Skip to content

Construction zone!

I’m in the process of moving to a new blog look(s) with more functionality at the same address. I will be updating this site this WEDNESDAY, April 29th, 8pm PDT. For those of you familiar with The Printed Page at http://printedpage.us do not change your feed reader as that will once again be the correct address when the update is complete.

Any comments left here after 8pm PDT on 4/29 will not transfer. I will be down for approx. 24-48 hours. I will be back in time for Mailbox Monday!

If you'd like to peek at the new look, which changes daily, please visit my temporary home at: http://ohnosecond.com/printedpage

September 11, 2009 ~ 8 years today

September 11, 2009

For those who lost their lives, for those who gave their lives unselfishly, for those who must move forward past the loss of loved ones ~ may whatever faith you believe in sustain you as you remember them on this day and those days that have gone before and those yet to come.

My thoughts are with you, your families and loved ones,

Marcia

Cover Attraction | The Devlin Diary by Christi Phillips

April 29, 2009

I’m a very visual person and love beautiful, or interesting, cover art. It entices, and invites, me to stop and take a peek instead of walking right on by. This week’s Cover Attraction is:
Title: The Devlin Diary
Author: Christi Phillips
Release date: May ’09
thedevlindiary11
London, 1672: A vicious killer stalks the court of Charles II, inscribing his victims’ bodies with mysterious markings. Are these the random murders of a madman? The deadly consequence of a personal vendetta? Or the grisly result of a hidden conspiracy? Cambridge, 2008: A Trinity College history professor is found dead, the torn page of a seventeenth-century diary in his hand. His death appears to be an accident, but the college’s newest Fellow Claire Donovan and historian Andrew Kent suspect otherwise. The professor’s last research subject was Hannah Devlin, a physician to the king’s mistress and the keeper of a diary that holds the key to a series of unsolved murders in 1670s London. Through the arcane collections of Trinity’s Wren Library, the British Library, and the Royal Society, Claire and Andrew follow the clues Hannah left behind, unearthing secrets of the past and present as both stories unfold to their shocking conclusions.

thedevlindiary2
I had trouble finding a cover this week until I came across the UK version of Christi Phillips’ newest novel The Devlin Diary (upper left). Actually the author’s name caught my eye first before the cover. I really enjoyed her first novel The Rossetti Letter and I’m very excited to see she has a new novel coming out next month. I don’t like the US cover at all. I think they are world’s apart in conveying a message.

P.S. Because this is really about cover art I’ve given my Cover Attraction this week a picture frame.

♦♦♦

What’s your favorite cover attraction this week? Don’t forget to leave a link to your Cover Attraction post.

Mailbox Monday ~ April 27th

April 27, 2009

sb10067729n-003If you’re new to Mailbox Monday welcome! Thank you to everyone who stops by Mailbox Monday. Whether you comment or visit I appreciate your taking the time to drop in.

***

theyearofpleasuresFiction ~ The Year of Pleasures by Elizabeth Berg. This is a Read It Forward book with no waiting period. It will go in the mail this week.

The familiar protagonist of Berg’s 13th novel (after The Art of Mending) is a Boston widow of several months, 55-year-old Betta Nolan, who fulfills her dying husband’s dream of moving out to the Midwest and starting a new life. “It will give me peace to know that what you will do is exactly what we talked about,” says John commandingly before dying of liver cancer; Betta, an author of children’s books, sells their Beacon Hill brownstone and takes off, buying an oversized Victorian in the small town of Stewart, Ill., 49 miles from Chicago. Lonely, she finds herself tracking down three former college roommates from the late 1960s, Lorraine, Maddy and Susanna, whom she ditched once she met John. The women reappear one by one and help give her the courage to open a shop called What a Woman Wants (it’ll sell “all different stuff that women loved. Beautiful things, but unusual too. Like antique birdcages with orchids growing in them”). Meanwhile, she begins to make friends in town, notably with attractive young handyman Matthew and natty oldster Tom Bartlett. 

thetorywidowHistorical fiction ~ The Tory Widow by Christine Blevins (new-to-me author/Librarything Early Reviewers program)

On a bright May day in New York City, Anne Peabody receives an unexpected kiss from a stranger. Bringing news of the repeal of the Stamp Act, Jack Hampton, a member of the Sons of Liberty, abruptly sweeps Anne into his arms, kisses her—and then leaves her to her fate of an arranged marriage…

1775: Nearly ten years have passed and Anne, now the Widow Merrick, continues her late husband’s business printing Tory propaganda, not because she believes in the cause, but because she needs the money to survive. When her shop is ransacked by the Sons of Liberty, Anne once again comes face to face with Jack and finds herself drawn to the ardent patriot and his rebel cause.

As shots ring out at Lexington and war erupts, Anne is faced with a life-altering decision: sit back and watch her world torn apart, or stand and fight for both her country’s independence and her own.

theangelsgameFiction ~ The Angel’s Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon (new-to-me author). This book arrived as a complete surprise to me. I have no idea who it came from. (Claimed by Linda)

In an abandoned mansion at the heart of Barcelona, a young man, David Martín, makes his living by writing sensationalist novels under a pseudonym. The survivor of a troubled childhood, he has taken refuge in the world of books and spends his nights spinning baroque tales about the city’s underworld. But perhaps his dark imaginings are not as strange as they seem, for in a locked room deep within the house lie photographs and letters hinting at the mysterious death of the previous owner.

Like a slow poison, the history of the place seeps into his bones as he struggles with an impossible love. Close to despair, David receives a letter from a reclusive French editor, Andreas Corelli, who makes him the offer of a lifetime. He is to write a book unlike anything that has ever existed–a book with the power to change hearts and minds. In return, he will receive a fortune, and perhaps more. But as David begins the work, he realizes that there is a connection between his haunting book and the shadows that surround his home.

stilllifeContemporary fiction ~ Still Life: A Novel by Joy Fielding (from my good friend Dar at Peeking Between the Pages. Thank you!)

Casey Marshall has it all: a successful interior-design business; a handsome, loving husband; wonderful friends; and a boatload of family money at her disposal. But just as she’s contemplating starting a family, she’s the victim of a hit-and-run accident that leaves her in a coma. But she’s not completely out of it, so she’s a witness to everything that happens in her hospital room. But is that so bad? Isn’t it everyone’s dream to be a fly on the wall, to hear what might be said at our funerals? Even though Casey is privy to everyone’s “private” remarks and conversations as they visit, she feels trapped and helpless, especially when it becomes abundantly clear that the incident with the car was no accident. Her frustration mounts as her sister, the wayward but bighearted Drew, becomes a suspect, along with everyone close to her. While not narrated in first person, the action revolves around Casey’s experiences and perceptions. Fielding makes the most of this intriguing premise without succumbing to gimmicky plot tricks. The moment that Casey solves her own attempted murder is truly riveting, and the anxiety she feels as she tries to avoid the would-be murderer’s completion of his task is palpable. A heart-pounding mainstream thriller

***

readitforward

Read It Forward details

***

What books came into your house last week? Don’t forget to leave a link to your Mailbox post or a list of books if you don’t have a blog.

Pondering the pages – Memoirs

April 23, 2009

Today’s pondering:

So with everything that is happening around here right now I don’t actually have time to wax eloquent about these memoirs but every one of them is outstanding. 

jantsensgift2Jantsen’s Gift: A True Story of Grief, Rescue, and Grace by Pam Cope and Aimee Molloy.

Out of a family’s grief, especially Pam’s, she’s the mom, comes a life affirming change. With the money donated in Jansten’s name Pam and her family vow to make his young life carry on with meaning. Over time they’ve established the Touch A Life Foundation. The charitable work that this small organization carries out is simply short of amazing. I know that there are thousands of charitable organizations around the world and I applaud them for the work they do. To me what makes Touch a Life unique is they vow to provide life long, lasting support if needed. Now I won’t swear this is unusual but it strikes me that way.

One of the obstacles that Pam encountered when starting her fund-raising was why somewhere half way around the world and not here in her own home town? Honestly that’s usually my question. Yes America is referred to as the land of plenty and granted we have programs in place to assist those in need but still life here is far beyond happy and healthy for a large segment of our society. And what I realized as I was reading Pam’s story is this: for those of us called to help others in need we go where we feel we’re needed the most. If that little voice is telling us to help save slave children in Ghana, street children in Vietnam or runaways here in the States we’ll go where we’re lead. There is no denying what you hear. It niggles at you until you feed it and then it comes back for more and eventually you understand exactly what it is that is being said.

You better have a Kleenex or two to three handy as you read this one. But not all is grief and sadness. Pam is a very funny woman. She deals just like the rest of us – with a sense of humor and a dose or reality. There were actually times when I thought she was too hard on herself. After all while we may live with grace we are only human.

From Amazon:
For Cope, life in her small Missouri town seemed perfect; she ran a hair salon, enjoyed a happy family life and lived in a beautiful home. Yet, she explains, I have to say, I put on a hell of a performance. For a long time, I even had myself convinced of how good and right everything was in my life. Her ideal was shattered in 1999 when Jantsen, her 15-year-old son, died suddenly from a heart ailment; this moving memoir recounts Cope’s transformation and growth after her world collapsed. Her metamorphosis began after she accepted an invitation from a friend to visit Vietnam. Though Cope was wrapped in personal grief following the death of her son, the trip illuminated for her the superficial environment she inhabited. After visiting a local orphanage, Cope found for the first time in her life a sense of wholeness and purpose. Soon she stepped outside her own circumscribed world and began creating better lives for the abused, neglected and at-risk children she encountered, first in Vietnam then in Cambodia and Ghana. This is a wonderful story of a woman whose personal tragedy gave birth to a gift and how she fulfilled that legacy to make the world a better place.

***
pickingcottonNext up was Picking Cotton: Our Memoir of Injustice and Redemption by Jennifer Thompson-Cannino, Ronald Cotton, and Erin Torneo. I knew instantly this book would capture my attention because I’ve always been interested in legal and police matters. A case of mistaken identity that could have destroyed lives instead turns into a one of  redemption. 

Two lives are shattered in the space of hours. Those hours turn into eleven long years. Just as sure as Jennifer is that Ronald Cotton is her rapist Ronald knows that he didn’t commit the crime(s) of which he stands convicted. There is a serious miscarriage of justice here and the blame doesn’t rest with Jennifer. The facts and omissions as presented seem to point to a mishandling of Ron’s case from the start. These can be the consequences of an over zealous, blinding belief that the ‘right’ person is in custody. I applaud this police department of instituting new procedures that reduce the risk of mistaken identifications on the behalf of victims and witnesses.

Ron’s capacity for forgiveness is a thing to behold. All those years knowing he didn’t do it. All those lost years that he can’t get back. Denied family, friends, freedom. Though Jennifer’s life wasn’t easy she wasn’t denied to the extent Ron was. How many of us could spend eleven years behind bars and not come out bitter, vengeful people?  I’m betting not many of us. The guilt Jennifer faces could have been crushing but with Ron’s compassion, the man she accused of raping her, she learns to forgive herself. Once again a book full of living with grace and dignity. The friendship they’ve forged is nothing short of a miracle.

From Amazon:

Jennifer Thompson was raped at knifepoint by a man who broke into her apartment while she slept. She was able to escape, and eventually positively identified Ronald Cotton as her attacker. Ronald insisted that she was mistaken– but Jennifer’s positive identification was the compelling evidence that put him behind bars. After eleven years, Ronald was allowed to take a DNA test that proved his innocence. He was released, after serving more than a decade in prison for a crime he never committed. Two years later, Jennifer and Ronald met face to face– and forged an unlikely friendship that changed both of their lives.

In their own words, Jennifer and Ronald unfold the harrowing details of their tragedy, and challenge our ideas of memory and judgment while demonstrating the profound nature of human grace and the healing power of forgiveness.

***
aluckychildAnd I’m just pages away from finishing A Lucky Child: A Memoir of Surviving Auschwitz as a Young Boy by Thomas Buergenthal.

While all three are very powerful stories, each showcasing the courageous strength of will to endure and help others this one stands a bit above the others only because of the sheer magnitude of the horror of this young man’s situation.  A fortune teller once told his mother his was ‘a lucky child’. Little did the fortune teller know just how much luck Thomas would need. This really is one of those ‘but for the grace of God go I’ stories. 

Every narrow of escape of the death in a Nazi death camp comes with a high price and another day to live. With unspeakable atrocities everywhere Thomas is befriended by those who can help to save him or show him how to save himself. He survives this hell on earth and is eventually reunited with mother. And this reunion is pure luck. This young man was truly blessed by whatever powers that be.

I know they emigrate to the United States with Thomas pursuing a distinguished legal and human rights career but I haven’t gotten that far.

From Amazon:

You think you’ve heard it all: the roundups, deportations, transports, selections, hard labor, death camps (“That was the last time I saw my father”), crematoriums, and the rare miracle of survival. But this one is different. The clear, nonhectoring prose makes Buergenthal’s personal story––and the enduring ethical questions it prompts––the stuff of a fast, gripping read. Five years old in Czechoslovakia at the start of World War II, Buergenthal remembers being crowded into the ghetto and then, in 1944, feeling “lucky” to escape the gas chambers and get into Auschwitz, where he witnessed daily hangings and beatings, but with the help of a few adults, managed to survive. In a postwar orphanage, he learned to read and write but never received any mail, until in a heartrending climax, his mother finds him. In 1952, he immigrated to the U.S., and now, as human-rights lawyer, professor, and international judge, his childhood’s moral issues are rooted in his daily life, his tattooed number a reminder not so much of the past as of his obligation, as witness and survivor, to fight bigotry today.

***

All three of these stories deserve your time and attention. My suggestion is you put Jantsen’s Gift, Picking Cotton, and A Lucky Child at the top your towering TRB pile.

***

A good book should leave you…slightly exhausted at the end. You live several lives while reading it.
~William Styron, interview, Writers at Work, 1958

***

Cover Attraction ~ April 22nd | The Servant’s Quarters by Lynn Freed

April 22, 2009

I’m a very visual person and love beautiful, or interesting, cover art. It entices, and invites, me to stop and take a peek instead of walking right on by. This week’s Cover Attraction is:

Title: The Servant’s Quarters
Author: Lynn Freed
Release date: April ’09
theservantsquarters1

From Fantastic Fiction:
THE SERVANTS’ QUARTERS, a complex and sophisticated love story, evokes a vanishing world of privilege with a Pygmalion twist.

Haunted by phantoms of the Second World War and the Holocaust, young Cressida lives in terror of George Harding, who, severely disfigured, has returned from the front to recover in his family’s stately African home. When he plucks young Cressida’s beautiful mother and her family from financial ruin, establishing them in the old servants’ quarter of his estate, Cressida is swept into a future inexorably bound to his.

In the new setting, she finds that she is, after all, indentured. She is conscripted to enliven George Harding’s nephew, the hopelessly timid Edgar, to make him “wild and daring.” And she takes on this task with resentful fury, leading the boy astray, and, in the process, learning to manipulate differences in power, class, background and ambition.

Only slowly does she come to understand that George Harding himself is watching her. And waiting.

A simple table and chair with an open book. The sunlight slanting in through the cathedral window. The soothing, muted shades of grey. All this invited me to take a seat.

P.S. Because this is really about cover art I’ve given my Cover Attraction this week a picture frame.

♦♦♦

What’s your favorite cover attraction this week? Don’t forget to leave a link to your Cover Attraction post.

Mailbox Monday ~ April 20th

April 19, 2009

sb10067729n-003If you’re new to Mailbox Monday welcome! Thank you to everyone who stops by Mailbox Monday. Whether you comment or visit I appreciate your taking the time to drop in.

** Be sure and check out the Read It Forward announcement towards the end of this post. I still have homeless books. Check out my MM posts for the weeks of 4/6 and 4/13. **

It was a very quiet book week around here until Saturday. I think the mailman was reading ‘em.

thechameleonconspiracySuspense/thriller ~ The Chameleon Conspiracy by Haggai Carmon (new-to-me author)

A Dan Gordon Intelligence Thriller third installment, where Dan Gordon is assigned to the CIA to investigate a case of massive fraud left for dead. He revisits the FBI assumptions and suspects that the fraud was perpetrated by one person who changed identities like a chameleon changes its color. Through cooperation with the Mossad, Gordon discovers that shocking truth. Dan travels undercover to Pakistan, where he survives a kidnapping attempt. A daring covert operation is planned by the CIA and the Mossad and Dan with an unwitting Austrian woman penetrate Iranian society. While in Iran he is hunted by the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and Security. The Kurdish rebels show their loyalty but can he trust them? Are the hints Dan senses sent by a high-ranking Iranian intelligence officer for real or a trap? Is the plan to launch a major terrorist attack on the U.S., a ploy or reality? What role does a network of Islamic charities play? Who wants to collapse the U.S economy? Dan Gordon hovers the globe in search of clues; will he again have the upper hand? Much more than just his person is at stake, and at risk..

thecrimesofparisNon-Fiction ~ The Crimes of Paris: A True Story of Murder, Theft, and Detection by Dorothy and Thomas Hoobler (new-to-me author/Librarything Early Reviewers program) (Claimed by Natalie)

Turn-of-the-century Paris was the beating heart of a rapidly changing world. Painters, scientists, revolutionaries, poets–all were there. But so, too, were the shadows: Paris was a violent, criminal place, its sinister alleyways the haunts of Apache gangsters and its cafes the gathering places of murderous anarchists. In 1911, it fell victim to perhaps the greatest theft of all time–the taking of the Mona Lisa from the Louvre. Immediately, Alphonse Bertillon, a detective world-renowned for pioneering crime-scene investigation techniques, was called upon to solve the crime. And quickly the Paris police had a suspect: a young Spanish artist named Pablo Picasso…..

whodoyouthinkyouareMemoir ~ Who Do You Think You Are? by Alyse Myers (new-to-me author/FSB Associates) (Claimed by Marie)

Shortly after Alyse Myers’s mother dies, Alyse and her sisters are emptying her mother’s apartment, trying to decide what to discard and what to keep. Alyse covets only one thing — a wooden box that sits in the back of a closet. Its contents have been kept from Alyse her entire life. That box, she hopes, will contain answers to her questions: Who were her parents really, and why did her mother settle for so very little in her life?

Growing up during the 1960s in a working-class neighborhood in Queens, New York, Alyse’s home is not a happy one. Her parents argue constantly and after the death of Alyse’s father, her mother at age thirty-three is left with three young girls. While her mother retreats to the kitchen table with her cigarettes and bitterness, determined to stay there forever, Alyse yearns for more in life, including the right to escape. After a childhood of harrowing fights, abject cruelty, and endless uncertainty, Alyse adamantly rejects everything about her mother’s life, provoking her mother’s infuriated demand, “Who do you think you are?”

rooftopsoftehranContemporary fiction ~ Rooftops of Tehran: A Novel by Mahbod Seraji (new-to-me author/Authors on the Web) (Claimed by Kim)

In this poignant, eye-opening and emotionally vivid novel, Mahbod Seraji lays bare the beauty and brutality of the centuries-old Persian culture, while reaffirming the human experiences we all share.

In a middle-class neighborhood of Iran’s sprawling capital city, 17-year-old Pasha Shahed spends the summer of 1973 on his rooftop with his best friend Ahmed, joking around one minute and asking burning questions about life the next. He also hides a secret love for his beautiful neighbor Zari, who has been betrothed since birth to another man. But the bliss of Pasha and Zari’s stolen time together is shattered when Pasha unwittingly acts as a beacon for the Shah’s secret police. The violent consequences awaken him to the reality of living under a powerful despot, and lead Zari to make a shocking choice…

***

readitforward

Amazingly I’m not a reader who hoards her books, only cats! For a while now, behind the scenes, I’ve been passing the books I’m finished with along to friends. I’ve decided to offer my books to all Mailbox Monday contributors. No book should be homeless. As long as I have books to share I’ll do so. Here’s the important stuff:

  • All books in my Mailbox Monday posts will be available starting the week of April 6th.
  • Each week new homes will be chosen at random. See I really do read the comments you leave with the links to your Mailbox Monday posts. Just ask someone who commented, in passing, about wanting to read a book I’ve posted. This is not a structured giveaway or contest. I will simply chose names from those Mailbox Monday contributors who have expressed an interest in one of my posted books. The only stipulation is you must have a Mailbox Monday post with a link I can verify, not just a comment expressing interest in a book.
  • If you have more than one choice include your selections in order in case your 1st choice has been claimed.
  • It’s too time consuming to respond to all requests so I will only be emailing the new owner. Claimed and unclaimed books will be updated on the corresponding Mailbox Monday posts and the Read It Forward widget on my blog’s right side bar. Be sure to keep an eye on your spam folder just in case :-)
  • I will mail to all US and Canadian addresses. If you live overseas I can do two of those a month. If you do live overseas please include that tidbit of information upfront.
  • So that I can spread the wealth I’m asking that you claim a book once every two months. If you’re selected in May please don’t request again until July. So that no one gets selected more than once every two months I’m tracking the new homes on a spreadsheet. And hopefully it will keep me from giving away the same book twice!

** Please be patient with me. Just like you my reading schedule is packed full of good books and reading commitments such as By the Chapter. I will try and remember to let you know when I anticipate mailing a book in the initial email. And I will email again when your post office day comes around. **

***

What books came into your house last week? Don’t forget to leave a link to your Mailbox post or a list of books if you don’t have a blog.

Pondering the pages ~ Crazy for the Storm: A Memoir of Survival by Norman Ollestad

April 17, 2009

crazyforthestorm1So I’m not really head over heels wild for Crazy for the Storm: A Memoir of Survival by Norman Ollestad. I’m just OK with the storm. Knowing that the author survives takes away some of the suspense in this survival memoir. But when you factor in his age at the time and the how of it then it gets nerve wracking. This young man beat incredible odds and seemingly insurmountable obstacles. He kept his wits about him when many times he could have completely given up and given in. Some unlikely circumstances converged to bring Norman off that mountain alive. We don’t learn until years later just perilous this journey of survival really was.

Chapters alternate between the plane crash and struggle to get off the mountain and Norman’s childhood. The childhood chapters set the tone for Norman’s instinct for coping with such traumatic circumstances. He struggled with a father who set extremely high expectations for his son and his mother’s boyfriend who was constantly picking at him to be better, do better. While his father used tactics smothered in love the boyfriend comes on with a strong-arm mentality. These are my least favorite parts of the book. While I have issues with the parenting styles most likely without these tough love lessons there is no doubt that Norman would not have made it off the mountain.

The chapters revolving around the mountain ordeal are, for me, the heart of this book. As a pre-teen Norman displays exceptional amounts of courage and fortitude. Many an adult would not have survived the harrowing conditions that faced this young man. At first he sincerely wants to believe his father is alive but succumbs to the realization that the man who guided him through life is no longer there for him. Channeling his grief he resolves to save himself and Sandra. She is physically and mentally beyond helping him. Without panicking Norman takes charge of the situation. With the body of the plane in a precarious position he creates shelter under the wing. After a time they hear the chop, chop of helicopter blades but it moves on without spotting them. Realizing that help isn’t coming he makes plans to abandon their sanctuary. If they are to get off the mountain Norman must depend on himself. And so starts the biggest challenge his young life. I leave the rest of this tale to Norman’s telling.

So I’m on the fence about this book. If it had been a straight tale of survival with a minimal of background detail I would have given it higher marks. While it’s helpful to understand his relationship with these men I just could have done with less of it. The survival chapters are exceptional. I guess you’ll need to read it and decide for yourself.

***

A good book should leave you…slightly exhausted at the end. You live several lives while reading it.
~William Styron, interview, Writers at Work, 1958

***

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.