Beautiful mornings and The Catch by Taylor Stevens

The last few years, my older daughter Libby has been on a summer swim team that practices in the mornings. Beautiful, if it is nice. As an 8 & under, she practiced at 10. When imagesshe turned nine, her practice time got a little earlier – 8:45.  As an 11 year old (well, she turns 11 tomorrow), her practice time is 7:00 am. Which explains her reason for switching to her YMCA team, her winter swim team. That practice is in the evening.

This has been awesome for me.

See, I’m a total morning person. I love getting up when the house is quiet and getting my stuff done. Or not. Maybe I sit and read, maybe (like this morning, I write. Maybe I lie in bed for a few extra minutes and play a game on my tablet. Either way, it’s quiet mommy time (which doesn’t happen once the kids and the hubs get up.

Yesterday and today it has been just right for sitting outside. Well, actually, I wish there was a little more cloud cover so I could see my laptop screen a little better, but I’m not going to complain too much about sunny weather. And it’s the perfect kind of sunny weather–coolish with no humidity. Makes me feel like I’m back in my home state of Colorado rather than in Ohio (a state where the summer norm seems to be overcast and hot or raining).

I feel like maybe I’m doing my older daughter a disservice by not forcing her to get up in the morning and go to early practices. I swam, and my summer swim practices were at 6:00. And I had to ride my bike into town to practice. 2 miles. Only one way was uphill, but that was the way home, after practice, so it was exhausting! But, those early morning practices (from age group into high school and college) made me a morning person. Well, maybe they enhanced my morning-ness.

I guess I’m being selfish. But oh well. You gotta grab some self time when you can.

So, I’ve been hanging outside, with my book (well, my Kindle Paperwhite) and my coffee in my favorite Tinkerbell mug, and, today, my laptop. Just me and my dogs. My younger daughter may be up, making a mess in her room, and I’ll spend an hour later forcing her to clean it up, but I’ll deal with that later. Because it means a little selfish quiet time for me.


*I was lucky enough to get an Advanced Readers Copy of The Catch, which will be available on July 15th, 2014. This give you just enough time to read one or all of the preceding Vanessa Michael Munroe books by Taylor Stevens!!!

To be honest, I read the first book of the Vanessa Michael Munroe series, The Informationist, due to Taylor Steven’s fascinating bio. Here’s a sampling:

Born in New York State, and into the Children of God, an apocalyptic religious cult spun from the Jesus Movement of the ’60s, Stevens was raised in communes across the globe. Separated from her family at age twelve and denied an education beyond sixth grade, she lived on three continents and in a dozen countries before reaching fourteen. In place of schooling, the majority of her adolescence was spent begging on city streets at the behest of cult leaders, or as a worker bee child, caring for the many younger commune children, washing laundry and cooking meals for hundreds at a time. In her twenties, Stevens broke free in order to follow hope and a vague idea of what possibilities lay beyond. She now lives in Texas, and is at work on the next Munroe novel.

Now, the cult has spawned some highly creative individuals, including The Phoenix children (River, Joaquin) and Rose McGowan, among others, including authors, poets, and musicians. This sort of gives credence to the thought that from suffering comes creativity. I’m not going to go into the whole cult, but, if you’re interested, here’s the Wikipedia link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Family_International.

So, that’s why I read The Informationist, but that isn’t why I stayed with subsequent books (The Innocent and The Doll). They are full-on, adrenaline-laced, action packed excitement, all brought to you in the guise of a female badass. The Catch, the fourth Vanessa Michael Munroe book, is no exception.

Vanessa Michael Munroe was born and raised in Africa, the child of American missionaries. Vanessa was virtually abandoned, surviving on her wits in lawless Africa. Her traumas and demons are highlighted in earlier books, but you don’t need to read the earlier books to get this one (although it will add to your enjoyment and understanding of Vanessa). She is tough and smart, with a savant-like gift for languages. In The Catch she is living as Michael in Djibouti, attempting to quiet her demons and stay away from danger. But danger finds her any way.

Working for a small security company, ‘Michael’ (she finds it easier in Africa and in her line of business to act as a man sometimes), is pulled into a trip to Kenya that she discovers is an illegal arms deal, which is bad enough. But when the ship is seized and she escapes, she makes the decision to help get the ship back, and is drawn back into the world of killers and international criminals. Vanessa finds herself trying to help the good guys, but even the good guys aren’t really all that good. Mistrustful to begin with, she learns that sometimes trust is all you get.

Stevens does not disappoint in her latest installment. Vanessa is just as bad ass, just as wounded, but just as likeable as ever. Each book is an evolution, with Nessa finding herself closer to peace, or to accepting peace, in each book. She is smart, strong, and broken, and I keep cheering for her, hoping that she finds her way to a little bit of happiness.

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