God Never Blinks by Regina Brett

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I picked this book up one day from the sale area at Barnes and Noble. I wasn’t sure what to expect but since I’ve personally been wondering if God has forgotten me, I thought it was a worthy purchase.

Regina Brett hasn’t had a perfect life. As a newspaper columnist, she wrote about the life lessons she learned. She has had struggles common to all of us and struggles that fortunately most of us never experience. Each lesson is just a few pages long but she packs a powerful punch in each lesson. Rather than using psychological terms and fancy ideas of how to get better, she speaks from a very personal place.

Her experiences and how she learned from each of them touched me personally. She speaks of how step-by-step, she slowly learned to find her way out of a bad situation, accept a situation she couldn’t change and see the positive in what came her way.

I like the fact that each lesson is independent of the next, so on a day I am struggling with something specific, I can read a lesson specific to my personal struggle. I suggest if you are looking for an uplifting book to help you through a tough time, this is it.

 

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The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society.

  
4 stars. How many movies and TV shows have I seen or books have I read about war. Every single one reminds me how lucky I am never to have experienced any type of war. I clearly need to work on geography. I don’t think I even knew there were islands in the English Channel. And I certainly never thought about how they may have dealt with German occupation.

I know self imposed isolation. I know temporary isolation. But I do not know nor can really begin to comprehend forced isolation. This book is a collection of letters “written” between an author and the residents of Guernsey, a channel island.

They share with her through their letters how they physically, mentally and spiritually survived years of German occupation. How they continue to heal the wounds of the soul after the war.

The author becomes so attached she decides to visit and ends up finding the home she was seeking since childhood. Friendships are formed, tried, rebuilt and flourish. 

This book requires the ability to follow a wide variety of character voices because the letters are written by several people and written to a variety of people. So if you don’t like jumping around in a book then this isn’t for you. But if you want to understand the hardships endured by the residents of the Channel Islands during WWII and gain compassion then this is a great book.

Family Pictures by Jane Green

  
Again I am always amazed how God can take a random work of fiction and place it in my life just at the right time. Family Pictures is the story of two women, two families and one man. I don’t think I am giving away any surprises when I say it is the tale of a man with a family on the East Coast and one on the West Coast.

The story has similarities to my own. While my ex didn’t have two families he definitely had two lives. The life with me and our daughter of the family man. Then the life on the road of a heavy drinker, pornography, strippers and strip clubs and prostitutes, even illegal peeping tom activities. Just like the women in the novel, I realize now I chose to ignore the signs. Sylvie and Maggie, the wives in the book chose to not question unexpected absences, a woman’s voice in the background or just the inability to reach him.

I did the same thing. When I would call his room and a woman would answer, I believed the hotel gave me the “wrong” room. When he would be home and disappear for hours, I believed he had been wandering the aisles of Home Depot. It wasn’t until like Sylvie, the police came calling that I realized what he had been doing. Sadly unlike Sylvie, I didn’t have the internal confidence needed to kick him out. I didn’t have the internal resolve to leave. Now I know lots of women say they would never put up with such things. But I can say until you walk a mile in my shoes, you won’t know.

Both women become stronger and happier because of the tragedy caused by this one man. Maggie remarks that she would have continued to live a fake and unhappy life believing she was happy if Mark’s lies hasn’t been discovered. I identify with her. But unlike the women of the story, I am still trying to adjust and not mourn my loss even though I know in my heart I never felt secure or loved.

If you are looking for some inspiration to overcome an unforeseen challenge, this is a good book to read.

Angry Housewives … By Lorna Landvik

  
I haven’t posted any reviews because I’ve actually been busy reading. I give this book 4 stars.

Have you ever bought a book because you liked the title or the photo on the front? I picked this up at Half Price Books because I liked the title: Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bon. As I began reading there was something familiar about this book. Maybe it was central character was married to a pilot? My ex is a pilot. Maybe it was the fact they lived in Minnepolis and I had lived in Minnepolis. Maybe it was because one character shared my daughter, Kari’s name with the same spelling. Or maybe it was the fact it was a group of women who had a book club for 30 years and I played Bunco with a group of women for 13 years. While all of the above is true, I realized about midway through the 2nd chapter I had already read this book.

I could have put it down but it’s been awhile so I decided to read it again. I mean I have read the entire Poldark series twice. I’m glad I decided to read this again. I am always amazed at how God uses books, even humorous fiction, to speak to me. 

There are five women living on a cul-de-sac and it follows their lives from the 1960s through the 1990s. Some of its beautiful and some of it is very ugly. I saw a little of myself in each of the characters. Faith the main character, her husband being a pilot (there was NO similarity between her loving and faithful husband and my ex except their jobs), her feelings of inadequacies, fear of the empty nest and displacing anger. Audrey is the resident sexpot and mother to 3 boys. I related to her love of food, her love of men and the sadly the belief that her husband would be faithful because they had a fabulous sex life. Slip, the neighborhood crusader and I bonded over frizzy hair and the battle it creates daily. I also tend to get on her soapbox about the inequality between men and women.

Merit, the beautiful, talent and physically abused wife hit me on several levels but mostly her inability to please a demanding and angry husband. While my ex wasn’t physically abusive, he did play head games everyday with me and convinced me I was worthless. And she was the mother of daughters with an intense desire to protect them and I am the same. Last and not least is Kari, the slighter older widow who only became a mother slightly later and through adoption. I indentified with her intense desire to be a mother and her love of sewing. I can’t imagine my life without my daughters. Kari also loved to sew and made things not just for her daughter but for her friends and their children. I did the same thing for years and have just started sewing again.

This book doesn’t just look at the happy side of suburban life. No one is perfect and no one has a perfect life, perfect children or perfect husbands. The author also shows that sometimes friendship is difficult, demanding and hurts. Unfortunately for me my friends didn’t come through the fire. They bailed at the first opportunity. It did make me miss having friends because they are supposed to be a support system. It made me miss the social aspect of friendship, the food, the laughter and the secrets.

*Fair warning: I will say I cried a couple times while reading the book because it touched me on such a personal level.

A Fatal Grace by Louise Penny

  
Five stars. I’ve been on a book reading binge. From the moment I met Chief Inspector Gamache, Jean Guy Beauvoir, Agent Isabelle Lacoste and the inhabitants of Three Pines I knew I would be back for more. What I didn’t realize was that I would have a voracious appetite for more.

A Fatal Grace finds us back in Three Pines and another murder. The old, scary Hadley house has new owners. The woman who bought the house is electrocuted during an annual hockey match. Louise Penny has an uncanny ability to stir up in me how cold winter can be. My mind is drawn back to those Minnesota and Iowa winters when I thought my breath froze.

Sadly no one is sorry to hear of the death of CC. We have all known someone similar to her. She is the woman who has all the answers to happiness but can’t see the misery right before her eyes. The author reminds us that verbal abuse is every bit as destructive as physical abuse.

Clara Morrow is still struggling to find her artistic voice but when her husband Peter sees glimpses of genius, he becomes insecure. Ruth is still her sarcastic and casting self. Each character is woven seamlessly into the story. They become our friends, our irritatants, our hope for a safe place.

Another murder happens in the city as Ruth releases her new book of poetry. A mysterious necklace ties this murder to CC’s murder. Did the same person commit both crimes? Why was Clara seen with the murdered female vagrant? Did she know her?

I have read all the Gamache mysteries and if you want to escape to a warm, welcoming village that struggles with life and death then her books are for you.

Book Addiction

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This isn’t so much a review but my experience when I find a book or book series that touches me in a deeper way than just entertainment.

The Poldark  books did that. I have a blog devoted to Demelza, the lead female character because she touches me so deeply. I’ve just spent the past couple weeks reading Louise Penny’s Chief Inspector  Gamache series. She has created a world in Three Pines that I desperately want to inhabit. It’s a small unmapped town in Quebec not far from the Vermont state line. I want Olivier, Gabri, Clara, Myrna and yes even Ruth as my friends. I want to sit by the fire and eat at the bistro. I want to sit for a portrait by Clara, rummage through Myrna’s bookstore for a new adventure and experience Ruth’s coarseness against the background of such softness.

Each of her books had something to say to me personally. Reading about Clara’s insecurities concerning her talent and understanding how she feels. Reading that Clara memorized a glowing review not because she believed it but because she wanted to remember she had a choice of what to believe. And being reminded that is true for me too. I have a choice.

Learning that Ruth has a heart despite her behavior and reaches out to the most unlikely person. Understanding if we just look there is always someone willing to throw us a rope and help us back up on our feet. And be willing to throw the rope to someone in need. 

Believe that love like Armand has for Reine-Marie is a real possibility and it is possible to feel safe and secure in a relationship.

The greatest thing about good books is they open a door into our souls and change us forever.

I will list all of her books in my next post but I would say run and don’t walk to read her books.

Warleggans by Winston Graham

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Warleggans is the fourth in the twelve books series by Winston Graham. With each book I become more deeply involved with the characters. I will do my best not to ¬†give too much away so if you are watching the TV series you won’t have it spoiled.

George continues his struggle to be accepted. He has burned into his soul that is the grandson of a blacksmith and no amount of wealth that he acquires will ever be enough. He continues with his attempts to destroy Ross’s life. I think George would be a good character for a psychology student to analyze. He is wealthier than Ross and with that money comes power. One would think George could give up his desire to destroy Ross but he knows Elizabeth stills loves Ross and Ross loves Elizabeth despite what he says. Ross is accepted because of his name and George has doors closed in his face. Ross has family, Francis, Verity and now Demelza. Even society is beginning to open its doors and accept Demelza. All George has are two parents who never really accept the ways of the gentry and a mean, greedy uncle.

Just as Francis and Ross make amends, another tragedy strikes which forces Elizabeth to make a choice. It is a choice Ross hates and subsequently Ross is moved solely by his emotions and not by reason to act in a way that will have repercussions through the rest of the series. Demelza uses her natural intuitiveness and Ross isn’t able to fool her but they choose never to speak of what happened.

Demelza’s heartbreak leads her own her own path of discovery and possibly into making a huge mistake. This is a 5 star book and a 5 star series.