Martin's Must-Reads

“When Kya ran to the porch, she saw her mother in a long brown skirt, kick pleats nipping at her ankles, as she walked down the sandy lane in high heels. The stubby-nosed shoes were fake alligator skin. From there she saw the blue train case Ma carried. Usually, with the confidence of a pup, Kya knew her mother would return with meat wrapped in greasy brown paper or with a chicken head dangling down. But she never wore the gator heels, never took a case.”

“The last time she’d come out this way was two years ago to move her grandfather out of his house. Since that afternoon, they’d heard lots of stories about what was happening in Bear Creek Valley. The army had built a city folks said. Mary had been working in Oak Ridge for almost a year and assured June there were plenty of good jobs for the taking. A tall fence topped with barbed wire ran along the road, and June could see buildings beyond it in the distance. A sign in front of the fence read MILITARY RESERVATION, NO TRESPASSING."

Martin's Must Reads: 'Sea of Poppies'

Aug 6, 2019

“At the heart of this vibrant saga is an old slave ship the Ibis. It’s destiny is a tumultuous voyage across the Indian Ocean, its purpose to fight in China’s vicious nineteenth-century Opium Wars. As for the crew, they are a motley array of sailors and stowaways, coolies and convicts.”

“The old man opens his watery blue eyes, those colorless foreign eyes that had frightened Ren so much in the beginning, and whispers something. The boy bends his cropped head closer. ‘Remember.’  The boy nods. ‘Say it.’ The hoarse rasp is fading. ‘When you are dead, I will find your missing finger,’ Ren replies in a clear small voice. ‘And?’ He hesitates. ‘And bury it in your grave.”

“On the morning of April 28, 1986, a fire alarm sounded in the Los Angeles Public Library. As the moments passed, the patrons and staff who had been cleared out of the building realized this was not the usual false alarm. As one fireman recounted later, “Once that first stack got going, it was goodbye, Charlie.”