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.

Advertisements

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree

OChristmasTreeOChristmasTreeGrimm

So I don’t know about you all but my family actually cuts down our Christmas Tree. We always go the day after Thanksgiving to the black friday sales, and then a few hours to the forest to cut down our tree.

One-does-not-idy8we

Now some of you may wonder why we would go through so much trouble? Why not buy a fake one? Well I’ll tell you why:

1) The permit to cut down a tree only costs $10. That means you can get as big a tree you want for only ten bucks! For instance we got a 12 foot tree for 5% of the cost of  buying one from a lot.

Mal_huh Whoa Wow

2) Cutting down your Christmas tree is very good for the environment.

Say What

 I know many of you have just read that and are probably saying to yourselves this girl is stupid, but just hear me out. You see trees grow in clumps and while that is a great thing as they share resources, protect each other, pollinate each other, etc. However, at times this can be bad. Sometimes trees grow too close together that they are unable to get their share. Often times one, or all, the trees will die as there isn’t enough to go around. Cutting down your own Christmas tree from one of the clumps means that one side might be a little thinner (you just aim that side in the corner) and it helps the other trees grow big and strong. Also periodically clearing out sections of trees protects them in the summer when there are threats of forest fires. And of course, this cutting isn’t a free for all. You can only cut from certain sections, therefore protecting a wider majority of trees. You also have restrictions on the tree size. Your trunk can only have a diameter of 6 inches and there is a restriction of high the stump can be. These regulations keep older trees protected, along with making sure people are not cutting off the tops and leaving the rest of the tree.

That's a lot!

That’s a lot!

3) Cutting your own tree means that it will last longer. You see one of the biggest problems with tree lots is that these trees are cut at the end of November, shipped over to the city they will be sold, and hanging around on pavement until they are sold. They are not getting the same TLC or water and a lot of them die really early, shedding tons of pine needles along the way. Now when you cut your own tree, it is nice and fresh and lasts much, much longer. As I said we always get our tree at the end of November and take it down at the end of January. We could keep it up longer, but usually by February we are packing up our Christmas stuff. Besides longevity, it also smells absolutely wonderful.

-Jim-Carrey-beautiful-gif-UYfb

And with cutting down your tree there are always adventures. Three years ago I went with my parents and we brought my two nieces, my nephew, and our dog. We hiked all over the area in the snow looking for the perfect tree.

We finally found it and my dad cut it down using a manpowered saw rather than a chainsaw. I tried to help him but it was hard work and both of us were pooped. He was really tired so I had him rest and had to carry that tree on my own. Let me say, I’m never doing that again. It was sooo heavy! I don’t know how I was able to carry it even for a minute.

Mal_huh Whoa Wow

After my dad’s rest we finished moving the tree to the truck. After that I had to carry the three kids as the snow embankments had grown larger, and they wouldn’t be able to make it out. Yep, every time I feel like something is too hard, difficult, or heavy, I just remind myself that I carried a tree down a mountainside. I rule!

notimpossiblebutpossibleAudreyHepburn

And this year wasn’t any duller. There was no snow as we’ve been suffering some strong dry spells, but we still had a lot of fun hiking up and down the mountainside for that perfect tree. When we found it we cut it down (using a chainsaw this time) and started to head down the mountainside. Now, we’ve been doing this since I was like 13, but this year something happened that had never happened before.

As we started down the hill trying to bring the tree to the truck, my dad yelled at us to turn the tree as he wanted the weaker side pointed to the ground as that side was to lay in the flatbed. As we turned the tree, BAM! SMACK!

batmanBamSmackKaboom

The tree branches kept smacking me in the face. And when I mean kept, I meant it didn’t stop. I guess it was the section of the tree I was in, but I couldn’t see a thing, just branches and branches smacking me in the face.

I felt as if it was like in The Wizard of Oz when the trees come to life and start smacking Dorothy.

WizardofOzAppleTreesDorothySmacked

It was almost like it was mad at me for me cutting it down.

When we got home we got it out of the truck and was taking it into the house and had to turn the tree again. Now this time I had stood on the opposite side of the tree, hoping that would keep it from hitting me, but now once again tree slap.

WizardofOzAppleTreesDorothySmacked

Hair everywhere, I can’t see a thing, I’m afraid my glasses might get knocked off and go flying, and I am praying so hard that I do not fall in our pool.

pretty please beg

Luckily we get it in the stand and straighten it out. And boy does it look lovely. It kind of makes up for the abuse it gave me.

Now my abuse from the tree branches doesn’t end there. Oh, no! You see after I graduated and interned this summer; I moved back home. I’ve been trying to find a job, but this is pretty much what it is like.

PearlsBeforeSwineWorkExperienceJobSearching

So to fill the time until I am hopefully hired, I am volunteering at quite a few places. One of which is my local museum. So last week I headed down there as it was my turn to work the desk. I brought with me some pine clippings from our tree as the museum was decorating for Christmas. Well it turned out that they didn’t have as many volunteers as they hoped, so they asked me to help with the decorating. I thought okay, it will be fun.

big mistake

So I thought decorating meant we were going to hang ornaments on the tree.

Bishop's wife christmas tree

howtheGrinchstoleChristmasWrongo

We were making these giant wreaths.

Mal_huh Whoa Wow

So I was paired with one of the volunteers and let me just stop and share something with you. Most of the volunteers at the museum are older, like 60+. So the woman I had wasn’t the most helpful. You see you take branches of the tree and put them on a plastic doughnut, tying them down with string or wire as you go along. Adding more and more branches until it is filled. However, that’s not what happened here. My helper laid tons of branches down and then sat down as she couldn’t tie them on. I tried to tie the branches down, but the wreath slipped and they all went crashing to the floor.

Noooooooooo!!!!!!!

Noooooooooo!!!!!!!

Yep, I had to do everything over, but this time I did it right. As I continued, more people came and helped out which was nice. It was a really hard process though as it had rained for the past three days, and all their tree clippings were soaked, making the already hard job of trying to tie them down even harder!

Replace Rothbart with wreath

Replace Rothbart with wreath

Finally we had completed it and I was tired. It’s a lot of bending over and being pricked/stabbed by the wire and tree branches. I sat down for a bit but then had to move on to making garland.

Stupid, stupid

OMG it was so hard. You have a piece of rope and have to twist tie the branch to the rope. Yep, those flimsy little twisty ties. IT TAKES FOREVER! You keep placing branches over and over each other to make it fuller and until you cover the rope. This is extremely hard. At times I was trying to use one of those flimsy things to tie three branches together! And because a lot of people had to leave, I had to do it all on my own. By one fourth of the way I wanted to burn the thing.

HateEverythingthewomen

We had a time limit to this as at noon the county was sending over free labor and the right machine to hang this things high up on the walls. So when every team completed theirs and saw I wasn’t even at the halfway point they all descended on me to help out.

Now you think this would have been nice, and it would have if it was one or two, but there were like five trying to take over the tying or telling me what to do. It made me feel kind of surly:

Game of thrones jon Snow kit harrington I know how

But I just kept to myself, trying to be professional.

After that my shift was over and I headed home, bearing more battle wounds that those brought on by the slapping tree. My hands were covered in cuts and they hurt sooo bad, my back was aching from bending over, my feet were sore from standing, etc. But hey beauty is pain, and the place sure did look amazing!

victorian_christmas room decorated for christmas

Merry Christmas!

Holly banner

For more on Christmas trees, go to On the  7th Day ‘Til Christmas

For more on Christmas, go to the 25 Films of Christmas

For more moments of my every day life, go to How Can This Be?

For more on the Wizard of Oz, go to My Favorite Movie Lines

For more of my favorite songs, go to Fantastic Fantasies

For more of my favorite quotes, go to When in Doubt