Sunday, April 29, 2012

Introducing...Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake by Anna Quindlen

Introducing books through the first paragraph or so...

It's odd when I think of the arc of my life, from child to young woman to aging adult. First I was who I was. Then I didn't know who I was. Then I invented someone and became her. Then I began to like what I'd invented. And finally I was what I was again.

-- Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake by Anna Quindlen

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Introducing...The Fire Starter Sessions by Danielle LaPorte

Introducing books through the first chapter or so...

When being real is your priority, the various parts of your life start to groove. Your career will begin to reflect your true passion; your living room will match your values; your friends will fit your soul; and your wealth-- of which there are many definitions-- will start to measure up with your notion of freedom. Sometimes the courage to be true to yourself comes in the form of an out-loud declaration, a rebellion, or a love-drenched vow. Other times it's a quiet conviction that we can read in your eyes. Mighty or discreet, authenticity is the muscle that helps you shake up beliefs, policies, and restraints, and gives you the strength to do the things some say can't be done. Being genuine is the foundation of integrity-- often inconvenient and not always painless-- but the only way to go if you're here to really, truly, fully live.

-- The Fire Starter Sessions: A Soulful + Practical Guide to Creating Success on Your Own Terms by Danielle LaPorte

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

ARTICLE SHARING: A novelist's letter to the editor...


Letters of Note blogged an article regarding the 1947 letter of novelist Raymond Chandler to the editor of The Atlantic Monthly. I loved the letter, but I loved his poem to the paper's proofreader even more! Check it out!

REVIEW: Freaks of the Heartland by Steve Niles

Synopsis

Under the weathered skies of America's heartland, and in the wounded hearts of every family in one tiny rural town, a terrible secret has been kept for too many years. Now, a young boy named Trevor must try to keep his younger brother Will from falling victim to the worst fears of a troubled town that can't begin to understand the tragic secret that binds its families together. Some folks would call Trevor's brother a monster. But to Trevor, Will is just another kid trapped in a dark reality he can't comprehend. When the situation moves from bad to worse, and their father threatens to do away with Will, Trevor learns that they're not alone - that "freak" children were born to other families in Gristlewood Valley. Against all odds, and with nothing but love for his brother in his heart, Trevor is going to do whatever he can to get the freak children out of harm's way, if it's not already too late.

Paperback, 170 pages
Published July 19th 2005 by Dark Horse Comics (first published July 20th 1995)
ISBN 1593070292 (ISBN13: 9781593070298)


About the Author

Steve resides north of Los Angeles with his girlfriend, Monica, two dogs, four cats and Gil the tortoise. While there's no crawlspace, there is a questionable closet in one corner and no one is quite sure what is hidden in there... but we have an idea.

Check out the author's website



My Thoughts

This was my first graphic novel, aside from comic books and Heavy Metal as a kid. But the cover caught my eye.

I loved the graphics in this novel! The colors reminded me of the movie Sin City. Beiges and tans, gold, black, with striking orange and red splattered throughout. The colors of fall.

The faces were very expressive, and one of my favorites was one that did not make it into the finished product (as it was deemed too "scary" for the character to gain the sympathy of the reader), but it can be found in the "Sketchbook and Notes" at the end of the novel.

The novel had a good storyline, and attracted me because of the "creep factor". The idea of a giant deformed kid being kept in the barn, hidden from society, was just too creepy to resist!

So, for someone like me that has never read a graphic novel, this was a great way to be introduced to the genre. The author was also behind the graphic novel 30 Days of Night, which was adapted to movie a few years ago, and I absolutely love that movie. It has the ultimate "creep factor"!

If you like graphic novels, or if you like horror, check out Freaks of the Heartland. You won't be sorry!

My Rating: 7.5 out of 10


Disclosure:

I received a copy of this ebook to review through Netgalley, in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not financially compensated in any way, and the opinions expressed are my own and based on my observations while reading this novel.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Mailbox Monday (04-22-12 edition)

 Image licensed from bigstockphoto.com
Copyright stands

Mailbox Monday is now hosted monthly by a different blog. Here is the official blog of Mailbox Monday.  Here's what I've received over the last few weeks:


Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey
Won from So Many Precious Books, So Little Time

Alaska, 1920: a brutal place to homestead, and especially tough for recent arrivals Jack and Mabel. Childless, they are drifting apart--he breaking under the weight of the work of the farm; she crumbling from loneliness and despair. In a moment of levity during the season's first snowfall, they build a child out of snow. The next morning the snow child is gone--but they glimpse a young, blonde-haired girl running through the trees. This little girl, who calls herself Faina, seems to be a child of the woods. She hunts with a red fox at her side, skims lightly across the snow, and somehow survives alone in the Alaskan wilderness. As Jack and Mabel struggle to understand this child who could have stepped from the pages of a fairy tale, they come to love her as their own daughter. But in this beautiful, violent place things are rarely as they appear, and what they eventually learn about Faina will transform all of them.


Walter's Muse by Jean Davies Okimoto
Won from Great Imaginations

 It's the first summer of her retirement and librarian Maggie Lewis is relishing the unfolding of sweet summer days on Vashon Island: walking on the beach, reading the classics, and kayaking. But in June when a sudden storm hits the island, Maggie's summer becomes about as peaceful as navigating whitewater. Not only does her wealthy sister arrive uninvited with a startling announcement, but Maggie finds herself entangled with her new Baker's Beach neighbor, Walter Hathaway. A famous children's author and recovering alcoholic, Walter has a history with Maggie they would each like to forget. Delightfully told with humor and insight, Walter's Muse is a page turner for romantics, writers, and the young at heart at any age.


An Invisible Thread by Laura Schroff
Won from Peeking Between the Pages

When Laura Schroff brushed by a young panhandler on a New York City corner one rainy afternoon, something made her stop and turn back. She took the boy to lunch at the McDonald's across the street that day. And she continued to go back, again and again for the next four years until both of their lives had changed dramatically. Nearly thirty years later, that young boy Maurice has gotten married and has his own children. Now he works to change the lives of disadvantaged kids, just like the boy he used to be.An Invisible Thread is the true story of the bond between a harried sales executive and an eleven-year-old boy who seemed destined for a life of poverty. It is the heartwarming story of a friendship that has spanned three decades and brought meaning to an over-scheduled professional and hope to a hungry and desperate boy living on the streets.

 
The Warmest December by Bernice L. McFadden
Won through LibraryThing

For Kenzie, growing up in the Lowe home means opening the bottom drawer of her father's dresser to choose which belt she will be whipped with that night, furtive trips to the Bee Hive Liquor store for her father's vodka, and dreaming of the day she can escape apartment A5.

Buoyed by the lyrical, redemptive voice that distinguished Bernice L. McFadden's earlier novel, The Warmest December tells the powerful, deeply moving story of one family and the alcoholism and abuse that marked all of their lives. Moving fluidly between the past and the present -- as the adult Kenzie visits the bedside of her dying father -- it is an ultimately cathartic tale of hope, healing, and forgiveness.


The Fire Starter Sessions by Danielle LaPorte
Received from Crown Publishing

The Fire Starter Sessions is an apathy-kicking, integrity-infusing guide to defining success on your own terms.

As the creator of DanielleLaPorte.com--deemed “the best place online for kick-ass spirituality,” Danielle LaPorte’s straight-talk life-and-livelihood sermons have been read by over one million people. Bold but empathetic, she reframes popular self-help and success concepts:

: Life balance is a myth, and the pursuit of it is causing us more stress then the craving for balance itself.
: Being well-rounded is over-rated. When you focus on developing your true strengths, you enter your mastery zone.
: Screw your principles (they might be holding you back).
: We have ambition backwards. Getting clear on how you want to feel in your life + work is more important than setting goals. It's the most potent form of clarity that you can have, and it's what leads to true fulfillment

Saturday, April 21, 2012

READATHON APRIL 2012: Hour 1

Today is Dewey's 24-hour Read-a-thon, for which I've really been really looking forward. Unfortunately I had a lot of stuff come up today, so I may not be able to get too much reading in. We'll see how it goes!

In the meantime, here is my introduction:

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today? South Florida
2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to? I would just love to make some progress on The Passage by Justin Cronin. It's a monster of a book!
3) Which snack are you most looking forward to? I actually haven't bought any yet, knowing that I won't be able to do a full-on readathon this year.
4) Tell us a little something about yourself! I'm a little bit techie, a little bit rock and roll. Currently the caretaker of a dog, four cats, a lovebird and a turtle. I've been book blogging for three years this month.
5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to? It's all about fun. No expectations!

Hope everyone enjoys themselves today! Now get to it!

Introducing...Kea's Flight by Erika Hammerschmidt and John C. Ricker

Introducing books through the first chapter or so...

I was five years old. I grew too fast, moved too much, used up every calorie on fidgeting and running around. Every day at lunch I sucked the tube empty of nutrient fluid, poked my tongue into its tip until nothing remained of its flavor, ate my whole energy bar in four bites and licked every molecule of taste from the wrapper that it came in.

-- Kea's Flight by Erika Hammerschmidt and John C. Ricker

Friday, April 20, 2012

REVIEW: Edge of Dark Water by Joe R. Lansdale

Synopsis

Mark Twain meets classic Stephen King--a bold new direction for widely acclaimed Edgar Award winner Joe R. Lansdale.

May Lynn was once a pretty girl who dreamed of becoming a Hollywood star. Now she's dead, her body dredged up from the Sabine River.

Sue Ellen, May Lynn's strong-willed teenage friend, sets out to dig up May Lynn's body, burn it to ash, and take those ashes to Hollywood to spread around. If May Lynn can't become a star, then at least her ashes will end up in the land of her dreams.

Along with her friends Terry and Jinx and her alcoholic mother, Sue Ellen steals a raft and heads downriver to carry May Lynn's remains to Hollywood.

Only problem is, Sue Ellen has some stolen money that her enemies will do anything to get back. And what looks like a prime opportunity to escape from a worthless life will instead lead to disastrous consequences. In the end, Sue Ellen will learn a harsh lesson on just how hard growing up can really be.


Hardcover, 292 pages
Published March 25th 2012 by Little, Brown and Company
ISBN 0316188433 (ISBN13: 9780316188432)


About the Author
from his website

Champion Mojo Storyteller Joe R. Lansdale is the author of over thirty novels and numerous short stories. His work has appeared in national anthologies, magazines, and collections, as well as numerous foreign publications. He has written for comics, television, film, newspapers, and Internet sites. His work has been collected in eighteen short-story collections, and he has edited or co-edited over a dozen anthologies. He has received the Edgar Award, eight Bram Stoker Awards, the Horror Writers Association Lifetime Achievement Award, the British Fantasy Award, the Grinzani Cavour Prize for Literature, the Herodotus Historical Fiction Award, the Inkpot Award for Contributions to Science Fiction and Fantasy, and many others. His novella Bubba Hotep was adapted to film by Don Coscarelli, starring Bruce Campbell and Ossie Davis. His story "Incident On and Off a Mountain Road" was adapted to film for Showtime's "Masters of Horror." He is currently co-producing several films, among them The Bottoms, based on his Edgar Award-winning novel, with Bill Paxton and Brad Wyman, and The Drive-In, with Greg Nicotero. He is Writer In Residence at Stephen F. Austin State University, and is the founder of the martial arts system Shen Chuan: Martial Science and its affiliate, Shen Chuan Family System. He is a member of both the United States and International Martial Arts Halls of Fame. He lives in Nacogdoches, Texas with his wife, dog, and two cats.  

Follow Joe on Twitter
Like Joe on Facebook
Check out this interview with Joe by another of my favorite authors Robert McCammon
And this interview from Mulholland Books


My Thoughts
That summer, Daddy went from telephoning and dynamiting fish to poisoning them with green walnuts.
Town/Location:

The story takes place in a small town near Gladewater, Texas.

Gladewater, TX sign IMG 4913

This story is narrated by Sue Ellen, a young girl living in poverty in a small southern town during the Depression. A local girl is found dead, and Sue Ellen and her friends are joined by Sue Ellen's mother as they head out to take the ashes of the young wannabe starlet to her ultimate goal of Hollywood.

Of all of the characters, I think my favorite was probably Jinx. I loved her honesty and found it refreshing. Any scene with Jinx I could see clearly in my head, as Jinx was so colorful and full of life-- a mouthy little firecracker!

At times this book made me feel somewhat depressed, but a lot of the time it made me smile with the quaint colloquialisms and honest remarks. And once it actually made me shiver, as a few parts of the story were particularly creepy.

A mysterious and dangerous character by the name of Skunk is introduced partway through the story, and this character was presented in such a creepy way that I actually felt a shiver go through me at one point, which is not easy to do. I do not creep-out easily!

Part psychological thriller, part pure entertainment, and part cautionary tale, this story held my attention throughout. While not a roaring ride, it kept a nice steady pace, and it kept me guessing.

I loved the author's writing style. Shocking, honest, horrifying, and brutal. I can't wait to read more.
Mama smiled at me as I sat down in a stuffed chair by the bed. The chair smelled damp and old, like a wet grandma. (p. 56)

“I know. I wear my mistakes like a coat, only it’s heavier,” Mama said. (p. 110)

She touched my hand, and then was quiet. I snuggled in close. I felt like a sad old dog that had finally been petted. (p. 112)

“She’s still a human being,” Mama said. “God makes all human beings, no matter who they are.”

“Well, he needs him a better mold,’ Jinx said, ‘cause some of these he’s making ain’t worth the waste of material.” (p. 241)
I was not a real fan of the book cover. Branches in the foreground, hazy background with a glimpse of the sun. The font looks as if it is smeared by water. I think it is somewhat clever, but it just doesn’t appeal to me. However my male friend absolutely loved the cover! So maybe it’s a guy/girl thing...

My final word: Author Joe Lansdale has found a fast fan in me. Honest and genuine writing, quirky southern prose, refreshing characters, and shocking subject matter coalesce into one of the best books I've read thus far this year, and has left me hungering for more!

Cover: 6.5/10
Writing Style: 9/10
Characters: 8.5/10
Storyline/Plot: 9/10
Interest/Uniqueness: 9/10

My Rating: 9 out of 10


Disclosure:

I received a copy of this e-book to review from Little, Brown and Company, in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not financially compensated in any way, and the opinions expressed are my own and based on my observations while reading this novel.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Introducing...Edge of Dark Water by Joe R. Lansdale

Introducing books through the first chapter or so... 

That summer, Daddy went from telephoning and dynamiting fish to poisoning them with green walnuts. The dynamite was messy, and a couple years before he'd somehow got two fingers blown off, and the side of his face had a burn spot that at first glance looked like a lipstick kiss and at second glance looked like some kind of rash.

-- Edge of Dark Water by Joe R. Lansdale

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

ARTICLE SHARING: Edible Books and Contest

LibraryThing is holding a contest for readers to create "edible books".

They seem to have gotten this idea from the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library, who had a competition and got some great entries. A few of my favorites:

Edible Books 2012 / Gwen Hughes

Edible Books 2012 / Best Play on Words

Edible Books 2012 / Betsy Roe

Edible Books 2012 / 1st Runner-up

Enter the LibraryThing contest with your own edible book creation for your chance to win some LibraryThing swag! You have until May 10th to enter...

TLC BOOK TOUR and REVIEW: The Cove by Ron Rash

Synopsis

The New York Times bestselling author of Serena returns to Appalachia, this time at the height of World War I, with the story of a blazing but doomed love affair caught in the turmoil of a nation at war

Deep in the rugged Appalachians of North Carolina lies the cove, a dark, forbidding place where spirits and fetches wander, and even the light fears to travel. Or so the townsfolk of Mars Hill believe–just as they know that Laurel Shelton, the lonely young woman who lives within its shadows, is a witch. Alone except for her brother, Hank, newly returned from the trenches of France, she aches for her life to begin.

Then it happens–a stranger appears, carrying nothing but a beautiful silver flute and a note explaining that his name is Walter, he is mute, and is bound for New York. Laurel finds him in the woods, nearly stung to death by yellow jackets, and nurses him back to health. As the days pass, Walter slips easily into life in the cove and into Laurel's heart, bringing her the only real happiness she has ever known.

But Walter harbors a secret that could destroy everything–and danger is closer than they know. Though the war in Europe is near its end, patriotic fervor flourishes thanks to the likes of Chauncey Feith, an ambitious young army recruiter who stokes fear and outrage throughout the county. In a time of uncertainty, when fear and ignorance reign, Laurel and Walter will discover that love may not be enough to protect them.

This lyrical, heart-rending tale, as mesmerizing as its award-winning predecessor Serena, shows once again this masterful novelist at the height of his powers.


Hardcover, 272 pages
Published April 10th 2012 by Ecco (first published February 22nd 2012)
ISBN 0061804193 (ISBN13: 9780061804199)


About the Author

Ron Rash is the author of three prize-winning novels: One Foot in Eden, Saints at the River, and The World Made Straight; three collections of poems; and two collections of stories. A recipient of the O. Henry Prize, he holds the John Parris Chair in Appalachian Studies at Western Carolina University. 




My Thoughts
The truck's government tag always tipped them off before his Kansas accent could.
Town/Location:

This story takes place in the Appalachian Mountains in North Carolina.

Blue Ridge NC


There is an ethereal feel to this story, as if the Cove was part of another world. I found myself drawn in by Laurel, a sad and lonely young woman lost to the Cove. Laurel is rather a mix of simple and complex. She speaks simply, she lives simply, she loves simply. However she is not simple-minded. Intelligent and strong, life in the Cove has not broken her. Devoted to a brother that is her world and ostracized by her community, she clings every day to every minute glimpse of beauty that she can find, few as they are in such a desolate landscape.

Her brother Hank is an honorable man who was horribly wounded in the war against the Germans. He and his sister are both viewed as outsiders, living in a Cove that most feel is cursed. However while Hank returns from the war a hero and sees a better life in his future, his sister Laurel will never be anything but cursed, marked at birth as a witch.

The Cove is viewed by the town as cursed, but in seeing the Cove through Laurel’s eyes I came to love it. Quiet and peaceful, it is free of people, since everyone fears it. There are some areas completely in shadow where light never falls, but there are also pockets of beauty where butterflies flit and colorful parakeets skirt across the sky as sunlight glistens in a hidden copse. There is always beauty in life. Sometimes you just have to look a little harder for it.

This is a story of judgement-- people passing judgement that they have no right to pass-- and the story slowly reveals itself, like the peeling of an onion, layer by layer.

I would consider this story to have a didactic theme, with a moral lesson hiding in the story. However there is also something cautionary about it. This story left me feeling a little like one of my favorite movies, The Spitfire Grill, leaves me feeling whenever I watch it-- melancholic yet hopeful.

I love the cover! Showing a redhead immersed waist-deep in the murky water of a creek or river, it is mysterious and serene and almost foreboding.

My final word: As the title would indicate, the setting in this story is everything. The ethereal feel of the Cove, the darkness, dankness, with pockets of beauty, is haunting. Laurel is one of these hidden beautiful bits. Unfortunately few could see the beauty of the Cove, nor that of Laurel. But I definitely felt the beautiful spirit of this story. I loved it, and am looking forward to reading more of Ron Rash's work!

Cover: 9/10
Writing Style: 9/10
Characters: 8.5/10
Storyline/Plot: 8/10
Interest/Uniqueness: 8.5/10

My Rating: 9 out of 10


Disclosure:

I received a copy of this book to review through TLC Book Tours, in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not financially compensated in any way, and the opinions expressed are my own and based on my observations while reading this novel. 

Check out the full book tour schedule:

Monday, April 9th: Peeking Between the Pages
Wednesday, April 11th: “That’s Swell!”
Thursday, April 12th: The Whimsical Cottage
Monday, April 16th: Just Joanna
Tuesday, April 17th: Picky Girl
Wednesday, April 18th: Cerebral Girl in a Redneck World
Thursday, April 19th: A Musing Reviews
Monday, April 23rd: Life In Review
Tuesday, April 24th: Lit and life
Wednesday, April 25th: Brandi Reads
Thursday, April 26th: West Metro Mommy
Monday, April 30th: The Road to Here
Tuesday, May 1st: The Mookse and the Gripes
Thursday, May 3rd: Bookfoolery and Babble
Monday, May 7th: Tina’s Book Reviews
Tuesday, May 15th: Life Fire
Tuesday, May 22nd: Layers of Thought


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

REVIEW: Getaway by Lisa Brackmann

Synopsis

Michelle Mason tells herself she’s on vacation. A brief stay in the Mexican resort town of Puerto Vallarta. It’s a chance to figure out her next move after the unexpected death of her banker husband, who’s left behind a scandal and a pile of debt. The trip was already paid for, and it beats crashing in her sister’s spare room. When a good-looking man named Daniel approaches her on the beach, the margaritas have kicked in and she decides: why not?

But the date doesn’t go as either of them planned. An assault on Daniel in her hotel room, switched cell phones and an encounter with a “friend” of Daniel’s named Gary gets Michelle enmeshed in a covert operation involving drug runners, goons, and venture capitalists. Michelle already knows she’s caught in a dangerous trap. But she quickly finds that running is not an option. If she’s not careful, she’ll end up buried in the town dump, with the rest of the trash. Now she needs to fight smart if she wants to survive her vacation.


Paperback, 320 pages
Expected publication: May 1st 2012 by Soho Press
ISBN 1616950714 (ISBN13: 9781616950712)



About the Author
from the author's website

Lisa Brackmann has worked as an executive at a major motion picture studio, an issues researcher in a presidential campaign, and was the singer/songwriter/bassist in an LA rock band. She still takes pride in her karaoke-ready repertoire of bad pop hits and an embarrassing number of show tunes. Her debut novel, ROCK PAPER TIGER, set on the fringes of the Chinese art world, made several “Best of 2010″ lists, including Amazon’s Top 100 Novels and Top 10 Mystery/Thrillers, and was nominated for the Strand Magazine Critics Award for Best First Novel. A San Diego native, she lives in Venice CA.

Follow Lisa on Twitter 
Become a fan on Facebook


My Thoughts
Michelle dropped the sarong she'd started to tie around her waist onto her lounge chair. Nobody cared what her thighs looked like.

Town/Location:

Most of this story takes place in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Photo of street in Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, Mexico, taken November 2005 by User:Stan Shebs

Michelle Mason is at a crossroads in her life after the recent death of her husband. In order to recuperate and gain some perspective, she takes a trip to Puerto Vallarta where she soon meets local American Danny and finds herself caught amidst a mystery fraught with danger.

This was an enjoyable story, but something about it fell a little flat. I think it was the character development. This is one of those suspenseful stories that keeps you guessing, and you really have no idea who to trust. Unfortunately this leads to characters that aren't very well developed, in order to assure that you don't really know who they are or whether they can be trusted. This created characters that I found mostly one-dimensional.

And there were moments that were alluded to, but never revealed further, leaving me wondering what was happening behind scenes. Or a minor detail that seemed a focus of attention which I thought would lead to something, but it never did, so I would be left wondering why such focus was put on that little detail? Was it purposeful, to throw me off?

This was very easy to read without bogging down the story with overly descriptive text. However in the first 100 pages there were too many slow moments, which would lead to me losing focus.

My final word: While many of the ancillary characters orbiting around the central storyline seemed a little flat and one-dimensional, I enjoyed the guessing game of "what next?" with this story. I never really connected with Michelle, I wanted Danny to have more charisma, and some characters had so little impact that I almost wondered why they were included at all. Too many storylines were left open-ended, so I was left with too many questions after it was all over. Overall this was a good "light" read that will keep you guessing, even after the story is over.


Cover: 7.5/10
Writing Style: 8/10
Characters: 7/10
Storyline/Plot: 8/10
Interest/Uniqueness: 7.5/10


My Rating: 8 out of 10

Getaway is expected to be released May 1st.

Disclosure:

I received a copy of this book to review through Netgalley, in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not financially compensated in any way, and the opinions expressed are my own and based on my observations while reading this novel. The book that I received was an uncorrected proof.

Monday, April 16, 2012

BLOG HOP and GIVEAWAY: The Day the World Ends by Ethan Coen


Welcome to the "No Strings Attached Giveaway Hop", hosted by I Am a Reader, Not a Writer. As Kathy explains: "This hop is for all the people who hate jumping through hoops to enter giveaways. This is a no strings attached, no requirements to enter hop."

You may not be aware that April is "National Poetry Month", and in honor of this I have something special up for grabs today...

Synopsis

Ethan Coen’s screenplays have surprised and delighted international audiences with their hilarious vision and bizarrely profound understanding of human nature. With his brother, Joel, Coen has written, directed, and produced some of the most original and beloved movies in the history of cinema, including Raising Arizona; Miller’s Crossing; Barton Fink; The Hudsucker Proxy; Fargo; The Big Lebowski; O Brother, Where Art Thou?; Intolerable Cruelty; an adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s No Country for Old Men; Burn After Reading; and—most recently—True Grit, which was nominated for ten Academy Awards. Coen has also written collections of critically acclaimed plays (Almost an Evening), short stories (Gates of Eden), and poetry (The Drunken Driver Has the Right of Way), all presented in his distinctly humorous and oddly brilliant literary voice.

Coen’s eccentric genius is revealed again in THE DAY THE WORLD ENDS (Broadway Paperbacks Original, on sale April 3, 2012), a collection of poems that offers humor and provides insight into an artist who has always pushed the boundaries of his craft. THE DAY THE WORLD ENDS  is a remarkable range of poems that are as funny, ribald, provocative, raw, and often touching as the brilliant films that have made the Coen brothers cult legends.

Short, accessible, and nearly the same price as a movie ticket, this new poetry collection is a perfect treat for Coen’s legions of fans.



About the Author

When not writing plays, poetry, or short stories, ETHAN COEN makes movies with his brother, Joel Coen. After thirteen films, the Coen brothers have one of the most beloved and critically acclaimed bodies of work in the history of cinema.

GIVEAWAY: In celebration of National Poetry Month, Crown Publishing Group is offering up a copy of this off-beat book of poetry to one of my readers! This giveaway is open to residents of the US and Canada only, and will end April 22, 2012. To enter, just use the Rafflecopter form below:

BOOK REVEAL: Taste by Kate Evangelista

Synopsis

At Barinkoff Academy, there's only one rule: no students on campus after curfew. Phoenix McKay soon finds out why when she is left behind at sunset. A group calling themselves night students threaten to taste her flesh until she is saved by a mysterious, alluring boy. With his pale skin, dark eyes, and  mesmerizing voice, Demitri is both irresistible and impenetrable. He warns her to stay away from his dangerous world of flesh eaters. Unfortunately, the gorgeous and playful Luka has other plans.

When Phoenix is caught between her physical and her emotional attraction, she becomes the keeper of a deadly secret that will rock the foundations of an ancient civilization living beneath Barinkoff Academy. Phoenix doesn’t realize until it is too late that the closer she gets to both Demitri and Luka the more she is plunging them all into a centuries old feud.


About the Author

When Kate Evangelista was told she had a knack for writing stories, she did the next best thing: entered medical school. After realizing she wasn't going to be the next Doogie Howser, M.D. , Kate wandered into the Literature department of her university and never looked back. Today, she is in possession of a piece of paper that says to the world she owns a Literature degree. To make matters worse, she took Master's courses in creative writing. In the end, she realized to be a writer, none of what she had  mattered.

What really mattered? Writing. Plain and simple, honest to God, sitting in front of her computer, writing. Today, she has four completed Young Adult novels.


Author Website: www.kateevangelista.com
Twitter: @KateEvangelista
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Kate-Evangelista/165693410143202
Find Taste on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13484226-taste
Crescent Moon Press page for Taste: http://crescentmoonpress.com/books/Taste.html

Check out the book trailer:


Song Credits: "Hunger" © Noelle Pico.
Full Download available at http://sheisnoelle.bandcamp.com

Read an excerpt: 

I mentally stomped on the intimidation their perfection brought into my mind and said, “Excuse me.”

The group froze, startled by my words. The girls had their brows raised and the boys stopped mid-speech, mouths agape. They stared at me with eyes the shade of onyx stones.

I smiled and gave them a little wave.

The boy a step ahead of the rest recovered first. His stunning features went from shocked surprise to intense interest. He reminded me of a hawk eyeing its prey. I gulped.

“A Day Student,” he said, his eyes insolent and excited.

Something about the way he said “Day Student” made my stomach flip. “Excuse me?”

They snickered. The boys looked at each other while the girls continued to stare, muffling their laughter by delicate hands. I seemed to be the butt of some joke.

“You broke the rule.” The boy’s grin turned predatory.

The students formed a loose semi-circle in front of me. My gaze darted from face to face. Hunger filled their eyes. The image of lions about to chase down a gazelle came to mind. I mentally shook my head. I was in the mountains not the Serengeti for crying out loud.

I took a small step back and cleared my throat. “Can any of you give me a ride back to the dorms?”

The boy wagged his forefinger like a metronome. “Ah, that’s unfortunate for you.”

One of the girls pinched the bridge of her nose. “Eli, you can’t possibly—”

“It’s forbidden, Eli,” another boy interrupted, pronouncing the word “forbidden” like a curse.

The nervous murmur at the pit of my stomach grew louder. Six against one. Not good odds. Instinct told me to cut my losses and run. Bad enough I faced expulsion, now it seemed like weird, beautiful people who’d suddenly appeared on campus wanted to beat me up. No, scratch that. Judging from the way they studied me, beating me up wouldn’t satisfy them. Something more primal prowled behind their looks.

I definitely wasn’t going down without a fight. Years of self-defense and hand-to- hand combat classes had me prepared. While other children from rich and important families got bodyguards, I got defense training. But I think my father meant for my skills to go up against potential kidnappers, not against other students who may or may not be crazy. Oh God! Maybe I stepped into a parallel universe or something when I reentered Barinkoff.

“None of the students are supposed to be on campus,” I said. Then, realizing my mistake, I added, “Okay, I know I’m not supposed to be here either. If one of you gives me a ride back to the dorms, I won’t say anything about all this. Let’s pretend this never happened. I didn’t see you, you didn’t see me.”

“We’re not ordinary students,” Eli answered. “We’re the Night Students.”

He’d said “Night Students” like the words were capitalized. I didn’t know Barinkoff held classes at night. What was going on here?

Eli smiled with just one side of his mouth and said to the group, “She’s right, no one will have to know. We’re the only ones here. And it’s been so long, don’t you agree?”

The rest of them nodded reluctantly.

“What’s been so long?” I challenged. I fisted my hands, ready to put them up if any of them so much as twitched my way.

“Since the taste of real flesh passed through my lips,” Eli said. He came forward and took a whiff of me then laughed when I cringed.

“Flesh.” Yep, parallel universe.

“Yes,” he said. “And yours smells so fresh.”

Someone grabbed my shoulders from behind and yanked me back before I could wrap my mind around the meaning behind Eli’s words. In a blink, I found myself behind someone tall. Someone really tall. And quite broad. And very male.

I realized he wore the same clothes Eli and the other boys did. Not good. He was one of them. Although… I cocked my head, raking my gaze over him. He seemed born to wear the uniform, like he was the pattern everyone else was cut from. My eyes wandered to long, layered, blue-black hair tied at the nape by a silk ribbon. Even in dim light, his hair possessed a sheen akin to mercury.

I looked down. The boy’s long fingers were wrapped around my wrist like a cuff.

His fevered touch felt hotter than human standards, hot enough to make me sweat like I was standing beside a radiator but not hot enough to burn.

“I must be mistaken, Eli,” the boy who held my arm said in a monotone. “Correct me. Did I hear you say you wanted to taste the flesh of this girl?”

A hush descended on us. It had the hairs at the back of my neck rising. How was it possible for the atmosphere to switch from threatening to dangerous? Unable to help myself, I peeked around the new guy’s bulk. Eli and his friends bowed. They all had their right hands on their chests.

“Demitri, I’m sure you misheard me,” Eli said.

So the guy standing between me and the person who said he’d wanted to taste me was named Demitri. I like the sound of his name. Demitri. So strong, yet rolls off the tongue. Definite yum factor.

“So, you imply I made a mistake?” Demitri demanded.

“No!” Eli lifted his gaze. “I did no such thing. I simply wanted to show the girl the consequences of breaking curfew.”

“Hey!” I yelled. “Don’t talk about me like I’m not here!”

Demitri ignored my protest and continued to address Eli. “So, you threatened to taste her flesh.” His fingers tightened their grip around my wrist. “In the interest of investigating this matter further, I invoke the Silence.”

All six students gasped, passing surprised glances at one another.

Before I could ask about what was going on, Demitri yanked me down the hall toward the library. But why there? Oh, maybe we were getting my things. No, wait, he couldn’t have known about that. Everything was too confusing now.

Eli and the others didn’t try to stop us when we passed them. Demitri’s cold command must have carried power. Handsome and powerful, never a bad combination on a guy.

We reached the heavy double doors in seconds. He jerked one open effortlessly.

I’d needed all my strength just to squeeze through that same door earlier. To him, the thick wood might as well have been cardboard. I raised an eyebrow and mentally listed the benefits of going to gym class.

“Why are we here?” I asked after my curiosity overpowered my worry. I’d almost forgotten how frightened I’d been right before Demitri showed up. I wasn’t above accepting help from strangers. Especially from gorgeous dark-haired strangers with hot hands and wide shoulders.

Demitri kept going, tugging me along, snaking his way deeper into the library. I had to take two steps for every stride his legs made. I tried to stay directly behind him, praying we didn’t slam into anything.

He stopped suddenly and I collided with him. It felt like slamming into a wall.

“Hey,” I said, momentarily stunned. “A little warning would be nice!”

He faced me, and I gasped. His eyes resembled a starless night, deep and endless.

Their intensity drilled through me without pity, seeming to expose all my secrets. I felt naked and flustered beneath his gaze.

“You could have died back there,” he warned.

A lump of panic rebuilt itself in my throat.


Congratulations to author Kate Evangelista on her new book Taste, due to be released May 2012. And in honor of her announcement, somewhere in this post is hidden a link to a super special excerpt! Can you find it?

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Introducing...Getaway by Lisa Brackmann

Introducing books through the first chapter or so... 

Michelle dropped the sarong she'd started to tie around her waist onto her lounge chair. Nobody cared what her thighs looked like.

-- Getaway by Lisa Brackmann


Friday, April 13, 2012

ARTICLE SHARING: "Backlit Bookshelves"

An article posted on Apartment Therapy about a simple DIY project that creates backlit bookshelves. Very cool!


ARTICLE SHARING: Mark Grist on Girls who Read

A charming recitation by poet Mark Grist on "girls who read".


Posted on YouTube by MarietteGemini

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Introducing...The Cove by Ron Rash

Introducing books through the first chapter or so...

The truck's government tag always tipped them off before his Kansas accent could. After a decade of working for the TVA, he'd learned the best reception to hope for was a brooding fatalism. He had been cursed and spit at and refused a place to eat or sleep, his tires slashed and mirrors and windshields shattered. Knives and guns had been drawn, pitchforks and axes wielded.

-- The Cove by Ron Rash

REVIEW: Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson

Synopsis

When retired Major Pettigrew strikes up an unlikely friendship with Mrs. Ali, the Pakistani village shopkeeper, he is drawn out of his regimented world and forced to confront the realities of life in the twenty-first century. Brought together by a shared love of literature and the loss of their respective spouses, the Major and Mrs. Ali soon find their friendship on the cusp of blossoming into something more. But although the Major was actually born in Lahore, and Mrs. Ali was born in Cambridge, village society insists on embracing him as the quintessential local and her as a permanent foreigner. The Major has always taken special pride in the village, but will he be forced to choose between the place he calls home and a future with Mrs. Ali?

Hardcover, 358 pages
Published March 2nd 2010 by Random House (first published 2010)
ISBN 0385668643 (ISBN13: 9781400068937)



About the Author
from the author's website

I have lived in America for over twenty years. I am a long-time and proud resident of Brooklyn, New York, though I have also spent some time living in the Washington DC area. However, I was born in England, and when I was a teenager, my family achieved the English dream - to move to a house in the country. 

East Sussex, with its sleepy villages, medieval smuggling towns, and unique pebble-bank shores is my vision of 'home.' My family lives near Rye, a 14th Century smuggling port on a cobbled hill, from which the sea receded long ago. It is marooned in the eerie landscape once home to smugglers, yet clings to its designation as a member of the Cinque Ports. Close by are the seaside towns of Hastings and Eastbourne and to the west, the Downs swell up into a ridge of grassy hills topped by the hundred mile trail known as the South Downs Way. It is literary country - Henry James at Lamb House, Rye; Kipling at Batemans, Burwash; Virginia Woolf at Monk's House, near Lewes - and this heritage was always a great inspiration to me.

As a young woman, I could not wait to go to college in London, or to move three thousand miles away from home to America. Yet I have always carried with me a longing for England that will not fade. I think this dichotomy - between the desire for home and the urge to leave - is of central interest to my life and my writing. —Helen Simonson

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My Thoughts
Major Pettigrew was still upset about the phone call from his brother's wife and so he answered the doorbell without thinking.
Town/Location:

The story takes place in the fictionalized village of Edgecombe St. Mary, which would probably look something like the traditional village scene below.

Okeford Fitzpaine, quintessential English village scene - geograph.org.uk - 473400

Major Pettigrew is having a difficult time. His brother just died, the gun he has always expected to inherit has gone to someone else, and he's at his wit's end with his self-centered son. The local store owner Mrs. Ali is having a difficult time herself. She is viewed in her Pakistani culture as having reached an age when she needs to hand things over to the next generation to carry on, and this isn't something about which she is very happy.

This was a charming story. It wasn't an exciting story or an especially challenging story, but it was quaint and charming.

Most of the main characters were very likable, and people I would actually like to know in real life. Major Pettigrew can be a bit surly at times, but I happen to like that about him. Mrs. Ali is warm and thoughtful, and carries herself with great poise. Grace is the sweetest and most forgiving of women. The Major’s son Roger is a grown spoiled brat, snobbish and quite a bit self-centered and inconsiderate. Sandy is a strong and independent American woman whom the Major's son brings home, and initially grating to a proper Englishman, she has a softness that eventually wins over the Major.

The Major and Mrs. Ali find themselves in a similar position. Mrs. Ali finds she is expected by her culture to give her life over to the next generation (in her case, this being her nephew), while the Major is similarly expected by his son to do the same and hand over what is precious to him.

This story showcases the underpinnings of a small village, the bigotry that can exist anywhere, and the difficulties of the older generation who are viewed as being at the end of their lives. However it also shows how pure love can be when experienced at an advanced age. In fact, someone in my book club stated that the courtship period in a relationship seems to last longer later in life. There are no kids to distract you, and more time to focus on one another. And another said that her teenage son had remarked to her that, thanks to a world of technology that offers constant connection, his generation doesn't get to experience the wonder of "anticipation" early on in a relationship. We all know that excitement-- the butterflies in the stomach, the restless impatience-- of waiting and anticipating seeing a new love again, or having the phone ring and hearing their voice. That sense of anticipation has been lost to the new generation. More's the pity.

Another undercurrent in the book is the racism and classism that exists in Britain and many places around the world. Major Pettigrew, the son of a British soldier, was born in Lahore, Pakistan. Mrs. Ali is of Pakistani descent, yet was born in Britain. However it is Mrs. Ali that is viewed as the foreigner and looked down upon, while Major Pettigrew is a respected man of class and wealth.

Of minor note, the book does make mention of Huguenots, which (being a Huguenot), is something that I always note:
“It says, ‘Mark Salisbury married this day to Daniela de Julien, late of La Rochelle.’ This is the first record of Huguenots settling in the village.” (p. 32)
A couple of other quotes that I noted:
“I don’t believe the greatest views in the world are great because they are vast or exotic,” she said. “I think their power comes from the knowledge that they do not change. You look at them and you know they have been the same for a thousand years.” (p. 108)

She raised an eyebrow in mock surprise, hugging the boy hard to her ample poncho. The boy whimpered under his breath and the Major hoped he was being comforted rather than suffocated. (p. 193)
I read the e-book edition, but I have seen the book cover and love it! It actually took a while for me to notice that it was not a man and woman embracing, but only coats and hats hanging on a coat rack. Clever!

The book is written in manageable chapters of 12-18 pages, allowing someone like me who reads pretty slowly to read at least a chapter most days.

My final word: A charming story with charming characters. This wasn't a book that I loved, but one that I did like quite well.


Cover: 8.5/10
Writing Style: 8/10
Characters: 8.5/10
Storyline/Plot: 7.5/10
Interest/Uniqueness: 8/10

My Rating: 8 out of 10

Disclosure:

I purchased this e-book myself as a monthly selection for my book club. Any comments are my honest opinion.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Introducing...The Land of Decoration by Grace McCleen

Introducing books through the first chapter or so... 

In the beginning there was an empty room, a little bit of space, a little bit of light, a little bit of time.

I said: "I am going to make fields," and I made them from place mats, carpet, brown coduroy, and felt. Then I made rivers from crepe paper, plastic wrap and shiny tinfoil, and mountains from papier mache and bark. And I looked at the fields and I looked at the fields and I looked at the rivers and I looked at the mountains and I saw they were good.

-- The Land of Decoration by Grace McCleen

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

REVIEW: The Land of Decoration by Grace McCleen

Synopsis

In Grace McCleen's harrowing, powerful debut, she introduces an unforgettable heroine in ten-year-old Judith McPherson, a young believer who sees the world with the clear Eyes of Faith. Persecuted at school for her beliefs and struggling with her distant, devout father at home, young Judith finds solace and connection in a model in miniature of the Promised Land that she has constructed in her room from collected discarded scraps—the Land of Decoration. Where others might see rubbish, Judith sees possibility and divinity in even the strangest traces left behind. As ominous forces disrupt the peace in her and Father's modest lives—a strike threatens her father's factory job, and the taunting at school slips into dangerous territory—Judith makes a miracle in the Land of Decoration that solidifies her blossoming convictions. She is God's chosen instrument. But the heady consequences of her newfound power are difficult to control and may threaten the very foundations of her world. With its intensely taut storytelling and crystalline prose, The Land of Decoration is a gripping, psychologically complex story of good and evil, belonging and isolation, which casts new and startling light on how far we'll go to protect the things we love most.

Hardcover, 320 pages
Published March 27th 2012 by Henry Holt and Co. (first published 2012)
ISBN 0805094946 (ISBN13: 9780805094947)



About the Author
from the Macmillan website

Grace McCleen studied English Literature at Oxford University and The University of York before becoming a full-time writer and musician. She lives in London. The Land of Decoration is her first novel. 

Check out her website
Read the recent author interview Shelf Awareness posted

Check out this trailer, which is what made me want to read this book:

My Thoughts 
In the beginning there was an empty room, a little bit of space, a little bit of light, a little bit of time.
Location/Environment:

The story takes place in a dingy, dreary, industrialized town. I don’t believe that the book ever gives a clear indication of where the town is, but there are little clues that would lend to the idea that it could be a small English town.
In our town nothing seems to be where it should. There are car engines in gardens and plastic bags in bushes and shopping trolleys in the river. There are bottles in the gutter and mice in the bottle bank, walls with words on and signs with words crossed out. There are streetlights with no lights and holes in the road and holes in the pavement and holes in exhaust pipes. There are houses with broken windows and men with broken teeth and swings with broken seats. There are dogs with no ears and cats with one eye and once I saw a bird with not many feathers. (page 18)
Judith McPherson is the ten-year-old voice of the story. Clever, sweet-intentioned most of the time, albeit confused and displaying some questionable behavior, she believes her father doesn’t love her.
I have a secret. The secret is this: Father doesn’t love me. (page 62) 
There was one day when I thought Father loved me. On that day Father and I walked hand in hand for eleven miles. (page 238)
Judith has created a secret miniature world in her bedroom, made from the discarded scraps of everyday life. A quiet girl without friends her own age, she lives through the landscape and citizens of her handmade world.

Judith’s life is made miserable and difficult by a school bully by the name of Neil Lewis.
But what is worse is that, on Monday, Neil Lewis will put my head down the toilet, and if I die who will make me again? (page 6)
Her only solace in life is found in her relationship with God. Although the religion is never named in the book, it seems evident to me that the fictional religion is based on that of Jehovah’s Witnesses or something very similar. I think I only noted one difference between it and the religion here in the US. Knowing a lot of Witnesses myself, I can tell you that the majority of the terms, beliefs and practices are those of the Witness faith. Even the scriptures are the same scriptures that a Witness will regularly quote.
Pay Caesar’s things to Caesar, God’s things to God. (page 87)
I can't tell you how many times I've been quoted that one!

Making them Witness-like is an effective way to reinforce that Judith is in her own world, as Witnesses believe that they are “no part of this world” and keep themselves apart from the rest of society in their personal lives. They are instructed not to associate with non-believers (which is why it is so rare for someone like me to be friendly with so many Witnesses, even having recently attended a Witness wedding). This helped to strengthen the image of Judith as being a part of her handmade “Land of Decoration” in her bedroom more so than the world outside her door.

Throughout the story, you are never quite sure whether Judith is delusional, or whether her life is full of coincidence. What is real, and what is in her head? But you continually want to take her in your arms and offer her solace.
And then I know that I am enormous and I am small, I go on forever and am gone in a moment, I am as young as a baby mouse and as old as the Himalayas. I am still and I am spinning. And if I am dust, then I am also the dust of stars. (page 190)
The cover is very fitting, showing a snowflake cut from paper, and with text that looks as if it is handwritten. It really ties into what the book is about-- a little girl who creates a whole world in her bedroom, and the cover ties into a scene in the book where the students cut out paper snowflakes in class.

There is some vulgarity and crudity, but it is by no means gratuitous. It is kind of hard to have low-life bullies without it.

My final word: I was in love with this book and little Judith McPherson before I finished page 1! As the story went on, I found that there were moments that inspired an almost visceral response. You find yourself thinking "no, no, no!" You find yourself pulling for this confused little girl at odds with herself and the world, trying to find balance with her otherwise rocky existence. Probably about three-quarters of the way through my love affair faded slightly, but I found it picked up again before long, and in the end I loved this story. I loved Judith.

 
(Note: I've decided to start breaking down my ratings, to help me think it through a little better)

Cover: 8.5/10
Writing Style: 9/10
Characters: 9/10
Storyline/Plot: 8/10
Interest/Uniqueness: 9/10

My Rating: 8.5 out of 10

Disclosure:

I received a copy of this book to review from Henry Holt and Company, in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not financially compensated in any way, and the opinions expressed are my own and based on my observations while reading this novel. The book that I received was an uncorrected proof, and quotes could differ in the finished copy.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Monday, April 2, 2012

Mailbox Monday (04-02-12 edition)

 Image licensed from bigstockphoto.com
Copyright stands

Mailbox Monday is now hosted monthly by a different blog. Here is the official blog of Mailbox Monday.  Here's what I received:

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
Won through the Reader's Circle

A mesmerizing, moving, and elegantly written debut novel, The Language of Flowers beautifully weaves past and present, creating a vivid portrait of an unforgettable woman whose gift for flowers helps her change the lives of others even as she struggles to overcome her own troubled past.

The Victorian language of flowers was used to convey romantic expressions: honeysuckle for devotion, asters for patience, and red roses for love. But for Victoria Jones, it’s been more useful in communicating grief, mistrust, and solitude. After a childhood spent in the foster-care system, she is unable to get close to anybody, and her only connection to the world is through flowers and their meanings.

Now eighteen and emancipated from the system, Victoria has nowhere to go and sleeps in a public park, where she plants a small garden of her own. Soon a local florist discovers her talents, and Victoria realizes she has a gift for helping others through the flowers she chooses for them. But a mysterious vendor at the flower market has her questioning what’s been missing in her life, and when she’s forced to confront a painful secret from her past, she must decide whether it’s worth risking everything for a second chance at happiness.



Divergent by Veronica Roth
Won from jj ireads

In a future Chicago, 16-year-old Beatrice Prior must choose among five predetermined factions to define her identity for the rest of her life, a decision made more difficult when she discovers that she is an anomaly who does not fit into any one group, and that the society she lives in is not perfect after all.

  

The Cove by Ron Rash 
Received through TLC Book Tours

The New York Times bestselling author of Serena returns to Appalachia, this time at the height of World War I, with the story of a blazing but doomed love affair caught in the turmoil of a nation at war

Deep in the rugged Appalachians of North Carolina lies the cove, a dark, forbidding place where spirits and fetches wander, and even the light fears to travel. Or so the townsfolk of Mars Hill believe–just as they know that Laurel Shelton, the lonely young woman who lives within its shadows, is a witch. Alone except for her brother, Hank, newly returned from the trenches of France, she aches for her life to begin.

Then it happens–a stranger appears, carrying nothing but a beautiful silver flute and a note explaining that his name is Walter, he is mute, and is bound for New York. Laurel finds him in the woods, nearly stung to death by yellow jackets, and nurses him back to health. As the days pass, Walter slips easily into life in the cove and into Laurel's heart, bringing her the only real happiness she has ever known.

But Walter harbors a secret that could destroy everything–and danger is closer than they know. Though the war in Europe is near its end, patriotic fervor flourishes thanks to the likes of Chauncey Feith, an ambitious young army recruiter who stokes fear and outrage throughout the county. In a time of uncertainty, when fear and ignorance reign, Laurel and Walter will discover that love may not be enough to protect them.

This lyrical, heart-rending tale, as mesmerizing as its award-winning predecessor Serena, shows once again this masterful novelist at the height of his powers.