Monthly Archives: April 2012
Back of the Book:
There’s no way sixteen year old Quincy Amarante will become the fifth grim reaper. None. Not over her shiny blue Mustang. Her Jimmy Choos. Or her dead body.
She’s supposed to enjoy her sophomore year, not learn about some freaky future Destiny says she has no choice but to fulfill.
It doesn’t take long for Quincy to realize the only way out of the game is to play along especially since Death can find her anyway, anywhere, anytime. And does.
Like when she’s reassuring her friends she wants nothing to do with former best friend Ben Moorland, who’s returned from god-knows-where, and fails. Miserably.
Instead of maintaining her coveted popularity status, Quincy’s goes down like the Titanic.
Maybe … just maybe … that’s okay.
It seems, perhaps, becoming a grim reaper isn’t just about the dead but more about a much needed shift in Quincy’s priorities—from who she thinks she wants to be to who she really is.
What a ZANY month April has been. Between the unusual weather throughout the country to this amazing adventure called the A to Z Blogging Challenge. When I agreed to participate, I really had no illusions about ever completing the challenge. While I do like to talk, having something new to say every day for a month? That is a whole ‘nother kettle of fish.
Yet, here were are on the lat day of the challenge and I actually managed to complete it successfully. HOORAY FOR ME!
I want to take a quick minute to thank and welcome all the new blog followers my participation has earned me, and I hope I continue to entertain and interest you with my blogging going forward. I have also started following a whole new set of great blogs and look forward to growing and learning alongside all of you as the year moves forward.
Thanks again to everyone who visited during April and I hope to still see and hear from you all come May.
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
3.5 of 5 stars
House of Order may be one of the more gripping, interesting and unusual collections of short stories I have ever read. I have to admit, it took me a little while to “get into” the book, as the MC, Manito, uses quite a bit of Spanish in the stories. It has been far too long since I have read any Spanish, so that held me at arms length for a bit.
Once I got past the feeling of being on the outside looking in, I was able to really sink myself into these short tales as narrated by Manito’s uncle, Neto.
John Paul Jaramillo paints a bleak, but vivid picture of the harshness of Hispanic life after the steel industry closes down. I really like the style he uses — a minimalistic approach as it were, telling and showing us so much with so few words. He holds nothing back, making sure to show us the brutality of the lives they lived. We see the Ortiz family struggle with drugs, alcohol, religion and familial abuse.
At only 108 pages, the stories are short and to the point, but even with their brevity, they speak volumes about what it was like to grow up in that harsh environment, and I really felt like I had a much better understanding of the Hispanic male psyche by the time I finished the last page. I would warn that this is not what I would consider a “happily ever after” type of book. I found myself a bit broody when I was finished — as some of the truths and realities expressed in the book are just that heartbreaking.
I think of all the stories (or chapters), my favorite would me “Little Blue Box”. The story had me laughing out loud and my boyfriend wondering what the heck I was reading that had me so entertained.
Despite being a white, Irish girl, I still felt drawn into the experiences of the characters as if I was living through them alongside Neto and his family.
Overall, I would say I enjoyed this book much more than I expected, and would give it 3.5 of 5 stars.
I would recommend this one to any fan of short story collections and for anyone looking for a glimpse of what life is really like in a Hispanic family.
Wanna win a $50 gift card or an autographed copy of The House of Order?
Well, there are two ways to enter…
- Leave a comment on my blog. One random commenter during this tour will win a $50 gift card. For the full list of participating blogs, visit the official House of Order tour page.
- Enter the Rafflecopter contest! You can enter on the official House of Order tour page–since I can’t host rafflecopter contests on WordPress.
About the author: John Paul Jaramillo grew up in Southern Colorado but now lives, writes and teaches in Springfield, Illinois. He earned his MFA in creative writing (fiction) from Oregon State University and, currently, holds the position of Associate Professor of English in the Arts and Humanities Department of Lincoln Land Community College. Connect with John Paul on his website, Facebook, Twitter or GoodReads.
Get The House of Order on Amazon or Barnes & Noble.
Ahh, to be young again… to not feel the aches and pains of age, or notice the little gray hairs starting to come in at my temples. To be able to look at the world with all the excitement and vigor of a child… what a neat thing that would be, eh?
Now, if I were truly pressed, and had to choose to go back and live my childhood again or stay where I am now, Im not sure I would really go back. I mean, heck, there were a lot of hard life lessons between then and now, some of which I have absolutely no desire to see again. But, there are some moments in my youth, if given the choice, I would decide to live in forever and ever. I would agree to never grow up if I could just experience what I did on a particular day, or feel what I felt at a particular moment.
Then I take a look at my children. My oldest is grown and on his own now, starting a life with his girlfriend and my job where he is concerned is done. My two daughters are still home with me, but the oldest, Casey is 17 and a senior in HS — off to college in the fall and on to adulthood. My youngest daughter, Shelby is 11 (12 June 1st) going on 35, and while she is the one I will get to experience childhood with for just a little longer, soon she will find Mom as boring as the other two did when they got a bit older. But, each time I look at what they have each grown to become, I smile — I am so proud of them, and of me for all the things we overcame and did together.
Being a single parent isn’t easy, and some days I feel a hell of a lot older than my mere 42 years, but when things get hard and I start to feel old, I just look at my kids, spend a bit a time with them, and that youth each of the oozes seems to rub off on me just a little bit, and once more I feel like a little kid, excited by a new sunrise and the prospects of a play date after school.
Thank God enthusiasm and feeling young is contagious! I may never grow up at this rate 🙂
For fun, I thought I would share some before and after pics with you — an illustration of youth, as it were.
This is my very special gang 🙂
WHERE THEY ARE NOW — TIME FLIES!!!
Me and My Little Gang of Youthful Exuberance!!
Like the rest of the participants on the A to Z Blogging Challenge, it was tough to come up with an X word that would not be used by every other participating blog. Good thing I write fiction with historical elements or this would have been a really boring Xylophone post 😛
You may be wondering at this point, “What ‘s a Xebec?” and “Did she make that word up?”
The short answers are a ship, and no, I didn’t.
Let me elaborate a bit 🙂
From Wikipedia: A xebec ( /ˈziːbɛk/ or /zɨˈbɛk/), also spelled zebec, was a Mediterranean sailing ship that was used mostly for trading. It would have a long overhanging bowsprit and protruding mizzen mast. It also can refer to a small, fast vessel of the sixteenth to nineteenth centuries, used almost exclusively in the Mediterranean Sea.
Xebecs were similar to galleys used by Algerian Berber corsairs and Barbary pirates having both lateen sails and oars for propulsion. Early xebecs had two masts; later ones three. Xebecs featured a distinctive hull with pronounced overhanging bow and stern, and rarely displaced more than 200 tons, making them slightly smaller and with slightly fewer guns than frigates of the period.
The protagonist in Call of the Sea, Jashir, the notorious pirate, captains a Xebec.
From CALL OF THE SEA:
“Sails to the stern, Captain!”
The call from the crow’s nest jerked Daniel’s attention toward the topmast and the crewman pointing behind them.
Captain Winters lifted the spyglass, peered through it. “Lateen sails, no colors. Looks like a xebec.” Lowering the glass, his gaze swept to Daniel. “All hands at the ready.”
“All hands at the ready!” Daniel shouted across the deck of the brigantine. “Step handsomely, men!”
The Captain rested a hand on Daniel’s sleeve. “Take the helm, Daniel. I want you at the wheel if there’s to be a fight.”
Daniel nodded, looking to the man he’d grown to admire. “Aye, Captain.”
I bet you feel supremely educated now, don’t you? Okay, maybe not, but at least I managed to come up with a somewhat informative X day posting. Only two more letters to go (is that the finish line I see ahead?)
See you tomorrow 🙂
I thought for W day, I would post my review of the YA novel I just finished titled, WANT. (appropriate, right?)
Let me start by saying this book was absolutely nothing like what I expected when I sat down to read. I have read a fair share of YA books, but WANT is miles above anything I have read from this genre lately.
Stephanie Lawton presents us with a southern world, steeped in tradition and dark secrets. The MC, Julianne is flawed and “real” and I was rooting for her from page one. What a wonderful departure this was from the usual perfect life, beautiful flawless MC’s present in so much of today’s YA fiction.
About halfway through the novel I had worried I wouldn’t be pleased with the ending based on how the story was unfolding, but boy was I wrong. Ms. Lawton drew me into her southern world and had me gnawing my nails as I prayed for Julianne to make the right choices — pick the right man. Don’t even get me going on the hotness of the men — one dark and brooding, one the perfect southern gent (even if he is a Yankee).
While some of the subject matter was deep and emotional, I feel it was well handled and none of the drama read as over the top or gratuitous. All of it lended to the authentic feel to the story.
Really enjoyed this one a great deal and will be looking for more titles by this talented new author.
Check out these cool Printable bookmarks for fellow Inkspell author, Stephanie Lawton
While I was pondering what to post today, I started to flip through my brain for words starting with V that would translate into a excerpt for you all from Call of the Sea — Then it hit me. Victory! what a great V word. Everyone likes winning.
So, with that in mind, I began to think on what scene I could share to illustrate the theme of VICTORY. The irony of this snipit is that it shows us that even though you can claim victory, sometimes you still don’t actually win. Below is an example of what I mean, brought to you by CALL OF THE SEA and Ellie Winters.
The ship drew closer.
A tingle started at the base of Ellie’s neck and trickled down her spine. The burning ember of familiarity sparked to life in her chest. Her heart froze when the vessel finally raised its colors. The brig flew the flags of Winters Shipping—The Siren’s Call.
Ellie dropped the spyglass and her hands grasped the rail, fingers curled so tight her knuckles whitened.
Papa! She took a deep breath, rolled the sudden tension from her shoulders, and called down to the deck. “She’s a friendly, Captain!” Was her father really aboard?
While the brig was her father’s first ship and his favorite, he did own a few others. Ellie scrambled for the spyglass, chest tight. With shaking fingers, she lifted it to her eye and searched the deck for her father. Would he even recognize her?
She sat back, gathered her knees to her chest and hugged them tight. Maybe I can just hide up here until they go away.
Ellie wrinkled her nose. She didn’t want that either. If she were brutally honest with herself, she wanted to see her father, missed him more than she cared to admit.
As The Siren’s Call drew closer, she was able to make out the shapes scrambling about the deck. The olive-skinned men with flowing pants and bare chests were not Papa’s crew. Her brow furrowed and her heart plummeted.
Ellie jumped to her feet and pointed across the waves. “Pirates, Captain!” Pulse hammering in her ears, Ellie climbed out of the crow’s nest and hurried down the rigging. “Pirates have taken The Siren’s Call!”
A panting Captain Harris reached Ellie as her feet touched the decking. Worry lines etched his forehead. “Ye sure, boy?”
Ellie nodded. “Positive, Captain.”
“Man the cannons! Prepare to come about!” Captain Harris withdrew his pistol, checked it with narrowed eyes before stuffing it back into his belt. He glanced at Ellie. “Arm yourself and get on the wheel, boy. Send Barry to me at the cannons.”
Ellie bobbed her head and bolted for the quarterdeck. Tendrils of panic wormed their way through her stomach. Where the hell is Papa?
Upon reaching the quarterdeck, Ellie fell to her knees and lifted the heavy chest lid. She grabbed her cutlass from inside and sheathed it at her hip. Slamming the lid shut again, she lurched to her feet. Ellie took the helm from Barry, sending him to the captain. Wrapping damp palms around the wheel, she turned her attention to the oncoming ship.
Their sloop would be no match for the heavy guns of The Siren’s Call. She’d have to outmaneuver them to have a chance. Ellie pulled hard on the wheel. The ship responded with a flap of canvas, swinging to port. Her eyes sought Captain Harris. The painful realization they were about to fire upon her father’s ship hit her with the force of a tidal wave.
Harris raised his sword.
Ellie held her breath. Please don’t let Papa be aboard.
“Fire all cannons!” Captain Harris swung his arm downward. The cannons answered his command with a deafening concussion. Smoke exploded from the ends.
Screams of both anger and pain mixed with the sound of splintering wood as the shots found purchase.
The muffled shout of “Fire!” rang from across the water. A second volley of guns rent the air. Gunpowder burned Ellie’s nostrils and stung her eyes. The quarterdeck stairway exploded to her right, a jagged chunk of wood grazing her shoulder and throwing her to the ground. Searing heat radiated down to her fingertips. Gritting her teeth, she crawled to the other side of the helm, pulled at the wheel’s smooth handles.
The Surf Runner veered hard to port.
Ellie scrambled to her feet.
“Reload the cannons!” Captain Harris’s voice carried to the helm. “Swing ’er about, Ellis!”
Ellie glanced over her shoulder, made a quick distance calculation. Her gaze swung up the rigging. She yanked on the steerage, eyes glued to the sails. Right on cue, the sheets of white canvas caught wind and snapped to attention. The ship sliced through the waves in a tight arc until The Surf Runner faced The Siren’s Call.
Taking a deep breath, Ellie clamped down on her apprehension and steeled herself for another pass.
I wanted to take today to tantalize you with a short excerpt from my soon to be released debut novel, Call of the Sea, set for release June 21, 2012.
I think this snipit aptly defines some of the most basic human urges — Desire and Passion.
A knock sounded at the shed door, jerking his head upright.
Who the hell would be out in this weather?
Daniel pushed back from the table and got to his feet. Curiosity piqued, he swung open the door.
Light spilled out the entryway to reveal Ellie, clad in a dripping wet nightgown, shivering, arms wrapped tightly around herself. Strands of wet hair hung in her wide blue eyes. Her teeth chattered.
His breath hitched. “What are you doing, El?”
“I’m not entirely sure, frankly.” She glanced down at her bare toes, wiggled them before swinging her gaze back up to him. “Can I come in?”
Daniel held the door open for her. “Of course.”
Ellie sucked her lower lip between her teeth, glanced back at the cottage. “Thanks.” She stepped into the shed.
“Is everything all right?” Concern laced his tone. He shut the door and twisted to face her.
She stood in the center of the tiny space, cheeks stained pink, and a growing pool of water at her feet. Her hands fretted with each other at her waist. The thin wet nightgown clung to her curves, leaving nothing of her shape to his imagination, as if he needed the help.
Daniel groaned and snatched a blanket from the bedpost, shoving it toward her. “Here, put this around your shoulders before you catch your death.” And drive me insane.
His fingers itched to touch, explore the bounty laid out before him. He swallowed hard.
Ellie wrapped the blanket around her shoulders and snuggled into it.
Daniel lunged for a chair, pulling it away from the rickety table. He brushed a hand over the seat to free it of any accumulated grime and offered it to Ellie. “Please, sit.”
She sank into the chair. Her doe-eyed gaze swept the modest space. “I’ve not been in here since Papa let you take it over. This is nice. Cozy.”
Daniel shoved his hands in his pockets. What is she doing here? “Thanks.” He noticed the cooled mug sitting on the table. He cringed at his lack of social graces. “Can I get you something to drink?”
“No, no.” Ellie floated up from the seat. She closed the space between them. The look in her eyes, swirling pools of sapphire, hypnotized him. “I’m not thirsty.”
Under her spell, Daniel gaped as the blanket fell away. Her calloused fingertip traced his lower lip and her eyes filled with wonder.
Daniel’s hands surrounded her waist before he realized he’d moved. Her scent, a heady mix of lilac and peppermint spice, wafted up to him. His desire surged. “Ellie?”
The question hung in the air between them for endless seconds. In silent reply, she lifted on her toes and pressed her soft warm mouth against his.
One of my favorite things about Ellie, is how quick she is to give in to some of her urges.
Thanks for reading. Feel free to share your thoughts.