Posted in books, family, reading

How my 12 year-old made me happy, sad, proud, and wistful all at the same time + “The Mask” by Taylor Stevens

I picked my older daughter, Libby, up from swim camp yesterday. It’s her second year there, a wonderful camp at the magical Kenyon College in quaint Gam11358832_10206719288002214_733074956_nbier, Ohio. (I wrote a post on the Magic of Kenyon last year. Read all about it!) Last year, she was an 11 year-old, just barely. This year when I picked her up, she was nearly a teen.

I picked up her friend, also. They had a wonderful time, swimming and giggling and staying up way too late nearly every night. At the end of the last day they do time trials, and I watched them both crack best times wide open. It was a beautiful thing.

After picking them up, we had a lot of time to kill before our next swim meet (they decided they wanted to do it: I actually tried to talk Libby out of it. It’s a lot in one day after a week of camp!). I promised them both Frappuccinos, so I drove for about an hour (they snoozed) to a Starbucks. Once there, we realized there was a small farmer’s market going on. Actually, it was like an artisanal market, because there was very little produce, but there were a lot of cheeses, candles, specialized baked goods, and meat (even a guy there with fresh fish, just caught, on his naturally raised fish farm). But it was a fun wander, and a wonderful time killer.

And I realized something about my daughter, watching her walk around with her brave, kooky friend: Libby isn’t my baby any more. I know: she’s 12, she hasn’t been my baby in quiet a few years!!! But suddenly she’s not my little girl any more, and she’s less mine everyday. She’s turning into her own person.

And I like that person she’s becoming. She’s funny and smart and opinionated. I saw her with her friend, and we all giggled a bit, and she made me remember being 12. After the meet, on her way home, she asked me about the news and politics and my thoughts on important, grown-up stuff, and she asked some great follow up questions. And that’s better than me at 12.

I watched her swim A LOT yesterday, and she powered through and swam like a champ. She didn’t whine or complain (too much), and she was tired. She showed me that she has the perseverance to keep doing something she loves, even when it isn’t easy.


I love that she’s growing up, I do, but I hate that she’s growing up. I’m delighted to see the woman (EEK, she’s turning into a woman!) she’s becoming, but I miss the little girl that I still see when I look in her eyes.

I know that she has to grow up and grow away from me, and I can be happy for her. I can be proud of the person I see blooming in her everyday, a precursor to the woman who will take on the world. But I can also be sad that time is rushing on, and she will be stepping away from us. And I can be wistful for time gone by, hours and days and weeks and months I was not able to slow down enough.

And all those things equal the same thing. Pure, huge motherly love.

Okay, onto the fifth in a series about a kick-ass woman who needed more mothering: Vanessa Michael Munroe in Taylor Steven’s The Mask.

This book will be released on June 30th, 2015 (Tuesday), and is available now for pre-order. Order it now, and spend the weekend reading the earlier Vanessa Michael Munroe books!

I have loved Taylor Steven’s Vanessa Michael Munroe books since the beginning. I’ve reviewed a couple of the earlier books (HERE and HERE) last year. Let’s just say nothing can be totally wrong when you have a book with a smart, strong, very flawed FEMALE hero (so, a heroine).

Vanessa Michael Munroe is completely unique: a little Lisbeth Salander, a little bit Black Widow, and a little bit Sherlock Holmes. Flawed, brilliant, and wicked tough, any adventure she’s a part of is incredibly exciting!

The Premise

After thwarting Somali pirates in Africa, Vanessa Michael Munroe needs time to heal. This means time with Miles Bradford, the man she loves, about the only person who can understand her and help her excise her demons.

Joining him in Japan, the couple falls into domestic bliss, although Munroe is bored and itching for something to do. But when Bradford is framed for murder at the company where he was acting as security, she realizes he was trying to keep her from something bigger.

In order to save Bradford, Munroe must trade in her domestic bliss for the cold predictor that lurks in her heart. To save Bradford, she must get past his lies to find the truth. Stepping easily between Japan’s seedy underworld and it’s high tech, high stakes industry, Munroe discovers a world where the fear of dishonor creates a culture of misanthropy and wrong judgments never corrected.

With incredible writing and fast pasted action, Stevens winds her way through another Munroe adventure, trading in Africa for Japan, but with just as much excitement and action.

My Thoughts

This one was everything I expected it to be. High action, fun, and intense. Fast moving, exciting. A well written, original thriller.

Initially, I was drawn to Steven’s backstory before reading her first book, The Informationist. Here’s a snippet from her ‘About the Author:’

Born in New York State, and into the Children of God, raised in communes across the globe and denied an education beyond sixth grade, Stevens was in her twenties when she broke free 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.

Yes, that drew me to her books, but the story and the excitement kept me going. Wow, I love Vanessa Michael Munroe; she’s a demon-riddled, incredibly smart woman, a survivor of the horrific trying to make her life better.

Most of the books are set in Africa, the continent on which Munroe grew up, with bit taking place in the U.S. and one, dealing with a cult and the abduction of a child, taking place in South America. The Mask goes way over to the other side of the world, and I was a little nervous about that one. But Stevens makes it work. Beautifully.

The Mask is an action book with a lot of action AND a lot of smarts. The best kind. Vanessa Michael Munroe is a whole different kind of character. more than action fans are used to. Yes, she’s is violent and it’s bloody. Yes, she’s sexy and seductive. But all that makes for a smart, fast paced thriller.

4.5 stars for action and adventure. Nicely done!



I love to read; writing is my outlet. My blog is my way to combine the two, with a some life stories thrown in for good measure.

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