Quote of the Week

“The human heart has hidden treasures,
In secret kept, in silence sealed;-
The thoughts, the hopes, the dreams, the pleasures,
Whose charms were broken if revealed.”
Charlotte Bronte, 1816-1855.
“Evening Solace.” 1846.
Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations. Published by Little, Brown and Company, 1955.

(Review) The Secret Life of Miss Mary Bennet, The Secret Life of Miss Mary Bennet Book #1 by Katherine Cowley

Publisher and Publication Date: Tule Publishing. April 22, 2021.
Genre: Austenesque. Regency Period. Pride and Prejudice-Bennet family. Mystery.
Pages: 338.
Format: Paperback.
Source: I received a complimentary paperback copy from the author. I am not required to write a positive review.
Audience: Readers of Jane Austen stories.
Rating: Excellent.

To pre-order the book: April 22, 2021 @ Amazon

About the Author:

Katherine Cowley is a mystery author and a writing teacher. Her first novel is a Jane Austen-inspired Regency mystery. Katherine Cowley read Pride and Prejudice for the first time when she was ten years old, and she loved it so much that she reread it a few months later. She loves history, chocolate, traveling, and playing the piano. She lives in Kalamazoo, Michigan with her husband and three daughters. A number of her short stories have been published, and she teaches writing at Western Michigan University.

Katherine is represented by Stephany Evans of Ayesha Pande Literary.

Goodreads/Website/Facebook/Twitter

Summary:

Mary Bennet is the middle sister in the Bennet family. Her older sisters are Jane and Elizabeth. Her younger sisters are Kitty and Lydia.
The Secret Life of Miss Bennet resumes with the Bennet family less than a year since Jane’s marriage to Mr. Bingley. Elizabeth is married to Mr. Darcy. Lydia is married to Mr. Wickham. Lydia is the first of the Bennet sisters who married.
Mr. Bennet, the patriarch of the Bennet family has died. The story begins with the planning of his funeral. Mr. Collins the male relative of Mr. Bennet has already moved into the Bennet family home.
The family is in a whirlwind of activity. They are planning the funeral. Mr. Collins is moving into the home and making changes. The unmarried daughters are left with possibly their only choice: to live with unknown relatives. Mrs. Bennet is going to live with her sister.
Mary is offered a chance for a different life. But, who is the woman behind the kind opportunity?

My Thoughts:

In Pride and Prejudice, Mary is a serious, somber, pianoforte playing young woman. Her appearances in the story is minimal. She is easy to ignore. The older Bennet sisters are close. The younger Bennet sisters are close. Mary is closed-off in the middle. However, Mary is a bare-bone character who Katherine Cowley can breathe a fresh life.

Several reasons why I love this story:

1. The Bennet sisters and their mother are portrayed true to form in the personalities set forth in Pride and Prejudice.
2. I love the focus on Mary. Other characters do not distract my attention from her.
3. Mary has a depth of character that is continuing to be revealed. Even by the end of the book, there is much more to be discovered about her abilities, talents, and character.
4. Mary is an imperfect person. At times, I am embarrassed for her brash mannerisms. Nevertheless, she is a person who is unpretentious. She is honest and direct. She does not allow emotions to overtake logic. To me, Mary is a breath of fresh air.
5. The mystery in The Secret Life of Miss Mary Bennet is a surprise twist. Mary who seems uncomfortable in her own skin. Mary who seems to have low self-confidence. She shows an understated part of her character that is innovative for serious tasks and to help solve a mystery.
6. At the end of the story, I didn’t want it to end. I thought, “wait a minute, I want to know more-more about Mary Bennet’s continuing story.” I am so glad for books two and three in the future!

Themes:

Family honor, sacrifice, loyalty, honesty, courage, death, grieving, compassion, self-worth, perseverance, and education.

(Review) The Arctic Fury by Greer Macallister

Publisher and Publication Date: Sourcebooks Landmark. December 1, 2020.
Genre: Historical fiction. Mystery. Thriller. Suspense. Adventure.
Pages: 432.
Source: NetGalley e-book. I also purchased the paperback copy at Barnes and Noble. I was not required to write a positive review.
Audience: Readers of historical fiction with a cast of females. The story is an adventure and suspense story.
Rating: Very good.

Link at Amazon
Link at Barnes and Noble

There are several YouTube videos about the Franklin expedition team.

An 18 minute video that teaches the story of the Franklin expedition: The Lost Arctic Expedition.

Summary:

October 1854.
The story begins with a trial in the Massachusetts Superior Court, Boston. Virginia Reeves has been charged with one count of kidnapping and death of Caprice Collins. Miss Collins is the daughter of a wealthy Boston family.
Chapter two begins with how Virginia Reeves came to lead a group of women to the Arctic to search for Sir John Franklin. Franklin is the leader of a British Arctic exploration group who left England in 1845. He and his group are missing.
The benefactor of Reeves all female group wants to remain anonymous. Mr. Brooks, who is the envoy, is direct with information and rules, but he explains privacy is important.
The women who join Reeves each have their own stories before the adventure (including Reeves), and a few of them contribute as a narrator voice. Reeves is the main narrator.
It is Virginia Reeves who is the leader of the team and on trial.

Sir John Franklin, 1786-1847.

My Thoughts:

I have several thoughts about this story. I actually have mixed feelings about giving the book an excellent rating, so I settled for very good.

What I love about the story is the unique storyline: An all female group of inexperienced Arctic explorers during an age when women were living in a man’s world (and men were not completely familiar with the Arctic). One woman is an adventurer, explorer, and trailblazer. Her experience is in western North America. A second woman states she is a world traveler and adventurer, but she is used to having servants. Their precarious adventure kept me reading to the last page. I want to know what really happened? I want to know why Virginia Reeves is on trial?

I enjoyed the different narrator voices from a few of the women. This gave me a broad perspective of the whole group. It gave me a perspective of Virginia Reeves (instead of being in her thoughts and voice).

And speaking of Virginia Reeves:
Virginia Reeves has a past. She carries guilt, and not just from the Arctic adventure. The story will finally reveal her life in the last chapters.
Virginia is an enigma. She is a different type of woman than most of the women in America in the mid 19th century. She is a bit of a mystery as to why she is the way she is. I felt an investment in her story because I want to understand her character. I want to know her background story.
Virginia harbors a chip on her shoulder. Several times she is snubbed and judged by people (men and women) who dislike her lifestyle, mannerisms, and language. However, the people want to use her particular skills for their advantage.
She comes across as coarse, overly confident, and arrogant. This is not to her benefit because I wondered early on if she was being played?

Bottom line: The Arctic Fury is the story of people and how they act and react to opportunities, events, and hardships. It shows people who in the top crust of society have money to pay others to do their work and to even administer their own justice.

What I dislike about The Arctic Fury.

The adventure and exploration the women took part in changed their lives. For some of them it ended their lives. I expected Virginia Reeves’s character to transform. At the least a character change. I feel to make the story believable she’d be physically scarred in some way. Some of the survivors had scars. Why not Virginia?
Another female character who I did not like through most of the story had a big transformation. She rose above the others and I admire her. This also gave the story a twist. A transformation in a character I didn’t like but now find remarkable and memorable. In the end who is the real heroine?

I did not learn about the clothing and supplies the women had for their trip. These things are remarked in passing (not in-depth).

I want to read about the scenery. The descriptions of the Arctic is brief. To me, the Arctic is a gigantic and untamed character. It is worthy of vivid and graphic description that makes a deep impression.



Quote of the Week

“There is a basin in the mind where words float around on thought and thought on sound and sight. Then there is a depth of thought untouched by words, and deeper still a gulf of formless feelings untouched by thought.”
Zora Neale Hurston, 1891-1960.
Their Eyes Were Watching God. Published by Amistad. 1937.

(Review) The Body Keeps The Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel Van Der Kolk, M.D.

Publisher and Publication Date: Penguin Books. 2015.
Genre: Psychology.
Pages: 445.
Format: Paperback.
Source: Self-purchase.
Audience: Readers who have experienced trauma from abuse or war.
Rating: Excellent.

Link @ Amazon

Summary:

“Part One: The Rediscovery of Trauma”

“Part Two: This is Your Brain on Trauma”

“Part Three: The Mind of Children”

“Part Four: The Imprint of Trauma”

“Part Five: Paths to Recovery”

A total of 20 chapters in the five parts with an epilogue.

The Body Keeps the Score teaches how trauma from abuse or war actually impacts the body itself. In the later chapters of the book, there is applicable help for trauma recovery.

My Thoughts:

Three reasons I wanted to read this book.
1. I am a survivor of sexual abuse. I was 17.
2. My husband has major depression. He grew up in a home that was a hell house. Both of his parents were alcoholics. They abused each other. They abused the children.
3. My eldest son is a combat veteran and he has PTSD and major depression.

My first thought of The Body Keeps the Score is it’s eye-opening. Several things I now realize about myself and others that make sense. For example, trauma has an impact on the imagination. A person who has been traumatized is not able to have vision of a “better future” or outcome. In addition, trauma effects the way people view the rest of the world-especially with people who may be a threat.
For me, I have retained an imagination, but I do fear certain types of people that pose a perceived threat.
Chapter three explains how scans show the effect of trauma on the brain.
Chapter four teaches how trauma stops a person in their growth because they believe the trauma is still going on. This chapter also talks about dissociation. A person should use a grounding technique (this is explored in other areas of the book too) to live in the present and not in the past where the trauma happened. To be aware of the body itself, and the feelings occurring. Don’t ignore feelings and why the feelings are present. Chapter seven will also talk about dissociation.
Part five is recovery and how to get there.

Medications are often prescribed for people who have been traumatized, but they are not taught other things that can help. For example, yoga and mindfulness are helpful.

The resources and further reading sections are supportive.

I feel this is an important book. It is valuable to a person who wants to understand the effects of trauma.
It is easy to understand. It’s been written for everyday people like me who does not hold a doctorate.

Favorite quotes:

“While we all want to move beyond trauma, the part of our brain that is devoted to ensuring our survival (deep below our rational brain) is not very good at denial. Long after a traumatic experience is over, it may be reactivated at the slightest hint of danger and mobilize disturbed brain circuits and secrete massive amounts of stress hormones.” Page 2.

It is one thing to process memories of trauma, but it is an entirely different matter to confront the inner void-the holes in the soul that result from, not having been wanted, not having been seen, and not having been allowed to speak the truth.” Page 298.

There are several YouTube videos on this book. Many of them are lengthy.
This video is short.