Books I read this week: October weeks 1 and 2

Here are the books I’ve been reading.


Furious Love: Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, and the Marriage of the Centuryby Sam Kashner and Nancy Schoenberger was a great read. The ups and downs of the Taylor/Burton relationship are all laid out, and there’s lots of gossip, but it never gets trashy or mean spirited. The love between the two of them is the core of the book, and it was definitely a love for the ages. It’s unfortunate that alcohol addiction came between them.

Curiously, Elizabeth didn’t conisder herself-nor Grace Kelly, for that matter- truly beautiful. She felt that being too impeccable, too groomed, too studied- “so that you can feel the vanity behind it”- made beauty boring. Her ideals of feminine beauty were women like Lena Horne and Ava Gardner, earthier women ablaze with life and heart.


I’ve been waiting for The Brothers Cabal by Jonathan L. Howard for quite some time. I inhaled the three previous books in the series, and this one was just as much fun. Johannes Cabal is a necromancer who stole his soul back from the devil, and his brother Horst is a twice (thrice?) dead vampire with impeccable manners. When a group with dangerous intentions raises him to be their Lord of the Dead, they get something a bit different than they expected.

‘Are you deliberately collecting animated heads, Johannes?’ he asked.

Cabal frowned, then accepted the point. ‘Not deliberately. It just happens.’


I have quite literally been reading the Collected Poems by Edna St. Vincent Millay for 7 months. I started it in March of this year. I parceled it out over that time, and therefore I do not now hate St. Vincent Millay as I could have if I’d read straight through. Her poems are gorgeous, she has marvelous turns of phrase.

It well may be that in a difficult hour,

pinned down by pain and moaning for release,

or nagged by want past resolution’s power,

I might be driven to sell your love for peace,

or trade memory of this night for food.

It well may be. I do not think I would.


The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov is one of those books that has been on lists of “books you must read!” forever, and I’ve never read it. But there was a copy at the bookstore with the new Vintage Magic cover, and so I bought it. It’s not at all what I expected, but I’m not really sure what I expected. It’s the story of what happens when the devil visits a Russian town. As you would imagine, things go awry, and lots of people end up in the lunatic asylum. Only two people make it out unscathed (well, relatively); the master and the woman he loves, Margarita. The master is called such by Margarita because of the book that he has written about Pontius Pilate- she considers him a master of his craft. I went in thinking that the two of them would do battle with the devil, which is not at all what happens. Apparently there is lots of social commentary about life in Russia at the time it was written, but I missed a lot of that. What I did get was the humor (madcap at times), the horror, the exhilaration. It’s a great read, I enjoyed it a lot.

Itby Alexa Chung was a total impulse buy. I enjoyed Alexa on 24 Hour Catwalk, and flipping through this book I saw things that made me smile, so I bought it. It’s basically a scrapbook/lookbook of things that have influenced her style, with snippets of her thoughts about them. I kind of wish that I just read it at the bookstore- I don’t know how much I’ll delve into it again- but it was a fun little read.

I also read a draft of a book that a friend of mine wrote, that you will all want to read when it’s published.

I’m currently in the middle of Don’t Point that Thing at Meby Kyril Bonfiglioli, which is entertaining.

What are you reading?

Books I read this week: September

Somehow I forgot that I was supposed to be posting every week. So I shall catch up now for the month of September.


Meeting the Dog Girls: Storiesby Gay Terry is a collection of odd, well written stories. All of them have at least one strange element, sometimes it’s magic, sometimes it’s a creature from another world, sometimes it’s a mysterious marble.

If she thinks my spells are ungodly, wait till she gets on a golf course, with its voodoo:nine plus nine and numbered clubs; the fusion of elements: water, air. iron (a curious choice of metal), wood (Did they know the effects of different kinds?). How does she think people get suckered into it so easily, hypnotized into spending days in the hot sun hitting a ball into a hole? That’s profane enchantment for you.


Interpreter of Maladiesby Jhumpa Lahiri was recommended to me by a friend, and I am grateful. It’s a thought provoking set of stories dealing with life in India. Each is a polished gem that stands as its own narrative, and some of them seem to serve as a microcosm of societal interactions in India, especially where class is concerned.  I really enjoyed this one.

In fact, the only thing that appeared three dimensional about Boori Ma was her voice; brittle with sorrows, as tart as curds, and shrill enough to grate meat from a coconut.


Dimension of Miraclesby Robert Sheckley has a lot in common with Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, which is not a bad thing. A normal, everyday human wins the Galactic Sweepstakes (by purposeful accidental computer error) and finds himself traveling around the universe trying to get back to Earth. It’s absurd and philosophical and enjoyable.

He was somewhat above the average in height and self-deprecation. His posture was bad, but his intentions were good.


I’m going to be totally cliche and say that The Magiciansby Lev Grossman is Harry Potter and the Narnia books for grownups. Quentin, the smartest kid in his high school, applying to Ivy League schools and on his way to his successful life, finds himself crossing through a forest into the grounds of a school for magicians. He takes the entrance exam and is accepted, and the book goes from there. The students are brilliant, the work is hard, the goal is to be a fully functioning practitioner of magic, so that upon graduation you can do anything you want to. Along the way, Quentin discovers that Fillory, a fictional world he loved reading about as a child, might just be real.

The book is adult and angsty and the ins and outs of the school are well thought out and described, as is the process of learning itself. What it isn’t is fun.  The characters are snarky and clever, and there are funny bits, but as one of the characters says, no one at the school but Quentin actually believes in magic. They know it’s real, they use it, but it’s not “magical” to them. And it isn’t to Quentin either- he’s easily bored and always looking for the next thing that will truly make him happy, and never finding it. So the book doesn’t have that magical spark, instead it truly is Harry Potter for adults- magic with all the wonder sucked out.

That’s not to say it’s not a good book, because it really is. The whole “no wonder” thing is part of the point, I think (I hope), and it’s really well written. There are some interesting ideas and it’s a pretty effective look at what would happen “in real life”. I liked the characters, and while I’m not rushing to read the next book, I will read it soon.

Quentin’s mind spun. Maybe he should ask to see a brochure. And no one had said anything about tuition yet. And gift horse and all that notwithstanding, how much did he know about this place? Suppose it really was a school for magic. Was it any good? What if he’d stumbled into some third tier magic college by accident? He had to think practically. He didn’t want to be committing himself to some community college of sorcery when he could have Magic Harvard or whatever.


Home Grown: Adventures in Parenting off the Beaten Path, Unschooling, and Reconnecting with the Natural Worldby Ben Hewitt is really an extraordinary book. It’s the memoir of a family in Vermont who lives on a farm and have chosen to not put their children in school or educate them based on any set curriculum. This approach is generally called “unschooling”, and it’s something I was passingly familiar with, but I feel like I understand it so much better now.

Hewitt and his wife are intelligent people, and their sons are full of curiosity and wonder. They’ve learned how to read, they can do math, but it’s all been learned through practical use on the farm and in the woods. Through their own living and learning they can identify almost any kind of plant, can create their own perfectly balanced bows and arrows, can build shelters that can withstand a Vermont winter.

One of Hewitt’s main goals for his children is that they have an attachment to the land and a connection to it. Most of the kids’ days are spent outside- doing chores and work around the farm, and then roaming free in the woods. It reminds me a lot of Little House on the Prairie or something similar- an older way of life where kids grew up to take over the farm from their parents. And that got to me a bit, because aren’t they limiting their children’s futures? But then I realized that all parents do that to a degree, in choosing what to expose their children to, and what opportunities they give them. My kids likely won’t grow up to be farmers, is that unfair?

I’m still thinking over it all, but that’s the lovely thing about this book. He isn’t prescribing anything for anyone else, just describing what he and his family do. In fact, he specifically says that he knows that their choices aren’t right for everyone. But reading about their choices makes me think about my choices, and opens my eyes to other choices, and that’s a good thing.

“Rye, if you could have any three things in the world, what would they be?

My eight year old younger son did not hesitate for even a moment.

“Traps, a donkey, and a cabin,” he replied emphatically, and at that moment, I felt a small ache. Part of it was happiness, the recognition that a boy can still be drawn to such things in a world that has all but forgotten they exist. But there was sadness, too, because I knew how unusual my son’s three wishes were. “What will the world do with a boy who grows up wanting traps, a donkey and a cabin?” I though.t. And then: “What will a boy who grows up wanting traps, a donkey, and a cabin do with the world?” When I expressed these concerns to Penny, she paused for a moment before replying. “Well,” she said, “it’s probably a lot more realistic than growing up wanting to play third base for the Red Sox.


I started reading The Resurrectionistby Jack O’Connell because I decided to pick a book that had been on my Kindle a while. I started the resolution at the beginning of the year that I was only going to read books that were already on my Kindle, but a lot of the books I’ve read this year have been bought this year. So I decided to go farther back, and picked this one. It’s the story of Sweeney, a man whose wife is dead and whose son is in a coma. He’s taken a job as a pharmacist at an exclusive clinic so that his son can have better care. Every night he reads to his son from a comic called Limbo, and the storyline of the comic is included in chapters of the book. It’s a story of circus freaks, specifically a chicken boy who is searching for his father. As the real life story of father and son goes on, the story in Limbo begins to echo it in strange ways, and both stories twist and turn in unexpected directions. There are some interesting ethical questions that arise, even though the ending got a little tangly, it was a good read.

Now I’m reading Furious Love: Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, and the Marriage of the Century. It’s a great, gossipy read.

What are you reading?

A holiday pilgrimage

Yesterday was a holiday in Japan, and so Bruce had the day off. He planned an amazing trip to Kamakura, where we were able to see 5 different shrines/temples.

We took a train down to Ofuna, where we got on a monorail that took us down to Enoshima. The monorail was of the hanging kind, and at times it went crazy fast and was awesome. When we got to Enoshima we switched to an old school train that took us to Hase.

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Surfers!IMG_4507

Kitties!IMG_4516

Zoe!IMG_4522

Our first stop was at the Kotoku-in Temple, which is the home of the Daibutsu (Giant Buddha). My grandpa visited this Buddha when he was stationed in Japan after the war, and he told my mom that she really needed to see it.

This is not the Daibutsu. It’s one of the guards of the temple.IMG_4524

Kamakura has over 100 temples and shrines.IMG_4525 IMG_4527

Here it is. It’s hard to miss.IMG_4529 IMG_4533 IMG_4537 IMG_4540

The things that look like wings on his back are windows; you can actually go inside the hollow statue. You used to be able to go up and look out the windows, but you can’t anymore.IMG_4550 IMG_4559 IMG_4564

Our cool shoes.IMG_4567

We took the Daibutsuzake Hiking Course to get to our next stop.IMG_4585 IMG_4593

The Sasuke Inari Shrine . This is actually outside the shrine, nestled in some trees. Inari is the god of rice, tea, sake, fertility, and general prosperity. The fox is his go-between, and so people make offerings to both Inari and the foxes.IMG_4594 IMG_4595 IMG_4600 IMG_4601

Part of the shrine itself.
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Our next stop was the Zeniari Benten Shrine, which was so interesting. To get there you go through a tunnel in the mountain.IMG_4642 IMG_4645

There is a cave in the shrine area with a spring inside. You can wash your coins in the spring, and they are supposed to then return to you when spent, and multiply.IMG_4662 IMG_4665

Paper cranes.IMG_4666 IMG_4668 IMG_4670 IMG_4676

We went through Genjiyama Park and saw this fine fellow. The girls posed with him, and garnered quite an audience. (You’ll see them in a minute, but my pictures are out of order and I don’t feel like fixing them.)IMG_4685

We saw spiders like this EVERYWHERE. They were about this actual size, and they had huge cool webs. We currently have one of these outside of our house.IMG_4688

These are the girls’ fans. They cheered and clapped as the girls posed. It was hilarious.IMG_4689

Then, inspired by the girls’ vigor, they posed themselves.
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The hike out of the park was pretty awesome.
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Our final stop was Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gu temple in Kamakura. Just outside of it there was a couple who had just gotten married. (We also went to Shirahafa Shrine here, but I didn’t take pictures.)IMG_4716 IMG_4720 IMG_4733 IMG_4735 IMG_4740 IMG_4742

Time for a Tiny interlude.IMG_4746

A monk.IMG_4749 IMG_4751
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Then we walked back to the station. And saw this tired cat.IMG_4761

And a Native American.IMG_4762

And this cool poster.IMG_4763

And this little bird.IMG_4767

Then we did it all backwards to get home- old style train to monorail to train. On the way back through Ofuna we got pictures of this lovely huge statue of Kannon. It’s at Muga sozan Ofuna Kannonji, and I want to go there if only to be awed by its massiveness.IMG_4790 IMG_4794All in all, we walked 8 miles. We left our house at 9am  and got back at 5:30pm. The girls did a fabulous job with all the walking, and it was so cool to be out at the temples with so many other people. (In Japan people tend to go to temples on holidays.) It was also really neat to see how different each of the temples and shrines were from each other, each had its own personality and feel. It was a pretty excellent trek.

Around Zojo-ji and the Tokyo Tower

Yesterday we took my parents to the Tokyo Tower and to Zojo-ji, a Buddhist temple complex nearby. I love this area.

This is the Unborn Children Garden, where parents can make offerings to Jizo, the guardian of unborn children (miscarried, stillborn, or aborted) to ensure their passage to the afterlife. It’s such a beautiful, melancholy place.
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The gate into the Tombs of the Tokugawa shoguns. You can’t get in this way, and there must be another way in, but we couldn’t find it. IMG_4425

The Tokyo Tower.IMG_4426

Not the Tokyo Tower.IMG_4427 IMG_4428

This is in the temple at Zoji-ji. The first time we went in, these little things weren’t on the floor. When we went back 15 minutes later they were. It was like an invasion.IMG_4432 IMG_4433 IMG_4437 IMG_4441 IMG_4445 IMG_4459 IMG_4470 IMG_4480 IMG_4482

Bones and things

The other day we went to the Special Exhibit at the Natural History Museum in Ueno. Here’s what we saw.

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And then Tiny tried to steal a Monet. She’s definitely my daughter, that one.IMG_4413

Books I’ve read this week: end of July and August

I really didn’t read a lot this summer, my attention was elsewhere. Then I got behind on posting about books, and when that happens, my feet get really draggy. So here is a catch up post.

From Grouchy To Great: Finding Joy In The Journey Of Motherhood by Ruth Swenk is a daily devotional type book, with a short reading for each day that includes scriptural references. This is one of the first times that I’ve actually used such a book the way it was intended- reading it over the course of a month rather than all at once. The segments come from different writers (they’re from blog posts originally, I think), so the quality varies. But most of the time it was a useful read.

Finding Spiritual Whitespace: Awakening Your Soul to Restby Bonnie Gray: I enjoy reading spiritual books written by people of slightly differing faiths than mine, because they tend to use vocabulary that I don’t use, which makes me look at things differently. This was definitely the case with this book, though I remain unclear as to whether the idea of spiritual white space is an concept that anyone other than Bonnie Gray talks about or if she came up with it herself. The book is very interesting- she set out to write a book about rest in God and found herself battling debilitating panic attacks for the first time in her life. As she worked with a therapist to get to the root of the attacks, she dealt with issues from her childhood and was able to find peace and rest as she allowed God to help her process them. The idea of white space is the idea of borders- that when we are stretched to our limit and feel alone, God will meet us in that border space. I’m not explaining it well, but it was a very good book.

 

Simply Homeschool:: Have Less Fluff and Bear More Fruitby Karen Debeus is an excellent, short read about focusing on what is truly important in homeschooling. It does have a religious base, but the concepts are sound even if you’re not religious. One of the big ideas that I took from this book that has changed our school experience is to have “Inspiration hour” first thing- where you take the arty subjects that are important to you but that tend to get pushed aside in favor of the “basics”, and do them very first thing in the day. Absolutely wonderful.

Murder and Mendelssohnby Kerry Greenwood is the 20th book in the Phryne Fisher series. Phryne is an outrageous, rule breaking, intelligent woman in 1920s Australia, and in this book she is called in to help solve the death of a much hated choral conductor. The mystery is fun (though in Greenwood fashion, there is no way to solve who did it until the end, because all the information isn’t there) and the progression of some of the secondary characters is great.

The Curious Case of the Werewolf That Wasn’t, the Mummy That Was, and the Cat in the Jar (The Parasol Protectorate Book 6) by Gail Carriger is a very short story about Alexia Tarabotti’s (from The Parasol Protectorate books) father. It’s a quick, fun little romp and I highly enjoyed it.

In July and August combined, I read a total of just over 1000 pages, which is slightly appalling. I did start a bunch of books that I didn’t finish, so there were uncounted pages in there, but still.

The girls and I read a few books aloud over those months as well.


Here Be Monsters! (The Ratbridge Chronicles) by Alan Snow is the book that the new movie The Boxtrolls is loosely based on. It is a crazy, delightful adventure with pirates, trolls that wear boxes, people that wear cabbages on their heads, rabbit women, and villains that nefariously hunt cheeses. It is absurd and wonderful.

Ophelia and the Marvelous Boyby Karen Foxlee is not a book that I necessarily would have read to the girls yet if I had read it ahead of time- I think I would have figured they weren’t ready for it yet. But even though some parts were scary, it was such the perfect book for right now. Ophelia is a little girl with a lot of worries and fears. Her mother died three months before, and no one is talking about it. She deals with her fears by approaching everything very logically and scientifically, and when she stumbles across a secret door in a museum, behind which a magical boy is trapped, she knows that none of it can be real. She finds herself helping him anyway, and soon is at the middle of a fight to save the world.

This book is beyond wonderful. The writing is lovely, the characters are flawed and real. Ophelia is constantly scared, but continues to summon up the courage she needs to face the next obstacle. She is an incredible role model, especially for the anxiety ridden among us. The book deals with grief in a lovely, age appropriate way, and I was very moved by it.

She had expected magic to be very clean and powerful, but instead it was messy and uncomfortable and full of decisions.

She had expected magic to be simple and tidy, with people disappearing in puffs of smoke- not slowly, by degrees, in a lonely, aching way.

My book total at the end of August is 65. This month’s reading is already looking much more promising.

What are you reading?

Our days

We’ve been back in school (Flying Butler Academy) for two weeks now, and have settled into a routine. Every year I create a basic schedule for the day, and this year I decided to try something different- splitting the school day up into sections. Other than the fact that we don’t start anywhere near the time I have on the schedule (I based it on the girls getting up at 7, and they’ve been getting up closer to 7:30), we’ve been staying close to it, and it’s been working well.

I get up around 6:45 and take a shower and get dressed. Things really go so much better if I’m up before the girls are. Some days, remembering that is the only thing that keeps me from going back to sleep. I check my email and Facebook and look over my to do lists, and basically get my brain in properly.

The girls get up between 7-7:30 and have breakfast and get dressed. I put in a load of laundry now.

First we have our “Inspiration Hour”, which does not take an hour. We say our pledge (“Butler, butler, flying butler!),  read scriptures, and do one of the following- artist study (this month is Van Gogh), composer study (we’re learning about the orchestra), or Shakespeare (intro to his life and times). This takes anywhere between 15 minutes and 1/2 hr., and then we take a break. When the girls finish a school segment, they get to put stickers on a sheet they have to track their assignments for the week. At the end of the week, if they have all of their stickers, they get to put a big sticker on the page. Last week, when they got their big sticker, they decided that they needed to give speeches.IMG_4033

Tiny pretended to cry as she thanked all the little people. It was hilarious.IMG_4040

During the break, the girls play a little, and I hang out the laundry to dry and start cleaning. For 1/2 hr we tackle a room of the house. The girls have jobs to do in the room (for which they can earn money), and I clean the rest.

Then we get back to lessons and do spelling, social studies/geography, and math. This takes about an hour, then we take another break for about 15 minutes.

When we come back from the break, we do Language Lab, which consists of grammar, writing, and handwriting. It takes about 20 minutes. By this time it’s around 11, and the girls are free until after lunch. We eat around 12.

After lunch, we do Special Subjects, which is Life Skills on two days of the week, and science on two. (On Mondays we don’t have Special Subjects because the girls have Japanese class in the evening.) This takes about 15 minutes.

At this point, we’re done with school. We have the rest of the day for the girls to play and for me to get things done. On days that we are going to go out and go somewhere, we can fit in a grocery trip before lunch, or we can take out some of the breaks in the early parts of the day and move Language Lab and Special Subjects to later in the afternoon. Then we can go out around 10 and have until around 2 to be out and about.

We go a big grocery shop once a week, and stop by the bakery to get bread 3 or 4 times a week. My parents are here with us for a couple months, so once or twice a week we go out to see sights around Tokyo.

On Fridays after school is over, I prep for the next week- replacing the girls’ finished assignment sticker sheets with new ones, cutting out anything that needs to be cut out for art or music or geography, and making sure I have any supplies that we’ll need for science. I also make notes about what we did that week for my school records.

I start making dinner for the girls around 4:45 and they eat at 5. (My parents and I eat with B when he gets home around 6:45.)  They take a shower after dinner and then are free again until 6:30 when it’s reading time. They read to themselves for 1/2 an hour, and then I read to them from 7-7:30 when it’s bed time.

I’m liking this schedule because school isn’t rushed, and we still have time to fit in everything. Last year I always felt like I was rushing to get through school or leaving the room to move laundry or something (and then the girls would start daydreaming and I’d get frustrated), and none of us had very much fun. But with the breaks scheduled in, I know I’ll have time to get the laundry moved and still give my full attention to spelling, or whatever subject we’re doing. There is still complaining, (Tiny this morning: “I don’t want to do math! It’s easy and I can do it fast but I JUST DON’T WANT TO!”) but there’s less of it and we’re all enjoying ourselves more.

Random tip for the day- if your kids need to learn the countries/continents/oceans of the world and are aural learners, I highly recommend Geography Songsby Kathy Troxel. They are RIDICULOUSLY catchy, but not obnoxious, and within 3 listens your kids will be singing, “The continent of Asia has Hong Kong in China, Taiwan, Macao and Japan, and Mongolia. North Korea and South Korea are in this beautiful laaaaand.” over and over and over and over and over again.

Apparently she also has a states and capitals album and one about grammar, along with albums for addition, subtraction, and multiplication facts. But not division. No songs about division for you. The math songs don’t sound as strong as the others, but I’m going to try the multiplication songs and I’ll report back.

Time for lunch!

 

Kuhon-butsu temple

Yesterday we explored an area we hadn’t been to yet in Jiyugaoka in search of a temple that my friend posted about on Facebook. (I love FB for that reason.) We found it, and it was incredible. It’s on the site of the old Okusawa Castle (which is now gone) and has trees that are over 700 years old. The grounds are home to a number of halls which hold different statues.

I’m not sure who this fellow is, but he is magnificent. (We’re pretty sure that he’s King of Hell,  Yama- god of death.)
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3 of the  25 attendant bodisattvas. (Those right on the edge of enlightenment who choose to stay on the Earth to help others.)IMG_4294 IMG_4300 IMG_4301

A crow, getting ready to cleanse itself.IMG_4306

Footprints of Buddha. IMG_4309 IMG_4311

Inside one of the halls. IMG_4314

A little caterpillar friend interlude. These little guys were EVERYWHERE. And there were tons of butterflies- we saw at least 6 different kinds; a few I hadn’t ever seen before.IMG_4316

The Hall of the Three Buddhas. There are actually three of these halls, each with three Buddhas. The Buddhas in each hall are the same, but each hall’s Buddhas are different- their hands are in different positions (mudras) and their expressions are different. This was the only hall of the three that was open, but we could see through the windows of the other two. In the third hall, one of the Buddhas wasn’t there- which I think is a gorgeous start to a mystery/adventure novel.IMG_4321 IMG_4327

There is also an extensive cemetery on the grounds. Thank goodness the girls love cemeteries, because we got a good long chance to look around. IMG_4330 IMG_4332 IMG_4334 IMG_4339

I love this little guy so much. It was smaller than my hand.IMG_4342 IMG_4344

Hiding in the gravestones.
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I love that these are things that will fuel the girls’ imaginations and memories.

I wrote a book!

Did you hear that I wrote a novel and it’s available on Amazon? It’s true! Look!

Mystery’s End: A Betsy Malone Mystery (Betsy Malone Mysteries Book 1)

That’s my book! (Clicking on the picture or the link will take you to the Amazon page.) This has been a long, long time in coming, and I’m excited that Betsy is finally out there in the world.

Would you like to know more about Betsy? She’s pretty awesome.

Betsy, whose full name is Elizabeth (she’s named after my sister), is everything a flapper is not.  She has long brown hair, wears sensible dresses, and doesn’t run around to speakeasys. She works as a photographer for a private investigator to support herself after the death of her father. I wanted to write a detective character who wasn’t an “ideal”, who second guesses herself and isn’t overflowing with confidence, even though she’s an incredibly good person. Creating the character of Betsy, I drew from 3 women I know who wouldn’t call themselves special, but who could move mountains if they put their mind to it. (Perhaps I will reveal their identities in another post!)

Angela Bentley, Betsy’s best friend, on the other hand, is what you picture when you hear the word “flapper”. Blond, bobbed, and bubbly, Angela is fiercely loyal to her husband Dexter and to Betsy. Quick with a laugh, Angela is always up for a good time. Writing Angela was pure joy. From her first moment on the page, when she answers Betsy’s after midnight call with a joyous, “Hello darling!”, which she quickly follows up with a, “Oh darling, how ghastly! I’m so glad it was you. Could you imagine? I picked up the phone and the words just came out!”, she existed fully formed and loud as can be. Writing some of the other characters was a bit of a struggle, but Angela was always as clear as can be.

Betsy’s first adventure, Mystery’s End, finds her invited a house party at the mansion Angela has just inherited. The house is a bit insane, as Angela’s old aunt had it built to very specific, very strange specifications. And when Angela introduces the party games of using a Ouija board and table tipping to contact “the spirits”, things get a little spooky. But when someone ends up dead, Betsy has to figure out if it was a vengeful ghost, a heart attack, or murder.

The book is set in the 1920s, because I find that time period fascinating. The spiritualism movement, in particular, is so compelling. As people dealt with the aftermath of WW1, many people flocked to the idea that contacting the dead was possible, and many mediums and spiritualists “helped” them to do so. Some of them believed that they could truly communicate with spirits, while others flat out knew that they were taking people for a ride, and depended on intricate performances and tricks to convince them to part with their money.

If you decide to pick the book up, please let me know! And if you love it, please leave a review on the Amazon page. And regardless, please point people you think would enjoy it to the page. The more people who hear about it, the better!

There is also a Goodreads page for the book. If you participate on Goodreads,  please rate it, or mark it “to read”, or anything else, so long as it’s good. :)

Now I’m off to work on the next book!