Friday, June 1, 2012

1st Edition June 1, 2012

Madam Librarian Recommendation
Mary Taylor Huntsman/Librarian/Somerset Community College in Somerset, KY
Ms. Huntsman recommends The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak. This book was very fervently recommended to me by a high school English teacher whose school had read it as a One School-One Book project. Our college’s book group read it as our September selection based on my recommendation. It's important for any number of reasons, not the least of which is that it's a realistic (not gory or offensive) representation of the lives of young people in Nazi Germany. It's narrated by Death Personified but in a thoughtful way.
It's a great way of introducing the subject matter through literature, as a companion to nonfiction along the lines of “Anne Frank: Diary of A Young Girl” or “The Hiding Place”.

Author Spotlight--Marcus Zusak
We were unable to reach Mr. Zusak for comment and have provide his public link and bio.
Australian author Markus Zusak grew up hearing stories about Nazi Germany, about the bombing of Munich and about Jews being marched through his mother’s small, German town. He always knew it was a story he wanted to tell.

“We have these images of the straight-marching lines of boys and the ‘Heil Hitlers’ and this idea that everyone in Germany was in it together. But there still were rebellious children and people who didn’t follow the rules and people who hid Jews and other people in their houses. So there’s another side to Nazi Germany,” said Zusak in an interview with The Sydney Morning Herald.

At the age of 30, Zusak has already asserted himself as one of today’s most innovative and poetic novelists. With the publication of The Book Thief, he is now being dubbed a ‘literary phenomenon’ by Australian and U.S. critics. Zusak is the award-winning author of four previous books for young adults: The Underdog, Fighting Ruben Wolfe, Getting the Girl, and I Am the Messenger, recipient of a 2006 Printz Honor for excellence in young adult literature. He lives in Sydney.

 Dangerous Kiss--by Marie Higgins
Readers asked for now we're giving it to you! Here is part 1 of a short story - a romantic suspense. I hope you enjoy it!

     Dear God, he’s found me!
I inhaled sharply and spun away from the man who stood waiting for the subway. With my heart pumping out of control, I fisted my hands by my side as I studied the crowd at station. The police had assured me Chicago would be a safe place to live. After all, it was a large city and I could go unnoticed. Obviously, their observations were wrong.
It had taken six long and grueling months before I stopped looking over my shoulder at everyone who passed. Six months of waking up in the dead of night in a cold sweat, wondering if he would track me down. These past two weeks were my first to walk out of my apartment and ride the train to work without feeling afraid.
That would all end if Ted Stone recognized me.
Taking a deep breath for courage, I peeked over my shoulder. That man stood waiting for the light rail, his hands clasped behind him as he rocked on his heels, his mouth puckered as if whistling. Perhaps he hadn’t noticed me . . . yet.
Ted hadn’t changed much—receding black hair and a bushy mustache. Though he was thick around the waist, it hadn’t prevented him from holding me down as I kicked and screamed all those months ago. His earlobe hadn’t yet healed completely from where I’d ripped off his gold-hoop earring the last time he tried to use his fists to talk.
He wouldn’t have any way of knowing how much I’d changed unless he’d been watching me. Gulping, I ran a moist palm down my waitress uniform. Would he know I’d lost twenty-five pounds? I reached to my ponytail and twisted a lock hanging over my shoulder. Hopefully, he’d never know I’d grown my hair and added reddish highlights. Maybe if I mingled in the crowd, he wouldn’t recognize me at all.
     My temples throbbed with tension, so I rubbed my forehead, praying he would disappear and I’d know this had been just a bad dream. I brushed my finger across the puckered skin above my left eyebrow. The scar! He’d left that identifying mark on my body the last time I saw him. Although it wasn’t as ugly now, it was still noticeable, and he would certainly recognize it.
Doing another quick glance around the crowd, I knew I had to leave. I couldn’t risk him seeing me. Then again . . . if I left now, I’d be back to looking over my shoulder again 24/7. What I should do was follow him to find out where he was hiding. Then I could let the authorities know. Then, and only then, could I return to a normal life.
As more people gathered to wait for the train, the crowd pushed me closer to my nightmare. I couldn’t get too close. That would be dangerous. My very life depended on keeping myself hidden, or at least the scar.
     A yell came from someone behind him, and Ted glanced my direction. I sucked in a quick breath as my heartbeat tripled in rhythm. Panic surged through every bone in my body. I had to hide. Now!
I jerked away from him, scanning for someone—anyone who might be able to help if the occasion called. Off to the side, a man stood facing the tracks, wearing dark blue Wranglers that squeezed his muscular legs, and a black cotton tee-shirt that hugged his broad chest. A black velvet cowboy hat covered his head and hair, but a fringe of wheat-streaked tresses grazed his neckline. Muscles strained against his long-sleeve shirt, giving hope that he was as strong as he looked. I hoped so in case I needed his help to fight Ted off.
Decision made, I hurried to his side and tapped his shoulder. When deep azure eyes met mine, his lips pulled into a wide smile. Gads, he gorgeous. But I couldn’t think this way. I needed him for protection only.
“Hi, I’m Kelsey Manning.”
He nodded. “Rick Jarmin.”
Lifting on my toes, I leaned in to his ear. “I’ll give you one-hundred dollars if you’ll pretend to know me.”
     When I pulled back, his eyes widened. Of course, I’d shocked him with the offer. What person wouldn’t be stunned? Hopefully, he didn’t think I was a prostitute. Then again, those types of women got paid—they didn’t offer to pay for their services.
     I snuck a peek over my shoulder to see what Ted was up to, only to see him take a step toward me. I panicked. Without waiting for Rick’s answer, I wrapped my arms around his neck and pushed my mouth against his.
     He hitched a breath and his body stiffened, but at least he didn’t move away. So I continued kissing him, praying Ted wouldn’t get curious about my identity and come closer for a more thorough inspection.
The longer I pecked small kisses on the hunky cowboy’s lips, the more he relaxed. His arms slid around my waist and pulled me closer as his mouth took over. Holy Moly!
Strange tingles danced over my skin, and my body grew warm and made me want to sigh aloud and curl next to him. Impossible! I couldn’t feel giddy at a time like this. I didn’t even know this sexy man. Yet his kisses were far better than I’d ever experienced. Heaven help me, but I didn’t want to pull away, but I did, only long enough to stare into his eyes. Passion played on his face as his gaze slid over mine for a brief second. Then he lowered his head and captured my mouth again.
Yummy wasn’t quite the word to describe how he made my insides feel.
     He tilted his head and deepened the kiss, pulling me against his muscular body. Heat moved throughout me quicker than I ever thought possible, and I prayed he’d never stop.
     The kiss had suddenly turned dangerous. Not as dangerous as being caught by Ted, but suddenly feelings I’d kept hidden for so long resurfaced and I couldn’t think straight. Yet, I didn’t care. Not at this particular moment. I wanted more!
     Sighing, I threaded my fingers through his wavy hair, knocking the hat from his head. Large hands slid down my backside and cupped my bottom, pressing me to his hips. It had been too long since I enjoyed this kind of excitement.
     The roar of the train coming closer broke us apart. I wasn’t sure who stepped away first, but he kept me in a loose hold, his grin growing wider. Out of breath, I smiled and swallowed the dryness that had formed in my throat.
     “Am I still pretendin’?” he asked as he bent to pick up his hat.
     My heart leapt from the tenderness displayed in his blue eyes. “Yes . . . if you don’t mind.”
     “Not at all, darlin’. The pleasure’s all mine.”
     No it wasn’t. The pleasure was mine.
The train stopped and opened its doors. He linked his fingers through mine and pulled me inside. Hesitantly, I peeked at Ted who walked ahead of us. Thankfully, his attention wasn’t on me.
But I didn’t feel out of danger yet.
     The gorgeous cowboy led me to a back seat, and pulled me down next to him. Without thinking rationally, I cuddled against him, pressing the side of my scarred face against his chest. As the cowboy’s arm slid around my shoulder, the rhythm of his quick heartbeat almost matched mine. He kissed my forehead and I nearly sighed aloud.
     “Darlin’?” he whispered. “I hope we’re still pretendin’ because I really like this.”
     I glanced across the aisle at my worst nightmare several seats ahead. Still, Ted kept his head turned away as he picked up a newspaper and glanced over it.
Trying to calm my nerves, I took a deep breath and in hushed tones, said, “Yes. For a bit longer, if you don’t mind.” I lifted my head and met Rick’s gaze. Tenderness warmed his eyes, making me melt. “Thank you, Rick. You’ve been a tremendous help.”
     He lifted his gaze and nodded toward Ted. “Are you tryin’ to hide from him? You keep lookin’ that way.”
     “Yes.” My voice shook so I quickly cleared my throat. Once again, panic consumed me, but for some reason Rick’s embrace soothed my frazzled nerves slightly.
     “Is he your ex-boyfriend?”
     To tell Rick the truth at this point would have been ludicrous because in another fifteen minutes or so, I’d pay him and he’d leave. I might never see him again. Disappointment washed over me and I brushed it aside. At this stage in my life, I couldn’t have a relationship. It was too soon.
     “Yes,” I answered and pressed my face closer to him. “I haven’t seen him in several months, and I don’t want to break that record now.”
     “Then there’s only one thing to do.” Rick lifted my chin with his knuckle until I met his gaze. He glanced at my mouth. “I’ll have to keep you distracted, won’t I?”
     “I—I—I don’t know. I don’t want you to distract me like you did earlier. I need to keep an eye on him.”
     “I’ll keep him in my sights. You just relax and enjoy.”
     Before I could reply, Rick’s mouth landed on mine. His lips were so very gentle, and little by little Ted left my mind. Pleasure strummed through my blood, and all I wanted to do was clutch Rick’s muscular body and cuddle closer.
     It had been way too long since I’d felt this way. Even through my panic, his kisses made me follow his instructions. Relax and enjoy.
     Dang, why did I have to pick this man to kiss? Maybe I should have chosen one that wasn’t so gorgeous. Then I could have resisted. Instead, I was content to let him kiss me to distraction.
     His hand slid down my neck. Although I enjoyed his touch . . . I enjoyed it too much, and that scared me. Breathless, I grasped Rick’s hand and broke the kiss. I gazed into a pair of very intoxicating eyes—eyes a woman could drown in.
     “I . . . I can’t let you do that.”
     Breathing just as heavy, he nodded. “Forgive me. I got carried away. It’s not very often I make out with a sexy woman.”
     His comment caught me off guard and I chuckled. “Oh, that’s a good line. But I think you’re fibbing. I’m sure a guy like you makes out with lots of women.”
     Rick pulled away and arched a brow. “A guy like me? What’s that supposed to mean?”
     Oh, good grief! He was going to make me say it, wasn’t he? Well, I might as well. “A hot guy. That’s what I mean. A hot guy like you.” So there, I said it, and embarrassment scalded my cheeks.
     His grin widened and he pulled me back into his embrace. “You think I’m hot, huh?”
     Chuckling, I shook my head and glanced at my nightmare who was thankfully still reading the paper. Should I follow Ted? I wanted a normal life once and for all, and if the only way to get that was by turning him in to the authorities. Since the police were after him, they’d probably be only too happy for a little help.
     The train slowed for the next stop, and Ted folded the newspaper and stood. My heart bounced with anxiety. Here was my chance. Should I take it?
     “Rick.” I quickly met his stare. “Thank you for helping me, but I need to get off at this stop.”
     His forehead creased as he glanced in the other man’s direction. “Why? He’s gettin’ off here, too. I thought you were tryin’ to hide from him.”
     “I am, but I need to find out where he lives.”
     “Because . . .” Nibbling on my bottom lip, I pondered whether to tell him the truth. Rick seemed like someone to confide in. It was his trusting eyes that made me confess. “Because he’s wanted by the law, and I would like him arrested as quickly as possible.”
     Rick nodded, took my hand and stood. “Then I’ll go with you.”
     Was this guy for real? Although very heroic of Rick to offer, I didn’t want to involve another person.
     The train stopped and I glanced toward Ted who scooted to the aisle. “Rick, really, that’s sweet of you, but—”
     “Come on, darlin’. There’s no time to argue now. He’s gettin’ away.”
     Before I could say anymore, Rick pulled me out of my chair, and I trailed after the cowboy. I shouldn’t complain, although I didn’t want to involve him any more than I had already. Rick was well built, and appeared to have his head screwed on right. Obviously, he was adventurous, too. Perhaps that was a good thing. With a go-getter like him, he’d definitely make sure I didn’t chicken out.
     “Rick, I really shouldn’t let you—”
     “Honey, you don’t have any choice.” He winked. “Don’t worry. I’ll take care of you. Besides, you like my company.”
     That wasn’t all I liked . . .
     He squeezed my hand. “Not only that, but if you don’t want him to get suspicious, you’ll need me by you. For all he knows, we’re together.”
     I shook my head. “I can’t let you get involved. This man is dangerous.”
     “I’m not afraid of a little danger. I thrive on adventure.”
     I stepped off the train still holding his hand, my heartbeat jumped to my throat. I’d never been adventurous in my life. The closest I’d ever come was going to the grocery store at one o’clock in the morning. How pathetic!
Rick kept a good distance behind Ted as he slipped his arm around my shoulders. I enjoyed feeling so protected—like he cared more for me than himself. I wasn’t used to men like that.
     “Really, I shouldn’t let you do this,” I whispered. “This is not the time to act all macho.”
     Grinning, he stared into my eyes. “All macho, huh? Well, what would you say if I told you I do this for a livin’?”
     I swallowed the bubble of laughter rising in my throat. Sure, he did. “You’re macho for a living?”
     “Well, I try.” He chuckled.

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