Literary Tea Parties

So I few years ago I did a post on a tea party that we had at my church. Of course, you know how I love books…I just had to tie them in together!

To read the whole post, click here. So every year at my church we do a Christmas Tea Party, and the past three years my friend and I had a table that I’ve been in charge of decorating. And if you think I just had to feature a book each year, than you are right! I love books!

In 2016, the theme was “Our Journey”, and shoes were the center as it was about “the paths we take”. Of course shoes made me think of one thing:

As Dorothy and all her friends go on a journey, along with having a magical pair of shoes,  it was PERFECT! We did a:

  • Yellow Brick Road Runner: Canvas that we painted with three different shades of yellow
  • Poppy Magnets as our favors: I used this one from Hometalk and did button centers and glued magnets on the back.
  • Mason jar water glasses with gingham ribbons and red mugs for coffee or tea.
  • Wicked Witch of the East candy straws: I got the straws from Wal-Mart and made the shoes from Swedish Fish.
  • We painted our own Emerald City on glasses.
  • And I sewed a sock monkey king of the flying monkeys, out of black and white socks (just like the ones the Wicked Witch of the East wears). Yes, I sewed it-help from Madsen Creations and my mom.
  • We made our own Dorothy’s magic red shoes, but they weren’t ready when I took the picture, so I put my own red shoes in there.
  • And of course, a copy of the book.

The next year the theme was “Friendship”

So my friend and I choose to do:

Last Christmas the theme was Holy Ghost…hmmm ghosts. Which book? 🙂

  • We used a holly and cranberry patterned runner on the table.
  • Sheets of music as place mats, with red chargers over them.
  • The centerpiece was a Christmas Tree, as those became popular in the Victorian era with Prince Albert, that I strung with popcorn.
  • I also placed a basket with the Christmas gifts/favors as that was how Victorian tables were set up. Each package was a different copy of A Christmas Carol. I got them all by swapping on PaperBackSwap.com I wrapped them up in brown paper and red yarn.
  • We had chestnuts on the table and each place setting got on orange, as they were very popular gifts, but I didn’t put cloves in it as you can’t eat them when you do that.
  • We had Earl Grey Tea, Hot Chocolate, and candy canes.
  • Each person received a homemade Christmas Card (made by me), and each had a little token in it, my version of the Christmas pudding.

This year the theme is gifts and I have to admit, I’m a bit at a loss. Any ideas of a book that gifts plays a role?

Please help me!

For more on The Wizard of Oz, go to Bookish Thank You

For more on A Christmas Carol, go to Book Club Picks: A Christmas Carol

For more tea posts, go to I Ran Out of Milk So I Put Buttermilk in My Tea

For more book-filled posts, go to Stranded at the Bookstore

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Desire & Decorum: Chapter 9, An Indelicate Proposal

So in the last episode I went to the Opera where the stupid Duke assaulted me all night.

And I went off with Mr. Sinclaire, to get away from the Duke, and had a nice moment with him.

So first things first, I hate the title for this chapter because all I can think of is:

An that title has nothing to with this chapter-I don’t even get proposed to. Seriously people.

Anyways, so grandma has arrived to give me a dressing down for my behavior, but I’ve been good except last night when I was with Mr. Sinclaire. And that was mostly because I knew the Duke would assault me if I road with him.

It’s not fair!

Grandma reads me the riot act:

Miss Sutton! Not only is she saying that but that the Earl is not my father and that I am seducing men.

Forget you!

I”M SO ANGRY, but I know it’s not Miss Sutton:

My grandmother agrees with me, but it doesn’t matter the truth. My reputation is on the line ad I need to restore it before it is too late. After all a reputation is all a woman has.

So Grandma is going to have Mr. Marcastle host a card game. This will give me a chance to win people over with the home court advantage.

The next morning, Grandma sets out to settle the rumors surrounding me. But before she sets out to do that, she wants to know who I am interested in. We talk about it:

Grandma is still pushing the Duke, but as I try and share what Mr. Sinclaire shared with me about him, but before I get a chance to we are interrupted by Miss Parsons.

Excuse me!

Grandmother urges Miss Parsons and I to paint. This is something that Catherine has no training in and I think it is one of those in my “quest” to achieve.

It looks like a palette is there in front of the fireplace.

Miss Parsons invites me to accompany her to the greenhouse so she can paint me. Then I can send off miniatures to my father, friends, and maybe…Mr. Sinclaire?

Trying to flirt

So in this game there are quite a bit of things that are not correct for Regency history and culture, and I have forgiven them for this-but looking at the Greenhouse, I noticed it had a lot of glass and was more open. To me that doesn’t seem quite right, as I know the Crystal Place wasn’t constructed until 1854 (thank you Art History). So I did some research, and like I thought because the technology wasn’t invented yet, most greenhouses were regular buildings with just a lot more windows.

But I guess that isn’t a huge issue. Still though, it wouldn’t take you guys too much at Choices to google it. I mean there are tons of books, blogs, and more on it.

Research

Anyways…we try to paint.

This reminds me of the scene in Emma when Emma paints Harriet.

“Miss Woodhouse has given her friend the only beauty she wanted,’—observed Mrs. Weston to him—not in the least suspecting that she was addressing a lover.—’The expression of the eye is most correct, but Miss Smith has not those eye-brows and eye-lashes. It is the fault of her face that she has them not.’ ‘Do you think so?’ replied he [Mr. Elton]. ‘I cannot agree with you. It appears to me a most perfect resemblance in every feature. I never saw such a likeness in my life. We must allow for the effect of shade, you know.’ ‘You have made her too tall, Emma,’ said Mr. Knightley. Emma knew that she had, but would not own it…”

But while that is fun, something is bothering my friend Miss Parsons. I ask her about it and she wants to discuss it outside the greenhouse, so we walk outside.

Her family is eager to marry her off, as her fiancé died (my half brother who passed away before the game starts) and they want her to marry an old geezer who can’t hear and is on wife number 5. Looks like he’s giving Henry the VIII a run for his money.

I’m shocked, but that’s how it was then. It’s funny but this exchange reminds me of the book Prada and Prejudice, a teen YA retelling I read back when I was 17. In the story the girl buys these prada heels at a thrift store and trips, waking up in 1812! They all think she is the long lost friend recently returned from America. She then tries to help Emily (the girl who thinks she is her long-lost friend) from marrying an old man.

Well, now that I have brought it up, I’ll need to review the book. Watch out for it!

Looking forward to it!

Anyways…

What was I talking about?

Oh, yeah-tonight the geezer plans to propose at Mr. Marcastle’s card game. Just like in Prada & Prejudice, I decide that I will do all in my power to help stop it.

She kind of reminds me of Charlotte Lucas, how she feels at the end of her rope and her family is willing to have her go off with almost any guy.

Miss Parsons feels stuck, but I’m there for her and promise that of she gets thrown out of her home for refusing the Viscount, that I will open my home for her.

So after the painting, I head back to get ready for the card game. They offer a green dress, but I don’t really like it. Not to be mean, but I find it kind of ugly. So I wear the red one I bought for Mr. Sinclaire’s party.

Briar, my maid (and best friend from the country) and I talk and she tries to convince me that Mr. Marcastle is just the greatest thing ever. Nothing I say will convince her that this is a bad idea. He’s an engaged gentleman, and you are a servant, seriously Briar, he’s just messing with you.

So the card game I am playing Old Maid with Miss Holloway and my Grandma, but I don’t think that was something they played in regency times. So let’s do some more research…

So it was created in the late 1700s, but wasn’t popular until Victorian times. Still it fits in the timeline, so its good. However, I would prefer them playing Whist.

And of course this is a great metaphor as Miss Holloway and I are not only competing in the game but in real life as to who will end up “the Old Maid”.

Ooohh…she angry. Haha

Sucks to be you

So interestingly, even though Mr. Marcastle is engaged he is trying to get with Miss Holloway-oh no! That’s not how it was done! It was practically a contract-people would go to court and have to pay a fine over broken engagements. So he wouldn’t be doing that-especially with the question of his inheritance up for grabs.

I really don’t think you guys did any research.

Miss Parsons is just as shocked and all I can think is this dude needs to get his act together, three ladies? He’s just asking to be murdered.

You are just asking to be killed.

So I’m there mostly for my bestie, Miss Parsons:

Yep, don’t mess with me!

We take a turn about the room to escape from the Viscount.

Grandma notices the attentions that Mr. Marcastle is giving Miss Holloway and slams him.

So Miss Parsons and I go clue crew on why is Mr. Marcastle trying to flirt with Miss Holloway?

We conclude it must be my evil-stepmother, but why would she do that? It doesn’t make sense.

Huh?

Miss Holloway hears about my painting lesson and makes fun of the artwork, but she ends up making fun of my grandma’s ands gets a dressing down.

Miss Parsons is still ignoring the Viscount, and w step outside for a minute. I try to encourage her to not give in and marry him, as she won’t be happy.

When he follows us outside, Miss Parsons says she can’t spend any time with him as she promised me some painting lessons. Painting lessons in the middle of a party? Sounds weird, but whatever.

She teaches me how to paint and I create a masterpiece! An apple!

For those of you who have played the other Choices games, it’s the same one that Kira’s mom, Joelle, makes in The Royal Romance: Book 3. And she’s a famous artist, so that means mine is fantastic!

And I gained the painter’s easel and palette:

I’m not sure what is left as that looks like I’ve accomplished everything!

Despite our best efforts, the viscount proposes and Miss Parsons turns him down cold-in front of everyone. And as he has horrible hearing-all HEARD it.

Mr. Marcastle tries to propose to Miss Holloway, again-would NOT have been done. But she slams him with his behavior with Briar:

Ouch

But news comes that my father has been stricken ill. I want to return home, but grandma wishes me to stay. My dad should be okay…right?

I guess we will just have to wait and see…

For more Desire & Decorum, go to Desire & Decorum: Chapter 8, Ill Repute

For more Choices, go to Desire & Decorum: Chapter 7, Opera St. James

For more Bible verses, go to Book Club Picks: Julie

For more painting, go to Book Club Picks: The Masterpiece

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 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

Non-Austen Reads for Austen Readers: The Widow of Larkspur Inn

So this is something I started a while back. Sometimes you want more Austen books after you had read the others. There are variations on her stories, but sometimes you don’t want to read the same story. You want Austen-like works, but what to read or watch?

Hmmm….

That’s why I started this series. I will review that have things we love about the Austen novels but in something fresh than a retelling.

The Widow of Larkspur Inn (Gresham Chronicles #1) by Lawana Blackwell

The book is set in England of 1869. Julia Hollis is a wealthy mother of three-Phillip, Aleda, and Grace-and a recent widow. Three weeks have passed where they have all been in mourning and Julia receives the greatest surprise of her life.

Oh no!

They have lost everything due to her wealthy surgeon husband’s double life as a gambler.

The house has been repossessed by the bank and sold, the servants all staying to take on with the new owner. All her jewelry, including her ring, are taken as well. A large chunk of her clothes sold to a shop for extra money. They are forced to move to the small town of Gresham, as the only thing they left is an old coaching inn, The Larkspur Inn.

Their butler, Jensen, lends them money and helps them start putting ads in papers; the idea of the inn being turned into a lodging house.

Besides the Hollis family, they are going to be joined by Fiona O’Shea, one of the maids. Years ago when Fiona knocked on their door, a starving immigrant from Ireland, Julia forced her husband to hire her-and since then they have been very close friends.

They head out to Gresham where the house is a mess, but thanks to help from the local community and the Vicar and his daughter; things start looking up. Soon there are letters and lodgers who come into their home.

Yay!!!

Their lodgers are: Mrs. Octavia Kingston, a crotchety old woman with a heart of gold; Mr. Durwin, business entrepreneur and herbalist; Mrs. Dearing, former pioneer of the California goldfields with her late husband; kindly knitting Mrs. Hyatt; and the famous Ambrose Clay, amazing actor, who is taking a break from the stage as he is trying to find a way to combat his bouts of depression.

We have quite a group of characters

The other story that is told is that of Reverend Andrew Phelps. He is a widower with two daughters, Elizabeth and Laurel, and teaches at Cambridge. His oldest daughter is infatuated with a young man, Jonathan Raleigh.

Andrew had thought Jonathan was a great guy, but received an anonymous note that if he were to go to a certain address he would find Jonathan with a married women, notorious for her loose lifestyle. Andrew doesn’t want to believe such a thing is true, but as his daughter is head over heels, he has to investigate it. He goes and finds that it is true.

Time passes. Jonathan apologizes, but Elizabeth is heartbroken and listless. Andrew worries over her and decides it is time to leave Cambridge. When he hears that the Vicar of Gresham has to move because of his rheumatism, he snaps the post up and moves his family to the tranquil village.

Romance, cheer, etc. This book has it all and is a fantastic read.

So why would an Austen fan love this book?

Hmmm…

It has a lot of the flavor of Sense and Sensibility, with a family losing everything and having to move forward, in a way they never thought they would ever be, and having to use that resilience in the troubles they face.

We also have a touch of Marianne Dashwood in the character of Julia. When Julia was young she was a lot like Marianne, emotional and falling head over heels in love-putting her all in a man who had major flaws. Like Marianne, Julia was incapable of seeing those flaws as she had on the blinders of love.

Now with all the aftermath and having to move, Julia’s views on what is important character in a mate changed, just like Marianne after Willoughby breaks her heart and she recovers from her illness.

“Marianne was born to an extraordinary fate, she was born to discover the falsehood of her own opinions, to counteract, by her conduct, her favorite maxims . . . . Instead of falling a sacrifice to an irresistible passion . . . [she found herself] submitting to new attachments, entering on new duties.”

Jonathan Raleigh is a Willougby-like guy. He has money, class, high rank everything-but also the spirit of a rogue.

It is a great book and definitely worth a read with it being fun, loving, and having great characters. I read it, minimum, once a year.

For more on Non-Austen Reads for Austen Readers, go to Non-Austen Reads for Austen Readers: A Change of Fortune

For more on The Widow of Larkspur Inn, go to Pot o’ Gold: 17 Irish Heroes

For more bible verses, go to Book Club Picks: Until the Day Breaks

For more Sense and Sensibility, go to The Austen Series: Reason and Romance

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