Looking forward to Advent

I hate Halloween.  I’m like a Halloween Grinch.

Image result for grinch

And I especially hate that Halloween falls during my birthday month (yes, I’m that annoying person who wants the whole month to be about me), so that all of October as I’m admiring the gorgeous fall colors, giant plastic pumpkins and creepy skeletons keep intruding.  There’s a giant plastic spider in a polyester web over an exam room at work that made one of my young patients scream the other day, and I knew just how he felt.

image
This is what I love about October.

image
And this, too.

The one thing I like about Halloween is that it tells me Advent is almost here.  Don’t get me wrong, I love Thanksgiving and especially Christ the King Sunday (the last Sunday before Advent, this year on November 20).  But I especially love Advent. It’s a season of contemplation and prayer.

I love that the Giant Retail Machine has not figured out how to turn Advent into a commercial enterprise.

In a fit of pique about a particularly icky lawn ornament I saw the other day, I came home and pulled out our Advent books, just to see if there were any gaps I wanted to fill in.  (There were.  I ordered a few new-to-us books.)

If you don’t have any Advent traditions, or want to know what the Advent fuss is all about, let me recommend a few of my favorite Advent resources.

image

For advance planning and ideas for how to meditate and celebrate at home, I recommend Let Us Keep the Feast, edited by Jessica Snell. For each of the church seasons, it provides a collection of resources, including an introduction to the season, an explanation of the calendar, information on seasonal traditions- old, new and international, seasonal recipes, suggestions for how to celebrate with the very young, ways to serve beyond the home, selected readings, music and prayers. (I wrote the section on Ordinary Time, but that isn’t my favorite one.)  The book is available from Doulos Resources, or Amazon, both in electronic, pdf and paperback forms.

Elizabeth Foss has an Advent devotional called Comfort and Joy that looks beautiful (though I haven’t tried it.)  She also has some lovely book lists I’ve used to shape our collection of special books we read during Advent.

In past years we have enjoyed Geraldine McCaughrean’s The Jesse Tree, which we’ve read as an Advent family devotion.  This year, I think we’ll be back to Ann Voskamp’s Unwrapping the Gift: A Family Celebration of Christmas.

Do you have an Advent resource to recommend as we look ahead (past Halloween)? Please share in the comments.

Come join us!

In two weeks, Tuesday, March 29, I’ll be joining a panel of awesome Colorado writers at Metro State University for Mystery, Murder, and Mayhem.  (Love that Oxford comma!)

When: Tuesday March 29, 3:30-5:30

Where: The Tivoli Multicultural Lounge, Metro State University, Denver

Who: Peg Brantley, Karen Docter, Ann Dominguez, Becky Martinez, Jools Sinclair (and hopefully, you!)

I hope to see you there!

tribes-poster designs

 

Beating the February Blues: Day 14

Welcome to a month of ideas to beat the February Blues!

Day 14: Read a book!
Untitled
This is my monthly collection of quick reviews of the books I’ve been reading.

Louise Penny: The Beautiful Mystery (Inspector Gamache #8) Product Details

Hands down, this was my favorite read this month.  I’ve requested the first and second Inspector Gamache novels from the library, but apparently the line is long.  So I picked up this one from the shelf and jumped right in.  I showed up at my doctor’s office, and he was very concerned that I had begun reading in the middle.  Apart from advising me to eat right and exercise, he recommended I don’t read any further in the series without backing up to the beginning.

Set in an isolated Quebecois monastery where the monks sing like angels, The Beautiful Mystery is a compelling psychological drama  with layer upon layer of tension.  It was almost polyphonic, really.  Highly recommended.

Estelle Ryan: The Braque Connection (Genevieve Lenard #3) Product Details

I was undecided about this series after the second, but the third book sold me on it again.  I love art, I love heists, and I love mysteries, so The Genevieve Lenard books should be a no-brainer.  She is a unique narrator, though, because of her autism.  I love series which deepen our understanding of the characters, and Ryan’s books do that.  I will definitely read on in this series.

Peg Brantley: The Sacrifice Product Details

This is my first reading of Brantley, whose fiction is a little darker than my usual fare. But I really liked the protagonist of The Sacrifice, Mex Anderson, who is a former lawman, now simultaneously fighting both his own demons and those around him.  The characters are multidimensional, the writing compelling, and the story kept me wondering.  I’ll be starting her Aspen Falls series next.

Agatha Christie: The ABC Murders (audiobook by Blackstone Audio with John Moffatt)

Product Details

Agatha Christie: Murder on the Orient Express (audiobook read by Dan Stevens, HarperAudio)

Murder on the Orient Express

I wasn’t sure how the family would respond to Agatha Christie, but we’re at a funny stage where my older kids don’t want to repeat what they’ve listened to before, and my youngest still can’t handle a lot of complicated psychology.  Agatha Christie was complicated but not as graphic as a lot of what is out there.  These two CD books seemed to hit everyone’s sweet spot.

Andy Weir’s The Martian (audiobook read by RC Bray for Brilliance Audio) Product DetailsAlthough I loved both the book and the movie, this was another book I was unsure about listening to as a family.  The kids have loved it, and Sam and I argue about who gets to have the discs in our respective cars.  Somehow when I read it the first time, I must have blocked out much of the swearing.  Believe me, though, the kids notice it.  Highly recommended (with an advisory to listeners with sensitive ears.)

Be sure to check out Modern Mrs. Darcy for more Quick Lit!

 

 

 

 

Kate’s New Year’s Resolutions

Kate Deming, medical student, wife and mom, made her New Year’s resolutions.

This year, I will:

  1. Wash my hands after every patient encounter.
  2. Stop whining about how tired I am.
  3. Call my sister.
  4. Stop rolling my eyes when I talk to my mother.
  5. Exercise at least once a month.
  6. Stay awake through a whole Disney movie.
  7. Fold the laundry on the bedroom floor.
  8. Remember my husband’s birthday and get up early to make him breakfast.
  9. Stop imagining I’m developing every illness I read about.
  10. Choose the perfect residency program that meets my needs, my husband’s needs, and my daughters’ needs.
  11. Finish medical school.
  12. Floss.

To see if Kate can maintain any of these resolutions past January 8th, check out The Match.

Quick Lit: November 2015

Product Details

Lou is still heartbroken a year after her relationship with Will is over, and a freak accident and its aftermath are the fuel needed to restart her life.  I’ve been waiting for After You for so long!  (And then I handed it to Sam and had to wait for him to finish it before I could start.)  This is the sequel to Me Before You, and while the two have a different feel, Lou is such a great character I’d read another one about her in a heartbeat. Highly recommended.

Product Details

And then, because I was on a Moyes kick, I picked up The Girl You Left Behind.  It tells two stories in parallel: the story of Sophie, a feisty young woman whose life changes when her artist husband goes to war in 1914; and Liv Halston, a widow grappling with her loss.  Moyes paints loss so vividly, but she doesn’t leave her characters there, and her love stories are always multi-dimensional.  Also highly recommended.

Product Details

This is Birk’s third book about Terrence Reid.  The layers of this mystery kept going deeper and deeper.  I was wrong multiple times about who did it, and why.  I have been rooting for Reid and his wife for several books now, and Less than a Treason didn’t disappoint.  Great for fans of mystery and Christmas stories, especially ones in gorgeous Scottish castles.

Product Details

This is my favorite Penderwicks book so far, which I didn’t expect because generally I am not a fan of adding in new characters after a book or two.  Jeanne Birdsall crafts a beautiful story arc, in which all secrets are told and all resolutions are exactly right, even if you couldn’t see how to get there on your own.  The Penderwicks in Spring was great, and I can’t wait for book #4.

Join Anne at Modern Mrs. Darcy for more Quick Literature.

Big News: The Match is Live

image

Hey, everybody! My book is live!

If the stethoscope and gun didn’t give it away, The Match is a medical thriller about a second-career medical student who can’t quite manage to do it all.

Medical student Kate Deming isn’t sure her marriage will survive till graduation. She hasn’t seen her husband or daughters in days, and her reclusive sister has stopped answering her calls. The turf war between the gangs and the mafia has made this Chicago’s deadliest winter on record, and every case that rolls into the emergency department is worse than the last. Kate recognizes the danger in her supervisor’s smile, but he’s so hot she may just take him up on it anyway.

When the CEO of the hospital dies in front of her, Kate reaches out to his widow. But the murdered man is not what he seemed, and Kate’s own sister is trapped in his web of lies. Will Kate be able to extricate her sister before the killer comes back to finish what he started?

Here’s how to find it:

(Apple, nook, and kobo coming soon.)

Quick Lit: April 2015

IMG_8310

Product Details Bomb: The Race of Build-and Steal- the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon (Steve Sheinkin): This is a fantastic YA non-fiction book that held everyone’s interest.  It handled The Manhattan Project and all the spying that went with it in fascinating detail.  We listened to it on CD.

Busman’s Honeymoon (Dorothy Sayers): This mystery follows Gaudy Night (one of my all-time favorite books) and completes the train of thought developed begun there.  What does marriage look like?  How do we blend two lives without one person disappearing under the other?

Product DetailsThe Screwtape Letters (C.S. Lewis): I’ve been listening to the recording by Joss Ackland, whose chuckle perfectly fits “your affectionate uncle, Screwtape.”  Lewis’s keen observation of human nature is only matched by his ability to prescribe the antidote.  I’ve been listening to it as I make dinner each night, and then I go to dinner chastened by my own sin and amazed by Lewis’s insight.

Product DetailsNumber the Stars (Lois Lowry) is such a beautiful picture of human courage.  This time through, I’ve been struck by the idea of how it’s easier to be brave when we don’t have all the pieces of the puzzle before us (thank you, Uncle Henrik).  My kids wanted to read it again as soon as we finished– that’s a recommendation for you!

Product Details The Endless Steppe (Esther Hautzig).  Obviously we’re on a WWII jag around here.  I read Hautzig’s book of Siberian exile as a child, and it stuck with me.  Reading it today, Esther’s story is just as vivid and universal as it was to me thirty years ago. Hautzig doesn’t minimizes the horror of war or exile and still manages to write a story full of hope.

Most of this is school reading, which seems odd to me given that we had Spring Break a few weeks ago. I had a kindle full of books (and a few in my bag, too) and managed to touch none of it. But that’s how things are right now: everything that has to get done right now is getting done, but that’s all I can manage.

What are you reading?

Check out Modern Mrs. Darcy for more Quick Lit!