Beginnnings: Shadow Bound by Erin Kellison

I came across Erin Kellison's debut novel Shadow Bound on Shelf Awareness and captured by the cover, checked out her website and decided to request it.  Received it Saturday and this morning I finally got to sit down and start reading it. -- sweet!   Thought I'd share the first page to give you a glimpse.   

"A light in deepest Shadow.

The fae lord pulled his cloak around his face to dampen the intensity of the glow. Futile.  The woman was still there, in his mind, shining like molten gold.  The heat of her soul-fire penetrated the veils between the mortal world and Twilight and slid across his skin in a caress. She, the sun, powerful enough to quicken even him.

From his dark vantage, he peered into her room.  Her bed was made, pillow undented.  He'd come too early to ride the rough waves of her dreams, to mellow her sharp knocks of pain and worry so that she could rest.  He'd done as much since she was a child.  It pleased him that the detritus of the sick room huddled in a corner, unused.  Oxygen in a tank.  Machines dozing, their cords wrapped and waiting. 

She sat on a stool in front of her easel, brush in hand, facing into a dark triangle of darkness cut away by the fall of light from the bedside lamp.  She gazed into his Shadow world, just as he marveled at hers.  On the canvas before her, she painted a fairy-tale landscape: lush hills lit by star shine, a border of black forest, and the wide gray sea beyond.

Her heart hitched, and the veils between them thinned as her time drew near.  He both welcomed and braced against the sudden ache of her pain as it echoed through him--something of her to feel."

 Sounds enticing!  To find out more and to browse inside the book go here and to find out more about Erin go here.  Expected release date:  June 29, 2010.    I'm off to read some more.     

In Memoriam

What Heroes Gave 
Roger Robicheau

Each donned their uniform to be
Defenders of our liberty

Their mission sure, their spirits bright
Guard freedom's home, be brave to fight

One final day each faced their call
Each gave their best enduring all

We'll never know what they went through
But know they loved this country true

Deep down inside we should all feel
What heroes gave, their cost so real

We must stay thankful, grateful of
The gift of freedom through their love

Their loved ones bore the gravest pain
What we can't know, some now sustain

To God I pray their pain will cease
And each will find long-lasting peace

Remember this from year to year
What heroes gave " shan't disappear

We'll never let their special day
Their time for honor slip away

These brave fought for a nation free
If not for them, where would we be?

Racism or Classism

Racism or Classism

I had something entirely different in mind planned for today's post but received something that made me think and wanted to share it. We all gets "those" emails, you know, the ones forwarded from your mom, friend, friend of a friend, etc.   I don't do chain mail, so most of the time, I'll glance through it, check it out on snopes and either let the sender know it's a falsehood or just delete it and forget it.   Recently, I got the one about Michael Richards  and comments he made during a performance at the Laugh Factory (which was all caught on tape).  I've always thought he was an idiot, but when you combine celebrity with idiot, you have someone who unfortunately gets a platform for his idiocy.   I deleted it and forgot about it. 

Today, I received an email from the son of one of those many moms who love to send out the fw emails to their children.   His mom and my mom both forwarded the same email to us.  Instead of deleting and forgetting about it, he responded and sent it out to the list of forwardees.   I read it, asked him if I could post it, because he made some excellent points which gave me food for thought.  So instead of me trying to explain, here is his response

So I got this email from my mother, a very loving a caring white person in MA. I'm sure she will be embarrassed, but I will be responding to every person that ever got this email sent to them. Oh to be a militant black youth 12 hours a day. (that's a joke about being half black) I feel that if someone has time to put together the trash I just had to read, I can put together a reply. To whoever you are sir, or madam, I hope this finds you. (you are certainly a sir, but I'm keeping an open mind)

First of all, well I'll put it like this: I'm not responding to you mom. I'm responding to the guy that made this email. So anything you read that I say is to him and not to you. (well actually its to anyone that gets a feeling in their soul of "yes!" when they read that email)

So first of all, Michael Richards didn't say this because he didn't go to court for what he said in his stand up act. He just apologized. (Here's the incident in question,  Now, just going from that incident in the first place we can say that what he said was very racist. Had a white man been talking through his show- he would have said very different things. Why not just say those same things? Why should it matter that he's a nigger? And for the record, 50 years ago he probably would have been strung up with a fork in his ass (that's if they even let him in the building) and really I think I could stop there... because that alone kind of proves the disparity between whites and non-whites.

But now that we have that out of the way, lets discuss what this email I am responding to specifically says. The thing is, there are many white people that are racist. There are also many black people that are racist, as well as Indians, Chinese people, Latinos, you name it. Any person that judges another individual based solely on race is technically a racist. Though for practical purpose, any individual who harbors distrust or dislike for another race is racist- it doesn't matter what you are. For our reference ( racism is defined as: a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human races determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one's own race is superior and has the right to rule others.
Another definition is intolerance of other races. The interesting thing is the difference between the type of racism that groups hold. Non-whites tend use both types of racism with each other. But between whites and non-whites, the vast amount of whites tend to hold to the first definition and non-whites tend to hold to the second. In layman's, white people think black people can't learn good and black people think white people suck.
And just to get a few of these other things out of the way, things that don't matter but just need to be said. White people get Martin Luther King day off too. Maybe you should just embrace him as an American hero and be proud of what he has done for your country. And apparently St. Patricks day isn't a holiday for white people, and here I could have sworn it was..
There are Asian/African/Mexican/Arab Americans and all that... and guess what?!!! EUROPEAN AMERICANS! Isn't that so exciting? Yeah I think so too, so maybe next time you are mad that Jose is really into his Mexican culture, maybe you should spend a little time checking out your roots and perhaps have some ethnic English food. Oh that's right, it sucks... and that's why they decided to eat other stuff. But wait, there's more than English food. You have French, German, Polish (I personally like the peroggi's) Italian, Greek (but wait are Italians and Greeks really white? Well they would probably not say so when put in a blanket statement including George Bush, but if you had them fill out a census they'd totally be white.) and you have Swedish food, and Spanish food (remember Spain? Lot of culture there... totally white) And that's just the food... So, maybe you shouldn't be so mad about being white and not having any culture, maybe you shouldn't have abandoned your roots. (But what actually happened was that your ancestors abandoned the culture when they came to America so that they could fit in with all the "white" people and you think that everyone else should do that now, but you actually wish you were still in touch with your own past) For the record, there are British American Clubs. I've driven past them... If you're real mad about not having a club to join then go sign up.
Now you might say, well I'm not British anymore. And that may be true. So start a cowboy club or something. Just let in cowboys. Nothing racist about that, until you start telling people who is and is not a cowboy. Start a club that involves any cultural or recreational activity whatsoever, and it is perfectly ok to exclude everyone who does not take part in that activity. That has nothing to do with race. Interesting fact, white people can go to black colleges. Crazy right? Well maybe they should work on the fact that it is called a black college and maybe many of the the professors at these schools should lose some animosity towards certain races but, they'll never say you aren't smart enough to get in based on your ethnicity. If white colleges existed, I think it would entail something else.
Interesting fact again. Do you know why black children are not often adopted by anyone that isn't black? I'll bet you think I'm going to say because white people are racist. No. Black social workers put a great deal of effort into making sure that black children are not adopted by other races especially whites. They think that the child deserves to be raised by his own. This is stupid. Very stupid. Any family that can raise a child with love and responsibility should be able to adopt any child. I make this point to show that I'm not just mad at white people.
Now lets touch on another line, " You rob us, car jack us, and steal from us." You know how sometimes black people say "who you callin 'you' people?"... well this is why. White people commit crimes too, but apparently not to whoever "us" is.
Pageants... I'm not even gonna cover the pageants as racist. Pageants are foolish and objectifying. We should stop them as they come from a sexist time and would never find a foothold in today's world if it wasn't already "tradition." Nuff said.
So anyway, what is the point of all this? Where do we go from here? How can we end racism? Well the thing is, racism isn't really the problem. The smartest thing that the upper class ever did was manage to convince poor white people that they were better than black slaves, (and part of something special: whiteness) which has led us to America's interesting race problem. Our race problem is really a class problem. When the average white American Joe says "they're taking our country away" he's talking about all the undesirables of whatever sort taking the country away from him and every other god blessed American white guy- be it George Bush, Donald Trump, or Jim who works at home depot.
When Rich American Joe (the Donald Trumps you don't know) says "they're taking our country away" He's talking about poor people (and 95% of the population is poor to him, another 3% are acceptably middle) And that is why the problem with racism never really goes anywhere. Black people are not and never really were held back because they had black skin, but because they were poor and exploitable. It has carried over into just being a color thing, but for most people it would make no difference if racism went away, it would still be hard to get a job or a taxi. Black people with money tend to do very well. In fact, all people with money tend to be doing very well. The only people with a problem are the working class. And if you can't stop working today, you are working class. You probably want to believe you are middle class which is exactly what people with all the power would want you to think. Good job.
Anyway, next time you hate a person. Hate them because they are an asshole. Judge a person by their character. Next time you are mad that you get left out of the culture fest, learn about somebody else's culture, mix that sh*t up, learn about your own, or just start a new culture. "Black" culture popped up because there was a group of disembodied people that felt they had nothing to belong to-- go ahead and do the same. Now don't even get me started on why I put "" around black... actually let me just put it this way, if African Americans came from a country called Bumbum then it would be Bumbum culture indicative of people native to that geographical location, but as blacks have no unique geographical location to base their culture its just called "black" even though having the skin color doesn't mean you know anything about the culture or prescribe to it--or that people of different skin colors are not a part of it. Whereas white culture would really just mean stuff white people do and since that could be anything, not to mention arbitrary, you can't call it culture.

Thank you.

Oh and P.S. I looked this up after the fact because I didn't really want to look like an ass, or worse, the kind of guy who sends out emails fabricating false information.

and while I'm at it

Read books, they're good for you. Delete forwards, they're bad.

I invite anyone to respond to me.

and for my friends, I thought you would find it really funny that I did this.

I love you mom.

Tim has a point.  "Our race problem is really a class problem."  And another thing, the next time you hear the Michael Richards of the world, no matter his race, creed, color or politics, spouting off about this, that and the other - just remember.  "Money doesn't buy you class."

What do you think?  Do you agree, disagree?  

The Lumby Lines by Gail Fraser


Gail Fraser 

Back cover: "Nestled in the Northwest is a quaint little town that its quirky residents are proud to call home.  With charming shops lining its one main thoroughfare, Lumby has the oldest apple tree in the county and the smallest bank in the state.  It's hours from the nearest big city, you'll always find Lumby close to your heart....

Nearly destroyed by fire, Montis Abbey remains a ruin on the outskirts of Lumby.  Once home to a resourceful order of monks, it stands abandoned, surrounded by its overgrown orchards.  Then Mark and Pam Walker, a vacationing couple from the East Coast, stumble upon it--and upon the answer to their prayers.  Leaving behind their hectic lives to restore the monastery and turn it into an inn is a dream come true. 

But some residents of Lumby take a while to warm up to outsiders.  One of them is irascible William Beezer, owner of the Lumby Lines--the newspaper "worth the paper it's printed on."  At every turn, he tries to hinder the Walkers' efforts.  The couple soon learns that for every citizen like William, there are many more willing to lend a hand, and that Lumby isn't just a place -- it's a way of life. 

When Caitlin of FSB Associates asked me if I would like to read and review The Lumby Lines, I checked out the Gail's website and couldn't say no.  Gail has an adorable  moose wandering around on her pages so go check it out.  You can read the first chapter of each one of the books in the series and get a good feel for the books and the town and characters of Lumby.  The series sort of reminded me of Jan Caron's Mitford Series.  Caitlin surprised me by sending the whole series which includes:  Lumby Lines, Stealing Lumby, Lumby's Bounty, and The Promise of Lumby.    I'm glad she did, because once I read The Lumby Lines, I was hooked.  And Gail's  newest release Lumby on the Air will be coming out on July 6th and I just received an ARC of the book, so will be reviewing that one sometime in the near future. 

It is a charming and endearing story, with some great characters and I'm looking forward to following their adventures in the remaining books.  Pam and Mark stumble upon an old monastery, damaged by fire while on vacation and decide to buy it. While they are renovating it, the monks who used to live there, appear one by one to lend a hand and over time, reveal their stories and the story of the abbey. There are many quirky characters including an old, eccentric lady, Charlotte who dresses shabbily and finger nails are always dirty from digging in her garden and who just happens to be rich and anonymously generous.   Plus, there is  "Hank," a plastic pink flamingo who is quite a character and sits on the front lawn of the Abbey.  His look changes depending on the day or season or holiday. You never know what he is going to be wearing and Pam and Mark never figure out who is making the changes.   

The Lumby Lines is a cozy read and a wonderful respite from murder mysteries, science fiction, suspenseful thrillers and pedantic classics.  If you have ever lived in a small town, you'll appreciate the small town flavor and atmosphere generated by the books.  I highly recommend them.  Many thanks to Caitlin for introducing me to Gail Fraser and Lumby. 

Pages: 336
Publisher:  New American Library
Released:  May 1, 2007
Genre:  Fiction
Source:  Courtesy Copy

Other Thoughts:

"I really have enjoyed my visit to Lumby. It is such a refreshing read and I can't wait to come back and visit. There's nothing offensive at all in this book and if you are a Mitford fan you will really like these books too."

"The Lumby Lines is a magical story filled with humor, romance, love, and the warmth of family and friendship.  I fell in love with the town of Lumby and can't wait to continue the series.  The characters are realistic and the everyday antics of small town life a breathe of fresh air.

"To read The Lumby Lines is to approach a book in a different manner. Reading this book is equal to a visit to a special place and a special group of people. It’s not your typical page-turner and I mean that in a good way. The Lumby Lines is similar to spending an extended amount of time in a small community and getting to know the residents and the various points of interest. This book is meant to be enjoyed over a long period of time."

Surprise release - Thrillers: 100 Must Reads

Last month, I read about Thrillers: 100 Must Reads, an International Thriller Writers publication edited by author David Morrell, co-founder of ITW and journalist Hank Wagner.   The book is 100 essays written by well known thrill writers talking about which books influenced and have had the greatest impact on the genre.  I love thrillers and  pre-ordered the book which was set for a release date of July 2010. You can imagine my surprise when I received an email from Amazon letting me know it had been shipped.       The book covers from practically the beginning of time starting with Lee Child's essay on Theseus and the Minotaur (1500 BC) to Francine Matthews thoughts on Alexander Dumas The Count of Monte Cristo (1845) to  ending with Steve Berry's reflection of Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code (2003).  

Cool book, very cool book.  I've been reading through the essays and it makes me want to read all of the books.   The titles in bold I have read and there are several on our shelves I just sadly haven't gotten around to such as The Illiad and the Odyssey, Beowulf, Macbeth, and The Count of Monte Cristo.   There are a few I've seen the movie versions of such as Strangers on the Train, The Thirty Nine Steps, The Manchurian Candidate, and The Marathon Man which made me want to read the books.  Thrillers: 100 Must Reads is excellent and if you like thrillers, you'll love reading this book.  I certainly am. 

  1. Theseus and the Minotaur (1500 B.C.) -  Lee Child
  2. Homer’s The Iliad and the Odyssey (7th Century B.C.)  - William Bernhardt
  3. Beowulf (between 700 and 1000 A.D.) -  Andrew Klavan
  4. William Shakespeare’s Macbeth (1605–1606­) -  A.J. Hartley
  5. Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe (1719­–1722)  -  David Liss
  6. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus (1818) - Gary Braver 
  7. James Fenimore Cooper’s The Last of the Mohicans (1826) - Rick Wilber
  8. Edgar Allan Poe’s The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket (1838) - Katherine Neville
  9. Alexandre Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo (1845) - Francine Mathews
  10. Wilkie Collins’s The Woman in White (1860) - Douglas Preston
  11. Jules Verne’s Mysterious Island (1874) - D. P. Lyle
  12. H. Rider Haggard’s King Solomon’s Mines (1885)  - Norman L. Rubenstein
  13. Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde (1886) - Sarah Langan
  14. Anthony Hope’s The Prisoner of Zenda (1894) - Michael Palmer
  15. Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897) - Carole Nelson Douglas
  16. H. G. Wells’s The War of the Worlds (1898) - Steven M. Wilson
  17. Rudyard Kipling’s Kim (1901) - Tom Grace
  18. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Hound of the Baskervilles (1901) - Laura Benedict
  19. Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness (1902) - H. Terrell Griffin
  20. Erskine Childers’s The Riddle of the Sands (1903) - Christine Kling
  21. Jack London’s The Sea Wolf (1904) - Jim Fusilli
  22. Baroness Emma Orczy’s The Scarlet Pimpernel (1905)  - Lisa Black
  23. Edgar Rice Burroughs’s Tarzan of the Apes (1912) -  Craig Reed
  24. Marie Belloc Lowndes’s The Lodger (1913)  - James A. Moore
  25. John Buchan’s The Thirty-Nine Steps (1915)  - Janet Berliner
  26. E. Phillips Oppenheim’s The Great Impersonation (1920)  - Justin Scott
  27. Richard Connell’s "The Most Dangerous Game" (1924) - Katherine Ramsland
  28. W. Somerset Maugham’s Ashenden or The British Agent (1928) - Melodie Johnson Howe
  29. P. G. Wodehouse’s Summer Lightning (1929) - R.L. Stine
  30. Edgar Wallace’s King Kong (1933) - Kathleen Sharp
  31. Lester Dent’s Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze (1933) - Mark T. Sullivan
  32. James M. Cain’s The Postman Always Rings Twice (1934) - Joe R. Lansdale
  33. Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca (1938) - Allison Brennan
  34. Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None (1939) - David Morrell
  35. Eric Ambler’s A Coffin for Dimitrios (1939) - Ali Karim
  36. Geoffrey Household’s Rogue Male (1939) - David Morrell
  37. Helen Macinnes’s Above Suspicion (1941) - Gayle Lynds
  38. Cornell Woolrich’s "Rear Window" (1942) - Thomas F. Monteleone
  39. Vera Caspary’s Laura (1943) - M. J. Rose
  40. Kenneth Fearing’s The Big Clock (1946)  - Lincoln Child
  41. Graham Greene’s The Third Man (1950) - Rob Palmer
  42. Patricia Highsmith’s Strangers on a Train (1950)  - David Baldacci
  43. Mickey Spillane’s One Lonely Night (1951) - Max Allan Collins
  44. Jim Thompson’s The Killer Inside Me (1952) - Scott Nicholson
  45. Ernest K. Gann’s The High and the Mighty (1953)  - Ward Larsen
  46. Jack Finney’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1955)  - James Rollins
  47. Hammond Innes’s The Wreck of the Mary Deare (1956)  - Matt Lynn
  48. Ian Fleming’s From Russia with Love (1957) - Raymond Benson
  49. Alistair MacLean’s The Guns of Navarone (1957)  - Larry Gandle
  50. Richard Condon’s The Manchurian Candidate (1959) - Robert S. Levinson
  51. Len Deighton’s The Ipcress File (1962) - Jeffery Deaver
  52. Fletcher Knebel & Charles W. Bailey’s Seven Days in May (1962) - James Grady
  53. Lionel Davidson’s The Rose of Tibet (1962) - Milton C. Toby
  54. Richard Stark’s (Donald E. Westlake’s) The Hunter aka Point Blank (1962) - Duane Swierczynski
  55. John le Carré’s The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (1963) - Denise Hamilton
  56. Wilbur Smith’s When the Lion Feeds (1964) - W. D. Gagliani
  57. Evelyn Anthony’s The Rendezvous (1967) - Sandra Brown
  58. Michael Crichton’s The Andromeda Strain (1969) - Josh Conviser
  59. James Dickey’s Deliverance (1970) - Terry Watkins
  60. Frederick Forsyth’s The Day of the Jackal (1971) - F. Paul Wilson
  61. Brian Garfield’s Death Wish (1972) - John Lescroart
  62. David Morrell’s First Blood (1972) - Steve Berry
  63. Trevanian’s The Eiger Sanction (1972)  - Lee Goldberg
  64. Charles McCarry’s The Tears of Autumn (1974) - Hank Wagner
  65. Peter Benchley’s Jaws (1974) - P. J. Parrish
  66. William Goldman’s Marathon Man (1974) - Hank Wagner
  67. James Grady’s Six Days of the Condor (1974) - Mark Terry
  68. Jack Higgins’s The Eagle Has Landed (1975) - Zoë Sharp
  69. Joseph Wambaugh’s The Choirboys (1975) - James O. Born
  70. Clive Cussler’s Raise the Titanic! (1976) - Grant Blackwood
  71. Ira Levin’s The Boys from Brazil (1976)  - Daniel Kalla
  72. Robin Cook’s Coma (1977)  - C J Lyons
  73. Ken Follett’s Eye of the Needle (1978)  - Tess Gerritsen
  74. Ross Thomas’s Chinaman’s Chance (1978) - David J. Montgomery
  75. John D. MacDonald’s The Green Ripper (1979) - J. A. Konrath
  76. Justin Scott’s The Shipkiller (1979) - Lawrence Light
  77. Robert Ludlum’s The Bourne Identity (1980) - Linda L. Richards 
  78. Eric Van Lustbader’s The Ninja (1980) - J. D. Rhoades
  79. Thomas Harris’s Red Dragon (1981)  - Bev Vincent
  80. Jack Ketchum’s Off Season (1981) - Blake Crouch
  81. Thomas Perry’s The Butcher’s Boy (1982)  - Robert Liparulo
  82. Tom Clancy’s The Hunt for Red October (1984)  - Chris Kuzneski
  83. F. Paul Wilson’s The Tomb (1984) - Heather Graham
  84. Andrew Vachss’s Flood (1985) - Barry Eisler
  85. Stephen King’s Misery (1987)  - Chris Mooney
  86. Nelson DeMille’s The Charm School (1988) - J. T. Ellison
  87. Dean Koontz’s Watchers (1988)  - Lee Thomas
  88. Katherine Neville’s The Eight (1988)  - Shirley Kennett
  89. Peter Straub’s Koko (1988)  - Hank Wagner
  90. John Grisham’s The Firm (1991)  - M. Diane Vogt
  91. R.L. Stine’s Silent Night (1991)  - Jon Land
  92. James Patterson’s Along Came a Spider (1992)  - Mary SanGiovanni
  93. Stephen Hunter’s Point of Impact (1993)  - Christopher Rice
  94. John Lescroart’s The 13th Juror (1994)  - Karna Small Bodman
  95. Sandra Brown’s The Witness (1995) - Deborah LeBlanc
  96. David Baldacci’s Absolute Power (1996)  - Rhodi Hawk
  97. Gayle Lynds’s Masquerade (1996) - Hank Phillippi Ryan
  98. Lee Child’s Killing Floor (1997)  - Marcus Sakey
  99. Jeffery Deaver’s The Bone Collector (1997)  - Jeffrey J. Mariotte
  100. Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code (2003)  - Steve Berry

How many of these books have you read? 


Debut Novel: Black Water Rising by Attica Locke

Attica Locke

Back cover:  Jay Porter has long since made peace with not living the American Dream. He runs his fledgling law practice out of a dingy Houston strip mall---where his most promising client is a low rent call girl--and he's determined to leave the sins of his past buried:  the guns, the FBI file, the trial that nearly destroyed him.  That is, until the night he saves a woman from drowning and inadvertently opens a Pandora's box.  Her secrets reach into the upper echelons of Houston's corporate power brokers and ensnare Jay in a murder investigation that could cost him his practice, his family... and even his life. 

Black Water Rising is the debut novel of film and television screenwriter, Attica Locke.  I thoroughly enjoyed the story and it captured my attention from the very beginning. 

"Texas, 1981

The boat is smaller than he imagined. And dingier.  Even at night Jay can tell it needs a paint job.  This is not at all what they discussed.  The guy on the phone said "moonlight cruise." City lights and all that.  Jay had pictured something quaint, something with a little romance, like the riverboats on the Pontchartrain in New Orleans, only smaller.  But this thing looks like a doctored up fishing boat, at best. It is flat and wide and ugly--a barge, badly overdressed, like a big girl invited to her first and probably last school dance.  There are Christmas lights draped over every corner of the thing and strung in a line framing the cabin door.  They're blinking erratically, somewhat desperately, winking at Jay, promising a good time, wanting him to come on in.  Jay stays right where he is, staring at the boat's cabin:  four leaning walls covered with a cheap carport material. The whole thing looks like it was slapped together as an afterthought, a sloppy attempt at decorum, like a hat resting precariously on a drunk's head.

Jay's attempt at romancing his very pregnant wife on her birthday falls short while they are traveling down the river when they hear a woman screaming and gunshots.  Shortly thereafter, someone falls into the river and Jay jumps in to rescue them.  A white woman, dressed in expensive clothes and reticent about what she is doing in that part of town in the middle of the nightThey drop her off at the police station door and try to forget all about her, until he reads about the shooting death of a man.  He doesn't want to go to the police because of things that happened in his past. So he starts investigating on his own, trying to find out who the woman is.   Meanwhile, his father in law wants him to talk to the mayor, Cynthia Maddox about helping the Brotherhood of Longshoreman, the black dockworkers union who are threatening to strike because they are getting paid less than the white union dockworkers.   Jay has a history with Cynthia from his college days, both good and bad.  And the low rent call girl case turns out not to be so simple after all.  Everything turns out to be intertwined and the more Jay finds out, the stickier things become. 

Attica Locke manages to spin together a story like a spider web, weaving a very intricate and sticky tale, capturing the reader and spinning the thread about them tightly.   Her writing reminds me of John Grisham, whose books I devoured when I was younger.   I thoroughly enjoyed Black Water Rising and look forward to reading more of her work in the future.  I highly recommend it. 

Pages: 447
Publisher:  Harper Perennial 
Released: Paperback April 2010
Genre:  Mystery/thriller

Check out the other participants on the tour and find out what they think of Black Water Rising. Take a peak inside the book and visit Attica Locke's website for more information. Thank you to TLC Tours for asking to be a part of the tour and the publisher for providing me with a copy of the book.  

FTC:  I received the book courtesy of the published which did not influence my opinion. The opinions expressed are my own and I was not compensated for this review.  All links are for informational purposes only and I do not receive any compensation through Amazon affiliates

Wannabe Writers #17 - Finishing no matter what

Wannabe Writers is the brainchild of Sarah of Confessions of the Un-Published.  It is a writing group for the un-published and anyone is welcome to join. It's a place where future authors can ask questions, share stories, and get feedback. Click (here) to find more about how it works.

Where I am in the writing process:   Still working on the first draft of WIP3  Eyes in the Ashes.  WIP1 Floating on the Surface is waiting in the wings and being entirely rewritten. WIP2 Winter's Illusion is waiting patiently for editing. 

My current problems:  I'm taking a break from writing, though I'm still thinking about the story.   I also have another one drifting around in the back of my mind, which I don't want to start because I really, really, really want to finish Eyes in the Ashes first.   We're quite busy with other stuff.  We have 8 weeks left of lessons and James will be done with 4th grade.  I are going to power through without any days off so we will be done by mid July.  So my mind's on that plus planning for 5th grade.  My Nobel Literature class will be done as of June 20th which will be a relief even though I'm enjoying it.  Lot more work than I expected.  I'm looking forward to the summer break and getting back into the swing of writing.   When I have too many things on my plate, writing is the one thing that suffers.  

Sarah's question of the week:  Do you recommend finishing (and polishing) a novel, even if you know the story would never be strong enough for publication?  To finish just for the sake of finishing or to focus your energies on a better project? 
Definitely recommend finishing a novel no matter what.   Writing is an ongoing learning experience.  I think Floating on the Surface has turned into my practice, figure it out, learning manuscript.  It was the first thing I ever really wrote and  the first draft was okay.  I keep going back to it time and again and reworking, rewriting.  It may not ever be published but the experience is helping me to be a better writer and I'm applying what I'm learning to my other WIPS.

To see more answers to Sarah's question of the week or to join in, go here.

"The writer writes in order to teach himself, to understand himself, to satisfy himself; the publishing of his ideas, though it brings gratification, is a curious anticlimax. " ~Alfred Kazin, Think, February 1963

Flag Retirement Ceremony

Flag Retirement Ceremony 

During the pack meeting last week, we had a flag retirement ceremony.  I have never attended one before and have to say it was an emotional moment.


"I am old glory; for more the 9 score years I have been the banner of hope and freedom for generation after generation of Americans. Born amid the first flames of America's fight for freedom, I am the symbol of a country that has grown from a little group of 13 colonies to a united nation of 50 sovereign states. Planted firmly on the high pinnacle of American Faith, my gently fluttering folds have proved an inspiration to untold millions. Men have followed me into battle with unwavering courage. They have looked upon me as a symbol of national unity. They have prayed that they and their fellow citizens might continue to enjoy the life, liberty and pursuit of happiness, which have been granted to every American as the heritage of free men. So long as men love liberty more than life itself, so long as they treasure the priceless privileges bought with the blood of our forefathers; so long as the principles of truth, justice and charity for all remain deeply rooted in human hearts, I shall continue to be the enduring banner of the United States of America"

"Our Flag is a symbol of our country.  Have you ever stopped to think what the flag really means?  The Blue in our flag stands for valor which our ancestors fought and died for in the many battles that have been fought for our country and all for which it stands.   The White stands for the purity in all of our hearts.  It also represents the honor that each of us show in all that we do in our everyday lives.   The Red stands for the courage of all the men and women who have died in the service of our country, both as members of the armed forces and as everyday citizens.  Our flag has gone into every battle into which there have been United States citizens, from the American Revolution to the Civil War, to WWI, to WW II to the Korean Conflict to the Vietnam War to the Desert Storm.   In all of these, we the American people have stayed true to the values that the Flag represents. We should always value the sacrifices that have been made for our flag and the country that it represents.

We have an old friend here who has fullfilled his duty to our country.  He has become worn and tattered and we are here tonight to retire him with honor.

We shouldn't be sad about the retirement of our friend.  We are not burning him in anger, we are only releasing his spirit so that he can continue to serve us in our thoughts."

The US code title 36, section 176 states: "The Flag, when it is in such condition that is is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning."

Dare Challenge Surprise Prize!

Last year I took up Heather J. on a dare challenge and completed it in April.   I had totally forgotten about the prize part of the challenge: 
But if you succeed then I will send you a package of goodies including at least one book (plus lots of other stuff) AND I will dedicate an entire day to you on my blog – how’s THAT for a prize?!
I got so wrapped up in the fun of the challenge part it totally slipped my mind.  We had been emailing back and forth about the Mind Voyages challenges and she asked if I had read "Old Man's War."  I said nope,  not yet and made a mental note about getting it.  The other day Father calls me at work and said a package arrived for me from Heather.   Father never used to  pay too much attention to the mail, but since I started receiving review books, he enjoys opening the packages and checking out the books.  He wants to know if he could open this one.   Not this time, he'll have to wait until I get home.  

I opened up the package and squealed with delight to see:

I've been looking forward to reading "Beatrice and Virgil" since I read "Life of Pi" and thoroughly enjoyed it.  Plus "Old Man's War" for the Mind Voyages challenge.  I hadn't heard of "Bitter Night" or the author Diana Pharoah Francis but love paranormal / urban fantasy type books.  I've already finished it and look forward to reading more of her books.  Thanks to Heather I discovered a new to me author.  Plus she included some beautiful flowery and butterfly note cards which will come in handy.   And yesterday, I received the 2nd part of the surprise -  A day for Robin in which she highlights me and My Two Blessings.    Today, she has dedicated a post the other daree, her cousin Alex who blogs at One Day at a Time. You should check out her thoughts on the books and her Vlog and follow her blog.  I will be.  She's going to continue with the dare theme and work on some personal dares.   Sounds like an interesting idea.  

Thank you, Heather - you are awesome!

The Killing of Mindi Quintana by Jeffrey Cohen

Jeffrey Cohen

Back cover:  "Freddy Builder is certain he is meant for more.  More than his life in corporate America bondage.  More than selling china to bluebloods in Philadelphia's landmark department store, Chanet's.  Meant for more, meant for better, and lacking only, only an occasion to rise to.  

And now that occasion is murder--of Mindi Quintana, an old college flame wanting simply to stay in his past.  Freddy's crime is major news from the start.  Mindi is the beautiful daughter of a renowned Philadelphia businessman whose dramatic fall a few years back captivated the city.  A televised trial for Freddy is in the offing.  Meanwhile, he is writing the book about his relationship with Mindi--a remorseless rewrite of her life, his own, and their miserably thin involvement.  

As excerpts of his book are published to acclaim, he gives articulate, sympathetic jailhouse interviews, publishes ghostwritten articles on prison issues, and coverage goes national.  A new celebrity murderer is taking the stage--a killer with a book, a jailhouse literary sensation.  

Freddy's defense attorney, Phillip, watches in disgust as his client builds his fame with the bones of his victim.  As a career public defender, Phillip thought he'd seen evil in all its incarnations.  He'd lost his outrage, his passion for the law, and his marriage along the way.  But as Freddy's case is a turning point for him--the public's sympathy for the poet murderer, the rebel, the killer as a greater soul--stirs something dormant in Philip.   To stop Freddy, and to vindicate Mindi, Phillip will have to violate his oath, even break the law.  But with the help of Mindi's best friend Lisa, he gives Mindi back the truth of her life and death.  And he'll deliver a comeuppance to a killer with a book."

"The Killing of Mindi Quintana" is the debut novel by attorney Jeffrey Cohen.   Mindi runs into Freddy by chance when she goes into Chanet's to buy a present for her parents.  She works for Getting Feather's fashion magazine and Freddy wants to renew their past friendship so he uses his writing as a way to spend time with Mindi.  Only his writing isn't really that good and Mindi tries to give him constructive criticism. One evening they get together for drinks and Mindi realizes he's not what he seems.  She rejects his advance and he lashes out and ends up killing her.  While in prison, a reporter makes a deal with him and helps him gain notoriety through writing his story of his relationship with Mindi.

I thoroughly disliked Freddy from the very beginning.   He's one of those characters that just disgust you and make you want to not read the book.  All the characters in the book were flawed in some shape or form and Cohen's satirical portrayal of corporate America was rather depressing.  Cohen's writing style was unique and even had one complete chapter in which the character's were referred to as he and she through out.

"They are at Murphy's.

"I didn't think you'd want to talk to me." is the first thing he says when they find a table and order drinks.  

"I do." she says.

"I just thought--because she was your best friend."

She says nothing.  

It is she who suggested Murphy's when he asked her to meet.  She explained Mindi liked it.  He wonders if she wants him to fell guilty.  He wonders if it is smart to be here at all.

"What was she like?'

"I didn't think you would ask me questions like that."

And he isn't sure why he has.  "I wasn't" he says.  And after a moment, "What did you think I would ask you?"

"Things about them together, I guess.  To see what kind of case you have."  She's drinking her Tanqueray and tonic and there's a Seagram's in front of him.  He hasn't noticed the waitress put them them down. There is something alive in his stomach.  It is wearing ice skates and cutting him open.  I need to know what she was like."  He's trying to smile but should probably give up.

"We used to come here." she says.

He thinks she's going to cry.  "Tell me about her!  I have decisions to make!" He couldn't have yelled at her, maybe he hasn't.  But a few heads have turned.  He' stirring his drink and taking one of her cigarettes.  He doesn't smoke but there's not time like the present.  He's sure he is a lunatic.  (pg211)

The premise of the story is interesting, but I really didn't like the ending.  However, there are some who think the ending was ingenious, so you'll have to decide for yourself.   

Pages:  288
Publisher:  Welcome Rain Publishers
Released:  May 16, 2010 

"The Killing of Mindi Quintana" was provided to me free by TLC tours and the publisher as part of the book tour.  The review is based on my personal opinion of the story and I was not compensated for my review.   Check out the other tour stops at TLC Book tours.

Division Pinewood Derby

Remember when James car came in 2nd for his pack during the Pinewood Derby in January.   He was invited to participate in the Division Pinewood Derby and the derby was held on Thursday.   All the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners from all the local packs gathered for the race.  Out of 33 races, James ran in 5 races and won two and came in 2nd and 3rd in the rest.

After all the races, they averaged the time for all the kids. 

He came in 16th out of 38 cars with an average time of 12.8469.  His pack mate who had come in 1st in our pack come in 8th at 12.68.  The winner's time 12.51.   Yes, the kids were a little disappointed they didn't win, but they had a fun time.   James is already looking forward to next years Pinewood Derby and thinking of a new design for his car.  

Wannabe Writers # 16 - How to start a story

Wannabe Writers, the brain child of Sarah of Confessions of the Un-published is a writing group for the un-published and anyone is welcome to join. It's a place where future authors can ask questions, share stories, and get feedback. Click (here) to find more about how it works.

Where I am in the writing process:  Still working on the first draft of WIP3  Eyes in the Ashes.  WIP1 Floating on the Surface is waiting in the wings and being entirely rewritten. WIP2 Winter's Illusion is waiting patiently for editing. 

My current problems:  My brain is tied up with class stuff and life stuff  and I haven't had any time to sit down and concentrate on my current WIP.

My question this week:  How to start a story.  I've never been very good at writing hooks.  Any suggestions?  How did you start your story?  (Dialogue, description, action, etc.)

I like reading stories that start with action or dialogue that captures you and pulls you in to the story right away.     When I pick up a book in the store, the first thing I do is read the back cover or front flap, then read the first page.   If the first paragraph doesn't catch my attention, then I know the rest of the story won't.   If the first paragraph captures my attention, then I'll read the first page, then skip to random pages in the book.  I don't like stories that start with description. I like stories that put you right there in the midst of the story.  Eyes in the Ashes starts in the midst of an action and Winter's Illusion starts with dialogue.  

For example: (just made this up)

She slipped out the back door, ran for the pool house and ducked behind the gate. She glanced back over her shoulder to check for lights and if anyone had seen her.    Jacob's goons, Nathan and Packard were still at the front of the house, smoking.   If she timed it right, they wouldn't know she was gone until morning.   She shifted against the wall, her heart hammering in her chest.  Her ribs ached and it hurt to breath, but she couldn't let the pain stop her.  Not this time.

Want to know what happens next?  So do I....  Methinks, I have an idea for a new story. 

Greyson Michael Chance - 6th grader with an amazing voice!

Came across this you-tube video of a 6th grader Greyson Michael Chance who is inspired by Lady Gaga and writes his own songs.  Check him out.

Amazing Talent! Here's one he wrote himself.