Book Challenge by Erin January 2017

Books! Beautiful books!

It’s Book Challenge by Erin time again!

I’m excited about the categories and really jazzed about my choices this time! I even found a couple of books for the challenge round (assuming I make it). Ha! Last time I came really close to completing the challenge round–just off by two books, I think.

5 points: Freebie – Read a book that is at least 200 pages.

Frannie and True by Karen Hattrup

10 points: Read a book that starts with the letter “W”.

When We Were Sisters by Emilie Richards

10 points: Read a book with six words in the title.

The Things We Wish Were True by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen

15 points: Read a book that has a (mostly) green cover.

A Grown-up Kind of Pretty by Joshilyn Jackson

20 points: Read a book with a homonym in the title.

The Burning Air by Erin Kelly

[I’m a purist when it comes to homonyms. I cotton (see what I did there?) to the primary definition of homonym–sound and spelling the same; meaning different. So…Air = atmosphere + personal bearing]

20 points: Read a book by your favorite author.

The River King by Alice Hoffman

[This was hard as I have many favorite authors. I chose among Alice Hoffman, Kate Atkinson, and Laura Lippman.]

25 points: Read a book set in the city/town/state/territory/county/province where you live.

The Mistress of Spices by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

30 points: Read a “Rory Gilmore” book.

Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood

[I loved looking at the Rory Gilmore titles and was even actually a little bit impressed with myself about how many I had read.]

30 points: Read a book from a genre that you’ve never read (or rarely read.)

The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson

[I almost never read SciFi though there have been a few in this genre I’ve loved like Love Minus Eighty. I’m a little worried about this choice since it’s 500+ pages]

35 points: Read a book with time travel.

Time and Again by Jack Finney

So, there you have my selections. What do you think? Have you read any of these? Don’t forget…there’s still time to enter Erin’s Reading Challenge. Just click here to get started and join the fun!

photo credit: Dimitris Graffin  via photopin

The Forest

Ghost Movie Review: The Forest

Happy Wednesday everyone! Today I’m excited to participate in a discussion and movie review with the fabulous Tasha Drake!

We’ll be discussing the recent ghost movie The Forest, so please hop on over to Tasha’s neck of the woods and join the talk.

Do you love ghost movies? Of course, you do. Let us know your favorites!

The Fifth Petal


Review: The Fifth Petal by Brunonia Barry

I was excited to get my hand on this book. I adore Barry’s other novel, The Lace Reader.

The Fifth Petal opens Halloween night with a possible murder. What fun for me to snuggle in bed on a stormy Halloween night and begin this novel! Talk about synchronicity. Then the other bit of synchronicity—that same week I was helping my students analyze The Crucible by Arthur Miller, which, like The Fifth Petal, takes place in Salem and features the witch trials. I was pretty excited.

The Fifth Petal explores ways in which the past affects the present. Tantalizing epitaphs from 17th century Salemites (or Salemians?) commenting on the trials and aftermath open each chapter. Present-day Salem is full of real witches…who knew? who ply their trade via gift shops and palm readings. As you can imagine, Halloween is a nightmare for the local police.

Speaking of police, the book begins with the lovable police chief John Rafferty from Barry’s previous novel The Lace Reader. It had been so long since I read that book that I’d forgotten his name, but the memories gradually returned to me. You may want to go back and review the first book as I did. And if you haven’t yet read The Lace Reader, I highly recommend that you start with that.

The Fifth Petal is a mystery with a strong romantic element in the women’s fiction genre. In fact, there are two mysteries. One concerns the death of a teen who was bullying elderly Rose Whelan, and the other concerns a 25 year-old triple homicide dubbed “The Goddess Murders.” Callie Cahill has ties to both incidents and to Rose; she was a child witness to the Goddess Murders (one of those killed was her mother) and considers herself a niece to Rose. Callie, like Rafferty’s wife Towner, possesses the ability to foresee events though she doesn’t always understand what she envisions.

Callie has come back to town after a long absence and aids the police chief in uncovering the truth of the past. At the same time, she gradually awakens to a future that includes love.

Overall, I enjoyed reading The Fifth Petal. I loved the way the author wove the petal motif (imprinted on Callie’s hand during the Goddess Murders) throughout the novel with both its Christian and pagan implications and all the attendant questions. The plot held my interest (though witches do not fascinate me to the extent that ghosts or psychics do), and the plot definitely gathered momentum in the second half of the book, which kept me up past my bedtime. However, the first third of the novel dragged a bit and could have been tightened. For instance, no less than three times in the first 15% the narrator mentions that Rose Whelan was once a renowned historian with an emphasis on mythology. I really did get that the first time. The greatest drawback for me, though, is that The Fifth Petal lacks the luminous prose of The Lace Reader.

I received an Advance Reading Copy from Netgalley.

Post-election Blues

Upon waking the morning after the election, I dressed myself in black. Head to toe, underwear to shawl.

I was grieving. I was mourning. I was despairing.

I thought: Never in my lifetime will a woman be president.

I thought: I live in a country in which the loudest, meanest barnyard brute gets to win.

I thought: Half of my country hates Barack Obama, a leader I respect. An astute leader without a hint of scandal. No Twitter rants. Yet President Obama must endure references to primates even from elected officials. His integrity, his very birth has been impugned by now President-elect Trump, a man intent on destroying everything Obama built.

I thought: Half of my country judges a man by the color of his skin rather than by the content of his character.

I thought: My country is divided in half.

I know about divided countries. I came of age during the late 60’s and early 70’s.

Half the country favored the war in Vietnam; half opposed it. The second half sought to avoid fighting in it despite the draft.

I drove a refurbished 1966 Volkswagon bug. On its back window sat a peace symbol in variegated jewel colors. There was a pro-war elder in my community named Abe Atwood (funny that a few years later I would marry and, after much discussion, decide to take that name). My dad facetiously referred to this man as “Honest Abe.”

Honest Abe looked at the peace sign and pronounced it “the sign of the American chicken.”

History has proved the waste of that war in Vietnam–thousands on both sides killed or maimed. An ignominious defeat. Our Agent Orange poisoned rain forests, caused cancer, and wreaked havoc on the Vietnamese people’s DNA resulting in generations of horrific birth defects. Oh, and that whole Domino Effect thing, the purported purpose of our little venture, was fiction.

We healed. The generation that never trusted anyone over thirty celebrated their thirty-year-old birthdays. The people of the 60’s and 70’s became sixty and seventy.

And now we are divided again. Half of us are mourning and half of us are celebrating the election of Donald Trump. I still feel a twist in my gut when I think of Hillary Clinton and her years of service and what I saw as the hope she had to offer, gone. I am sad for her. I am afraid of a man who will spew vitriol to suit his whims, and I am afraid of a country that willingly absorbs vitriol.

The morning after the election I wandered, stunned, dressed in black, into a grocery store. Another black-clad woman said to me, “What happened?” A third joined. We stood there, three women dressed in mourning. Right there in the salad aisle we discussed the merits of the west coast seceding from the Union.

The following morning, I tuned in to watch Gayle King and Norah O’Donnel. They were attired in bold blue dresses. Democrat blue. The men at the table wore blue ties of the same shade. I thought: That’s one thing. So, today I dressed in blue as well. It’s one thing.

One day this country will heal again. To speed us on that path, author Chuck Wendig says we need to mourn, then get mad, then get busy. He proposes a list of more things you can do. I don’t know all my plans yet, but so far, I have signed a petition to abolish the Electoral College, and we have subscribed to an actual newspaper.

Also, I think I will wear a lot of blue.