Posted in Chasing Away the Blues

LOOKING BACK: FINDING WAYS TO “CHASE AWAY THE BLUES”

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Good morning!  It is Friday, but today I’m going to share some thoughts about Mondays…blue Mondays.  And I’ve dug into my archives here and found a post from two years ago:  December 22, 2014.

I had just moved this blog over from Blogger…I got tired of the issues I was having there, and my other blogs were at WP.  Not that there aren’t issues here, too.  But I felt comfortable with most of them.

The “Blues” seems to be a recurring theme for me, not only on Mondays, but during the holidays.  So in this excerpt, I am remembering what I was feeling back then…and what I did to overcome the “down in the dumps” feeling.

 

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I love Mondays!  Seriously, I do.  But I used to hate them.  Which is one reason that I am now celebrating, via this blog, the absence of Blue Mondays.  Post-retirement, I relished being able to wake up on Mondays, or any day, and do what I wanted.  And read all day every day.

Chasing Away the Blues (through reading) is our antidote to the blues.

But some Mondays can seem blue, even now.  Like the Monday of a holiday week, with many blogs quiet and memes missing.  Yes, the bloggers need a break, too!  What does this say about me that I am so glued to my laptop and my online world?

Am I addicted?  Dependent?  Or at loose ends because I just miss those connections?

Meanwhile, however, the books, those trusty friends, are close by.  And I am now reading A Fireproof Home for the Bride, by Amy Scheibe.

 

 

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I am frustrated by this book.  I am rooting for Emmy, the main character, but wishing she had more backbone.  But then I think…yes, I can relate to the tyranny of her home.  Many aspects of it resemble the one in which I grew up, and it took me a lot of determination to find my voice.  And I was already kind of a rebel.

Eager to find out what she does to escape the tyranny, I kept reading late into the night…and hope to finish it this morning.

Some horrible things have happened to her, and I think that I would have been out of there already…and she is eighteen at the time most of these things happened.

Do you ever get annoyed with characters that seem mired in their situations?  Do you want to urge them on?

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Next, I hope to read Lillian on Life, another review book…but I also have some e-books on my list this week.

 

 

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Later today, I am going over to hang out with Noah, my youngest grandson.  He also loves to read, and when I went there on Saturday, we spent time at Barnes & Noble, buying books for him.  I enjoy reading and sipping their coffee while he picks out books.  We might do that again today.

 

 

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I restrained myself and didn’t buy any books for myself that day.  I had already downloaded some e-books from Amazon.

Yesterday, the UPS man delivered a package…on Sunday!  I couldn’t believe it.  It held the cute birdhouse in the photo (below).  I collect birdhouses, and my youngest son has added to this collection over the years.  I think this one reminds him of our A-Frame house in the foothills.

 

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So I am feeling very cheerful at the moment, with much to look forward to…and hey, my blues have disappeared!  Again.

Even when you have a sure-fire way to chase away the blues, do you sometimes have to reach down and plumb the depths?  Searching for that antidote?

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What brings you out of the blues during the holidays?  Besides the things I mentioned above, I love watching Netflix these days. The Gilmore Girls revival helped me last weekend.

Since we all seem to have the blues occasionally during the holidays, I ask myself what triggers the feelings?  Could it be that the cheery songs, lights, and constant parties remind me of what I don’t have in my life?  Or is it simply the passage of time?

Whatever brings me down, it is important to find ways to uplift our souls, whether it is with books, movies, or family and friends.  Let’s hang in there!

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Posted in Bookish Friday

BOOKISH FRIDAY: “THE OTHER WIDOW”

Married to Books-BOOKISH LOGO

Welcome to another Bookish Friday, in which I  share excerpts from books…and connect with other bloggers, who do the same.

Let’s begin the celebration by sharing Book Beginnings, hosted by Rose City Reader; and let’s showcase The Friday 56 with Freda’s Voice.

To join in, just grab a book and share the opening lines…along with any thoughts you wish to give us; then turn to page 56 and excerpt anything on the page.

Then give us the title of the book, so others can add it to their lists!

What a great way to spend a Friday!

Today I am excited about one of my new downloads:  The Other Widow, by Susan Crawford.  The author of The Pocket Wife explores the dark side of love, marriage, and infidelity in this sizzling novel of psychological suspense.

 

 

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Beginning:  (Dorrie)

The Audi skids on a slick street.  Black ice.  Dorrie bends to sip hot chocolate from a Starbucks cup.  Too hot, it burns her tongue, and she jerks the cup back, sloshing several drops across her coat.  “Sorry!”  She feels around his seat, wipes the spilled drink with her sleeve, glancing at Joe with his hands tight around the steering wheel.  He looks angry, his jaw rigid in the disjointed, nearly absent light, the scraps from the streetlights hazy and distorted as snow starts to fall sideways on the wind.

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56:  She misses him a hundred times a day, laments the shocking death—the snow, that fucking ice.  Cruel of him, she thinks, to die the way he did, with another woman there beside him in the car.

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Synopsis:  Everybody’s luck runs out. This time it could be theirs . . .

It isn’t safe. That’s what Joe tells her when he ends their affair—moments before their car skids off an icy road in a blinding snowstorm and hits a tree. Desperate to keep her life intact—her job, her husband, and her precious daughter, Lily—Dorrie will do everything she can to protect herself, even if it means walking away from the wreckage. Dorrie has always been a good actress, pretending to be someone else: the dutiful daughter, the satisfied wife, the woman who can handle anything. Now she’s going to put on the most challenging performance of her life. But details about the accident leave her feeling uneasy and afraid. Why didn’t Joe’s airbag work? Why was his car door open before the EMTs arrived? And now suddenly someone is calling her from her dead lover’s burner phone. . . .

Joe’s death has left his wife in free fall as well. Karen knew Joe was cheating—she found some suspicious e-mails. Trying to cope with grief is devastating enough without the constant fear that has overtaken her—this feeling she can’t shake that someone is watching her. And with Joe gone and the kids grown, she’s vulnerable . . . and on her own.

Insurance investigator Maggie Brennan is suspicious of the latest claim that’s landed on her desk—a man dying on an icy road shortly after buying a lucrative life insurance policy. Maggie doesn’t believe in coincidences. The former cop knows that things—and people—are never what they seem to be.

As the fates of these three women become more tightly entwined, layers of lies and deception begin to peel away, pushing them dangerously to the edge . . . closer to each other . . . to a terrifying truth . . . to a shocking end.

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Ooh, I can’t wait to read this one!  What do you think?  Does it grab you?

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Posted in Book review

REVIEW: ECHOES OF FAMILY, BY BARBARA CLAYPOLE WHITE

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Marianne Stokes should be happy. She has a marriage with a man who adores her…and she returns the feeling. Together they run a music studio, and on the side, she works with teen girls who are broken. Just as she is broken. She took in Jade when she was a teenager, and together they are like mother and daughter.

But another car crash, reminiscent of one so long ago when she was a teenager, catapults her back into her broken state, and after a few months, she disappears. She does leave a note for her husband Darius, but she has never told him the secrets from her past. The crash that started her spiral downward.

Back in Newton Rushford, the village where it all took place, she revisits the grave of her lover Simon…and the memories. Nearby is Simon’s brother Gabriel, her once-upon-a-time best friend and first love, who is now a vicar. He takes her in, and on the way to revisiting the past, she goes off her meds…and the repercussions are phenomenal.

Echoes of Family opens up the box of secrets, and in the alternating narratives of Marianne, Gabriel, and Jade, we learn all the truths that are hidden in their hearts. Can Gabriel and Marianne finally confront what they have kept hidden? Will they once and for all bury the pain and move forward? Can Marianne return home and start anew, while Gabriel finds room in his heart for love again?

I connected to the broken characters and their efforts to rebuild their lives. This poignant excerpt is a reminder of how much Marianne has flailed about, trying to create something that cannot happen:

“Her own baby had died because of her, and she was stuck on repeat, trying to create a family out of nothing more than echoes. Past and present crashed into each other. There was no future. Everything stopped except for Gabriel’s heartbeat and a distant siren. Insanity—ugly and twisted even in death—was the devil that couldn’t be defeated. Madness was the victor; she quit.”

While I enjoyed the very realistic characters, and could empathize with Marianne’s torment, her constant self-absorption was frustrating, as every time she focused on herself, the pathway was littered with the pain she created in others. Yes, this is often the detritus of mental illness, but I felt for the others who were left behind, struggling. The author showed us a very real story, however, so for that, I am granting this book 5 stars.

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Posted in Book review

REVIEW: THE MURDER GAME, BY CATHERINE MCKENZIE WRITING AS JULIE APPLE

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The four of them had attended McGill Law School in Montreal, back in the 1990s: Julian McCarthy, Jonathan Sayers, Meredith Delay, and Lily. Back then, they played games with pseudo murder cases, trying to figure out ways for a perpetrator to commit the act and get away with it.

The relationships between the four are complicated, so in addition to their law school fun and games, they are occasional sexual partners, with Lily hooking up with Julian, and Meredith with Jonathan. But the on again off again aspect disturbs Meredith enough that she finally ends things. But Lily is a mysterious character, like a cipher, close-mouthed about her personal life and her secrets. Even when she and Julian aren’t joined at the hip, she doesn’t talk about it. She was quite vocal in frequently announcing her high IQ, however, almost as if she didn’t quite believe it herself.

Fast-forward to 2008, when Meredith gets a mysterious phone call about Julian. We don’t know the exact content of that call, but as The Murder Game begins, we are ready for anything.

Back-pedaling to 2007, the news breaks that Julian McCarthy has been arrested for the murder of a man named Nick Allen, who was home on bail facing charges that he sexually abused his eleven-year-old son. Jonathan Sayers is his defense attorney, and before she can even stop to ponder the issues, Meredith, who works for the Crown Prosecutor’s office, will be prosecuting the case. She tries to plead conflict of interest, but her boss turns her down. And the defense attorney waives conflict.

So…the games begin.

Back and forth in time we go, learning bits and pieces about the four when they were young, moving forward a little at a time, until finally we begin to suspect something is amiss. Could the four of them have set these events in motion? Or could the unfolding events in the present have been pure coincidence?

As a big fan of legal suspense tales, and also having read and loved Fractured, with its main character being Julie Apple, I could not stop reading until I reached the final page. Then I had my answers. Or did I?

I can’t wait to see if “Julie Apple” continues with Meredith’s story. I loved this character, and want to spend more time with her. 5 stars.

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Posted in Bookish Friday

BOOKISH FRIDAY: “IN A DARK, DARK WOOD”

Married to Books-BOOKISH LOGO

Welcome to another Bookish Friday, in which I  share excerpts from books…and connect with other bloggers, who do the same.

Let’s begin the celebration by sharing Book Beginnings, hosted by Rose City Reader; and let’s showcase The Friday 56 with Freda’s Voice.

To join in, just grab a book and share the opening lines…along with any thoughts you wish to give us; then turn to page 56 and excerpt anything on the page.

Then give us the title of the book, so others can add it to their lists!

What better way to spend a Friday!

My feature today is In a Dark, Dark Wood, by Ruth Ware, a suspenseful, compulsive, and darkly twisted psychological thriller.

 

 

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Beginning:  I am running.

I am running through moonlit woods, with branches ripping at my clothes and my feet catching in the snow-bowed bracken.

Brambles slash at my hands.  My breath tears in my throat.  It hurts.  Everything hurts.

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56:  At last I could see the road, a pale gray snake in the deepening shadows.  As I broke out from the woods I heard the soft hoot of an owl, and I obeyed Flo’s instructions, turning right along the tarmac.

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Synopsis: Leonora, known to some as Lee and others as Nora, is a reclusive crime writer, unwilling to leave her “nest” of an apartment unless it is absolutely necessary. When a friend she hasn’t seen or spoken to in years unexpectedly invites Nora (Lee?) to a weekend away in an eerie glass house deep in the English countryside, she reluctantly agrees to make the trip. Forty-eight hours later, she wakes up in a hospital bed injured but alive, with the knowledge that someone is dead. Wondering not “what happened?” but “what have I done?”, Nora (Lee?) tries to piece together the events of the past weekend. Working to uncover secrets, reveal motives, and find answers, Nora (Lee?) must revisit parts of herself that she would much rather leave buried where they belong: in the past.

In the tradition of Paula Hawkins’s instant New York Times bestseller The Girl On the Train and S. J. Watson’s riveting national sensation Before I Go To Sleep, this gripping literary debut from UK novelist Ruth Ware will leave you on the edge of your seat through the very last page.

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What do you think?  Want to keep reading?

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Posted in Book review

REVIEW: INHERITING EDITH, BY ZOE FISHMAN

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When Maggie Sheets, a struggling single mother to toddler daughter Lucy, learns that she has inherited a beach house in Sag Harbor, she is stunned. Not only because she had never expected to receive anything from her former friend Liza. She is also not sure what to think of the “catch” that comes with the legacy. The inheritance includes Liza’s aging mother Edith.

Maggie had met Liza Brenner, a bestselling author, when she had taken on the job of cleaning her penthouse. At some point, the two of them connected. But then, a misunderstanding (or a betrayal, depending on your perspective) drove a wedge between them.

Now Maggie has to decide what to do. Leave her house cleaning business in New York, for the cottage on the beach…and the elderly woman roommate. Or keep doing what she has been doing. But Edith could be a handful. She seems to be in early Alzheimer’s disease.

Alternating perspectives tell the story of Inheriting Edith, bringing out each woman’s history. They have more in common than they initially realized, and I was delighted to discover the layers (and secrets) of these two characters. In a lovely setting, we learn more than we bargained for.

Will they find a way to coexist? Can they provide comfort and support to one another? How will one of Edith’s secrets bind them closer together? Somewhat predictable, the story also offered up glimpses into the lives they create together, and how unexpected challenges can be true gifts. I enjoyed this book, and recommend it for those who like family issues. 4 stars.

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Posted in Bookish Friday

BOOKISH FRIDAY: “HILLBILLY ELEGY”

Married to Books-BOOKISH LOGO

Welcome to another Bookish Friday, in which I  share excerpts from books…and connect with other bloggers, who do the same.

Let’s begin the celebration by sharing Book Beginnings, hosted by Rose City Reader; and let’s showcase The Friday 56 with Freda’s Voice.

To join in, just grab a book and share the opening lines…along with any thoughts you wish to give us; then turn to page 56 and excerpt anything on the page.

Then give us the title of the book, so others can add it to their lists!

What better way to spend a Friday!

My current read is an engaging memoir that I’ve been hearing a lot about.  Hillbilly Elegy:  A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis, by J. D. Vance, is a powerful account of growing up in a poor Rust Belt town that offers a broader, probing look at the struggles of America’s white working class.

 

 

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Beginning:  (Chapter 1)

Like most small children, I learned my home address so that if I got lost, I could tell a grownup where to take me.  In kindergarten, when the teacher asked me where I lived, I could recite the address without skipping a beat, even though my mother changed addresses frequently, for reasons I never understood as a child.  Still, I always distinguished “my address” from “my home.”  My address was where I spent most of my time with my mother and sister, wherever that might be.  But my home never changed:  my great-grandmother’s house, in the holler, in Jackson, Kentucky.

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Yes, more than a couple of sentences, but the whole paragraph seemed important.

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56:  There was, and still is, a sense that those who make it are of two varieties.  The first are lucky:  They come from wealthy families with connections, and their lives were set from the moment they were born.  The second are the meritocratic:  They were born with brains and couldn’t fail if they tried.

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Synopsis:  Hillbilly Elegy is a passionate and personal analysis of a culture in crisis—that of white working-class Americans. The decline of this group, a demographic of our country that has been slowly disintegrating over forty years, has been reported on with growing frequency and alarm, but has never before been written about as searingly from the inside. J. D. Vance tells the true story of what a social, regional, and class decline feels like when you were born with it hung around your neck.

The Vance family story begins hopefully in postwar America. J. D.’s grandparents were “dirt poor and in love,” and moved north from Kentucky’s Appalachia region to Ohio in the hopes of escaping the dreadful poverty around them. They raised a middle-class family, and eventually their grandchild (the author) would graduate from Yale Law School, a conventional marker of their success in achieving generational upward mobility.

But as the family saga of Hillbilly Elegy plays out, we learn that this is only the short, superficial version. Vance’s grandparents, aunt, uncle, sister, and, most of all, his mother, struggled profoundly with the demands of their new middle-class life, and were never able to fully escape the legacy of abuse, alcoholism, poverty, and trauma so characteristic of their part of America. Vance piercingly shows how he himself still carries around the demons of their chaotic family history.

A deeply moving memoir with its share of humor and vividly colorful figures, Hillbilly Elegy is the story of how upward mobility really feels. And it is an urgent and troubling meditation on the loss of the American dream for a large segment of this country.

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Like many others right now (currently, there are over 2,200 reviews), I had to delve into this book and find out more.  So far, I’m amazed at how familiar some of these families and situations are, from my years of social work.  You can find these kinds of families in Central California, as well, and not just the Appalachians or the Midwest.

What do you think?  Would you keep reading?

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