Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Book feature: The Soured Earth by Sophie Weeks


Title: The Soured Earth
Author: Sophie Weeks
Publisher: Booktrope Publishing
Genre: young adult contemporary romance
Publication date: January 8th, 2014
Length: 165 pages
Book blurb
When Margaret Campbell left her home, a working ranch in the Canada prairies, for the East coast and college, she never meant to come back. In the aftermath of a tragic accident that claimed the lives of her aunt and uncle, however, Margaret is called home to help. There she must assume a much less glamorous role as chef, gardener, and mother figure for her orphaned cousins.
But when a strange sickness strikes their cattle and blights their crops, Margaret’s family is threatened with the loss of their ranch and only livelihood. Now caught in the middle of a full-scale environmental disaster, Margaret finds herself divided between duty to home and family and the fashion designer career she’s still struggling to build.

When Margaret first got the call about her grandmother's heart, it didn't really process. “You should come home,” her father said, and she accepted that, but it still didn't make sense that her bright, strong grandmother's heart should suddenly have just stopped beating like that, even for a moment, with no notice at all. Still, she was stepping off a plane in Calgary before morning, and she found her way out of the airport, looking all bleary and clutching a cup of Tim Horton's coffee and a box of doughnut holes.
Her father's familiar truck was waiting at the curb, and she tossed her bag in the back before climbing in. “Hi, Dad,” she sighed softly, leaning into his shoulder as he gave her a sideways hug from the driver's seat. “How is she?”
“Better than I hoped. But I don't want you to consider this a wasted trip.”
“I wouldn't—I didn't say that,” Margaret protested, sitting back and buckling her seatbelt. “It's just so far and so expensive.”
“You know I'll pay, Margaret, that isn't the point.” Jon looked a little irritated, but Margaret couldn't entirely blame him, under the circumstances.
“All right, it's not. So when you say better than you hoped, is it a lot better, or... ?”
“A lot better. Thing is, the doctors say she's got this incurable thing. They call it aging.” Though his words were flip, his tone was all too somber.
“Okay, well, I guess mortality is a little tough if you were just suddenly introduced to the concept,” Margaret said, peering a little.
Jon gave her a bit of a look. “Sam's only eleven, Margaret,” he said. “And I may have raised a daughter, and a damn fine one, but that doesn't mean I'm exactly equipped to raise two more by myself.”
Oh good. It was time for that talk. “So, what, I'm supposed to give up my degree and come back here to bake cookies?”
“You already have a degree, honey.”
“Yes, but not the one I want.” Margaret had graduated a couple of years ago with a solid degree in business economics before realizing that she wanted to pursue fashion design and starting all over again.
“Well, you'd have to come back eventually,” Jon said stubbornly. “Is it so bad if it happens now?”
“I don't have to come back, Dad. There is no law that allows you to imprison your daughters forever in the middle of nowhere, though if there was one anywhere, God knows it would be here,” Margaret said, sounding very fierce.
Jon didn't say anything for a few moments, not till they were on the highway, and then he looked at her sideways. “Might be something still on the books. Worth checking.”
“Very funny.” Margaret shoved the Timbits at him and put her feet up on the dash.
“Look,” Jon said finally, flatly. “I know you didn't count on coming back. But I didn't count on Penny and Jeff getting killed. I didn't count on being a dad again at this age. They're your cousins. You have a responsibility too.”
Margaret couldn't deny that. She might not have wanted to stay home on the ranch, might not be the most family-oriented person in the world, but her cousins were suddenly orphans, and Bonne-maman was sick and… she was beginning to feel a little sick herself.

Author bio
Born in Phoenix, Arizona, Sophie Weeks received a Masters degree in English Literature from Mills College in 2006 and completed her PhD in Victorian Literature at Rice University in 2013. Sophie resides in Payson, Arizona with three furry miscreants, who are wanted in multiple states for criminal adorableness. She is also the author of Outside the Spotlight and Unsettled Spirits.
Author links

Guest post: 8 Best Book Dates

Who wouldn't like to leave reality behind for a night and go on a date with one of their favorite characters? Below is my highly subjective list of the eight best dating prospects from some of my favorite books.

Lord Peter Wimsey (Dorothy Sayers's Lord Peter series): Lord Peter is the perfect gentleman, witty and urbane. He has minimal tolerance for pretension, a nose for good wine, and a seemingly inexhaustible fortune. He'll take you to the most expensive restaurant in town and, if you're lucky, regale you with tales of his criminal investigations.

Gale (Suzanne Collins's The Hunger Games series): Gale is a tough fellow, but also a smoldering powder keg of passion. He's loyal, self-sufficient and brave. There may not be many bars and clubs in District 12, but he'll take you out in the woods and kill and cook your dinner right in front of you. Impressive!

Flora Poste (Stella Gibbons's Cold Comfort Farm): Flora is deeply conventional, but also ready for some fun. She's a fussy date (woe betide you if you offer her champagne that doesn't earn the terroir appellation), but a good dancer and a first-class wit. Warning: if Flora takes you in hand as a project, your life will never be the same.

Tobias (Veronica Roth's Divergent): I've only read the first book in the series, so please leave me in blissful ignorance if Tobias misbehaves later, but I really like the contrast of tough and tender that he displays. A date with Tobias would certainly be a wild night—one that, should you survive, you'd remember forever. Amateur parkour and a flask, maybe?

Archangel Raphael (Nalini Singh's Angels' Blood): Who doesn't want to date a fellow who can fly? Singh's Raphael is arrogant, occasionally cruel, and beautiful as...well, as an angel. He's also dynamite in the sack, so on this one you might end up skipping dinner altogether and head back to his place.

Seraphina (Rachel Hartman's Seraphina): So what if she's half dragon? Seraphina turns heads all over the place, commanding the affection and desire of prince and commoner alike. She's a talented musician, so take her to an intimate chamber music concert and finish up at the local tavern. If things get frisky, however, be prepared for scales.

Captain Wentworth (Jane Austen's Persuasion): With Austen's plethora of handsome, eligible bachelors, it's hard to choose just one, but Wentworth's quiet courtesy and faithful heart make him stand out. Appropriate dates might include a nature ramble or taking in the sights and sounds of a seaside town (beware of the impulse to jump off of walls to impress him).

Door (Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere): Door may seem fragile, but she's a tough cookie and frighteningly clever. Door inhabits the mysterious world of London Below, so a good date might be a trip to the Floating Market where you can marvel at the strange treasures of those who have fallen through the cracks. But even a single night in London Below may make it surprisingly difficult to return to your old life...