My son and I read together every night. He’s an avid reader (like his mom) and he does a lot of independent reading as well, but every night we read a chapter or two from whatever book series we’re working on. Right now, we’re making our way through the second book from the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan. Man, I had no idea what I was getting myself into! These books are excellent and they are chalk full of Greek mythology. My son and I are both getting schooled! Highly recommended reading.
Another series we completed recently were The Chronicles of Prydain, written in the 1960’s by Lloyd Alexander. The second book in the series, The Black Cauldron, was made into an animated feature in 1985, but the books are much darker and infinitely better than the movie. These were some of my favorites as a kid and my son loved them.
And last but not least, we read The Dark is Rising Sequence by Susan Cooper. Another one of my favorite childhood reads, I’ve re-read this series as an adult several times. The story is compelling and weaves Arthurian legend into an epic battle between good and evil, with a group of children playing important roles in saving the human race. In 2007, a movie adaptation was made, The Seeker. I was so excited, but alas, as is often the case, the movie did not live up to the wonders of its print predecessor. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that the movie was awful and that anyone who’s seen the movie and is skeptical about the books will find very little resemblance between the two.
We’ve read more titles, but these have been some of my favorites so far. I love sharing books I love with my children and its especially fun to revisit some of my childhood picks as an adult. YA authors are amazing storytellers!
I love a good psychological thriller and after reading Tami Hoag’s Cold Cold Heart, I was hooked. Cold Cold Heart picks up where The 9th Girl (a Kovac/Liska detective novel) left off. Hoag’s previous book followed Detectives Kovac and Liska as they hunted serial killer Doc Holiday. Unlike the previous detective novels, however, Cold Cold Heart follows the physical and psychological recovery and struggles of Dana Nolan. Nolan survived her ordeal with Doc Holiday, killing him and ending his reign of terror. And while its true that Doc Holiday won’t have any future victims, his torment of Dana Nolan continues. Dana’s lost large portions of her memory, including those of her torture, though she suffers from severe PTSD and physical scars that serve as a daily reminder of her ordeal. Unable to return to the life she’d created for herself, she must return to her childhood home and try to find a way to begin again.
But Dana’s homecoming is anything but peaceful. The mysterious disappearance of her high school friend becomes the center of her new world and leads into dangerous territory. Unable to rely on her memory, Dana tries to piece together the circumstances of her friends’ final days, a task that will put her sanity and even her life in grave danger.
After finishing this book, I read a number of others that Hoag had written, most of which were more traditional crime/detective novels than Cold Cold Heart. I love her characters and I love that she writes in series, allowing me to revisit my favorite characters in various stages of their lives. In particular, her Kovac/Liska novels are full of murder, intrigue and lots of great forensic particulars which I find irresistible.
The mark was in her sights. I was the mark. As I strolled by her kiosk in the mall, she took two easy steps in my direction, arms spread as if to embrace me, her long lost friend. With one hand she guided me toward the kiosk and with the other hand she slipped a small packet into mine. “This is a free sample of our latest body cleansing system” she said. Her dark eyes and exotic accent caressed my senses as she drew me in. Predator and prey. I was her prey.
An hour and a half later, I would begin to dissect what had just happened to me. As I walked toward the mall exit, arms laden with unintended purchases of miracle creams and cleansers. I frowned. Was I really that easy? I was the mark. And my beautiful new best friend Julie saw me coming a mile away. She recognized my mom dress hidden under a gray hoodie, the tired eyes, the hair haphazardly thrown into an amateurish ponytail. She knew immediately that I would be hers.
Julie (my new best friend, Julie) pulled up a chair and asked me to unload my burdens so she could pamper me. She asked me about my life. Was I married? Did I have any kids? She listened to my story about job hunting and motherhood with a sympathetic ear. She knew exactly what I needed, and with stolen glances around her, she promised me gifts that her manager would kill her for giving me. But Julie liked me. I was special.
As Julie cleansed, exfoliated, and educated me, her hand squeezing my shoulder occasionally as if I was the best thing that had come into her life, I was completely aware that I was being hustled. Julie was a professional. She built rapport, gaining my trust, relating to my problems, pointing out similarities in our lives. She pointed out how important skin care really is, how ironic it is that women spend so much on clothes and shoes but will not invest in products meant to care for their faces, the one thing that could not be replaced. I nodded in agreement as Julie illustrated her point by drawing attention to her flawless skin and her everyday clothes. But as I gave her a once over, I couldn’t help but notice the MK emblazoned on her belt.
“Isn’t your belt Michael Kors?” I asked, sheepishly, realizing that I’d caught her as she shifted nervously from one foot to the other. “It was a gift” she said and quickly moved the topic back to me and my needs.
More than an hour into our blossoming relationship, I started to really understand the masterful way in which Julie employed every sales tactic known to man, both subtle and grotesquely blatant, to lure me in. She made me offers. She had me peak over her shoulder at the product website rather than saying the prices of the products out loud, commiserating with me over the price (and extolling the value) of these magical products. She dodged my questions about her life, bringing the story always back to me and my need to be a woman first, then a mother, then a wife. It all sounded really good and despite my miniscule budget and my complete awareness that I was being worked, I fell for it. Twice.
Even after my first reluctant purchase, Julie kept right after me. She had done a product demonstration on one side of my face but as I started to leave, she pulled me back. She couldn’t possibly let me go without evening out the skin on the other side of my face. That second treatment stayed on my face for more than 30 minutes as Julie expertly explored the bounds of my budget. I was trapped. Only after my second even more reluctant purchase, did she acquiesce and begin wiping the mask off my cheek. In my 90-minute sojourn, Julie had sold me two products and “given” me another seven. She made me promise her that I’d come back in four weeks and give her a big hug, because we were friends.
Twenty-fours later, I’m still scratching my head. Beautiful Julie, with her horribly obvious persuasion tactics, had succeeded in her mission. And despite any misgivings I might have over the experience, the shiny jars of miracle cream occupy a place of honor on my countertop.
I'm generally pulled in a million different directions and I wouldn't trade it for the world. Here's a glimpse of my life - hope you enjoy it! And if there's a big lapse between posts, well, that's the way life goes in Amy's world.