In My Mailbox

A busy week and again I am amazed how fast Sunday comes around.  The mailbox was a manageable level this week and I controlled myself and purchased no books.  I have one waiting for me at the Library that I am going to try to remember to do on Monday.

Here is my mailbox and thank you to Kristi at Story Siren for hosting this meme!

Zoe Fishman’s Balancing Acts, a charming and poignant story of four former college friends helping each other balance their dreams through the power of yoga and friendship, is a must for fans of The Friday Night Knitting Club, The Reading Group, The Jane Austen Book Club, and Girls in Trucks.

I love books on friendship and this one looks fantastic!  When I seen this at TLC Book Tours I had to sign up!

I love a good YA read and a book on Anastasia sounds wonderful!  When the publicist guaranteed I would love it from page one and said I would possibly need a kleenex or two along the way – well…. I had to know more!

In 1851, a lawyer named Elias P. Drake purchased a plot of land near Xenia, Ohio with the intent to establish a summer vacation resort where the country’s elite could relax and enjoy the mineral springs in the area. At the time, it was believed that natural water could cure illnesses and bring about good health.  What made this resort unusual, however, was that it became a popular vacation destination for southern slaveholders and their enslaved mistresses.  Ultimately, these flagrantly open relationships offended the northern abolitionists who also frequented the resort.  After four years, the resort closed.

This part of the story has been confirmed by historians.  I took this forgotten historical note and sketched in a fictional account of what it would have been like to be an enslaved woman traveling to this free state each summer.  Why wouldn’t the women try to escape? What kinds of emotional attachments did they have with these men?  Initially, I believed that it was entirely possible that they actually loved the men.  Ultimately, I discovered that it was much more complicated than that.

Situated in the free state of Ohio, Tawawa House offers respite from the summer heat. A beautiful, inviting house surrounded by a dozen private cottages, the resort is favored by wealthy Southern white men who vacation there, accompanied by their enslaved mistresses.

Regular visitors Lizzie, Reenie, and Sweet have forged an enduring friendship. They look forward to their annual reunion and the opportunity it affords them to talk over the changes in their lives and their respective plantations. The subject of freedom is never spoken aloud until the red-maned, spirited Mawu arrives and voices her determination to escape. To run is to leave behind the friends and families trapped at home. For some, it also means tearing the strong emotional and psychological ties that bind them to their masters.

When a fire on the resort sets off a string of tragedies, Lizzie, Reenie, and Sweet soon learn tragic lessons,that triumph and dehumanization are inseparable and that love exists even in the cruelest circumstances as they bear witness to the end of an era.

I seen this book being reviewed on other blogs and thought it looked wonderful.  When it was offered my way I couldn’t say yes fast enough!

Come find me two years ago…. Six words that propelled ice hockey playing tomboy, Arizona, into an alternate dimension. In one moment, she went from being a varsity hockey player in New Jersey to a glamorous cheerleader in California. She found herself with a new dad. She found herself in a new life. One that she had apparently lived in always. Everyone knew her as Arizona Darley, but she wasn’t. She was Arizona Stevens. She knew she had to find her way back to her real life. Then she met Kellan….

Ok come on…. doesn’t that sound good?  The author contacted me on this one and I am excited to jump into this adventure.

Tiziana Manoretti is an only child in her late twenties blessed with loving parents, a promising career, and a best friend who fiercely protects her. When her mother falls seriously ill and the relationship between her parents becomes suddenly strained, a carefully hidden family secret is revealed and Tiziana’s seemingly idealistic world is turned upside down.

This is a tour set for late April – another one the author contacted me about and it just sounds good you know?

Blast off was a win (woo hoo) from Luxury reading.    This just looks like an exciting read and I am always game for learning new techniques and skills.  I look forward to investigating this one further soon!

And that’s my mailbox for this past week.  I would love to know what was in yours!

Faith ‘N Fiction Roundtable Discussion: Wounded by Claudia Mair Burney

Recently I have had the pleasure of being a part of a round table discussion put together by Amy at My Friend Amy’s Blog.  The book we discussed was Wounded by Claudia Mair Burney.

Poor in health but rich in faith, Gina Merritt—a young, broke, African-American single mother—sits in a pew on Ash Wednesday and has a holy vision. When it fades, her palms are bleeding. Anthony Priest, the junkie sitting beside her, instinctively touches her when she cries out, but Gina flees in shock and pain. A prize-winning journalist before drugs destroyed his career, Anthony is flooded with a sense of well-being and knows he is cured of his addiction. Without understanding why, Anthony follows Gina home to find some answers. Together they search for an answer to this miraculous event and along the way they cross paths with a skeptical evangelical pastor, a gentle Catholic priest, a certifiable religious zealot, and an oversized transvestite drug dealer, all of whom lend their opinion. It’s a quest for truth, sanity, and grace . and an unexpected love story.

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Sheila: On the back cover of the book the question is:  If a miracle happened to you, wouldn’t you tell everyone?  What if they thought you were crazy?

That is a great question.  First of all I have to admit – would I recognize it as a miracle myself?  Honestly I think I would have to have a real faith check and probably a lot like Gina did at times, question my own sanity.  As far as sharing this miracle with people, I think much like many of the cases I read about on-line, probably very few.

I would love to hear everyone elses responses to those questions.

Julie: I, too, loved those questions on the back of the book. It’s hard for me to say exactly what I’d do, but I don’t think I’d be out there telling everyone. I feel that it’s a pretty personal matter between me and God, although I would want my family to share it with me too. I would definitely pray on it (a lot) to understand the “Why Me?” and I’d have to think that God had some way that he wanted to use me to help others. I think I’d be terrified that I wouldn’t be able to figure out those questions.

Sheila:  You also made me really think when you mentioned that if you had lived in Biblical Times would you (or I) have recognized him for who he was.  Not to get off subject but I have to mention another book called More Than A Skeleton by Paul Maier.  I loved this book (there are actually two books) and in this book it is modern day and a man who has twelve disciples, was born in Bethlehem, parents are names Mary and Joseph and has a birth certificate saying his name is Jesus Christ.  He also seems to be performing miracles left and right.  The book is about trying to prove this man is not Jesus when everything seems to say he is.  In that case and in this one – is seeing believing?

Amy: In answer to both Julie and Sheila’s questions regarding whether or not I would be able to accept the miracle, well I think sitting here having never experienced it I would be skeptical.  In my head, yes I believe in these miracles, but I’m always doubtful in real life.  If it was happening to me, I would probably suspect I was crazy.  But this brings up an important to me, we often have no problem believing God is directing our path or speaking to us in ways that seem much less miraculous, is it really such a stretch to think that He could do something like this?

Hannah: I think we can’t really know or say whether we’d be able to accept such miracles if they happened to us or around us until they have. That doesn’t mean it’s not a worthwhile question to ask, just that we can’t ultimately know how we’d react until we’ve reacted.

Thomas: After I had finished the book for the first time, the next time I was at church, it caused me not to pay attention to my pastor’s sermon, but instead I spent it wondering what would happen if someone at my church began to show signs on stigmata.  For some reason I feel there would be more Mike’s then there would be Priest.

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This book was one I really enjoyed and it left me with a lot of things to think about.  I found the round table discussion bring up even more food for thought.  I read this when we went to Illinois a couple weekends ago and I was taking notes on a napkin – thoroughly engrossed in the storyline and knowing there were a few points I wanted to look into further.  This book would make a wonderful book club read as there is much to discuss.

Stop by the following blogs to read their part of the round table discussion.

Ignorant Historian — The theology presented in the book

Books and Movies — Jesus as Bridegroom

Booking Mama — Suffering

Debbie — Mental Illness and the church

Book Addiction — The Characters of Wounded

My Random Thoughts — Wounded as a Love Story (and a few other random things)

Wordlily — Stigmata

Books, Movies, Chinese food— The use of “the n word”

My Amazon Full Review Is Here

Morning Meanderings…

Good morning!  I had a great time last night when two of my girlfriends came over to have chicken fajitas and watch a  movie with me.  They are so fun!  We celebrated my birthday since I was traveling during that time in February and they surprised me with a pedicure certificate!

I just love those friends that you can talk about anything with – and that’s what I have in these two.  I think we all seriously laughed until we cried.  We talked, watched funny YouTube commercials, ate great food – and lots of chocolate!  (Yikes!)  After the movie we talked and talked  until almost midnight.

This morning I am still smiling with coffee cup in hand and so thankful for friends like these.

Moving on – this morning I have a baby shower to go to and then I think I am going to leave the day commitment free.  I am extremely tired right now after having a few really busy days in a row.  Tomorrow it will start up again as I prepare for our week of serving the homeless in our area.

Tomorrow morning I will set up the rooms for the guests to stay in, and then after Church my friend Karol and I are going to go do the shopping for the staples they will need through the week.  At 4:30 I will be back there to stay overnight and then by the time I come home at 8 am on Monday – AL will be back home!  🙂  WOO HOO!

So yeah…. even as I write this I am thinking uh…. yeah….. take it easy today, the rest of the week is going to be nuts. The book that will be joining my weekend is The Crown Conspiracy by Michael Sullivan.

I want to mention really quick here that I have signed up over at Galleysmith for the Literary Road Trip.  What Michelle has going on is that you can link to her fun meme of reading authors from your state and then each week she will link your  Road Trip Posts to her blog.  I called dibs on Minnesota!  I have a few books waiting for review that are Minnesota Authors.   Anyway – go check it out, your state may still be available.  🙂

Any big weekend plans for you?  What book will be joining you?

Author Chat With Jay Asher (Author of Thirteen reasons Why)

If you have been around here lately you probably have heard me gushing about the book Thirteen reasons Why.  If you have not read my review, I highly encourage you to do so!  Every once in a while a book really touches us, many times we do not even know why.  I am not sure it is the timing, or something just strikes  cord and you think yes.  This is a wonderful book.  That is where I am with this book.

Today I am overjoyed to welcome Jay Asher to the chat room to have a cup of coffee and share a little bit about the book and himself – please give a warm welcome to author, Jay Asher.

Welcome Jay!  I am always interested about the steps one takes to write a book.  When did you decide you wanted to write a book and what steps did you take to make it happen?

Jay:  I’d actually been trying to get books published for nine years before I began Thirteen Reasons Why.  Those other books were all humorous and for younger children.  Over those years, I joined a couple critique groups and attended as many writing conferences as I could.  I also entered every writing contest I could find, winning a few along the way, and some of them brought me in contact with agents and editors that later came in handy.  The community I found at the conferences and the confidence I gained by winning contests is what kept me going through all the rejection letters.

Even though I was only interested in writing funny books for kids, the concept of Thirteen reasons Why was too intriguing to ignore.  And, something that surprised me, writing never felt as natural as it did when I began working on my serious teen novel.  So I suppose it is a good idea to try new things!  After the three years that it took to write and polish the manuscript, I queried a few agents and only one showed interest.  She sent it out and we got a dozen rejections before three houses began bidding on it.  So be willing to try new things and don’t give up!

That is so exciting!  Three years, it always amazes me the time that goes into putting together a book.  Jay, Thirteen Reasons Why is a pretty deep book on teenage suicide.  What gave you the idea to write a book on such a topic?

Jay:  The topic of suicide was important to me because a close relative attempted suicide when she was a junior in high school, just like Hannah in my book.  That occurred many years before I even considered writing for teens, though.  Actually, I’d only read maybe five teen novels before I began working on my own.  I was just itching to try a new type of writing, so I thought about writing a suspenseful book for teens.  That’s all I knew I wanted to do.  And then the concept hit me.  A girl records her reasons for committing suicide onto a bunch of audio cassettes and the reader follows one boy as he listens to the tapes to find out where his name pops up.  Because of my personal understanding of this issue, when the idea came to me, I wasn’t afraid to work on it.  In fact, I thought it was something I should work on because our society has such a hard time discussing this very real problem.

The voice of Hannah after the suicide echos throughout the pages of the book by the way of cassette tapes.  This is a unique way to present the story.  How did this come about?

Jay: I had the idea for doing a sort of “audiotour book” for several years before I found the right story for it.  In Las Vegas, I took an audiotour of a mock-up of King Tut’s tomb.  It was my first audiotour, and when it was over, I immediately thought, “That would be an awesome way to format a novel.”  But I thought it was such a unique storytelling device, I didn’t want to waste it on a story where the structure was just a gimmick.  It needed to enhance the story.  Having Clay’s immediate reactions to Hannah’s recorded words was, I thought, the perfect way to tell her story.

I agree.  The way the book was written and Clay’s thoughts coming through as he listened really put me as the reader, in the moment.  Was there a part of the book that was harder to write?

Jay:  There were the usual struggles of trying to keep things moving and interesting.  But the part which made me the most nervous to write was the hot tub scene.  Again, I’d spent nine years writing manuscripts for young children.  I wasn’t used to writing anything with sexual overtones, and there wasn’t going to be anything “overtone” about that scene.  I knew that scene was extremely important in getting across the full arc of Hannah’s emotional slide, so it wasn’t a scene I could get around.  As well, I thought the reader needed to be uncomfortable while reading it in order to really grasp what was going on.  Once I began working on it, I just let myself get into “honest writer mode” and went for it.  But the fifty or so pages leading up to that scene made me a nervous wreck.  “Forty more pages until the hot tub scene.”  “Fifteen more pages.”  “The next page!”  It turns out, not only was that scene important for the story, but it was important to a lot of my readers.  I’ve had several girls thank me for writing that scene and letting others know what going through something like that is emotionally like.

Jay that is so funny you bring that up!  On my review under the spoiler link, I go into quite a bit of detail about that scene.  It did exactly what you say here you wanted it to, it made me uncomfortable.  At the same time, I understood it was necessary to show the changes in Hannah.  As I explained to a friend of mine while I was once again gushing about this book, this part of the book has to happen so the reader can understand that Hannah is giving up and letting go of who she is.

Is there a message within this book that you are hoping comes through to the readers?

Jay: It’s just another book about The Golden Rule.  It’s about the ripple effect of decisions, sometimes small decisions, made by people not following The Golden Rule.  As Hannah says, “You never know what goes on in anyone’s life but your own.”  And that’s why it’s important to always be conscious of how we treat others.  At the same time, Hannah isn’t without fault.  She pushed people away.  She made bad decisions.  I thought it was also important for people to notice times when Hannah didn’t do herself any favors.

Is there another book in the planning?

Jay:  Yes.  Later.  And not much.  (Tee-hee!)

Ok, the tee hee cracked me up a bit!  Thirteen Reasons Why has won awards.  What are some of those awards?

Jay: It’s won some state awards that were voted on by teens, which makes those my absolute favorite awards.  The California Book Award was a huge honor.  For that, I got to stand behind a podium and give an acceptance speech with Michael Chabon and Khaled Hosseini in the front row.  And I made them laugh!!!

I like to ask each author I chat with if they could share one little known fact about themselves for my readers.

Jay:  I once dressed-up as a werewolf for Halloween.  I think I was in sixth grade.  It was a very elaborate costume where I used a special glue to attach strips of fake fur to my face and arms and legs.  I actually slept in the fur because I got home so late, but I had a basketball game the next day so I woke up early to start peeling the stuff off.  That’s what the glue bottle said.  “Peels right off.”  But it didn’t.  My mom used rubbing alcohol, warm water, and lots of tugging.  We finally got most of it off before the game, but I had to keep my left sock pulled up high to cover the remaining fur around my ankle.  But I still love Halloween!  And werewolves!!!

Great story Jay!  Thank you so much for stopping in and sharing about Thirteen Reasons Why.  I am very curious as to what you have coming up next and would like to tell my readers that this is an author to watch!   If you have not read Thirteen reasons Why I highly recommend that you do!

Morning Meanderings…

It is Friday!  F R I D A Y!!!  Woo Hoo!  I had a long and busy Thursday and did not get back into my house until 7:30 last night.  On the bright side, I accomplished a lot yesterday and there is something to be said for a productive day.  Seriously…. it makes me feel…. taller.  🙂  Even Coffee Cup thought so…

Today though is work all day and then fun tonight!  I will be in my office today catching up on some projects.  Then this afternoon I am interviewing a girl to work in our business office.  After that – let the games begin!

Tonight my friends Heidi and Sara are coming over and we are having chicken fajita and watching a movie or two.  Just a low-key hang out night.  There is a group of us that tries to get together once a month and who ever can make it makes it.  It was my turn to pick for February and here I come scraping in a t the last second due to a BUSY month.

This will be fun and relaxing…. and I am sooooooo looking forward to it.

What do you like to do when you get together with your friends?

I Confess….

This morning I seen this fun post to link to over at Home Girl’s Blog.  I had a busy day and had no time to do anything with it until now…. but I do have a funny story to share about a book.

A couple years ago my book club voted our book choice to be a book called Leave It To Cleavage by Wendy Wax.  I was horrified.  So many good books out there to read and this, this is what gets voted in. Not only did the title make me feel a little uneasy…. so did the author’s name.

I ordered my copy from our local book store and when it came in they called me and I went in to pick it up.  I made sure I was alone at the counter and told them they had a book for me under my name.  The man at the counter went and looked through a pile of books and in a loud voice said, “Oh, do you mean Leave It To Cleavage?”

In a small voice I respond, “mmmm hhhmmmm…. that’s the one.”

He brings me the books and proceeds to tell me that there was a big write-up in the Minneapolis paper about that book just that day and it was a rave review.  I pay for the book and quickly head out the door.

Turns out, the book was actually a funny lite read and not at all what I was thinking it might be.  It kind of reminds me of an early Evanovich style of read.  I confess I was guilty of not only of  judging a book by its title but also, I judged the author by her name.  To this day my book club still harasses me a little bit for my over reaction to this book.

Morning Meanderings

No time for hopping around this morning – I have a builders meeting at 8:30 am on the other side of town.  Coffee Cup are not so leisurely this morning!  🙂

I do want to take a moment to welcome Rachel who has now taken on J Kayes Blog, which is now called Home Girls Book Blog. Pop on over and welcome her, I think she will do a wonderful job!

I am off to the meeting and then to the office, kind of a weird office day, I will be there only for a short time today and then I am taking my Administrative Assistant out for a catching up and planning lunch.  Should be a good day!

Oh…. and did you see my post on BEA (Book Expo America)?