Back in November I reviewed Emlyn Chand's first novel, Farsighted
. Loved it.
Chand opened my eyes to a genre that I had not previously considered in my zone of interest. That being Young Adult fiction. Since she nudged me towards these books, I have encountered some really good writers.
However, my first book of the summer will be Open Heart
, the anticipated follow up to Farsighted
. I'll be reviewing it as soon as I finish it, which likely won't be long. But for now, here is an excerpt for you to enjoy and to whet the appetite.
An Excerpt from Open Heart
We exit the school, and Alex startles me by yanking my arm in the opposite direction of the flagpole. He finds an empty patch of grass and scoops me into his arms for a dramatic, old timey kiss.
“What was that for?”
“Because you’re nervous, and I wanted to make you feel better.”
“Hey, I’m the one with clairsentience here.” I titter.
Alex ignores my comment and reaches down to grasp my hands. One of them is holding the lily he gifted me earlier in the day. He plucks the flower from my fingers and tickles my cheek with the petals as he traces tiny circles across my skin. He repositions the flower between his thumb and ring finger and uses his index finger to tuck a stray strand of hair behind my ear, then tucks the stem in, too. The whole time I see my image reflecting back in his glasses. My ghastliness is destroying this tender moment. It’s almost too much to bear.
“Pretty.” He smiles, then gives me another kiss. “Now whenever I kiss you, I get to smell the lily mixing with your Almond Joy scent. Flowers and chocolates--sooo
romantic.” He makes a silly face and gives me another kiss to make his point. “Pretty.” He takes in a deep breath.
His lips brush against my cheek, and I use the opportunity to slide his glasses into his soft spiky hair. No longer distracted by the unattractive reflection, I relish the sight of his unshielded eyes, then draw in closer and touch his eyelashes with mine. I outline the square shape of his jaw with my finger, then nuzzle his nose with my nose. Alex allows me to study him without expressing any discomfort. He’s overcoming his insecurities as a way to be closer to me. I wish I could do the same.
I give him another kiss and his face lights up. His skin glows with a subtle orangey-gold hue and his aura vibrates soothingly, as if massaging me. For a moment I allow myself to relax in the security of his strong, steady presence. Then he obliterates the comfort altogether by making another unwanted proclamation. “I love you, Simmi.”
Rather than starting a fight or walking away, I push him back against the brick exterior of the school and press my body into his, ignoring my insecurities. I kiss him the best I can and wrap my arms around the back of his neck. I mimic his aura, producing massage-like vibrations, and I go over the options in my mind.
I can’t tell him mujhe pata hai
forever. Eventually, I will either have to tell him I love him, or worse still, tell him I don’t. I almost love him. I’m almost to that place. Maybe I’ll feel it by the end of the week or by the end of the month. It has to be only a matter of time. If I tell him I don’t feel the same way, it will hurt him so badly. Alex is the best guy I know, and he doesn’t deserve that—least of all from me.
Alex turns his head to the side and tries to retreat from our impromptu dance of passion, but I push his face back into mine and kiss him deeper, more fully. Something inside him stirs. The tickling vibration becomes firmer and hotter, and the heat thickens, wrapping us both in a crashing embrace. A tidal wave hits us from all sides and then turns to vapor. I kiss him so hard I forget the reason I initiated this steamy make-out session. I forget we’re in a public place, and I almost forget my insecurities enough to surrender to the lapping waves as they spin around our entwined bodies.
Alex places his hands on my shoulders and pushes me back a couple inches. “Okay, enough. Not that I’m not enjoying this, but I kind of need to breathe, too.” He takes a few exaggerated breaths and shakes his head. “If you’re going to do that every time I tell you I love you, I’m going to say it a lot more often. C’mon, Shapri’s been waiting a while. We can pick this up later. Promise.”
He slides his glasses back onto his nose and grabs my hand. We walk to the flagpole where Shapri is standing. As soon as she spots us, her eyes grow wide as if somebody’s slapped her on the back of the head.
I blush and reach to tuck a stray strand of hair behind my ear. Only then do I notice the lily is gone. The flower signifying my dreams, my reminder to always reach for the stars, has been trampled beneath our passion.Open Heart
is available through Amazon
so don't wait any longer than you have to.
Make it your first book of the summer!
for loads more information and some really great extras!
So while you’re here please feel free to read an excerpt
from my book or even buy a copy of your own
The first thing you realize when you begin Charlinder's Walk by Alyson Miers is that 2012 was a bad year. In 2012 the world is/was(will be?) hit by the Plague, a catastrophe that kills, in short order, the majority of the world's population leaving only small pockets of survivors scattered across the globe.
There’s no electricity, no technology, no infrastructure, no mass transportation, no central government - basically nothing remains of the world that exists were we to turn and look out of the nearest window.
Fast-forward approximately 1 and ¼ centuries.
Here we meet Charlinder who lives in a small agrarian settlement nestled in what was the previously the eastern United States. Previously being the operative term here. The world of 2130 doesn’t look much like the world of 2012.
For those in the year 2130 the overall thought of the times is probably best summed up by a quote from the book.
"But I mean to say, even we here in Dover don't have much to say about the Plague anymore. Our grandparents went on about it, but for us, it's more like, yeah, it happened, it killed everyone and the rest of us got put back to the friggin' tenth century BC, now here we are in the ninth century BC, so what else is there to say?"
The overall premise of the book is actually quite refreshing. (Yes that’s an interesting choice of words when the end of the world is the topic, but Miers’ treatment of the subject is novel.)
Charlinder is a bit of an anomaly. He lives in a small village that was founded post-Plague by a woman who provided a written account of the times around the Plague as the end of society has come to be known. Charlinder spends a great deal of time studying her accounts. He lives in a society where skills such as building, hunting, farming and other physical abilities are prized. He, on the other hand, is a teacher. He’s also a thinker.
From the time his community was founded there have been competing theories as to why the Plague occurred. View one is that the Plague happened as a product of science. View two is that God caused the Plague as punishment.
Charlinder wants to definitively answer this question. So, using guidance from the written history he has, he decides to take a walk and find the answer. Trouble is, Charlinder lives on the east coast of what was the United States and conventional wisdom is that the Plague started in Italy.
Quite a walk. A walk that becomes Charlinder's Walk.
Questions arise and are debated at length concerning secular and religious foundations as well as government and society. While some of the discussions do get a bit drawn out, it was impressive to see the vehicle of apocalyptic fiction to engage this discussion. It’s particularly fascinating to see how Charlinder's Walk explores different possibilities as to how society would survive and carry on after such an apocalyptic event (surprisingly a future free of a single zombie). Miers does a great job of setting up a variety of different societies, showing how given a common problem - the end of the world - not everyone would come up with the same solution or even solutions. For instance, 100 years post-Plague, it is a rarity to find someone who can read and write. In a society where food and shelter are paramount, these skills simply aren’t at a premium. There are even varying views on topics such as the repopulation of the human race.
I will say I was surprised at how peaceful the society Miers creates is in total. While I am not an advocate of violence, I generally think of post- apocalyptic fiction as dealing with how the main character responds when other survivors revert to animal like behavior, essentially violence begets violence. The little violence there is almost seems an afterthought. I would have expected if someone at a point in history undertook to walk around the world they would likely encounter one or two unsavory characters. However, who is to say that a future post-apocalypse society would not be the completely peaceful haven as described by Miers.
I found the book to be a breath of fresh air in a genre that all to quickly can become cliché. Using a little walk around the globe as a method to paint a canvas showing a possible society of the future is completely different and works quite well.
Go out and pick up a copy and give it a read. Encourage a couple of friends to do the same. Aside from the well-crafted fiction you will find between the covers, you can rest assured that once you and your friends have finished, you will find yourself discussing the themes that Miers raises. That, in my humble opinion, is what sets a book apart from the ordinary – wanting to talk about it when you are done.
Fans of apocalyptic fiction or works blending in philosophy, government and religion would enjoy this book.
Mary Alice Monroe is no stranger to the South Carolina Lowcountry having regularly looked to the area as the setting for her novels. In Beach House Memories she not only returns to the area but she also turns back the clock more than a quarter of a century to offer an intimate glimpse of a landscape that will never been seen again. Then, as a bonus, Monroe also spotlights a cause that is near and dear not only to her, but also to many in the Lowcountry.
Mary Alice Monroe is devoted to the sea turtle. Through coastal development the very existence of the sea turtle has come into jeopardy. I won’t go into great detail but will say if you’re curious, a great place to start is Beach House Memories.
Beach House Memories is also a return to some familiar characters. If you’ve read Monroe’s earlier work, The Beach House, it will likely be as if you’re visiting some old friends.
Beach House Memories starts out with a present day, elderly Olivia “Lovie” Rutledge staring out into the Atlantic from her Isle of Palms beach house.
In a matter of pages we’re back in 1974.
While the Charleston, South Carolina of 2012 is similar to the Charleston of 1974, much has changed and one of the areas with the most change is the Isle of Palms.
Today the Isle of Palms is a world-renowned vacation destination visited by thousands each year. It’s home to thousands of year round residents, is the site of championship golf, water sports, live music and dining and it also holds more memories per square foot than one could begin to imagine.
For Lovie Rutledge 1974 served as the launching pad for many of the memories she holds so dear today.
In the 1970’s the Isle of Palms was a sleepy South Carolina Barrier Island with few more than perhaps a thousand residents and many of these weren’t full time.
It was common in the 1970’s (and still today) for Charleston families to have a summer house on one of the area islands and to take up residence at the beach from Memorial Day to Labor Day though the present ease of travel from Charleston to the barrier islands has made the trip frequently one of a weekend getaway.
However in 1974 Lovie Rutledge loaded up her Buick and together with her two children, headed to her family beach house for the entire summer. Little did she know as Charleston grew smaller in her rearview mirror that she was forever leaving behind the life she had known.
Lovie’s world was in a state of flux. As was common in the 70’s she was as stay at home mother. Her husband, Stratton Rutledge, was old Charleston tracing his heritage back to a signer of the Declaration of Independence (not as farfetched as one may think). Lovie had married young, had children and now, well in her 30’s is struggling to find her real identity, to learn after all these years who she really is.
However, Lovie is not without passion.
One of the forces that drives her is her love of the Loggerhead Sea turtle. Every summer she spends her time plotting, monitoring and protecting the sites where the sea turtles come ashore to lay their eggs on the Isle of Palms. She’s been doing this so long and with such a passion she’s earned the nickname, “The Turtle Lady.”
The summer of 1974 starts as many summers of the past have for Lovie, after all, she’s been coming to the Isle of Palms every summer for her entire life, but this summer will be different.
Change is coming to the island by way of development - development that will change the look and future of the island forever.
Before the development can start, the developers must study the habits of the sea turtles to make arrangements for them in their development. Lovie, with her lifelong experience, finds herself in the middle of this research working together with a handsome marine biologist who specializes in the sea turtle.
I was curious how Monroe would weave in a cause so obviously near and dear to her heart – the cause of the Loggerhead; however, the fashion in which she built the engaging and compelling plot that is Beach House Memories made everything that happened seem completely natural.
Monroe takes the reader from the comfort of their world and gently places them in the most wonderful of places – a sand dune in a summer storm, the warm Atlantic waters on a summer afternoon, a maritime forest as the morning sun weaves through the tree canopy, an open convertible as the aroma of the marsh and ocean rides the air.
Monroe’s ability to capture the setting of the South Carolina Lowcountry is alone reason enough to pick up this book immediately; however, as rare as it is to find an author capable of such literary transport, once Monroe takes you to the Isle of Palms, the characters to whom she introduces you will leave you longing for more.
As I said before, for fans of Monroe it will be like visiting old friends. The ability to create such familiar characters is something not to be taken for granted.
Monroe has traditionally written strong female leads. Beach House Memories is no different and, without giving away any of the plot, it will come as no surprise that at its core, the tale is a love story. However, to call Beach House Memories simply a love story and be done would be to sell the book short.
Monroe’s sense of character is perhaps the strongest quality of the book. In a seamless fashion she puts together a cast that embodies both depth and spontaneity.
Yes, the book is a love story, but it is also a tale of coming of age, of regret, of living with choices – not always the right ones, of longing, and, through it all, of hope.
Monroe makes it easy to identify with her characters. She makes it easy for the reader to understand the emotions the characters feel but not simply the emotion, but why the character is feeling or reacting as they may.
Monroe has once again written a book that will undoubtedly be along a beach or pool during the coming summer; however, to wait until you travel to the beach to read Beach House Memories would just mean you’ve waited too long. Or perhaps you can use the book as an excuse (like we need one) for a trip to the beach to create some memories of your own.
Fans of southern fiction, novels with strong female leads, love stories, and those who love to read about the South Carolina Lowcountry should Beach House Memories as soon as possible.
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