tuesday sparks

TUESDAY SPARKS: “SWIMMING LESSONS”

Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events, First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea; and Teaser Tuesdays hosted by The Purple Booker.

Today’s feature is a recent download:  Swimming Lessons, by Claire Fuller; scandalous and whip-smart, Swimming Lessons holds the Coleman family up to the light, exposing the mysterious truths of a passionate and troubled marriage.

 

Intro:  Gil Coleman looked down from the first-floor window of the bookshop and saw his dead wife standing on the pavement below.  He had been among the shelves all afternoon, thumbing through the secondhand books from front to back, pausing at folded-over corners, or where the text had been underlined, flicking through the pages to persuade them to offer up what might be hiding between the leaves.  The cup of tea that Viv had brought for him had cooled, forgotten on the window seat.  At about three o’clock he had picked up Who Was Changed and Who Was Dead, a book he recognised and thought he might already own.  It had fallen open, and there, tucked between the pages, he had been surprised to see a folded sheet of thin yellow paper with blue faint lines.

***

Teaser:  I cried in front of Flora’s teacher, not because the letter was so clearly written by a desperate child, and not because Flora is missing school or lying—although that’s what Mrs. Layland thought—but because she doesn’t need me (p. 60%).

***

Synopsis:  Ingrid Coleman writes letters to her husband, Gil, about the truth of their marriage, but instead of giving them to him, she hides them in the thousands of books he has collected over the years. When Ingrid has written her final letter she disappears from a Dorset beach, leaving behind her beautiful but dilapidated house by the sea, her husband, and her two daughters, Flora and Nan. 

Twelve years later, Gil thinks he sees Ingrid from a bookshop window, but he’s getting older and this unlikely sighting is chalked up to senility. Flora, who has never believed her mother drowned, returns home to care for her father and to try to finally discover what happened to Ingrid. But what Flora doesn’t realize is that the answers to her questions are hidden in the books that surround her. Scandalous and whip-smart, Swimming Lessons holds the Coleman family up to the light, exposing the mysterious truths of a passionate and troubled marriage. 

***

What do you think?  Would you keep reading?

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tuesday sparks

TUESDAY SPARKS: EXCERPTING “TWO IF BY SEA”

Books & fairytales - TUESDAY EXCERPTS

Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events, from Tuesday/First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea; and Teaser Tuesdays hosted by Books & a Beat.

Today’s feature is a book I hope to start reading soon:  Two If By Sea, by Jacquelyn Mitchard, an epic story of courage and devotion that spans three continents and the entire map of the human heart.

 

 

 

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Intro:  So many things happen when people can’t sleep.

It was always hot in Brisbane, but that night was pouty, unsettling.  After getting Natalie and her family comfortable in their rooms at the inn, Frank couldn’t rest.  His leg plagued him.  The toll of oppressive weather on that kind of old injury was no old farmer’s myth.  He rambled around, briefly joining Natalie’s brother Brian in the bar on the beach, then painfully mounting the switchbacked decks of wooden stairs that led to a kind of viewing platform just adjacent to the car park, looking out over Bribie Island Beach.  Up there, he hoped the signal would be good enough to call home, his home, if home is the place you started.  For Frank, that would always be a ramshackle horse farm in south-central Wisconsin—now probably more ramshackle than when he last saw it, three years before.  As the brrrr on the other end began, his pulse quickened.  He looked up at the sky and thought of all the calls darting through the sea of radio waves tonight, swift as swallows—dutiful, hopeful, wistful, sad.

***

Teaser:  That was it.  Claudia was tired.  And other hallucinations.  Life was hurling events at the two of them like a pitching machine stuck on fastball.  Claudia was at her limit. (57%).

***

Synopsis:  Just hours after his wife and her entire family perish in the Christmas Eve tsunami in Brisbane, American expat and former police officer Frank Mercy goes out to join his volunteer rescue unit and pulls a little boy from a submerged car, saving the child’s life with only seconds to spare. In that moment, Frank’s own life is transformed. Not quite knowing why, Frank sidesteps the law, when, instead of turning Ian over to the Red Cross, he takes the boy home to the Midwestern farm where he grew up. Not long into their journey, Frank begins to believe that Ian has an extraordinary, impossible telepathic gift; but his only wish is to protect the deeply frightened child. As Frank struggles to start over, training horses as his father and grandfather did before him, he meets Claudia, a champion equestrian and someone with whom he can share his life—and his fears for Ian. Both of them know that it will be impossible to keep Ian’s gift a secret forever. Already, ominous coincidences have put Frank’s police instincts on high alert, as strangers trespass the quiet life at the family farm.

The fight to keep Ian safe from a sinister group who want him back takes readers from the ravaged shores of Brisbane to the middle of America to a quaint English village. Even as Frank and Claudia dare to hope for new love, it becomes clear that they can never let Ian go, no matter what the cost. A suspenseful novel on a grand scale, Two If by Sea is about the best and worst in people, and the possibility of heroism and even magic in ordinary life.

***

What do you think?  Read more?  I know that I’m eager to keep going.

***

first paragraphs, teaser tuesdays

TUESDAY SPARKS: “LIES & OTHER ACTS OF LOVE”

hummel bookish-LOGO

Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events, from Tuesday/First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea; and Teaser Tuesdays hosted by Books & a Beat.

Today’s feature is a book I hope to start reading soon:  Lies & Other Acts of Love, by Kristy Woodson Harvey, a new novel about what it really means to tell the truth . . .

 

 

 

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(Annabelle) – Storm Chasers

My grandmother, Lovey, says that there are two types of people in the world:  the kind who flee to the shelters at the first threat of a hurricane, and the kind who wait it out, hovering over their possessions as if their fragile lives offer any protection against a natural mother that can take them out of the world as quickly as she brought them into it.

I come from a long line of the hovering kind.

***

Teaser:  It disturbed me how much I wanted to know.  But I also got those nervous butterflies in my stomach because I hoped he knew I wasn’t going to sleep with some guy I just met, no matter how taken with him I was. (p. 73).

***

Synopsis:  After sixty years of marriage and five daughters, Lynn “Lovey” White knows that all of us, from time to time, need to use our little white lies.

Her granddaughter, Annabelle, on the other hand, is as truthful as they come. She always does the right thing—that is, until she dumps her hedge fund manager fiancé and marries a musician she has known for three days. After all, her grandparents, who fell in love at first sight, have shared a lifetime of happiness, even through her grandfather’s declining health.

But when Annabelle’s world starts to collapse around her, she discovers that nothing about her picture-perfect family is as it seems. And Lovey has to decide whether one more lie will make or break the ones she loves . . .

***

What do you think?  Are you as intrigued as I am?  Would you keep reading?

 

 

 

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***

excerpts

MEMORIES OF THE PAST: EXCERPTING “SHROUD OF SILENCE”

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On a hot summer day, a young boy goes missing; what transpired during those mysterious minutes plagues his sister for years. Excerpted from Shroud of Silence.

***

 

Overhead, the blue sky hung, thick as a quilt; like tufts of cotton, the puffy white clouds dotted the sky on that hot summer day.  In the air around me, the scent of fruit rotting in the nearby orchards assaulted my nostrils.  I scrunched my nose up as a swarming fly zoomed in for a landing and I pushed down harder on the pedals of my bicycle, eager to reach my destination.

 
It wasn’t every day that I got such an unexpected reprieve — an afternoon to hang out with my friend Casey Ayers — and I didn’t want to waste a minute of it.  Casey and her four siblings lived just down the road and around a corner from our house, probably less than a quarter of a mile.  Sometimes it seemed to take forever to get there, but today, for some unknown reason, the wheels of my bike didn’t sink into the hot asphalt.  Instead, they smoothly sailed along as if my bike tires had sprouted wings.

 
I rounded the last turn in the road, catching a glimpse of Casey’s blond curls pulled back in the familiar ponytail; I waved ecstatically.  She jumped down off the fence and ran toward me, her mouth agape to release her shout of greeting.  I pulled into the yard and jumped off the bike, tossing it down against the bushes that jutted out near the stoop.  We hugged and then ran quickly through the back door and into Casey’s room, tucked away like a lean-to in back.

 
As the oldest girl, she had the biggest half of the room, divided from her younger sister’s space by a thick curtain hung on a rod.  But today, her sister Cary was nowhere in sight.  We threw ourselves onto the bed in a burst of glee and immediately started whispering our secrets to one another.  At twelve, we had our whole adolescence ahead of us and we couldn’t wait for all the excitement to begin.

 
We read Casey’s latest issue of Seventeen, oohing and ahhing over the outfits, the hairstyles, and the makeup.  Her eyes huge with anticipation, Casey opened a top drawer in her dresser, showing off three different shades of lipstick lying neatly in a row, just waiting to be sampled.

 
After we’d tried all three shades in turn, examining our faces with the lights on and then with them dimmed, we finally set them aside, satisfied with our experiment.

 
One of the best things about Casey’s house was her mother.  Mrs. Ayers didn’t bother us…not ever.  She stayed in the front part of the house, doing whatever she was doing…Cleaning or sewing or baking.  When she made cookies, the scent wafted down the hall to us, beckoning us out to the kitchen.  Then, and only then, did Mrs. Ayers appear, wearing a big smile as she placed a big plate of cookies and a pitcher of milk on the table.  Then, disappearing into still another part of the house, we were on our own again.  She really respected our privacy.

Sometimes we watched TV in the living room while we ate our snacks.

 
After a blissful afternoon of just hanging out with Casey, I rode my bike more slowly back toward my house.  Like a magnet sucking me backward, I had to fight against the pull away from home and back to Casey’s, where the scents of baked goodies and the cozy warm voices still hung in the recesses of my mind, enticing me.  Ahead of me lay the heavy darkness of Father’s stormy moods, mixed in with Mother’s nervous silence as she rushed around to try and head him off at the pass.  And we’d all be called into service.  Trying to keep Father from going into one of his full-blown tantrums, we scurried about like so many mice trying to appease the cat.

 
On most days, I had to babysit my three-year-old brother Kevin.  Not that watching him was such a chore, really; he was actually pretty cute and his adoration felt kind of neat.

 
He’d follow me around, hanging on my every word, and calling out:  “Look, Sylbie, see my tower!  I can make it bigger.  Look!”  Or, “please, Sylbie, push me higher in the swing.  I want to fly!”

 
He couldn’t say my full name, Sylvia, but I kind of liked his version.

 
I rounded the last curve in the road and on the final stretch, I stood up in the pedals to move myself along faster.  I might as well get back and face whatever waited for me.

 
I strained my eyes toward the front of the stucco ranch house as it came into view, but something was off.  I could see Mother running around near the edge of the bushes, calling out something, her frantic movements clearly visible as I pulled into the driveway.  And behind her, Father stomped, his face glowering, and when he caught sight of me, he yelled.  “Sylvia!  Where is your brother?  And where have you been?”

 
My heart in my throat, I braked, dropping the bike where it landed.

For the rest of the story, visit Author’s Den.

***

When I think of my family connections, I am reminded of moments from the past.  This story was grabbed from my own memory banks, and while the characters are fictionalized versions of people I knew, they are very close to the real thing.

Enjoy!

***

book beginnings, The Friday 56

FRIDAY SPARKS: BOOK BEGINNINGS/FRIDAY 56 – “THE APPETITES OF GIRLS”

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Welcome to some bookish fun today as we share Book Beginnings, hosted by Rose City Reader; and as we showcase The Friday 56 with Freda’s Voice.

To join in, just grab a book and share the opening lines…along with any thoughts you wish to give us; then turn to page 56 and excerpt anything on the page.

Then give us the title of the book, so others can add it to their lists!

If you have been wanting to participate, but haven’t yet tried, now is the time!

What better way to spend a Friday?

 

Today’s spotlight is on an Amazon Vine ARC, called The Appetites of Girls, by Pamela Moses.

 

 

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Beginning:  For Old Time’s Sake – 2003

This, above all else, binds the four of us together:  standing side by side, each struggled to believe the best in herself, hearing amid the dark doubts in her mind the whisper of triumph.

Long before we grew in strength, we began life in separate corners.

***

56:  “Enjoying your drink, missy?”  He cocked his head to one side, staring, so that I felt he absorbed every bit of me from the silver barrette in my hair to the wedge heels of my new shoes.

***

Blurb:  For the audience that made Commencement a New York Times bestseller comes a novel about women making their way in the world. 

Self-doubting Ruth is coddled by her immigrant mother, who uses food to soothe and control. Defiant Francesca believes her heavy frame shames her Park Avenue society mother and, to provoke her, consumes everything in sight. Lonely Opal longs to be included in her glamorous mother’s dinner dates—until a disturbing encounter forever changes her desires. Finally, Setsu, a promising violinist, staves off conflict with her jealous brother by allowing him to take the choicest morsels from her plate—and from her future. College brings the four young women together as suitemates, where their stories and appetites collide. Here they make a pact to maintain their friendships into adulthood, but each must first find strength and her own way in the world.
***
What do you think?  I am not quite sure about this one, but I’m hopeful. 
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teaser tuesdays, tuesday teasers

TUESDAY MEMES — MARCH 8

Welcome to Tuesday, and the memes that spotlight bookish excerpts.  Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by Should Be Reading.

Here’s how it works.

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers.

I’m focusing on excerpts from two books:  one for Teaser Tuesdays, and the other for Tuesday Teasers (passages from my own creations).

The Easter Parade, by Richard Yates, is my first presentation.

In The Easter Parade, first published in 1976, we meet sisters Sarah and Emily Grimes when they are still the children of divorced parents. We observe the sisters over four decades, watching them grow into two very different women. Sarah is stable and stalwart, settling into an unhappy marriage. Emily is precocious and independent, struggling with one unsatisfactory love affair after another. Richard Yates’s classic novel is about how both women struggle to overcome their tarnished family’s past, and how both finally reach for some semblance of renewal.

Teaser Tuesdays:  He was staying in a rundown hotel in Hell’s Kitchen—she soon came to know everything about that hotel, from the smells of piss and disinfectant in the lobby to the slow cage of the elevator to the raddled green carpet in his room—and his ship was undergoing extensive repairs in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, which meant he would be in New York all summer.  His name was Lars Ericson.  p. 63

***

My Tuesday Teaser is from Web of Tyranny (Kindle), by Laurel-Rain Snow. (That’s me, of course!)

In equal parts funny and serious, Web of Tyranny by Laurel-Rain Snow is a proud, if poignant tale of Margaret Elaine Graham, a woman entangled in the trenches that epitomized her abusive childhood home only to flee into a stultifying marriage with Bob Williams. Seduced by the hope of achieving her goal of a college education and a life free from domination, she is blinded to Bob’s true qualities—and in a very real sense jumps from the pan into the fire. Oppression begets oppression and as Meg walks a thin line of human betrayal, she learns to stake her own claim to happiness—no matter how high the cost. Her fight leads to politicking during the radical antiwar movement of the 60s and 70s, which manifests as a near-compulsion, which will turn her world on end. Enticed by the possibilities open to her and chafing at the strictures of the marital ties, Meg bolts from the marriage with her toddler son in tow where a whole myriad of troubles await her.

Excerpt: And in the true mode of people everywhere who are steeped in denial, those three, Lainey, Rainbow and Natasha, all sought ways to explain and justify and even whitewash their behaviors and motives for the oldest reason in the book.  So that they could, somehow, find a way to live with their choices, made impulsively, or perhaps even with forethought.

They limped along, hoping to somehow make it through the night.

What are you showcasing today?  I hope you’ll stop by and share.

excerpts, family connections

DAY ELEVEN — FAMILY CONNECTIONS — JAN. 11

Family Connections

 

 

 

While considering the impact of family connections on our lives, I was reminded of my own creations.  Books I have written about dysfunctional families and loss.

My current WIP, Interior Designs, is about a woman who is reexamining her life and the connections she has established…and those she has lost.  Nostalgia follows her everywhere.

In this scene, she is visiting her grandmother, one of her favorite family members.  Someone who makes her feel whole.  But beneath the feeling of warmth, a fear lurks.

 

Gran opened the back door and greeted me with her welcoming smile.  After the gab fest with Maeve, and now with the prospect of spending time with my other favorite person, I felt renewed.  Strengthened, even, and with the guilt that had blanketed me daily for the longest time slowly dissipating, I felt as though I could move on.

We headed to the living room, where Gran had already prepared a tray.  I’d called her just before driving over, so now, I picked up the cup and sipped.  It was a delicious and fragrant tea that reminded me of something.  What was it?  My mind traipsed backwards to a time when Maeve and I had poked around in those Tower District shops, including one that specialized in incense and tea.  Yes, that’s where I’d first inhaled this scent.  “Gran,” I murmured, enjoying the aroma, as well as the taste. “What’s this tea called?  It seems familiar to me.”

“Oh, Constant Comment, I think,” she frowned slightly, as if her own memories were untrustworthy.

Which reminded me of some worries I’d been having…about her difficulty with retrieving things that she would normally have recalled right away.  But then, many older people had some of these issues, and it didn’t mean they were suffering from some kind of ailment, like Alzheimer’s.  That was always my biggest fear when it came to Gran.  As she was my best supporter and advocate, and had been for many years, I was always worried that I would lose pieces of her.  Slowly but surely, disappearing before my eyes.

Why did I suddenly fear losing everything and everyone that mattered?  First, I’d worried that Maeve would judge me if I confided some of my worst behaviors; then I’d feared losing any relationship I might develop, which seemed to be reinforced by recent events.  Zach’s betrayal mimicked my earlier loss of Hal.  Could I ever really have anyone of my own, who would be there for me forever?

Check out NaBloPoMo for more blogs participating.