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Title: An Undivided Heart (Sister Circle #3)
Author: Vonette Bright, Nancy Moser
Genre: Christian fiction
Rating: 4/5
# pages: 336 pages
Date read: July 2017

Things are ever changing at Peerbaugh Place, and once again Evelyn Peerbaugh opens her home to new boarders. This time she gets more than she bargains for. With one new tenant whose vanity exceeds all bounds, and another who is a doormat to her dominating fiancé, it seems these women will never find common ground, even as they struggle to share one house. But loyal members of the Sister Circle - Mae, Piper, Audra, and Tessa - are all close by to keep love and faith growing amidst the heartaches and joys. Evelyn even finds the courage to open her heart to new love... and this time, she's not the only one!


While I do still really enjoy this series, the books are becoming rather formulaic: new tenants move in, some are Christians, others aren't, those that aren't quickly discover that they should be. Conversion comes so easily to the sisters and their loved ones that it seems unrealistic. Still - since I know this to be the case, it doesn't bother me too much, and there is so much else to like. I've really grown to love all the sisters, and appreciate that the ones from the earlier books still show up from time to time.

I find it difficult to review these books, because they're really very naive... but they seem to be just what I need these days, so I'm inclined to love them all the same.

wellness and cooking

Jul. 19th, 2017 09:40 am
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Update: Whatever I did to my chest muscles this time, it either wasn’t the same thing as last time or was a lot less of a strain. That one lasted for weeks. This one just hurt Sunday and Monday, and was better yesterday. So I did a light erg piece – still seemed to be coughing a bit and it’s always hard to get onto the erg after a couple of days off, but I finished 5K, anyway. My plan is to erg either harder (interval pieces) or longer today – I haven’t decided which. Then I’ll try to do a strength and conditioning class tomorrow, work demands permitting.

We plan to head out to the lake house again this weekend since we can’t go next week, so hopefully I can get in some real rowing time. (Last week I only kayaked on Saturday – they were having dragboat races so I needed to go to the upper lake and I don’t like rowing there. Too many snags and shallow places.)

Also a cooking note: last night’s dinner was stuffed mushrooms, salad and sourdough bread – I stuffed cremini mushrooms with breadcrumbs, mushroom stems, garlic, leeks, parmegiano, and seasoning. I liked them, Ted said they were OK but wasn’t wildly enthusiastic. Next time I’d use less of the breadcrumbs and more of everything else. Last week’s new-recipe experiments succeeded better: We had Welsh rabbit one day and a wine/mushroom sauce over flatiron steak another day. The sauce was easy and very tasty – basically just saute mushrooms and scallions in about a half stick of melted butter, add a cup of wine, simmer until it reduces, then add another pat of butter and parsley at the end. The Welsh rabbit might be a better dinner for winter than summer, but it was taty and filling. We had lots of the sauce left over, so Ted used it to make homemade mac & cheese later in the week. That was OK, but needed more stuff in it than just sauce and noodles – even when we have the Kraft version, we add hotdogs!

Mirrored from Dichroic Reflections.

just not quite right

Jul. 17th, 2017 11:34 am
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I’m really missing the days when I blogged near-daily, and thus could go back and look up when everything happened in my life. (Also, I just learned that apparently my LJ hasn’t mirrored updates here since March due to plugin issues. Oops. Might need to handle that manually, if anybody is still there.)

This is mostly because it seems like I’ve been sick, or at least not-quite-well, all damn year. Some time in January I came down with a cold that lingered for about two weeks, then turned into bronchitis on the very day I was interviewing for my current job (you can imagine how much fun the interview was). The bronchitis was taken care of with antibiotics, but as it was ebbing I got a pain in my chest. No, not that kind of chest pain; it was right around where the left-tit underwire in a bra would be, and it hurt whenever I coughed or twisted. I was wondering about pleurisy, but the doctor concluded it was probably just a strained muscle, nothing to be done but rest it (not really possible, for a rib muscle, especially while coughing) and wait for it to heal.

Sometime in April or May I came down with another cold, but that one was mild and only lasted a few days. At a different time, I came up with a stiff neck – the kind where you can’t turn your head in one direction. That mostly resolved after a few days, but there’s still one particular spot on the right side of my neck that hurts it I stretch it at a certain angle.

Then in early June I cam up with yet another cold. This one was also mild, but it lasted for-bloody-ever, and the cough is aaaaalmost completely gone.

So here I am in mid-July, with a sore muscle in my neck, still coughing up stuff now and then. And yesterday (after yielding to Ted’s persuasion to try sleeping without a pillow, to see if it would hurt my neck) I woke up with another chest-muscle pain, this time on the right side. It’s not as bad as the left-side one was at its worst, but still hurts when I cough.

This is all tiny minor stuff, but it’s wreaked hell with my workout consistency for this year and it’s starting to just piss me off to feel that I haven’t been at 100% for months now. I’d see a doctor, but in my experience they’re not much good for small vague stuff.

Mirrored from Dichroic Reflections.

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Title: 'Round the Corner (Sister Circle #2)
Author: Vonette Bright & Nancy Moser
Genre: Christian fiction
Rating: 4/5
# pages: 322 pages
Date read: July, 2017

Evelyn is not so sure she likes the new dynamics of Peerbaugh Place, her impromptu boarding house. Even though it had been hard adapting to strangers living in her home, she and the other women from The Sister Circle) had found a calm cove of sisterhood. Now Evelyn is forced to start over with a new set of boarders - with more challenging personalities and problems. Evelyn fears that the bonds of sisterhood may not come as easily this time.


As much as I loved the first book in the series, I knew I had to pick up the sequel straight away. I was slightly disappointed to see that most of the Sisters had moved away from Peerbaugh Place (and again - the timing was way off. This would have been more realistic if it had been set 2 years after the first book instead of less than one), but fortunately most of them turned up on a very regular basis, so I didn't get to miss them too much.

Not quite as good as the first book - some aspects were too unrealistic for me to be able to entirely refrain from rolling my eyes - but even so I ended up enjoying it almost as much. I grew really fond of Heddy, and Summer is just a delight! (I've meet girls her age who are exactly as precocious as she is, so never felt she acted too old for her years). And again, the book seemed to have exactly the right message for me, spurring me on in my own walk with God.
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Title: The Sister Circle (Sister Circle, #1)
Author: Vonette Bright & Nancy Moser
Genre: Christian fiction
Rating: 4.5/5
# pages: 351
Date read: July, 2017

Suddenly widowed with no means of support, Evelyn Peerbaugh hangs a "for rent" sign in front of her large Victorian home and her life changes in ways she never dreamed of. In a matter of days she opens a busy boardinghouse and must cope with the lives and emotions of the most incompatible group of women ever gathered under one roof. How will a meek woman like Evelyn manage?

Peerbaugh Place becomes a refuge to seven women of vastly different ages, personalities, and backgrounds. Through struggles and triumphs, the women forge a special bond of sisterhood.


This was a semi-random pick from Amazon. It came up during my search for Neta Jackson, and both the title, the cover and the back blurb appealed to me.

And fortunately the book itself was delightful. While certainly not as well-written as the Yada Yada books, it had many of the same qualities that spoke to me there. I found it charming, thought-provoking and delightful... at the same time fully seeing its flaws as it was at times both far too rosy and almost naive.

But at the end of the day, I didn't care. I grew to love the characters, and though I sometimes found their grown unrealistic (at least the speed at which it happened), it didn't bother me, because I appreciated the teachings the authors were trying to share - meaning I highlighted quotes all over the place.
rj_anderson: (Doctor Who - Thing in Progress)
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Having finally seen the reveal of the new 13th Doctor, I will reserve my judgment on how well this particular regeneration is going to work until I've seen Jodie Whittacker's performance and her dynamic with her companion(s). Just because it's not something I personally felt the need for doesn't mean I might not end up enjoying it in the end (see also: Missy).

Also, given that the premise of the show is built around the Doctor getting a completely new and unexpected body with every regeneration, and that the concept of Time Lords regenerating as a different sex has been a canonical part of New Who ever since the offhand mention of the Corsair in "The Doctor's Wife" back in 2011 (a possibility which Moffat & Co. have underlined with increasing emphasis at least once a season ever since), I really don't have a lot of sympathy with the people complaining that the announcement came out of left field and violates the True Spirit of the show. The spirit of Original Who, maybe. New Who, which has already spent over ten years breaking almost every unwritten taboo of its predecessor, not so much.

In fact, as soon as Capaldi's departure was announced I felt pretty sure that the next Doctor was going to be either PoC or a woman -- but not both, because that would be an even more dramatic and controversial change, and therefore far too much of a risk for cautious TV executives worried about losing large segments of their traditional audience.*

But for those who are claiming that Steven Moffat only made this move due to pressure from more enlightened third parties and would never have thought of it on his own, I'd like to share a friendly reminder that in the 1999 Red Nose Day comedy skit Curse of Fatal Death, which was written and aired six full years before the return of Doctor Who to television in any serious form (let alone under his control), Moffat had the Doctor regenerate** into a blonde woman.***

Oh, and she was the 13th Doctor too.


--
*As it is, I will be quite interested to see the ratings for Jodie Whittacker's first few episodes as the Doctor. Whether they go up or down or stay much the same, I think it's safe to say that a significant number of the people watching will not be the same people who watched Capaldi and his predecessors. I've already seen one post from a former fan who considers the casting of a female Doctor as the last nail in the coffin of her (yes, her) waning interest in the show.

**After starting out as Rowan Atkinson and regenerating into Richard E. Grant, Jim Broadbent and Hugh Grant in rapid succession, and don't get me started on how much I loved Rowan Atkinson's Nine and how sad I am he wasn't canon because we'll be here all evening.

***Played in this case by Joanna Lumley.

Shaman's Curse - Audrey Faye

Jul. 13th, 2017 12:44 pm
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Title: Shaman's Curse
Author: Audrey Faye
Genre: Sci-fi
Rating: 4/5
# pages: 178
Date read: July, 2017

Raven grew up tribal, and she's never forgotten it. She was sent by the grandmothers to serve those who have no tribe. To walk with the darkness. To use her Shaman Talent to balance those who walk in the light.

Which has never felt more important - because this time, the darkness comes for her friends. And for a certain golden-eyed teenager and the mother who isn't supposed to love her.

Raven has been waiting for this assignment. Expecting it. But even she wasn't expecting this.


For some reason it took me ages to get past the first five chapters, but once I did, I gobbled the rest up in two days flat! So I think it had more to do with having to be in the right mood, than with the book itself.

Because once Raven reached Elleni I was hooked. I loved reading more about how the tribes work and the instant feeling of welcome offered to Raven. I could appreciate the spiritual side of things, even when not subscribing to the "religion" thus described. The emotions were still something I could relate to.

Not the best Fixer novel, but certainly not the worst either. I really like Raven and her fiercely protective personality.

a few drive-by comments

Jul. 11th, 2017 09:07 pm
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[personal profile] dichroic

The Pioneer Woman’s wine/mushroom sauce: A++++, will make (and eat) again. As Ted pointed out, he rarely uses words like “Great” (he’s an Oregon native, but his mom grew up in the Midwest and it colors his speech) but he did this time. I used a red wine blend that was only OK at first and is left over from a week or so ago, but it was fine in the sauce. We had it over flatiron steak, which for some odd reason is much cheaper than flank steak in these parts (not true where my mom lives!).

The wine we drank with it was much better – a Syrah from Cana’s Feast. Most of the wineries around here focus on Pinot Noir, but Cana’s Feast also has a bunch of big reds. After three or four different chance-met strangers recommended the winery to us, we finally got around to it. We’ll definitely be buying more from them.

I’ve been rereading the Harry Potter series again, in honor of its 20th anniversary. This worked out very well for me when my Kindle’s touchscreen spontaneously died – because not only do I have the whole series in e-book (bought on sale cheap) but I have the UK editions at the Hillsboro house and the US hardbacks at the lake house. The Kindle was out of warranty but Amazon gave me a deep discount on a new one; however, it was very nice not to have to interrupt my reading until it got here.

I will have to decide, after Deathly Hallows, whether Cursed Child belongs in a reread of the series. I probably will, because I’ve only read it once, and it will be interesting to read it in proximity to the rest of the books instead of years apart. Might read Fantastic Beasts, too (I’ve only seen the movie, but a screenplay was published).

Work is still going well, though a bit quiet lately. It was too quiet for a week or so, but lately I’ve had interesting stuff to do but still enough time to hit the (on-site) gym. Nice. I would really like it if I can stay with this company until retirement.

Otherwise, not much going on.

Mirrored from Dichroic Reflections.

A Destiny of Dragons - T.J. Klune

Jul. 10th, 2017 10:10 am
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Title: A Destiny of Dragons (Tales from Verania #2, Destiny Fuck Yeah! #1)
Author: T.J. Klune
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 4/5
# pages: 400 pages
Date read: July, 2017

Once upon a time, the wizard's apprentice Sam of Wilds got his happily ever after in the arms of his cornerstone, Knight Commander Ryan Foxheart. A year has passed, and while Sam's been captured five or six more times since then, things are pretty great. His parents are happy, Gary and Tiggy still eat sass for breakfast, Randall is somehow alive despite being older than the gods, the King rules with a gentle hand, Kevin the dragon is as gross as ever, Morgan sighs a lot, Ryan continues to be dashing and immaculate, and Sam is close to convincing Prince Justin they will be best friends forever.

Life is good.

Until it's not.

Because Vadoma, the leader of the Gypsy clan and Sam's grandmother, has come to the City of Lockes with a dire prophecy written in the stars: a man of shadows is rising and will consume the world unless Sam faces his destiny and gathers the five dragons of Verania at his side.

And she brings along her second-in-command, a man named Ruv.

Ruv, who Vadoma says is Sam's true cornerstone.


Of course not as good as the first book in the series. But then, how could it be? The first was original and innovative - this was "merely" continuing a good trend.

Also not as self-contained as the first book, which came as a bit more of a surprise. While the first book could easily stand alone, this is very clearly the first in a separate trilogy. While that didn't bother me as much as it could have, it does mean I'm less likely to recommend this book high and wide, until I know that the sequels live up to it.

All that said, I still really, really, really liked this book! It had all the humour I'd expected, all the odd one-liners, all the genuine affection between all the members of "Team Sam". Even Ruv ended up growing on me, although I'm still withholding judgment on Vadoma. Oh, and I loved Zero! Where else would you find an emo teenage dragon who's a romantic at heart?! :-D
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