Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween from TRR

Happy Halloween from The Rainbow Reader

Those of you that are regular visitors to The Rainbow Reader know that I usually start out each book review with a short essay that somehow, at least in my humble opinion, relates to a theme, plot point, or cavernous leap-of-faith residing deep within the story.  I've talked about beady little eyes influencing my faith, bearded women, the base-4 notational system, and life in a small town.  

I've raved about a few books, and had to find a way to politely say that few others didn't really do it for me.  

I had the good sense to ask a few special guests to write reviews, and the better fortune that many of them accepted. 

I was honored to be asked to write pre-release reviews for Carol Anshaw, John Irving, and our very own Susan X. Meagher. 

I even got to unveil TRR's inaugural Very Best Awards in December of 2011.

But one moment stands out for me as truly the very best, and that happened on Halloween.

Let me slow down and explain a little of the backstory first...context is everything.

You see, for quite a while now, authors and publishers have been contacting me about reading and reviewing their books.  I try hard to accommodate everyone, and keep a running list of stories to review. On occasion, just as I'm about to do a review, the author or publisher will contact me and ask that I hold off on my review for one reason or another.  In that case, I almost always go to the next book on the list.  However, sometimes, if someone has just slipped a new book into my hands, I work it into the open slot.

That's where this whole story started...

It was October 25th, and I got an email from Casey at Bedazzled Ink.  After a few lovely compliments, she got down to business, as she is wont to do—she had two books that had just come out, and she wanted to know if I could review them.  I told her that wasn't a problem, and mentioned that I might just be able to slide one of them into the slot for the coming week, since I had a pending cancellation.  

She jumped on that little opportunity like a vegan on a lavendar cake...

By nightfall I had the book on my beloved Kindle, and even though I didn't know it at the time, I started to read the story that would change my life. 

It began like this:

"By faith the walls of Jericho fell down..."
                       — Hebrews 11:30

Many of you know the book I'm talking about, but for those of you who don't, it was Jericho by Ann McMan.  While the book had a handful of technical and editorial flaws, I couldn't deny the fact that there was something special about it—I knew the town, I knew the people, and I knew the love story.  Somehow it resonated deep within me, and it made me feel like someone had slipped a ruby into my pocket.

It was a pretty amazing experience, especially given that I'd never heard of this Ann McMan before.  

Still, I had a review to write, and I did my best to give it the review it deserved—that little ditty debuted on this site on All Hallows' Eve, a year ago today.

Quite often, authors contact me after a review to say "thanks," or to challenge something I said—that's part of the process.  Still, it would be over a month before I heard anything from Ann McMan, and that was only because I awarded her the TRR trophy for "Sexiest use of jagged verbal jousting and intellectual tête-à-tête in a mountaintop romance," and I happened to see my name scroll by in the left hand column as I logged onto Facebook—and you just know I had to say something about it.

The rest, as they say, is herstory...

I can't say I was ever a believer in love at first sight, and I sure as heck didn't believe in the concept of "soul mates."  But, when I really and truly met Ann McMan, it was all over for me.  We were legally married in North Hero, Vermont in April of 2012.  

Make no mistake, it was the best thing I EVER did.

So, this post commemorates the book and the review that changed everything.  

The only truly sucky thing to come of this is that I can't review Ann's books anymore.  

Thanks for stopping by and sharing this special moment with me.

Salem West
October 31, 2012
Winston-Salem, NC


  1. Well it might be sucky that you can't review her books anymore, but I think you got something Much Better!


  2. Happy Halloween, Salem, and sincere congrats on finding true love with a novelist. The romantic in me likes that! Seems like poetic justice that your fine blog has brought you a life partner.

  3. Never let it be said that I made the same sin of omission twice! Sweet Salem, you won't have to wait to hear back from me this time.

    When I read your review last Halloween, I thought my life would never be the same. When I met you, I was certain of it. Bless the lucky stars (and the vegan editor) that brought us together. You have filled my heart and my life with hope, love, laughter, and a hefty dose of dog hair. I owe many fantastic and transcendent things to a book called Jericho -- but the best of them all is how it brought me to you.

    I love you, Buddha Bean.

    Now...about that "handful of technical and editorial flaws"....

  4. You two are wonderful! I so wish a movie would be made of your lives together. Of course, it is too early for that with there only being a one-year anniversary and all, but I can easily predict, that someday a movie can be made, and will HAVE to be made of your love-story. I keep seeing it along the lines of the Thin Man movies, only with two female stars trading witty lines, 'sexy verbal jousting and intellectual tête-à-têtes'-- on a mountaintop or elsewhere. Happy, Happy Anniversary, and thanks for sharing the warmth.

  5. You may not be able to review books penned by your lovely bride, but you are still free to comment on her obvious impecable taste in women. When I first read Ann's book, I shouted Halleluiah! Ask my dogs, I really did. I was grateful to read another smartly written book, written by a smart woman for smart readers. When I heard that you two were an item, I thought, ah, the Gods got it right this time. I am glad you both found your soulmate. And in the event that you feel the need, you can always review Ann's choice of wine, snack foods or a variety of other subjects. Readers might be curious to know, does she prefer ranch or guacamole dip? Blessings to you both!

  6. Awww. That made me a little teary. Laugh during the good times,slog through the hard times, and never EVER forget you're together for a reason. May the bluebirds of connubial bliss shower bountiful blessings upon your heads.

  7. okay..that was really mushy and girly and yet oddly pleasing to this cynical "old salt of a few seas" haha See Reading IS fundamental, kids! ( I remember winning a coffee date with a rather curvaceous, attractive USN ensign by reciting Dylan Thomas' "Do Not Go Gently Into That Good Night" while in an incredibly intoxicated port o' call-dont ask, dont tell *S*) Here's to more anniversaries and girly mushy stuff for you and yours! S Libby

  8. Aw, I love that story. And as you know, I do believe in soul mates, and most definitely love at first sight. I wish you both all the best. Congratulations and happy anniversary.

  9. I've had the pleasure of enjoying random drunken lunches, autumnal park dancing, and snort-inducing belly laughs with Salem over the last 18 years and I can honestly say I've never known you to be happier. I love u for finding Ann McMan, who was the light leading u to yourself and your happiness. I always believed you would.