Wednesday, November 2, 2016

What I Read In October

October means the beginning of fall (even though temperatures were still well into the 90's most days) and nights curled up with good mysteries.  That was reflective of my reading this month.

A Fatal Grace

Written by Louise Penny
The Second Installment of the Chief Inspector Gamache Series
CC de Poitiers managed to alienate everyone in the hamlet of Three Pines, right up to the moment she died. When Chief Inspector Armand Gamache begins his investigation, it seems like an impossible murder: CC was electrocuted on a frozen lake, in front of the entire town, during the annual curling tournament. With compassion and courage, Gamache digs beneath the idyllic surface of village life to find long buried secrets, while his own enemies threaten to bring something even more chilling than the bitter winter winds to Three Pines. Taken from Amazon

I read the first novel in this series a few months ago (Still Life).  I enjoyed being introduced to the people of Three Pines and to the Canadian way of life in a small village.(I can't even imagine all the snow, the toboggans and mittens that are an essential part of their wardrobe -- especially during this Texas heat!)  These characters felt like people I would know -- neighbors, fellow parishioners in a small congregation.  A Fatal Grace returns to Three Pines and several of the characters feature in this novel as well.  However, I didn't love this one.  I have heard it said that the first three books in the series are a bit slippery, as they find their footing for the rest of the series (which is highly acclaimed).  I can see that.  I wasn't as invested in the outcome of this murder investigation...maybe because I figured out half of the plot twist early on...or maybe because I really, REALLY disliked the victim and was just glad that she was out of the picture.  BUT, I will say that my curiosity with the underlying big picture mystery involving the Chief Inspector himself was whetted BIG TIME.  So, I will definitely be reading more of this series.

The Woman In Cabin 10: A Novel

Written by Ruth Ware
Book of the Month: August

From New York Times bestselling author of the “twisty-mystery” (Vulture) novel In a Dark, Dark Wood, comes The Woman in Cabin 10, an equally suspenseful and haunting novel from Ruth Ware—this time, set at sea.

In this tightly wound, enthralling story reminiscent of Agatha Christie’s works, Lo Blacklock, a journalist who writes for a travel magazine, has just been given the assignment of a lifetime: a week on a luxury cruise with only a handful of cabins. The sky is clear, the waters calm, and the veneered, select guests jovial as the exclusive cruise ship, the Aurora, begins her voyage in the picturesque North Sea. At first, Lo’s stay is nothing but pleasant: the cabins are plush, the dinner parties are sparkling, and the guests are elegant. But as the week wears on, frigid winds whip the deck, gray skies fall, and Lo witnesses what she can only describe as a dark and terrifying nightmare: a woman being thrown overboard. The problem? All passengers remain accounted for—and so, the ship sails on as if nothing has happened, despite Lo’s desperate attempts to convey that something (or someone) has gone terribly, terribly wrong…

With surprising twists, spine-tingling turns, and a setting that proves as uncomfortably claustrophobic as it is eerily beautiful, Ruth Ware offers up another taut and intense read in The Woman in Cabin 10—one that will leave even the most sure-footed reader restlessly uneasy long after the last page is turned. 
Taken from Amazon

Let me just say, Lo drove me crazy!  But that is what she was supposed to do.  I kept wanting to scream at her, "No! Don't do that!" but she just kept going.  It was kind of like watching a scary movie and knowing that the kids shouldn't go into that house...but if they don't go in, there is no movie.  Let's just say, unreliable witness + private cruise ship + mysterious Internet outage = great page turning fun. Was there a woman in Cabin 10?  What happened to her?  What happens to Lo?  You will have to grab this one to find out. 

The Mothers: A Novel

Written by Brit Bennett
Book of the Month: October

Set within a contemporary black community in Southern California, Brit Bennett's mesmerizing first novel is an emotionally perceptive story about community, love, and ambition. It begins with a secret.

"All good secrets have a taste before you tell them, and if we'd taken a moment to swish this one around our mouths, we might have noticed the sourness of an unripe secret, plucked too soon, stolen and passed around before its season."

It is the last season of high school life for Nadia Turner, a rebellious, grief-stricken, seventeen-year-old beauty. Mourning her own mother's recent suicide, she takes up with the local pastor's son. Luke Sheppard is twenty-one, a former football star whose injury has reduced him to waiting tables at a diner. They are young; it's not serious. But the pregnancy that results from this teen romance—and the subsequent cover-up—will have an impact that goes far beyond their youth. As Nadia hides her secret from everyone, including Aubrey, her God-fearing best friend, the years move quickly. Soon, Nadia, Luke, and Aubrey are full-fledged adults and still living in debt to the choices they made that one seaside summer, caught in a love triangle they must carefully maneuver, and dogged by the constant, nagging question: What if they had chosen differently? The possibilities of the road not taken are a relentless haunt.

In entrancing, lyrical prose, The Mothers asks whether a "what if" can be more powerful than an experience itself. If, as time passes, we must always live in servitude to the decisions of our younger selves, to the communities that have parented us, and to the decisions we make that shape our lives forever.  
Taken from Amazon

This book!  If you didn't read that second paragraph above, a direct quote from the book, read it now and savor it.  This book is filled with such quotes.  I finally had to grab my post it arrows because there was so much I loved and wanted to go back to.  This is a story of things unsaid, of things said to cover the truth of the heart, of actions taken that changed the course of personal history.  There is heartbreak and strength.  There is reality and the much different appearances - seen through the eyes of a beholder whose vision is clouded.  Then, bringing all the threads together, there are the Mothers, the older women of Upper Room Church where much of this book is set.  Wise. Insightful. Well-meaning. Prayer Warriors.  But also caught up in their own understanding of events, unwilling sometimes to see how they have played into the drama that is unfolding before their very eyes.

This will definitely be one of my favorite books of 2016 -- perhaps of all time.  I am seriously thinking of reading it again because it is that good -- and I wonder what great things I may have missed as I devoured this book in less than 24 hours.  It was a good thing Jim was away on a dove hunt when I picked it up and began reading!

I also finally picked up Simply Tuesday: Small-Moment Living In A Fast-Moving World by Emily P. Freeman.  I have had this one on my TBR shelf since it came out.  I think I even pre-ordered it because I love Emily so much!  I'm only a chapter into it...but I am looking forward to the read. I think this is one of those books that needed to wait for the right time for me.  I am beginning to think about the need to slow down.  I know it is a combination of things contributing to my sense of rush and hurry...but it is time to take a seat on a bench, like the one on that cover, and have some heart to heart time with the Lord, with my family and with those friends who have earned a place of transparency and intimacy in my life.   

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

What I Did In October

Grandmas Gone Wild 2016

I visited South Padre Island for five days and four nights of making memories with two of my longest and dearest friends.  Not our usual trip but one of us had never visited South Padre before, so it counts!

View from our balcony
At the pool

This is where we spent most of our time!

The Sapphire from the pool

The best place for a morning cuppa is looking out over the water.

CCA Awards

Attended the CCA Awards where one of Jim's fishing buddies won a new boat and trailer for the largest recorded Speckled Trout during the 2016 STAR Tournament.

CCA = Coastal Conservation Association; STAR Tournament =State of Texas Angler's Rodeo
Thad with his plaque.  The boat and trailer were in the parking lot.

Sargent Weekend

Pappaw and Sweet Bailey Rae

Blanket time in the front yard with Bailey and Carter (and Jennifer, too)

This should just say:
"My Happy Place"

Added a little d├ęcor to the porch to make it ours.

"The Strategy of Pairing" (as Gretchen Rubin would say)

Took care of my annual check-up and rewarded myself with dinner and a movie (Storks) with the Ham & Rodgers families.  I did not take a single picture, but we had a blast hanging out at the arcade and then we had the WHOLE THEATRE to ourselves.  We could pick out seats and run around during the movie without bothering a soul.  A good thing since this was Dayton's first trip to a movie theater. 

Abundance: Frisco

This year was Conference Year for our ladies retreat and we decided on a trip to Lifeway's Abundance with speakers like: Angela Thomas-Pharr, Curtis Jones, Lisa Harper, and Lysa Terkeurst.  It is a rather new addition to their conferences and was given a thumbs up by all ten of us!  There was a long road trip, shared cheesecake, honest conversations and ice cream surprises to mix with all the laughter.

Fellowship at Field Store Ladies Retreat 2016

My girl and I

Loved our t-shirts this year!
Thanks for the great design, Peyton!

Teaching a much younger woman (and friend) the glories of Snapchat!
I felt so hip!

Vintage Market

Met up with Robin and Stacy for a fun day at the Market. This was my first visit to the one at the Waller County Fairgrounds.  I feel like Goldilocks in that it wasn't too big or too small, it was just right!  Got some great finds but didn't take pics our adventure. We shopped and shopped, then we drove in to Chappell Hill for lunch at Bevers Kitchen. Yum!
My Vintage Market find of the day:
A box springs tree for the seasons

Brooke's 9th Birthday Brunch: Unicorns

A donut cake for our 9 year old granddaughter

Bailey's 1st Birthday Party: Boho

Bailey and her smash cake

Halloween After Party

They all gathered to go trick or treating about 20 minutes from the house.  Afterwards they came out for dinner, a hay ride through the woods, Halloween Bingo, Pumpkin decorating and Hocus Pocus.
From the back: Kelli (Scarecrow), Bri and Bailey (Twin Pin Up Girls), Meagan (Sugar Skull), Dayton (Half Beard Pirate)
Middle Row: Maddux (Storm Trooper), Brooke (Cleopatra), Davin (Storm Trooper)
Front Row: Ellie (Spider Girl), Delayne (Mermaid) and Weston (Captain America)

AND Lots of Razorback Football: For Better or Worse!

Alcorn State - W
Alabama - L
Ole Miss - W
Auburn - L --- with her finger and her thumb in the shape of an L on her forehead!

The older grands built a fort during one of our football gatherings...complete with fire pit!