October 29, 2009

The Birthing House

The Birthing House by Christopher Ransom
Fiction - Horror
2009 St. Martin's Press
Finished on 10/16/09
Rating: 1/5 (Poor)

"I got news for you, kid," Leon Laski had said. "A haunting is just history roused from her sleep. Any house can be haunted, even a new one. Know why? Because what makes 'em haunted ain't just in the walls and the floors and the dark rooms at night. It's in us. All the pity and rage and sadness and hot blood we carry around. The house might be where it lives, but the human heart is the key. We run the risk of letting the fair maiden out for one more dance every time we hang our hat."

Product Description

It was expecting them.

Conrad and Joanna Harrison, a young couple from Los Angeles, attempt to save their marriage by leaving the pressures of the city to start anew in a quiet, rural setting. They buy a Victorian mansion that once served as a haven for unwed mothers, called a birthing house. One day when Joanna is away, the previous owner visits Conrad to bequeath a vital piece of the house’s historic heritage, a photo album that he claims “belongs to the house.” Thumbing through the old, sepia-colored photographs of midwives and fearful, unhappily pregnant girls in their starched, nineteenth-century dresses, Conrad is suddenly chilled to the bone: staring back at him with a countenance of hatred and rage is the image of his own wife….

Thus begins a story of possession, sexual obsession, and, ultimately, murder, as a centuries-old crime is reenacted in the present, turning Conrad and Joanna’s American dream into a relentless nightmare.

An extraordinary marriage of supernatural thrills and exquisite psychological suspense,
The Birthing House marks the debut of a writer whose first novel is a terrifying tour de force.

Ugh. The only thing going for this book is that it's a very quick read. The Birthing House was my book club's selection for October and we were all terribly disappointed in this poorly written debut novel. Where to begin?

~ Clunky dialogue, which forced many of us to re-read several lines, hoping to discern the author's intent.

~ Gratuitous, explicit and bizarre sex scenes.

~ Clichés -- Creepy faceless dolls that walk in the middle of the night; the mysterious sound of a crying baby; snakes; dark mysterious woman lurking outside windows and in the garden.

~ Countless loose ends and meandering plot lines.

~ Weak characters. Poor editing.

This novel reads like a screenplay and might very well be a decent movie. I think I was the only one in my book club that got creeped out by some of the scenes, but then I'm very easily scared. Especially if I'm home alone and reading late at night.

Final words - Overwrought. Unoriginal. Weak. Don't waste your money. If you're curious and want to give it a try, borrow it from your library. If you want serious horror, read Stephen King or Joe Hill.

October 25, 2009

Read-A-Thon Final Update

1. Which hour was most daunting for you?

Probably Hour 16. I was getting tired and uncomfortable. I never planned to stay up all night, so at 11 pm I decided to get in bed and read for as long as I could. I lasted 25 more minutes. I had hoped to make it to at least midnight, but no such luck. Maybe next year.

2. Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year?

The collection of short stories (Joe Hill's 20th Century Ghosts) and essays (Jeanne Marie Laskas' Growing Girls) were the two books that held my interest the longest. I think this challenge is perfect for memoirs, essays, short stories.

3. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year?


4. What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon?

Since I'm a newbie to the challenge, I'm not sure what was different and if any changes made it more of a success. It all seemed to run smoothly.

5. How many books did you read?

I finished one, am about to finish another and am about halfway through two more.

6. What were the names of the books you read?

20th Century Ghosts by Joe Hill
Growing Girls: The Mother of All Adventures by Jeanne Marie Laskas
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
Holly's Inbox by Holly Denham

7. Which book did you enjoy most?

The Graveyard Book, once I got into it.

8. Which did you enjoy least?

Holly's Inbox. It's pure brain-candy and I found myself feeling a little bored and antsy.

9. If you were a Cheerleader, do you have any advice for next year’s Cheerleaders?

I wasn't a cheerleader, but I have to say I really appreciated all those who stopped by my blog with comments of encouragement and advice. I look forward to visiting all of those bloggers in the coming days. Thank you!!

10. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time?

I will certainly plan to particpate in the next Read-a-Thon, as long as my schedule allows. I had a great time.

Additional Stats

Total time spent reading: Exactly 9 hours (weird how that worked out!)

Total pages read: 621

October 24, 2009

Read-A-Thon Update #6

This would be me with Annie-Dog sometime around Hour 10 or 11. Annie is working very hard at being invisible. She hates the camera. But she loves to share her couch with me.

Title of book(s) read since last update: I read more of Growing Girls (Jeanne Marie Laskas) and The Graveyard Book (Neil Gaiman).

Number of books read since you started: I finally finished a book (Growing Girls)!! Yay!

Pages read since last update: 154

Running total of pages read since you started: 571

Amount of time spent reading since last update: 2 hours and 20 minutes

Running total of time spent reading since you started: (keep track of this one to be eligible for a prize!) 8 hours and 15 minutes

Mini-challenges completed: 4 total

Snacks & Meals: Mushroom and Italian Sausage pizza. One glass of wine (Red Diamond Cab.). 1 mug of Pomegranate/Fruit Green Tea. Water.

Mood: Feeling a bit sleepy.

Breaks: Watched an episode of House while eating dinner with my hubby. Joined him on a walk with Annie-Dog after dinner. Emptied the dishwasher while waiting for my tea to brew. This was the only housework I did all day!

Location: Couch before dinner, then back to the leather chair (where I'm less apt to fall asleep).

Read-A-Thon Mid-Event Meme

Mid-Event Survey:

1. What are you reading right now? I'm about to head back to Joe Hill's 20th Century Ghosts.

2. How many books have you read so far? I haven't completed a single book. I've been bouncing back-and-forth between four books (20th Century Ghosts, The Graveyard Book, Holly's Inbox, and Growing Girls).

3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon? I'm anxious to finish a couple of the ones I've started and maybe get engrossed in a new one. I've got Sworn to Silence by Linda Castillo ready to go when I start to get sleepy. It's a mystery/thriller and I'm hoping it might help keep me awake longer than these others.

4. Did you have to make any special arrangements to free up your whole day? Not really. I did the laundry a couple of days ago (or was that yesterday?!), but I could easily have done it on Sunday. My husband played tennis, mowed the lawn, and has been working on grading papers and lessons plans. We did have dinner together (pizza) and watched an episode of House.

5. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those? Nope. None other than meals with my husband and walking the dog (which was a good chance to get outside and stretch my legs!).

6. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far? How quickly the time flies! And how difficult it is to keep up with all the mini-challenges and blog-hopping.

7. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year? None that come to mind right now. Maybe after a good night's sleep, I'll think of something.

8. What would you do differently, as a Reader or a Cheerleader, if you were to do this again next year? Honestly? I don't think I'd try to participate in so many mini-challenges. While fun, it's more time away from actual reading time. Just posting updates on my blog is time-consuming enough! I'd also stockpile healthier snacks and maybe prepare a big pot of soup or chili for lunch or dinner. I think the fast-food is making me feel lazy.

9. Are you getting tired yet? I started to fall asleep on the couch around 5:30, but now I have my second wind. Just got back from walking the dog with my hubby. It's cool outside (52) and that was refreshing. I'm not planning to drink any coffee, but maybe I'll fix a cup of tea later on. I only had one glass of wine with my pizza. I'd be sound asleep by 10 if I had more!

10. Do you have any tips for other Readers or Cheerleaders, something you think is working well for you that others may not have discovered? I think walking the dog (3 times today) has helped tremendously. I'm also drinking a lot of water. And switching between books when I start to get restless.

Fun meme!! Back to my books.

Read-A-Thon Update #5

Title of book(s) read since last update: More from Holly's Inbox.

Number of books read since you started: None finished yet.

Pages read since last update: 116 pages

Running total of pages read since you started: 417

Amount of time spent reading since last update: 1 hour

Running total of time spent reading since you started: (keep track of this one to be eligible for a prize!) 5 hours and 55 minutes

Mini-challenges completed: 2 total

Snacks & Meals: A piece of pumpkin cake. Needed vanilla ice cream.

Mood: Feeling a bit sleepy. I visited a few blogs and am heading downstairs to walk on the treadmill. I'll blog-hop from there (laptop attached to treadmill) and stretch my legs a bit. Then perhaps a glass of wine with some cheese before dinner. Haven't decided what to have yet! :)

Breaks: Nada

Location: Couch. Probably not a good idea when I'm sleepy, although Annie-Dog enjoyed the company. :)

Read-A-Thon Update #4

Title of book(s) read since last update: I read a little bit of The Graveyard Book and a little from Holly's Inbox.

Number of books read since you started: None finished yet. I feel the need to settle in with something I know I can finish. Maybe it's time for a mystery!

Pages read since last update: 154 pages

Running total of pages read since you started: 301

Amount of time spent reading since last update: 2 hours and 5 minutes

Running total of time spent reading since you started: (keep track of this one to be eligible for a prize!) 4 hours and 55 minutes

Mini-challenges completed: 2

Snacks & Meals: My husband brought home lunch from Jimmy John's. I had a Beach Club sandwich with potato chips and a cup of coffee.

Mood: Anxious to settle into a book. I'm thinking of a mystery, but maybe I'll go back to 20th Century Ghosts and Growing Girls. I've enjoyed those and can probably finish them tonight.

Breaks: Took a walk with my husband and Annie-Dog. It's overcast and trying to rain, but not terribly cold. 54 degrees (F).

Location: Moving from the leather chair to the couch. Time to stretch out and get a little more comfortable.

Read-A-Thon Update #3

Title of book(s) read since last update: I switched over to another current read, Jeanne Laskas' Growing Girls (nonfiction)
Number of books read since you started: None finished yet
Pages read since last update: 64
Running total of pages read since you started: 147
Amount of time spent reading since last update: 60 minutes
Running total of time spent reading since you started: (keep track of this one to be eligible for a prize!) 2 hours and 50 minutes
Mini-challenges completed: 2
Snacks & Meals: Water with lemon slice and one dark chocolate Dove bite-size candy
Mood: Calm, although I was a little annoyed when I heard a leaf-blower next door. Yes, it's fall. Yes, it's Saturday. But man, those things are so obnoxiously loud!
Breaks: Took a shower and got dressed. Now back to reading. I'll visit blogs on my next break.

Read-A-Thon Update #2

Title of book(s) read since last update: I'm still reading 20th Century Ghosts by Joe Hill
Number of books read since you started: See above
Pages read since last update: 40
Running total of pages read since you started: 83
Amount of time spent reading since last update: 50 minutes
Running total of time spent reading since you started: (keep track of this one to be eligible for a prize!) 1 hour and 50 minutes
Mini-challenges completed: 2
Snacks & Meals: Toast with butter & jam (homemade bread!) and some string cheese
Mood: Excited and wide awake

I took a short break to eat breakfast with my hubby before he headed out to play tennis. It's a chilly 41 degrees and he's playing outside! At least it's not snowing. :)

I'm still enjoying Joe Hill's 20th Century Ghosts. Each short story is so unique and compelling. None have been super scary, though. Maybe I should put this one aside and read it later tonight. Decisions, decisions.

Read-A-Thon Mini Challenge #1

Where are you reading from today?

I'm reading from Lincoln, Nebraska.
I spent the first hour in our living room in a comfy leather, wing-back chair. Technically, it's my husband's chair... :)

3 facts about me …

I'm married to my best friend.
I work in a bookstore (B&N).
I love to cooking, traveling and photography.

How many books do you have in your TBR pile for the next 24 hours?

I think I have about a dozen, but that doesn't include all the books on my TBR shelves. I'm just winging it and not sticking to any sort of a reading plan/schedule.

Do you have any goals for the read-a-thon (i.e. number of books, number of pages, number of hours, or number of comments on blogs)?

Nope. Just to read throughout the day and night for as long as I can stay awake.

If you’re a veteran read-a-thoner, Any advice for people doing this for the first time?

I'm a newbie.

Read-A-Thon Update #1

Reading Time: 7 am to 8 am
Book: 20th Century Ghosts by Joe Hill
Pages Read: 43
Snack: Coffee!
Mood: Tired. I don't usually read first thing in the morning. But now I'm alert and ready for my second cup of coffee. This is a good book to start with. Very unique and some-what creepy stories.

October 22, 2009

Dewey's 24-Hour Read-a-thon

I'm in! I've missed out on the past read-a-thons, but decided to join in this year. My weekends are full of the usual chores and errands and my reading time has suffered since going to work full-time at the bookstore. I'm hopeful that this event will help me get back in the groove of curling up with a good book on the weekend. I'm not sure what I'll be reading, but I have a couple of short story collections going right now, so I'll have those close by for breaks between whatever novel I decide upon.
You can learn more about Dewey's 24-Hour Read-a-Thon at this dedicated blog. I plan to start at 7 a.m. (gasp!) and will try to read all day and evening, but I seriously doubt I'll stay up past midnight. Wish me luck!

October 21, 2009


Abandoned by Cody McFadyen
2009 Bantam Books
Finished on 9/30/09
Rating: 4.5/5 (Terrific!)
This title will be released on October 27, 2009

Product Description

He doesn’t kill for thrills, for sex, or even for power.
It’s far more twisted than that….

Cody McFadyen, acclaimed author of The Darker Side, The Face of Death, and Shadow Man, delivers this shocking new thriller that brings to light a psychopath unlike any we’ve ever seen—a killer who thrives in absolute darkness and doesn’t derive pleasure from the kill. And only one woman has the ability to see him coming…even if it’s already too late to stop her own murder.

For FBI Special Agent Smoky Barrett, the wedding of one of their own was cause for celebration. Until a woman staggered down the aisle, incoherent, emaciated, head shaved, and wearing only a white nightgown.

No one knows who she is or where she’s come from—or why she’s chosen to appear in a church filled with law enforcement agents. Then a fingerprint check determines that the woman has been missing for nearly eight years—that once she was someone’s wife, someone’s mother…and a cop. Imprisoning her in a dark cell, depriving her of any contact with the outside world, her enigmatic captor was a man she didn’t know and who seldom spoke, who punished her only when she failed to follow his most basic instructions designed to keep her alive.

Cold, businesslike, seemingly indifferent to his victims, he’s a predator with an M.O. as terrifyingly inscrutable as any Smoky has ever encountered. As she fits together the pieces of what remains of his victim’s fractured life, a chilling picture emerges of a killer every bit as calculating, masterful, and professional as Smoky and the team she leads—a professional psychopath who doesn’t take murder personally and never makes a mistake.

There’s a reason he let one of his victims go free. And by the time Smoky pierces the darkness of his twisted mind, it may cost her more than she can bear to lose to escape. For a trap snapped closed the moment she took this case too much to heart.

I've read all of McFadyen's backlist (so nice to get in early on a fairly new series) and I have to say this is his best! Shadow Man was a favorite in 2006 and The Darker Side and The Face of Death both made my Top Ten for 2008. And Abandoned will most certainly make my 2009 list. I could not put this thriller down!

As I've said in previous reviews, I find it oddly disturbing to enjoy reading about a serial killer, and yet I can't stop reading these intensely compelling mysteries. Smokey Barrett is one tough character and I love to watch how she and her team slowly unravel the tightly woven threads that make up the case of yet another twisted mind. I was actually relieved that McFadyen toned down the grittiness of this fourth installment without forfeiting the realism and strong impact of the story. Certain scenes still had me cringing with fear and horror, but when he could have spelled out the details of specific acts, the author chose to leave those behind the scenes. All the worse for someone with a vivid imagination!

I was completely satisfied with the final outcome of the case and applaud Cody for another awesome book! I look forward to handselling Abandoned this holiday season. For those who love a gritty thriller, I can't think of a better series. What a nice bundle of books all four titles would make for a mystery/thriller reader on your Christmas list.

Click on the titles below to read my reviews for the others in this series (listed in order of publication):

Shadow Man
The Face of Death
The Darker Side

October 18, 2009

Same Kind of Different As Me: A Modern-Day Slave, an International Art Dealer, and the Unlikely Woman Who Bound Them Together by Ron Hall and Denver Moore
2006 Thomas Nelson
Quit on 10/6/09
Rating: DNF

Product Description:

A dangerous, homeless drifter who grew up picking cotton in virtual slavery.

An upscale art dealer accustomed to the world of Armani and Chanel.

A gutsy woman with a stubborn dream.

A story so incredible no novelist would dare dream it.

It begins outside a burning plantation hut in Louisiana . . . and an East Texas honky-tonk . . . and, without a doubt, in the heart of God. It unfolds in a Hollywood hacienda . . . an upscale New York gallery . . . a downtown dumpster . . . a Texas ranch.

Gritty with pain and betrayal and brutality, this true story also shines with an unexpected, life-changing love.

After 60 pages, I decided to call it quits. Has anyone else read this? It was recommended by a good friend, but I simply couldn't get interested.

First sentence:

Until Miss Debbie, I'd never spoke to no white woman before. Just answered a few questions, maybe--it wadn't really speakin. And to me, even that was mighty risky since the last time I was fool enough to open my mouth to a white woman, I wound up half-dead and nearly blind.

From Shelf Awareness:

Samuel L. Jackson has agreed to star in Same Kind of Different as Me, adapted from the book Same Kind of Different As Me: A Modern-Day Slave, an International Art Dealer, and the Unlikely Woman Who Bound Them Together by Denver Moore, Ron Hall and Lynn Vincent.

Variety reported that Jackson will play Moore, "an ex-con drifter who develops an unlikely friendship with a wealthy Dallas art dealer named Ron Hall. The book . . . was optioned by Veralux Media in 2008. With Jackson aboard, the script is now being shopped for production financing."

October 15, 2009

The Recipe Club

The Recipe Club: A Tale of Food and Friendship by Andrea Israel & Nancy Garfinkel
Fiction - Epistolary
2009 Polhemus Press
Finished on 10/4/09
Rating: 3/5 (So-So)
ARC from FSB Associates

Product Description:

Lilly and Val are lifelong friends, united as much by their differences as by their similarities. Lilly, dramatic and confident, lives in the shadow of her beautiful, wayward mother and craves the attention of her distant, disapproving father. Val, shy and idealistic—and surprisingly ambitious—struggles with her desire to break free from her demanding housebound mother and a father whose dreams never seem to come true.

In childhood, “LillyPad” and “Valpal” vow to form an exclusive two-person club. Throughout the decades they write intimate letters in which they share hopes, fears, deepest secrets—and recipes, from Lilly’s “Lovelorn Lasagna” to Valerie’s “Forgiveness Tapenade.” Readers can cook along as the girls travel through time, facing the challenges of independence; the joys and heartbreaks of first love; and the emotional complexities of family relationships, identity, mortality, and goals deferred.

But no matter what different paths they take or what misunderstandings threaten to break them apart, Lilly and Val always find their way back together through their Recipe Club . . . until the fateful day when an act of kindness becomes an unforgivable betrayal.

Now, decades later, while trying to recapture the trust they’ve lost, Lilly and Val reunite once more—only to uncover a shocking secret. Will it destroy their friendship, or bring them ever closer?

I finished this epistolary novel over a week ago and I'm still struggling with my review. I love to cook and I own dozens of cookbooks. I also love getting long, chatty letters in the mail (not that that's happened in forever!) and enjoy epistolary works. So you'd think this book would've been a big hit with me. Meh, not so much. The characters rubbed me the wrong way, perhaps just a little too clichéd or one-dimensional. Their story (which begins in 2000, flashes back to 1964-1973, and wraps up between 2002-2003) just barely held my interest and if it weren't such a quick read, I probably would have given up. I only spotted a few recipes that might be worthwhile (Peanut Butter Blondie Bars, Chocolate-Dipped Heart Cookies, and Lovelorn Lasagna), but to be fair, I should note that unlike the published book, the ARC doesn't include photographs of any of the dishes. That's a big selling point for this cook and I'll be sure to check out the published copy to see if there are any other tempting recipes.

About the Authors

Andrea Israel is a producer/writer for ABC’s Focus Earth. She was a producer/writer on Anderson Cooper 360, Dateline, and Good Morning America (which garnered her an Emmy Award). Her story In Donald’s Eyes was recently optioned for a film. Ms. Israel is the author of Taking Tea. Her writing has appeared in many publications.

Nancy Garfinkel is co-author of The Wine Lover’s Guide to the Wine Country: The Best of Napa, Sonoma, and Mendocino (Chronicle Books, 2005). A creative strategist, design consultant, writer, and editor for magazine, corporate, and non-profit clients, she has won a host of graphic arts and editorial merit awards. She has written extensively about food and graphic arts.

October 11, 2009

October Snow!

Note to my brother, Mark: Please refrain from any snide remarks about your beautiful weather in San Diego. Just know that I have pictures I can post on FaceBook that might embarrass you. Your loving sister, Lesley. ;)

October 9, 2009

Weekend Forecast

Tonight's Forecast:

Breezy. Mostly cloudy. Snow likely and a chance of rain after midnight. Snow accumulation up to 1 inch. Lows in the upper 20s.


Colder...cloudy. Snow likely in the morning. Snow accumulation up to 1 inch. Total snow accumulation up to 2 inches. Highs in the upper 30s.


Mostly cloudy. A slight chance of snow in the morning...then a chance of rain and snow in the afternoon.

Urgent - Weather Message
National Weather Service Omaha/Valley NE
413 AM CDT Fri Oct 9 2009

Really?? It's not even mid-October. Guess I know what I'm doing this afternoon after work. Grocery store for soup ingredients. Unhooking the garden hoses. Putting the bird bath and hummingbird feeder in the garage. Storing the outdoor cushions in the garage. Searching for my ice scraper, snow shovel and mittens.

Let's hope we don't have serious tree damage. The leaves haven't fallen yet!

October 4, 2009

Havah: The Story of Eve

Havah: The Story of Eve by Tosca Lee
Religious Fiction
2008 NavPress
Finished on 9/21/09
Rating: 4/5 (Very Good)

Product Description

Eve, exiled to a life outside paradise, nears death. As she waits, she recounts the story of her creation and a cruel existence. Revisit the birth of humankind through the eyes of the first woman ever to live.

From the Back Cover

Created, not born.

The world's first woman, without flaw until one fateful decision. Now all humanity must pay for the mistake.

From paradise to exile, from immortality to the death of Adam, experience the dawn of mankind through the eyes of Eve—the woman first known as Havah.

I had the pleasure of meeting Tosca Lee not once, but twice this year. She was one of the authors signing at the Barnes & Noble author event in June. I was a bit distracted with greeting friends and family at my husband's table, and only briefly had a chance to say hello to Tosca before the signing began. I did get the chance to mention that I and several other employees were in a book club and perhaps we could read her book and maybe have her come to the discussion. I suggested the idea to the group shortly after the signing and everyone agreed it would not only be an interesting read, but fun to invite an author to our meeting. I got in touch with Tosca and, as luck would have it, she would be returning from a trip the night before and would be able to come to our meeting.

Everyone was thrilled with the news and eagerly bought their copies and started reading. My sister-in-law mentioned how easily she was drawn into the story, luxuriating in the lyrical prose and enjoying the lushness of Tosca's language. I decided to hold off beginning until the week before the meeting so all the details would be fresh in my mind. As soon as I finished Labor Day by Joyce Maynard, I settled in with a glass of wine and my copy of Havah, anxious to see what Jen meant about "feeling drunk on Tosca's prose." I read and read, slowly beginning to feel a sense of foreboding. I was not feeling drawn in, nor drunk on her words. Maybe I needed another glass of wine? I read some more and decided to set it aside until the next day. Maybe I was just tired. Yikes! Of all the books to feel this way about, it had to be the one in which the author was invited to visit our book club! I couldn't not read the book! So, I continued on later the following evening and guess what? (Well, if you saw the rating above, you'd know how this story ends.) I fell in love with Havah! As soon as "the adam" and Havah were cast out of Eden, the story suddenly became not only more readable but spellbinding. I couldn't put it down. I found myself wanting to stop and reread Genesis. I wanted a companion guide. I wanted to ask Tosca dozens of questions. I couldn't wait for book club! What a book!

Side note: Isn't it interesting that so many of the books that I've read over the years that have turned out to be huge favorites were those that I was tempted to give up on? Atonement. Life of Pi. The Book Thief. To think I might have missed out on some incredibly good books had I not persevered. There's a lesson there.

But back to the book. Did I say I loved it? I did! So much so that the minute I finished it I was overcome by the desire to sit right back down and start reading it from the beginning all over again. Unfortunately, I needed to finish making the risotto cakes I had planned to take to book club. And write up some questions to ask. And walk the dog. And feed my husband. So no rereading for now. However, this is one of those books that will remain on my "keeper shelf" until I do have time to sit down and revisit Havah and Adam and their children (Oh. My. Gosh. SO many children!).

This is the time of our exile that I remember with the most fondness—when my first children ate of an earth where God once walked, reared on sheep's milk and goat cheese and honey.

True, the stench of soiled baby napkins was everywhere so that even Reut was no longer curious about these things. And when I wasn't in the midst of cleaning up some sodden or stinking mess, it seem one child or another was always demanding something to eat from breast of hearth. But at night as I lay surrounded by the soft breathing of tiny chests, by the smells of baby curls stuck to warm foreheads, and the familiar form of the exhausted adam smelling of sweat and wild wheat beside me, I was content.

I think I can speak for everyone in my book club and say that we had one of the best meetings since the formation of the club almost two years ago! Tosca not only chatted about Havah, her writing routine, her current work in progress, her favorite authors, and her new publishing contract, but she answered all of our questions for well over two hours. I would like to go into more detail about the discussion, but since I'm planning to post an interview in the coming months, I think I'll hold off on any more specifics.

I look forward to reading Lee's upcoming novel, the story of Judas (a first-person narrative!), as well as her first work, Demon: A Memoir. For someone who has never read (nor been interested in) religious fiction, I have to say I was pleasantly surprised and impressed. Tosca Lee is a consummate storyteller and fans of The Red Tent (Anita Diamant) and perhaps even those of The Clan of the Cave Bear (Jean Auel) are sure to enjoy this beautifully crafted novel.

Be sure to visit Tosca's website, particularly the "author notes" and "news" found here.