A world in a book

I love to read.  Always have.  It’s a little vacation that requires no luggage, no driving, no flying, no stressful packing and unpacking within certain weight limits.  It’s purely mental.  A trip inside your own mind, where all the world may lie at your feet in seconds, take you far beneath the sea, soar above the clouds, travel to distant places or even some that don’t exist.  Yet.

Even when we were little, Dr Seuss gave a tiny, early glimpse of what we could do if only we are open to the opportunity when he wrote “Oh the Places You Will Go!”  And we spent the rest of our lives finding the answer to that question.

Where did you end up?  Was it where you’d hoped to go or somewhere else that was a surprise, a shock, a disappointment?  Did you take that road less traveled or one well rutted by time and travelers before you?

So with World Book Day here, let’s think about the places you will go within the covers of a book or on the screen of an eReader device. A ‘thumping, good read’. One that’s transforming.  One that’s informative, one that excites you, intrigues you, makes you think.  Keeps you awake all night flipping the page to see what happens next.  Where do you want to go?  What type of reading do you like to do when the day is rainy, cool, and thoroughly a misery outside?

I’ll confess to you now, while I love to collect as many textbooks as I can on math & science, a day like today brings out the lazy brain side of me.  I like a cozy read, or book with a twist, one that’s by some author no one’s heard of yet.  I delved deeply into the listings in Amazon, scored a series, Wisteria Witches by Angela Pepper on this occasion.  The two primary characters are like a cross between Gilmore Girls and a Stephanie Plum adventure.

The humor is sharp, sarcastic, thoroughly enrapturing to read while the story line is fun, just enough adventure to keep you turning the page into the wee hours of the night/morning.  I’m currently on the third book in the series, Wisteria Wonders.  I started the series only about 4-5 days ago, which is indicative of how engrossed I’ve become in this series. (Ask the guys at the auto service department how many times they called my name before finally walking over and tapping me on the shoulder to tell me my car was finished!)  I’ve laughed out loud at many of the things said and thought of in each book and now with the fourth in the series coming out in July, the fun continues.

So tell me all the places you will go on World Book Day.  I’m happily residing in Wisteria where no one ever gains weight from a diet of doughnuts and cupcakes and wishing I could find this magical place.  Meanwhile, I’d love to know where you are in your reading adventures.






The Fifth Petal

The Fifth Petal by Brunonia Barry wrapped me in a warm blanket of mysticism, mystery, intrigue, history, jealousy, love and a thousand other feelings for about a week as I devoured the story of four young women that are descendants of four girls hung as witches in 1692 Salem, Massachusetts.  The story stand on a firm foundation of historical fact as the original young women were quite real as was their dark fate.  Were they really witches or innocent young women with an enemy that had more power and held the right ear in the community?  This story takes that line of thought and gives it a turn or two along the way and in the end you find yourself feeling heartache for their loss regardless of your opinion of their leanings in faith.

Having never read the Lace Reader despite having my eyes drawn to it repeatedly shortly after its release, I now know I MUST read that one to gain more insight into these richly drawn, deeply flawed characters.  They are like family now which made leaving their circle all that much harder to do. Only a few of the characters from book one are carried forward into this book but that doesn’t make it any less captivating for the reader as these characters have a story of their own to tell.

The Fifth Petal can definitely be read along without the preliminary story from book one, but why would you want to when such fascinating people exist in both?  If you have read The Lace Reader then you really should read The Fifth Petal though how much closure it will bring is hazy at best.  Perhaps with a couple of the characters, it may bring some, but with others, well, let’s leave that open to debate.

“Girls Waits With Gun”, by Amy Stewart

Allow me to introduce you to the sisters Kopp – Constance, Norma, and Fleurette. What makes them so special? Well, for one thing, these spirited ladies were real.  It’s a book of fiction, yes, but many of the characters are people who truly existed, but the story that swirls around them is somewhat fictionalized.  Ms Stewart aimed at accuracy in certain aspects of her telling of the high adventures of the Sisters Kopp, starting right at the beginning with a smash up between the rowdy new invention,the motor car and a horse drawn carriage by a beloved equine of the family, Dolley.

The year is 1914.  The surly, spoiled Henry Kaufman, gin smuggler of ill repute hurls his motorcar headlong into the carriage of the sisters three and Dolley, and refuses to pay for damages, which they feel is his responsibility,  What ensues is a twisting tail of stalking, harassment, and gun shooting lessons with the local sheriff.  Everyone knows of Mr Kaufman’s reputation for too much booze, too much privilege, a misplaced sense of entitlement and low morals.  This mix becomes dangerous as winter sets in in earnest and the spoiled boy and his band of thugs begin a campaign of terror against the sisters who are relying on dwindling resources to get them through the winter in a remote homestead with little going for it.

The beginning of this story was seeded from the research of a previously published book by Ms Stewart, The Drunken Botanist, which introduces us to a ne’er-do-well  by the name of Henry Kaufman.  A story in a newspaper of that day splashed the headlines of a collision between a fellow of the same name and three sisters on a horse-drawn buggy. This story was so intriguing, thanks to those indomitable sisters and the outcome of that fateful day, the story had to be told.  Of course Amy Stewart’s telling was spot on for suspense, capturing the essence of the three very different women as they struggle to get through one of  the worst winters they’ve ever experienced made worse by the kidnapping threats, arson attempts, and harassment from the Band of Surlies lead by Kaufman.

This story was a fun, intriguing and captivating read top to bottom.  It’s definitely captivated my inner suffragette’s heart with these feisty women working with little and gaining so much in return.  They’re independent and remain so throughout their time in this story though now I’m curious to hear more of their adventures. The next in this series (yes, there’s more) is entitled Lady Cop Makes Trouble, which I can’t help but feel it’s both a play on words and a teaser of things to come.  Let’s just say Constance finds her calling and runs with it.

Grab this one and you’ll be hooked to join them as they sure0footedly march along through their lives and grow into their own presences in just after turn of the century  United States.  You’ll love their quirky lovable ways, laugh with those attention-grabbing, obscure headlines Norma is so fond of and the fashion stylings of Fleurette making her mark on society as it matures into the industrial age.

Witchy Sour #2 in theMagic & Mixology Mystery series, by Gina LaManna

Witchy Sour (The Magic & Mixology Mystery Series #2)Witchy Sour by Gina LaManna
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What fun! And this once mainstream young woman turned resident of a secret island witch has learned a lot but there’s far more yet to discover. Of course there is always chaos when others conspire to eliminate her from her inherited post as Mixologist. For fans of fantasy characters – witches, vampires (who suffer from blood intolerance) and a very sexy Ranger that keeps Lily’s head spinning and her pulse racing, this is a vacation in book form. I read at night and it’s frequently a problem to keep quiet when giggling at the antics Lily, her cousins and Grandmother Hettie get up to every day of the week. It’s a non-stop romp from start to finish and you’ll be racing to find part 3 Jinx & Tonic right away.

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Hex on the Beach, by Gina LaManna

Hex on the Beach (The Magic & Mixology Mystery Series, #1)Hex on the Beach by Gina LaManna
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was one I could NOT put down. Despite the hour – 2:44 am – and the need for sleep was dire, the desire to find out how this finished was greater, so yes, I finished it in a day. That should tell you something is fun and slightly frenetic on these pages. The chemistry and tension between Lily and Ranger X is a palpable thing. You can’t even cut it with a knife and why would you even want to! Lily is likable, has a sharp mind, a quick wit, and a need for family if she’s to outwit whomever may be trying to off her as the newest in the hereditary line of Mixologists.

It’s a light, easy-reading, full-of-fun, word-nerd fare for the evening or so it takes you to finish it up with a sigh of pleasure, and suddenly find yourself craving even more – dark chocolate, some wine, a bubble bath and Book #2 should do the trick quite nicely. Lucky you, this is a trilogy. Hex on the Beach is #1 in the series. Hex on the Beach is Lily’s way of avoiding men by way of learning the craft of being a budding Mixologist but as we all know can be one of those ‘good intentions’ sorts of plans. She’s learning the ropes of this Mixologist role she has now inherited through her grandfather and it isn’t without its trials and tribulations, but it’s coming to her easier than one might think considering she lived in the ‘other world’ for most of her life, never knowing about this magical world, a mysteriously tropical place hidden in the middle of Lake Michigan.

After being formally introduced to this quirky, easy-to-love witch & mixologist in training, I closed out this story and immediately ran back to Amazon to get the other two in this series, Jinx & Tonic and Witchy Sour. (See a pattern in these titles?)

I’m curious now as to the other series this author has penned that I’m now positive are just as much of a fun-gallop at full tilt read as this series is turning out to be. Gina LaManna’s other series to which I’m referring is the Lacey Luzzi Mafia Mysteries, also a trilogy that will definitely be going onto my To Read list asap. If they’re even half as enjoyable at this series, it will leave me all too happy to follow this author very closely for quite a while.

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Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The lines become blurred between worlds when our central character, Jacob, finds an old abandoned house that is more than it appears to be on the surface. It appears decrepit one day and beautifully vital and inhabited by the most unique cast of characters one could hope to meet in a lifetime. Jacob’s father is busy watching the birds whilst Jacob explores the bogs and backwoods, leaving hhim alone to discover and become acquainted with the home’s residents. It also seems to let them go back and forth between the present day, the world in which Jacob is still with his father at a hotel as Jacob visit a therapist and the world Miss Peregrine inhabits , which is not in the present day but rather in the time of WWII.

The circumstances in which he and his newfound friends find themselves involved are as unusual as the children themselves, though all are extraordinarily likeable. Each child has their own unique ‘gift’ to make them special though initially, Jacob thinks he’s not special at all.  He feels at first that a mistake has been made and he should be there at all and attempts to return to his father but fate & actions intervene to make him realize he’s exactly where he should be.

As it’s a series and this introduces us to the Home and its special residents, it was possible this could be slow, boring, or too descriptive as it sets the stage for the coming volumes in the series, but as it turns out, there is not one boring moment in this story. You grow to love each and every one of them, the mysterious but kind in a firm sort of way Miss Peregrine. You realize there is a choice to be made in this first book, a very difficult one for Jacob, but not as difficult as one would think for his father, which I found a bit disturbing. I couldn’t really like or understand his father after this choice. Still it was a part of the story and Jacob is following in his grandfather’s footsteps.

On ‘tidying up’

So, I’m curious, how many of you have read the book yet? the life changing magic of tidying up is the one I mean.  I’m getting through but still cannot bring myself to throw everything I have hanging in my closet into the middle of the floor.  I’m sorry but that in itself will not bring me joy.

Clutter and I go way back.  Childhood.  I’m a clean-sweeper.  One who loves to go through a particular section and clear everything – and I do mean everything – out. Into a dumper somewhere.  Recycle it, shred it, toss it, leave it on the curb for someone else to covet.  Just not in here. Not anymore.

Unfortunately, I’ve married a hoarder of sorts.  I swore to myself before remarrying that I’d never remarry, then amended that to I’ll never marry a hoarder again.  One who’s mantra is “You never know when you might need ______________(insert useless item’s name here).  Sadly it’s been my undoing that I’m now married to another hoarder. I save all the serious, deep diving cleaning for when he’s out of town,  while the lighter tasks are accomplished during his  errand runs, gone to work, etc.  So far this has worked well.

The things I toss or leave out for others to enjoy are those that we never use.  Uncomfortable chairs, for example, of which there are several that need removal.  Paperwork is something I truly loathe as it’s necessary to keep the tatty stuff around for about 3-7 years.  Blerg.  But, keep it I do.  Grudgingly.  Though out of sight.

Another thing that is harder to release are those that came from family members that are no longer with us.  This is a problem.  They do give me joy and therefor I cannot let them go.  Yet.  Perhaps when the timing is right I’ll ask if any family members are interested in rehoming them.  Meantime, I’ll hoard them to myself.

Clothing is simple.  I’ve used the 2 year rule for many years and so far it worked out very well and painlessly, too I might add.  If I have not worn said item in the past two years, chances are better than average that it won’t be worn in the next two either, so off it goes to Goodwill if it’s in good condition or into the trash if not.  I rarely use my clothes for rags.  T-shirts are great for that and hubby’s are the best candidate, but most of my clothes are not T-shirts.

Lest you think I’m a total failure at this magical cleaning thing or quite the opposite, bear in mind it’s harder to let go of so many things, even when you know with every fibre of your being that it will never be seen again/worn again once you’ll stuck it in that drawer or closet. But maybe someone gave it to you and they’re still a strong feature of your life now.  Maybe it has sentimental significance to you, to a special someone.  That makes it very tricky.  Hang onto it as long as it gives you joy.  But when the things begin to accumulate, and you know they will, it’s time to revisit those things you coveted a bit longer.

One controversial chapter is entitled “Storage Experts are hoarders”.  Now I’m sure there are storage experts out there outraged by the stereotyping or judgemental tone of that statement.  You have to think of storage in a new light.  It’s where you store your necessary, day-to-day things you must have to get though your day.  It isn’t where you keep all those things you had back in high school, wore to the prom, loved that crazy colour lipstick, tried adding hot pink to your hair and kept the tools to do it again.  Text books that only serve as dust catchers.

That said, I’ll admit, I still have my college textbooks, though they’re in use elevating my computer monitor to a comfortable, easy to view height and raised a lamp up enough to prevent the on/off switch from being a contortionists move. So I don’t really consider them clutter.  Other clutter is leaving the home now and I’m honestly feeling better already.

Even if you don’t intend to deeply clean out the clutter in your life, the life-changing magic of tidying up by Marie Kondo will help you see your home, your life, your stuff in a different light.  You’ll find that less is better than more because the space regained makes life easier to breathe through.