Regal Literary is hosting another fabulous book giveaway contest to coincide with the release of Abandon, the final installment in Elana Johnson’s young adult dystopian trilogy. All three books in the series are being offered as potential giveaways in this contest, so whether you’ve been chomping at the bit for the conclusion or would like to try something new, be sure to check it out by clicking here. Contest ends on June 18, 2013.
It’s been another busy month. What have I been up to?
I spent a weekend with friends at The Phoenician Resort in Scottsdale, AZ. While it was still freezing in Chicago, it was sunny and hot in Arizona. I indulged in cocktails and poolside service in our private cabana at the Mother-of-Pearl pool with the backdrop of the desert splendor all around us. There’s nothing better than good friends and good food enjoyed in the midst of a beautiful scenic location.
Lucky me! I got to enjoy that combination twice in the past month, although the second time was in Wisconsin, where the temperature was 40-50 degrees colder. I joined a group of girlfriends at an annual spa retreat, where we sipped cocktails in the hot tub while white powdery snow flakes settled in our hair.
Back home in Chicago, the weather can’t seem to make up its mind between winter and spring. We’ve been experiencing 40 degree shifts up and down every few days. I have, however, gotten started on my spring planting and enjoyed some bar-b-ques with friends on the deck. My garden’s blooming and showing signs of spring, despite the dramatic temperature shifts.
For Spring Break, we took our daughters to Disney World for the first time. They’ve been begging to go for years. Almost all their friends have been there, and it seemed an American tradition that was beckoning. Admittedly, the kids were much more excited about it than my husband. As expected, the crowds were horrendous, but all the Disney magic seemed intact and much as I remembered it from my own childhood.
My nine-year-old daughter preferred Universal Studios Islands of Adventure over Disney. She started reading the Harry Potter series a few months ago and is about halfway through the books, so seeing the Harry Potter world was pretty exciting for her. We explored Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley, had lunch at The Three Broomsticks, and drank butterbeer, which was much better tasting than I expected, like a butterscotch rootbeer float. My oldest daughter also sought out the thrills of every roller coaster and adrenalin ride she could find and is finally tall enough to go on everything. She loved the roller coasters at Universal Studios, particularly the Dueling Dragons ride in Harry Potter world and the rides found in Comic Alley. She appreciates comic book superheroes almost as much as her Mom, so she thought that section of the park was pretty cool. (Because it WAS!)
My six-year-old preferred the Dr. Seuss land at Universal Studios Islands of Adventure. They both liked the animals at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. When asked what her favorite part of Magic Kingdom was, my youngest listed the following:
- The Carousel of Progress ride
- The electric light parade
- The animated show of Wreck-It-Ralph climbing Cinderella’s castle
- The hot dog she had for lunch
Was it worth all the time, money, and effort? I guess it was worth it to let the kids experience it at least once. I can’t say we’ll repeat it any time soon though. As my husband said at the end of the trip, “Okay, we checked that box.” Next Spring Break, I’m thinking something tropical and relaxing. I see myself sitting on a beach sipping an umbrella drink while the kids splash around in the water and build sand castles.
Ever After, Kim Harrison’s eleventh installment in the Hollows series, reunites magical bounty hunter Rachel Morgan and elf businessman Trent Kalamack on more equal footing. To the delight of many Harrison fans, their former enmity continues to evolve into a steady alliance with the promise of more on the horizon. Having once again unwittingly plunged herself into a world of trouble, this time by causing a tear that begins to deteriorate the demon home world known as the Ever After, Rachel puts on her big girl boots (the finest vampire-made black leather boots, of course) and takes responsibility for fixing the problem and once again saving the world.
During her latest adventures, Rachel manages to serve as the glue that unites multiple factions of sworn enemies – elves and demons, pixies and fairies – into a tenuous cooperation. It is this underlying theme of Rachel bringing together paranormal species and humans from dramatically disparate cultures and backgrounds, woven throughout the Hollows series, that is one of my favorite aspects of this alternate universe. Another is that the definitions of good and evil are much more ambiguously grey than simple black-and-white.
Trent gracefully turned to look down the hall as if wanting to leave. He was tired, but it was only because he was letting his guard down that I could tell. “Anyone can piece it together — now that it’s common knowledge what you are.” His gaze came back to me, an empty regret in them. “The sole survivor of Rosewood syndrome happens to be a demon? Perhaps we were lucky it took this long. That an enzyme can keep them alive, though?” His lips pressed together. “A handful know that, and most of them work for me.”
Some Harrison fans might be disappointed that vampire main character Ivy Tamwood is almost nonexistent in this latest story. While Rachel’s personal story arc evolves, I hope it doesn’t leave her almost family-like bonds with her old friends in the dust. This particular book did make strides in developing the gargoyle characters and their intriguing history. Clearly, there are more adventures yet to come in the world of the Hollows, and I, for one, can’t wait for book number twelve.
To learn more about Kim Harrison and the Hollows series, click here to read my interview with this New York Times bestselling author.
Shortly after her grandfather passed away last year, my youngest daughter set her grief aside quickly, almost as if nothing happened. This worried me at first, but then her mourning exploded one night in heart-wrenching sobs as she came to terms with the fact that her grandfather, who she called “Papa,” was never coming back. She continued to sob at night for most of the next several weeks, and then gradually leveled off until she could talk about him fondly without such searing pain.
They used to like to bird watch together. He loved the cardinals that came into our yard and bought a bird feeder for the deck, so that we could watch them from our kitchen table. One day, when my youngest girl saw two cardinals at the feeder, she remarked, “Papa would have liked this.” She thought about that for a moment, and then added bluntly, “…If he were alive,” as if she had to explain the obvious for us.
Then one day when I was melancholy and missing my father, my little one comforted me with, “It’s not like he’s in Oceana or anything.”