Nov 28, 2012

Guest Post: Jeffrey Blount, author of Hating Heidi Foster

Title: Hating Heidi Foster by Jeffrey Blount
Published October 25, 2012; Alluvion Press

Goodreads: "Hating Heidi Foster, is a young adult novel about the place of honor true friendships hold in our lives. It is about suffering and loss and the ethics of grief. It is about a deep and painful conflict, the bright light of selflessness and sacrifice and the love that rights the ship and carries us safely to port."

The Hating Heidi Foster Background Story
by Jeffrey Blount

The Hating Heidi Foster Background Story
Jeffrey Blount

It was a simple and probably inconsequential moment in time for my daughter, Julia and her long-time friend, Emily;  the two of them sharing a brief spell of laughter as they passed each other in a room full of friends.  For me it was much, much more.  In that instant, my smile reflected years of memories.  At this particular instant, they were seniors in high school, but I was drawn backwards to the vision of two little girls laughing together.  I could see them growing and sharing life in the way true best friends do. I became nostalgic and at the same time a little fearful.  In only a few months, they would be graduating, going off to different colleges and then on to adulthood where they might be half a country or world apart. When life intruded, how much of their friendship would they remember?  Would they be able to continue to make time for each other?  Would their children ever know about the bond they shared?

I loved to write.  The manuscripts hiding in drawers in my desk or in folders on my computer were a testament to that fact.  What if I wrote them something? It might be the perfect tribute. They could carry a book with them and if they lost track of each other, maybe they'd pick it up from time to time even if just to pack it in another box.  But while moving it, the story might bring them back to each other and maybe even inspire a phone call or two and a trip down memory lane. Most importantly, it might remind them of just how important they were to each other’s development as a human being.

In the early mornings and late at night, I wrote and when they graduated, I handed each of them a double-spaced manuscript in a binder bought at a local pharmacy. They both were touched by the gift I don't know which they appreciated more, the effort or the manuscript.  Either way, I had achieved my goal of a written tribute to a very special friendship.  As an added bonus, I thought I'd also created a very good story.

A friend of mine is a literary agent for adult fiction.  Even though I knew this was young adult material, I sent the book to her and she responded by saying that she couldn't put it down and that it brought her to tears.  She only had one contact within the YA genre and she sent it off to that publishing company.  I waited and waited.  Months went by. Finally, we heard that while the book had enjoyed quite a lot of support within the company, the final decision was not to publish. I thanked my friend for her efforts and left the book in another folder on my laptop.

Maybe two years later, a good friend of mine and regular tennis partner asked about the manuscript.  I told him that I had filed it away.  I told him that I had tired of the whole agent/publisher thing.  It took too long and I was too busy.  He said he understood, but also wondered whether it wouldn't be nice to put a real book in Julia's and Emily's hands.  After thinking about it some more, I agreed.   Not long after, Alluvion Press teamed up with 1106 Design to create the wonderful cover and to provide editing and typesetting.  Alluvion then contracted with The Cadence Group to prepare an online presence and marketing and finally New Shelves Distribution for warehousing, distribution and additional marketing.

Four years after the manuscripts in binders were delivered, the real book, Hating Heidi Foster, was published.  Julia and Emily received their books as young adults, just months after graduating from college, both of them now teaching in inner-city teaching programs, half a country apart. 

But it seems that I shouldn’t have been too worried.  Julia and Emily are still very much in touch, having visited each other in college, logging Skype hours and even as I write this, they have plans to be together over the holidays.  Still, I am happy that they have the book.  Just in case.

Thanks to author Jeffrey Blount and The Cadence Group for this guest post.

Library Book: Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver

Title: Flight Behavior A Novel by Barbara Kingsolver
Published November 6, 2012; Harper

I'm not in love with the book cover but I started to read and was grabbed by the very first sentence.

"A certain feeling comes from throwing your good life away, and it is one part rapture."

Publisher's description: "In the lyrical language of her native Appalachia, Barbara Kingsolver bares the rich, tarnished humanity of her novel's inhabitants and unearths the modern complexities of rural existence. Flight Behavior takes on one of the most contentious subjects of our time: climate change. With a deft and versatile empathy Kingsolver dissects the motives that drive denial and belief in a precarious world."

Have you read this novel and, if so, what do you think?

Book Tour: The Lost Art of Mixing by Erica Bauermeister

Title: The Lost Art of Mixing by Erica Bauermeister
Release date: January 24, 2013; Putnam Adult
Genre:  fiction
Source: ARC from publisher

Publisher's description: "Lillian and her restaurant have a way of drawing people together. There’s Al, the accountant who finds meaning in numbers and ritual; Chloe, a budding chef who hasn’t learned to trust after heartbreak; Finnegan, quiet and steady as a tree, who can disappear into the background despite his massive height; Louise, Al’s wife, whose anger simmers just below the boiling point; and Isabelle, whose memories are slowly slipping from her grasp. And there’s Lillian herself, whose life has taken a turn she didn’t expect. . .

Their lives collide and mix with those around them, sometimes joining in effortless connections, at other times sifting together and separating again, creating a family that is chosen, not given. A beautifully imagined novel about the ties that bind—and links that break is a captivating meditation on the power of love, food, and companionship."

Comments: A novel about a marriage that disintegrates, a love that thrives and blooms, about young love and careers, and about growing old. These revealing stories about various aspects of life are deftly drawn together, centered around Lillian's restaurant.

ERICA BAUERMEISTER is the author of The School of Essential Ingredients and Joy for Beginners. She lives in Seattle with her family.

Thanks to TLC Book Tours and the publisher for an ARC
of this book for review.  For other book reviews, visit the book tour.

Nov 27, 2012

The Thieves of Legend by Richard Doetsch

Title: The Thieves of Legend: A Thriller by Richard Doetsch
Published November 27, 2012; Atria Books
Source; publisher

"I knew that at the end of the week, the answers would disappear into the Forbidden City, slipping through my fingers forever." (ch. 27)

Publisher's description: "Second in the Thieves series after The Thieves of Darkness —reformed thief Michael St. Pierre and his crew travel to China on behalf of the U.S. government to obtain a legendary diary that holds the clue to a long-forgotten mystery.

On the trail of a mystery with roots more than a half- millennium in the past. Michael and his ex-girlfriend KC Ryan are coerced by a U.S. Army colonel to travel to opposite ends of China, each responsible for stealing an artifact to help solve an ancient puzzle. They face off against the complex underworld of the Chinese triads, a female assassin, and a madman whose only desire is to possess the secret held within the pages of a diary supposedly lost to time—a secret that would give him frightening power and lead to the downfall of nations.

Moving from the glittering casinos of Macau to its dangerous backstreets; from the palace at the heart of China’s Forbidden City to the medieval castles of Spain; from the mansions on the Amalfi Coast, to an uncharted pacific island, Michael is in a race to solve the riddle and save KC from certain death."

What's your teaser this week?

Nov 25, 2012

Sunday Salon: Stake and Eggs by Laura Childs

The Sunday Welcome to the Sunday Salon!

I may have to sit a long time waiting to see if I'll be placed on a jury this week. Jury duty! They advise you to take a book along. Let's see, what shall I take? My Kindle of course. It has over one thousand books that I haven't read, including a new one I bought for $12.99!!! I rarely buy for Kindle, so I should go ahead and read the book, no?

I received a few books and ARCs that I can also take along:

Stake and Eggs: A Cackleberry Club Mystery by Laura Childs
The Blood Gospel by James Rollins and Rebecca Cantrell
Fleeting Memory by Sherban Young

The Riptide Ultra-glide by Tim Dorsey
The Heat of the Sun by David Rain

Which would you choose? Stake and Eggs is a smaller paperback cozy that will just fit nicely
in my purse, along with the Kindle, that is.

What are you reading this week?

Nov 22, 2012

Yoga Cures by Tara Stiles

Among all the things to be thankful for - friends and family this past year, facebook and blogging friends, and the good books I have read and loved, and even the ones I've had reservations about, in part or the whole.

One of my few book purchases this month has been Yoga Cures: Simple Routines to Conquer More Than 50 Common Ailments... by Tara Stiles. It has yoga positions that are familiar but geared towards helping with common and not so common ailments like acne, the flu, a broken heart, traveler's anxiety, wrinkles, and getting some zzz's (sleep)! It's a fun book to read if you already do some yoga, and doing the poses are a good way to get in your exercises, even if you don't suffer from any of the ailments it helps to cure!

Inversion poses, for instance, can help to get blood and oxygen to the brain and help wake you up if your thinking processes are slow at the moment. In any case, if you find yourself standing in a long line on Black Friday, just bend forward from the waist a few seconds to stay awake!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Nov 21, 2012

Book Review: CAT BEARING GIFTS by Shirley Rousseau Murphy

Title: Cat Bearing Gifts: A Joe Grey Mystery by Shirley Rousseau Murphy
Published November 20, 2012; William Morrow
Source: publisher

This is the 18th in the Joel Grey Mystery series, featuring several talking cat sleuths. I have not read many of the talking cat mystery novels, preferring dogs in crime fiction, but I was willing to give this new book a try. I liked the cover of the book, the colorful artwork and the cat decorated in jewels.

The first half of the book was enjoyable. I didn't mind a group of speaking cats who could use cell phones to dial 911 or call their friends or owners in the course of the mystery. But once the novel began to discuss trips to the Netherworld where a strange world existed underground, a place that may be the origin of the mystical powers of cats and the source of the jewelry, and once two of the cats began to squabble like humans about whether or not to take a trip there, well...... that stretched it a bit for me.

The crime plot by itself would have been fine, even with speaking cat sleuths. I would have preferred to see the rest, the mystical parts, taken out of this mystery novel.

Publisher's book description: "On the way home from visiting their friend Kate Osborne in San Francisco, tortoiseshell cat, Kit, and her elderly housemates, Lucinda and Pedric Greenlaw, are hurt in a car crash on a winding coastal road. Then two men steal the Greenlaws' town car, making off with a secret hoard of jewels and gold hidden inside its doors. As paramedics rush the Greenlaws to the emergency room,  Kit hides from hungry coyotes in the forested hills above the highway, waiting for Joe, Pan, and their human companions, Ryan and Clyde Damen, to rescue her.

Back home in Molena Point, Joe Grey and his tabby lady prowl an abandoned stone cottage where they've discovered two rough-looking men hiding. The cats smell mildewed money, and soon smell human blood, too, and they wonder: Could these unsettling incidents be tied to the injury of the Greenlaws and to the theft of their car and treasure? Could they be, as well, part of the larger mystery involving the very source of the cats' magical powers?

 Though the cats know more than the thieves about the unique items stolen, only slowly, and after two sudden murders, do they claw their way to the truth, examining the source of the gold and jewels, understanding the secrets of the moldering treasury bills—the mystery of their source, generations past..."

Sunday Salon: Japanese Authors and a Mystery

  Klara and the Sun   by Kazuo Ishiguro.  Klara and the Sun was easy to read for a literary novel of such magnitude and celebrity, I found...