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Finally, on my way. My Mustang felt sweet as it zipped down the nearly empty highway. Why is it that cars seem to drive best when they're freshly washed? Leaning down, I popped a CD into the player, skipped forward to track 6 and began singing at the top of my very tone-deaf lungs with Eponine about the futility of love. As the next song keyed up, I swung around a slow-moving Chevy and yelled, "God, I love being a teacher!"
It was the first day of June, and the summer stretched before me, pristine and virginal.
"All those days of sleeping in to go!"
Just saying it aloud made me happy. In my ten years of teaching I've noticed that teachers tend to have a bad habit of talking to themselves. I hypothesize that this is because we talk for a living, and we feel safe speaking our feelings aloud. Or it could be that most of us, especially the high school teacher variety, are just weird as shit.
Only the slightly insane would choose a career teaching teenagers. I can just see my best girlfriend Suzanna's face screw up and the involuntary shudder move down her spine as I relate the latest trials and tribulations of the high school English classroom.
"God, Sha, they're so...so...hormone filled. Eew!" Suzanna is a typical college professor snob, but I love her anyway. She just doesn'tappreciate the many and varied opportunities for humorous interludes that teenagers provide on a daily basis.
Jean Valjean's dynamic tenor interrupted my musings, bringing me back to Oklahoma I-44 East and June 1.
"Yep, this is it—the life of a high school English teacher with a sense of humor. Doomed to having no money but plenty of comedic fodder. Oh, crap, there's my exit!"
Luckily my little Mustang could take the hard, fast right onto US-412. The sign said Locust Grove 22 miles. I drove half with my knee and half with my hand while I fumbled to unfold the auction flyer that held my written directions. Somewhere about midway between Locust Grove (what an awful name for a town) and Siloam Springs there should be a big sign that pointed to a side road till another sign, another side road, and so forth, until I came to the Unique Estate Auction—Unusual Items—All Offers Considered—All Must Go. "Well, I certainly like weird old stuff. And I really like weird old cheap stuff."
My students say my classroom is like a bizarre time warp. My walls and cabinets are filled with everything from prints by Waterhouse to posters of Mighty Mouse and hanging Star Trek Enterprise models, along with an almost scary number of wind chimes (they're good chi).
And that's just my classroom. They should see my condo. Guess they really wouldn't be surprised. Except at home I'm a neat freak. My classroom is always in a perpetual state of disarray. I can't seem to find anything if everything is found. Whatever the hell that means.
"I've got to stop cussing!" Saying it out loud would, hopefully, reinforce the idea. Kind of a twist on the Pavlov's dog theory. I keep saying it; it will begin to happen.
"I can't take you today, Javert." Flick! Off went Les Misérables. On goes the jazz station out of Tulsa. It's cool that I could pick it up way out in the boonies.
The sign read Locust Grove City Limits. So I slowed down, blinked, and the town was gone. Well, maybe it was nominally bigger than a blink. And I stayed slowed down. Time to stop and smell the green of Green Country. Oklahoma in early summer is an amazing display of color and texture. I went to college at the University of Illinois, and it always annoyed me that people talked about Oklahoma like it was a red dust bowl. Or some black-and-white scene of misery from The Grapes of Wrath. When I tried to tell the college gang that Oklahoma was really known as "Green Country" they would scoff and look at me as if they thought I'd eaten too many tumbleweeds or punched too many cows.
I passed through the tiny town of Leach (another unfortunate name) and topped a rise in the road. Oklahoma stretched before me, suddenly looking un-tamed in its beauty. I like to imagine a time when these roads were just paths, and civilization hadn't been so sure of itself. It must have been exciting to be alive then—not exciting like facing the principal after he has just heard from a parent who is upset about me calling Guinevere a slut—but exciting in a rugged, perhaps-we-won't-bathe-or-brush-our-teeth and we-kill-our-own-food-and-tote-our-own-water kind of way. Ugh. On second thought... It's delicious to dream about the days of cowboys or knights or dragons, and I will admit to an obsession with poets of the Romantic era and literature set, well, way back when (technical English teacher term). But reality reminds me that in actuality they did without penicillin and Crest. As my kids would say, "What's up with that?"
"There it is! Turnoff number one, as in a road sign, not to be confused with the blind date who comes to your door in navy blue double-knit trousers and a receding hairline."
UNIQUE ESTATE AUCTION AHEAD and an arrow, which pointed down a side road to my left.
This road was much less traveled (poetic pun intended). Kind of a sorry little two-laner with potholes and deep gravel shoulders. But it twisted and rolled in a pretty way, and "To Grandmother's house we go" hummed through my mind. I tried in vain to remember the rest of the song for the next several miles.
UNIQUE ESTATE AUCTION AHEAD and another arrow. Another side-side road. This one more gravel, less two lane, than the other. Well, maybe the out-ofthe-wayness of the estate would serve to dissuade the antique dealers, whom I considered the bane of every broke auction-goer. The jazz station faded out, which was actually fine because the Grandmother's House song had also faded from my internal radio—and been replaced with the theme to The Beverly Hillbillies (these words I did remember all of, which I found vaguely disturbing).
Speaking of hillbillies, I hadn't seen many houses. Hmmm...maybe the "estate" was really an old ranch house, smack in the middle of what used to be a real ranch owned by some Bonanzaesque rich folks. Now they've all died off and the land would be subdivided into neat little housing divisions so upper-middle-class folks could commute to...well, wherever. I call that job security for me. Upper-middle-class folks always have the prerequisite 2.5 kids, plus an additional
1.5 kid (from a previous marriage). And those kids gotta pass English to graduate from high school. God bless America.
Over a crook and a rise in the "road" loomed what I had been imagining as an old ranch house. "Holy shit! It's the House of Usher!" (Summer was definitely not the time to work on the cussing thing.) I slowed. Yep—there was another sign: UNIQUE ESTATE AUCTION, planted next to the gravel trail leading to the estate. A few cars, but mostly trucks (it is Oklahoma) were parked on what at one time was obviously a beautifully maintained front...I don't know...what the hell do you call something like that...it stretched on and on...yard seemed too simple a word. Grounds. That sounded better. Lots of grass. The drive was lined with big trees, as in Gone with the Wind, minus the weeping moss.
I realized I was gawking because an old guy dressed in black slacks and a high-necked white cotton shirt was waving me in with one of those handheld orange flashlight things, and his face had an irritated "stop gawking and drive, lady" look on it. As I pulled up next to him, he motioned for me to roll my window down.
"Afternoon, miss." He bent slightly at the waist and peered into my window. A fetid rush of air brought his words into my air-conditioned interior and killed my initial joy at being called "miss," which is definitely younger sounding than "ma'am." He was taller than I first thought, and his face was heavily lined, as if he had worked outside in the elements most of his life, but his complexion was a sickly, sallow color.
Good God! It was the daddy from Children of the Corn.
"Afternoon. Sure is warm today." I tried to be pleasant. "Yes, miss." Ugh—that smell again. "Please pull forward onto The Green. The auction will begin promptly at two."
"Uh, thanks." I tried to smile as I rolled the window up and moved to follow his pointed directions. What was that smell? Like something dead. Well, he was awfully pale; perhaps he wasn't well. That would account for the smell and the fact that he was wearing long sleeves in June, and I was a seriously hateful bitch to call the poor old guy Children of the Corn"s daddy. And the front yard is called The Green. Learn something new every day! I said to myself with a grimace. Clichés are the bane of educated mankind.
Before I turned off the car, I took my required several minutes (a man once told me he could always tell how attractive a woman was by how long it took her to get out of a car—I try to take a longgg time) to reap-ply my lipstick. I also took a minute to scope out the house. Scratch that—mansion.
My first impression held. This place seriously conjured images of Poe and Hawthorne. It was humongous, in a sprawling, Victorian-type of way. I'm usually drawn to unusual old homes, but not so with this one. I tipped my sunglasses down my nose to get a better view. It looked odd. It took a moment to figure out why, then it hit me—it looked as if it had been built in several different parts. The basic building was roughly a huge square, but added on to this square were two different porches, one rectangular with steps leading up to the entrance in a grandiose, sweeping manner. Not twenty feet down from the first porch was a second, rounded gazebo-like structure just, well, stuck on to the front of the building, complete with latticework and gnarly-looking roses. A large turret room was attached to one side of the building, like a cancerous growth, and a slope-roofed wing emerged from the opposite end of the structure. The whole thing was painted an awful shade of gray, and it was cracked and crinkled, like an old smoker's skin.
"There should really be some unique items to be had here." Muttering to myself, I got ready to tear my eyes away from Usher's abode when a shiver tickled down my spine. A thick cloud passed in front of the sun and the "walking on my grave" feeling hit me like a bad dream. Is it late? It seems to me that the light darkens. My English teacher mind plucked the quote from Medea. Greek tragedy, replete with revenge, betrayal and death. Seemed, in an inopportune way, appropriate.
Excerpted from Divine By Mistake by P.C. Cast Copyright © 2006 by P.C. Cast. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Posted April 7, 2010
I Also Recommend:
Having been a fan of P.C. and Kristen Cast's House of Night series, I have to admit that I was a little apprehensive about trying out any of P.C. Cast's other books. For the most part, I love the House of Night series - would I feel the same way about her other books? While I do try to read many of my books in an objective format that allows me to see the good parts in each individual piece, I was afraid that if I became disenchanted with Cast's adult books, it might ruin her young adult ones for me as well.
I am pleased to announce that I should have just thrown my worry to the ground and squished it under my shoe. While definitely having a different feel to them than the House of Night books do, the Goddess of Partholon books are turning out to be pretty spectacular. The first in the series, DIVINE BY MISTAKE follows Shannon Parker, a school teacher loving the freedom of summer break, as she discovers an ancient vase that will turn her world upside down - literally. Where there were once cars, there are now horses. Jeans and a cashmere sweater? Nope, let's try a lovely wrapped piece of silk and some strappy sandals.
I'll admit that the beginning of the book was a little hard to get into. I almost put it down to take a break, but decided to keep on going. You'll remember that I said the same thing about Stephenie Meyer's The Host. The beginning was slow but the rest of the book was phenomenal. In this case, it seemed like the beginning of DIVINE BY MISTAKE almost went by a little too quickly. Some things didn't seem fully explained and other didn't make sense. I had to ignore my mind as it tried to figure out the spatial aspect of the story as it didn't always seem like the shapes and sizes of things in the story were described the same as the way they were used. Once I was able to get past this, however, I realized what a great book this really is.
If there is anything new I have discovered about P.C. Cast's writing it's that this author is incredibly funny. The House of Night series can be humorous, but in general Zoey and her posse follow a fairly dark path. While there were certainly very dark and very graphic scenes in DIVINE BY MISTAKE, Ms. Cast was able to throw quite a bit of humor in their to lighten up the mood of the book. I can honestly say that Shannon is one of my favorite characters in the stories I have read thus far this year. The author has imbued her with a sense of humor, a modern personality that clashes beautifully with the old-fashioned world she has been transported to, and a set of quirks that just make her adorable.
While we're discussing wonderful characters, let's visit ClanFintan, shall we. I can honestly say that I had never read a story that included any form of romance between a centaur and a human. I didn't know how it would work and it if would be weird, but the way Ms. Cast created her world and the way she developed her characters made this aspect of the story one of the best. ClanFintan is like any tall, dark, and handsome man we dream of. Only difference is that he has the hindquarters of a horse. What could be better for those of us that never grew out of our princess and horse-lover phase? The author's descriptions of ClanFintan, his mannerisms, and the personality she gives him really helped to make this one heck of a book.
9 out of 9 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 29, 2009
I Also Recommend:
I loved this book, it was a funny & fun easy read. I don't know that I would call this a "teen" book but as an adult I thought it was great. The heroine is a 35 year old, under paid, over worked, sarcastic, wine drinkin school teacher with a string of bad relationships. So as a 35 year old sarcastic, wine drinkin', bad realtionship magnet I most deffinately identify. I would like to live in partholon as long as there is t.p. & wine! Oh and the horse bites! Read it & you will get that comment :)
2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 17, 2006
Posted June 30, 2012
Posted July 8, 2006
Thirty something high school English teacher Shannon Parker stops at an auction sale where she notices a vase containing a portrait of her on it. She wins the bid with a ridiculously low price tag due to a mysteriously appearing crack inside the vase. On her way home, Shannon is transported from her vehicle to a luxurious temple where her friend Suzanna calls her Lady. She soon learns that the vase was a portal that her ¿twin¿ the High Priestess of Epona Rhiannon used for them to switch places Suzanna is actually Rhiannon¿s slave Alanna. --- Centaur ClanFintan arrives with his ¿horsies¿ to demand Rhiannon complete the hand-fastening ceremony that would have them married for a year. Shannon goes through the ceremony, but refuses to take any lip (or other body part) from a man built at least down there like a thoroughbred. Instead she treats him and others the same way she taught teenage hormonal maniacs in Oklahoma. As the transplanted Shannon and the shapeshifting centaur fall in love, she tells him who she is while they team up to battle the malevolent Famorians, demonic vampire like evil creatures and to prevent the real Rhiannon from returning. --- The first ¿Goddess¿ book is a fun to read mythological romance because the different species of legend seem genuine and the strong heroine is ready to do battle in this case on behalf of her new society and her beloved against her ¿twin¿ and the Famorians using the techniques honed in teaching wars with teenagers. This tale is amusing mostly due to Shannon¿s observations and quips yet it has its¿ serious moments too (for instance the worshipped Goddess learns that teachers are treated with economic contempt). Though the heroine adjusts too easily, fantasy romance fans will cast about seeking the remaining delightful Goddess tales. --- Harriet Klausner
1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 11, 2014
I absolutely adore this book. I read a lot,but I have a select few books that I cannot help but read again and again. This is one of those books. Its a wonderful story and some parts had me laughing aloud in crowded place. Definatly worth while.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 20, 2013
Posted July 12, 2012
Posted April 13, 2012
Posted February 17, 2012
The Divine Series by P.C. Cast is just as enthralling and
spell binding as the House of Night Series. I fell in love
with the the Godess and all of her chosen ones and didn't want
it to end. P.C. is above all one of my favorite writers
Posted February 12, 2012
Let me start by saying that I am currently on page 130 of this book (Divine by Mistake). So far I don't like it, it reads like someone babbling aloud and it takes me out of the story. I want to like it but the style of writing is very distracting. The author sometimes describes things through several pages that could be told effectively with one paragraph. It's not suspenseful, it's distracting. That being said, I do like P.C. Cast's Goddess of Summoning books. I've read all of them up to Goddess of Legend and i like them all. I'm hoping this book will get a lot better very soon. Will do another review when finished with book.
I've just finished the book and I am happy with it. It did get a lot better after i wrote my last review and though the plot of this story isn't flawless I still like the story.
Posted August 15, 2011
Posted May 31, 2011
Posted January 9, 2011
Posted December 26, 2010
I absolutely loved this book, there were times that I just couldn't put it down, and not just because its a love story but it was funny as well. PC Cast just cracks me up...and the one liners that she comes up with are absolutely hilarious. Ok so she isnt exactly a comedy writer but she has a wonderful sence of humor, one that I totally get! If you get the chance to read this story I recommend it, its quite an interesting take on love.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 8, 2010
i love the way P.C. can take mythology and make it her own...i read the goddess series and just had to read more of her work. i love Shannon Parker's character she has to be one of my favorites i would recommend this book/series to anyone who just like to curl up for a couple of hours and escape to a magical worldWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 24, 2010
I absolutely love this series! I enjoyed the first, but was a little disappointed with the open ending for Aine and Tegan. But I ordered the second and am very glad I did! I have been sucked into the world P.C. Cast has created and have a difficult time putting it down. Her words made me laugh out loud and I cried at the appropriate times. I have not yet finished it, bit this book is enthralling. And I cannot wait to read the rest of this series and will be reading it again in the future!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 15, 2010
I realy enjoyed this book; after reading many vampire books I didn't think I would be able to enjoy another style but boy was I wrong. It has some adult language....I WAS SICK OF ALL THE TEEN BOOKS!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 9, 2010
This book has a slight twist on the "modern person finds themselves in a fantasy world" trope: The people in the fantasy world are "mirror copies" of Shannon 's friends and acquaintances in the modern world. Shannon and the mirror version of herself in Partholon (Rhiannon) switch places. It turns out that while Shannon and Rhiannon look alike and have similar tastes in jewelry, perfume, etc. that they are quite different personality-wise. Presumably this is due to different life circumstances; Shannon is a high-school teacher, and the daughter of a high-school teacher. Rhiannon is the daughter of a powerful lord (think Scottish clan chieftain) and grew up as the Beloved of the Goddess Epona - essentially treated as if she were the goddess herself, which made her rather spoiled and self-centered. The fact that Shannon already has a defined place in Partholon society, as well as feeling like she knows people already helps my belief in the ease with which she transitions into the new world. I wish, however, that it wasn't only Shannon that had a different personality; everyone she meets that she recognizes from her previous life, behave pretty much as she expects them to based on her acquaintance with their mirror-selves in the modern world. It seems odd to me that it's only Shannon that makes such different choices due to differing circumstances.
Mostly the plot is the standard "modern person finds themselves in a fantasy world, and must save the world from evil". However, there is a huge romantic element to this book. For me, the love story between Shannon and ClanFintan is the main charm of the book. ClanFintan is even more of a romantic hero wish-fufillment then Colon Firth's Mr. Darcy! I am not at all sure why ClanFintan falls in love with Shannon (when apparently he has every reason to dislike her body-double Rhiannon, and Shannon doesn't tell him that she's not Rhiannon until after they fall in love). The only explanation seems to be divine intervention, which is exactly how the Goddess Epona explains him to Shannon . ClanFintan is truly a dream-come-true as a romantic hero - he's sweet, funny, and incredibly caring and giving. However, it did start to bother me that their relationship eventually felt rather one-sided - at one point he spends the evening massaging and pampering Shannon because she's had a hard day. There is no acknowledgement that his day organizing the war effort was probably just as rough as hers. By the end of the book I was uneasy that it didn't seem to me that Shannon gave back (or was allowed to do so). However, reading about all that caring and pampering makes me completely enamored of ClanFintan.
The fact that ClanFintan is a centaur while Shannon is human is an interesting one. Especially since one of the first things that happen after Shannon is transported to Partholon is their marriage. In my opinion, the question of bestiality is quite delicately handled; it arises as soon as Shannon realizes that her soon-to-be husband isn't human. Happily, ClanFintan is a High Shaman which means he is able, with effort, to shape-shift into a human. However, he can't always shape-shift due to the effort - so the book still has to delicately handle the question of an inter-species romance. The sex scenes are explicit enough that it is directly handled, in a way that worked well for me.