
“I have something that might interest you,” she said.
“How old is she?” I’m not always a smart aleck with the
people I love. When I’m asleep, they tell me I don’t say much of anything.
“It’s not a she. It’s a he with a pretty good story. A great
story. A life changer.”
“Not into guys.”
She sighed and plowed ahead. “Have you heard of Terrelle
Conley?”
That was like asking a history major if she’d ever heard of
Alexis de Tocqueville. “I know he’s facing the needle.”
“Right. Next month.”
“Wonder what his last meal will be. How do they choose that
anyway? Shrimp and steak or lobster bisque? Macaroni and cheese? How can you
enjoy a meal knowing you only have hours left? Or what movie to watch? What
would you choose?”
“I know his wife, Oleta. She wants somebody to write the
story from his perspective. The whole family does.”
I laughed. “In thirty days or less.”
“They’ve scraped up some money. Not much, but it could
probably help.”
“How much is ‘probably’?”
“I don’t know exactly, but I was thinking you could call
Gina and find out if—”
“I’m not with Gina or the agency anymore. She dropped me.
Said it was a hard decision on their part. I guess they took a vote.”
“I’m sorry.”
“Just another bump in the literary highway. I don’t think writing
is my thing, anyway.” I said it halfheartedly, coaxing some kind of compliment.
“You’re a great writer,” she obliged. “You haven’t had as
many opportunities lately, but . . .”
“I haven’t had any politicians who want to be president or
sports stars who’ve been accused of steroids approach me in a few years. That’s
what you mean,” I said. “Where did you meet Olatha?”
“Oleta. I met her at church.”
Groan. How did I know that was coming?
I paused at a sand castle that had been constructed with
several five-gallon buckets. Towels and chairs had been abandoned for the
moment. Water filled the moat, and I heard laughter from a bungalow perched
like a lighthouse above. A couple in love.
“You must have some idea of how much.”
“A few thousand. We didn’t talk about that. The important
thing . . . it’s not just an opportunity for you. It’s for
Aiden.”
“Now you’re really getting cryptic. You want to back up?”
“Terrelle’s wife is in a study group with me. She’s known
about Aiden’s condition for years. Always asks for updates. Terrelle came up
with the idea—he wants to be a donor. A second chance for Aiden.”
I should have been doing cartwheels. Our eighteen-year-old
son could get a new lease on life? Instead, I was skeptical, like any good
journalist. “Ellen, there’s no chance. Do you know how long something like that
would take?”
“It’s been in process for a while.”
“Why didn’t you tell me?”
“You haven’t exactly been available.”
“The prison system, the authorities, they’ll never let
this—”
“The governor is taking it seriously. I’ve heard he’s
working with the legislature. It’s not a done deal, but there’s a chance.”
The governor. The hair rose on the back of my neck.
“Ellen, there’s some law firm in Tallahassee salivating at
all the appeals and counterappeals that are going to happen. This is less than
a long shot.”
“Yeah, but right now it’s looking like a pretty good long
shot.” There was emotion in her voice and for the first time I noticed noise in
the background.
“Where are you?”
She swallowed hard and I imagined her wiping away a tear. My
wife has had plenty of practice.
“At the hospital again,” she said. “ICU.”
I cursed under my breath and away from the phone. Not just
because of all the hospital bills I knew were coming my way, but also because
this was my son. I’ll be honest—the bills were the first thing I thought of,
but picturing him hooked up to tubes and needles again crushed me.
“How is he?”
“Not good. They’re monitoring him. Same story.”
“How long have you been there?”
“Since late last night. He was having trouble breathing.
Lots of pain. He asks about you.”
Guilt. She had to get that in there, didn’t she?
“Tell him to hang in there, okay?”
“Come see him. It would mean so much.”
“Yeah. I will.” I said it fast, though I knew I’d have to
launder all the cat hair from my clothes because Aiden’s deathly allergic to
cats just like I’m allergic to the inside of the death chamber.
Someone spoke over the intercom near her and the sound took
me back to those first days when I wasn’t as scared of hospitals. Back then I
could watch a movie or a TV show with a medical setting. Now I can’t even watch
the TV promos. My chest gets tight and the smell of alcohol and Betadine and
the shape of needles invades, mingling with the cries of a young child in pain
and another memory of a man on a gurney.
We discovered Aiden’s heart malady by accident. Ellen was
into natural food, natural medicine, whole-grain seaweed sandwiches and eggs
that came from free-range chickens who had bedtime stories read to them each
night before they settled into their nests. Natural childbirth with a midwife.
All that stuff. She was convinced antibiotics were the forbidden fruit, so she
didn’t run to the HMO every time our kids were sick. But something told her to
take Abby in for some chest congestion she couldn’t get rid of. Aiden was with
her, and on a lark the doctor placed the stethoscope on his chest.
Ellen cried when she tried to explain the look on the
woman’s face. They’d missed it when he was born.
That sent us on a crash course of congenital heart defects
and a series of surgeries and treatments that would change our lives. Ellen
hates hospitals as much as I do, but you do what you must for your kids.
“Terrelle has the same blood type,” Ellen said. “He’s about
the same size as Aiden, maybe a little smaller, which is good.”
“Ellen, you know this is not going to happen, right? There
are so many hoops and holes. They don’t let doctors execute people.”
“There are guidelines, but they don’t have a problem
harvesting organs from an already-deceased donor.”
“Anybody who’s pro-life will howl. I thought you were
pro-life.”
“I am, but this is something Terrelle wants.”
“Doesn’t matter. They harvest organs from prisoners in
China, but we’re not in China.” Though you wouldn’t know it by shopping at
Walmart.
“I know all that. But I also know my son is going to die.
And Terrelle and his wife want something good to come out of their tragedy.
They asked if you would write his story. I got to thinking that maybe . . .”
She broke a little and hearing her cry felt like some lonely
prayer drifting away and hitting the empty shores of heaven. Not that I believe
there is one, but you know, metaphorically speaking.
“You were thinking what?” I said.
“Maybe all of this is not really for Aiden. Maybe all we’ve
been through in the last eighteen years is for somebody else. If they deny
Terrelle’s request and Aiden doesn’t make it, maybe writing this story will
make a difference for someone down the road.”
Her altruism was more than I could handle. “Look, I don’t
care about all the people with sick kids. I don’t care about prisoners who want
to make up for their crimes. I don’t care about protesters or the politicians
who’ve found a wedge issue. I just want my son to live. Is that asking too
much?”
The emotion surprised me and I noticed the family in white
had changed direction but now quickly herded their children away from me.
It was Ellen’s turn to sound collected. “Do you have time to
work on something like that in the next thirty days? It would at least pay a
few bills.”
“If they’re trying to get a stay of execution, they need to
go straight to the press. Forget a book deal, forget a magazine exposé—it’s
already too late. Get somebody at one of the local stations to pick it up and
run with it—”
“Tru, they don’t want a stay. He wants to give his heart to
Aiden. And somebody has to get the story down before it’s over. No matter how
it goes, this will make a great story.”
I was already mulling titles in my head. A Heart from Death Row. Change of Heart. Pitter-Pat. Life in
Vein. Aorta Made a Better Choice.
She continued, “They know your history. What you’ve seen.
How you’re against the death penalty and why. For all your faults, Tru, you’re
the best reporter I’ve ever known. You get to the heart of the story like
nobody else. I think you should consider it.”
The Heart of the Story. Another
good title. I could tell she was buttering me up. I love being buttered up by
lovely women. But I hate the complications of life with beautiful women.
“I don’t write evangelical tracts.”
“Why are you so stubborn?” she whisper-screamed at me. Her
voice had an echo like she had moved into the bathroom or stairwell. “Why do
you have to look at this as some kind of spiritual conspiracy against you
instead of a gift? This is being handed to you on a platter. Don’t push it
away. I don’t care if you agree with them about God. You didn’t agree with
every sports figure or politician.”
“The only way I know how to do this job is to ferret out the
truth and tell it. Flat out. The way I see it. And if you’re expecting me to
throw in the third verse of a hymn every other chapter and quote the Gospel of
Terrelle, I can’t do that. Call somebody from the Christian right.”
“Tru, it’s because of who you are and how you tell the story
that they want you. Just talk with her. Let her explain. If you don’t like the
situation, they’ll go somewhere else. But they have to act quickly.”
The sun was coming down behind me and the wind picked up off
the water. I could smell the first hint of an impending storm. Or maybe I
forgot my deodorant.
“I’ll think about it.”
I hadn’t been gone that long, but as I walked up the
stairs, I heard a vehicle pulling away from the house. The taillights had
disappeared into the distance by the time I made it to my front door.
Murrow was still in the window, looking down on me with that
superior look. Humans are such a waste of oxygen,
she seemed to say. Maybe she was right. Maybe we are a waste of oxygen and the
best thing would be for us to be wiped from the planet. But something inside
said that wasn’t true. Something inside pushed me to keep moving, like an ant
dragging a piece of grass along the sidewalk until a strong wind blows it away.
The ant picks up another and starts over. I get exhausted just watching them.
On the front door was a legal document stating that whereby
and forthwith said mortgage company had begun said process with an intent to
foreclose and otherwise vacate said occupant’s tail onto the street to wit and
wheretofore so help them God, amen. I had received several such letters in the
mail, filing them carefully, hoping the rising tide of foreclosures would save
my little cottage until I got a new job.
I ripped the notice down and used it to wipe the sand from
my feet. And then a thought struck. A horrible, no-good, bad thought. The
newspaper. They published my name with each intent to foreclose. That meant
others would know where I was. Others, as in people I owed. Bad people.
Another car passed, slowly. Tinted windows. A low rumble of
expensive metal and fuel.
I hurried to the back of the little house and pulled out
every suitcase I could find and stowed everything of value. Books. Pictures of
me with newsmakers. Cloudy memories of trips abroad, war zones, interviews with
generals and dignitaries who went on to fame or perished in motorcades that
didn’t make it through IEDs.
It was hard not to sit and absorb the memories, but the
passing car gave urgency. I jammed every journal and notebook in with the
pictures, then put one suitcase with clothes in the trunk of my car and took
the rest on my shoulder down the sandy path to the Grahams’ house. Sweet
people. He retired from the Air Force and they moved for the sun and salty air.
Both should have died long ago from arthritis and other maladies, but they were
out walking the beach every day like two faithful dogs, paw in paw.
Jack and Millie were on the front porch, and I asked if I
could borrow some space in their garage for a suitcase or two. “I need to take
a trip. Someone new will be living in my house.”
“Relatives coming?”
“No, someone from the Bank of America wants it.”
Millie struggled to get out of her rocker and stood by a
white column near the front door. “If you need help, Truman, we’d be glad to.”
Jack nodded and the gesture almost brought tears to my eyes.
“How much are you short?” he said.
“Just a spot in the garage is all I need.”
“What about your cat?” Millie said.
“Murrow’s going with me.”
“If we can do anything at all . . . ,”
Jack’s voice trailed.
“I appreciate it. I appreciate both of you. Thanks for your
kindness.”
“We pray for Aiden every day,” Millie said.
The garage was spotless. Everything hanging up or neatly
placed on shelves. I should have joined the Air Force. In the back I found an
empty space near some gardening tools. I shook Jack’s hand gently and gave
Millie a hug. I only turned and looked at them once as I walked back to the
house. They stood like sentinels, the fading light of the sun casting a golden
glow around them and their house.
When Murrow saw the cat carrier, she bolted under the sofa
and I threatened to sell her to the local Chinese restaurant. An open can of
StarKist and my tender, compassionate voice helped coax her into the carrier,
and we were off.
I texted my wife: Will call your
friend tomorrow. Can I use Abby’s room?
The phone buzzed in my shirt pocket as I drove along the
causeway into darkening clouds. Key under frog. No
cats.
The next text gave Oleta’s number and a short message. You were made for this story.
Maybe she was right. Maybe I was the one for this job. One
loser telling the story of his kindred spirit. I sure didn’t have anything
better to do. But with the window down and my hand out, being pushed back by
the cool air, it felt less like the start of a new chapter and more like the
end of one.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Cover Reveal! Inbetween by Tara Fuller

Inbetween (Kissed by Death, #1)
Tara Fuller
(Aug 7, 2012)

Since the car crash that took her father’s life three years ago, Emma’s life has been a freaky—and unending—lesson in caution. Surviving “accidents” has taken priority over being a normal seventeen-year-old, so Emma spends her days taking pictures of life instead of living it. Falling in love with a boy was never part of the plan. Falling for a reaper who makes her chest ache and her head spin? Not an option.

 It’s not easy being dead, especially for a reaper in love with a girl fate has put on his list not once, but twice. Finn’s fellow reapers give him hell about spending time with Emma, but Finn couldn't let her die before, and he’s not about to let her die now. He will protect the girl he loves from the evil he accidentally unleashed, even if it means sacrificing the only thing he has left…his soul.



Winners of The Snow Child!

Congrats to Valentino - entry 148 and Jeanne - entry 85!  You have each won a copy of The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey.  Check you emails!

It's Monday! What are you reading? (Feb 20, 2012)



What are you reading on Mondays is hosted by Sheila at One Person's Journey - You can hook up with the Mr. Linky there with your own post - but be sure and let me know what you are reading too! 


Currently reading: All of these books are so good right now it is hard to decide which one to read!




Books up this week:
Frantic by Mike Dellosso
Gathering of Waters by Bernice McFadden





Audio Book:
Graceling by Kristin Cashmore



Bathroom Book:




Books finished since last post:





Books Reviewed since last post:
Voices of the Dead by Peter Leonard
A Place to Die by Dorothy James




Children's Books read and/or reviewed since last post:
The Lorax by Dr. Seuss




Until next week ----  Ready - Set - Read!


Mailbox Monday (Feb 20, 2012)


 Mailbox Monday will be hosted in February at Metroreader.  In My Mailbox is hosted Sundays at The Story Siren. Please visit these posts and take a look at what packages everybody else got this week! 




For review:
You're Already Amazing
Embracing Who You Are, Becoming All God Created You to Be
by Holley Gerth


Pssst . . . pull up a chair and I'll tell you a secret.  You'd better lean in close for this one.

Ready?

You don't have to do more, be more, have more.

I'm sure there are security alarms going off somewhere.  You should probably hide this book when your in-laws come over.

But it's true.

It's the kind of true that will change your life, set you free, and make you wake up smiling for the first time in a long time.  I know because that's what it did for me. . .

So watch out, sister.  If you keep reading you just might be next.


With this heart-to-heart message, Holley Gerth invites you to embrace one very important truth -- that you truly are already amazing.  Like a trusted friend, Holley gently shows you how to forget the lies and expectations the world feeds you and instead believe that God loves you and has bigger plans for your life than you've even imagined.





For review:

Frantic
by Mike Dellosso

Can a deranged serial killer be stopped before it's too late?

For gas station attendant Marny Toogood it's just another day on the job when an urgent message from a young girl in the backseat of a car draws him into a daring rescue attempt.  Now on the run with the girl and her brother, Marny begins to realize he must conquer his own past and surrender all to Christ.

As they face kidnapping, underground cults, and other evils, can Marny trust the simple faith of a child and stand his ground against a power so twisted?








For review: 
The Good Father
by Noah Hawley

As the chief of rheumatology at Columbia Presbyterian, Dr. Paul Allen's specialty is diagnosing patients with conflicting symptoms, patients other doctors have given up on.  He lives a contented life in Westport, Connecticut, with his second wife and their twin sons -- a life hard-won after a failed marriage that produced a son named Daniel.

In the gripping opening scene of this compulsively readable novel, Dr. Allen is home with his family when a televised news report announces that the Democratic candidate for president has been shot at a rally.  Daniel is accused of pulling the trigger, sending the Allen family down a harrowing path of no return.

Daniel Allen has always been a good kid -- a decent student, popular -- but, as a child of divorce used to shuttling back and forth between parents, he is also something of a drifter.  Which may be why, at the age of nineteen, he quietly drops out of Vassar and begins an aimless journey across the United States, during which he sheds his former skin and eventually even changes his name to Carter Allen Cash.

Who is ultimately to blame when a child turns out to be far from what his parents ever expected?  How long can a parent punish himself for the events of the past?  When does a parent let go?

This absorbing novel unflinchingly defines the responsibilities -- and limitations -- of being a parent and examines our capacity to provide our children with unconditional love in the face of an unthinkable situation.








For review: 
What Dies in Summer
by Tom Wright

"I did what I did, and that's on me."  From that tantalizing first sentence, Tom Wright sweeps us up in a tale of lost innocence.  Jim has a touch of the Sight.  It's nothing too spooky and generally useless, at least until the summer his cousin L.A. moves in with him and their grandmother.  When Jim and L.A. discover the body of a girl, brutally raped and murdered in a field, an investigation begins that will put both their lives in danger.  In the spirit of The Lovely Bones and The Little Friend, What Dies in Summer is a novel that casts its spell on the very first page and leaves an indelible mark.







Purchased for a read-along:
The Hunger Games
by Suzanne Collins

In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts.  The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV.

Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister's place in the Games.  But Katniss has been close to dead before -- and survival, for her, is second nature.  Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender.  But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that weigh survival against humanity and life against love.





Paperback Swap: 

The Awakening
by Kelley Armstrong

If you had met me a few weeks ago, you probably would have described me as an average teenage girl -- someone normal.  Now my life has changed forever and I'm as far away from normal as it gets.  A living science experiment -- not only can I see ghosts, but I was genetically altered by a sinister organization called the Edison Group.  What does that mean?   For starters, I'm a teenage necromancer whose powers are out of control; I raise the dead without even trying.  Trust me, that is not a power you want to have.  Ever.

Now I'm running for my life with three of my supernatural friends -- a charming sorcerer, a cynical werewolf, and a disgruntled witch -- and we have to find someone who can help us before the Edison Group finds us first.  Or die trying.






Saturday, February 18, 2012

A Place to Die by Dorothy James (Book Review and Blog Tour)


Title: A Place to Die
Author: Dorothy James
Publisher: Author Solutions

About the book: Eleanor and Franz Fabian arrive from New York to spend Christmas with Franzs mother in her sedate retirement home in the Vienna Woods. Their expectations are low: at best, boredom, at worst, run-of-the-mill family friction. But when the wealthy, charming Herr Graf is found dead in his apartment with an ugly head wound, the Fabians are thrust into a homicide investigation.

Some residents and staff have surprising connections to the dead man, but who would have wanted to kill him? Inspector Buchner tracks down the murderer against a backdrop of Viennese history from the Nazi years to the present day. Witty, suspenseful, lyrical, this is a literary whodunit that will keep you guessing till the last page.



My thoughts: This was just not a good week for me to read this book.  I had numerous interuptions to my normal schedule so did not get a lot of good reading "chunks" of time.  Because of that, this book started out confusing to me with the cast of characters.  It was set at the Haus im Wald in Austria, basically on old folks home - or, as the title implies, A Place to Die.  In addition to the inhabitants of the home, there was also some visitors and the staff that all were pulled into the investigation. 

Once I was able to start to sort out the characters, the story started to move along for me.  I really liked Eleanor Fabian. She had really only come a long with her husband out of a sense of duty that she felt toward her own parents.  There was no love left between her and her husband and neither one of them could probably tell you why they were still together.  She develops a little crush on the Inspector and insinuates herself into helping with the investigation. 

There is also more than one mystery going on, and lots of buried relationships and secrets.  It was more like a Peyton Place than a retirement home! Regardless of age, passions and jealousies can still run strong.  I would read another Inspector Buchner mystery, but would prefer less personal distractions until I get immersed in the story! 

About the author:  Dorothy James was born in Wales and grew up in the South Wales Valleys. Writer, editor, and translator, she has published short stories as well as books and articles on German and Austrian literature. She has taught at universities in the U.S., England, and Germany, makes her home now in Brooklyn and often spends time in Vienna and Berlin.

She wrote A Place to Die in her attic apartment on the edge of the Vienna Woods. She has travelled far from Wales, but has not lost the Welsh love of playing with language; she writes poems for pleasure as does Chief Inspector Büchner, the whimsical Viennese detective who unravels the first mystery in this new series of novels.



~I was provided a complimentary e-copy of this book from Tribute Books in exchange for my honest review.~



There are all sorts of places where you can find out more about A Place to Die and Dorothy James.

Dorothy James' web site:
http://www.viennamysteries.com/

Dorothy James' blog:
http://www.myplaceformystery.com/

A Place to Die Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Vienna-Mysteries/114871195254205?sk=wall

Dorothy James' Twitter:
http://twitter.com/valleyvoice

Tribute Books Blog Tours Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Tribute-Books-Blog-Tours/242431245775186

A Place to Die blog tour site:
http://aplacetodieblogtour.blogspot.com/

Publisher/Publication Date: Author Solutions, April 2010
ISBN: 9781450082709
436 pages


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