The Other Four Books Read in August 2022

There are lots of good books out there. Today’s blog post is about four of the eight books I read last month. In case you missed it, last Monday I blogged about the other four in Four of Eight Books Read in August 2022.

The Librarian Spy, by Madeline Martin

The Librarian Spy, by Madeline Martin

This novel follows two women during World War II. One is involved in the French Resistance. The other one is a librarian from the Library of Congress in Washington, DC who has been sent to Lisbon, Portugal to help secure and copy newspapers from the cities under Germany’s control. The copies are sent to the US to help the Allies’ cause in the war.

The chapters alternate between Ava’s story and Elaine’s story. My only complaint is that as soon as I was invested in one’s story, the next chapter would begin and I had to switch mental gears to the other one. I don’t like that in a novel, but it seems to be the trend now in historical fiction. Otherwise, Ava and Elaine each have compelling stories and you’ll want to cheer them on.

I was immediately invested in each of the two main characters as soon as I read their opening chapters. The deeper into their stories you get, the more you are anxious (not eager, but anxious) to see what happens to them next.

This novel made me stop and think about the danger both women were in all the time. They had to guard their words at all times because they never knew when a stranger – or even an acquaintance – nearby might overhear something that could aid the enemy.

I can’t imagine living under that level of stress not just for days or weeks on end but for years on end. Not only that, but they were living the war on a daily basis and had no way of knowing when it would end. That’s a luxury we have when reading historical fiction. We know the exact day and sometimes the very hour at which a war will be declared over.

Grace, Grits and Ghosts: Southern Short Stories, by Susan Gabriel

Grace, Grits and Ghosts: Southern Short Stories, by Susan Gabriel

I purchased this ebook some months ago and finally got around to reading it. I’m so glad I did. It is a collection of short stories, some of which grew out of Susan Gabriel’s novels.

Hoping to publish short stories myself, I was curious to see the book’s layout. Also, I hadn’t read any of Ms. Gabriel’s novels, so I was eager to find out about her writing style and to discover her writer’s “voice.”

And what a writer’s “voice” she has! If you enjoy southern fiction, you’ll love how Ms. Gabriel writes. Her voice, especially in “The Secret Sense of Wildflower,” comes through so strongly that I can still hear it in my head days after finishing the book. It’s told through the eyes of a young girl who has witnessed too much in her life, but tells the story with a wit, bluntness, and insight that I loved.

She even used the idiom, “as all get out” in that last story in the book, which couldn’t help but make me laugh out loud. You might recall my blog post about that idiom from March 29, 2021: #Idiom: As All Get Out.

The book includes an introduction in which Ms. Gabriel writes about how she was determined to never write southern fiction. I had to smile at that. There are nine stories of varying lengths, so it is an easy book to read if you can only find a few minutes at a time for a book; however, you’ll find yourself turning the page to see what the next story is and, before you know it, you’ve read three more stories.

The short stories in this book were varied in topic. “Reunion at the River” was about seven women who had been abused by the same man several decades ago and how they gather at the secluded mountain home of one of their number every year for a reunion and attempt to heal.

As a southern short story writer wannabe, I gained valuable ideas from this book about how to create an ebook of short stories. I don’t have published novels to draw on like Ms. Gabriel had, but I love the way she pulled the stories together and ended the book with information about her other books, her desire to get feedback from her readers, and her all-important contact links.

Subtract: The Untapped Science of Less, by Leidy Klotz

Subtract: The Untapped Science of Less, by Leidy Klotz

Jan Edmiston, General Presbyter of the Presbytery of Charlotte, recommended this book in her July 8, 2022 blog, Edmiston’s takeaway from reading the books was, “Why this book can change the culture: We in the Church (and world) have been taught that being better means adding things. Sometimes we are better when we subtract things.”

In the book, Mr. Klotz pleads with us to stop thinking of subtraction as a negative thing. Sometimes less is better. When you’re attempting to declutter your life, your home, your email in-box, the landscape, or even the atmosphere – the air we breathe, couch it in words that don’t have negative implications.

He gives examples throughout the book. One of the simple ones that stuck with me was when he and his young son were building a bridge with Legos. One of the bridges pillars was taller than the other. Human nature usually prompts us to add to the shorter pillar to make them even; however, his toddler son removed one of the blocks in the taller pillar.

Mr. Klotz encourages us to adopt that approach in all aspects of our lives. Another example he mentioned several times is the editing that writers must do. Fiction writers are told to make every word count. Make every sentence earn its keep. Edit out words, phrases, sentences, paragraphs – even scenes – that don’t move the story forward. That’s a painful thing to do!

He also encourages us to focus on people. Focus on the things that will improve lives. The winner isn’t the person with the most stuff at the end of life.

L.E.A.P.F.R.O.G.: How to hold a civil conversation in an uncivil era, Third Edition, by Janet Givens, M.A.

LEAPFROG: How to hold a civil conversation in an uncivil era, by Janet Givens, M.A.

Janet Givens has come out with a third edition of her book, L.E.A.P.F.R.O.G.: How to hold a civil conversation in an uncivil era, and I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to improve their skills of having a difficult conversation.

Be it a difficult conversation with a friend or a stranger, a relative or an employer or employee this book will help you have a more productive dialog.

The goal of this book is not to tell you how to convert the other person to your way of thinking, but rather to help you go into a conversation with an open mind and genuine curiosity about why the other person sees a particular issue or situation differently than you.

For more details about this new third edition of the book, please read my August 22, 2022 blog post, L.E.A.P.F.R.O.G. by Janet Givens

Since my last blog post

In addition to reading books and writing, I’ve worked on genealogy. I’ve also blown the dust off the local history newspaper columns I wrote from 2006 through 2012. It’s amazing how much I’ve forgotten since 2006. I hope people will enjoy reading my articles as much as I’ve enjoyed rereading some of them this week.

Since 2012 I’ve wanted to put all the articles into a book. I’m typing them in Word and formatting them ready to download the document into Atticus. Atticus is the writing software I’m using that will enable me to export the document ready for electronic publication on Amazon.

The cover is still holding up publication of the cookbook my sister and I are compiled for electronic publication.

I’ll keep you posted on both projects.

Until my next blog post

Don’t forget to read my September 5, 2022, blog post, Four of Eight Books Read in August 2022, in case you missed it.

I hope you have a good book to read.

Spend time with family and friends.

Remember the people of Ukraine, Uvalde, Highland Park….


21 thoughts on “The Other Four Books Read in August 2022

  1. Well Janet it sounds like another great reading month for you has gone by. Hopefully Sept/Oct/Nov and Dec will be great writing months! Genealogy… interesting but very difficult. Even here in Europe it is difficult because people did move around a lot in previous centuries too. My family, for example, comes from different parts of Spain, Italy and Southern France as well as Ireland, and I think I would go crazy if I started searching back to before my great-grandparents! Best of luck with that project. Reference preparing a ms for e-publishing in Amazon, cannot it be in Word or PDF? In any event, best of luck with that project as well. Hoping your weather is better than ours (we are still breaching 30 degrees Celsius! And we’ve no idea when it will eventually begin to cool off, and it is not normal in this month, we should be a little cooler by now…
    All the best and I hope your day and week are productive, creative and most importantly, blessed.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hello, Francis. I can’t believe you’re still at and above 30 degrees C over there! We’re in the low to mid 80s F. here, which is refreshing. Cooler nights are predicted for the remainder of the week, so I suppose there will be a touch of fall in the air. As far as my reading went in August — yes, I was up to my eyeballs in books. I had to return three books to the library today because they were due and I didn’t even get to read them. I doubt I’ll get eight books read in September. The e-publishing on Amazon… yes, It’s Word document but it has to be formatted exactly so; otherwise, it won’t work. I think I’ve got the hang of it. I’ll download the finished manuscript into Atticus writing software and it will automatically do the table of contents. I’ll add the book’s front matter and cover through Atticus. I’m supposed to be able to directly download it from Atticus to Amazon for publication. Crossing my fingers I’m getting the formatting down correctly. My main concern is the book’s cover. I might have mentioned to you earlier (or maybe not) that I want to use a painting done by a deceased local artist for the cover. My efforts thus far have gotten me nowhere in determining who is handling her work. I thought the local arts council in our county would know who I needed to contact, but so far they haven’t responded to my written request for assistance. I guess it’s time to come up with “Plan B.” And I’m having a grand time working on genealogy. No wonder I can’t finish anything. I’m working on too many unrelated projects. I can’t keep up with all your blog posts. Please don’t think I’m not interested. I marvel at the quantity and quality of material you post every day. Keep up all the good work on your various projects. Glad you got your air-conditioning checked out and up and running since it sounds like you’re having an endless summer. Thank you for your well wishes and encouragement, as always. Janet

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Susan Gabriel’s book of southern short stories is available for Kindle from Amazon for free — I just looked it up. I bought it for Kindle a couple of months ago and got it either for $1.99 or 99 cents. If you have a Kindle, you might want to snatch it up while it’s free. I’m trying to read more short stories than I have in a while, since I’m also trying to write some of them. I just read an excellent chapter about writing short stories in The Making of a Story, by Alice LaPlante. I wish I’d had the good sense to take a course in Southern literature when I was in college. I had no idea at the time that I would attempt to write fiction of any length at that time.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Good morning Janet. Well finally the temperature has dropped to mid to low twenties and the rain has come which is a good sign that our weather will begin to return to its seasonal normality. Hopefully… Yes, I am taking as much time as I can muster to work, and now that I am taking driving lessons, I must go to the school every day for at least one month. Like I had mentioned in Europe they take driving very seriously and it’s a long process to get your permit. So that is now taking time away from my art/writing work. However don’t think I’m a workaholic, far from it. I still take time for long walks and for the tele to watch Netflix series and a good movie as well as with mixing with friends and of course on Wednesday afternoons, wine time! Best of luck with the book and the genealogy, and I am sure that with your diligence and discipline you will get your 8 books read. All the best,

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Good morning Janet. I am certain you will get those eight books read. You are very diligent and disciplined. Here our weather is finally cooling off and the rain is coming to most of the country and that means the weather is going back to normal, hopefully… hoping you’ve a great, creative and productive day!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. You’ve been a police officer, so it must be maddening to be required to take driving lessons! Every day? Good grief! As an aunt of mine who was from the mountains used to say, “A feller’s gotta do what a feller’s gotta do.” (That has to do in one of my novels!) Glad to know you don’t work 24/7. Take it easy tomorrow and enjoy your wine time! Janet

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Yes, it is not too much to my pleasure to have to attend classes daily for more than a month but it’s not easy or cheap to get a driving permit in Europe! But yes, your aunt is right, you gotta do what you gotta do… Thank you Janet and a great day to you! All the best.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. What an interesting collection of reads, Janet. The Librarian Spy and the southern short stories sound wonderful, but both non-fiction books intrigued me, and they seem very timely, partly because downsizing would be a joy at my age (though hard to do), and also because our culture so desperately needs civility and empathy. Thanks for sharing your reviews and recommendations.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Thank you for reading my blog, Diana — and taking the time to leave a thoughtful comment. I’m trying to downsize, but it’s so hard! Why did I keep so many things? I wish everyone in the US would read Janet Givens’ L.E.A.P.F.R.O.G. book. We seem to have lost our ability to agree to agreeably disagree.

    Liked by 1 person

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