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Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Reading across the miles

I can remember loving to read from the first time I could pick up a book and understand the words. It has been a way for me to learn new things, get lost in alternate realities, improve upon my writing or just plan relax and enjoy a good story.

When I had my first child, I still found time to read on a fairly regular basis. Then having four children -- with three of them under school age -- finding time to enjoy a book had taken a back burner.

Until recently.

Although I don't get a chance to read as often as I would like, I am happy to say I have found a wonderful way to incorporate reading into my life again. It's even more fun because I also include a friend.

My Maryland BFF and I have started a book club called Across the Miles. Before I get into the details, let me just say that this isn't a call for members or other readers. We're not organized and we just gave ourselves a name so we could sound all official like. ;)

A few months ago when we decided to read books together I scoured my bookshelves for one I haven't read. I mean, why run out and purchase new books when there are tons sitting right under my nose?

While I was browsing I came across "Wraith: A Zoe Martinique Investigation" by Phaedra Weldon. Here's a portion of the back jacket text:

"Zoe Martinique was just your average, single female, past 25, looking for love and/or exciting job opportunities. Until life handed her the dubious ability to travel outside of her body at will -- which she turned into a career, hiring herself out as a literal spook. Industrial espionage, domestic surveillance, you name it -- when she is traveling she can see but can't be seen... Then one night things get out of hand while she is out-of-body: Zoe witnesses a murder."

Needless to say, we chose this book as our first for this unofficial book club. Sounds intriguing, right?

Weldon's first installment in the Zoe Martinique Investigation series is a fast, exciting and compelling read. This author draws you in with the details of a world of ghosts, spirits, demons, witches and the like. Even if you don't believe in this sort of thing, you'll be drawn into the characters.

There's Zoe's semi-psychic mother, a pair of gay ghosts, her Goth techno witch best friend and the handsome detective who is hot on the trail of the murderer. Their involvement with helping Zoe along with the main character's antics keep you on the edge of your seat with laughter and suspense.

Like Zoe's propensity to accidentally say things aloud when she can't be seen. Well, before she loses her voice. (But I'm not going to tell you how and ruin a pivotal moment for you.) And speaking of losing: There's the matter of exactly where does one put their body when they leave it? You can only imagine the type of trouble she gets into floating around without her body.

What makes this novel even more inviting is the fact that as Zoe encounters other beings in a world somewhere between life and death, spirit and human; she discovers more about her abilities. While she's learning about that, we -- the readers -- are finding out about the world that exists beyond what we know as reality.

There is one disappointing turn in the story: The end, which fell flat. I hate to tell you that and then you decide not to read it. But, there is an upside.

The second book, Spectre, is excellent from start to finish. It makes the ending of Wraith worth reading just to get to the second installment in the series.

In Spectre, Zoe and Daniel (the handsome detective who she ends of falling for) are together in the quest to solve a series of murders. The problem is there are a couple of things Daniel doesn't know: 1) The murderer he's looking for is on the astral plane, and 2) Zoe has abilities that allow her to travel outside of her body and her gift -- if you will -- is getting stronger.

Stronger may be an understatement because Zoe may turn into something that's no longer human.

To find out more you'll have to pick up Weldon's books yourself. They're a good read and I can't wait to see what she comes up with for the third book.

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