Welcome to my blog where I share my book reviews
and life along the winding road

Friday, July 19, 2019

Braving the Wilderness by Brene Brown

Braving the Wilderness The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone by Brene Brown talks about how to combat feeling alone even when in the midst of a crowd. Let's face it we all have a sense of belonging, of becoming part of a tribe, and Brene Brown suggests getting out there and braving the wilderness because you have to be bold and take a chance.

She talks about how the pain of loneliness, anxiety and uncertainty can undermine efforts to be with a group and be engaged.

But we shouldn't lose ourselves in order to fit in, and we also need to understand where other people are. Even those we have been taught to hate as a group. It is hard to hate someone close up one on one.

True belonging is the practice of believing in and belonging to yourself so deeply that you can share your most authentic self with the world and find sacredness in standing alone . . . it doesn't require you to change who you are. . .  stop looking for confirmation that you don't belong and believe that you do.

True belonging, real connection and real empathy require meeting real people in real space in real time. In-person interactions have been proven to bolster our immune system.

8th graders define belonging as being accepted for you - fitting in is being accepted for being like everyone else.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Falling in Love by Donna Leon

In Falling in Love by Donna Leon, the opera singer, Flavia, returns to Venice (this is her third presence in the mystery series). Among the every day life of Commissario Guido Brunetti, he tries to discover why Flavia is being stalked. Is it just an admirer or something more sinister?
This is the 24th book in the Commissario Guido Brunetti series and the characters are tired - many of them tell you so throughout the book. But the story was a little tired too. Even Patta's secretary, the usually entertaining Elettra, is on strike. The mystery ended abruptly without (in my opinion) adequately explaining the stalker's actions. This has been a great series and I hope the subsequent mysteries are more entertaining.

Friday, July 5, 2019

The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekka

The Wife Between Us
by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekka has many twists and turns in the story. At the beginning it seems that the main character is a jealous ex-wife which storyline continues until half way through the novel where I found myself turning back to previous pages, trying to figure out where I had missed the actual story. But that isn't the only twist, there are many throughout the novel. Vanessa has many demons she is dealing with, claustrophobia, a bad relationship during college, the death of a young girl in her care, a mother with mental problems and all of these her husband, Richard, uses to his advantage to manipulate her.
Richard is a typical sociopath with no empathy and as most sociopaths do, has learned to be charismatic and charming. He successfully moves her away from her support group both physically and emotionally, buying a house in the wealthy suburb of New York, encouraging her to give up her two jobs and acting with jealousy when she spends time with friends. When violence toward her begins he gives her expensive gifts. From an outsider point of view, it is difficult to understand how someone could be charmed into such a relationship, but without a support group the victim doubts her own thoughts, is confused whether things had actually happened, especially when the person hurting her acts like her protector. And it happens slowly, enticing the woman into thinking she is getting a lifestyle she wants - a home, family, love. Apart from being a novel you won't want to put down it should be a lesson to all women, that if a man is charming and seems to good to be true, he probably is. . .

The Sociopath Next Door by Martha Stout is an informative read about sociopaths who often seem innocent and needy and will make a relationship all about you, until one day it becomes all about them!

Reading group questions here

Friday, June 28, 2019

A Woman is No Man by Etaf Rum

A Woman is No Man by Etaf Rum follows the story of Isra, a young Palestinian woman betrothed to a man living in Brooklyn, New York with a marriage contract agreed to by their parents. But it is told from several different points of view. It isn't an easy read, dealing with the restrictive and abusive life of a young woman in a strange country, who is more or less kept a prisoner in the home of her in-laws and told her duty is to take care of her husband and raise children - boys.  Girls are of little consequence to the Palestinian families.When Isra is beaten by her husband, Fareeda, her mother-in-law offers no sympathy and instead provides her with foundation to cover up the bruises which she refers to as Isra's shame.

spoiler alert
I was disappointed with the ending which didn't tie up all the answers and left the reader hanging. On the advice of another book reviewer, I went back and re-read the chapter Deya - Winter 2008 which gave a little clarification from Deya's point of view and her memory of seeing their father when, at the end of the last chapter, the subway train stopped. However, it still didn't go into detail of what happened when Isra and Adam died.

As an immigrant myself, I fail to understand why people come to the U.S. and segregate themselves with those of the same culture and try to make a portion of their world in America into the same one they have left behind, rather than embracing their new life and be respectful of the way of life in their new country. Most of this Palestinian family refused to even learn English. Even when travelling in Europe as a child, my family always took a phrase book and tried to communicate with people in their language and accept their customs, rather than expecting them to cater to ours. All throughout the book the emphasis from Fareeda was that their children should not become "American."
Bay Ridge is a predominantly Muslim community in the Brooklyn area.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Corpse at the Crystal Palace by Carola Dunn

I'm always fascinated with anything that relates to the Crystal Palace because although the building was no longer there when I was growing up, I heard many stories of its magnificence and spent many hours at the park. My mother once told me that she lived close to Crystal Palace Park when the glass and metal building was destroyed by fire and balls of melted glass hit the windows of her home! It was originally built for The Great Exhibition and resembling an oversized greenhouse.
The "dinosaurs" are still there and are an odd combination as they were sculpted from what they were thought to look like based on fossils found although some of the fossils didn't belong to the same creature.

Corpse at the Crystal Palace is another Daisy Dalrymple Mystery by Carola Dunn and set in the 1920s. Daisy is a likable character, intent on finding the murderer without stepping on her husband's toes (he's with the local constabulary). All in all it was a nice cozy read.

Image result for crystal palace

Note: There is a replica of the Crystal Palace in Dallas - The Infomart.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Magna Carter - Signed at Runnymede June 15, 1215

This day in history:

The Magna Carter (great charter) was signed by King John at Runnymede in 1215.

The most memorable part of the Magna Carter is the declaration that all free men have the right of justice and free trial (the basis of many courts today). Unfortunately, at the time, the peasants were ruled by landowners and weren't considered free. Many of the clauses were also used in the United States Bill of Rights.

Terry Jones (Monty Python) gives a great animated outline of the events surrounding the Magna Carter below.

Friday, June 7, 2019

Standing in the Rainbow by Fannie Flagg

Standing in the Rainbow by Fannie Flagg isn't so much a novel, but a series of vignettes set in Elmwood Springs, Missouri. You may recognize some of the characters from Fannie Flagg's other books. Dorothy's house is busier than Grand Central Station with comings and goings and her Neighbor Dorothy radio program brings even stranger characters into her parlor. And there's always something that the residents of Elmwood Springs have to deal with whether it's a bad hair style at Tot's beauty salon or young Bobby trying to overcome his fear of heights by tying red balloons on top of the water tower! The story begins in the 1940s, at the end of WWII, and continues up until the 90s.  This would be a great summer read as it's easy to pick up and just read a chapter or two without getting lost in a plot.

For those reading in a book club, reader's guide here