Thursday, November 29, 2012

One Direction - Live While We're Young

Yes, I am going in One Direction - straight down...
and I'm certainly Living while I'm Young.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Promise Not To Tell - Jennifer McMahon

Book Description

 April 20, 2008

Forty-one-year-old school nurse Kate Cypher has returned home to rural Vermont to care for her mother who's afflicted with Alzheimer's. On the night she arrives, a young girl is murdered—a horrific crime that eerily mirrors another from Kate's childhood. Three decades earlier, her dirt-poor friend Del—shunned and derided by classmates as "Potato Girl"—was brutally slain. Del's killer was never found, while the victim has since achieved immortality in local legends and ghost stories. Now, as this new murder investigation draws Kate irresistibly in, her past and present collide in terrifying, unexpected ways. Because nothing is quite what it seems . . . and the grim specters of her youth are far from forgotten.

More than just a murder mystery, Jennifer McMahon's extraordinary debut novel, Promise Not to Tell, is a story of friendship and family, devotion and betrayal—tautly written, deeply insightful, beautifully evocative, and utterly unforgettable.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Part mystery-thriller and part ghost story, McMahon's well-paced debut alternates smoothly between past and present. In the fall of 2002, 41-year-old Kate Cypher, a divorced Seattle school nurse, returns to New Hope, the decaying Vermont hippie commune where she grew up, to visit her elderly mother, Jean, who's suffering from Alzheimer's. Kate has avoided New Hope since the grizzly, unsolved murder of her fifth-grade friend, Del Griswold, 31 years earlier. Kate fears she betrayed Del, a free-spirited farm girl. Did her betrayal cause Del's death? Who killed Del? Another local girl is murdered in a similar manner at the time of Kate's return. Could the killer be loose again? Meanwhile, Jean appears to be possessed with Del's spirit and may have the answers to these questions. As Kate investigates, she learns stunning truths about many events and people from her youth. McMahon does a particularly good job of portraying the cruelty of school children. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

This assured, ambitious debut novel offers an unusual mix of mystery novel and ghost story, with particularly well-drawn coming-of-age themes. School nurse Kate Cypher returns to her hometown in Vermont to care for her mother, who is suffering from Alzheimer's. It's not a happy homecoming, since Kate never liked the cultlike atmosphere of the commune she grew up in. Not long after her arrival, a local girl is murdered in the same way Kate's childhood friend, Del, nicknamed the "Potato Girl" by her mean-spirited classmates, was killed 30 years ago. Seriously spooked, Kate reconnects with her childhood sweetheart, who is utterly convinced that Del's ghost is afoot in the woods and intent on seeking revenge. McMahon deftly juggles a complex narrative, which smoothly interweaves the past and the present, while also credibly introducing supernatural elements by presenting them through Kate's skeptical viewpoint. But McMahon's real coup is her touching characterization of the brave and desperate Del. It is through that portrait that McMahon drives home the cruelty of childhood bullying. Joanne Wilkinson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Jennifer McMahon's debut novel is impressive and showcases the author's narrative skill. The story centers around protagonist Kate Cypher, who returns to her childhood home in New Canaan in 2002, and finds herself revisiting memories of the past, way back in 1971 when a girl Del Griswold, nicknamed the Potato Girl is found murdered. Interestingly, and ominously, a murder takes place in the present, also involving a young girl, Tori. The story weaves back and forth between the past and present,but it never seems disjointed. Instead, it makes for a compelling read...not to give too much away, there are various themes explored here, such as bullying, child abuse, betrayal, and even a supernatural element. It could have been confusing, instead the author skillfully weaves a thought-provoking, intriguing story that will hold you spellbound.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

House of Flying Daggers - Zhang Ziyi

We visited Kamakura and the Bamboo Shrine

Reminded me of the House of Flying Daggers

I'm no Zhang Ziyi but I make a good Buddha's Elf

Friday, November 23, 2012

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Life Of Pi - Yann Martel

Book Description

 June 4, 2002
"Yann Martel's Life of Pi (Canongate) is another reminder of the largely unsung excellence of the Canongate list. The fiercely independent Scottish outfit remains an outpost of rare quality and distinction, and this exceptional understated novel is certainly a worthy addition to its output.... It would not be out of place on a Booker shortlist." -- From The Bookseller
“In the end, Life of Pi may not, as its teller promises, persuade readers to believe in God, but it makes a fine argument for the divinity of good art.” -- Noel Rieder, The Gazette (Montreal)

“Martel’s latest literary offering, Life of Pi, is an exquisitely crafted tale that could be described as a castaway adventure story cum allegory.” -- The Gazette (Montreal)

Life of Pi…is about many things — religion, zoology, fear — but most of all, it’s about sheer tenacity. Martel has created a funny, wise and highliy original look at what it means to be human.” --Chatelaine

“In many ways, Life of Pi is a good old-fashioned boy’s book full of survival, cannibalism, horror, math and zoology. An impressive marriage of The Jungle Book with Lord of the Flies, it’s the harrowing coming of age tale of a boy who survives for over a year in a lifeboat with a zebra, an organgutan, an hyena and a Bengal tiger.” -- The Montreal Mirror

“A good story can make you see, understand and believe, and Martel is a very good storyteller. Martel displays an impresive knowledge of language, history, religion and literature, and his writing is filled with details and insights.” -- The Canadian Press
“[Life of Pi] has a buoyant, exotic, insistence reminiscent of Edgar Allen Poe’s most Gothic fiction…Oddities abound and the storytelling is first-rate. Yann Marte...

Editorial Reviews Review

Yann Martel's imaginative and unforgettable Life of Pi is a magical reading experience, an endless blue expanse of storytelling about adventure, survival, and ultimately, faith. The precocious son of a zookeeper, 16-year-old Pi Patel is raised in Pondicherry, India, where he tries on various faiths for size, attracting "religions the way a dog attracts fleas." Planning a move to Canada, his father packs up the family and their menagerie and they hitch a ride on an enormous freighter. After a harrowing shipwreck, Pi finds himself adrift in the Pacific Ocean, trapped on a 26-foot lifeboat with a wounded zebra, a spotted hyena, a seasick orangutan, and a 450-pound Bengal tiger named Richard Parker ("His head was the size and color of the lifebuoy, with teeth"). It sounds like a colorful setup, but these wild beasts don't burst into song as if co-starring in an anthropomorphized Disney feature. After much gore and infighting, Pi and Richard Parker remain the boat's sole passengers, drifting for 227 days through shark-infested waters while fighting hunger, the elements, and an overactive imagination. In rich, hallucinatory passages, Pi recounts the harrowing journey as the days blur together, elegantly cataloging the endless passage of time and his struggles to survive: "It is pointless to say that this or that night was the worst of my life. I have so many bad nights to choose from that I've made none the champion."An award winner in Canada (and winner of the 2002 Man Booker Prize), Life of Pi, Yann Martel's second novel, should prove to be a breakout book in the U.S. At one point in his journey, Pi recounts, "My greatest wish--other than salvation--was to have a book. A long book with a never-ending story. One that I could read again and again, with new eyes and fresh understanding each time." It's safe to say that the fabulous, fablelike Life of Pi is such a book. --Brad Thomas Parsons

From Publishers Weekly

A fabulous romp through an imagination by turns ecstatic, cunning, despairing and resilient, this novel is an impressive achievement "a story that will make you believe in God," as one character says. The peripatetic Pi (ne the much-taunted Piscine) Patel spends a beguiling boyhood in Pondicherry, India, as the son of a zookeeper. Growing up beside the wild beasts, Pi gathers an encyclopedic knowledge of the animal world. His curious mind also makes the leap from his native Hinduism to Christianity and Islam, all three of which he practices with joyous abandon. In his 16th year, Pi sets sail with his family and some of their menagerie to start a new life in Canada. Halfway to Midway Island, the ship sinks into the Pacific, leaving Pi stranded on a life raft with a hyena, an orangutan, an injured zebra and a 450-pound Bengal tiger named Richard Parker. After the beast dispatches the others, Pi is left to survive for 227 days with his large feline companion on the 26-foot-long raft, using all his knowledge, wits and faith to keep himself alive. The scenes flow together effortlessly, and the sharp observations of the young narrator keep the tale brisk and engaging. Martel's potentially unbelievable plot line soon demolishes the reader's defenses, cleverly set up by events of young Pi's life that almost naturally lead to his biggest ordeal. This richly patterned work, Martel's second novel, won Canada's 2001 Hugh MacLennan Prize for Fiction. In it, Martel displays the clever voice and tremendous storytelling skills of an emerging master.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

With over 1250 reviews already registered for LIFE OF PI, I first thought there could be nothing more to say about this marvelous novel. But after scanning the most recent 100 reviews, I began to wonder what book many of those reviewers had read. Had I relied on 98 of those reviews, I would have expected a far different book than the one I actually read.

Let's begin with what LIFE OF PI isn't. It's not a Man against Nature survival story. It's not a story about zoos or wild animals or animal husbandry. It's not ROBINSON CRUSOE or SWISS FAMILY ROBINSON. It's not a literary version of CASTAWAY or OPEN WATER, and it's not a "triumph against all odds, happily ever after" rescue story. To classify it as such would be like classifying THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA as a story about a poor fisherman or MOBY DICK as a sea story. Or THE TRIAL as a courtroom drama, THE PLAGUE as a story of an epidemic, HEART OF DARKNESS as a story about slavery, or ANIMAL FARM as an animal adventure.

Martel's story line is already well-known: a fifteen-year-old boy, the son of a zookeeper in Pondicherry, India survives a shipwreck several days out of Manila. He is the lone human survivor, but his lifeboat is occupied by a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker, an injured zebra, a hyena, and an orangutan. In relatively short order and true Darwinian fashion, their numbers are reduced to just two: the boy Piscene Molitor Patel, and the tiger, Richard Parker. By dint of his zoo exposure and a fortuitously positioned tarpaulin, Pi (as he is called) manages to establish his own territory on the lifeboat and even gains alpha dominance over Richard Parker. At various points in their 227-day ordeal, Pi and the tiger miss being rescued by an oil tanker, meet up with another shipwreck survivor, and discover an extraordinary algae island before finally reaching safety.

When Pi retells the entire story to two representatives of the Japanese Ministry of Transport searching for the cause of the sinking, they express deep disbelief, so he offers them a second, far more mundane but believable story that parallels the first one. They can choose to believe the more fantastical first one despite its seeming irrationality (Pi is, after all, an irrational number) and its necessary leap of faith, or they can accept the second, far more rational version, more heavily grounded in our everyday experiences.

LIFE OF PI is an allegory, the symbolic expression of a deeper meaning through a tale acted out by humans, animals, and in this case, even plant life. Yann Martel has crafted a magnificently unlikely tale involving zoology and botany, religious experience, and ocean survival skills to explore the meaning of stories in our lives, whether they are inspired by religion to explain the purpose of life or generated by our own psyches as a way to understand and interpret the world around us.

Martel employs a number of religious themes and devices to introduce religion as one of mankind's primary filters for interpreting reality. Pi's active adoption and participation in Hinduism, Islam, and Christianity establish him as a character able to relate his story through the lens of the world's three major religions. Prayer and religious references abound, and his adventures bring to mind such Old Testament scenes as the Garden of Eden, Daniel and the lion's den, the trials of Job, and even Jonah and the whale. Accepting Pi's survival story as true, without supporting evidence, is little different than accepting New Testament stories about Jesus. They are matters of faith, not empiricism.

In the end, however, LIFE OF PI takes a broader view. All people are storytellers, casting their experiences and even their own life events in story form. Martel's message is that all humans use stories to process the reality around them, from the stories that comprise history to those that explain the actions and behaviors of our families and friends. We could never process the chaotic stream of events from everyday life without stories to help us categorize and compartmentalize them. Yet we all choose our own stories to accomplish this - some based on faith and religion, some based on empiricism and science. The approach we choose dictates our interpretation of the world around us.

LIFE OF PI bears a faint resemblance to the movie BIG FISH, also a story about storytelling and how we understand and rationalize our own lives through tales both mundane and tall. Martel's book is structured as a story within a story within a story, planned and executed in precisely 100 chapters as a mathematical counterpoint to the endlessly irrational and nonrepeating value of pi. The book is alternately harrowing and amusing, deeply rational and scientific but wildly mystical and improbable. It is also hugely entertaining and highly readable, as fluid as the water in which Pi floats. Anyone who enjoys literature as a vehicle for contemplating the human condition should find in LIFE OF PI a delicious treat.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Freeman - Leonard Pitts

Book Description

 May 8, 2012
Freeman, the new novel by Leonard Pitts, Jr., takes place in the first few months following the Confederate surrender and the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Upon learning of Lee's surrender, Sam--a runaway slave who once worked for the Union Army--decides to leave his safe haven in Philadelphia and set out on foot to return to the war-torn South. What compels him on this almost-suicidal course is the desire to find his wife, the mother of his only child, whom he and their son left behind 15 years earlier on the Mississippi farm to which they all "belonged."

At the same time, Sam's wife, Tilda, is being forced to walk at gunpoint with her owner and two of his other slaves from the charred remains of his Mississippi farm into Arkansas, in search of an undefined place that would still respect his entitlements as slaveowner and Confederate officer.

The book's third main character, Prudence, is a fearless, headstrong white woman of means who leaves her Boston home for Buford, Mississippi, to start a school for the former bondsmen, and thus honor her father’s dying wish.

At bottom, Freeman is a love story--sweeping, generous, brutal, compassionate, patient--about the feelings people were determined to honor, despite the enormous constraints of the times. It is this aspect of the book that should ensure it a strong, vocal, core audience of African-American women, who will help propel its likely critical acclaim to a wider audience. At the same time, this book addresses several themes that are still hotly debated today, some 145 years after the official end of the Civil War. Like Cold MountainFreeman illuminates the times and places it describes from a fresh perspective, with stunning results. It has the potential to become a classic addition to the literature dealing with this period. Few other novels so powerfully capture the pathos and possibility of the era particularly as it reflects the ordeal of the black slaves grappling with the promise--and the terror--of their new status as free men and women.

Editorial Reviews


"In lyrical prose, Pitts unflinchingly and movingly portrays the period's cruelties, and triumphs in capturing the spirit of the times through eminently-identifiable lead characters." ---Publishers Weekly Starred Review

About the Author

Leonard Pitts, Jr., is a columnist for the Miami Herald and the recipient of the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for commentary, in addition to many other awards. He is also the author of the novel Before I Forget; the collection Forward From this Moment: Selected Columns, 1994–2009, and Becoming Dad: Black Men and the Journey to Fatherhood. Leonard lives in suburban Washington, D.C., with his wife and children. Sean Crisden is a multitalented actor who has narrated audiobooks in almost every genre, from science fiction to romance. He has also voiced characters in numerous video games, such as the award-winning ShadowGun, and appeared in many commercials and films, including The Last Airbender. A native of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Sean now resides in Phoenix, Arizona

Freeman by Leonard Pitts is totally engrossing from beginning to end. It is an historical fiction book, set in the post Civil War era and deals with the power of love, the fulfillment of promises, and the obsessive need for forgiveness. It weaves the individual stories of Sam, Tilda, and Prudence into a majestic historical tale.

Sam, a former runaway slave, is compelled to return to the war-torn South in search of Tilda, the wife he left behind 15 years earlier in his quest for freedom. His search for Tilda is not only to recapture the love of his life, but to also obtain her forgiveness.

Meantime, Tilda is being forced by her former slave master, at gunpoint, to walk in search of a place where former slave owners are still fighting to maintain their previous way of life--the life to which they fiercely believe they are entitled to keep at all costs. Without hope of rescue, Tilda resigns herself to her place in life.

Prudence, a wealthy white Northern widow, sets out, against the advice of her Negro friend Bonnie, to establish a school for former slaves, thereby fulfilling her promise to her dying father.

These three people move through the dangerous times, facing innumerable obstacles and brutalities, yet not fully comprehending the realities and implications of the South's defeat upon its citizens.

Leonard Pitts' second novel is a beautifully written and unforgettable narrative, that is certain to propel him into superstardom with the likes of Toni Morrison, J. California Cooper, and Zora Neal Hurston.

Friday, November 16, 2012

No Mark Upon Her - Deborah Crombie

Book Description

 February 7, 2012
New York Times bestselling author Deborah Crombie makes her mark with this absorbing, finely hued tale of suspense—a deeply atmospheric and twisting mystery full of deadly secrets, salacious lies, and unexpected betrayals involving the mysterious drowning of a Met detective—an accomplished rower—on the Thames.
When a K9 search-and-rescue team discovers a woman's body tangled up with debris in the river, Scotland Yard superintendent Duncan Kincaid finds himself heading an investigation fraught with complications. The victim, Rebecca Meredith, was a talented but difficult woman with many admirers—and just as many enemies. An Olympic contender on the verge of a controversial comeback, she was also a high-ranking detective with the Met—a fact that raises a host of political and ethical issues in an already sensitive case.
To further complicate the situation, a separate investigation, led by Detective Inspector Gemma James, Kincaid's wife, soon reveals a disturbing—and possibly related—series of crimes, widening the field of suspects. But when someone tries to kill the search-and-rescue team member who found Rebecca's body, the case becomes even more complex and dangerous, involving powerful interests with tentacles that reach deep into the heart of the Met itself.
Surrounded by enemies with friendly faces, pressured to find answers quickly while protecting the Yard at all costs, his career and reputation on the line, Kincaid must race to catch the killer before more innocent lives are lost—including his own.

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Crombie, a three-time Macavity Award winner, an Edgar Award nominee, and a New York Times Notable author, stages another New Scotland Yard procedural here, with the team of Superintendent Duncan Kincaid and his partner through the series (now his wife), Inspector Gemma James. It gets off to an eerie start. The body of a rower is discovered tangled in debris in the Thames. The victim is a young woman, Rebecca Meredith, a detective with the Metropolitan Police, who had been undergoing a punishing training regimen in hopes of qualifying for the women’s single scull event in the upcoming Olympics. The investigation is especially tricky because of Meredith’s professional status. It gets trickier still when Kincaid and James discover a host of suspects, including Meredith’s ex-husband and the rowers with whom she trained. An added shock is the attempted murder of one of the search-and-rescue team members who found Meredith’s body. Adding to the considerable interest of plot and characters here is the expertise Crombie shares on the rigors and skills of sculling. --Connie Fletcher


“Macavity Award-winner Crombie examines the corrupting nature of power in her riveting 14th novel featuring Scotland Yard Supt. Duncan Kincaid and Det. Insp. Gemma James.... Crombie gives an insightful look into British police procedures as well as a vivid view of the vagaries of London neighborhoods.” (Publishers Weekly (starred review) )

...[R]eaders who savor excellent writing will find that Ms. Crombie delivers it again. (New York Journal of Books )

“Crombie is very talented at putting together a richly atmospheric whodunit.... [A]s a creator, she energetically inhabits the many strange worlds she shows her readers....” (Washington Post )

“Ms. Crombie again has turned out a gripping and nicely tailored mystery and added another chapter to her chronicle of Kincaid and Jones.” (Washington Times )

“No Mark Upon Her is again deserving of fans’ devotion due largely to her intelligent, subtle wit and above all, her meticulous attention to detail, from sculling equipment and competitive jealousy to a 3-year-old’s birthday party meltdown to the deep bond between a man and his dog.” (Miami Herald )

“Her writing is sophisticated and her suspense taut.” (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel )

[A] psychological thrill-ride that explores the allure of power, the pull of jealousy, and the seduction of greed. (The Tuscon Citizen )

This is a lovely, satisfying British police procedural with many relationship subplots that lend texture. (Suspense magazine )

If you are a fan of smart English Scotland Yard procedurals, you should enjoy this latest by Deborah Crombie which explores the competitive world of rowing. The moody, murky Thames River creates the book's atmosphere and is the backdrop for the mysterious death of an Olympic-caliber rower who was practicing to compete for England in the upcoming Olympics. Complicating this? She was also a senior female Met officer, West London, Major Crimes.

The case demands finesse to protect the reputation of the Met, and Scotland Yard's Duncan Kincaid is called on holiday by his boss to intervene and investigate the possibility of a suspicious death. Kincaid and his partner, Cullen, soon discern that the victim's life appears "as if she had something to hide." Old rivalries, hushed-up crimes and possible crooked cops are encountered as they sort through the different strands of her life trying to uncover motive and means for murder by those who knew her. There are ample suspects among police colleagues, Olympic aspirants, old friends, and even a coach, ex-husband and lover among others.

Devotees of Crombie will find this an especially taut mystery with amped-up tension. More crimes are attempted and the pace accelerates. Plot lines intertwine to create a sophisticated and complex mystery which has a riveting and ultimately satisfying conclusion. I had several suspects in mind as the villain. As customary with Crombie, secondary characters aren't flat, and are as believable as Kincaid and his wife Gemma, who also works for the Met and assists Kincaid in this investigation. The search and rescue dogs and their owners add to the dramatic tension and warmth of the story.

You sense while reading this book that Crombie enjoys writing and experimenting with her craft. She has a natural, fluid prose with occasional cul-de-sacs of poetic description which elevate her mysteries above the average mystery fare. She takes care constructing the story and writing it as the quality of writing is even throughout the book. The plot is well-conceived and paced. Although Crombie is American, she has lived in England and Scotland and may be as American writer Henry James described himself 'more English than the English'. There's plenty of tea-pouring, being gobsmacked, finding "no joy", dogsbodies and Governor's for Anglophiles.

Loyal readers of hers will enjoy the advancement of Duncan Kincaid's and Gemma James' family's progress and familiar characters (Hazel, Wes etc.) from prior books who make cameo appearances. I particularly enjoyed DI Singla's humorous description of what is usually in his wife's handbag as a character study--it's these human interest asides that color Crombie's books, attracting loyal readers. If you are new to Crombie, this book can be a stand alone--it will probably tempt you to sample her first in the series A Share in Death (Duncan Kincaid/Gemma James Novels) and read through the entire series.

Every book of Crombie's has a unique flavor--she seems to continually challenge herself to progress as a writer and create something fresh. This book successfully accomplishes that and should delight her reading admirers.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Angel Mind

Angel Mind

The true story of how an angel saved my life

If you are reading this then you, like me, are searching for something that makes sense of life’s mystery.

This book is about the discovery of yourself and the miracles that brings and the story does involve a meeting with a real angel.

Everyone on this earth is awakening, and powers far beyond our imagination are waiting like wings for you to use and fly, wisely.

This book is about our ability to expand far beyond what we can comprehend, to let go of what we know and embrace the unknown, the mysterious. I call it the angel mind. That was the gift I was given That is the gift I want to pass on to you.

This is a true story. It answers many of the questions we both have, you and I. Where are we from? Why are we here? Where are we going?

Human life, at this very moment, is poised on the edge of the remarkable, is ready to achieve the experiences great saints like St Francis of Assisi and scientists like Albert Einstein have hinted at.

If you want to connect to the mystery, the mystical the miracle that is life, then read on.

Chapter 1

The Wandering Sannyasi

This is the true story of a young person who had the good fortune to meet an angel. This meeting was by chance, the angel was real and although the person was not religious, the events leading up to the meeting and what happened afterwards are nothing less than extraordinary. In order to protect the identities of some of the people involved, their names have been changed but the events remain the same.

I was on the edge of nowhere, a country school in a wildlife reserve in the holiest of holy cities in India, Benares, which is also known as Varanasi. I had been invited there as a guest teacher of the arts, language, drama and music and I was having a tough day.

It had been extremely hot, that thundery, lightning strewn day in July and the monsoon was upon me. The last thing I ever thought I would hear was a knock on my door in the middle of the night.

I shouldn't have been surprised. Since childhood I have had a lot of knocks, most of them urging me to open up and pay attention. Some bad drug experiences, terrible relationships and a disillusionment with the way the rich got richer and the poor got what was left led me to volunteer for this school out in the middle of a field with no pens or paper and just myself and my wits to rely on.

I had my own little house with a servant and his family. I really didn’t want to accept that but was told the pittance I paid him weekly in US dollars was enough to feed his family for several months. So I took the hint and the servant stayed. He was there when I woke up to bring me breakfast before my daily yoga and the last person to say goodnight before the sun went down. 

So to get a knock at 2am? Inconceivable! 

I lurched out of bed half expecting an emergency at the school. It didn’t seem impossible for the old thing to have been blown over in the gale force winds or maybe it had caught fire.

Instead, standing on the doorstep was a woman in orange robes.

“I’ve been looking for you a long time,” she said.

I knew what she was. A Sannyasi. Someone in the last stage of life who has renounced all worldly and material pleasures and is pursuing a spiritual life. But this woman was young, white and spoke fluent German!

“I have a message for you from the Gods,” she said in halting English.

“This scroll is for you.” I held out my hands and accepted an ancient parchment with open mouth. What else would you expect at 2 in the morning.

“You have had previous incarnations in India. The one I am to speak about is your life as a Raj of a minor kingdom in the north in the 16th century. You had three wives. You loved peacocks. You adored music even more. You worshipped the Goddess Saraswati, Hindu Goddess of knowledge, music, arts and science. That is your purpose this lifetime. Fulfill it.”

Then she turned and headed out into the wind and rain and shut the door. I rushed after her but when I opened the door she was nowhere to be seen.

I have never laid eyes on her, before or since. 

The Secret of Ella and Micha - Jessica Sorensen

Book Description

 October 2, 2012
Ella and Micha have been best friends since they were kids. But one tragic night shatters their friendship and their lives forever.

Ella used to be a rule-breaker with fiery attitude who wore her heart on her sleeve. But she left everything behind when she went to college and transformed into someone that follows the rules, keeps everything together, and hides all her problems. But now it's summer break and she has nowhere else to go but home.

Ella fears everything she worked so hard to bury might resurface, especially with Micha living right next door. If Micha tries to tempt the old her back, she knows that it will be hard to resist.

Micha is sexy, smart, confident, and can get under Ella’s skin like no one else can. He knows everything about her, including her darkest secrets. And he’s determined to bring his best friend, and the girl he loves back, no matter what it takes.

(New Adult Contemporary)
**Recommended for readers 17+ due to sexual situations and language.**

"This really was very well written and just beautiful. Sorensen has done an amazing job portraying two broken people with real problems and has brought up sensitive issues and topics and handled it all so well."--Mlpmom (Book Reviewer).

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Jessica Sorensen lives with her husband and three kids in the snowy mountains of Wyoming, where she spends most of her time reading, writing, and hanging out with her family.

The Secret of Ella and Micha is an Adult Contemporary novel by Jessica Sorensen. The novel is about Ella Daniels, a young woman who disappears from the small town she grew up in an attempt to change who she is and who she might become. Leaving everything behind, including her real personality, Ella changes from a girl with a strong attitude to someone who is detached from the world, she pretends to be the total opposite of who she truly is. However, she has to return to her hometown for summer break and in doing so she must answer to those who she left behind. Micha is Ella's best friend, the one and only person Ella ever truly felt comfortable with and whom she shared all her secrets too (and he to her). However, the boundaries of their friendship were blurring just before she left. During her stay Ella must try to remain detached from everyone she ever knew and must not allow her feelings for Micha to resurface. Doing otherwise could jeopardize all she worked for. This novel is rated mature for sexual content.
Sorensen did an amazing job portraying a situation that a lot of people go through, young and old. This novel to me is about self-fulfillment, of finding yourself, accepting who you are and not allowing the environment in which you grew up in to define you. It is about love (romantic, steamy love) and friendship. Ella is part of a broken family and through the novel she learns to cope and work on making it better. I like this novel because of its deeper meaning. It tells that broken families are not just for the poor. I also love the relationship between Ella and Micha. Their friendship and, later, their love for each other, give the novel an added bonus. It has great character depth, every character was well portrayed. I
Overall, I truly enjoyed this novel. I really recommend it. It does have sexual scenes so it is not suitable for minors. However, if it were not because of this I would recommend it to everyone. It has a great message. Sorensen outdid herself with this novel. Her writing continues to get better with each novel she writes. If you want a good story get this book. You will not be disappointed.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Perfect Hope - Nora Roberts

Book Description

 November 6, 2012
A new novel of starting over and star-crossed love.

#1 New York Times bestselling author Nora Roberts introduces you to the Montgomery brothers—Beckett, Ryder, and Owen—as they bring an intimate bed-and-breakfast to life in their hometown.

Ryder is the hardest Montgomery brother to figure out—with a tough-as-nails outside and possibly nothing too soft underneath. He’s surly and unsociable, but when he straps on a tool belt, no woman can resist his sexy swagger. Except apparently Hope Beaumont, the innkeeper of his own Inn BoonsBoro…

As the former manager of a D.C. hotel, Hope is used to excitement and glamour, but that doesn’t mean she can’t appreciate the joys of small-town living. She’s where she wants to be—except for in her love life. Her only interaction with the opposite sex has been sparring with the infuriating Ryder, who always seems to get under her skin. Still, no one can deny the electricity that crackles between them…a spark that ignited with a New Year’s Eve kiss.

While the Inn is running smoothly, thanks to Hope’s experience and unerring instincts, her big-city past is about to make an unwelcome—and embarrassing—appearance. Seeing Hope vulnerable stirs up Ryder’s emotions and makes him realize that while Hope may not be perfect, she just might be perfect for him… 

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About the Author

Nora Roberts is the number one New York Times bestseller of more than 200 novels. With over 400 million copies of her books in print, she is indisputably one of the most celebrated and popular writers in the world. She has achieved numerous top five bestsellers in the UK, including number one for Savour the Moment, and is a Sunday Times hardback bestseller writing as J. D. Robb.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Chapter One

With a few groans and sighs, the old building settled down for the night. Under the star-washed sky its stone walls glowed, rising up over Boonsboro's Square as they had for more than two centuries. Even the crossroads held quiet now, stretching out in pools of shadows and light. All the windows and store fronts along Main Street seemed to sleep, content to doze away in the balm of the summer night.
She should do the same, Hope thought. Settle down, stretch out. Sleep.
That would be the sensible thing to do, and she considered herself a sensible woman. But the long day left her restless—and, she reminded herself—Carolee would arrive bright and early to start breakfast.
The innkeeper could sleep in.
In any case, it was barely midnight. When she'd lived and worked in Georgetown, she'd rarely managed to settle in for the night this early. Of course, then she'd been managing The Wickham, and if she hadn't been dealing with some small crisis or handling a guest request, she'd been enjoying the nightlife.
The town of Boonsboro, tucked into the foothills of Maryland's Blue Ridge Mountains, might have a rich and storied history, it certainly had its charms—among which she counted the revitalized inn she now managed—but it wasn't famed for its nightlife.
That would change a bit when her friend Avery opened her restaurant and tap house. And wouldn't it be fun to see what the energetic Avery MacTavish did with her new enterprise right next door—and just across The Square from Avery's pizzeria.
Before summer ended Avery would juggle the running of two restaurants, Hope thought.
And people called her an overachiever.
She looked around the kitchen—clean, shiny, warm and welcoming. She'd already sliced fruit, checked the supplies, restocked the refrigerator. So everything sat ready for Carolee to prepare breakfast for the guests currently tucked in their rooms.
She'd finished her paperwork, checked all the doors and made her rounds checking for dishes—or anything else out of place. Duties done, she told herself, and still she wasn't ready to tuck her own self in her third-floor apartment.
Instead, she poured herself an indulgent glass of wine, and did a last circle through The Lobby, switching off the chandelier over the central table with its showy summer flowers.
She moved through the arch, gave the front door one last check before she turned toward the stairs. Her fingers trailed lightly over the iron banister.
She'd already checked The Library, but she checked again. It wasn't anal, she told herself. A guest might have slipped in for a glass of Irish or a book. But the room was quiet, settled like the rest.
She glanced back. She had guests on this floor. Mr. and Mrs. Vargas—Donna and Max—married twenty-seven years. The night at the inn, in Nick and Nora, had been a birthday gift for Donna from their daughter. And wasn't that sweet?
Her other guests, a floor up in Wesley and Buttercup, chose the inn for their wedding night. She liked to think the newlyweds, April and Troy, would take lovely, lasting memories with them.
She checked the door to the second-level porch, then on impulse unlocked it, and stepped out into the night.
With her wine, she crossed the wide wood deck, leaned on the rail. Across The Square, the apartment above Vesta sat dark—and empty now that Avery had moved in with Owen Montgomery. She could admit—to herself anyway—she missed looking over and knowing her friend was right there, just across Main.
But Avery was exactly where she belonged, Hope decided, with Owen—her first, and as it turned out, her last boyfriend.
Talk about sweet.
And she'd help plan a wedding—May bride, May flowers—right there in The Courtyard, just as Clare's had been this past spring.
Thinking of it, Hope looked down Main toward the bookstore. Clare's Turn The Page had been a risk for a young widow, with two children and another on the way. But she'd made it work. Clare had a knack for making things work. Now she was Clare Montgomery, Beckett's wife. And when winter came again, they'd welcome a new baby to the mix.
Odd, wasn't it, that her two friends had lived right in Boonsboro for so long, and she'd relocated only the year—not even a full year yet—before. The new kid in town.
Now, of the three of them, she was the only one still right here, right in the heart of town.
Silly to miss them when she saw them nearly every day, but on restless nights she could wish, just a little, they were still close.
So much had changed, for all of them, in this past year.
She'd been perfectly content in Georgetown, with her home, her work, her routine. With Jonathan, the cheating bastard.
She'd had good, solid plans, no rush, no hurry, but solid plans. The Wickham had been her place. She'd known its rhythm, its tones, its needs. And she'd done a hell of a job for the Wickhams, and their cheating bastard son, Jonathan.
She'd planned to marry him. No, there'd been no formal engagement, no concrete promises, but marriage and future had been on the table.
She wasn't a moron.
And all the time—or at least in the last several months—they'd been together, with him sharing her bed, or her sharing his, he'd been seeing someone else. Someone of his more elevated social strata you could say, she mused, with lingering bitterness. Someone who wouldn't work ten and twelve hour days, and often more—to manage the exclusive hotel, but who'd stay there, in its most elaborate suite, of course.
No, she wasn't a moron, but she'd been far too trusting and humiliatingly shocked when Jonathan told her he would be announcing his engagement—to someone else—the next day.
Humiliatingly shocked, she thought again, particularly as they'd been naked and in her bed at the time.
Then again, he'd been shocked, too when she'd ordered him to get the hell out. He genuinely hadn't understood why anything between them should change.
That single moment ushered in a lot of change.
Now she was Inn BoonsBoro's innkeeper, living in a small town in Western Maryland, a good clip from the bright lights of the big city.
She didn't spend what free time she had planning clever little dinner parties, or shopping in the boutiques for the perfect shoes for the perfect dress for the next event.
Did she miss all that? Her go-to boutique, her favorite lunch spot, the lovely high ceilings and flower-framed little patio of her own townhouse? Or the pressure and excitement of preparing the hotel for visits from dignitaries, celebrities, business moguls?
Sometimes, she admitted. But not as often as she'd expected to, and not as much as she'd assumed she would.
Because she had been content in her personal life, challenged in her professional one, and the Wickham had been her place. But she'd discovered something in the last few months. Here, she wasn't just content, but happy. The inn wasn't just her place, it was home.
She had her friends to thank for that, and the Montgomery brothers along with their mother. Justine Montgomery had hired her, on the spot. At the time Hope hadn't known Justine well enough to be surprised by her quick offer. But she did know herself, and continued to be surprised at her own fast, impulsive acceptance.
Zero to sixty? More like zero to ninety and still going.
She didn't regret the impulse, the decision, the move.
Fresh starts hadn't been in the plan, but she was good at adjusting plans. Thanks to the Montgomerys the lovingly—and effortfully—restored inn was her home and her career.
She wandered the porch, checking the hanging planters, adjusting—minutely—the angle of a bistro chair.
"And I love every square inch of it," she murmured.
One of the porch doors leading out from Elizabeth and Darcy opened. The scent of honeysuckle drifted on the night air.
Someone else was restless, Hope thought. Then again, she didn't know if ghosts slept. She doubted if the spirit Beckett had named Elizabeth for the room she favored would tell her if she asked. Thus far Lizzy hadn't deigned to speak to her inn-mate.
Hope smiled at the term, sipped her wine.
"Lovely night. I was just thinking how different my life is now, and all things considered, how glad I am it is." She spoke in an easy, friendly way. After all, the research she and Owen had done—so far—on their permanent guest had proven Lizzy—or Eliza Ford when she'd lived—was one of Hope's ancestors.
Family, to Hope's mind, ought to be easy and friendly.
"We have newlyweds in W&B. They look so happy, so fresh and new somehow. The couple in N&N are here celebrating her fifty-eighth birthday. They don't look new, but they do look happy, and so nice and comfortable. I like giving them a special place to stay, a special experience. It's what I'm good at."
Silence held, but Hope could feel the presence. Companionable, she realized. Oddly companionable. Just a couple of women up late, looking out at the night.
"Carolee will be here early. She's doing breakfast tomorrow, and I have the morning off. So." She lifted her glass. "Some wine, some introspection, some feeling sorry for myself circling around to realizing I have nothing to feel sorry for myself for." With a smile, Hope sipped again. "So, a good glass of wine.
"Now that I've accomplished all that, I should get to bed."
Still she lingered a little longer in the quiet summer night, with the scent of honeysuckle drifting around her.

When Hope came down in the morning, the scent was fresh coffee, grilled bacon—and if her nose didn't deceive her, Carolee's apple-cinnamon pancakes. She heard easy conversation in The Dining Room. Donna and Max, talking about poking around town before driv...

I have been reading Nora Roberts for years and always look forward to her new trilogies and the Inn Boonsboro Trilogy I think is her best one yet. I loved how she really made you see the town and the inn as it was restored. I loved the characters and how they related. I cannot wait for her next series to start and plan to read this through again.