REVIEW: THE COMFORT OF OTHERS, BY KAY LANGDALE

When we first meet Max, the eleven-year-old boy living with a single mother, we see him using a Dictaphone, taping his thoughts. Then one day, he looks across to the house next door, the one at the center of the compound, and sees Minnie, who appears to be writing in a diary.

Caught up in the alternating narratives of Max and Minnie, we are soon immersed in the story of their lives, and my empathy peaked, until I couldn’t wait for the next episode from each of them.

Eleven-year-old Max is frustrated by the changes in his life after his single mother connects with the man who fixes the boiler. A man unnamed, who seems annoying, at the very least, and somewhat verbally abusive. His teen daughter is a bully, and Max discovers how to deal with her, but I attribute his ability to do so from his newly found connection to Minnie.

Minnie is elderly, living with her older sister Clara, in Rosemount, the home at the center of the compound. Minnie’s writings in her diary recount events from the past that she has kept secret, specifically what happened to her in the early 1960s.

Set in England, The Comfort of Others takes place in the present, but veers into the past through Minnie’s entries. Max’s tapes are about his summer in the present, but also reveal how the intrusion of his mother’s new boyfriend has impacted his life.

My favorite parts were when Max and Minnie share their feelings with each other, and Minnie gives Max some ideas about how to deal with his mother’s boyfriend. He stands up for himself, expressing his feelings bravely and directly.

Minnie and Clara make life-altering decisions that sprang from Minnie’s ability to resurrect the secrets of the past and look at events in a new light.

An interesting story about friendship, secrets, and how communication can change lives. 5 stars.

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HUMP DAY RAMBLINGS: PAST & PRESENT….

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Good morning, and welcome to another Hump Day…the first one in March!

In honor of the new month, I peeked into the archives to see what I was doing a year ago.  Here’s that post:

 

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Good morning, and welcome to my Hump Day Serendipitous Ramblings.

Except…it’s not Hump Day…not yet!

I did a makeover here, late last night while waiting to enter my link over at Bibliophile by the Sea, where I participate in Tuesday Intros.

My header (above), and the background that surrounds us, remind me of Spring.

Today is the first day since the weekend that hasn’t brought rain.  The sidewalks and my patio are dry, although the mess of leaves on the patio should draw me out there…to rake, sweep, or whatever.

But no, I’ll save that task for later.  This morning I’ve been visiting blogs, and thinking about the book I’m reading (No One Knows). And planning about the one to read next.

 

 

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Should I read the older book that has been on Pippa for ages?  Or what about this one that I featured today in my Tuesday IntrosUnder the Influence, by Joyce Maynard.  I have wanted to get my hands on this one since I first heard about it.  I pre-ordered it in November!

 

 

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Since it’s not raining, maybe I should go to the mall and check into some of the things I need, all that I’ve been postponing because the rain made me want to curl up here:

 

 

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Tomorrow (the REAL Hump Day) I have an appointment for my annual physical, something I always dread, as I never know what the doctor will scold me about…or, I do, but I don’t want to hear it!

My granddaughter Fiona texted me about getting together tomorrow, so maybe with that to look forward to….

She has been posting on Facebook about her classes for her Medical Assistant’s certification…about blood draws, etc.  She looks a little scary here with her stethoscope and the scrubs…LOL.

 

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So…it’s that kind of day.  Stuff to do, procrastination, and things to contemplate.  What does your Not Quite Hump Day look like?

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As I ponder the actual day ahead of me, I take a page from last year’s book and ponder what to read next.  As I did back then, I look outside to see what is going on there.  No rain today!

Yesterday I went to Barnes & Noble and did not find a book…I mostly shop on Amazon.  But I did buy a Vintage decorating magazine.  I love looking at the photos.

A difference from a year ago is here in my living room, (below).  Remember, I changed out the lamps.  The one on the left, in the foreground, once lived on my rolltop desk.  The one in the background used to be in the foreground.

 

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Also, Fiona, always trying new things (and faces) is now in a different vocational program….she hasn’t settled on what career path to take.  But she just turned twenty…so let’s give her time!

Enjoy your March…and your Hump Day.  What are your plans, thoughts, reminiscences?

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MINI-BLOGGIESTA! JANUARY 13-15…SIGN-UP * START

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It is that time again!  Mini-Bloggiesta, Olay!  I look forward to these events, even the “mini” bloggiesta.  Check out the Sign-Up Page here, to show your participation. (And now, here’s the START page).

Here are some items on my To-Do list...which may grow by the end of the weekend.

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Let’s party!

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RETURNING TO MY ROOTS

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Today I’ve been thinking about those accidental moments in our lives, the happenstance…the SERENDIPITY.

All of those themes that are featured in the book I first published, An Accidental Life, and created in the A-frame house pictured above.

 

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As I recall the history of that book and this blog, I took a look at my “about” page, and decided to excerpt this portion:

 

When I decided to create this blog, I had been contemplating some issues about life and choices…and how sometimes we end up accidentally in one place or another, either because we made a choice that had these results, or perhaps because we didn’t make a choice…and life just happened to us.  Serendipitously.

In working with dysfunctional families as a social worker (for three decades!), I saw many of my clients making “choices” in this way.  Just allowing things to happen to them.

I also recalled how I sometimes made a choice and wound up facing unexpected consequences.  So I thought…what if I created characters out of these ideas, and spotlighted ways in which they found themselves inexplicably in one place or another because of choice?  An accidental choice.

So my first published novel came about.

However, this particular blog is not just about that first novel.  It encompasses the issues of choice, accidental moments, consequences, and how to live with these events.

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Going back to the beginning sometimes helps me focus.  Which brings me to my next point:  I began posting my Sunday Salon events here, back in the day, when the blog was called An Accidental Life…then, Accidental Moments.

Nowadays, I combine the Sunday Salon event with others, like The Sunday Post,Mailbox Monday, Stacking the Shelves, and It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

I took a detour for a while over to Rainy Days and Mondays, as I had just moved that site to Word Press from Blogger and wanted to give it a chance to attract visitors.

But this Sunday, I’ll be returning to my “roots” and posting all of those events here.  I hope you’ll stop by and join in the serendipitous moments.

Don’t worry, there will still be plenty of opportunities to Chase Away the Blues on my Rainy Days and Mondays site….In the meantime, Enjoy Life’s Unexpected Treasures here….

 

 

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A SERENDIPITOUS MOOD: MUSINGS

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Welcome to Monday!  I am feeling in a serendipitous mood today, which is why I’m posting here.  Be sure to visit Jen, at A Daily Rhythm, to see what others are musing about.

Here are some prompts:

  • I’m currently reading…
  • Up next I think I’ll read…
  • I bought the following book(s) in the past week…
  • I’m super excited to tell you about (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I’m really upset by (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I can’t wait to get a copy of…
  • I wish I could read ___, but…
  • I blogged about ____ this past week…

THIS WEEK’S RANDOM QUESTION: What fictional world would you love to live in, even if just for a day?

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Today I’m reading The Lake House, by Kate Morton, an e-ARC I received from NetGalley.

 

 

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My reading this weekend has been sporadic, but each time I return to this book, I am drawn into the story, the characters, and the settings (London, Cornwall).

This is my first adventure with Kate Morton, and while the book is long, I am savoring it.

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This past week, I made some changes in my office, the space where I blog and write.  My granddaughter helped me.  We moved the sofa bed from the wall along the side to the front wall, allowing it to unfold to a lengthier space.

Then I moved my bookshelf from the Nook (a closet space I’ve been using that way), took the empty shelf to the garage, redistributing some of the books, and adding others to my donation pile.  Now the space is my work station.

 

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To the left of the Nook is a bookshelf I moved from the opposite wall.

 

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I don’t know why I didn’t do this sooner!  But isn’t that how things happen sometimes in life…serendipitously?

What are you musing about today?

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ENJOYING LIFE’S UNEXPECTED TREASURES: FAMILY VISIT

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Earlier I wrote about how having house guests led to a few shake-ups in my interior world.

Yes, I did some reshuffling to make my guest room/office more comfortable for my son and DIL, who will be staying here on and off for a while.  First I removed that “jutting out” bookcase from the room, along with those books.

 

 

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Then I created my temporary work station, as seen at the top of this post.  And here’s another view of that work station:

 

 

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And back in the office/guest room, here is the changed space (below).

 

 

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And another view:

 

 

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And while all this rearranging is going on, we are having get-togethers, like Margarita Night, which I posted about in my Weekly Updates

 

 

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And some other fun-filled days, beginning with the first night’s dinner at Heather’s:  corned beef and cabbage.

 

 

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Here’s Gabi, enjoying the bear outside a pub in Shaver Lake, a mountain community above us.

 

 

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This week, Craig and Gabi will be at Heather’s house, although I’ll be joining them for dinners, etc.

Back at home, I am reading and bingeing on Netflix...just like I did before.  As if nothing has changed.  But knowing that more adventures lie ahead.

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MINI-BLOGGIESTA IS COMING: JUNE 13-14 – LET’S GET STARTED!

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Welcome to the Mini-Bloggiesta To-Do List!  The party will run from June 12-14.  It is Starting Time!

Here are some tasks:

 clean up labels/tags
❏  do two mini challengesDecluttering the Sidebar, Debz Bookshelf; 

Make Your Blog Pop: River City Reading.
 change or fix one thing on your sidebar  – REMOVED FOUR ITEMS FROM SIDEBAR
❏  add a page (about me, contact, policy, etc)   ADDED PAGE “A HOUSE THAT INSPIRED A STORY” UNDER MY CREATIONS
 change one thing on your layout and/or look  CHANGED HEADER, BACKGROUND, & BLOG BUTTON
❏  comment on other Bloggiesta partipants blogs  – VISITED TEN PARTICIPANTS – MORE TO FOLLOW
❏  participate in at least one Twitter chat

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Here is the screen shot of the previous header:

 

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Created new header at Rainy Days and Mondays: (Screenshot)

 

 

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And here’s the new header over at An Interior Journey:

 

 

 

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For the PicMonkey Mini-Challenge, I created this graphic:

 

 

PicMonkey Collage- pop!

 

 

Have I mentioned how much I love making over my blogs?  LOL

 

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WEEKLY SUNDAY/MONDAY UPDATES: IS YOUR READING/BLOGGING LIFE PREDICTABLE?

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Good morning!  Today’s post will link up to Sunday Salon, The Sunday Post,  and Book Journey, for  Weekly Updates.

**Mailbox Monday is now hosted at the home site:  Mailbox Monday.

Good morning, Bloggers!  Grab some coffee (or a mimosa), and let’s talk about our weeks.

 

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Earlier today, I was out running errands and having lunch…and couldn’t wait to get back home.  It is still very hot out, with triple digits through the weekend.  Someone posted about snow on her blog…and I was green with envy!  Even though I don’t necessarily want snow here…

Next weekend, I am looking forward to Bloggiesta...and the movie This Is Where I Leave You.  Yes, I have posted about it before, but I can’t stop gushing.  I loved the book, and I adore the actors in the cast….so that’s how it goes.

Do you have anything you are gushing about?  While you are pondering, here’s what happened in my blog world this past week.

 

LAST WEEK ON THE BLOGS:

Under a Cloud of Suspicion:  An Excerpt from “Interior Designs”

A Guilty Pleasure:  I Am Obsessive About My TBR Stacks

Tuesday Sparks:  Intros/Teasers – “Then and Always”

Tuesday Potpourri:  Acceptance

Waiting for “The Girl Next Door”

My Bookish (and Not So Bookish Thoughts):  Subliminal Images

Friday Potpourri:  Book Beginnings/Friday 56 – “Midnight Betrayal”

Saturday Snapshots:  Taking Alec to College

Review:  Tears & Tequila, by Linda Schreyer and Jo-Ann Lautman (Publicist Request)

Review:  Gringa in a Strange Land (e-book), by Linda Dahl (Mt. TBR Stack)

Review:  The Devil’s Foothold (e-book), by Marilyn Meredith (Mt. TBR Stack)

Review:  Midnight Betrayal, by Melinda Leigh (Author Review Request)

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INCOMING BOOKS;  (Titles/Covers Linked to Amazon)

 

Three review books came in my mailbox from Amazon Vine!  Yay!  And then I downloaded three e-books to feed the ever-hungry Sparky.

 

Friendswood, by Rene Steiner (Amazon Vine)

 

 

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Safe Keeping, by Barbara Taylor Sissel (Amazon Vine)

 

 

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Crooked River, by Valerie Geary (Amazon Vine)

 

 

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Downloads:

 

After I Do (e-book), by Taylor Jenkins Reid

 

 

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The Children Act (e-book), by Ian McEwan

 

 

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Virgin River (e-book), by Robyn Carr

 

 

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WHAT’S UP NEXT? (Titles/Covers Linked to Amazon)

 

A Question of Guilt (e-book), by Frances Fyfield (for Mt. TBR Challenge)

 

 

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Then and Always, by Dani Atkins (Vine Review)

 

 

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A Wedding and a Killing, by Lauren Carr (Author Review Request)

 

 

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And there we are…the cycle is complete!  Blog Posts Written, Books Read and Reviewed, New Books on the Stacks….and Upcoming Reads.  Do you ever feel as if your routines are so predictable you could complete them in your sleep?  Is it a good thing to change up the routines occasionally?

Something to ponder.  I spend time every week messing around with my blogs, from the themes to the backgrounds and headers.  Earlier today, I cleared out some of the files in my office…it was amazing the outdated things I found there!

My granddaughter Fiona (below) changes her hair color.

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BLOGGIESTA STARTING LINE

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Ole!  Welcome to our Fall Bloggiesta, the event that allows us to tweak our blogs…and visit others doing the same.

Because I have ELEVEN blogs, my challenge is always about which blog to spotlight.  Which one needs the most work.  In the end, I usually start on one, and do a few things on others.

Here is a list of things to do here:

1.  Clean up sidebars (now why do they always seem to need it, no matter how diligent I am about maintenance?);done!

And added Bloglovin’ Button.

2.   Revise pages, deleting those that are no longer relevant and adding one or two others; Done!

Deleted Giveaway Page; added Contact Me Page, Excerpts Page, and revised About Me page.

3.   Visit other Bloggiesta participants;done!

4.   Consider changing the theme and header of my blog;Done!

5.   Check out mini-challenges and complete tasks. Read through several & commented.

As we go, I may add things to the list.  This is a starting point for me.  What does yours look like?  When you stop by, please leave a link to your list.  Thanks, and happy margarita time!

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TSS: A HAPPY AT HOME WEEK — NOV. 11

Welcome to our second Sunday Salon in November!

With a whole week behind us at our “new” time (for those who did change their clocks), how is it going?  Are you enjoying the longer evenings?

I like curling up in the living room with a good book, or watching a TV show or two.  I love the fall season, with the brisk weather and the TV lineup.

Last week, after my clock changing, and after watching my DVDs of Lipstick Jungle, I decided to go crazy with the rearranging of the dining area.

Yes, I’d been staring for a long time at that Baker’s Rack, sitting politely over there by the patio door, as if it is the least important piece in the room!

It took awhile to remove everything from the two pieces that needed to “change places.”  And then, afterwards, the whole wall had to be revamped, as the pictures didn’t look right.

But finally…here’s what it looks like now.

 

 

And here’s the story of that journey:  MY MANY JOURNEYS:  RECONFIGURING, RELOCATING, & PONDERING.

From that journey onward, I had some fun on the blogs.

Around the Blogs:

Continuing my October Shelf-Clearing (until Nov. 14):  I have added more books to the Reading Room.

I took some time to enjoy the moments:  Finding Pleasure in the Whimsical.

My Sweet Saturday Sample continued the story of Interior Designs.

Reading-Click Titles/Covers for Reviews:

1.  Happier at Home (e-book), by Gretchen Rubin

2.  The Death of Bees, by Lisa O’Donnell

3.  Finding Casey, by Jo-Ann Mapson

4.  The Glass Butterfly (e-book), by Louise Marley

I thoroughly enjoyed all of these books!  Sometimes I have a week like that….more often, the “book love” ranges from fabulous to less fabulous.  Not this time!

And today, after I finish posting this, I’m curling up in bed and having my breakfast there, instead of here at the computer.  I plan to watch some shows/movies on my DVR…and I’ll be reading this book:

The Empty Glass, by J. I. Baker

What does your day look like?  I hope you’ll come on by and chat!