It’s a wonder

“You can never really know someone completely.  That’s why it’s the most terrifying thing in the world, really – taking someone on faith, hoping they’ll take you on faith too.  It’s such a precarious balance, it’s a wonder we do it at all.”

-Libba Bray, A Great and Terrible Beauty

Forever

Forever is the tale of Cormac O’Connor, a man who lives forever.  His story begins in Ireland in the early 1700s, where he and his families live under false names to avoid religious discrimination.  Robert Carson (Cormac’s pseudonym) is just a typical boy as far as he is concerned.  He goes to school and learns to smith with his father…until his mother dies in a tragic carriage accident.  Once she is gone, his father reveals to him his real identity and their Celtic beliefs.  Other villagers suspect that the Carsons may be Papists despite their apparent devotion to Protestantism.  Because of this suspicion, Robert’s father is murderer over a horse.  Due to a pagan law, Cormac is bound to avenge his father’s death.  He is to pursue the murder to the ends of the earth and all of his male children.  Cormac leaves his home to find the Earl of Warren, the man responsible for his father’s death, who has left for New York.

Cormac follows the Earl to New York, befriending a printer on the ship, whom he lives with and works for after arriving in New York.  Cormac searches for the Earl until he believes he will fail in his task.  Finally, he finds him and fulfills his duty, believing that he is released.  Unfortunately he encounters the Earl’s wife, who is pregnant, on her way out of New York.  He continues living his life normally until he becomes involved in a revolution incited by fellow Irishmen and slaves.  In an attempt to save a befriended slave, Cormac is shot and he is sure he has died, until he wakes in a cave outside of Manhattan.

In the cave, Cormac learns that he has been saved and given immortal life as long as he remains in Manhattan.  Although he will feel pain if wounded, he will not die.  He is charged to truly live and only then will he be admitted to the Otherworld to be united with his mother and father.  He is told that if he leaves Manhattan, it will be a form of suicide and he will be barred from the Otherworld.  There is a light at the end of the tunnel that is his apparently eternal life.  After he has truly lived, he will meet a dark-skinned woman whose body is adorned with spirals. 

Cormac continues his life fighting in wars, watching New York City become what it is today and finding work that he truly loves.  He never stops searching for the dark-skinned woman.  He eventually finds her, encourages her to take a full time job and improve her life.  They have a rocky relationship at first and neither of them reveals too much of themselves to the other.  When Cormac discovers Delfina’s spirals, he knows she is the one.  Unfortunately, not only does he find Delfina, but also another Warren living in Manhattan.  He is still bound to bring the line to an end and must kill William Warren.  Once Cormac settles this business, he feels that he is free to move on to the other world.  He plans to confess his life to Delfina, but the tragedy of 9/11 severely detours his plan.  Delfina works in one of the towers hit and Cormac frantically scours the city looking for her.  He eventually finds her in a hospital where she is recovering.  He smuggles her out of the hospital and takes her to the cave where he was given his eternal life.  He tells her his story and his plan to move onto the Otherworld.  Delfina is less than thrilled with this news and refuses to help his cross over to the Otherworld.  In the end, Delfina’s resolve crumbles and she and Cormac make love in the cave, opening the door for him to cross.  He has the opportunity, but instead chooses to take Delfina’s hand and reenter the city to love her forever.

I really loved this book up until the point when he died and was brought back.  The story was more compelling and I had more of the “can’t put it down feeling”.  The story doesn’t necessarily deteriorate from there, but it becomes a bit harder to follow because it lacks the continuity that I had come to love.  There were new characters and those characters changed more often and seemed less pivotal to the story than those prior to his death.  Part of this is due to the fact that Hamill has to cover quite a chunk of time between Cormac’s death and his meeting Delfina.  The story seems to flow better once Delfina makes her appearance, but maybe that was just me realizing that I could finally see the light at the end of the tunnel.  Overall, I really loved the book and highly recommend it, just be patient getting through the middle portion and know that you’ll eventually get to the happy ending.

Writing Wednesday

Molly sat there biding her time until she had met the conversation quota and she could leave.  She had agreed to dinner with her grandparents despite all of her raw emotions.  It had been less than a month since the move, which was so much harder than anticipated.  She thought she was ready to say goodbye to the relationship, the apartment she’d barely settled into and most of all, him.  But she wasn’t.  It was anything but a clean break.

Her grandparents provided random topics for distraction, but then later delved deeper.  What were her plans?  Was there hope of reconciliation?  Then they talked about their own break up and their courtship over 50 years ago.  This is miserable, why would I want to be talking about this and why would I want to be listening to this?

But then, it all changed.

“I remember the first time I went to visit her.  She lived pretty far from me so I took the bus and then walked to her house.  I spent the whole day there.  When I was getting ready to leave, her mother asked if I wanted to take a walk out back.  I politely said, “No” although I was very confused.  You see, her family didn’t have indoor plumbing, so her mother asking if I’d like to take a walk out back was her inviting me to use the outhouse.”

Molly laughed and watched her grandmother’s face color ever so slightly.

“I was mortified!  He had been there the whole time and I was dreading him needing to use the bathroom because his family was well-off and had running water.”

Both her grandparents chuckled as they related more of that story and others.  It was strange to see them like this; these people who always seemed so distant to her because of their age, the ones she spent her childhood summers with in rural Indiana. This couple was all of sudden transformed from grandparents to teenagers.  She’d noticed the blush of her grandmother’s embarrassment along with the smiles and the looks that were exchanged when they told their story of love.  Molly sat there looking at two people who had spent over half of their lives together, yet they seemed just as in love as if they were just starting out.  Even though she was originally reluctant to listen to their stories, she was grateful that she did and she was happy to be witness to the love they still had for each other.  And as she walked out, she thought, Someday, I’ll have that too.

*Lily*

M, W, F

Alright blogging world, I’m making my giant come back!  I’m off for the summer so I should have time for this now.  To take some pressure off myself, I’m going to just try to post 3 days a week.  Here’s what I’m hoping it will look like:

Monday: a quote of some sort, either about reading or some of my personal favorites that I’ve come across while reading.  Always feel free to share some of your own too!

Wednesday: This will be deemed “Writing Wednesday” and there will be short stories, fun articles I find, or just some random thoughts.

Friday: A book review from a recently read book.

Be excited…I know I am!

Fresh Ink

I ordered all of these books on Amazon on Thursday and they’re already here!  My intention was only to buy A Hidden Affair (I finished Almost Home early last week and just couldn’t wait to read the next book!), but I can never resist that free shipping if I spend $25+.  My grand total was $29.50 and I got all of these exciting new reads!  Allow me to share some love for Amazon.

They run bargain specials on books and those books are still eligible for the FREE Super Saver Shipping.  It takes a bit longer than normal shipping, but all of my books arrived a day early.  While it’s convenient to head to your local bookstore, or E-bookstore on your reading device of choice, it’s always difficult to pass up such a steal.  What is currently on your “to buy” list?

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The Agency

The Agency series takes us through Mary(sometimes Mark) Quinn’s adventures as a member of an all-female detective agency.

Our adventure begins with A Spy in the House.  Set in 19th century London, Mary Quinn, a convicted housebreaker is sentenced to hang for her crimes, but finds herself in The Academy.  This school educates underprivileged girls who would otherwise not have access to such an opportunity.  The goal of The Academy is to provide the girls with a future besides a marriage to an abusive husband or a life as a housemaid.  They strive to instill a sense of independence in their students, showing them there is more to themselves than just becoming someone’s one and mother.  What young woman couldn’t benefit from that kind of teaching?

After five years in The Academy, Mary is introduced to The Agency, and sent on her first case, which takes us into the Thorold household where Mary’s to investigate the possibility of goods being smuggled in from abroad.  Here she meets the dashing James Easton.  James is determined to do some digging of his own when his brother George becomes romantically entangled with the Thorold daughter.   As half of Easton Engineering, James has the company’s future in mind.  Together they work to uncover this scandal.  Despite their bickering, we see the beginnings of romantic interest develop between our heroine and her gentleman companion.  Mary, however, has bigger issues to deal with when a piece of her family past comes rushing into her present.

In the second installment, Mary goes undercover as Mark Quinn on a building site.  A mysterious death occurred after hours on the building site of the clock tower at the House of Parliament.  In order to investigate, she disguises herself as a 12 year old boy, which forces her to relive her time as a child thief.  As she becomes familiar with the construction site and workers, she finds herself – once again – face to face with James Easton.  Easton has been hired to complete a safety inspection of the premises and determine if the site manager was negligent.  James and Mary work together to uncover the truth about the crime, while also uncovering some truths about themselves.

The Body at the Tower gives us some insight into the lower economic sector of Victorian London by placing Mary in a blue collar position.  Because Mary is in a masculine role, the feminist undertones are nearly nonexistent, but Mary’s independence and strength continue to shine through in her daily actions.

The final (for now, there are rumors of a 4th book) book in the series, The Traitor in the Tunnel takes place inside the walls of Buckingham Palace.  Queen Victoria has noticed items missing from the palace and hires the Agency to get to find the perpetrator.  Mary works as a domestic servant and finds herself the recipient of affection from the Prince of Wales himself.  The book has a drastic turn when the Prince witnesses the death of a friend and the suspect is a man Mary believed herself to never see again.  While Mary struggles to cope with the possible reappearance of the father she thought she’d lost, James Easton is hired to work on the sewers below the palace (we saw that coming, right?).  Mary uncovers a secret tunnel beneath the palace and in doing so finds something that threatens the life of the queen.  James and Mary are again thrown into danger while trying to save those around them.  Following the suspenseful events, Mary and James come to a resolution that turns out to be a satisfying one.

As the series progresses, we slowly learn more and more about Mary.  Her past unfolds before us and we experience the pain and struggle she had and how she copes with it.  Her strengths and weaknesses are revealed and reflected in her relationship with James.  Lee also does a fantastic job of thoroughly developing James through each of the books as he learns to accept, forgive and love Mary for the lies she told him and her tragic past.

Bottom line: I loved the developing romance between Mary and James, although at times it seemed a little progressive for the time period.  The first and third books were my favorite because the second moved a bit slower and got a little too technical into bricklaying (not really something that interests me all that much).  I loved the series as a whole and it was definitely a quick read, which is always a plus.

Coming Soon

“Sometimes I wonder about my life. I lead a small life – well, valuable, but small – and sometimes I wonder, do I do it because I like it, or because I haven’t been brave? So much of what I see reminds me of something I read in a book, when shouldn’t it be the other way around? I don’t really want an answer. I just want to send this cosmic question out into the void. So good night, dear void.”  -Kathleen Kelly You’ve Got Mail

Life has been distracting me from blogging and reading (oh no!) these last couple weeks. New posts coming soon!