Monday, November 15, 2010

Another Retreat

From reading my blog, you might be tempted to think I spend my life hopping from one retreat to another, and while this is partially true, there are a lot of other things that fill up the moments in between. Those other things just don't give me as much to fill up the white space on a blog. I mean, who really wants to read about my adventures in freshman math homework? Or my travelings to and from piano lessons? Although the time I got lost for two hours somewhere in the Redmond, Washington farmlands might prove for good reading. All I can say is Thank GOODNESS for books on CD. And thank goodness my son is a virtual saint and doesn't mind being picked up an hour late. And thank GOODNESS he had the good sense to walk to the nearest place of business so the piano teacher didn't get to learn about my ditsyness!

But getting back to my obsession with conferences, retreats, seminars, or anything that says, "Come and partake of something great!" It's fair to claim that I'm a junky. My friend *Marnie is too. Our most recent escapade was a trip to Time Out For Women, presented by Deseret Book. We hopped in Marnie's car and headed for Portland last weekend for a ladies' getaway.

"Road trip" takes on a new meaning when it's with a great friend (and no one's whining, "How much longer?"). And even the rain in Portland didn't dampen our spirits as we trekked through the streets searching for a great spot to eat the second night.
We settled on Jake's Famous Crawfish. Imagine our delight when our meanderings landed us at the doorstep of one of Portland's oldest and most favored restaurants. We enjoyed a delicious seafood dinner before returning to our room for the night.

The highlight for me, though, was the conference itself. The theme centered on Hope, yet I heard tales of struggle, trial, and even tragedy from nearly every presenter. It was how they faced these tradegies with hope intact that made it such a beautiful and meaningful experience.

We arrived home just in time for me to attend church with my family. A little over an hour later I was called to be the Primary President of our ward. Retreat OVER!

*Name changed to protect the innocent. But you know who you are Marnie!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Northwest Writer's Retreat

I just got back from the Northwest Writer's Retreat. A glowing report follows.

First off, the scenery was breathtaking. Nestled in a tiny cove near Deception Pass State Park, the Rosario Beach Marine Laboratory was like an artist's depiction of a writer's getaway. Don't let the name worry you. They kept the science laboratories well hidden so as not to freak out us writerly types.

The cabins were charming and eerily "Lost"-like, lined up in neat even rows as though in anticipation of "the Others" coming home from a raid in the jungle. I kept expecting Juliette or Sawyer, or--heaven forbid!--Benjamin Linus to walk around the corner at any moment. Fortunately, or unfortunately in the case of Sawyer--I could've gone for him calling me "Freckles,"--that didn't happen. The name would fit, though, don't you think? But see here, my imagination is getting away from me. Occupational hazard.

Anyway, upon arriving I took one look at the ocean shore of the picturesque cove and felt like I had just landed in a writer's paradise. Could I please just stay here for a month with nothing to do but write? Well, okay, I'd probably go nuts for my husband and kids after that long but a WEEK! A week is all I ask.

Instead I was destined for two days. But how well they were spent! The food was delicious, the classes on writing, perfection. The networking with talented, like-minded souls--priceless. I sort of feel like a credit card commercial now, but seriously, it was tremendous.

Janette Rallison, the author in residence, is as classy and generous a lady as you can ever meet, with a vast understanding of the business. I had the distinct pleasure of driving her and another great lady to the airport after the retreat. I know, poor me, right?

The event's sponsors, the INTUIT ladies of ANWA (American Night Writer's Association) know how to shine, and they seem to want nothing more than to spread their light around. So if you are also a like-minded soul, come on up next year. How could you possibly not after that report?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Book Review--Defensive Tactics by Steve Westover

Steve Westover's debut novel Defensive Tactics is an LDS action thriller that tackles more than just a corrupt judge, a crime boss, a possible FBI mole, and all the bad-guy goons we love to see in this type of story. He also delves into deeper issues like moral relativism. How far should one go, for example, in performing the requirements of a job--especially if that job is one that can affect the greater good? And what are the implications of doing the right thing for the wrong reasons? Or what is the proper response to sexual harrassment?

Paul Stevens has a great job at the FBI and a budding romance with the beautiful Emily, a fellow agent. Then Jimmy, a childhood friend who's life has taken a tragic turn, winds up on his doorstep looking for a handout. Jimmy's interest in Emily puts Paul's friendship to the test. Meanwhile, Emily's work to take down a corrupt judge places her life in danger, and Paul is forced to put his job on the line to protect her. Soon Jimmy and Paul join forces as they race to save her life.

There are many things I liked about this book. First of all, Westover manages to play nicely into one of my own fantasies--to be an FBI (or CIA) agent. Of course I imagine myself speaking a half dozen languages and kung fu-ing bad guys until they beg for mercy, but Emily's response to undercover work is a lot closer to what my reality would be, which, oddly enough, worked for me quite well. The escape scene toward the end was one of my favorite parts of the book, and Emily proves that sometimes it's good to be underestimated. Which is great, since my language skills won't send the CIA knocking on my door anytime soon and my kung fu would be more of the Kung Fu Panda style rather than the Sidney Bristow style. But hey, that's where imagination comes in. Anyway, sometimes it's nice when imagination doesn't have to work quite so hard, and I could really relate to the character of Emily.

I also liked that Westover gave the reader bigger picture ideas to think about in his book. As mentioned before, this book isn't simply a quick, action-packed read--though the pace does move along nicely. Westover seeks to show how everyday life can sometimes bring out the best and worst in each of us. And like any good book should, his ends with his main characters achieving real growth.

The English major in me can't help but point out that several times I wanted to take out my red pen and mark passages that I found either poorly executed or lacking in typical conventions I would expect in published work. Sometimes point of view shifted inappropriately, for one. These issues might not be so nails-on-the-chalkboard for some readers, but it was enough to cause me to cringe more than once. At other times the story lagged or seemed contrived or that resolution of difficult issues came too easily. There were also issues that never seemed to be resolved with the main characters, like Jimmy's broken relationship at the beginning of the book that gets mentioned only in passing later on, even though it seems like it should have had more fleshing out.

Perhaps my biggest complaint would be that I wanted more out of the story and more character development. The plot is fantastic, the characters are likeable, if sometimes predictable, but I think so much more could have been developed here. Having said that, Westover leaves the story with unanswered questions that could work nicely into a second novel with the same characters. I, for one, would want to read it if he does.

Overall, this is a great first novel, and Steve Westover shows promise in this genre. I look forward to his future work.

To learn more about Steve Westover visit his blog

To purchase this book at Amazon, click here.

Please share your comments below! I love to hear from you.

In exchange for my review, I received an advanced reader's copy of this book. This in no way affected my review.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Quote for the Day

"Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to . . . live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat." Theodore Roosevelt

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Blushingly Yours

It's hard to believe it's been two months since my last post. That proves it right there. My life's been busy. If I never have another spring like this past one, that's okay by me.

Though it's had its little beauties too.

Last night I witnessed my son take home the MVP award for his high school lacrosse team. As the only goalie for both the freshman and JV teams, he single-handedly won it on most-games-played alone, which averaged about three a week. But he is a great goalie too. Even if I weren't his proud mama, I'd think so. Still, you add three games a week and practice every other day but Sunday (occasional Saturdays off) and we had a doozy of a season.

And that's just kiddo number one.

I also attended numerous competitive cheer competitions in which my fourteen-year-old daughter helped her team to an undefeated champion-ship season in her division. The culminating event was the All-Level Cheer Competition in Long Beach. Yes, I flew to Long Beach too. I know. Poor me.

All in all it has been a busy-but-happy spring. And I'm looking forward to a great--and hopefully relaxing summer.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Help: A Review

Quite simply--I. Loved. It.

I really can't think of a thing I didn't like. I only wanted it to last longer. If you don't have time to read the rest of my review, just know it's worth your time to read this book. Go on. Read it.

And now, for the review--

One of my favorite things about reading is the chance it gives me to leave my own life behind--what is living, breathing reality to me--and experience the reality of another.

It's thrilling, actually. In a matter of minutes I zip into another world, another time, another country, and experience what I'd never experience if I lived a hundred times over. And as my fingers slide through the pages, my mind slides into the consciousness of another, and I am feeling, breathing, living that life--if for only a few hours.

Of course some writers capture me better than others. Some beckon me so strongly to that other world that I must force myself back to my own, scraping up the will power to WAIT. I don't want to miss my own life going on all around me, after all, even if that life is waiting for me in the form of dishes or laundry or bathrooms. Okay. Maybe not so much then.

Anyway, some books do their job so well that when the visit is over, my heart hurts a bit at the finality of "The End." It seems almost a tragedy not to have the characters--now my dear friends--step out of the book and into my life. For in the pages they seem so real. I LOVE it when that happens!

And no matter what my rational mind tells me. Those characters are real. So real I can hear them breathing.

The characters that most recently "breathed" for me are the three heroines of The Help, a touching story set in the south during the turbulent 1960s.

Eugenia "Skeeter" returns home to Jackson, Mississippi, after graduating from Ole Miss. She returns to her parents and her high-society friends but struggles to return to her old way of living and viewing life. The black maid who raised her, and whom she loves dearly, is nowhere to be found, and mystery surrounds her departure. She starts to notice the hypocrisy and ugliness of her society in general and her own friends in particular.

Wise and regal Aibileen is a black maid who works in the home of Skeeter's friend, Elizabeth. She is raising her 17th white child. After years of service to wealthy white families, something inside her changes when her only son, Treelore, is killed in a terrible accident. She tells her story in an eloquent yet authentic dialect.

Minny is Aibileen's best friend and mother to many of her own children. She is sassy and strong, but her tongue has gotten her into trouble, and she finds herself fired, yet again.

Together these three women embark on a dangerous journey of "what if." What if, in a world where people seem frantic to hold on to the ugliness and injustices of the past, things could change?

From a 21st century perspective, it's almost appalling to believe that just a short time ago things were in such need of changing. My own visit in this particular "life" sent me swinging from relief that things are not like that anymore to horror that it was ever that bad.

And yes, I paid attention in history class. I learned about the civil rights movement. And I love it every year when my kids come home and tell me what they've learned about Martin Luther King or Rosa Parks. But there is something different--something life-giving--to the experience when you read about it in fiction.

Does fiction make it truer? More real? I wonder, sometimes. This particular portion of history is truer for me now than it has ever been before.

The Help is told masterfully, alternating from the perspectives of each of these women. I loved the authenticity of their voices--each different and each a treasure of humor, sorrow, wisdom, and individual growth. The relationship of Aibileen and her "17th child," Mae Mobley, is reason enough to read the book, but there are so many others.

Quite simply I loved it. And you're so lucky if you still have this journey ahead of you. My advice--take it soon.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Will Power and Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies

I ask you. . . . Is it my fault my husband left the Hershey's Kisses my daughter won in an estimating contest out on the counter? Can I be blamed for the fact that as I walked past them, sitting all shiny and inviting on the counter, I was forced to acknowledge the best way to enjoy those drops of milk chocolate is when they're sitting squatty and soft on the cushion of a warm peanut butter cookie? Can you really fault me for remembering with some satisfaction that I possess what is arguably the best peanut butter cookie recipe on the planet (thank you Mom). And is it further my fault that upon thinking this I immediately remembered the jar of creamy peanut butter in my cupboard that may as well be used right now?

I think not.

I pause for a moment, though. My extra ten pounds are laughing at me. They know they've been given a reprieve, having had war declared on them in January. A glance again at the Kisses seals the deal. As I gather the ingredients I comfort myself with this oft-told truth: "Tomorrow is another day with no mistakes in it." Thank you Anne Shirley. I feel so much better.

The first two ingredients are my favorite to do. The peanut butter and butter blend together into a smooth pattern of golden ripples that glide across the bottom of the mixing bowl. It's like art. There's no turning back now--even if I wanted to. Which, of course, I don't.

As I add the sugar and the rest of the ingredients, as I form the cookies into little balls of peanut butter bliss and place them on the cookie sheet, as I unwrap each individual kiss, I consider ways of disposing of the evidence of my New-Years-resolution-breaking "crime."

Hmm. Maybe I'll eat them all before he gets home from the gym.

And so you can enjoy them too . . .

Here's the recipe.

Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies
1/2 cup buttter, softened
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 1/3 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/3 cup sour cream
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Mix peanut butter and butter with an electric mixer on medium speed for 30 seconds.
Add 1/2 cup flour, the sugars, baking soda, baking powder, vanilla, and egg. Beat until thoroughly combined.
Fold in sour cream, and then add remaining flour. Mix.
Cover and chill dough until easy to manage. (Unless you can't wait, like me at this particular time, in which case you can forgo the "shaping" step below and plop them with a spoon onto cookie sheet to put in the oven even quicker!)
Shape dough into 1-inch balls and place on a cookie sheet.
Bake at 375 degrees for 7 to 9 minutes. For softest cookies, do not overbake. (Plus, you can eat them that much sooner.)
Remove from oven and place an unwrapped kiss in the center of each cookie while cookie is still warm. Allow kiss to sit for several seconds, melting the bottom and then press it down again.
Try to have more self-control than I do when enjoying these treats.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Book Review: The Sapphire Flute by Karen E. Hoover

I'm excited to share my first official book review. Official because my friend--the fabulous Tristi Pinkston, editor and author extraordinaire--asked me to review a book that is being released by Valor Publishing Group, a company for which she is the senior editor. For doing so, I have received an Advanced Reader's Edition. I feel so official!

Karen Hoover's debut novel, The Sapphire Flute , is the first in The Wolfchild Saga. It was released on March 16, 2010, so you can get it right now by clicking this nifty Amazon link here. (I'm very proud of myself for figuring out how to do that.)

This story follows two young women.

Kayla is on the verge of achieving her dreams. After years of banishment, the king has recognized her worth as a musician of extraordinary and even magical talent. Now she is on the verge of getting everything she's ever wanted--reinstatement and a return to honor for her family, and marriage to the man of her dreams. But when the king honors her with the guardianship of the Sapphire Flute, her life is thrown into a whirlwind of danger as the evil and desperate C'Tan will stop at nothing to capture this powerful magical tool.

Ember has been hidden all her life from this same C'Tan, who seeks her for an entirely different reason. As Ember starts to uncover the mystery of who she really is, she learns she possesses remarkable powers of her own, including an inherited secret from her father--a secret that brings deadly forces against her.

My Review--

This Story starts out terrific. A father rushes to save his baby daughter from his enemy--someone he thought he could trust. Someone he even loved. The betrayal is devastating, and his sacrifice touches the reader with emotion. I was definitely ready for a gripping story by the end of the prologue.

The pace did not hold consistently, however, for the rest of the story. At times it moved along in a rhythm that captured me and urged me on, but often it was slow and a bit unnatural-feeling. I should note that interruptions to the pace are an intentional part of the story because the author jumps back and forth between the two main characters so that the reader jumps to a different story just when he or she is getting into the groove of the other one. At times this worked more effectively than others, especially when both stories were at a crucial point. But occasionally it was a bit irritating--in an I-want-to-skip-to-the-next-chapter sort of way.

I also would've liked to see more character development. I liked all the characters, but sometimes their actions seemed a little too conveniently naive. I didn't get enough from each to make them feel unique and like living, breathing beings. I imagine this will change as the story progresses in later books.

There were a lot of things I really liked about the book, though. Some of Hoover's ideas were quite creative. I loved the concept of being able to see different types of magic as different colors. I also really liked the special gift Ember's father gave her by way of his friend, though we don't understand much about its significance in this book. Hoover does a great job of bringing the reader along in the thought process Ember goes through as she learns of her powers and how to use them. In general Ember's character seemed more developed and natural to me.

Overall, I would recommend this book to those who love epic fantasy because it promises to be an interesting series as the writer grows with her characters and her story.

If you want to learn more about Karen E. Hoover, visit her website here.

If you want to congratulate me on successfully posting two links to my first-ever official book review or if you want to tell me anything at all, leave a comment below!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Bleeding on the Screen

"Your best writing . . . will come out of you when you care what you're writing about. Caring will draw things out of you that have nothing to do with spelling or query letters or subscriptions to writing magazines. Bleed your caring onto the paper or computer screen." Jerry Spinelli

That last phrase is the one that hooked me. Up till then Jerry's advice was, well, nothing new. No offense Jerry. I'm sure you "cared" about what you were writing and all, but I've heard this particular writing tip so many times it's practically useless--like telling a boxer if he wants to win the match he needs to punch his opponent. But then you said "bleed." Now that's something.

I've had a few bleeding moments, I've decided, in my writing "career." But nothing recently. And isn't it ironic that when you get that bleeding moment you actually feel . . . ALIVE!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Books Are My Shoes: Memoirs of a Shopaholic . . . of sorts

Yesterday I went to the bookstore looking for The Lightening Thief series for my kids.

Okay. I'll be honest. It was for me first. Then my kids. But the movie's out, and I LOVE an excuse to go to the movies--especially a good fantasy. There's something about munching on the heart-attack-in-a-bucket popcorn, sipping an ice-filled-all-the-way-to-the-top diet coke, and melting into the adventure on the bigscreen that just hits a bullseye on my little happiness spot. However, since I'm a reader first--my true love in life--I try to keep myself to one simple rule.

Read the book first.

Enter a trip to the bookstore.

This time, as I made my way through the familiar doors, I noticed a new display reminding me that it is black history month and urging me to pick up something to help me celebrate. I was sufficiently urged.

My eye fell on a book with a beautiful black woman on the cover. Kindred, it was called, by Octavia Butler. It tells of a 26-year-old modern black woman who keeps getting sent back in time to rescue slaves. Mmm. Danger and intrigue mixed with history and a dash of science fiction. I half-heartedly perused some other possibilities, but the truth is this one spoke to me from the first--kind of like that scene from Memoirs of a Shopaholic when the green scarf talks to Becky Bloomwood. And while the book didn't go so far as to promise me my dream job, I knew, as soon as I riffled through its pages, that I would walk out of there with it neatly clutched in my hands.

My other selection, besides The Lightening Thief--yes, I actually bought the book I had come for--was The Princess Bride. I know what you're thinking. Hasn't she seen the movie? Of course, she has! And I think it might actually cause me physical pain to read a book for which I have not only seen the movie, but also memorized numerous favorite parts. It's a classic. However, this is for a book club I belong to, so I'm hoping the promise of book-conversation (another favorite) will make up for the lack of "surprise." Who am I kidding--I know I'll enjoy the book because, well, it's a book! But oh how I HATE knowing the ending--plus a lot of the juicy middles--before I've even turned the first page. Hopefully there will be some surprises along the way anyhow.

I might have known I'd go into the store for one book and come out with three. I'm such a sucker for books. My kids know this about me and sneakily ask for them at every opportunity, sensing an easy sale. I've started to catch on and have put my foot down until they finish the stacks on their bookshelves at home.

I decided on this particular trip to the bookstore, though, as my heart lightened and my mood improved in anticipation of my purchases, that I'm not like many women I know who experience such feelings when they walk by a display of designer shoes. I've never had that tingling for shoes. Then I realized--books are my shoes.

And I've got it just as bad as anyone.

Friday, January 22, 2010

What Should I Have Done?

You know that feeling you get when you WISH you had the right words in a given situation, but they don't come to you until after the fact? Right about the time when whoever or whatever has "gotten your goat" is long gone, possibly even smirking at your expense? Well Miss Not-So-Quick-On-Her-Toes here gets this feeling a little too often--and not just when I'm trying to reason with my teenagers! Maybe that's one reason I enjoy writing. I can take as long as I want to formulate the best response, the most argument-stopping dialogue if I have a moment or two to sift through the piles of such stuff stored (not so neatly) in my head.

Though being tongue-tied is a regular occurrence for me, getting upset enough for confrontation is rare. But listen to this.

Wednesday night, a little before 9:00 P.M. I got a call from a soliciter who wanted to talk to my 15-year-old son. "No way," I'm thinking, so I asked him what it was regarding. He said he wanted to pay him $75 to test out video games on Saturday. Now granted, I was a little on the peaved side to be getting a call like this in the evening when I want the rest of the day to myself and when I automatically assume any calls I get will be from people I actually want to talk to. So I may not have been my most patient self, but considering the fact that I'd rather have Christopher do actual work if he's going to get paid for something, and the fact that I'd have little or no say over what video games he was testing out, and the fact that he doesn't need a reason to play more video games, I gave a polite but resounding "no thank you." There was a pause at the other end of the phone, and I could tell the guy was thinking--"What right do you have to make that decision."

A few minutes later I got a call from my friend, who'd given him our name but told him not to call so late. Apparently he had called her back and asked if there was a way to get around me because I had "shut him down." She told him very politely that he should not bother us anymore because it was obvious that it wasn't something we were interested in and that my son was a minor and his parents would ultimately make that decision. We chatted for a few minutes and sort of laughed about his persistence and his sneakiness by calling my friend. I thought that would be the end of it.

The next night at 6:00 P.M., dinner hour, we got a phone call, and this time my son picked up. I could tell the call was for him, which was unusual since his friends always call him on his cell phone. Immediately I thought it might be the same person who'd called the night before but then dismissed the idea. I mean who's that brazen? I listened with half my attention while I continued to make dinner, but I could tell almost immediately it was the same person, and my son was really getting excited about what he was hearing. Finally after a few moments I looked over at my son and gave him this knowing-mother-look thing that if he weren't such a great kid he probably would've wanted to roll his eyes at.

"You're not going," I said sweetly, though my blood was about as boiling as the water for the rice I was preparing. At this point it probably wouldn't have mattered if the guy was completely legitimate and quadrupeling his offer. I was too angry. The NERVE!

"What?" he mouthed, confused.

"I talked with this person last night and specifically told him we wouldn't be interested, and I'm appalled he would call back and try to get around me."

I thought Christopher would've let the conversation take its normal course and then politely hang up with a non-committal response, but he surprised me by telling the guy what I said. I found out later that the man stumbled out a response that he thought Christopher was old enough to drive and could therefore come on his own.

Can you believe that?

So did I overreact? Or is that guy a creep and his "deal" a little too good to be true? What do you think? I'm dying to know.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Getting Behind!

Reading a book a week is not as easy as I thought. Okay so maybe I never thought it would be easy, but I'm notorious for underestimating the challenge of a given task and overestimating my ability to accomplish said task. It would be easier if I could give in to the teenager inside me completely and "go on vacation" for 52 weeks, but this is the real world. And in the real world I'm a mom. So things like the holidays (Christmas in particular) don't take off without a huge contribution on my part. Neither do homework assignments, bathroom cleanings, dinner preparations, etc. ETC. ETC!

And to make things even more interesting, I have been rather demanding of myself in this particular goal--raising the standard for myself, I suppose. I have wanted to experience a wide variety of reading materials, a large portion of which would be more challenging, so I have taken measures to make sure I'm not just reading quick-to-process books. That is so tempting, but honestly, I wouldn't really get what I want to out of this experience. So a balance is necessary.

However . . .

In an effort to get back on track, I have bumped a few of my quicker reads up to the top of the list. Hence my latest two books. Read about them below!

There is something so exhilarating about a quick read!

New Series . . . Sort of

Okay, so "Hunger Games" isn't exactly a new series, but it's new to me! And the 3rd book in the trilogy isn't scheduled for release until August 2010, so I guess technically it's sort of new. Anyway, I just finished reading book two: Catching Fire, and I now enter that deliciously frustrating phase of WAITING. FOR. THE. NEXT. BOOK!

Ugh! (Drumming fingers on laptop keyboard and watching the clock!)

Fortunately, I have a large stack of books at my bedside still awaiting my touch. I shall pass the time well enough.

In the meantime . . .

This exciting trilogy takes place in future North America--only the country as we know it no longer exists. Instead you find yourself thrust into the dark and devastating world of Panem--a brutal country where freedom is a thing of the past, the very distant past.

Years before, the citizens of Panem, living in 13 districts controlled by an all-powerful capital, launched a rebellion to gain their freedom. The rebellion failed, and the thirteenth district, the instigator, was completely destroyed. As punishment, the remaining 12 districts are now forced to send one boy and one girl, between the ages of 12 and 18, every year to The Hunger Games--a fight to the death. And there can be only one victor.

When her 12-year-old sister is chosen from her district, 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen immediately volunteers to take her place. What follows is a gripping story of love and sacrifice and of coming-of-age within the horrors of the worst imaginable human cruelty. You will ask yourself how this could possibly ever happen even as you realize how shockingly it resembles some of history's darkest moments.

Having said that--

From the description, I have to admit I wouldn't have picked up this book had it not been for the GLOWING recommendation of a dear and admired friend. It just didn't sound like me. So here is a case, as so often happens, when word-of-mouth made all the difference for me. Hopefully it will make all the difference for you too.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Quote for the Day

Life is lonely right now. Guess I'll go socialize with a book.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Quote for the Day

"A book must be the axe for the frozen sea inside us."
--Franz Kafka

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle

Many of you are ahead of me, I'm sure, and already know what a great book this is. For those of you who haven't read it yet--


I've just finished it this morning and am overcome with a whirlwind of emotions. In fact I'm still in the dream of the book. You'll know what I mean when you read it.

And the only thing I can rightly say is read it. I got it by chance at the library and remembered a vague reference to it on Oprah--back in my television days. I figured it would be a worthy candidate for my 52 in 52. Indeed it was.

I knew I was in trouble with my library copy when I was overcome with the desire to take out my trusty highlighter and shade in all the brillilant lines. There are many. Halfway through I bought my own book when the desire became too insistent. I'd like to go on with details of the book, plot, characters, etc.--it's a book that must be discussed, afterall. You'll find it difficult to take this journey alone, and perhaps impossible to experience it mute--like Edgar.

I'm here for you when you're done!

But for now, I can't say anymore. I hope you will take the journey fresh and without expectations. If you can stand it, (I don't know that I'd have the resolve) read it without looking inside the cover for hints, and without seeking out the numerous recommendations and reviews that flood the front pages.

Know that it is good.

Read it for the language. Read it for the characters--so real. Read it for the plot that refuses to be ordinary. Read it for the love of a dog.

You have a great journey--all new--before you. And I sort of envy you that.