Friday, April 22, 2011

Happy Good Friday to one and all. The schools are pretty much out around here so there were families everywhere when we took time off from our computers to go out to lunch at the new Mexican place in town, Lime. A cute little cafeteria type place where you order and they bring it out to you. Lots of food and good food too at a reasonable price. Their sign says, “So Mexican we can’t open in Arizona!” Steve took a picture of it to send to a friend in AZ. We sat outside and enjoyed the beautiful breezy day while we ate.

I was outside by the canal this morning finishing up a book I’ll write about in a moment and I paused to just quietly say thanks for the beauty of the area we live in. I was laying my head back on the chair and looking up into the canopy of cypress trees I was sitting under and thought I saw our cat asleep way up in a crook of the truck and a large branch. Thank goodness it was not Sophie, but a napping raccoon. I went in to get the binoculars and Steve to come look too. The raccoon was sprawled across the branches sleeping and opened his eyes long enough to look down at us and yawn and went back to sleep. Reminded me so much of Sophie when her nap is being interrupted, but lots bigger incisors! There was also a squirrel having a late breakfast of green coconut in the palm tree next to him. At one point while I was watching the squirrel he put his tail across his back so that he looked like Stripe from the old Gremlins movie. I laughed aloud and I swear he looked down at me and bared his teeth in a grin! If one sits back and watches nature around us it is astonishing. Sadly, I’ve really not done that much in my life. I’ve been too busy doing everything else to slow down and enjoy it. Perhaps there is some “goodness” to be found out of the health issues I am experiencing that have forced me to slow down. At least I am trying to view it that way, especially when I am frustrated and want to do something and haven’t the energy to do it!

Okay – now to the book I was reading when I spotted the raccoon. I was vicariously on the California coast near Monterey rather than sitting in the backyard in South Florida as I was finishing up a wonderful mermaid tale. I have been enchanted with mermaid and selkie tales since I was a kid so when I opened a box of review books from Houghton Mifflin and there was L. K. Madigan’s The Mermaid’s Mirror I knew it was going on my “gotta read” shelf. Since I have stepped back from reviewing for VOYA or LMC for awhile and reading what I want, I have been focusing on fantasy and Christmas “stuff” – alternating between the two. Imagine being a teen drawn to water with a father who was once an avid surfer and who will not step foot into the water or let her learn to surf. His fear of going into the water is painfully evident, but the cause of it is something Lena has never learned. But when she turns 16 the draw of the ocean near their California beach town is too much for her and she finds herself awaking from sleep walking on the beach. It is as if the ocean is calling to her in her dreams. She can hear it singing to her. Her boyfriend and best friend surf and Lena watches them from the beach and sometimes swims, but never surfs. Or at least, until she can’t stand it anymore and accepts her boyfriend’s sister’s offer to teach her. Lena is a natural on a board. No surprise as she is instinctually at home in the to sea and can read waves without thinking about it. She discovers why her father will not go into the sea and how her mother died – both of which change her life forever. She takes the chance of surfing one of the most dangerous stretches of beach to find the mermaid she is sure she saw in the ocean days before and who is drawing her to the sea. Lena almost dies in her attempt to surf the waves at Magic Crest Cove but instead she staggers out of the water clutching the key to her future and her past. A beautifully done coming of age and romance. I didn’t want it to end.

For any of you who have been reading my blog for a long time, you know I am a major Audrey Hepburn fan so when Margaret Cardillo’s debut children’s book, Just Being Audrey, from HarperCollins arrived, I had to read it immediately. The delightful, mellow illustrations by Julia Denos bring Audrey’s impish beauty to life visually for the young girls who have no idea who Audrey Hepburn was but know the “look” even today. This graceful gazelle of a woman enchanted us from the moment we saw her on the screen and humbled us with her humanitarian efforts when she was no longer acting. Quirky, often self-conscious, but also stubborn and sure of what she wanted, Hepburn left an impact on the world such that I am delighted to see her life introduced via a picture book. Perhaps it will pique both the mothers reading the book and the daughters to find out more about her, especially her later in life work with UNICEF, the organization that was there at the end of WWII when she was a hungry child, hiding with her family and 40 other people. This one goes in my personal collection to be shared with my granddaughters and hopefully we’ll watch Hepburn movies together when they are older.

Lastly, my Easter time Christmas reading! Heather Graham’s Home in Time for Christmas caught my attention because of the time travel romance that reminded me of my favorite Jude Devereaux novel, A Knight in Shining Armor But, instead of a nobleman coming back through a time warp, in Heather Graham's delightful time travel romance it is a young Revolutionary War soldier and author who appears in the middle of the road as Melody is driving home to spend Christmas with her parents. He is dressed in Revolutionary War-era clothes and has no clue what a car is or where he is. Instead of taking the man she “softly” hit with her car to the ER, she takes him home for Christmas. As one would imagine, she falls in love with the man but there is a contemporary rival for her heart who she loves but is not in love with. The best part of this book is Melody’s quirky parents. Her mother is a Catholic Wiccan and her father is an avid inventor who periodically sets fire to his workshop! Once they realize Jake truly is from the past and he needs to get home for Christmas to check on his sister, they are in on figuring out how to open the time portal. What fun to ponder time travel. I never tire of reading books that address it.

Now, since this is supposed to be a day off, I am going float in the pool for awhile!