The Great Alone by Kristen Hannah
Another excellent book from Kristen Hannah (author of The Nightingale), The Great Alone is beautifully written (the Alaskan imagery is exceptional) with multi-faceted characters and a riveting story. Even though it doesn’t have the sweeping, historical power of The Nightingale, it’s still a deeply emotional and compelling book. I highly recommend it.
Enjoy! Pat Keelyn
Back Cover Blurb
Unpredictable. Unforgiving. Untamed.
For a family in crisis, the ultimate test of survival.
Ernt Allbright, a former POW, comes home from the Vietnam war a changed and volatile man. When he loses yet another job, he makes an impulsive decision: he will move his family north, to Alaska, where they will live off the grid in America’s last true frontier.
Thirteen-year-old Leni, a girl coming of age in a tumultuous time, caught in the riptide of her parents’ passionate, stormy relationship, dares to hope that a new land will lead to a better future for her family. She is desperate for a place to belong. Her mother, Cora, will do anything and go anywhere for the man she loves, even if means following him into the unknown.
At first, Alaska seems to be the answer to their prayers. In a wild, remote corner of the state, they find a fiercely independent community of strong men and even stronger women. The long, sunlit days and the generosity of the locals make up for the Allbrights’ lack of preparation and dwindling resources.
But as winter approaches and darkness descends on Alaska, Ernt’s fragile mental state deteriorates and the family begins to fracture. Soon the perils outside pale in comparison to threats from within. In their small cabin, covered in snow, blanketed in eighteen hours of night, Leni and her mother learn the terrible truth: they are on their own. In the wild, there is no one to save them but themselves.
In this unforgettable portrait of human frailty and resilience, Kristin Hannah reveals the indomitable character of the modern American pioneer and the spirit of a vanishing Alaska—a place of incomparable beauty and danger. The Great Alone is a daring, beautiful, stay-up-all-night story about love and loss, the fight for survival, and the wildness that lives in both man and nature.
Last year, I wrote about my mother. It’s strange how things you don’t expect surface through writing. If you’re interested, go take a look.
This year, however, I want to write about being a mom. Maybe we’ll both learn something unexpected. So here it goes.
I’ve never been particularly maternal. As a young teenager, I decided after my first babysitting job that I wasn’t going to do that again. Instead, I went out and got a job waiting tables so no one could rope me into watching kids for spending money. Also, I never planned to have children of my own. (Okay, I was a teenager, and the more my family rolled their eyes when I made this claim, the more stubborn about “no kids for me” I became.) But, I pretty much kept saying and believing it well into my twenties.
I was twenty-six and had been married about six years when I got pregnant. It wasn’t planned, but then, sometimes the best things that happen aren’t.
I will admit that as soon as I found out I was expecting, I was excited. (Oh, and did my sisters and mother have a field day with that after listening for years to my proclamations of childlessness.)
The most vivid memory I have, however, is from the day I brought my infant daughter home from the hospital. I put her in her crib, and for a moment, stood watching her sleep. It struck me in that moment, so strongly that I can still remembers the panic that rose up, tightening in my chest.
I never wanted to love someone that much.
Yes, after years of not wanting a child, I was now more vulnerable than I’d ever been in my life— simple because of the strength of the love I felt for this tiny creature. Looking back, I think a part of me knew that I would love her like this, and maybe I didn’t want to be that defenseless.
My daughter is now all grown up with children of her own. Being her mom did not suddenly make me the most maternal or domestic woman on the planet. I didn’t bake cookies or host kiddie tea parties. I was a working mom, with all that entailed, and I loved it. Having a child, however, change me in one significant way. I am totally at my daughter’s mercy. Still.
Considering the above, let’s shift gears a bit. For those of you who’ve read my books, I’m guessing my revelations is surprising. A majority of my books are populated by children. Even my thrillers revolve around kids. Why? Well, I posted a bit about that when talking about my A Mother’s Heart series. (Why A Mother’s Heart) Other than what I say there, however, I’ve yet to figure it out.
So, Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there, and please, feel free to share your “mom” stories in the comment section.
In honor of Mother’s Day, I wanted to read a book about a mom. Also, because I’ve been reading so much heavy (but great) fiction and nonfiction lately, I wanted to read something lighter, something that would make me laugh. Thus, Wine in My Sippy Cup by Deborah Dove, a book I’ve had on my eReader for months.
You all know what’s coming, right? Since I only review books I love?
I really didn’t know what to expect from this book. It’s not my usual genre—humor? chick-lit?—but I loved the title, so I picked it up. Well, this book is delightful. It’s wonderfully written, funny, and insightful. Anyone who’s ever had to raise, watch, or even deal with children on a daily basis will recognize the heroine’s plight. It will make you laugh, but will also make you recognize a few truths about being a mom and a wife. One of my favorite passages . . .
I hand Hugh the phone and walk him to the door. Just as I’m about to close the door, he lurches forward, grabs my breast and plants a sloppy kiss on me. “I’ve always liked you Lizzie,” he slurs. “You’re so fun.”
“And you’re so drunk,” I say, pushing him out the door. “Just go home and let’s pretend this never happened.”
I close the door and sigh. You know your life is pretty pathetic when you get felt up by drunken tootsie roll and your first thought, however horrible it might be, is ‘at least someone stills find me attractive’.
This is not just a funny book, however. It’s also heart-warming and poignant (I shed a few tears) as Liz reflects, and eventually comes to understand not only what it is to be a wife and mother, but to be a woman and human. Yes, I loved it, and I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I did.
Enjoy! Pat Keelyn
Back Cover Blurb
A sophisticated, put together career woman prior to having kids, now Liz Cartwright is lucky to go to the bathroom by herself, much less get out of the house wearing matching shoes and a clean shirt. While she is preoccupied with the sometimes mind-numbing responsibilities of motherhood, her husband is becoming increasingly distant and preoccupied with work, giving Liz the distinct impression that she is losing her husband along with her sense of identity. Armed with a book on spicing up her sex life purchased at a sex toy party and the help of her three best girlfriends, Liz embarks on an all-out attempt to rejuvenate her marriage and find personal fulfillment.
However, things in Liz’s life have a tendency to fail with hilarious results, and her attempts to woo her husband are no exceptions. Despite numerous setbacks—a pantiless tennis court seduction gone awry, a stolen vibrator and an unfortunate incident involving a thong—Liz is determined to reclaim her romantic mojo, until a chance encounter with her first love and a hobby that inadvertently turns into a job opportunity make Liz reevaluate what love inside marriage means and the price she is willing to pay to reclaim her sense of self-worth.
The Black Angel (The St. Ives Family Series: Book One) by Barbara Samuel
If you been following my book reviews, you know that Barbara Samuel is one of my go-to authors. Whenever I can’t find anything that appeals to me, when nothing I start to read grabs me, she is one of the authors I know will quickly pull me into a story. Whether it’s one of her contemporary romances, women’s fiction, or historical stories, I’ve never been disappointed in one of her books. And The Black Angel is no exception. This is simply a lovely book that will make you want to curl up on the couch and read all day . . . or well into the night.
As the first in the series, it’s only .99, and I already have Night of Fire (Book #2) on my eReader for the next time I’m searching for something to read.
Enjoy! Pat Keelyn
Back Cover Blurb
Ardor once foolishly led Lady Adriana St. Ives into the arms of a rake, an affair that cost her everything she held dear. Though that was five years ago, this golden English beauty still vows that no man will ever again ignite the sensual passion hidden deep in her soul–not even her new husband, Tynan Spenser, Earl of Glencove, a darkly handsome and rich Irish rogue.
Known as “The Black Angel” for his wild and lascivious ways, Tynan is as determined to melt his icy bride as she is to resist his seductive charms. Vowing that she will be his in just one hundred kisses, Tynan sets out to win her with a kiss each day–a challenge Riana is sure she can withstand. But the willful beauty has no idea of the power of a single kiss…
I’m obsessed with apocalypse fiction. (I’m sure a psychiatrist would have a field day with that confession. LOL!) I’ve been reading it for as long as I can remember. So, when a friend mentioned that Nora Roberts had a new apocalypse book out, I was intrigued. I mean, Nora writes wonderfully warm, rich romances . . . I couldn’t imagine her making the leap to the dark side of fiction with an end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it story, and of course, I had to check it out.
So, what did I think? I was impressed. Year One holds its own with the very best of apocalypse fiction: Robert McCammon’s, Swan Song, Stephen King’s, The Stand, and any other number of really good apocalyptic books.
Nora Roberts is an absolute master storyteller. (She’s has, after all, published over 225 books.) This shouldn’t surprise any of her gad-zillion fans, but if you don’t read romance, you might not be that familiar with her. She, however, pulls off this story brilliantly – yes, I’m a bit jealous. Great characters – always the hallmark of good book – an excellent and compelling plot, and very strong writing.
Unless you hate the genre, and I do understand that end-of-the-world stories are not for everyone, I highly recommend you read, or listen (as I did) to Year One.
Back Cover Copy
It began on New Year’s Eve.
The sickness came on suddenly, and spread quickly. The fear spread even faster. Within weeks, everything people counted on began to fail them. The electrical grid sputtered; law and government collapsed—and more than half of the world’s population was decimated.
Where there had been order, there was now chaos. And as the power of science and technology receded, magic rose up in its place. Some of it is good, like the witchcraft worked by Lana Bingham, practicing in the loft apartment she shares with her lover, Max. Some of it is unimaginably evil, and it can lurk anywhere, around a corner, in fetid tunnels beneath the river—or in the ones you know and love the most.
As word spreads that neither the immune nor the gifted are safe from the authorities who patrol the ravaged streets, and with nothing left to count on but each other, Lana and Max make their way out of a wrecked New York City. At the same time, other travelers are heading west too, into a new frontier. Chuck, a tech genius trying to hack his way through a world gone offline. Arlys, a journalist who has lost her audience but uses pen and paper to record the truth. Fred, her young colleague, possessed of burgeoning abilities and an optimism that seems out of place in this bleak landscape. And Rachel and Jonah, a resourceful doctor and a paramedic who fend off despair with their determination to keep a young mother and three infants in their care alive.
In a world of survivors where every stranger encountered could be either a savage or a savior, none of them knows exactly where they are heading, or why. But a purpose awaits them that will shape their lives and the lives of all those who remain.
The end has come. The beginning comes next.
Furies of Calderon by Jim Butcher
I read Jim Butcher’s Dresden books years ago and really enjoyed them. The Codex Alera series, however, are a different genre of book. The Dresden books are urban fantasy or supernatural mysteries. IOW, the books are set in the “now” with magic incorporated. Furies of Calderon however is high-fantasy. So, I was a bit hesitant about jumping into the series. But, I’m glad I got over my hesitation.
I really enjoyed this book. Strong characters and writing, a great plot, and Butcher’s totally mastery of his story. I downloaded a copy from audible, but then went and bought the eBook as well. I was just too impatient to only listen to the book, so I went back and forth, depending on whether I could listen or read. Now, I don’t know whether to download the second book in the series — which I plan to do — in audio or as an eBook. Maybe I’ll do both again.
From the Back Cover
For a thousand years, the people of Alera have united against the aggressive and threatening races that inhabit the world, using their unique bond with the furies—elementals of earth, air, fire, water, wood, and metal. But in the remote Calderon Valley, the boy Tavi struggles with his lack of furycrafting. At fifteen, he has no wind fury to help him fly, no fire fury to light his lamps. Yet as the Alerans’ most savage enemy—the Marat horde—return to the Valley, Tavi’s courage and resourcefulness will be a power greater than any fury, one that could turn the tides of war…
I don’t usually make New Year resolutions, because, well, I never follow through on them. However, this year, my niece Christine, who is also a writer, posted that she has created a No Regret List. Similar to a Bucket List, the items on her No Regret List are goals she wants to at least attempt to accomplish in her lifetime. I love this idea and mulled it over for a few days. What would be on my No Regrets List?
Well, I kept coming back to more general items. IOW, if I died tomorrow, what would I really regret not having done? There is one thing that overrides everything else; I want to write more and faster. I have dozens of partials, ideas, and synopses on my list of “What to write next.” And when I say dozens, I’m talking maybe 4 or 5 dozen. All of the stories would go untold if I don’t write them. The problem is which book idea to choose next.
So, here is a (very) partial list of stories I’d like to tell. I’d love input from you of what to write after the first on my list, which is what I’m currently working.
Writing as Patricia Lewin
Out of the Woods: This is the book I’m currently working on. It’s the third book in my Erin Baker thriller series, which of all the characters I’ve created in my books is my favorite. I don’t just like Erin, I want to be her. The series itself surprised me, however. I didn’t plan to create a series, but as I said, Erin captured my interest after the first book, Out of Reach. I realized that her story was just beginning and I had to find out more about her. Thus, I wrote Out of Time and now Out of the Woods. I’ll release it in early 2018.
Sequel to Blind Run: When I first finished Blind Run, I had a sequel all plotted out. Unfortunately, my publisher didn’t want me to create a series. And since I was under deadline for Out of Reach and then Out of Time, the Blind Run sequel never got written. Since releasing Blind Run in eBook format, however, I’ve gotten hundreds requests for a sequel — which of course thrills me. So soon. I promise. Soon.
Writing as Patricia Keelyn
A Mother for Meghan. Years ago, I submitted a partial and synopsis to my agent about a woman raising her best friend’s daughter. I never got to write that book – again, there were the gatekeepers – but the book has always been at the back of my mind, and now I can write it. It would be the third book in the A Mother’s Heart series, which explores a woman’s love for family as well as romantic love. Something I never tire of writing about.
So, those are the top three books on my mind and the ones I plan to finish this year – let’s see if I can do it.
Meanwhile, I’m always interested to hear your thoughts on what you’d like to see next from me. I have a partial about Eric from Loving Lindsey and Lynn from Keeping Katie just to name a couple. Let me know if there are other characters in my books you’d like to read about, or maybe I’ll post the first chapters of these books and you all can vote on what I write next.
This was so successful last year during the holidays–I got so many wonderful suggestions– that I thought we should do it again.
Tell me what’s on your eReader for a chance to win an Amazon Gift Card.
Just post below between now and January 15th, and if I pick your recommendation, I’ll send you the gift certificate. IOW, convince me that what you’re reading is great. That easy. So give yourself something for the holidays.
P.S. If I get 25 comments, I’ll up the gift certificate to $25. (Last year I ended up giving away two $15 Gift Certificates.)
As for what I’m reading . . .
I’m reading something a little different this year, Furies of Calderon by Jim Butcher (author of the Dresden Files). Has anyone else read it?
I really enjoyed the Dresden books, so I picked this up from audible and started listening to it. Well . . . that was way to slow because it grabbed me right away, and I don’t drive enough. So, I had to pick up the eBook as well, and now I’m going back and forth. If you enjoy fantasy, this is a good one.
Enjoy the season and don’t forget to let me know what you’re reading.
I discovered an excellent new (to me) writer a couple of weeks ago — though I have to admit her name is so familiar, I keep thinking we must have met somewhere in the labyrinth of the writer’s world: a conference, workshop, or publisher event.
Anyway, it doesn’t matter.
Somehow, and I don’t remember that either, a copy of Stillhouse Lake showed up on my eReader. No, I don’t think it was magic; it was probably a promotion of some kind where I downloaded the book and then promptly forgot about it. Well . . . for some reason, I started reading it despite the fact I was already in the middle of two books and an audio book. Let me tell you, I was hooked from the very beginning and the two other books, that were good, got put on hold until I finished Stillhouse Lake.
This is such a well written, tightly plotted book with compelling characters. It really is one of the best suspense novels I’ve read this year. I highly recommend it. Oh, and I’ve already preordered the second book in the series (Killman Creek) which comes out on December 14th. I can’t wait!
So, after you read it, let me know what you think in the comments section below.