This blog’s for you!

Sometimes I get carried away and forget my blog is for you. It’s not for me. You have a limited amount of time to read, so I’m flattered that you read my blog posts.

Photo by Fabrizio Verrecchia on Unsplash

If my blog doesn’t fill a need of yours, then reading it is a waste of your time. The pressure is on me every week to inspired you, make you laugh, give you something to think about, or at least put a smile on your face.

Although I’ve been blogging for almost nine years, I’m still learning. If there is something on my blog page that isn’t of benefit to my readers, I need to delete it.

Deleted national flags widget

In an effort to declutter my blog on February 4, I deleted the widget that showed the flags of all the countries in which my blog readers reside. I realized that showing those 93 flags was for my own edification, not yours. That widget was providing information that you probably didn’t care about. I’m a geography nerd, so I found it very interesting.

Actually, I found it shocking and a bit frightening to know that people in that many countries had looked at my blog at least once. The biggest surprise was when the flag of the People’s Republic of China first appeared.

My most popular posts

In place of the national flags widget, I added a widget that lists my 10 most popular blog posts. This should help my new reader find some of my best posts, and it will help me see at a glance the topics that garner the most interest.

An unexpected source

I knew my blog was for my readers, but it wasn’t until I started reading Building a StoryBrand:  Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen, by Donald Miller that I was prompted to try to view my website and my blog through the eyes of a first-time visitor.

Everywhere Building a StoryBrand says, “customer,” I mentally substitute “reader.” Sometimes it works better than others. Although Mr. Miller’s book targets business owners, it made me ask myself how my website and blog portray me as a writer. I’ll continue to make changes that help first-time visitors become loyal readers.

Mr. Miller says a person should be able to look at my blog or my website and know within five seconds what I’m about.

I’m reminded of Alan Alda’s book

If you read my February 11, 2019 blog post, https://janetswritingblog.com/2019/02/11/the-other-three-books-i-read-in-january-2019/ you know I read Alan Alda’s book, If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face?

That book prompted me to ask myself, “What does my reader need?” and “What is my reader hoping to gain by reading my words?” Mr. Miller’s book dovetails into Mr. Alda’s book and reinforces what Mr. Alda said about communication.

The purpose of my website and blog

Mr. Miller’s book prompted me to state the purpose of my website and blog in one sentence. When I got to the heart of what I’m trying to accomplish, this is what I concluded: 

The purpose of my website and blog is to show you that I write with authority and skill and, therefore, you can trust that my writing is worthy of your time.

If it sounds like I’m boasting, that’s not my intent. I’m setting the bar high for myself, and will read that purpose every day when I sit down at the keyboard.

Until my next blog post

I hope you have a good book to read. I just finished listening to The Midwife’s Confession, by Diane Chamberlain. (Audio books come in handy when a reader has vertigo.)

If you’re a writer, I hope you have productive writing time.

Thank you for reading my blog. You could have spent the last few minutes doing something else, but you chose to read my blog.

Don’t forget to look for my #TwoForTuesday blog post tomorrow when I’ll reveal two books that remind me of someone. (Writing prompt provided by “Rae’s Reads and Reviews” blog post on January 8, 2019 (https://educatednegra.blog/2019/01/08/two-for-tuesday-prompts/comment-page-1/#comment-1646)

Let’s start a conversation

What are you hoping to find in my blog? A smile? Humor? Something to ponder? Inspiration? My take on a book I’ve read? Samples of my fiction writing? A variety of these?

Janet

Two for Tuesday: Two Books that Helped Me Fall in Love with Reading

Today’s blog post is my second time to participate in “Rae’s Reads and Reviews Blog” #TwoForTuesday blog post prompts. I learned about it in her January 8, 2019 blog post:  https://educatednegra.blog/2019/01/08/two-for-tuesday-prompts/comment-page-1/#comment-1646.

My third grade teacher, Miss Ruth Jarrell, was a soft-spoken woman with beautiful handwriting. When a student asked Miss Jarrell how long she’d been teaching, she said that was her 13th year. We thought she was ancient if she’d been a teacher that long. It was only when I was in my mid-30s that I realized I was as old as Miss Jarrell had been when she taught me. Thirty-five no longer seemed old.

Another thing I remember Miss Jarrell for was her reading to us. If we behaved in the school cafeteria, she would read to us when we returned to our classroom after lunch.

White Squaw:  The True Story of Jennie Wiley, by Arville Wheeler

White Squaw: The True Story of Jennie Wiley, by Arville Wheeler

The book Miss Jarrell read to us that is still vivid in my memory was White Squaw:  The True Story of Jennie Wiley, by Arville Wheeler. Jennie was abducted by Native Americans in 1789 in Bland County, Virginia and taken to Kentucky. After almost a year in captivity, Jennie escaped and was helped back to her husband in Virginia.

The word “squaw” is offensive to us today, but since the word is part of the book’s title, I decided to write about it anyway. Any book that one has fond memories of more than 50 years after hearing it read deserves recognition.

Teachers never know which seeds they plant in their students’ minds will take root and flourish. It was only when I was thinking about today’s topic that I realized White Squaw was my introduction to historical fiction. Miss Jarrell didn’t live to see me pursue a career as a writer of history and historical fiction.

Follow the River: A Novel Based on the True Ordeal of Mary Ingles, by James Alexander Thom

Follow the River: A Novel Based on the True Ordeal of Mary Ingles, by James Alexander Thom

Twenty or more years ago, Janie Snell, a friend of mine who lives in Ohio, recommended that I read Follow the River, by James Alexander Thom. It is a novel based on the experiences of Mary Ingles – not to be confused with Mary Ingles Wilder of Little House on the Prairie fame.

This Mary Ingles lived in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. She was kidnapped by Shawnee Native Americans in 1755. After being held captive for months, she escaped her captors and by herself followed the Ohio, Kanawha, and New Rivers back to her home.

It is merely coincidental that White Squaw and Follow the River are about white women who were abducted by Native Americans in the 1700s. They are the two books that instilled in me a love of books – a love of reading.

If allowed to name four books

If today’s blog topic prompt had been “Four Books That Helped Me Fall in Love with Reading,” the other two I would have written about would have been Roots, by Alex Haley and Centennial, by James A. Michener.

Three of the four books I’ve mentioned today were read when I was an adult. It was as an adult that I started reading fiction. As a young adult, I was a snob – a nonfiction snob. I thought reading fiction was a waste of time. When I had time to read for pleasure, I wanted to read something true, something real.

I have to laugh at my old self. I still enjoy an occasional history or political science book, but now I prefer fiction. My sister thinks it’s hilarious that I’m now trying to write fiction after all those years of turning my nose up at fiction and the people who read it.

Since my last blog post

I’m relieved that the glitch I was dealing with when I prepared yesterday’s blog post has been resolved, so I was able to include images in today’s post.

Let’s continue the conversation

Which two books helped you fall in love with reading?

Janet

The Other Three Books I Read in January 2019

One thing all bloggers are told they must do, if they hope to attract readers, is to include images in every post. I’ve worked hard to do this for the last several years. I did it last week when I included images of the books I wrote about; however, as I put the finishing touches on this post last night, I repeatedly got messages from WordPress.com saying “Given your current role, you can only link an image, you cannot upload.” Therefore, in today’s post I’ve included links to images of the books I’m writing about. I’m unsure how this will appear until the post goes online. I have no idea why this has happened.

Since I read 6.25 books in January, I decided to split my comments about them between my blog post on February 4, 2019 and today. I hope you’ll find what I have to say about three of the books I read last month worthwhile. These are discussed in no particular order.

The Banker’s Wife, by Cristina Alger

The Banker’s Wife, by Cristina Alger

The Banker’s Wife was a change of pace for me halfway through January after reading The Library Book. The Banker’s Wife, by Cristina Alger, is a financial thriller. In this novel, Ms. Alger takes us to Paris, Geneva, New York, the Dominican Republic, and the Cayman Islands. Primarily through the eyes of two strong female characters, we get a glimpse of the vicious and deadly world most of us never experience – Swiss bank accounts, the people who have them, the people who assist them, and those who are unfortunate to love someone in either of the other two categories.

If I had done more research about Cristina Alger’s books before reading this 2018 novel, I would have known that it is a sequel to her 2012 debut novel, The Darlings. Now, I want to read that book, although being a North Carolinian, “the Darlings” conjures up visuals in my mind’s eye of that ne’er-do-well Darlin’ family on The Andy Griffith Show of the 1960s. It’s difficult to associate wealth with that name. I’m sorry, it just is. I offer my apologies to all the people with the Darling surname.

The Banker’s Wife is Ms. Alger’s third novel. The book captured my attention early on and the fast-paced writing kept me turning pages to see what was going to happen next – and to find out which characters were dead and which one’s deaths were staged to cover up the real story.

If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face? by Alan Alda

If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face? by Alan Alda

This book held some nice surprises for me. I’ve been an Alan Alda fan since the days of the M*A*S*H television series. I became even more endeared to him when in answer to my request that he donate an autographed copy of a book he’d written for an autographed book fundraiser held a few years ago for the Friends of the Harrisburg Library in Harrisburg, North Carolina.

Mr. Alda graciously donated an autographed copy of the script for an episode of M*A*S*H that he wrote. It turned out to be the hit of the fundraiser and resulted in a bidding war between two individuals.

That said, I was drawn to the book by the title and the author’s name. I thought it might be helpful to me as a writer since the book is about communication. It was, but not in the ways I anticipated.

Here are a few of the impressions I took from the book:

                1.  Improvisation not only helps actors, it can help anyone get over their fear of talking in front of a large audience.

                2.  No matter what you’re trying to sell – whether it be a tangible product or an idea – the key is to focus on what the customer is thinking and what he or she needs. As a writer, I need to put myself in the mind of my reader. What does my reader need? What is my reader hoping to gain by reading my words?

                3.  Mr. Alda has concluded that the key to the great success of M*A*S*H was the fact that instead of disappearing into their separate trailers on the studio lot, they gathered their chairs in a circle and talked and laughed together as a group between “takes.” He said the connections    they made off camera carried over when they were in front of the camera. It made them all better actors and their genuine comradery came through to the audience.

                4.  Much of Mr. Alda’s book is about empathy and the importance of empathy in communications. The book offers several things a person can do to increase their empathy for others. Mr. Alda says that true communication cannot take place between two people unless each one       makes an effort to understand the other person and why they think the way they do. I couldn’t help but think of how polarized Americans are politically today. There really is a lack of understanding – or empathy – between The Right and The Left, between Republicans and Democrats. This doesn’t bode well for the 2020 election.

                5.  As a writer, start with what your reader knows. Don’t insult the reader by including basic information.

Now You See Me, by Sharon J. Bolton

Now You See Me, by Sharon J. Bolton

Published in 2011, Now You See Me was the first in Sharon J. Bolton’s Lacey Flint series. Flint is a detective in London. The story opens with her seeing a woman dying while leaning on Flint’s car. This thriller grabbed my attention from the beginning and kept me turning pages well into the night. It’s rare that I read a quarter of a novel in one sitting, but that’s what I did with Now You See Me.

Detective Flint is forced almost immediately to try to discern who she can trust within the Metropolitan Police Department. Is she seen as a crime scene witness, or is she viewed as a murder suspect? She’s very convincing as a witness.

As the story unfolds, it becomes clear that the killer is patterning his actions after Jack the Ripper. (Spoiler alert:  this gets more gruesome than I’m used to reading, but I had to know what happened next.)

What about Flint’s fellow police officer, Joesbury. There’s definitely something weird about him. Is he the killer?

No. Someone else is caught… sort of.

I thought the book came to a good stopping point just shy of halfway through. In fact, I thought I might not keep reading. This seems like the end of the story. I could move on to another book.

But I read a few more pages.  Wow! What a turn of events! I’m glad I kept reading!

Since my last blog post

I continue to do a lot of reading about writing and about blogging in an effort to get better at writing fiction and blogging. I made good progress writing a short story I’m calling “From Scotland to America, 1762,” writing 1,400 words Saturday afternoon.

Until my next blog post

I hope you have a good book to read. I’m reading Before and Again, by Barbara Delinsky; Button Man, by Andrew Gross; and A Week in Winter, by Maeve Binchy.

I rarely listen to a book because I find it irritating to listen to someone talk on and on and on; however, since I’m having a bout with vertigo, I decided to give the Maeve Binchy audio book a try and I’m really enjoying it. It probably has something to do with the lovely accent of the reader, Rosalyn Landor. It’s nice to just shut my eyes and listen.

If you’re a writer, I hope you have quality writing time and plenty of time to read.

Thank you for reading my blog. You could have spent the last few minutes doing something else, but you chose to read my blog. I appreciate it! I welcome your comments.

Let’s continue the conversation

If you’ve read any of the books I mentioned today, let me know what you thought about them.

Janet

I took Mliae’s January challenge

I have discarded, recycled, or set aside to donate more items this month than I can count. All as a result of Mliae’s blog post on December 31, 2018:  https://lifexperimentblog.com/2018/12/31/happy-new-year-2019/.

Mliae challenged her blog readers to get rid of one item every day in January. I missed many days, but made up for it on others. It feels good to get rid of some clutter. Thank you, Mliae!

I finally got around to shredding my income tax records and bank statements from the year 1999 through 2010. That’s not a typo. 1999.

Think back to 1999, if you can. In those days, the bank sent you a statement every month along with all your cancelled checks. The bank and I have come a long way since 1999:  from cancelled checks to online bill pay.

In some ways, I’m organized. I keep each year’s income tax instructions and paperwork together with a rubber band. In theory, this would make it easy to discard (shred) the oldest year’s paperwork when adding the newest year’s records; however, I never put my plan into practice.

Hence, I hadn’t gotten rid of any of those records in 20 years even though we’re required to only keep our income tax records for seven years. It was time to tackle that box of income tax records! I started that project on Friday afternoon and finished it Saturday night. I thought our poor wee paper shredder was going to blow up!

I am reminded of a line I like from At Home on the Kazakh Steppe:  A Peace Corps Memoir, by Janet Givens:

“… if nothing else, a useful reminder early on that the more I can let go of the old, the more room there is for the new.”

In writing that, Ms. Givens was not referring to getting rid of physical items in order to make room for new things. She was writing about a revelation she had in the early days as a Peace Corps volunteer in Kazakhstan.

Ms. Givens realized that she needed to let go of preconceived ideas and the way she had done things back home in the United States so she could learn the culture of the Kazakh people.

The above quote from Ms. Givens’ memoir struck a chord with me. As I let go of some physical items this month, I made a conscious effort to let go of preconceived ideas.

I want to learn something each day. I want to be open to new ways and new ideas. As my 66th birthday approaches, I don’t want to be “a stick in the mud” or “stuck in a rut.”

Since my last blog post

My vertigo is improving. The things the physical therapist has me doing are definitely making a difference.

Until my next blog post

I look forward to seeing if Mliae will issue a February challenge. Nevertheless, I plan to continue to tackle the clutter that has accumulated.

I hope you have a good book to read. I just finished reading Now You See Me, by Sharon Bolton.

If you’re a writer, I hope writing brings you joy. I hope you have quality writing time this week.

Thank you for reading my blog. You could have spent the last few minutes doing something else, but you chose to read my blog. I appreciate it! I welcome your comments.

Let’s continue the conversation.

Are you a keeper of things? I think I got it honestly from both parents. They were in college when The Great Depression hit in 1929. Their young adult years were lean and full of struggle. “Waste not, want not,” must have been what they lived by. I never heard either of them say those words, but they raised their children not to waste anything.

By my parents’ example, I learned at an early age not to throw away anything that I could possibly need or find a use for later. Hence, the stack of printer paper that has only been used on one side. The other side can be used for all kinds of things – like writing the plot outline for a novel.

Hence, the used letter envelopes on which grocery lists can be written on the back while the inside conveniently holds discount coupons. And those twist-ties that come on the bag in which sliced bread is purchased? Yes, I’m guilty. There is a place set aside for them in one of the kitchen drawers.

What about you? Are you a keeper or a minimalist?

Janet

Books I Enjoyed in December 2018

The Dream Daughter, by Diane Chamberlain

Diane Chamberlain broke away from her usual form of writing novels and did a great job with time travel in The Dream Daughterr. The book begins in 1970 with a pregnant woman, Caroline Sears, finding out that her unborn baby has a heart defect.

The Dream Daughter, by Diane Chamberlain

It turns out that Caroline’s brother-in-law has come to 1970 from the future. He knows that if Caroline can find her way to the future, her unborn daughter can have fetal surgery – the unthinkable in 1970.

I won’t give away any details of Caroline’s journey. I’ll just say things don’t go smoothly. This trip across decades will keep you turning pages.

There Was an Old Woman, by Hallie Ephron

The title of this book caught by attention and immediately took me back 60 years to nursery rhymes about the old woman who lived in a shoe and the old woman who swallowed a fly. I’d never read anything by Hallie Ephron, so I decided to give There Was an Old Woman a try.

The story involves multiple generations, with an emphasis on several independent-living octogenarians. Things in the neighborhood keep disappearing. What’s happening? Who is doing this? Is it the strange man across the street?

There Was an Old Woman, by Hallie Ephron

Thrown into the mix is a subplot about the B-25 Mitchell bomber that crashed into the Empire State Building on July 28, 1945. Ms. Ephron sheds a light on that much-forgotten event by making one of the main characters in the book be a survivor of that plane crash. I must admit, I did not know about that tragedy in which 14 people were killed.

There Was an Old Woman is categorized as a thriller, but it did not come across to me as such. It’s more like a neighborhood mystery in which the daughter of one of the 80+-year-olds is forced to come home and deal with her mother’s illness and neglected house. The book has received an interesting mix of 1-star and 5-star reviews, with most reviews falling into the 3- or 4-star categories.

Undaunted: Surviving Jonestown, Summoning Courage, and Fighting Back, by Jackie Speier

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this memoir by United States Representative Jackie Speier of California’s 14th congressional district. I was not aware that Ms. Speier survived the Jonestown Massacre, so that fact alone drew me to this memoir.

Undaunted, by Jackie Speier

What a life Ms. Speier has had! When she was 28 years old, she worked for California Congressman Leo Ryan. She and others accompanied Ryan to Jim Jones’ Peoples Temple in Jonestown, Guyana on November 14, 1978 to rescue individuals being held there against their will.

Those who are old enough to remember that fateful event know that things rapidly soured upon the delegation’s arrival. Congressman Ryan was murdered and Jackie Speier was shot five times and nearly died.

For someone like me who is a history and political “junkie,” this memoir was compelling and inspiring. Ms. Speier writes about her widowhood, motherhood, her lifelong work in politics, and her 40-year determination to overcome the scars she has from her Jonestown experience.

Since my last blog post

I continue to receive encouraging comments in response to my December 17, 2018 blog post, https://janetswritingblog.com/2018/12/17/to-write-or-not-to-write/. I appreciate each and every one of them and each and every one of my blog readers. I have a more positive attitude about my novel in progress since being bolstered up by so many of you over the last three weeks.

The holidays turned out not to be conducive to my getting back to putting words on paper (or the computer screen, as the case may be.) I’ve mulled the story over and over in my mind, though, and I intend to get back to writing that book this week. I need my blog readers to hold me accountable!

I’ve read many helpful blog posts and articles this week about the various facets of writing. One in particular hit a chord with me, but I’ve misplaced the link to it. The piece recommends that an aspiring novelist publish one or more short story collections in order to build readership. I’m kicking around that idea. It makes sense. The theory is that more people will want to buy my novel if they have read and liked my short stories. I needed one more project!

Call me a klutz if you want to, because I think I qualify. In the last four or five days I’ve broken a toe on both feet, but not at the same time. Don’t laugh; broken toes are painful.

Until my next blog post

I hope you have a good book to read. I’m reading The Reckoning, by John Grisham.

If you’re a writer, I hope you have quality writing time. I hope I do, too!

Thank you for reading my blog. You could have spent the last few minutes doing something else, but you chose to read my blog. I appreciate it! I welcome your comments.

Let’s continue the conversation.

Have you read any books recently that you’d recommend to me and my blog readers?

Have any of you writers had experience – good or bad – in publishing short stories to build readership prior to publishing your first novel?

Janet

Do you believe in miracles?

I used to think that miracles all happened 2,000 years ago when Jesus Christ physically walked the earth as a man. Since December 25, 1978, I’ve known better.

My brother’s family (him, his wife, 12-year-old son, and 10-year-old daughter) drove from Georgia to North Carolina for Christmas. Beth – the daughter – had been sick and they’d given her aspirin and put her to bed at the home of my sister-in-law’s parents. It was the afternoon before Christmas.

A couple of hours later, they tried to wake Beth up, but she was unconscious. They rushed her to the nearest hospital. The doctors and nurses were baffled as to what could be wrong with Beth. At random times, she would scream out and it would take several adults to hold her in the hospital bed.

Suddenly, on that evening – Christmas Eve – the pediatrician on the case suddenly remembered having seen a similar case while in medical school. He ordered specific lab tests and rushed the vials to the lab himself.

When he came back to Beth’s room, he told her parents and brother that there was an ambulance waiting to take Beth and her mother to Duke Hospital in Durham, North Carolina. He told them that Beth had Reyes Syndrome. He told them that some children survive it and some don’t. There was no cure for it, and he couldn’t guarantee that Beth would survive the trip to Duke.

My brother and nephew drove the 125 miles to Durham after being told not to even think about trying to keep up with the ambulance.

Arriving safely at Duke, Beth was placed in the intensive care unit for children. The family was told there was nothing to do but pray and wait. Pray, we all did.

The next morning was, of course, Christmas Day. After a sleepless night, my mother, sister, and I rose early and drove to Durham. This was before cell phones and texting, so during that two-hour trip we had no idea what was happening with Beth. We didn’t know if she would still be alive when we got there.

When we arrived at Duke Hospital’s pediatric ICU, we were greeted with smiles. While the nurse was in the room checking on another patient that morning, Beth woke up and asked, “Has Santa Claus come yet?”

Little was known then about Reyes Syndrome. The connection between it and children taking aspirin had not been established. None of us had even heard of the illness.

The doctors at Duke kept Beth for more than a week to continue to test and observe her. They followed her grades in school for a year. They were looking for any sign of brain damage. There was none. They told Beth’s parents that they had never seen a child come out of a Reyes Syndrome coma so suddenly or completely. They said there was no medical explanation for it.

Beth returned to Georgia and continued to have a perfect record in school. She went on to university and earned a degree in math before having a rewarding career in Information Technology with a major airline. She married and is the mother of two high school and college age daughters.

I cannot imagine how our lives would have changed if Beth had died in 1978. She is a joy in the life of everyone she knows. I can’t imagine life without her husband and their two daughters.

And I can’t let a single Christmas pass without remembering Christmas of 1978 when I learned that miracles do still happen.

Janet

Good Books Read in November 2018

I took an unexpected respite from my blog last week, but I’m back today to tell you about the three books I read in November. I look forward to my first blog post each month because it gives me a chance to review my reading during the previous month. I hope you enjoy those blog posts, too.

Before the Storm, by Diane Chamberlain

Before the Storm, by Diane Chamberlain

As a rule, I prefer stories told in chronological order. Once in a while there was a chapter in Before the Storm set in 1991 to give backstory. Otherwise, I liked the book. The main character, Andy, is a teenage boy with special needs. He attends a youth activity at his church one night when an arsonist sets fire to the sanctuary. Three people died in the fire, but Andy led many others to safety.

Andy is proclaimed a hero, but the police and community are eager to find the perpetrator. One thing leads to another and Andy is charged with the crime. Did Andy set the fire? Did Andy have anything to do with the fire? How will Andy prove he is innocent when all evidence points straight to him?

When I got to the last 100 or so pages, I couldn’t put it down. I did not see the surprise ending coming!

This is the fourth novel by Diane Chamberlain that I’ve read. If you are interested in reading what I had to say about The Silent Sister and The Stolen Marriage, please look at these two blog posts of mine from 2017:  https://janetswritingblog.com/2017/07/17/reading-south-africa-and-south-carolina-novels/  and https://janetswritingblog.com/2017/10/02/some-great-september-reads/. I’ve also read Pretending to Dance, by Ms. Chamberlain.

The White Darkness, by David Grann

The White Darkness, by David Grann

Last August I read Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI, by David Grann. You can read what I had to say about it in my September 4, 2018 blogpost, https://janetswritingblog.com/2017/09/04/holocaust-survivors-and-osage-murders/. Recently, when I saw an ad for the new movie, “The Old Man and the Gun,” I was curious about its backstory. I discovered that the movie is based on a book by the same name that was written by David Grann. It wasn’t available at the library, so I checked to see what else he has written. The White Darkness was on that list, so I checked it out.

 The White Darknessis the remarkable story of Henry Worsley’s obsession with the Antarctic. He idolized Ernest Shackleton, who was a pioneer in polar exploration in the1800s. Shackleton aspired to be the first person to reach the South Pole. He also wanted to be the first person to walk across Antarctica. He was unsuccessful in those attempts, but his journeys inspired Henry Worsley to try to do the same.

This nonfiction book is the story of Henry Worsley’s two treks to Antarctica – one in 2008 and the second in 2015.In 2008 he went with two descendants of Shackleton’s crew members, but in 2015he went alone.

This 150-page book is filled with photographs of Antarctica. I’ve never studied the geography of the Antarctic,so in reading Henry Worsley’s story I also learned about the continent’s plateaus, ice shelves, and towering mountain ranges.

The Shadows We Hide, by Allen Eskens

The Shadows We Hide, by Allen Eskens

I am a huge fan of Allen Eskens’ novels, and this one did not disappoint. As I waited to rise to the top of the waitlist for it at the public library, I kept thinking, What if this book isn’t as good as his first four books?

Mr. Eskens’ first novel, The Life We Bury, featured a young man with autism. His older brother, Joe, rescues him from a physically-abusive situation involving their mother and her live-in boyfriend. The Shadows We Hide is a sequel to that2014 book. Joe and his girlfriend are still caring for the autistic brother when Joe’s father, whom he’s never met, dies under suspicious circumstances.

In The Shadows We Hide, Joe t. ravels several hours to the town in Minnesota where his father died. Although he’d never met the man, he needs to find out what he can about him. Joe soon finds himself the subject of a murder investigation. One thing leads to another until Joe is the target of a killer.

Woven throughout the book is a continuation of the estrangement between Joe and his mother which happened in The Life We Bury. Always in Joe’s heart is what is best for his autistic brother. It is not necessary for you to read The Life We Bury before reading The Shadows We Hide, but you might have a richer reading experience if you do.

Finishing an Allen Eskens novel is bittersweet for me. I can’t wait to see how the story ends, but then I know I’ll probably have to wait a year until his next book is published. I’ve read each of his novels as soon as they were published. Needless to say, I’m a fan of his writing.

Since my last blog post

November was extremely busy.  Well, busy for someone with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. December promises to be even more hectic. I might explain what I mean by that later this month.

Until my next blog

I look forward to reading more good books and starting some Christmas baking. I hope you have a good book to read.I’m reading Look Alive Twenty-Five, by Janet Evanovich. I needed something light to read before I start reading Diane Chamberlain’s latest release, Dream Daughter. As usual, I can’t keep up with all the books I want to read.

If you are a writer, I hope you make time for your craft this week. I need to look in the mirror and say that to myself!

Thank you for reading my blog. You could have spent the last few minutes doing something else, but you chose to read my blog. I appreciate it! I welcome your comments.

Let’s continue the conversation.

Have you read any good books lately? If you’ve read any of the books I mentioned today, I’d like to know what you thought of them.

Janet