It’s Wednesday again! No wine tonight. I’m ready to settle down with something warm… hmm, perhaps a mug of cocoa with a shot of something nice in it?
Am I the only one sick of winter? Gosh, how can there still be two months left of this cold, dreary stuff?
I am so tired of grinning weathermen with faulty predictions of snow and ice. Why do they look so darned happy while prophesizing doom and gloom? I think they’re evil! How come it’s always psycho clowns you see depicted in horror movies? Why not a psycho weatherman?
Sunday we visited my mother. She lives about 50 minutes from us, heading south, and generally weather conditions are always better where she lives. We woke up to a cloudy, dry morning in Southern Pennsylvania – and the temperatures were above freezing. Imagine our surprise twenty-five minutes into our ride to discover it was raining; worse, the cold rain was icing the roadways and bridges. We saw cars stuck on ramps and accidents that temporarily shut down the interstate. Roads with only slight inclines became daredevil obstacle courses that would have challenged Evel Knievel. Finally, we pulled over and had breakfast at a restaurant, waiting for the road temperatures to rise. I think I have some new gray hairs after that little adventure, one that hadn’t been predicted by our weatherman.
A snow event was predicted for today – and it did snow heavily for a few hours, but it all came to naught… it basically coated the grass and driveways, leaving the roads clear once the yucky white stuff stopped. Listening to the weatherman last night, I wasn’t sure what to think; was it going to be a big nothing or the storm of the century?
But it’s not weather conditions I want to talk about while sipping cocoa. Let’s talk about books!
One of my favorite things to do in the winter is to settle in with a snuggly blanket, a mug of something hot, and my Kindle. My Kindle has been getting a lot of use lately. Here’s a brief update on what I’ve been reading.
Gillian Flynn’s novel, Sharp Objects. Recommended to me by ThainInVain, I decided to give the novel a try. It’s a bleak one, but it drew me in with the first chapter. Ms. Flynn, author of Gone Girl and Dark Places, writes tales about the darker aspects of humanity. Sharp Objects is the story of a young woman who returns to her hometown to investigate a possible serial killer. In the process, she confronts demons from her past – as well as her present. It’s not a pretty tale, but it is a compelling one.
My friend at ThainInVain recommended the book to me because of a series of flash fiction tales I wrote about a small community and several of its inhabitants. One of the town’s inhabitants is a woman heralded by friends and neighbors as the ‘perfect mother,’ but who is, in fact, a monster. For those who may be interested in reading those stories, I’ve listed them (in order) below.
After finishing Flynn’s novel, I was ready for something considerably more uplifting and so I settled on two books from my Kindle library that have been on my to-read list: Annie Spruce, The Dog That Didn’t Die by Cassandra Rankin and The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society by Darien Gee.
Cassandra Rankin’s novel about the beloved Annie Spruce is a heartwarming tale of faith and family with a large dose of dog love thrown in! I am more than halfway through this wonderful tale of a dog whose courage and sweetness encouraged a family to look deeper into the mysteries of faith and God’s place in their lives. Cassandra, who blogs at This Crazy Little Farm, expresses simple truths and enduring values with a light, endearing touch. This is a book for the whole family to enjoy. I hope you’ll look for my review in the next week or two. The book is available for sale on Amazon (here).
Now we come to my dirty secret: I’m one of those. Those crazy women who get together periodically to attend a weekend event known as a ‘crop.’ Those of you who enjoy scrapbooking know exactly what I’m talking about. My scrapbooking obsession began about ten years ago. It started with a small roller cart of paper, tape, pens and other necessary items; since then it has morphed into a collection that has slowly taken over the dining room. Who needs a dining room when you have an eat-in kitchen, right? So, the top half of my china closet stores my china; the bottom stores all sorts of scrapbook paraphernalia. It’s a hobby that is slowly taking over my entire house.
Knowing this, you’ll understand why I am so charmed by Darien Gee’s novel, The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society. Ms. Gee has managed to capture the camaraderie of ladies who gather together to work on their scrapbooking projects. They also share their lives with one another. Having been to a lot of crops, I can tell you that you hear a lot of stories during these sessions – some joyful and some sad. There’s always a lot of laughter. There’s also a great deal of support for friends who need a hug during difficult times.
All of this is lightly captured in Ms. Gee’s novel about the women of Avalon and the boisterous Bettie Shelton who cajoles and bullies her friends and neighbors into attending her crops. We get to know Bettie and the challenges she faces, as well as Madeleine and Connie (the owners of a tea salon), Yvonne (the town’s female plumber with a family secret), Frances (a mother with three boys who has her heart set on adopting a little girl) and Ava and Isabel (two women who find their lives connected by the love of one man). This is not heavy reading, but it is engaging and totally pleasing. I’m giving it a thumbs up. The book is available on Amazon (here).
Do any of you scrapbook? Have you been to any weekend crops? Have your supplies taken over your house?
I’m a diverse reader, dipping in and out of various genres. After finishing the books mentioned above, I’ll be ready for something a little different. That’s why I have Cynthia Bruchman’s novel, The Knife with the Ivory Handle, next in my reading queue. Cynthia has written a novel set in 1900 that details the adventures of a pair of orphans, a black southern man, and a young priest. The synopsis on Amazon (here) describes the book as a fusion of psychological tension and plot action. I can hardly wait to begin! I’m expecting good things from Cynthia’s book. She’s an interesting writer. If you don’t believe me, visit her blog. I wouldn’t steer you wrong.
Thomas Jefferson spoke for me when he said, “I cannot live without books.”
What about you? What are you reading? What’s the best book you’ve read in the last twelve months? Is there a favorite book that you return to again and again?