February...

Snow days, the monthly media run-down, and a blessing

Hey, hey! I hope you all enjoyed the short story I included last month! I’ve got another short story ready to go, and plan on publishing it next week as a separate post. 

I don’t know if you pay attention to weather-related news, but you might have heard about the “snowpocalypse” we experienced down here in Texas. Our snow/ice days at home coincided with a cold that made its way through the family, which is good timing in a way, but also helped make the week feel almost outside of time. When we resumed normal activities, I told Jeremy that it almost felt like it had been a month since we’d done anything aside from rattle around our house. On the down side, it was not a conducive environment for writing (and I am SO CLOSE to finishing the first draft of Novel Number 2), but on the up side I DID spend a decent amount of time sitting in the sunniest corner of the house reading. 

What I’m reading… 

The Push by Audrey Audrain is a compelling, character-driven, page turner. It’s dark and at times quite uncomfortable, but it’s also the kind of story that I thought about for days after I read it, and immediately wanted to talk about with somebody. It reminded me a bit of books by Jodi Picoult, in that it was about some very difficult and often controversial subjects: mental illness, postpartum depression, nature vs. nurture, and infidelity. In some ways, the story played out predictably, but the author’s skill at writing the characters gave it a depth that might have been lacking in other hands. 

The Fortunate Ones, by Ed Tarkington is a novel about rich, private school boys, their families, and their community; with themes of privilege, friendship, and ambition. On the surface, it’s not the kind of book I typically gravitate toward, but the author writes the characters with nuance and sympathy, even when their actions (and sometimes their motivations) are pretty terrible. And you know I am a sucker for well-written characters. This is another book that asks some fascinating questions, but doesn’t really give answers.

Honeymoon Alone, by Nicole Macaulay. THIS is the book you’re looking for if you want something light and fun, comfortably predictable, but not boring. Pick it up for the endearing characters, the sweet romance, and the vicarious trip to London and Paris. (I miss traveling!!!)

Share Your Stuff, I’ll Go First, by Laura Tremaine. I’ve talked before about how I enjoy Laura Tremaine’s podcast 10 Things to Tell You, and her book is an organic extension of the show. It’s part memoir, part discussion guide, and written in Laura’s distinct slightly-bossy-best-friend voice. It’s a book you can enjoy for the personal stories (because Ms. Tremaine is an excellent storyteller), or as a way to jump start both introspection and conversation with friends. 

The Survivors, by Jane Harper. While this probably wasn’t my favorite of Jane Harper’s mysteries it still had everything I’ve come to expect from one of Ms. Harper’s books: an intriguing mystery, vivid and atmospheric setting, and compelling characters. My biggest disappointment was the resolution to the main mystery, but even with that, it was still an enjoyable way to spend a couple of days.

What I’m watching…

Lupin (Netflix). I LOVED this show. It’s like a cross between Oceans 11 and The Count of Monte Cristo, set in France. It’s expertly paced, the acting is incredible, and there are just enough twists and turns to keep you guessing but not so many that they distract from the story. My only complaint is the cliffhanger ending (consider yourself warned).

WandaVision. (Disney+) We’re all watching WandaVision, right? I’ve been so impressed with how creative and entertaining the show is, really beyond my expectations. Of course, it’s better enjoyed if you’ve seen the Marvel Comic book movies, but you could still enjoy it without that familiarity. I also have to say I think one of the show’s sneaky, genius moves was to release the episodes one week at a time instead of all at once as we’ve become used to on our streaming channels.

Something I’m grateful for…

If nothing else, a week of bad weather will make you grateful for electricity, clean running water, and definitely trash pickup and waste management. We often take our modern conveniences for granted, but this month it’s definitely something I’m remembering to notice. 

A little inspiration…

Last week, I started a 40 day devotional called Memento Mori: a Lenten Experience and Community by Erin Moon. In this devotional, we’re walking through Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in Matthew through the lens of the practice of Lent (one of the seasons observed in the liturgical church calendar), and specifically the idea of “memento mori”: remember you are going to die. It may sound morbid, but it’s actually a rather beautiful thing to consider. What does it mean to live an abundant life when we know this physical one will end? I am always up for a thoughtful look at the Sermon on the Mount, and so far I’m really enjoying this one.

Here’s the closing prayer of the first day of the study, which I think captures the heart of the theme well. I hope it blesses you!

“Jesus, in our culture of the fear of death, give us new eyes to see the blessing of a life that knows its boundaries. We ask that you make our lives a blessing to others, and that we come to know you and your love for us through that blessing. Amen.” ~Erin Moon