Author Archives: Carrie
Many parents worry about their kids being online all the time. However, it is a normal part of growing up in the modern world and children today are exposed to technology and the online space from a very young age. Rather than trying in vain to prevent this, it is much better to teach your kids how to be safe online and to make sure that you as a parent understand the most important principles of cybersecurity.
Just as with the real world, it is easy for kids to stray into danger online if they are unprepared for what lies ahead. There is plenty that is educational and wholesome on the internet, but there is also much that you wouldn’t want your children to see. Don’t worry, by following a few simple rules, and ensuring that you and your children understand all the risks of being online, everything will be fine.
No parent wants to be overbearing. We all only want what is best for our children, however, and that means that you need to get involved in their online lives. You would want to know where your children are hanging out in the real world, so make sure that you know what they are doing in the online space as well.
If you yourself aren’t sure of your cybersecurity and internet safety knowledge, this guide from Secure Data is an excellent starting point for preparing yourself with the knowledge that you’ll most want to pass on to your kids.
Set Rules for Your Household
It is up to you as a parent to decide what you consider to be an appropriate amount of time for your children to spend on the internet. There is no right or wrong answer here, different parents will have different opinions. You should try to strike a balance between giving your children the freedom to use the internet for its positive benefits, such as education and productivity, while also ensuring that their communications with other people remain appropriate.
As well as setting rules for the kind of sites that your kids are allowed to visit, you might also want to set particular times of day aside as internet browsing time. The more rigorously you enforce the rules that you set, the more your kids will respect them.
Teach Them the Importance of Privacy
For those of us who have used the internet from the beginning, we grew up with an internet where everyone remained anonymous. These days, we are all regularly being asked to hand over personal data and information to third parties and entrust them with the security of that data.
A number of high profile hacks over the last decade or two have demonstrated just how vulnerable online data can be to theft.
Keeping your children safe is every parents’ first priority. When it comes to formulating an approach to their online safety, try to consider how you approach their safety in the real world and apply the same logic. You will naturally want to know who they are talking to and who they are hanging out with.
The Underground Railroad
by Colson Whitehead
Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. Life is hellish for all the slaves but especially bad for Cora; an outcast even among her fellow Africans, she is coming into womanhood – where even greater pain awaits. When Caesar, a recent arrival from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they decide to take a terrifying risk and escape. Matters do not go as planned and, though they manage to find a station and head north, they are being hunted.
In Whitehead’s ingenious conception, the Underground Railroad is no mere metaphor – engineers and conductors operate a secret network of tracks and tunnels beneath the Southern soil. Cora and Caesar’s first stop is South Carolina, in a city that initially seems like a haven – but the city’s placid surface masks an insidious scheme designed for its black denizens. Even worse: Ridgeway, the relentless slave catcher, is close on their heels. Forced to flee again, Cora embarks on a harrowing flight, state by state, seeking true freedom.
As Whitehead brilliantly re-creates the unique terrors for black people in the pre-Civil War era, his narrative seamlessly weaves the saga of America from the brutal importation of Africans to the unfulfilled promises of the present day. The Underground Railroad is at once a kinetic adventure tale of one woman’s ferocious will to escape the horrors of bondage and a shattering, powerful meditation on the history we all share.
4 out of 5 FLEURS DE LIS
The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
Historical fiction as a whole doesn’t really appeal to me, but I had to read this book after seeing recommendations for it everywhere. As a Southerner, I’m glad I did, but it didn’t quite blow me away as I expected.
The story begins with the recounting of how an African woman named Ajarry was ripped from her home and brought to the US to become a slave. This origin is important because it shows how it all began, but the main character of this novel is Ajarry’s granddaughter, Cora.
Cora is working on a cotton plantation in Georgia, and has been on her own since the age of ten when her mother ran away in the night without her. Ever since then, she’s been an outcast. So when a fellow slave called Caesar asks her to run with him, she considers it, then agrees. Their journey will bring them to many places, but it will never really stop–because as long as there is a runaway slave, there is someone waiting to catch them and return them to their former life.
As a main character, I’m not sure if I would describe Cora as compelling, but she has a quiet strength that is unlike any other I’ve encountered. She’s never one to complain, but as she learns more she begins to question the world and that gives her the courage and intelligence to see that she deserves a far better life than the one she was born into.
There are a couple of action scenes that put you on the edge of your seat, but for the most part the story moves along languidly. Cora passes months here or weeks there without anything happening, then time will skip forward until the action begins again. I was torn between wanting more to happen, and enjoying the fact that the sometimes slow pace allows the reader to truly see how much Cora is growing through her encounters with the wider world.
As a citizen of the South, I can’t say I read about anything I didn’t necessarily know pertaining to slavery, but a lot of its’ horrors are described in detail in this book, and for that reason it’s not for the faint of heart. It’s one thing to know about what the history books say, and another to hear about accounts of torture that happened to real, named people.
The Underground Railroad was a more introspective book than I anticipated, but I still devoured it pretty quickly. The ending is fast paced and leaves you with some glimmer of hope. Cora’s story is important in the realm of American history, and this novel has the perfect voice to tell it.
About the Author
Colson Whitehead was born in 1969, and was raised in Manhattan.
The Underground Railroad, a novel, was published in the summer of 2016. It won the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, the Carnegie Medal for Fiction, and was a #1 New York Times Bestseller.
He has received a MacArthur Fellowship, A Guggenheim Fellowship, a Whiting Writers Award, the Dos Passos Prize, and a fellowship at the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers.
He has taught at the University of Houston, Columbia University, Brooklyn College, Hunter College, New York University, Princeton University, Wesleyan University, and been a Writer-in-Residence at Vassar College, the University of Richmond, and the University of Wyoming.
He lives in New York City.
The Summer of Broken Things
by Margaret Peterson Haddix
From New York Times bestselling author Margaret Peterson Haddix comes a haunting novel about friendship and what it really means to be a family in the face of lies and betrayal.
Fourteen-year-old Avery Armisted is athletic, rich, and pretty. Sixteen-year-old Kayla Butts is known as “butt-girl” at school. The two girls were friends as little kids, but that’s ancient history now. So it’s a huge surprise when Avery’s father offers to bring Kayla along on a summer trip to Spain. Avery is horrified that her father thinks he can choose her friends—and make her miss soccer camp. Kayla struggles just to imagine leaving the confines of her small town.
But in Spain, the two uncover a secret their families had hidden from both of them their entire lives. Maybe the girls can put aside their differences and work through it together. Or maybe the lies and betrayal will only push them—and their families—farther apart.
Margaret Peterson Haddix weaves together two completely separate lives in this engaging novel that explores what it really means to be a family—and what to do when it’s all falling apart.
About the Author
Margaret Peterson Haddix grew up on a farm near Washington Court House, Ohio. She graduated from Miami University (of Ohio) with degrees in English/journalism, English/creative writing and history. Before her first book was published, she worked as a newspaper copy editor in Fort Wayne, Indiana; a newspaper reporter in Indianapolis; and a community college instructor and freelance writer in Danville, Illinois.
She has since written more than 40 books for kids and teens, including Running Out of Time; Double Identity; Uprising; The Always War; the Shadow Children series; the Missing series; the Children of Exile series; the Under Their Skin duology; and The Palace Chronicles. She also wrote Into the Gauntlet, the tenth book in the 39 Clues series. Her books have been honored with New York Times bestseller status, the International Reading Association’s Children’s Book Award; American Library Association Best Book and Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers notations; and numerous state reader’s choice awards. They have also been translated into more than twenty different languages.
Haddix and her husband, Doug, now live in Columbus, Ohio. They are the parents of two grown kids.
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– 5 Winners will receive a Copy of THE SUMMER OF BROKEN THINGS by Margaret Peterson Haddix.
ENDS: APRIL 30, 2018
The Baby Plan
by Kate Rorick
Women’s Fiction/Chick Lit
In The Lizzie Bennet Diaries creator Kate Rorick’s first adult fiction novel, we enter the wild, bewildering world of modern pregnancies. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll shake your head as you wonder where everyone’s sanity went…
Meet the mothers…
Nathalie Kneller: Nathalie’s plan: to announce her pregnancy now that she’s finally made it past twelve weeks! But just as she’s about to deliver (so to speak) the big news to her family, her scene-stealing sister barfs all over the Thanksgiving centerpiece. Yup, Lyndi’s pregnant too, swiping the spotlight once more…
Lyndi Kneller: Lyndi’s plan: finally get her life together! She’s got a new apartment, new promotion, new boyfriend. What she didn’t count on—a new baby! She can barely afford her rent, much less a state-of-the-art stroller…
Sophia Nunez: Sophia’s plan: Once she gets her daughter Maisey off to college, she’ll finally be able to enjoy life as make-up artist to one of Hollywood’s biggest stars, and girlfriend to one of rock’s hottest musicians. But after 18 years she discovers the stork is once again on its way…
Now these women are about to jump headlong into the world of modern day pregnancy. It’s a world of over the top gender reveal parties (with tacky cakes and fireworks); where every morsel you eat is scrutinized and discussed; where baby names are crowd-sourced and sonograms are Facebook-shared. And where nothing goes as planned…
2 out of 5 FLEURS DE LIS
Chick lit is a genre I don’t mind dipping into when I feel the need for some light and humorous escapism. This book though, made me frustrated and annoyed for most of the time.
The story centers around 3 connected women who all happen to be pregnant at the same time: Nathalie (I don’t care how you say it’s pronounced, it’s IMPOSSIBLE for be to read it without a TH sound), a 33 year old teacher, her sister Lyndi, and Sophia, a makeup artist in her late thirties who has another daughter getting ready to graduate from high school. Although the three women are pregnant, they are all at different places in their lives and dealing with the expectancies others push onto them.
I can’t say I liked any of the characters in this book. They all were rude or careless or just plain naive. And it’s an easy plot device that all three have baby daddies that start acting like jackasses. Nothing anyone did in this entire novel made much sense at all.
I have had 2 children, so I guess I am supposed to relate to what each character is experiencing, but I didn’t really. Though I had a lot of the physical symptoms mentioned, I don’t think I lost my sense of logic as these women do, and I believe that it’s really an overused trope to say that pregnant women are highly emotional and “crazy.”
Finally, and most annoyingly, there were several plot lines that just didn’t bother to get wrapped up at all. I can’t mention them specifically for spoiler reasons, but issues between Nathalie and her husband don’t get a sense of closure or a reason at all. The end felt rather sloppy.
If you like to read chick lit with humor, there are better options out there. Sadly, The Baby Plan stuck to cliches and predictable plot elements to tell its story.
About the Author
Kate Rorick is an Emmy Award–winning writer who has worked on a number of television shows, most recently The Librarians on TNT. She was also a writer for the hit web series The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, and authored the two series tie-in novels, The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet and The Epic Adventures of Lydia Bennet. In her other life, she writes bestselling historical romance novels under the name Kate Noble. Kate lives in Los Angeles with her family.
It’s a very special moment when a ring gets passed from one generation to the next. It might have come your way because you’re standing on the verge of getting married, or it might have passed your way through a will or estate: No matter how it came to you, there are always a few ways to breathe new life into vintage, antique or valued pieces of art. Here are some practical ideas for what to do with grandma’s old ring.
Do Your Research
Step one is to start by doing your research on the piece so that you know exactly what you have. This includes asking family members if they know the story or origin of the ring; you will also want to take a look at any serial numbers imprinted on the ring, which will tell you more about its contents – and possibly its manufacture. With this, also note its condition and – we’d highly recommend it – have it professionally looked over and graded by an expert.
A Professional Cleaning
Breathing new life into an old piece of jewelry can be as easy as a professional, good cleaning session. Now, it’s very important that you use the right cleaner for your type of jewelry, and for this we’d recommend that you visit a jewelry store and tell them exactly what it is that you want to clean. (There are many horror stories of people who cleaned a valuable piece and did more harm than good.) Read the product’s instructions carefully before you apply it to anything valuable!
Resizing and Redoing
If you plan on wearing the ring again, it’s also worth putting some thought into getting the ring resized for your hands. Take it to an expert jeweler and they will be more than happy to resize a piece according to your requirements. If you want any changes brought to the piece, like something added or taken away, now is the time to do it. Make sure that you choose a store with a reliable reputation to work on your piece.
If you don’t want to go to the trouble to have the ring re-sized, you could always wear the ring on a chain instead: Ornate or simple gold or silver chains are usually easy to find and can compliment a ring perfectly.
New life can also be brought to a piece of jewelry by having it turned into an entirely new piece. Yes, most jewelry makers are happy to do this. You can have the piece melted on-to another piece, or melted down and turned into something new. Technically, it’s still the same piece – just with some new and exciting flair.
Have it Insured
Always remember to take special care with a valuable piece: Have it insured, either as a separate piece or as part of your existing household insurance. In the case of robbery, loss or natural disaster – and it happens! – you’ll really wish you had.
Sell It and Invest
Let’s face it: There are times when life hits an unexpected turn and you need some money. Or, you might just decide that you could use the money towards something for the future. Then, consider selling the piece and investing the money. If you want to sell the piece, do so through reputable dealers, and make sure that you have your paperwork in order; take detailed pictures and know exactly what you’re selling.
This is Not the End
by Chandler Baker
I wonder if for the rest of my life, I’ll be haunted by beautiful days.
On one cloudless, radiant summer afternoon, Lake Devereaux lost everything. The car crash claimed the lives of her best friend and boyfriend, the people who had become her family after her own fell apart. But she doesn’t have to lose them both.
The development of resurrection technology has changed the world. Under the new laws regulating the process, each person gets one resurrection to be used or forfeited on their eighteenth birthday. Mere weeks away from turning eighteen, Lake faces an impossible choice.
Envisioning life without one of the people she loves most is shattering enough, but Lake carries an additional burden: years ago, under family pressure, Lake secretly—and illegally—promised her resurrection to someone who isn’t even dead yet.
The search for answers about her future draws Lake more deeply into the secrets of her past until she begins to question everything about those closest to her. Betrayals and hurts both new and old threaten to eclipse the memories she once cherished.
Then Lake meets a boy unlike anyone she’s encountered before, who unflinchingly embraces the darkest parts of her life . . . and who believes that all resurrections are wrong.
Which path is the right one? And how can Lake start to heal when she can’t move on?
Harry Potter; Star Wars; Blade Runner – Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep; Hobbit; Game of Thrones; Handmaid’s Tale; Enders Game; Slaughter House-Five; The Road
Chandler Baker got her start ghostwriting novels for teens and tweens, including installments in a book series that has sold more than 1 million copies. She grew up in Florida, went to college at the University of Pennsylvania and studied law at the University of Texas. She now lives in Austin with her husband. Although she loves spinning tales with a touch of horror, she is a much bigger scaredy-cat than her stories would lead you to believe.
You can find Chandler as the books contributor on the YouTube channel Weird Girls.
– 1 Winner will receive a Copy of THIS IS NOT THE END Swag (Signed Copy and Stickers) by Chandler Baker.
by Chuck Vance
Chased Series, Book One
Could you sleep next to a murderer?
Luke Chase—yes, that Luke Chase, a modern hero ripped from the headlines—didn’t mean to get caught up in Mrs. Heckler’s murder. He just wanted to hook up with the hot new British girl at St. Benedict’s, and if that meant sneaking out to the woods after hours, then so be it. But little did he know someone would end up dead right next to their rendezvous spot, and his best friend and roommate Oscar Weymouth would go down for it. With suspects aplenty and a past that’s anything but innocent, Luke Chase reluctantly calls on his famous survival skills to find the true killer.
For fans of “A Study in Charlotte” and boarding school lit, “Sneaking Out” (book one in the “Chased” series) immerses readers in the privileged prep school world, with a mystery that exposes the dark side of life on a residential high school campus.
By the grace of God, he had fled the cabin in the woods that his kidnappers had locked him in for two days. He’d taken off in the early hours of the morning when the moon was filmy and the sun just a promise. But not before he snuck into the cabin, holding his breath, praying his abductors wouldn’t wake up, to grab some necessities for his escape into the dark woods. He had been well trained by his grandfather and knew what he needed to survive. He had stolen the thick wool sweater that he found dangling on a hook by the entrance and the large black-handled knife he had discovered in the top kitchen drawer. Luke had sifted through the cabinets, desperate to find any other portable provisions. A coil of rope, and a plastic bag into which he poured some household cleaning powder that he located under the sink. Ammonia. He had read about it in one of his grandfather’s military books. Ammonia can hide human scent.
And so like Hansel and Gretel, Luke left his own version of a bread trail as he moved through the woods. He would run for approximately half an hour before slowing for ten minutes and sprinkling ammonia to conceal his scent. The slobbering, sharp-toothed attack dog that his captors kept tied to the front door would have a harder time finding him now. He preferred his running escape to slowing down. It was when he was still enough to hear his heart beat that he felt the pounding sense of fear commingled with claustrophobia. He was angry. Why had he been torn away from his family? Was it all for money? But what made him the angriest was that they had made him view the woods, so poetic and magical for his entire life until that point, as something sinister and fearful.
He only realized he was hungry when he stumbled upon a patch of teaberries. He knew they were edible, and so he would plop down amidst the spicebushes and other shrubs and eat the sticky berries until they stained his fingers a light pink. He’d take a second to watch the salamanders slither under the rocks, and remain motionless enough to hear the rustle of skunks and other wildlife make their way through the thick brush. Fortunately, there were natural springs in the woods, and when he would come across one, he’d slurp as much water out of the palm of his hand, water that he’d scoop up fervently and drink until he couldn’t. Then he would continue on. There was never a second where he wasn’t aware that he was being hunted.
About the Author
Chuck Vance is a pseudonym for a bestselling writer of both adult mysteries and novels for young adults. Vance attended boarding school in Connecticut and graduated from Columbia University. Vance has lived in New York, Moscow, London, Paris and Los Angeles and is frequently on the move.
1 winner will receive a finished copy of SNEAKING OUT & a $30 Amazon GC, US Only.
The Wild Inside
by Jamey Bradbury
A promising talent makes her electrifying debut with this unforgettable novel, set in the Alaskan wilderness, that is a fusion of psychological thriller and coming-of-age tale in the vein of Jennifer McMahon, Chris Bohjalian, and Mary Kubica.
A natural born trapper and hunter raised in the Alaskan wilderness, Tracy Petrikoff spends her days tracking animals and running with her dogs in the remote forests surrounding her family’s home. Though she feels safe in this untamed land, Tracy still follows her late mother’s rules: Never Lose Sight of the House. Never Come Home with Dirty Hands. And, above all else, Never Make a Person Bleed.
But these precautions aren’t enough to protect Tracy when a stranger attacks her in the woods and knocks her unconscious. The next day, she glimpses an eerily familiar man emerge from the tree line, gravely injured from a vicious knife wound—a wound from a hunting knife similar to the one she carries in her pocket. Was this the man who attacked her and did she almost kill him? With her memories of the events jumbled, Tracy can’t be sure.
Helping her father cope with her mother’s death and prepare for the approaching Iditarod, she doesn’t have time to think about what she may have done. Then a mysterious wanderer appears, looking for a job. Tracy senses that Jesse Goodwin is hiding something, but she can’t warn her father without explaining about the attack—or why she’s kept it to herself.
It soon becomes clear that something dangerous is going on . . . the way Jesse has wormed his way into the family . . . the threatening face of the stranger in a crowd . . . the boot-prints she finds at the forest’s edge.
Her family is in trouble. Will uncovering the truth protect them—or is the threat closer than Tracy suspects?
2 out of 5 FLEURS DE LIS
The first half of this book was great to me, which is why it’s such a shame that the second half veered off so weirdly that I ended up having to give a less than stellar review.
Tracy Petrikoff lives in rural Alaska with her father and brother after the death of her mother a few years prior. The family raises sled dogs, and in past years Tracy’s father Bill has run the Iditarod and done pretty well at it. So, dogs and racing are in 17 year old Tracy’s blood…but so is something else.
Ever since birth, Tracy has known she’s different. She’d rather be in the woods than the house any day, and feels she has more in common with the squirrels and rabbits she comes across than other kids her age. As she grows older, the wild streak inside Tracy becomes harder to tame, and she sometimes finds it hard to have the self control not to harm other people. But, she is still a teenage girl, and butting heads with her father happens. He just doesn’t know why it’s so dangerous when she gets grounded to their house, but he’ll learn.
If I had been told that there was going to be a supernatural element to this novel, I probably would have picked it up a lot sooner than I did. The mystery lies around what exactly Tracy is and why she does what her instincts tell her, and it’s intriguing to see how she has to strike that balance between her humanity and her “wild inside.”
There are actually several secrets and mysteries throughout the book. At the beginning, Tracy attacks a man who tries to grab her in the forest. He then comes to her house and her father saves his life. An enigmatic teenage drifter named Jesse comes around looking for a place to stay, and Tracy is immediately suspicious and it turns out she has good reason to be.
The best parts of the book, in my opinion, are flashback that show conversations between Tracy and her mother. You can tell that the two were close, and it turns out it was because the two of them were the same in so many ways. Tracy’s mother understood her and tried her best to make sure she felt comfortable in her own skin and in her family. The loss of her mother was profound and Tracy finally sees how hard it impacted every single member of their household.
If you have a weak stomach, this book is not for you. There are many bloody scenes, some involving animals and some involving humans, and they’re described rather bluntly. There are a couple of other parts I can’t mention for spoiler reasons, but if you are easily disturbed I would again advise you to stay away.
In the end, I was too infuriated with Tracy and her bad decision making to be happy with how things turned out. I know she was probably never meant to be a main character a reader can root for, but there are things I cannot believe she intentionally did and seemed senseless. I get what Tracy did for her family and for herself, but I still can’t agree with it fully.
About the Author
Born in Illinois, Jamey Bradbury has lived in Alaska for fifteen years, leaving only briefly to earn her MFA from the University of North Carolina, Greensboro. Winner of an Estelle Campbell Memorial Award from the National Society of Arts and Letters, she has published fiction in Black Warrior Review, Sou’wester, and Zone 3, and she has written for the Anchorage Daily News, TheBillfold.com, and storySouth. Jamey lives in Anchorage, Alaska.
Hey yall! I’m excited to share the trailer for a heartfelt family film coming soon to a theater near you. The Miracle Season opens April 6, 2018.
Based on the inspiring true story of West High School girls’ volleyball team. After the tragic death of the school’s star player Caroline “Line” Found, the remaining team players must band together under the guidance of their tough-love coach in hope of winning the state championship.
Is there a sport or activity that you had to overcome struggles to master? My son is 9 year old, and he started playing soccer when he was 7. Soccer is not the biggest sport in Louisiana, by any means, so I thought it was cool that he wanted to participate at all.
When he joined, he was a bit on the small side and was disappointed that he never got to play the positions he wanted to play, and that he never scored a goal. There was always a kid bigger and faster than he is, so he had to put his whole heart into the game to get noticed and work hard at practices to improve his skills.
We have just finished his third season in soccer and I am so proud at the way he has improved! He was made the main goalie of his team this year, and he even got to score a goal in one game while playing striker. He was a real asset to his team and I could tell his confidence was sky high. I know he’s learned that size doesn’t matter, and that the way to get better at anything is to work at it, and he can apply this to so many situations in his life.
Leave me a comment telling me your story and be sure to check out The Miracle Season on April 6!
The Italian Party
by Christina Lynch
A delicious and sharply funny page-turner about “innocent” Americans abroad in 1950s Siena, Italy. Newly married, Scottie and Michael are seduced by Tuscany’s famous beauty. But the secrets they are keeping from each other force them beneath the splendid surface to a more complex view of ltaly, America and each other.
When Scottie’s Italian teacher–a teenager with secrets of his own–disappears, her search for him leads her to discover other, darker truths about herself, her husband and her country. Michael’s dedication to saving the world from communism crumbles as he begins to see that he is a pawn in a much different game. Driven apart by lies, Michael and Scottie must find their way through a maze of history, memory, hate and love to a new kind of complicated truth.
Half glamorous fun, half an examination of America’s role in the world, and filled with sun-dappled pasta lunches, prosecco, charming spies and horse racing, The Italian Party is a smart pleasure.
2.5 out of 5 FLEURS DE LIS
Ehh, this one was kind of a mess for me, and not what I was expecting. The book’s description bills it as “fun” and “funny” but it was really neither of those things for me. I didn’t catch the spy angle that much either. Yes, one of the main characters is a spy…but he seems like Spy Lite compared to others like James Bond or Michael Westen.
It’s the mid 1950’s, and Scottie and Michael are a recently married American couple who have moved to Siena, Italy to sell Ford tractors to technologically impaired Italian farmers–or at least that is the husband’s cover story. In reality, Michael works for the CIA, and he’s on a mission to make sure Siena isn’t taken over by communist factions in the delicate wake of WW2. Scottie, for her part, is intent on being the perfect housewife, because she is concealing a secret of her own. Until the day her teenage Italian tutor goes missing, and she feels compelled to spring into action.
The part of this novel that was kind of funny to me is also the part that’s true–the fact that Michael is trying so hard to live his American life in another country. You can’t just move to Italy and expect that you’ll be able to have instant dinners and fast food and other American conveniences. But America was so afraid of anyone other than themselves after WW2, this was the attitude a lot of people had. Michael’s higher ups send him copies of American magazines like Life and Time and encourage him to leave them around for Italians to find. Scottie is requested to make dinner one night and she has to scrounge around the city to find American ingredients, because Michael is afraid of becoming “too Italian.” It’s all a ridiculous notion but rooted in fact.
The characterization in this book is good for some, and basic for others. It’s true that almost no one you meet in this novel can be trusted at face value, and some that you might have preconceived notions about are actually hiding much deeper issues than you would have thought.
There’s not very much action, to be told, and the biggest mystery of the plot gets solved rather accidentally. The end is also kind of bittersweet. Although Michael and Scottie are not the best people, you end up kind of rooting for them and wish them the best.
About the Author
Christina Lynch is a professor of English at College of the Sequoias in Visalia, California. A former Milan correspondent for W and Women’s Wear Daily, she has written on staff for television shows such as The Dead Zone, Encore! Encore!, Unhappily Ever After and Wildfire. The Italian Party is her first novel.
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