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The Castaways is a keeper…

The CastawaysThe Castaways by Elin Hilderbrand
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

One book, four couples, eight lives intertwined, six of them–in grief after losing two of their own.

Did you get that? Sounds like my daughter’s word problems from math homework, but in reality–it’s the Castaways, by Elin Hilderbrand. One wonders if an author of this caliber takes time to read or scan every review of her work. If so, I’m offering a hearty hello! and bravo! You’ve gone and made a fan for life. Expect a spike in back-list sales!

In The Castaways, I identified most with Delilah–a dreamer, a steadfast lover, wife, and mother with her feet on the plot of land tended by her stoic, farmer husband and her head in the clouds. She knows at any moment she can take flight, run away, and yet she remains. Driven. Caring. Loving fiercely. Grieving even fiercer for her friends, lost. And love, unrequited. Okay, so I don’t identify with that part–but I have, in the past, and that’s why Delilah (who is VERY close to being a proverbs 31 style wife except for the fact that she doesn’t believe in anything but her friends and family) is easiest to identify with. At least, for me. I fell in love equally with the emotionally bound Phoebe, the two-sides of Andrea, and the men in their lives. Ed–who could be my own husband in his and Andrea’s relationship. Jeffrey–who loves so deeply just in his being there. Addison, sweet, flawed Addison. And of course, Greg and Tess, remembered by all. They are caricatures of us all in the microcosm of Nantucket.

As for the place, it is obvious this is the heart of the author’s home, as much as the octet’s wanderlust shows her love of travel. Nantucket, in its beaches, it’s quaint town square, it’s dunes and isolation. Suddenly, it is someplace I must visit someday.

A wonderful study of personality, friends, relationships, parenting, and forgiveness, The Castaways is not to be missed. Each page should be savored like fine wine, like exotic flavors, like times remembered. It reminds me that too often we live on the surface. There is so much below, beneath us all, that has made us into the people we are. The Castaways reminds us of that. Of failed expectations, secret hopes, hidden dreams, and in the end, that love is all that matters.

Thanks, Elin! and I look forward to following you out of The Castaways, and into The Island.

~Ashley

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Reinvent the perfect invention?

I stumbled across this article this morning — through Twitter. The title:  Why We Don’t Need to Reinvent the Book

Before you hop on over and give it a read, let’s think about the truth, falacy of this. Does the book need to be reinvented to fit into the time frame we have for it? As a mother and writer, I love to read. I read to the kids — I try to read for pleasure when I can, usually after everyone goes to bed with the help of my itty bitty booklight. But the truth of the matter, I can grab a chapter here or there, waiting for the kids at gymnastics or dance. Or soon, at soccer games.

But, as I was reminded by Smart B@#$%es Trashy Books this morning, sometimes when you dart out the door you forget something of key importance. Your latest paperback. Your Sony E-Reader or Kindle. No time to return, you suffer watching little ones tumble about — okay, it’s not suffering, but you get the point. Your heart longs for whatever story has captured your attention. Whichever author is currently holding you hostage with their carefully woven story. BUT who leaves the house without their phone?

Personally, I’d pay the two bucks to download a chapter through Stanza, while on the go. And while I love the feel of the book, I also love the earth. I am a author, so I want to build an audience.  As a new author, maybe readers will check out a free book or shell out a few cents for a short story. And, as one of my reviewers once said, the short story is the perfect fulfilling length for mommies on the go.

So, yes. Don’t reinvent to book. Don’t stop printing them. Keep them, love them, shelve them on something other than Shelfari. But, maybe Tim O’Reilly is right about something. We do need to reinvent some of the medium to keep up with the world. To engender a love of reading in our youth. And remind them why literature, the book, and the musty page smell we all adore is something not to forget.