Monday, 6 May 2019

Crime and Punishment

Crime and Punishment
Author: Fyodor Dostoevsky
ISBN: 978-0486454115



Hi Everyone,

I started to hear snippets here and there about this book and I had to look and see if it was worth reading.  It is not very often that one hears of a classic title being tossed about, hence I looked deeper.  I am always particularly fond of reading books that are on curriculum lists and as this one was on the AmblesideOnline year 11 list I decided it was about time I opened a copy.

For me, this book was extremely unique.  I am used to reading mystery books where I am turning the pages to find out who did the crime.  Not so in Crime and Punishment.  You know who did the crime.  He is at the forefront of every scene and conversation.  You are left wondering if they will ever understand him or figure him out.  I sat reading and reading, turning page after page awaiting his capture. In the mean time I started to see more than a criminal.

This is where I found the book interesting.  I watch the News at night and I am ready to believe anything the media says.  I am ready to cast judgement by what the media claims.  But, I know nothing of the criminal or the full stories.  Hear me when I say I do not condone any crime!  The thing is that this author got me thinking of what is behind a crime and the punishment they place upon themselves both before and after such an event.

Before Raskolnikov commited his crime I had started to feel sorry for him.  He seemed like a normal sort of fellow that had hang ups from the past, cared for family and had loved and lost.  He was educated but unfortunate events had left him unable to finish.  Unfortunate circumstances had him living in a room the size of a cupboard and starving.  I could feel his hunger and thought of the anxiety I was reading and continual flashing of events that ran through his mind, I blamed on hunger and circumstance. I became so interested in how a person could become so twisted when I felt he had once been a young man looking to make something of his life.  Can life really twist a person so much that they would commit such a crime and believe they are justified in doing so?  And how could he continue to think he was justified right through the book?  There were times when I thought he was analysing on grounds of moral principle but he managed to make a moral stand for the crime, not against in his messed up little mind.  This made me look to the 'Spark Notes' and further to seek what I might have been missing.  I found myself looking to the events in Russia around the time of the writing of the novel.  I had to look at what nihilism entailed as it was apparently at large in Russia during the era of the books publication.  I searched nutrition and anxiety and depression and grief and... so much.  How can an author bring up so many questions?  I don't think any book has made me look into so many other things like 'Crime and Punishment' has.

What about the other characters because there were quite a few and they all had their own stories too.  Well, as for Porfiry, he drove me nuts!  He was just as mad as Raskolnikov only in other ways.  Sonja was kind but I was left wondering what life held for her beyond the pages and why she followed Raskolnikov when in reality she hardly knew him.  Raskolnikov's mother I thought was just as mad as her son but there may have been more to that also but I was so busy questioning Raskolnikov and Porfiry. And I need to admit I found the characters names so hard that I refuse to ever attempt to pronounce in public any of them (okay I can maybe do a couple).  The author Dostoevsky managed to show me so many different character traits and personalities that I was left questioning many things.  I may have re-read this in the future and see what I notice next time around because in another place in time I think I would look at different events and different characters that may be quietly nesting in the background.

Description:
Raskolnikov, a destitute and desperate former student, wanders through the slums of St Petersburg and commits a random murder without remorse or regret. He imagines himself to be a great man, a Napoleon: acting for a higher purpose beyond conventional moral law. But as he embarks on a dangerous game of cat and mouse with Porfiry, a suspicious detective, Raskolnikov is pursued by the growing voice of his conscience and finds the noose of his own guilt tightening around his neck. Only Sonya, a downtrodden prostitute, can offer the chance of redemption. As the ensuing investigation and trial reveal the true identity of the murderer, Dostoyevsky's dark masterpiece evokes a world where the lines between innocence and corruption, good and evil, blur and everyone's faith in humanity is tested.


Available from: Book Depository 


Happy reading




Thursday, 11 April 2019

A Separate Peace

A Separate Peace
Author: John Knowles
ISBN: 978-1-47113-910-9



Hi Everyone

It's been a few months since I posted a review.  It's not that I wasn't reading, it was just that I wasn't writing about them.  I took a break from writing so I could read some of the books that I really wanted to analyse with a different depth.  While doing so I got a whole new appreciation for the written word.  It is quite bizarre really because I spent so many years studying books and text for my studies/qualifications, but to do so for personal reasons is a whole different story.  I highly recommend you put your book down every now and then and think.  Really think about your taking in. 

Anyway, to 'A Separate Peace' and what I thought of this piece of literature.

This is another one of those books that I picked up a couple of years ago, read a few pages, and went on to another book that needed reading there and then. I could say maybe I was too busy to read it back then, but in reality I don't think I was ready for it. Not quite in the right zone to appreciate it.  I'm kind of pleased I waited until now to read it, and really read it, getting myself into the plot with the characters as though I there watching from the background.

I got to know both boys and understood each one and their unique prospectives.  There were times in my life where I had such friends and maybe I still do if I choose to analyse each of my friends.  I think we all have such friends and could relate to these two boys.  What made Gene shake the tree?  Was it as cynical as one could envision? Or was he acting on a rapid thought without realising the action was taking place or the consequence?  How would he know such extreme consequence would evolve?  These questions ran through my mind as I read.  I have children and some of the stupid non-thought out reactions they have had throughout their short life time is laughable. Hence, I don't believe Gene saw what was about to evolve.  I really don't. 

Then there is the young man that went to war.  He didn't see what was coming either.

What about the boys at the end, that set Gene up so the truth would come out.  Did they think of any consequences?  Did they see what could evolve?

How often do we adults think deeply before reacting.  And how often do the consequences bite back.

Maybe this isn't a story only for young people to read.

Then there were the lies.

Every boy was keeping a lie.  Living a lie of some sort.  Yes, most of these came out in the end as life progressed around them.  But who knew who was talking and living truth and who wasn't.  We all have faith that we can trust our friends.  We have to trust them or what is the point of the friendship.  When that trust is gone the friendship dismantles.  Some are repairable but sometimes going back is too hard.  But sometimes maybe it's harder to live the truth when you really believe the lie?  How do you judge the reasons behind others truth/lies?  How do we even know sometimes?

This book opened up so many questions like these.  

Have you read this book and come out with questions?  

Do you think Gene expected the outcome of his actions?

Leave me a comment of your thoughts, or answers.... I'd like to know what you found in the pages of this novel.


Description:

Set in a boys' boarding school in New England during the early years of World War II.  A Separate Peace is a harrowing and luminous parable of the dark side of adolescence.

Gene is a lonely, introverted intellectual.  Phineas is a handsome, taunting, daredevil athlete.  What happens between the two friends one summer, like the war itself banishes the innocence of these boys and their world.


Happy reading


Tuesday, 8 January 2019

This present darkness

This Present Darkness
Author: Frank E. Peretti
ISBN: 9781581345285 


Hi Everyone,

I have had this book for absolutely years! 

And, I have finally read it 😀

I know you all have books that sit, and sit, and sit a little more waiting to be read.  Yep, that's me too.

To be honest with you all I first got this book when I was around 18 years old.  I then moved house a several times, got married and had children.  Along the way I lost the book but never get off my mind all the excitement of my friends when they read it.  Well about eighteen months ago (okay maybe even 2 years ago) I came across it in our local book store and grabbed a copy.  I took it home and started reading it but once again life took over and I also had authors approach me to read their books, so I put this one down again.

While looking at my TBR books and deciding which one to take on holiday, it jumped out at me and screamed "Read me!".  So, I took it with me.

I found the first chapter a little hard to grab, but it didn't take long for me to relax into my holiday mode and dive head first into the rest of the story.  

My goodness!  What a gripping read. 

I quickly flicked through every page and was disappointed when there were no pages left to turn.  I want read the next book in the series but have my concerns that I may be much like this one.  Has anyone out there read the rest of this series?  If so flick me a comment and recommend or not I'd love know what you recommend.

Anyway, I'm off now to pick up the next book in my TBR pile.  For the next while I will be only reading the books I have so wanted to read rather than the saying 'yes' to new authors.  I have found that over the last six months I have had so many requests that I haven't been reading the books I have purchased.... and they are looking at me with a certain expectancy 😂

So happy reading to you all.  I hope you have a good TBR list for 2019.


Description:

Ashton is just a typical small town. But when a skeptical reporter and a prayerful, hardworking pastor begin to investigate mysterious events, they suddenly find themselves caught up in a hideous New Age plot to enslave the townspeople, and eventually the entire human race. The physical world meets the spiritual realm as the battle rages between forces of good and evil.

This Present Darkness is a gripping story that brings keen insight into spiritual warfare and the necessity of prayer. Since its original publication more than 2.7 million copies have been sold. The companion volume, Piercing the Darkness, continues the story of the battle between spiritual forces.
 


For more details and reviews head to Goodreads


Happy reading

Thursday, 20 December 2018

The Moon Sister

The Moon Sister
Author: Lucinda Riley
ISBN: 9781509840090


Hi Everyone

It has been a while since my last review as I got my students through the end of year exams and tests. It's been great teaching them all this year, I have seen some real growth in some brilliant young people.

Anyway...

It means we all get a Christmas and summer break now.  And I will  be reading my way through some of my TBR list.  

To start with I have plowed through The Moon Sister.  Book number five in the series and I am not disappointed.  Quite often I get to book three or four of a series and find they start to drag but not this one.  Lucinda Riley is great at adding in a few questions that leave her readers dangling.

I have plenty of questions that I need to read the next few books for.

As for this sister she was really interesting!  I have to give credit for the back ground work that weaves these stories together.  I like the link between today and yesterday as I'm taken through two lives that in many was connect through the decades.  

Very well put together plot.  I could have kept reading way beyond the final page!

So, if you want a good read for over the holidays try this book.  I'm enjoying the series 😀


Description:

After the death of her father - Pa Salt, an elusive billionaire who adopted his six daughters from around the globe - Tiggy D'Apliese , trusting her instincts, moves to the remote wilds of Scotland. There she takes a job doing what she loves; caring for animals on the vast and isolated Kinnaird estate, employed by the enigmatic and troubled Laird, Charlie Kinnaird.

Her decision alters her future irrevocably when Chilly, an ancient gipsy who has lived for years on the estate, tells her that not only does she possess a sixth sense, passed down from her ancestors, but it was foretold long ago that he would be the one to send her back home to Granada in Spain ...
In the shadow of the magnificent Alhambra, Tiggy discovers her connection to the fabled gypsy community of Sacromonte, who were forced to flee their homes during the civil war, and to `La Candela' the greatest flamenco dancer of her generation.

From the Scottish Highlands and Spain, to South America and New York, Tiggy follows the trail back to her own exotic but complex past. And under the watchful eye of a gifted gypsy bruja she begins to embrace her own talent for healing.

But when fate takes a hand, Tiggy must decide whether to stay with her new-found family or return to Kinnaird, and Charlie . . . 


This was available from: Book depository


Happy reading

Saturday, 29 September 2018

Breaking Stalin's Nose

Breaking Stalin's Nose
Author: Eugene Yelchin
ISBN: 978-1-250-03410-6



Hi Everyone

It is school holidays! 

Spring is here and it is time for a good couple of weeks just refresh and renew our little minds.  It is always beautiful at this time of the year as I drive around the countryside and see all the little lambs and spring flowers.  I have even had to watch the ducklings a couple of times as their mum's caution them along the road side.  Adorable!

But, that has nothing to do with our latest read aloud.  No matter how old my children get we still enjoy coming together for a read aloud.  This one was an interesting one.  Young Sasha is reading to become a Young Pioneer but things start to change.  His father is taken away, his class seems different, and then to top it all off he goes and knocks the nose of the school Stalin statue.  Not good!  This story shows the dynamics of the Stalin ruling and Communism in a way that is relateable for young people.  It is from the perspective of a school child who then starts to question what is going on around him.  It is done all in a quiet thoughtful way.  I liked the approach and it got us all talking as we came across different things in the pages.  

And as for the quality of the actual book... This isn't something that I normally talk about but I like the print of this book.  My copy has thick, fresh white pages.  It has brilliant black and white pictures scattered throughout and it's a different size to a normal novel.  It's a well printed copy that I have in my hand 😀

So, yes I recommend this book for all you young readers.  If you have a chance to sit with read aloud the book then take that chance and enjoy the book and your kids, I can't stress more the importance of reading aloud with your family.... no matter the ages.

Well, I'm off to enjoy the first day of Daylight Savings here.  Spring awaits me. 


Description:

Sasha Zaichik has known the laws of the Soviet Young Pioneers since the age of six:
The Young Pioneer is devoted to Comrade Stalin, the Communist Party, and Communism.
A Young Pioneer is a reliable comrade and always acts according to conscience.
A Young Pioneer has a right to criticize shortcomings.


But now that it is finally time to join the Young Pioneers, the day Sasha has awaited for so long, everything seems to go awry. He breaks a classmate's glasses with a snowball. He accidentally damages a bust of Stalin in the school hallway. And worst of all, his father, the best Communist he knows, was arrested just last night. 


Available from Book Depository


Happy reading

Thursday, 20 September 2018

William Carey - Obliged to go

William Carey - Obliged to go
Authors: Janet and Geoff Benge
ISBN: 978-1-57658-147-6

William Carey: Obliged to Go


Hi Everyone

This book has been sitting on my bookcase for a while now and it should have been read long before now as it didn't deserve to sit this long 😀

I purchased it as part of the Sonlight curriculum we were following before exam years got in the way.  But, we have begun once again to read through what is left on my shelf.  This one is well worth the read.  I haven't read any of the Christian Heroes: Then & Now series but I will, just to see if they are written this well.

There were many wow moments in these pages.  It is a true history novel that far exceeds any text book.  This is an example of a real living book, one of which the kids can relate to.

I actually read it aloud to my kids.  Yes we still read aloud.... they never out grow it.  Keep reading to your teens you may just be amazed at how they enjoy it still.  There were many moments where we stopped to discuss the contents this book addressed.  There were things that we found ourselves digging deeper to find out just a little more.  Some of the events that took place back in the days of William Carey were just a little opening for not just my kids but for me.  We live in a different world with new issues, some of the old remain - yes, but some to read a book which opened up some of the past which is often forgotten and never mentioned today, was really interesting.

I have recommended this book to quite a few people since I opened its pages.  I think I can say this little piece of literature left me thinking and hungry to read more.


Happy reading

Saturday, 8 September 2018

My latest find

Hi Everyone,

I have been taking a little break at the moment as my students start to make their way through the third term and into the exam period.  I have a few books to bring to you soon, but my students always come first, so I will touch base again over the holidays.

But....

Look what I have found!

It may have been around for a long time.

But...

I have just found it 👀

Blinkist


https://www.blinkist.com/



I'm not sponsered by Blinkist.  I just think what they offer is absolutely brilliant and want to share it with you all.

Little Blinks....

What's  a Blink?

Take thousands of non-fiction titles and condense them into the key notes from the book.  Then you have 1-10 minute Blinks.  You can listen to them, read them, save them, download them for on the run.  Then if you want to purchase the book just click the link and buy the whole book.  Brilliant resource for people on the run who don't have time to read all they want to.  Or, those who want to just read the key points.  

Anyway that's my latest find.  I will bring you more reviews soon, very soon

All the best and...


Happy reading


Sunday, 15 July 2018

Into the woods




Hi Everyone,

Here is a little treat for you all, a great little selection of short stories all in one package.  It has be qutie a few years since I have picked up a short stories book.  I forgot how much I enjoy them.  You are alble to pick where you read in the book, how long a story or how short a story the choice is yours.  I liked being able to read a poem when I felt so, or a quick story.  Now poems... everyone should know by now that I love poems and as I read these ones I was smiling knowing that someone had written it while on a writing retreat.  This book is more than just a short story book, it brings you a vast variety of writers and genres, I am sure there is something in here for every reader.  Enjoy!







Into the Woods is the title and theme for this assortment of short stories, poems, essays, music, and one walking meditation. Each piece is unique in tone and genre and the result is that the collection captures the fascinating, frightening, fun, healing, and fantastical wonder of time spent in the woods. The twenty-six contributors who attend Mindful Writers Retreats in the mountains of Ligonier, Pennsylvania, are donating one hundred percent of the proceeds to support the research and work of The Children’s Heart Foundation.

Available at....










Book Excerpts
Short Story
TRAIN WRECK
by Kathleen Shoop

Ellie Trumbull squinted out the window of the Uber, gripping the door handle. The car swerved and bounced up the long driveway leading to the retreat center where the courts had sent Ellie for punishment. She grabbed her stomach to stave off nausea, but when it began to launch itself she smacked the driver’s arm. He slowed and stopped. Ellie pulled the handle, and tumbled out of the door onto all fours, heaving.
She gasped for breath, dizzied. Voices sounded as she struggled to stand. She focused on the group heading toward her: two women, a man, and several children who simply bolted past her, their squealing laughter filling the air.
A graceful woman with gray, bunned hair and dark skin approached. She took Ellie’s arm and pulled her close, leading her into a building. “Welcome. I’m Vera.”
“I’m Alice.” A stout woman with platinum spiked hair followed along.
A lanky man with hair so perfect it looked plastic picked up Ellie’s duffel bag. “I’m Brandon. Your husband’ll send the rest of your luggage shortly.”
Ellie grunted. They led her upstairs. Brandon rushed ahead to open a door. Ellie shuffled inside.
“Your room,” he said. “I’ll set your bag here.”
Ellie looked over her shoulder to see him smiling, as he’d been doing since she arrived. “Thanks, Guy Smiley.”
“What?”
She ignored his question, held onto one of the top bunks and surveyed the space. Three large windows at the end of the room and three sets of bunks with plastic mattresses belted the perimeter.
Ellie collapsed onto a bed.
“Plastic makes it easy to clean,” Vera said.
“Shut those.” Ellie shook her hand at the windows.
The woman sighed, closed the curtains and lowered the blind that covered the center pane. She lifted Ellie’s feet off the floor and swung them onto the bed. “Housekeeping’ll make up the bed in a little bit.”
“Fine,” Ellie groaned.
Vera loosened Ellie’s shoelaces.
Ellie snatched her feet away. “I’m fine.”
Vera backed away, her large hands flailing for a moment before she tucked them against her belly. “Our healing circle begins in an hour.”
Ellie turned away and balled up. Leave me alone.
And a few seconds later the door clicked shut.
***
Giggling children and the sound of feet running down the hallway outside Room 2 woke Ellie. Her mouth was desert dry, so she headed downstairs to the great room where she saw a kitchen area. With the kids gone, the silence felt good.
Ellie startled at the sight of Alice, Vera, and Guy Smiley sitting around an island. Guy Smiley poured coffee. Healing circle.
“Ellie,” he said. “Welcome.”
Vera sliced banana bread. The scent threatened Ellie’s stoic facade. A smile tugged her lips, but she tucked away the fleeting happy sensation, hid it where it wouldn’t remind her how Maggie’s face would light up when she bit into her favorite treat.
Alice clomped her feet onto the coffee table. Vera batted them away and pushed the banana bread toward Ellie.
She looked away.
“I’ll take hers,” said Alice.
“I’d like to begin,” Vera said, her voice gentle and melodic. “The healing circle guides us into continued acceptance and strengthens our endurance as we grow through the pain that comes with losing a child. Each of us understands the daily shock of waking and realizing our lives will never be the same. So how do we go on?”
Guy Smiley sipped coffee. “Feels good to be with everyone.”
“Each time we meet I do better back home,” Vera said.
“Same,” Alice said.
“We hope you’ll find our group helpful, Ellie,” Vera said.
When Ellie didn’t respond the others went around describing how they lost their child. Ellie blocked out every word, rubbing her temples. Her own pain was enough. She wasn’t about to invite theirs inside. Her gaze strayed to the kids outside, the game of tag that left them breathless, rolling down the hill and out of sight. How lucky they were.
“Ellie?” Alice asked. Ellie turned her gaze back to see Alice glaring.
“It’ll help,” sweet Vera said. “To share.”
Guy Smiley slid forward in his seat, fingers steepled. “Change brings…blah, blah … comfort, healing…” He droned on and on and finally Ellie’s mind snapped back to what he first said.
Change?” Ellie said.
He nodded. They all did.
Ellie’s anger surged. She wiped spittle from her lip. “I don’twantchange. I feel Maggie more now than I ever did… before she died I couldn’t wait to get to work, or girls’ night out or go away with my husband. My daughter… difficult from the day she was born… is dead. I’ll never sit with you people thinking about change and eating stinking banana bread.”
She stood and stomped away.
“She don’t want help,” Alice said.
“But her husband…” Brandon said.
Ellie got farther away, unable to hear what they said. Her husband? He was finished with her. She jogged to her room and crashed onto the mattress that housekeeping hadn’t yet returned to make. She covered her face and held back tears. With balled fists she tried to resist.
But she couldn’t.
Up off the bed, Ellie dug through her duffel and found it. Vodka. Cap unscrewed, she gulped, washing away the scent of banana bread, the thought that she’d never again see Maggie’s smile when she took a bite of it.

***
Short Story
EIRA
by Wende Dikec

The lights went out, and Eira held her breath, waiting for the emergency generator to work. It started with a shudder and a horrific crunching noise, but at least it continued to function.
She closed her eyes, feeling the fear in her chest ease when she heard the comforting sound of the humming engine. She couldn’t bear the thought of being left cold and alone in the dark.
Tugging her pale, blond hair into a ponytail, she pulled her ragged wool cardigan tightly across her body and walked over to the window of Alexander House, a grand name for such a Spartan hunting cabin, to peek outside. She waited for the sun to come up, looking out the dirty glass pane, and continued to stare out the window long after the sun rose in the sky. She didn’t know why she bothered. She saw nothing outside except the same white expanse she’d seen every day for the last five lonely months.
Eira opened the door to grab some wood from the pile for her fire, her body flinching from the chill of the icy wind. She had enough wood to last a few more weeks, and then she’d have to make the dangerous trip into the forest to chop more. She dreaded it, but not as much as she dreaded living without the generator. If she rationed carefully, she’d have enough fuel for another month, but she wasn’t sure what she’d do after that. She hadn’t planned on being stranded for such a long time. Spring should have arrived almost two months ago.
She blinked in surprise when she saw a figure moving toward her house, struggling in the waist deep snow. Eira squinted against the harsh sunlight reflecting off the white landscape, trying to make out if the approaching form was human or animal, friend or foe, but she could see very little at this distance. She stumbled back into her warm little house, and reached for her heavy coat. She quickly slipped on her snowshoes before grabbing her gun, a nervous sense of excitement building inside her. If it was a person, it would be the first human being she’d seen in months. If it was an animal, she’d shoot it and have food for a week. And if it was one of the strange ones, the creatures that were no longer human yet not completely animal, she’d kill it without remorse and leave its carcass for the hungry bears to find.
She waited on her front porch, her gun ready as it came closer. It looked human, bundled under layers of heavy clothing, but she wasn’t taking any chances.
“Who are you?” she asked, her voice echoing in the quiet wilderness.
The figure stopped moving and looked directly at her. She could see a dark beard covering the skin exposed beneath protective ski goggles. It was a man.
“My name is Ben,” he said, his voice sounding scratchy and strange, as if it hadn’t been used in a long time. “I saw the smoke from your fire. Can I come in and warm up?”
Eira paused, considering his request. He seemed human enough, but it was a risk. He could steal her food, hurt her, or take her precious fuel. She weighed her options quickly. Loneliness won out over caution, but she wasn’t stupid. She clenched her gun as she waved him in.


***
Poem
FOREST BATHING
by Martha Swiss

I am alone in this place that is alive, anticipating the gift before me.
I open it slowly, with grateful breath, footsteps and heartbeats,
then thankfully sink into the purifying molecules of chlorophyll and humus.
I bask, now able to sense the purpose of ferns, snakeroot, noble trees and the creek that tumbles past my feet.

Crayfish pay me no mind in their muddy caverns.
Trees skyrocket overhead, on a mission.
Chipmunks skitter through leaf litter
and a kingfisher pounds its teal wings heading upstream.
I am dwarfed by the hillside vaulting from the floodplain. Boulders and saplings cling to its spine.

I am free to bathe here in clarified cells of cambium, xylem and phloem.
I wring my sponge in the generosity of flora.
The stream’s effervescence cleanses the tangled energy seeping from my pores.

I celebrate my fresh spirit with a confetti of scarlet, orange and yellow leaves that bob on the breast of the creek
as silently,
the trees disrobe.

***
Short Story
LIGHT OF THE MOON
by Ramona DeFelice Long

After three weeks in jail, Mama asked me to talk to Judge Rousseau about getting her some decent food to eat.
Mon Dieu,I am wasting away,” Mama said from her cell. Behind her, the narrow cot was covered with a quilt from home, and on top of the wooden crate she used as a table was a kerosene lamp on a doily. She’d left a half played game of solitaire spread over the doily. Where she got playing cards, I didn’t know. The Bible that had been on the pillow was nowhere to be seen.
She showed me her bowl of half-eaten stew. I think it was stew. “That old cow Lorraine Badeaux is poisoning me.”
“Hush, Mama,” I said. “Mrs. Badeaux is doing no such thing.”
Mama pressed her face between the bars. Her eyebrows and cheeks lifted up. That, plus the pounds she’d lost eating jail food and all the naps she took out of boredom, made her look as young as me. Trust Mama to turn getting arrested into getting prettier.
“Geneva,cher, just go ask him,” Mama wheedled. “That sheriff can hardly look at this slop. He passes me my plate and runs away. Or maybe he believes I’ll bewitch him, too.”
I begged her not to joke about that.
She narrowed her eyes at me. “And pour l’amour de Dieu, when you go see the judge, don’t wear what you got on. You look like a blind nun dressed you.”
“Mama—”
“Your hair’s all right, but get you some lipstick and rouge and use it. Judge Rousseau is old, but he ain’t dead.”
No, he wasn’t, but his brother-in-law was, and that’s why Mama’s bail was set high as the moon. But explaining that to her was like talking to a tree stump.
I said I had to leave. I was Mama’s only visitor, and she was bitter. Where was our family? Where were her friends? She was lonely and felt forsaken. I never told her that, at home, nobody came to visit me either, and I had not even murdered anybody.
Most days she begged me to stay, but tonight she told me to get on home. I suppose she thought I had a busy evening ahead tarting myself up before going to see the judge.
***
When the young deputy was on duty, he sat in a chair five feet away from Mama’s cell, as if he thought I’d help my mother escape by slipping a bolt cutter under my dress—a dress fit for a convent, indeed, because my teacher contract said I had to “act and keep my person modestly.” I worried every day I’d be fired over Mama’s scandal.
Sheriff Reyes usually sat in his office up front and read the newspaper. When my visiting time was over, he always asked, “Things all right, Miss Geneva?”
I answered, “Yes, Sheriff, thank you,” except for the time or two when Mama asked for a warmer shawl or the quilt off her bed.
Once, horrifyingly, I had to say I needed to come right back; when he frowned, I whispered that Mama needed some womanly things. He let me into her cell with a paper sack that he did not inspect. Had I been wily, I could have slipped her anything—a pistol, liquor, tonic from Madame Velda—but wily was Mama’s way, not mine. The sheriff trusted me. If you can’t trust a twenty-year-old spinster schoolteacher who dresses as modestly as a nun, you have faith in no one.
Tonight, Sheriff Reyes stood at the window. The kerosene lamp on his desk lit him up from behind: tall, broad-shouldered, brown hair cut short but still wavy. On one of those shoulders was the scar from a shell that blew him out of the sniper’s nest he’d sat in for three days, picking off Germans but never giving away his position. I’d read that in the Bossier City newspaper, when he’d come home a hero after the war ended.
He turned around and said, “Your mother’s right. Mrs. Badeaux can’t cook.”
I didn’t speak; he was also very handsome.


***

into the woods SQ teaser


Mindful Writers Retreat Authors 
Many of the writers who contributed to the anthology. 
The retreats happen at Ligonier camp and conference center in Ligonier, PA. Tenth retreat is coming up this fall!


Twenty-six Mindful Writers Retreat Authors contributed to Into the Woods. The group consists of bestsellers, award-winners, first-time authors, seasoned veterans, poets, memoirists, essayists, musicians, journalists, novelists, and short story writers who are traditionally, self and hybrid published. At Mindful Writers Retreats the labels don’t create a hierarchy, but instead reveal the richness of those who attend. Every single writer contributes to the magic and the fun that results from meditation, walking in the woods, and hour upon hour of mindful writing.

Authors in alphabetical order:
Lorraine Bonzelet
Wende Dikec
Teresa Futrick
Selah Gray
Hilary Hauck
Michele Zirkle
Eileen Enwright Hodgetts
Larry Ivkovich
Lori M. Jones
Kimberly Kurth-Gray
Laura Lovic-Lindsay
Ramona DeFelice Long
MaryAlice Meli
Gail Oare Sher Pensiero
Kim Pierson
Cara Reinard
James Robinson, Jr.
Larry Schardt
Linda K. Schmitmeyer
Carol Schoenig
Kathleen Shoop
Martha Swiss
Amy Walter
Madhu Bazaz Wangu
Denise Weaver

Many of the writers who contributed to the anthology. 
The retreats happen at Ligonier camp and conference center in Ligonier, PA. Tenth retreat is coming up this fall!

Find the Mindful Writers Retreat Series on Facebook HERE

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