Reading in the Dark

Why yes, my mother did warn me it would lead to glasses, and I got my first pair in 6th grade, but what else is a girl to do when the power is out?  I read.  And I read.  And I read some more. 

Then the lights came on and I kept reading.  Luckily for the sake of book reviews, I finished one non-fiction gem and read 8 cozies in a tidy series.

41lmKYaZpnL__SY300_Alison has mentioned My Grandfather’s Blessings on her blog many times, and at least as many times, she’s gently urged me to get around to reading it.   It wasn’t that I was resistant…  I just wasn’t in the mood for serious reading.   I can’t recall why I suddenly, like a woman possessed, ordered it a couple of weeks ago, but I started it the Friday night after it arrived. 

I’ve always been intrigued by the mystic side of Judaism, so I was prepared to adore Doctor Remen’s rabbi grandfather from the start.  But the more I read, much of it tempered by Dr. Remen’s own experiences and beliefs, the more I was moved, the more I felt that she had written it just for me. 

The regulars among you know I don’t believe in coincidences, so it was fated that I had this book already underway during one of the most pivotal board meetings in modern JLC history.  It began snowing early, so when the last of us left the office last Tuesday night, the rain had changed over and right at dawn the next morning, the heavy, wet snow took out our power for 34 hours. 

I read.  I nodded.  I wept.  I laughed out loud.  If you haven’t read this book and you’re at all into self-improvement and/or philosophy, read it… soon.   If you need to be reminded that we all are blessed beings and that we need to dispense grace liberally, read this book right away.  This isn’t a religious book.  It isn’t a self-help book, but Dr. Remen doesn’t rule anything out and dares us to do the same, all while reminding us that we do make a difference in our world, in the lives of those around us, whether we are intentional about it or not.

6b42810ae7a0f0f9a2940210_L__SY300_After such a heady, deep read, I reached for something light and my hands fell on the Magnolia Mysteries by Ellen Elizabeth Hunter.   Like most of my reading material, this series was provided by my pusher – er, librarian? – basically bloggless Susan.  I love that she numbers the books for me so I don’t have to think about which one comes next!

Just the same, it was a bit annoying to discover that book #1, Murder on the Ghost Walk, was written as a look back.  There are spoilers; you know how the love triangle is going to turn out, since the book opens with her sending her husband off on a business trip.  Still, I immediately got caught up in the Coastal Carolina belles’ drama, and I have to say that I am sure I’d enjoy visiting Wilmington and the Wilkes sisters.   Melanie is the oldest and young Ashley is the protagonist.  Ashley’s career as a historical restorationist gives us great glimpses into the local history, and it is fascinating.

I do wish Ms. Hunter didn’t repeat the same descriptions word for word in each book though.  Even though the 8 paperbacks are at home and I’m at work, I can almost quote the overly repeated words about the girls’ mother being a little too taken with Gone with the Wind, and if she’d had a boy she would have named him Rhett Butler Wilkes.   There’s a similar phrase or ten for every recurring character, including their descriptions.   I also find the snippets of political commentary voiced through the characters to be preachy, but if you can set those things aside, you’ll find a delightful cozy series set in the world of the old money society of Wilmington, North Carolina.

I do have to say, the Knight noted that I said the EXACT same thing at the end of  books 7 & 8…  I found the endings too trite, almost to the point of ruining an otherwise pleasant read.  Just the same, I’m delighted to see there are at least two more books in the series already.  The characters are fun and lovable and I do adore books that mix local history into the plot.  Cozies are very light reading, but I’ve learned more about the Virginia wine industry, book binding, owning a tea shop and now, about the greater Wilmington area and its history and more, all while enjoying some rather simple little mysteries.

What about your local area would make a good backdrop for a work of fiction?

10 comments on “Reading in the Dark

  1. gmariesews says:

    This first book sounds very interesting. I’ve had a recent bout of blog wins – good stuff – patterns, a book, a handmade pouch, and a shawl book – I’m hoping this foreshadows my job search (Good things are coming?). Anyway your book looks like it could really help adjust my attitude 🙂

    There is a series of books about a B&B owner set in the Seattle area – not only that, they travel around the area and she gives recipes. g

  2. Mary says:

    Have the first book on hold at my library. Thanks for the recommendation.

    And, please, I live near DC. We could only wish some of the stuff that happens there was fiction.

  3. Nancy says:

    I haven’t read anything in such a long time. Soon, I hope to spend an entire day reading a book that has been stalled on my end table.

  4. Katherine says:

    Thanks Chan! I’m looking forward to My Grandfather’s Blessings and you know I’m a sucker for a cozy mystery, or two, or three. I’ve just downloaded both because I finished J.D. Robb’s latest last night and was looking for something new.

    As for Texas being a good backdrop for fiction–it has been done to death!!

  5. Sue says:

    I’m reading Inside Of A Dog by Alexandra Horowitz. It’s been out for a few years but I just got around to it. It gives great insight into the way dogs view and process their surroundings.

    I can’t think of anything around here worth writing about, but then you know how much I dislike this area.

  6. AlisonH says:

    I read part of a Tom Wolfe book based in Silicon Valley and was just guffawing–man oh man, you sure don’t know this area, dude!

    There’s gotta be something better written out there… Alice Waters and Chez Panisse would make a great book. Her restaurant had a major fire a few days ago and she vows to rebuild, and will.

  7. AlisonH says:

    p.s. What I meant to say most of all, though, was, I’m so glad you enjoyed that book as much as I did. I reread it every now and then to remind myself how to be human, in the best sense of the word.

  8. kathy b says:

    WEll Everyone in my house read DEVIL IN THE WHITE CITY about CHicago, but I did not.
    I prefer JOhn Hughes FILMS made in Chicago, to books today. We watched parts of Breakfast Club last night ….

  9. Marjie says:

    Oh, reality is better than fiction hereabouts. A police chief sued by the police union for making arrests, instead of sitting behind a desk. Selfsame chief, arresting criminals whilst jogging, collecting another greivance, despite the fact that he called for a squad car to actually collect and book the perpetrators. Selfsame chief, taking his mother to supermarket, making a drug bust with elderly mama in car, calling for squad cars (multiple criminal scum), guess what the union did? How about the lieutenant governor who lived in my house in the 80s, lost election for governor, threw a hissyfit, sold house, moved to California to join a commune? Lots of “colorful” political idiocy hereabouts. Like I said, reality is better than fiction. But I’m glad you found something to keep you occupied during the power outage.

  10. Wow, I can never read so many books from a series all in a row like that….eight!! I live right smack in the heart of “California History” happened here, that I guess historical landmarks would make a great backdrop for a cosy set here. Like a number of the others, you’d get your murder with a side of history and local color. 🙂

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