Book Club Picks: Julie

So Happy Mother’s Day All!

I have never done a mother’s day post before, why? I don’t know. I must have been too busy celebrating my mom.

I had wanted to review The Mother Keeper on Mother’s Day, I thought it would be cute-but I didn’t want to put off my book club pick reviews that long. I thought I would have them all finished and be caught up by now.

I knooooooooooooow!!! I am so behind. I don’t know what happened. I have no excuse.

What’s happening?

So I decided that I would kill two birds with one stone. For Mother’s Day I will honor my mother with a review of one of her favorite books, which is also the next Book Club Pick up for review-her choice of course. For those of you who don’t know what I am talking about, book club reviews? Never fear-I can give a brief recap.

So as you all know I started a book club, because you know me and books…

Every month we read a book and I do a little post on the book we read and discussed. What can I say, I just love books.

There is no theme, other than with each month, a different member gets to pick a book, whichever one they want. This time, as I mentioned above, the book club member-my mother chose:

Julie by Catherine Marshall

I would also recommend this as a Non-Austen Reads for Austen Readers

So this book was written by Catherine Marshall, of the Christy fame. She based the book on her own life, including the poetry she wrote when she was a young girl, and the Johnstown Flood.

Julie comes from a family of five, the Wallaces-mother, father, Julie, a sister Anne-Marie, and a younger brother, Tim. Her father was a Minster in the South, but for some reason unknown to her and her siblings, has quit the ministry and a stable good-paying job to in Depression ridden American to use his wife’s small inheritance to purchase a newspaper,The Sentinel, in Alderton, Pennsylvania.

What’s going on?

Have any of you seen North and South? I love that miniseries (and plan on reviewing it sometime). But the reason I bring it up is that in that series the Dad quits the church and moves them from the South to the factory-filled North. And we are all on the edge of our seat trying to figure out what happened, and it takes quite some time until they reveal it.

It’s the same here. The left the beautiful South to go to North, the town of Alderton, controlled by Yoder Iron and Steel (based on Carnegie Steel). They are shocked when they see the cut up land and the haze and soot.  And boy when they reveal what happened to make the dad leave, it’s a doozy. Worth reading defintely.

Wow

Julie was hurt and upset that they left her senior year to start all over again somewhere new, and completely confused as to why. The trip doesn’t start off with the best of origins as their car overheats and they get covered in mud.

They are rescued by Randolph Munro Wilkerson, English Aristocrat, here in America to run the Hunting and Fishing Club. I know that might sound a little strange, but this is he 1930s when limited income royals were marrying the “gilded” heiresses.

Julie is completely mortified that she has this handsome stranger meeting a muddy mess.

When they get to their home and office, the family is shocked to discover that they are all to be the newspaper staff. Writing, editing, cleaning, collecting subscriptions, collecting ad space, etc. The hardest thing will be having to convince people who are already “trimming the fat” that a newspaper is something they need to spend money on.

This will not be easy

One day, a man, Dean Fleming, comes in to ask them to print some handbills for him and offers his services, free, everyday. Julie doesn’t like him as he knew that her father left the ministry and spoke to him about God and faith. She thinks he is going to use his volunteer time to try and force his philosophy on her father and them.

For the thousandth time

Julie starts school and makes some friends. She even likes the minister, Reverend Spencer Meloy, who I don’t like. He cares about social change and is avid about helping the steelworkers, unionizing, aiding the new immigrants by getting them better housing-etc. But to me it rings false. I think he is concerned about these issues, but I feel like he does it for the glory of himself, a complete contrast to Dean who cares about a lot of the same things but has a humble spirit. Dean continuously is there for the family, winning over everyone and becoming a part of the Wallaces.

So the Hunting and Fishing Club has this giant earthen dam, and from the very first moment Julie saw it she has felt weird about it. There is something dark and ominous about it. Now some of you might remember when there was that big scare with the Oroville Dam two years ago and everybody had to evacuate? My family had to be evacuated as we were in the potential danger zone and we went to Las Vegas to wait it out. Before that, I never knew that the Oroville Dam was an earthen dam either. When reading this book, it made me view things differently and brought back all the emotion and things we went through then.

So the Wallace family tries to adapt to their new surroundings and life. Julie helps out with the newspaper, along with navigating normal teenage issues-dating, school, etc. She still has a crush on Randolph, but doesn’t really see anything happening there.

Times get tougher and tougher, as Yoder steel lays people off and it looks like the newspaper is going to go bankrupt, and then what will the Wallaces do?

But thankfully, Dean comes through and the Wallace’s hang on. But times are tough and more and more people lose their jobs, which means less subscriptions. Mr. Wallace has been hit with bouts of depression, Mrs. Wallace saying that it was a malaria attack rising up again from when he spent a few months in the South. On these days, Dean always comes. He doesn’t call or get called, he just knows and comes to help him.

Dean is a powerful character who’s has an amazing relationship with Christ. He comes to help the Wallaces, praying for them nonstop and aiding them both spiritually and physically. Too bad the Hales didn’t have a Dean to aid them.

Flooding happens and the Wallace’s get scared, but the rest if the town is unfazed as it happens every season. The water is a little higher than normal, but flooding is just a part of Alderton. It is so horrible the National Guard is called in and keeps people from going into Alderton. Mr. Wallace is hit hard and becomes bed bound again as he worries about damage to the newspaper office.

When the water recedes and they can get to the town, they discover that the newspaper office is safe, the printing press ad paper managed to be just barely out of harms way. With her dad too ill, Julie picks up the slack and loves it.  Her stories get published, and even her poems later on.

Wow!

While writing the flood story Julie wonders about the Dam. She calls to interview them, but no dice.

I got this!

Spencer creates an aid helping organization to try and help the workers in the Lowlands (immigrants, minorities, etc.) This book presents the hard issues as they discuss who should take the blame for he damage? Who’s responsibility is it to help the people? The church? The town? Yoder Steel? The Federal Government?

Hmmm

Julie joins the crusade and learns about how Yoder treats their employees. They have a baseball team, fire department, library, night classes for the workers, etc. But they also have high rents, a company store that is bought on credit, and essentially “own” their employees. If you have ever read The Jungle (one of my favorite books) it is pretty much the same thing.

Things continue and graduation is looming along with Julie’s senior economic project. She’s unsure what to do it on until she hears her dad is visiting Tom McKeever Jr, (the Senior being the one who owns it) and she tags along hoping to get some answers on the Dam.

Julie finds out that the Dam was bought by private businessmen, which means that since it is not government owned there is no one fact-checking up on it-but it is up to the owners to decide what to do with it and make sure repairs are done, etc. The lake covers 450 acres and has 500 million tons of water. The spillways were fenced off (not good!!!) as the lake above stocked with fish.

Julie writes her paper and her father writes an editorial, that while isn’t outright saying there is a problem, it isn’t going to be something Yoder Steel will love.

A little while after the story is published, Mr. Wallace gets invited out to Tom McKeever, Senior’s private railroad car, a high honor. He brings Julie along to the meeting full of rich food and belongings, extremely posh-a complete contrast to how everyone done below is living. McKeever didn’t like the story and wants the Wallace’s to back off.

julie writes a story on the labor issue but her father won’t print it as it is too one sided. She angrily sends it to The New York Times and forgets all about it as she becomes intangled in love trapizoid with Rev. Spencer Meloy, Randolph, and high schooler Graham Gilliam. But the NY Times calls her a they are publishing the article.

Now this is where the book gets really good. Once I started reading and hit this part, I could not stop.

They start writing articles in The Sentinel, and Yoder Steel does not like it. It’s the Wallace’a against everybody as Yoder Steel tries to destroy them by killing their dog, harassing them, attacking the presses, attacking Julie, threatening others so they drop their subscriptions, etc. Everyone has to make a moral choice on who they will side with. As for the Wallaces, will they stay firm in their beliefs, or fall under Yoder Steel?

Besides that storm, an actual rainstorm is coming their way. And then the real bomb of the book is released.

“Life and death for everyone in Alderton that day hung on such small decisions as to where they would be in the early afternoon.” pg. 324

BOOOM!!! When I got to that line I was crazed to find out how it all ended.

Then the Dam breaks and all hell breaks loose.

Reading this part is amazing, the total destruction only takes a few minutes and she counts them one by one as to what happens. It was so frightening to read that and think that could have been us two years ago if the water went over the lip of the dam. With all the heavy rain and full rivers, we are still jittery. I leave a week’s worth of clothes in my trunk just in case we have to evacuate again.

So what makes this an Non-Austen Read for Austen Readers?

First, the story is about a young romantic, reminiscent of Catherine from Northanger Abbey or Marianne Dashwood from Sense & Sensibility. She loves to read-along with writing poetry and stories. She dates some of her schoolmates, but they just don’t bring up that feeling of romance she’s encountered in books and wants in real life (partly has to do with the fact she fell hard for the English Lord). By the end of the book her life experiences have matured her-keeping some of the same romantic soul, but like Catherine and Marianne, has learned to temper it. 

Julie gets a proposal from the Reverend Spencer Meloy, who I don’t like, and it is an awful proposal. Basically “we think alike and like the same things, lets get married.” Not quite as bad as Mr. Collins or Mr. Darcy but still bad.

Like Persuasion and Sense and Sensibility the Wallace family goes through numerous changes that they have no real control over. While the Wallace family is much poorer than the Elliots and the Dashwoods, these girls can relate as they have to trim the fat, adjust their life, and have others see them as not marriageable material from their lack of finances. 

Rev. Spencer Meloy reminds me of Mr. Elton and Mr. Collins as to me I felt he wasn’t really being a minister for Godbut instead was looking to lift himself and his interests. Like these two men, he focuses on what he wants and believes, only. He also proposes badly as he reads women wrongly-thinking Julie is just as interested in him as he is in her because of a “look she gave”, ugh gag.

Ugh, this guy!

But like I said, this was a fantastic book, and I highly recommend it!

For more Book Club Picks, go to Book Club Picks: The Mother Keeper

For more Non-Austen Reads for Austen Readers, go to Non-Austen Reads for Austen Readers: The Glassblower

For more Christian novels, go to Book Club Pick: Far Side of the Sea

For more on The Great Depression, go to I Don’t Want the Money: It Happened One Night (1934)

For more bible verses, go to Book Club Picks: Desperate Pastors’ Wives

Book Club Picks: The Mother Keeper

So as you all know I started a book club, because you know me and books…

Every month we read a book and I do a little post on the book we read and discussed. What can I say, I just love books.

There is no theme, other than with each month, a different member gets to pick a book, whichever one they want. This time the book club member chose:

The Mother Keeper by Paula Scott

So in my last book club book review I had chosen The Far Side of the Sea by Paula Scott and our book club actually got to meet her!

Afterwards, we all started following her on instagram, facebook, etc. One book club member spotted this on facebook and afterwards wanted to read it.

Paula Scott told us that she started writing this years ago and tucked it away, bringing it out later when her daughters wanted a romance as she wouldn’t let them read Twilight (thank goodness).

She tweaked it here and there and rewrote it-this being the finishing product.

Jenny McBride and her husband Kevin, live in Colorado, are celebrating New Year’s Eve and ecstatic for their pregnancy. They can’t wait or the baby, dreaming of all the things they would like to do.

Both are Christians and strong leaders in their church. That night Kevin had a drink, something Jenny does not approve of, and she insists on driving them home in the snow. A car comes careening their way, and crashes into them. Jenny loses her uterus, Kevin his leg, and both their baby.

Nooooooooooooooo

Jenny can’t believe this happened to her, her whole life she has been a good Christian and this is what happens to her? She is hurt, depressed, and angry.

Noooo!

Meanwhile, in the country areas of Tennessee, teenagers Ellie Ryan and her boyfriend are making plans for the future. Jamie is a big football star and will get a scholarship, while Ellie can get one with her amazing grades. However, there is one wrinkle-Ellie is pregnant.

That is not good,

She doesn’t tell her boyfriend, she just breaks up with him. She then heads to the pregnancy crisis center where her sister had gotten an abortion before she took off to California. Ellie hasn’t heard from her since.

At the center, Ellie meets Patsy Klein, a pastor’s wife, who invites her to come stay with her and take part in their church’s Mother Keeper program. The Mother Keeper program, is when a family takes in a pregnant teen and helps take care of her until she has the baby. Sometimes they adopt the baby, help arrange adoptions, or just help them until they can figure out their next step. They pay the food and medical bills through church funding/fundraising.

Ellie stays with Pastor Klein, Patsy, and their three boys-Shawn, Seth, and Stephen. For Ellie, this a dream come true as she is finally part a perfect family.

Shawn is upset when he hears that a pregnant girl from Sutterville-Sucksville-is going to be living with  them. He has enough on his plate with football, a scholarship to Vanderbilt, his beautiful girlfriend Jill who desires him. But meeting Ellie and spending time with her-Shawn realizes that the life he has been living isn’t what he wants at all, but what does he want? Now, he doesn’t know.

Hmmm….I need to rethink my life’s choices

As Shawn and Ellie grow closer, Shawn wants to marry her and raise the baby together. But the assistant pastor contacts his sister Jenny, she having gone through a spiritual battle and grief, is ready to adopt-Ellie’s baby. What will Ellie decide?

Many more decisions will be made as secrets are brought out in the open: a secret affair, true parentage revealed, murder, rape, and a fight over who will adopt Ellie’s baby.

Wow!

This was a a fantastic story and a real page turner. Paula Scott doesn’t pull way from anything, but hits the truth hard.

What?

It’s funny because it certain characters reminded me of ones from Desperate Pastor Wives and The MasterpieceThat was completely unplanned by us. In DPW, Jennifer Shores too has lost a baby, and becomes angry with God; having to go through her journey, getting close to God, and figuring what is next in the future. In The Masterpiece, Grace Moore is kept by a family until she has her child, and goes through a similar battle over who will adopt her child, along with having family issues she has to work through.

It was a fantastic book, and I strongly recommend it.

For more Book Club Picks, go to Book Club Picks: Far Side of the Sea

For more by Paula Scott, go to Book Club Picks: Until the Day Breaks

For more Christian novels, go to Book Club Picks: Desperate Pastors’ Wives

Book Club Pick: Far Side of the Sea

So as you all know I started a book club, because you know me and books…

Every month we read a book and I do a little post on the book we read and discussed. What can I say, I just love books.

As you know, I am behind in my Book Club Pick reviews-but I am trying to catch up.

Eventually I will get them all done.

Haha…sure

There is no theme, other than with each month, a different member gets to pick a book, whichever one they want. This time it was my turn and I chose:

Far Side of the Sea (California Rising #2) by Paula Scott

So I had first been introduced to this book when I worked at our local museum. I actaully got to meet the author and speak to her, and after hearing about how she researched and just listening to how she spoke about her work I  decided to borrow the book from the library and read: Until the Day Breaks.

This book came out and my coworker said she enjoyed, so I purchased a copy for a friend. A couple weeks later I was at work and realized, I had forgot to bring a book to pass the time when we had no one visiting the museum.

That is not good,

Yes, I always brought a book or two to read in the downtime, as sometimes we had a lot of people visiting, and other times we only had a few. This week there was a special event happening in the area so I knew we weren’t going to have a lot of people, it would be the perfect time to read.

But this time I had forgotten my book! I was looking at four very quiet and boring hours.

As I started tidying up the gift shop, wondering what I was going to do with my time, I spotted the Far Side of the Sea and bought it.

I quickly devoured it, and then a year later in book club I decided it would be great to read this series. So we read the first book, then Wuthering Heights, and Desperate Pastor’s Wives; and before you know it, it was my turn again to pick.

Months had gone by since we had read the first book, and while I had really wanted to read the second book, I also really wanted to read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, I thought afterwards we could all watch the movie together.

Yes!

But at the time I was going to this divorce class/support group and the day I had to choose our book, my reading for the class was Psalm 139, where this title comes from.

So I knew, we had to read it.

I gotcha!

Until the Day Breaks, we had protestant Rachel Tyler coming to California, where her father has brokered a marriage between her and a member of a very old and important Californio family, Roman Vasquez. The two do not know each, and neither is sure of the marriage, but before anything can immediately be done-California independence and the Bear Flag Revolt breaks out. There is romance, war, and fantastic characters. To read more, click here.

At the end of the first book, Rachel and Roman left to Monterey, where they are married. We begin book two with Rachel’s awful father, Joshua Tyler, returning from the revolt and finding his new wife Sarita and child dead and buried, Rachel gone, and becomes very angry. With the war-he had decided to marry Rachel off to someone else, but as now he does not have that, or his wife, he uses the heavy debts of the Vasquez family to blackmail the patriarch into giving him Roman’s sister, Maria Vasquez, to marry.

Roman’s sister Maria, is a beautiful and fiery redhead. She has been riding horses since a child, has gone on grizzly bear hunts, loves to dance, and is stubborn, passionate, and extremely strong-willed. She does not want to marry Joshua Tyler, but as her uncle controls her fate she has to.

Maria is haughty and angry, which just fuels Joshua Tyler on more. When they reach Monterey, they search for the priest to marry them, but he cannot be found (he had married Rachel and Roman and left to celebrate with them.) Joshua doesn’t care and decides to take Maria as his own, raping her.

Maria tries to get free, but Joshua is too strong, she does manage to grab a knife from him while he is distracted by her and stabs him-murdering a man, a hanging offense.

That is not good,

For Maria, this is something that should never have happened to her. Being raised as one of the gente de razon, she was always treated respectfully, kindly, etc. She feels dirty, scared, alone-and then she remembers something from long ago. When Maria’s mother was ill, she came into the room with a special feather, and at that same exact moment her mother died. One of her mother’s Indian slaves said that she was cursed with the mark of death and will bring death wherever she goes.

Death walks into the room…

Maria goes from the priest’s room into the church, feeling dirty, ashamed, and alone. No loner a virgin, no longer worth anything, and what will she do now? She can’t stay her and she can’t go back home.

One of Joshua’s mercenaries, Gavilan, decides to help her and the two disguise her as a boy and sign up to be deckhands on a ship headed to Boston. On the way they will pass through Chile, an Gavilan’s home, and they can stay there.

They are on the ship with they realize that the Captain is none other than Dominic Mason. In the last book, Dominic was bringing Rachel’s fiancé Steven from Boston to come after her. Steven lead him to the Lord and they became fast friends. When they reached California, the two quickly bonded with Roman as well. Maria fell in love with Dominic from that first moment she saw him, and he was incredibly attracted to her. Maria decided he was going to be her first kiss, and after she got it from him, he told her he was engaged already back home.

Maria tries to hide from Dominic, and while at first he doesn’t recognize her, eventually her secret comes out. Gavilan and Dominic become friends, although both have a deep interest in Maria. Maria wants Dominic, but as much as he wants her-he is engaged and must do his duty to Sally, his fiancé.

When they reach Argentina, they discover that Gavilan belongs to a wealthy family-but they do not want to stay there. The people are all about pleasure, Gavilan’s sister-in-law hitting on every man. Also there is a dreaded ghost from Dominic’s past, the evil, cruel, dreaded Captain Wade.

Ugh!!

Captain Wade was Dominic’s first Captain, and after seeing all the atrocities that he did, Dominic tried to leave as soon as he could and get his own boat. Now does he tell Maria-the most beautiful woman in the world and Captain Wade’s new interest all about this? No, he just tells her to stay away. And of course the fiery, stubborn, Maria does not like being told what to do.

From there they go East to Boston. Maria stays with Dominic’s family and faces not only an incredible culture shock being in Protestant East, but snubs and prejudice from being Latina and Catholic. Dominic’s father and sister try to treat her like family-but Dominic’s mother remembers the Catholic’s treatment of Protestants back in Ireland.

Dominic and Sally plan their wedding, and its decided to be sooner rather than later. Dominic still has feelings for Maria, head over heels in love-but Sally-loyal, dependable, sweet, and caring; has waited all these years for him.

Also reading this again, I felt that there was a strong undercurrent here of interesting class distinction. Sally’s father owns the ships Dominic captains, while Dominic’s father is a dockworker. Makes you wonder if marrying Sally had a little extra pressure…

Hmm…

Anyways, the wedding comes, and Maria is heartbroken. Dominic returns to his ships, Sally to their beautiful new house, and Maria is stuck in the frozen Boston and dreary Mason house.

Sally gets pregnant, and the pregnancy really treats her body rough. She calls in Maria to help her. No one else likes Maria-for being what she is, and Dominic’s mom senses the attraction, and all treat her bad-Maria not helping with the situation.

But not Sally. Sally loves Maria and encourages, supports, leads, and is there for her. She reads the bible with her, teaches her about God, and just gives her friendship. She gives her the titler psalm and becomes such a calming and sweet presence for her. Maria helps her with the pregnancy, along with taking care of baby Dominic “Nicky”.

When Dominic arrives, Nicky is 2 and Maria is the nanny. Sally has never recovered from her pregnancy and is not strong enough to care for Nicky on her own.

Dominic has made enough money that he has left his old business, struck out on his own, and is moving the family to San Francisco. He wants to take Maria back to her brother-but Sally won’t let her go. Sally is Maria’s best friend, and after she gets pregnant, does not want Maria to go. Dominic sets sail, taking his younger sister Chloe, hoping that she will take over Maria’s duties instead.

Unfortunately, delicate Sally does not survive the second child, and passes away. Maria tries to save the newborn, named after her, but she dies as well. Maria once again feels that she is carrying death to those she cares for.

Nooooooooooooooo

Maria finally makes it back to her brother. Roman lost the ranch as the Californios could not keep their property when California became a state, but Rachel inherited her father’s estate. They stay there for a while, Dominic realizing that he still is hopelessly in love with Maria and asks to marry her.

Maria agrees until Dominic is almost killed. She starts hearing voices telling her of death, and that she needs to leave him alone-go far away in order to protect him.

She returns to San Francisco and to Captain Wade. He turns out to be more than she bargained for-an abusive, cruel, demonic filled man. Will Maria die in this hell on Earth, or will she finally hear God’s voice and freedom?

I LOOOOOOOOOVED it!!! I really enjoyed the first book, but I found this one compelling. When I read the book the first time I couldn’t stop-page after page after page just whizzed past as I needed to find out what happened next.

Each time I have read it, that desire has not waned.

Of course reading the book after being in an abusive relationship, made the book just soooo relatable. It was powerful how she described how Maria was feeling, the hopelessness, wanting life to be over, the fear, feeling trapped, unsure of what to do…she just captured it.

There is a powerful scene when Captain Wade is attacking Maria and she starts praying and pulls out the gold crucifix, which stops the Captain Wade from doing anything further. This stuck such a cord with me as the last time I was with my ex-husband we were in the car together and he starts speeding down the freeway, in and out of lanes telling me that he is going to kill us both as he would rather have me dead then be apart from him. All I could do was pray and pray that God would save me-and my ex-husband stopped and I was able to get away. Thank God for that. The day I was legally divorced I heard on the radio the same thing happened to another woman, but she wasn’t as lucky-he crashed the car and killed her.

A powerful book that I strongly recommend.

For more book club books, go to Book Club Picks: Desperate Pastors’ Wives

For more by Paula Scott, go to Book Club Picks: Until the Day Breaks

For more bible verses, go to Non-Austen Reads for Austen Readers: The Widow of Larkspur Inn

For more Jane Austen quotes, go to Earl Grey Infused Blueberry Smoothie

On a sad note, given the context of this book I wanted to add this:

Are you being abused?

It’s abuse when someone who should care about you does or says things that hurt you or make you feel afraid, helpless or worthless. Here are only a few examples:

  • Slapping, hitting, punching, choking, grabbing, shoving, kicking you or your kids, your pets
  • Threatening you, your kids, friends, family or pets
  • Hitting, kicking, slamming walls, doors, furniture, possessions
  • Forcing you to have sex
  • Calling you names, swearing at you, yelling
  • Controlling all the money, even money you earn
  • Blaming you or your kids for everything
  • Putting you down, making you feel like nothing you do is ever good enough
  • Treating you like a servant or slave
  • Controlling where you go, what you do, what you wear
  • Controlling who you see, who you talk to
  • Humiliating you in front of other people
  • Refusing to let you leave the relationship

If you are in danger call 911, a local hotline, or the U.S. National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 and TTY 1-800-787-3224.

Book Club Picks: Desperate Pastors’ Wives

So as you all know I started a book club, because you know me and books…

Every month we read a book and I do a little post on the book we read and discussed. What can I say, I just love books.

There is no theme, other than with each month, a different member gets to pick a book, whichever one they want. This time was the book member chose:

Desperate Pastors’ Wives (Secrets from Lulu’s Cafe #1) by Ginger Kolbaba and Christy Scannell

I’ve mentioned before that I’m a pastor’s kid, so I thought this would be very interesting in how it shows things they go through.

Hmm…?

There are four pastor’s wives from different domination. They met at a pastor’s wives breakfast put together by a very mean, annoying, awful Pastor Wife-Kitty. Kitty is one of those Queen Bee type girls who just loves to make fun of others, she also comes from a rich church and likes to use that as well to be mean to the others. She may be married to a pastor-but it is clear that she is not walking with God.

Each pastor’s wife is dealing with their own issues, the only thing keeping them together is their meeting in the next town at Lulu’s Cafe where they can dish, be themselves, and enjoy time away from prying eyes.

Mimi Plaisance is married to Pastor Mark Plaisance, a Methodist, and has a large crew of kids. She is in charge of practically everything and going going going all day long. Everyone relies on her to do everything, even help out at other churches, and she barely has a second to breathe. She is seen as the perfect baker, mother, Sunday School Teacher, and Pastor’s wife.

She tries to get the head of PTA but loses to another woman, Gloria, who stinks at everything. She has never lost in her life, she’s a winner at everything she tries-excels at everything! If they would rather have Gloria, what does that say about how they view Mimi? Maybe they don’t see her so well after all.

She also has the trouble that her husband’s paycheck as their home is controlled by the church Deans, so anytime they want to replace something or need money, they have to beg the Deans for money. These deans have been saying no, even though Mimi has been having to deal with a finicky oven that runs to hot or cold and makes everything undercooked unless she is watching and calibrating it perfectly. It all comes to a head when Mimi just breaks down from the load she is carrying, her food overcooks when she is supposed to be making a dinner for the deans. She gives up, serves them the food and walks out. She’s done with trying to be perfect-even bringing store bought fried chicken to the big picnic.

Will she figure out that she needs to just calm down and focus on God-instead of filling her life?

Felicia Lopez-Morrison is a PR executive. She and her husband, David, lived in LA when he decided to become a pastor. After he finished his pastor’s degree they moved to Colorado, taking over the First Baptist Church, where Felicia was lucky to find a job to transfer to. She’s not the typical pastor wife and gets a lot of flack for it.

In their small town of Red River, they expect her to stay home and take care of her child, oversee all the programs, wear what they consider “church clothes”, etc. No one ever likes her Mexican food and throw it out at potlucks, they don’t like that she gets her hair and nails done, goes to spas, etc. Her son doesn’t get as much time as she’d like and now he is biting kids at daycare! Everyone looks at her like it is her fault, as if she is bad mother. To make things worse, a woman from church and her husband have been working closely together.

She knows the woman is after her man, but is her husband having an affair or is he clueless? Will Felicia conform to how people think she should be or will she figure out there is only one person who’s opinion is important.

Lisa Barton has been having a hard time with her husband. Growing up a preacher’s kid she has always wanted to be a pastor’s wife and thought she knew everything about it. But she was not prepared for the fact that Pastor Joel Barton would care more about the church than her and their family. He’s always gone every second of the day doing something for God and he for the kids. And worse-he has no time for her, he’s so distant…the church are more his wife than Lisa. It has only been three years here and she feels unloved and unlovely, how much longer will it go on like this?

She even gets a makeover and does their room romantic, but he leaves her for a phone call from the church. He later misses and forgets to bring a cake to his child’s birthday party. Lisa had reached the end of her rope, will she finally talk it out with her husband and God?

Jennifer Shores has been wanting a baby forever. She feels as if it is the only thing missing from her marriage. Jennifer was in an abusive relationship and when she left ended up helping out at the woman’s shelter that helped her. She later was hired to be the secretary for Pastor Sam Shores, a widower who lost his wife in a drunk driving accident. After a while they started dating and got married. Jennifer has always felt insecure but even more taking the place of that perfect pastor’s wife. She wishes to have a child but nothing-miscarrige or her period comes every time.

Noooo!

It feels like God isn’t listening to her at all-why is he doing this! Jennifer walks out of church one day and decides she is never going back-heading to birdwatching hiking, and then finding herself at the Catholic church confessing her feelings to a priest. Will she find her way or give up on God and her husband?

Also the group notices perfect Kitty doing some vey strange stuff, what is going on with her? What is she hiding?

I thought it was really good and dealt with a lot of real life issues-the strain of being in the fishbowl and the expectations people may put on you. How the church can forget that you have a life and family. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve had people call all hours of the day and night, just drop by unannounced, expect that the pastor can drop everything last minute, think they own us and our lives because we are their pastor’s family, etc. Sometimes they forget we are people too and have a life outside of church.

I think the one I related to the most was Lisa. I’ve felt that way plenty in my life as it is hard to have the perfect balance as the family need attention, but the church sometimes seems to get more of it.

I also loved how each one had to focus on their relationship with God, and use each other to encourage and pray, to find their way. A great read.

For more book club books, go to Book Club Picks: Wuthering Heights

For more bible verses, go to Non-Austen Reads for Austen Readers: The Widow of Larkspur Inn

Book Club Picks: Wuthering Heights

It has been a while since I have done this post. I’m sorry, I’ve just been so busy with other postings.

However I will be catching up, I quite a bit behind. Ooops, sorry!

So as you all know I started a book club, because you know me and books…

Every month we read a book and I do a little post on the book we read and discussed. What can I say, I just love books.

There is no theme, other than with each month, a different member gets to pick a book, whichever one they want. This time the book club member choose:

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

I love Wuthering Heights, it has always been one of my favorite books. I used to be in love with Heathcliff.

So when one of the book members picked it I was so ecstatic.

So the book has one of the best beginnings ever. A man, Mr. Lockwood, has been renting a house in the country as he wants to get away from everyone and everything.

However, he realizes that the hermit life is not cut out for him. He visits with his landlord, finding him hospitable-if a little brusque. He decides to surprise him one day and finds his host angry-and the house Wuthering Heights to be very unhappy. Mr. Heathcliff is angry, there is a Mrs. Catherine Heathcliff who is also angry and says she is a witch, Haerton Earnshaw who is an illiterate Neanderthal, and Joseph a grumpy hand. The snow keeps him from leaving and he has to stay the night.

Mr. Lockwood goes to a room no one uses-it has been untouched for years. He finds himself unable to fall asleep and stays up reading a diary by Catherine Earnshaw, who used to live in that room. Then we have one of the spookiest, chillingest, best writings:

I heard distinctly the gusty wind, and the driving of the snow; I heard, also, the fir bough repeat its teasing sound, and ascribed it to the right cause: but it annoyed me so much, that I resolved to silence it, if possible; and, I thought, I rose and endeavoured to unhasp the casement. The hook was soldered into the staple: a circumstance observed by me when awake, but forgotten. ‘I must stop it, nevertheless!’ I muttered, knocking my knuckles through the glass, and stretching an arm out to seize the importunate branch; instead of which, my fingers closed on the fingers of a little, ice-cold hand! The intense horror of nightmare came over me: I tried to draw back my arm, but the hand clung to it, and a most melancholy voice sobbed, ‘Let me in—let me in!’ ‘Who are you?’ I asked, struggling, meanwhile, to disengage myself. ‘Catherine Linton,’ it replied, shiveringly (why did I think of Linton? I had read Earnshaw twenty times for Linton) ‘I’m come home: I’d lost my way on the moor!’ As it spoke, I discerned, obscurely, a child’s face looking through the window. Terror made me cruel; and, finding it useless to attempt shaking the creature off, I pulled its wrist on to the broken pane, and rubbed it to and fro till the blood ran down and soaked the bedclothes: still it wailed, ‘Let me in!’ and maintained its tenacious gripe, almost maddening me with fear. ‘How can I!’ I said at length. ‘Let me go, if you want me to let you in!’ The fingers relaxed, I snatched mine through the hole, hurriedly piled the books up in a pyramid against it, and stopped my ears to exclude the lamentable prayer. I seemed to keep them closed above a quarter of an hour; yet, the instant I listened again, there was the doleful cry moaning on! ‘Begone!’ I shouted. ‘I’ll never let you in, not if you beg for twenty years.’ ‘It is twenty years,’ mourned the voice: ‘twenty years. I’ve been a waif for twenty years!’ Thereat began a feeble scratching outside, and the pile of books moved as if thrust forward. I tried to jump up; but could not stir a limb; and so yelled aloud, in a frenzy of fright. To my confusion, I discovered the yell was not ideal: hasty footsteps approached my chamber door; somebody pushed it open, with a vigorous hand, and a light glimmered through the squares at the top of the bed. I sat shuddering yet, and wiping the perspiration from my forehead: the intruder appeared to hesitate, and muttered to himself. At last, he said, in a half-whisper, plainly not expecting an answer, ‘Is any one here?’ I considered it best to confess my presence; for I knew Heathcliff’s accents, and feared he might search further, if I kept quiet. With this intention, I turned and opened the panels. I shall not soon forget the effect my action produced.

Heathcliff stood near the entrance, in his shirt and trousers; with a candle dripping over his fingers, and his face as white as the wall behind him. The first creak of the oak startled him like an electric shock: the light leaped from his hold to a distance of some feet, and his agitation was so extreme, that he could hardly pick it up.

‘It is only your guest, sir,’ I called out, desirous to spare him the humiliation of exposing his cowardice further. ‘I had the misfortune to scream in my sleep, owing to a frightful nightmare. I’m sorry I disturbed you.’

A ghost of Catherine Earnshaw Linton.

Mr. Lockwood heads home and falls ill. He questions the housekeeper Nelly about Heathcliff and she tells them the story…

So Mrs. Earnshaw died years ago and left the gentry Mr. Earnshaw with a son, Hindley, and daughter, Catherine. Mr. Earnshaw was very abusive and so are his children-wild-like the weather on the moors.

Nelly lived in the house as well, taken in by Mr. Earnshaw. One day everyone’s life changed when Mr. Earnshaw returned home with a boy! A curly-hair, dark-skinned boy (most likely Spanish, Italian, or Russian) and raises him with the family. Mr. Earnshaw hates his own son and lifts up Heathcliff. 

That is not good,

Nelly, Hindley, and Catherine all hate Heathcliff on sight. They pinch, hurt, annoy, accuse, etc.; him-although Catherine ends up growing to like him. Soon the twoare thick as thieves and never want to spend any time apart from each other.

Mr. Earnshaw dies, and Hindley becomes the head of the household. He abuses both his sister and Heathcliff, taking no interest at all in how they are raised. Catherine is a gentry daughter, a lady, but she is a wild animal-no instruction in becoming a lady.

Hindley marries a very simple. childlike woman who dies in childbirth. He then hates his son, becomes an alcoholic, and is even more abusive.

Catherine and Heathcliff’s relationship is changed when one day she gets injured and taken in by the Linton family. There she learns how to pretend to be ladylike-still wild and crazy and abusive when things aren’t her way. 

Even though she loves Heathcliff she will not marry him. She will not chain herself to a man who has no family, no last name, he can’t do or become anything. She marries Edgar Linton and Heathcliff runs away. 

When he returns years later he comes to get his revenge on all-He will take Wuthering Heights and its son from the high and mighty Hindley, get revenge and hurt Edgar, and lastly-break Catherine’s heart like she broke his…

Watch out…

So Wuthering Heights is a book about passion, and not just passion but unbridled passion. All these characters do whatever feels right to them, without thinking of what may come with their actions or the price they or others may have pay for their passion.

Often the Bronte’s books are compared with Jane Austen’s. That makes this not only a book club pick, buuuut…

Austen’s books take place more inside-sitting rooms, manors, etc, while the Bronte’s more on the moors and in nature. The Bronte’s are much darker than Austen work’s playing with similar themes but much deeper. Such as with Jane Austen’s books they may be secrets and hidden connections-the Bronte’s take a darker twist.

The term wuthering means decaying, blustery, turbulent, etc-the personalities being wuthering as much as the house, and as wild as the moors they reside.

I have always loved this book, but it was hard to read as what I had gone through with my husband. I understand how Heathcliff feels-with no last name and known family-he is essentially without a social security card and has no way of really doing anything. However, because he is hurt, he then hurts others-and no matter what happened to him that behavior is never okay.

Cathy is just as abusive and very conniving. With her brother as her guardian she knows she will meet no one and grabs at Edgar to get away-bringing pain and destruction and heartbreak to him.

“Edgar Linton, as multitudes have been before, and will be after him. was infatuated:and believed himself to be the happiest man alive on the day he led her to Gimmerton Chapel…”

I know how that feels, and how it feels to discover you are 100% wrong and the person you married is crazy. After the abuse I suffered from my husband I defintely do not sympathize with Heathcliff as much as I do Mr. Rochester, from Jane Eyre. I too married a crazy person who tried to kill me.

But it still is a good story and one I recommend reading in your lifetime.

I did notice two things this time reading the book. In a novel based on the Bronte sisters, The Madwoman Upstairs, by Catherine Lowell, she says that the only reason that the abusive horrible Mr. Earnshaw would adopt Heathcliff and treat him good was because he was his illegitimate son-but that’s not true. He “adopts” Nelly and brings her into his home. If he did that and treated her well and she is of no relation, why not Heathcliff? Plus he probably likes the savageness of Heathcliff, made him think of himself more than his “pansey” son.

The second thing I noticed, is that the story is told through Nelly and she really paints an absolutely awful and horrible portrayal of Heathcliff. But when Heathcliff came Nelly was awful-horrible and abusive to him as she didn’t like him on sight (probably jealous she no longer was “special” as the only one taken into the house). If she hated him that much-and I mean hate as she throws him outside in the dead of winter as she would like him to go away or die-only letting him come back in as Mr. Earnshaw demands it. And this is the actions of a child-wanting another person to die rather than being in the house with them-how can we trust a word she says? How do we know she is giving the undoctored truth?

Still a worthwhile read with so many great quotes-still a favorite no matter what, just not while I’m healing.

For more book club picks, go to Book Club Picks: Until the Day Breaks

For more Wuthering Heights, go to One of Many

For more Heathcliff, go to Smells S’Wonderful

For more Non-Austen Reads for Austen Readers, go to Non-Austen Reads for Austen Readers: The Widow of Larkspur Inn

Book Club Picks: Until the Day Breaks

So as you all know I started a book club last year. Because you know me and books…

Every month we read a book and I do a little post on the book we read and discussed. What can I say, I just love books.

There is no theme, other than with each month, a different member gets to pick a book, whichever one they want. This time was my turn and I picked:

Until the Day Breaks (California Rising #1) by Paula Scott

I was first introduced to this book when the author came into the museum I was working at as she needed to discuss something with the curator. We started talking about the book and California and Western history as I absolutely love it.

I read it and the sequel, and enjoyed both of them. So of course, when a few months passed and it was my turn again-I picked it.

So the book takes place in 1846. California “belongs” to Mexico, but not really being more independent. The United States looms closer and closer, Manifest Destiny gobbling up more states. Rachel Tyler grew up in Massachusetts, is Protestant, and raised by her grandparents. She is a sweet woman and engaged to minister hopeful, Stephen. (As soon as his mother dies and releases her control over him)

Well that all changes when her father, Joshua Tyler, awakens their long silence. After Rachel’s mother died, he took off to California to make his fortune and has, in some nefarious ways. He married a wealthy Californio’s niece, Sarita, a girl only a year or so older than his daughter and has brokered a deal matching his daughter with Sarita’s cousin, Roman Vasquez.

This match will work for for Joshua Tyler-as if California remains in Mexico’s control he will have protection in the match. If the United States take over, Tyler can secure the Vasquez land and money through his daughter.

Rachel is hurt over the broken engagement with Stephen and in even more dismay over her upcoming marriage to Roman. Roman is a lusty, passionate, and angry man. Rachel is afraid of that passion, especially as she starts to find herself falling in love with him.

Roman has returned from fighting in the American Intervention with Mexico, known as the Mexican American War by the United States; injured, angry, and finding California completely different then what he left. His family thought he was killed, his fiancé married Joshua Tyler, his family fortune and land is dwindling through his uncle’s gambling, and now he has to marry this Yankee?

But as Roman gets to know Rachel she touches him in a way no one has in a long time. Her kindness, sweetness, and relationship with Christ starts to affect him. But can he really overcome his lust, passion, and anger?

To complicate things further-Sarita is a witch who is angry that Tohic, the god she worships, lied to her about Roman’s death. Even though she is married and Roman is engaged-she will sacrifice anything and do everything to get what she wants.

And as California looks more and more like war is coming-all are uncertain what that means and what exactly to do?

Then to everyone’s surprise Rachel’s ex-fiance shows up! And he brings his friend and ship Captain Dominic Mason.

This is a power firecracker of a novel. It is enjoyable and a real page turner. Every one of us ladies finished long before book club was scheduled to meet.

So while we discussed our book, I thought that in the flavor of Daring Chloe, we should meet in my California town’s historical Saloon that existed in the same time this book is set in. It really was a lot of fun. Here’s a couple of snaps I took. I meant to get a pic of the book in the restaurant,but forgot-maybe I’ll stop by and do it again.

For more book club picks, go to Book Club Picks: The Illustrated Man

For more Christian fiction, go to Book Club Picks: The Masterpiece

For more bible verses, go to Always Let Your Conscience Be Your Guide

 

Book Club Picks: The Illustrated Man

Thirteen weeks after a Friday the 13th, we have another

Don’t worry I got you covered with my new post.

So as you all know I started a book club last year. I have fallen behind with my posts, but I am now right on track!

Every month we read a book and I do a little post on the book we read and discussed. What can I say, I just love books.

There is no theme, other than with each month, a different member gets to pick a book, whichever one they want.

The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury

I don’t remember when I first read this book, but I know it was after Fahrenheit 451Out of all his short story collections; this is my ultimate favorite. The stories range from funny, thoughtful, and downright creepy. It is an incredible collection and once you start, you just can’t stop. I’ve talked about this book before, but here we go again:

Or 10th, 50th, 100th….

Since I have posted on this before, I am only going to discuss the stories we went over in our book club.

The Illustrated Man starts with an average joe taking a walking tour in the summer of Wisconsin. As he stops for the night he is come upon by an illustrated man.

This man used to work for the circus, but back in 1900 he broke his leg. Looking for a way to make money while he rested, he went to a tattoo artist who covered him from neck to belt. What he didn’t know was that this tattoo artist was a witch.

Yes, she infused his illustrations with magic making them be alive and always moving telling their story.

However, there is one blank spot on his back. If you are a woman, you see your whole life from birth to old age. If you are a man, you see how you die.

The illustrated man warns his companion not to look, but he doesn’t listen and has to see them…

Illustration I: The Veldt

The Lion King

This is what the DCOM Smart House is loosely based on.

The live in the future in a smart house that does everything for them. They even can change the pictures on the walls to be anything they want them to be. The children constantly want it to be a veldt with lions.

The parents try to discipline their children and get them to do more but all they want to do is sit around and have the machines do everything for them. The parents determine it is time to turn off the house and go back to how things are supposed to be. Will the parents be able to change their kids? Or will the kids make sure their parents can never boss them around again?

“The lions look real, don’t they?…I don’t suppose there’s any way—–‘

‘What?’

‘—that they could become real?”

No one else really enjoyed this story as they felt it was too sad. I like it as it is a great blend of creepy and thrilling. It shows you why you should not spoil your children-and a big wake up to having your kid just sit in front of a tablet, phone, or TV. I love it, and think you should check it out.

Illustration III: The Other Foot

HateTwilightZone

Mars has been colonized only by African Americans. Now they hear that European Americans are traveling to Mars and decide to institute a Jim Crow law for them. Will they decide to make them pay for past wrongs, or will they all be able to start a new life in equality?

“This is the other shoe, Mayor, the other foot…”

We all loved this story. It has such a great message and a fantastic ending!

Illustration V: The Man

Bethphage-Jesus-enter-Jerusalem

A crew arrive on a planet ready to have glory and fame, but find the people uninterested as the person who came before them brought extreme happiness and bliss. One crewman believes him to be Jesus and wants to learn from the people. The Captain, however, is set on getting his glory and will stop this man any way he can.

“Leave these people alone. They’ve got something good and decent, and you come and foul up the nest and sneer at it. Well, I’ve talked to them too. I’ve gone through the city and seen their faces, and they’ve got something you’ll never have–a little simple faith, and they’ll move mountains with it. You, you’re boiled because someone stole your act, got here ahead and made you unimportant.”

The member who chose the book, this is her favorite story. She loves how it plays out and how the character’s testimony was so strong it helped the one man believe and have faith. She compared it to Christianity and Jesus. We all enjoyed this story as well. 

Illustration VI: The Long Rain

rainbreakfastattiffaneyscat

We have colonized Venus, but it is a horrible place of endless rain. Sun domes were built to help us stay sane and in health, and this story follows a group of astronauts as they hope to make it to the dome, but will they?

“Drops fell and touched other drops and they became streams that trickled over his body, and while these moved down his flesh, the small growths of the forest took root in his clothing.”

We all enjoyed this story as well. One member posed a very interesting question: Does the sundome exist or is it just a mirage?

Illustration VII: The Fire Balloons

finishtherace

A group of priests go to Mars to start a church and help bring peace and morals to a crazed group of colonists. One priest makes it his mission to try and bring Christ to the Martians.

“We feel absurd here—even I; for it is something new, this business of converting the creatures of another world.”

One member just loved this story. He felt that it was a perfect illustration for missionary work and just loved how the one priest had such a fire and desire to be there for the fire balloons and try and show them God’s love.

Illustration IX: The Last Night of the World

TheEnd_Title_2

A married couple realize that today is the last day on Earth. How would you spend your time if you had such an inclination?

“What would you do if you knew this was the last night in the world?”

One member just loved this story. She felt that if it was her last night on Earth she would spend it the exact same way.

Illustration X: The Exiles

fahrenheit451firemontagguy

On Earth, countless literature from Edgar Allen Poe to William Shakespeare to Charles Dickens have been banned on Earth. They remain alive on Mars as their last books are still undamaged there. But when humans decide to completely destroy every page, these characters and their creators decide to wage a war on them. Will they win?

“His last book gone. Someone on Earth just now burned it.’

‘God rest him. Nothing of him left now. For what are we but books, and when those are gone, nothing’s to be seen.”

I love this one. Books fighting back, trying to survive in a world that feels they aren’t needed, a great story.

Illustration XVII: Zero Hour

Miscommunication is always funny as a kid. Not so much later on in life.

Kids are playing that aliens are coming, an invasion in which they will rule and the grow ups will be gone. But what if it isn’t a game?

“Mom, I’ll be sure you won’t be hurt much, really!”

All agreed super creepy, but a very good read.

Illustration XVIII: The Rocket

From the film Stargate.

From the film Stargate.

Fiorello Bodoni has saved $3000 to send a family member into space, but only one can go. Which one?

“We will remember it for always, Papa. We will never forget.”

We all loved this story. Just the love this family has and how much they care about each other. A fantastic read!

For more book club picks, go to Book Club Picks: The Masterpiece

For more books by Ray Bradbury, go to It Was a Pleasure to Burn: Fahrenheit 451

For more on The Illustrated Man, go toEach Illustration is a Little Story. If You Watch Them, In a Few Minutes They Tell You a Tale: The Illustrated Man