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January 23, 2014 Edition
In a series of vignettes, McCorkle introduces readers to the variety of personalities living at the Pine Haven retirement center. Each story highlights a resident, relative, or caregiver, connecting one to another with the subtle finesse for which McCorkle is known. Readers meet Joanna, a nurse at the center, the townís Patron Saint of Divorce, whose life was saved by a dog named Tammy and recreated by Tammyís owner. And Rachel, who left the town her husband was buried in and moved to Pine Haven to spend her last years near her loverís grave. And thereís Harley, a huge friendly cat who went from beloved to feared by many residents after the stories about another nursing home with a cat who predicted death, and Sadie, in many ways the centerís central resident. This is not for those who want action in their books, instead, itís for all who love to meet new people and get to know them.
Master ninja Hiroís undercover assignment to protect Father Mateo gets complicated when the Portuguese priest vows to protect a beautiful entertainer who is accused of murder. It is 1564 in Kyoto when the body of a samurai is found in a teahouse with his throat raggedly slashed. Sayuri was the last to see him alive and tradition will sentence her to death if no one steps in. Father Mateo is given three days to investigate before he and Sayuri are both executed, so Hiro steps in to help. Between the three of them, they unravel a convoluted plot that could change the course of Japanís history.
When Helenís father works at ending World War II, the ten year old is confined to an aging family estate in the south under the supervision of her 22-year old cousin, Flora. Helenís mother died when she was three, and she has been raised by her beloved grandmother, who passes away just as the story opens. Now the headstrong little girl is grieving even though she doesnít want to acknowledge it. Helen is bright and she knows it, but not old enough to understand Floraís kind devotion Ė she mistakes it for simplemindedness and treats Flora with condescension. Things only get worse when the two are quarantined to the house during fears of a polio outbreak and see only Finn, a young war veteran. And then tragedy strikes and Helen discovers the truth about Flora.
Jonny Valentine may be a lonely eleven-year old, but at least heís a superstar. Thatís what his mom seems to think, anyway. Jonny isnít sure what he thinks. It might be nice to go to a regular school, have friends his own age, and not be swarmed by fans whenever he goes out, but he doesnít think heíll get the chance to find out. Instead, Jonnyís touring the country with his addicted but mostly-functional mom, lip-syncing to his own music, and trying not to get too weirded out about his first zit. While his mom is looking for a way to use his encroaching puberty to up his album sales, Jonny sets about surreptitiously tracking down his absent father. Part inside scoop on stardom, part family drama, Jonnyís story is all about the transition we all have to make from our child to our adult selves.