Sunday, December 13, 2020

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

 In the past, deciding what book to read next has been a really long process. I have stacks of books in a little shelf by the bed, plus a few boxes of books here and there in the attic, under the bed, etc. I usually will pick and choose, looking through the pile, but recently I've been doing something different. I'm just grabbing the next book on the stack. 

I've got books that have been in my to-read stack for so long I don't even know where they came from. Some books in my to-read stacks I bought two or three houses ago, and I just keep moving them from place to place. Time to finally make my way through this backlog of books and either read them or give them away.

Which is how I ended up reading The Thirteenth Tale, by Diane Setterfield. This haunting, beautiful book is exactly what I needed, and I'm not sure I would have picked it out of the stack if I had been pickier. Not because it didn't sound intriguing, but because I hadn't heard a lot of people talking about it. It's on the to-read list for a lot of my goodreads friends, but not many have read it yet. 

This book sits in the literary world somewhere between Jane Eyre and Frankenstein, with a dash of Girl Friday. A book seller turned journalist ends up interviewing a mysterious author essentially on her deathbed. The journalist, who has her own traumatic past, learns about the author's sordid, gothic childhood and uncovers murder, secrets and drama. Throughout, however, the mystery of what the "Thirteenth Tale" is remains... 

The most impressive thing about this book is that even when I had figured out the big secret, I was still completely enthralled by the storytelling. Usually, once I've solved the mystery I get bored with a book, but this one still kept me reading. Even though I knew what was happening, I was wrapped up in all the details of HOW it would happen.

As a writer, I always want to pay attention when an author can keep me intrigued even if I know the end of the tale already... (ie. Hamilton, or Titanic...) 

And that's all I'll say about that, because anything else would be spoilers. 

The next book in my stack is: 

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

I also recently read and enjoyed: 

A Tale of Magic by Chris Colfer

Monday, August 10, 2020

Magic Lessons - Book Review

Like so many of us, I was first introduced to Alice Hoffman through "Practical Magic." I was a huge fan of the movie, sought out the book, and never stopped reading. Her return to the lives of the Owens women in The Rules of Magic was lovely. And in October she'll be releasing Magic Lessons.

I love any moment when an author gives us a glint of an idea about a character, and we can wonder what the rest of the story was. Washington Irving's hints at who the Headless Horseman may have been has been on my mind for years. And Maria Owens has always been that for me as well. Hinted at in Practical Magic with just a few references to the rope, and a short fanciful backstory about how she survived hanging, Maria has always felt like this overshadowing mystery behind the curse on the Owens women.

Hoffman did even more than I imagined she would, though. She has (once again) woven a tale of female empowerment inside a tale of magic and sprinkled a whole lot of history on top. This story is both timeless and timely. Like all history there are forgotten details that Hoffman fills in with this tale. And those forgotten details show how the women of yesterday relate to the women of today. How much has changed and how much remains the same. 

What I'm reading next:

Anne of Avonlea

What I'm listening to: 

Friday, August 7, 2020

Education in the Time of Covid19

 I've turned to Facebook recently, with long posts on current events, and it strikes me that I may not always have Facebook to record those things. I should start posting such musings here, as well as getting back to my regular book reviews. 

So, today, some musings on education in a pandemic: 

On 9/11/01 I was in class writing notes to Nina and Venus in Elvish. We had been reading The Hobbit. Someone knocked on the door and told the teacher what happened. He came back in. He told us. He turned on the television. The rest of the day is a blur to me, but I know I spent a large chunk of the day in the music room with the other band and theater geeks, watching the news. The curriculum was put on hold because tragic history was unfolding before our eyes. We watched as over 2,000 people died.

We didn't fully return to math tests and The Hobbit for a few days afterward, because it wasn't possible. We spent class time talking about what had happened, what was still unfolding. The world was different. We were different. We were learning, but we were learning other things. We were learning about heroes, we were learning about mortality, we were learning about the importance of each breath.

So far, 160,000 people have died of Covid19 in America. People are dying today of Covid19. This minute, as I write this. And our children are around us, learning. They are learning about how we can respect others through the use of a mask, they are learning about how important it is to savor the hugs we can get, and they are learning that they are resilient, and can survive heartbreak and loss.

I know you want your children's education to continue, and I know parents need to be able to work and having public schools open is a huge part of that. But you can't look at the world today and think that we can make it look like the world one year ago. It isn't the same world. And learning doesn't happen in the same way in this world as it did in the world of 2019. We can't just go back. There is no going back. There is no perfect solution, only the solutions that will allow us to survive.

We have to stop seeking the world that was, and focus our energy on surviving in the world that is.

Monday, December 30, 2019

Daughter of the White River - Audiobook Review

Ten years ago I was lucky enough to be invited to an S.J. Tucker house concert in Salem, Massachusetts. I had been a fan for a few years by that point, and it was a magical night of music and good company.

A picture of me looking really weird and super nervous.

S.J. Tucker’s music has this wonderful, faery charm and I can’t stress enough how good it is. Each album has its own sound, and purpose. Some are more spiritual and pagan-focused, others play a different direction, but every one of them is good.

When I heard Sooj had recorded an audiobook I had to jump on that. Then I found out it was a true crime story about an incredibly complicated woman who exacted revenge on the man who killed her father and I was even more excited. 

Daughter of the White River by Denise White Parkinson is like a roller-coaster, in all the best ways. From soft, tranquil moments of southern charm, to wild, heart-racing murder and prison escapes, this story has everything a true crime fan could want.

Parkinson offers us a story of crime and poverty that begs us to question what we view as justice. 

S.J. Tucker’s reading performance is beautiful and soothing. I hope I can experience many more audiobooks read by her. 

What I’m reading next:

Another book I recently read and loved:

(I have loved this entire series.) 

What are you reading? 

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Gloria Steinem - Women’s History Month

Alright, so today’s woman isn’t an unknown feminist. In fact, she’s probably one of the most well-known feminists in history. But she’s always worth a closer look, in my opinion.

Ten Gloria Steinem Facts That Will Make You Love Her Even More