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

So it is.

Do you know someone who often ends a sentence with the phrase, “so it is” or “so he did” or “so they are?” You get the picture.

In my blog post on October 21, 2018 (Independent Bookstores are the Best!) I mentioned a bookmark that I purchased at Foggy Pine Books in Boone, North Carolina (see photo below) and I promised that I would explain why I just had to buy that particular bookmark in today’s blog post.

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Bookmark by Peter Pauper Press, Inc. (www.peterpauper.com)

There are a scattered few individuals among my father’s siblings and their descendants who pepper their speech with such sayings. One of my father’s sisters used these idioms. The interesting thing about this within our family is that none of her children or grandchildren picked up the practice as far as I know; however, one of her nieces uses the idiom a lot. I doubt if she’s even aware she’s saying it, so I don’t want to bring it to her attention. If made conscious of it, it might influence her speech pattern. She has young grandchildren, so it will be interesting to see if they pick up the idiom.

Is it from Kintyre?

A few years ago, I learned that in days of old this very idiom was common in the speech patterns of the people of the Kintyre Peninsula in Scotland. That just happens to be where my Morrison ancestors lived before coming to America in the 1760s. I was delighted to learn that the idiom had perhaps been brought to America with my great-great-great-great-grandparents.

Or is it from Ireland?

Now a monkey wrench has been thrown into the mix. My sister enjoys reading novels written by Maeve Binchy. They take place in Ireland. The idiom “so he did” showed up recently in Ms. Binchy’s 2012 novel titled, A Week in Winter. I haven’t read any of  Ms. Binchy’s cozies, but I checked this one out just so I could enjoy her use of “so it is” (or a variation thereof.)

A few weeks ago I read the novel, Lying in Wait, by Liz Nugent. It takes place in Ireland. I’d gotten a little more than halfway through the book, to page 180, when I came to the following sentence:  “ʻA real gentleman, that’s what you are, now, a real gentleman so you are.’” And then, on page 262, “Very good to me so he was, before he even met Karen.” I thought perhaps the author had given this idiom to one particular character to distinguish him or her from the others but, when I looked back to the first example, I discovered “so you are” and “so he was” were said by two different people.

Does this quaint idiom come from Scotland or from Ireland? After ten generations in America, is there any way to tell? There probably is, but I don’t have the resources or energy to get to the bottom of this. For the time being I’m happy just to enjoy hearing and reading “so it is” occasionally.

Since my last blog post

I’ve been taking care of my sister. I’m “chief cook and bottle washer” for a while. I haven’t had much time to read or write.

Until my next blog post

I hope you have a good book or two to read. I’m still reading The White Darkness, by David Grann. It is a very short book, but I’ve managed to make a two-week read out of it due to hospital stays, two trips back to the emergency room, and keeping track of pill and physical therapy schedules. I picked up two new releases at the public library and look forward to starting them this week.

If you’re a writer, I hope you have quality 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. I appreciate it! I welcome your comments.

Let’s continue the conversation.

Is there an idiom such as “so it is” within your family or circle of friends?  Tell us how and when it originated, if you know.

Janet

Hunkering Down for the Winter

We had a very warm and long summer in North Carolina this year. In fact, summer stretched all the way through September and into October. With highs in the lower 90s and heat indices close to 100 degrees Fahrenheit several times in October, many folks who moved here from colder climates began to worry that autumn would never arrive.

As often happens in North Carolina, summer ended and winter ones began. We seemed to have a relatively short time of fall temperatures. Just a couple of weeks ago it was in the high 70s Fahrenheit. Yesterday morning it was well below freezing here, and the snow machines were busy making snow at one or more ski resorts in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina.

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An early autumn photo I took in the Great Smoky Mountains several years ago

No more kidding myself that I could avoid winter. If you’ve followed my blog for a year or more, you know that I suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder. I don’t mention this to get your sympathy but in the hope that others who have this seasonal form of depression might read my blog and know that they aren’t alone.

For most of my adult life, I have dreaded winter. That annual longing for warmer temperatures and longer hours of daylight eventually morphed into a dread of autumn.

Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy the bright reds, yellows, and oranges of the various hardwood trees when fall arrives, but we have a big yard and many huge old trees. By late fall/early winter, we are buried in dead leaves. I’m reminded of some of the words from “Camelot” that describe a world where it only rains at night and all the mess disappears by morning. (I paraphrase.) In my version of Camelot, all the dead leaves would disappear overnight once they’ve turned brown.

It’s hard for me to enjoy the beauty of autumn because I know winter isn’t far behind. I am on medication now that helps me cope with my discomfort with fall and winter, but I don’t think there’s a magic pill to help me cope with the mountains of dead leaves.

It’s time for me to hunker down for winter. I hope to work on genealogy, sewing, and my writing in the coming months while I try not to count the days until spring.

Until my next blog post

I hope you have a good book to read. I’m reading The White Darkness, by David Grann. It’s a nonfiction book about walking across Antarctica. It seemed like an appropriate book to read now that winter is here.

If you’re a writer, I hope you have quality 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. I appreciate it! I welcome your comments.

Let’s continue the conversation.

Do you dread autumn and/or winter? Maybe you love these seasons. If you do, share some of the things you like about the colder time of the year. Maybe you’ll make me aware of some of the things I should look forward to when the daylight hours grow short and you have to bundle up to go outside.

To my readers from “down under,” do you see any advantages in having your seasons the opposite of those of us in the northern hemisphere? It would seem odd to me to celebrate Christmas, New Year’s Day, and my birthday in the summer; however, I suppose it would seem strange to you to celebrate those special days in the dead of winter.

Janet