Thursday, September 28, 2017

Dark Road to Darjeeling

Deanna Raybourn's fourth in the Lady Julia Grey series, this novel is exotic in setting and the plot is full of unexpected twists. Lady Julia and Brisbane have finally settled things between themselves. After an extended honeymoon in the Mediterranean, they are ready for adventure. They head to India at the request of Julia's sister Portia and brother Plum to aid an old friend, the newly widowed Jane Cavendish. She questions her husband's death; it may have been murder for his estate, the tea plantation where she lives. If it were murder, is she and her unborn child at risk? Amid the lush foothills of the Himalayas, the danger is palpable and the investigation could prove deadly.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Not at this time

I have several health conditions; pain conditions, that keep my activities in check. These conditions have gotten markedly worse in the last few months. So much so that I'm considering withdrawing from Boy Scouts, which is my only volunteer position at the moment, takes the most out of me when I participate fully, and is one of my biggest joys.

The local theater group is auditioning for a production of Twelve Angry Women this week; and I thought it would be fun to audition. I would love to get involved in something that maybe wouldn't take so much of my energy, where I could meet potential friends. However, if I were to get a part, the rehearsals, I'm sure, would be at night. I can no longer drive at night (I can, but vision issues make me feel unsafe), so Bill would have to drive me. The actual performances will be held at a busy time for our family; we have other obligations. So. Not at this time.

I will have to keep thinking it through. Whether to quit Boy Scouts. To add something new if my pain and energy level can handle it. At the moment, that's a NO. Though I desperately want to. I cry thinking about giving up things that bring me joy. Becoming bedridden. I really don't want to offer it up; I want to keep going!

Father God, help me accept my situation as it is. Help me offer my suffering in accord with your will. Oh, help me be holy! Amen

Monday, September 25, 2017

Silent on the Moor

Deanna Raybourn's third installment of the Lady Julia Gray series, this book finds Lady Julia, her sister Portia, and their brother Valerius in Yorkshire. They have come to Grimsgrave Hall, a hulking pile of a place newly acquired by Nicholas Brisbane. Portia has come to set the household in order; Julia has come to (finally) see what there is between herself and Nicholas; Valerius to see that outward decorum is observed (this is Victorian England). However, upon arrival, they find the former owners of the Hall still very much in residence. The Allenby Family can trace their family back to kings (and use every opportunity to remind one of this). And they may not be as cordial as they appear.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

A Perilous Undertaking

Veronica Speedwell is back! This is the second in the series by Deanna Raybourn, and it is delicious! Veronica, lepidopterist and adventuress, is invited to the Curiosity Club, a ladies-only club for intrepid women. There she meets Lady Sundridge, who begs her to take on an impossible task; Miles Ramsforth, art patron, has been convicted of the murder of Artemisia, his artist mistress, and will hang in a week's time unless Veronica can unmask the true killer. For various reasons, Veronica accepts this challenge. With the help of Stoker, her natural-historian colleague, she hares about 1880's London, from palace to pleasure grotto, to resolve the case.

This book in the series is more raw than A Curious Beginning, but just as delightful. The characters are well drawn and likeable. The plot hums along. The tension between characters is recognizable and utterly believable. I look forward to the next installment.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Little Children

A novel by Tom Perrotta, Little Children is about a group of suburban, thirtyish parents and the children they bring to the playground. However, it seems to be more about the childish, selfish behavior of said parents. It's a sad book with no growth on the part of any character. It simply chronicles the dissolution of several families.

The Round House

This novel by Louise Erdrich was a National Book Award winner for fiction in 2012. It tells the story of the Coutts family, Geraldine, Bazil, and Joe, Ojibwe who live on a reservation in North Dakota. One Sunday in Spring, 1988, Geraldine is brutally attacked. The rape occurred near the Round House, a sacred space for the Ojibwe. This complicates justice, for the Round House is on tribal land but is surrounded by multiple jurisdictions. Unless the traumatized Geraldine can remember exactly where the attack took place, her white attacker will go free. Geraldine enrolls people into the tribe; Bazil is a tribal judge. Both of them have had occasion to "meet" the attacker through their files. Joe, the 13-year-old son of aging parents, realizes it is up to him to reclaim his family. With the help of his friends Cappy, Zack, and Angus he sets out on a course of revenge. Because the attacker has gone free through the jurisdictional nightmare. And, even if the rape had happened on tribal land, the tribal leaders would be unable to prosecute because the perpetrator was non-Indian; federal law prohibits them. (This burns my butt!) Something else I learned in the course of this book that is upsetting, to say the least. The number of women subject to sexual assault in this country is 1 in 5. That's sad. The number of native women who face sexual assault? 1 in 3. The number is surely higher because not everyone reports rape. 86% of these assaults are carried out by non-Native men. 86% cannot be prosecuted "in house", so to speak, leaving a Native woman to tell her story, relive the trauma, more than necessary. And face possible prejudice as well as the stigma of rape. Too sad. Must be changed. This unjust law must be changed.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Goodbye Days

A novel by Jeff Zentner. I. Am. Wrecked! This is a young adult novel; why is the YA genre so gaspingly real! Carver Briggs is a bright young man who has maybe done a stupid thing. He texted his friend Mars; a friend on the way to meet him with his two other best friends, Eli and Blake. Then there was The Accident. All three of his friends died, and on Mars's phone was a half - finished text to Carver. Now Carver is friendless, going to funerals, blaming himself, being blamed by some of the family members of his friends. Mars's father, a judge, is pressing the district attorney to charge Carver with negligent homicide. Eli's twin sister, Adair, stares daggers through him and uses her considerable influence at the prestigious Nashville Academy of the Arts, where they all went/go to school to turn people against him. He's having panic attacks. Yet Carver does have a support system still. His family. Jesmyn, Eli's girlfriend. Dr. Mendez, his psychiatrist. And Nana Betsy, Blake's grandmother, who asks Carver for a goodbye day, where they fill each other in on their parts of Blake's story. His life. It was successful. Cathartic. Soon the other families are asking for goodbye days. Will they be as successful?

Silent in the Sanctuary

A Lady Julia Grey Mystery by Deanna Rayburn. This is the second in the series, and quite entertaining. Lady Julia has spent six months recovering in Italy, but with her brother Lysander's precipitous marriage to a hot-headed Italian woman they are all called home to spend Christmas at the decommissioned Abbey in Sussex that serves as her father's estate. To buffer her father's anger, her brothers Lysander and Plum determine to invite their Italian friend, the Count Alessandro Fornacci, along. Lady Julia is grateful for his presence when Nicholas Brisbane is among her father's guests, with a friend of his own. Romantic intrigue takes a backseat, however, when one of the houseguests is found murdered in the chapel. Nicholas and Lady Julia investigate as snow cuts off communication and transportation and a murderer walks the halls.

Thursday, September 14, 2017


This lusciously imagined novel by Jo Baker is a literary spin-off of Pride and Prejudice. Longbourn is the manor of the Bennet family; and the book focuses on the world of the servants. The novel begins with the central character, Sarah, a housemaid, getting on with the business of washday. Simply gruelling. A startling insight into servanthood in regency England. Sarah is beginning to find service restrictive; she's young, she wants to see the world. Then a new footman hires on, and begins to turn the servants' world upside down, especially Sarah's. James Smith has secrets, though, and what he does to keep those secrets distresses everyone below stairs. A good read.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

The Saint Vs. the Scholar:

The Fight Between Faith and Reason. Jon M. Sweeney wrote this as a historical account of the clash between Bernard of Clairvaux (now recognized as Saint) and Peter Abelard. Unfortunately, the book often descends into a screed against Bernard. Sweeney represents the clash as one between faith and reason, two different ways of thinking about revelation and tradition (also, Tradition) that continue to this day. Yet his obvious bias against "faith" makes it difficult to accept anything he says as objective or accurate. His solution to the dilemma,  "let's just agree to disagree" is untenable when one considers the questions the Church faces today.

I found this an unsatisfactory read. I read it for my church book club, and barely finished it. (We discuss it this evening.) I'm sure our next book won't be such a slog.

Monday, September 11, 2017

The Forever Summer

A novel by Jamie Brenner, it's a bit convoluted, reminding that people and the choices they make often leave life messy, and hard, and unspeakably beautiful. Marin Bishop seems to have it all: a burgeoning career as a Manhattan lawyer, a handsome banker fiancée who works as hard as she does, parents who've been married thirty years as the perfect role models. Then she's involved in an office scandal, finding herself unemployed and alone. Enter Rachel, a stranger from Los Angeles, who insists Marin is her half - sister. Suddenly she and Rachel are off to Provincetown to meet family they didn't know they had, along with Marin's mother, who has just unleashed a secret that makes Marin question her entire life. They find refuge with Amelia, the young women's paternal grandmother, in a beach side inn. More secrets are divulged and much love is shared. Family is created.

Friday, September 8, 2017

A Bridge Across the Ocean

This is a novel by Susan Meissner. I didn't particularly care for it; one of the reasons is it skips time frames, eras, and years seemingly at random, and if you miss the heading, you are lost. And, as an HSP, the paranormal is one of the things I generally avoid. Meissner relates the horrors of WW II for Simone Devereux and Annaliese Lange. Finally, in February 1946 these two women are joining hundreds of other European war brides aboard the RMS Queen Mary (a character in her own right) to cross the Atlantic and be reunited with their American husbands. But at New York Harbor, only one of these two will disembark....In the present day, Brette Caslake visits the famously haunted Queen Mary at the request of a friend. This visit sends her investigating a 70-year-old mystery, as well as sets her out on a voyage of self-discovery.

Silent in the Grave

A debut novel by Deanna Rayburn, this is a fascinating Victorian era period mystery. Sir Edward Grey has been receiving threats and has quietly engaged the services of Nicholas Brisbane, a private inquiry agent. Sir Edward collapses and dies in front of his wife, Lady Julia, and several dinner guests. Sir Edward has long had a heart condition, so Lady Julia is angered when Brisbane suggests he was murdered. Much, much later she discovers one of the threatening letters and engages Brisbane's services herself to bring the murderer to justice. Through the investigation she uncovers some unpleasant truths and finds herself.

A Homemade Life

Stories and Recipes from my Kitchen Table. By Molly Wizenberg, this is a personable book telling of her life centered around the kitchen. I was not familiar with Molly's blog Orangette, however, it seems to have international acclaim. Most of her recipes are accessible for plain old cooks like me; and all of her stories are relatable to anyone. A great read.

Reading People

How Seeing the World Through the Lens of Personality Changes Everything.  This is a delightful overview of some of the most common personality frameworks by Anne Bogel, best known (so far) for her fabulous blog Modern Mrs. Darcy and her interesting podcast What Should I Read Next . I was selected to be on the launch team for this debut work; as such I was given an advance copy of the book by the publisher. If you pre-order this book at before its release date of September 19, you'll get some fun bonuses: a FREE download of the audiobook (which Anne recorded) and a class to dive deeper into the 9 reading personalities based on the quiz found on (I'm an explorer.) The class comes with book recommendations for each type!

Okay. With all the business out of the way, let's talk about the book! I am a personality framework junkie, however, even if you're not, this book is incredibly helpful. We can all benefit from understanding ourselves better and, once we get to know ourselves, we can begin to know others; especially their motives. When typing yourself, in whatever framework, be sure to see yourself as you are, not as you want to be.

Anne begins with a discussion of introverts (that's me!) and extroverts. I learned some things; for instance, extroverts process information in less time than introverts. The reason is fascinating to me. Anne then has a chapter on those with high sensitivity (yep, HSP here!). This was a chapter I had intuitively grasped but cognitively knew nothing about. Since I am also raising highly sensitive children, I will make use of the wonderful bibliography to research this topic more thoroughly.

The next chapter is an overview of the framework found in Please Understand Me II, by David Kiersey. This one was a new one for me and a little difficult to grasp. I believe I am an Idealist (NF), with cooperative tools and abstract words. I will have to read this overview several more times, then read the book referenced to fully understand.

She then goes on to address the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. This is perhaps the most well-known framework and maybe the most difficult for some because it breaks down into four dichotomies; thus sixteen possible combinations. I am INFP; introversion, iNtuition, feeling, perceiving. The next chapter continues MBTI with a discussion of the functions (another I'll have to read again).

Chapter 8 was about the Clifton Strengthsfinder, which focuses on what's already working. There are 34 themes in 4 loose categories to find the top 5 themes. This one was brand new to me; just eyeing the themes I came up with belief, communication, empathy, input, and intellection. Next, Anne addresses the Enneagram (I'm a 1, the Reformer, with a need to be perfect). Whoops! Somewhere in here she talked about the five love languages... I seem to have skipped over them. My primary language is quality time.

Anne, of course, explains each framework, tells some of the science behind each, and gives anecdotes from her life as to how each one has helped. This is a gentle introduction to personality frameworks and leaves the reader wanting to study more for himself. Recommended.