The Molly Murphy Mysteries

Blogging has fallen by the wayside lately, partly because we’ve had so much illness and partly because I’ve been doing a lot of reading. The series I wanted to tell you about today is the Molly Murphy Mysteries by Rhys Bowen. I actually stumbled upon one of these mysteries at the library in the new fiction section. IMAG1035

I don’t typically like mysteries actually because they are too factual and gritty without enough story and appealing characters. This series however, is a historical mystery series about Molly Murphy, a woman from Ireland, who decides to become a private investigator in America. This series is almost squeaky clean and thoroughly enjoyable. The best part is there are 16 books in this series and Rhys Bowen is still writing them! This isn’t her only series either. I’m about to start the “Royal Spyness” series.

If you like a female heroine with a lot of spunk and curiosity who can’t like a mystery go undiscovered, you will enjoy the Molly Murphy books.

 

Recent Reads

Happy New Year! I haven’t made any resolutions, but I did choose a phrase for the year (to be disclosed in a future post) and I did set the goal of reading 50 books this year. Since I read 32 last year, I don’t find that an overly lofty goal. In lieu of a few lengthy reviews that let’s be honest, I don’t have the energy for, I thought I’d do three mini reviews on the three books I just finished.

First up….

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain

Folks, this book is dry. Very dry. But, I loved the concepts presented. This book points out how introverts have been denigrated in today’s society and uses concrete examples of famous people to show the huge impact quietintroverts have had throughout history. Susan Cain also brings in a unique perspective on distinguishing introverts and extroverts. Rather than thinking about it in terms of social vs. antisocial, she presents it in terms of the level of stimulation (in an environment) a person is comfortable with and how much they deliberate (or don’t) before making decisions. There is a fun test you can take on her website.

 

The Best Yes by Lysa Terkeurstbestyes

I thought I would like this book more. I feel like she has 10 great sentences in this book, spread out over a very long winded 231 pages. The concept is good, and I’m a big proponent of setting boundaries and knowing when to say yes, but this book just didn’t connect with me.

 

Just Show Up by Kara Tippets

justshowupI loved this book. I think it’s a message that’s really needed in this day and age. We all long for community and friendship but are afraid or ill equipped to pursue it. This book was inspiring but also practical.

Goodreads Choice Awards

When I was in high school, I carefully recorded all the books I had read in my blue spiral journal with a purple gel pen. I was pretty religious about it and would ONLY write with gel pens in my journal. When I became a college student, my journaling slowed down and now it’s even worse…one entry every month if I’m lucky.

Luckily, technology has provided the perfect solution. Goodreads!

I know I mentioned it a few posts ago, but I have to say again–I love this site! I’m able to keep track of every book I’ve ever read and also keep a running list of books I’d like to read. Plus, books are able to be reviewed and rated here. I refuse to buy brand new books because I would go broke, so I usually check to see if they are available at the public library. If they aren’t yet, I quick login into my Goodreads account and add the book to the list.

I just noticed that it’s voting time for the Goodreads Choice Awards 2015. They grouped the voting by genre and I was appalled to see how few titles I recognized. Guess it’s time to add a few titles to my “to read” list! I was very pleased however to see Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography in the non fiction section.

If you’re a Goodreads member you can vote for your favorite or nominate a book. Go check it out!

Book Review–Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography

Aside from L.M. Montgomery’s books about Anne of Green Gables, no book series has quite so captured my imagination as the story of pioneer girl Laura Ingalls in “The Little House” books. I’ve been reading them since I was 8 years old or so. So, when I spotted this book–Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography–at the library in the “new nonfiction” section, I was ecstatic. This book did not disappoint.

In the first part of the book, the writing and editing process that produced “The Little House” books is explored. Laura’s daughter, Rose Wilder Lane, was actually a journalist, and she played a large part in the publication of “The Little House” books. I think I’ve always idealized “The Little House” stories, attributing the complete truth to them. I shouldn’t have been surprised that the original story was edited and pared down, but I’ll have to admit that I was. Technically, “The Little House” stories are novels for children. Yet that doesn’t mean that they aren’t true. Laura Ingalls Wilder, commenting on the book said, “It is the truth. But it’s not the whole truth” (quote from Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography).

The bulk of this book is large sections from the original manuscript (so you’ll notice some differences from the published novels), with annotations on either side, either clarifying information, shedding light on editorial decisions, or explaining historical references.  It is organized by date, following the Ingalls family as they make their way from Kansas to the Dakota Territory. One of the more interesting things I learned while reading this book was that during the “Long Hard Winter,” the real Ingalls family actually had another family living with them. It wasn’t a perfect situation and there was some conflict, so Laura and her daughter Rose decided to edit that detail from the final manuscript.

This book also includes many photos I hadn’t seen before. Photos of the Ingalls and Wilder family, as well as photos of many of the people mentioned in the book. Some people’s photos were just as I had imagined them!

Overall, I really loved looking through this book and gaining some additional perspective on this real pioneer girl, Laura Ingalls Wilder.

Ma Had It Easy

If you’re a dedicated Little House on the Prairie fan, you will know that “Ma” is Laura’s mother in the story. Ma was a pioneer wife and mother who endured some pretty crazy things–moving away from her family, Native Americans who came in her house without being invited and ate all the food, prairie fires, a locust plague, and a lack of flushing toilets. I think about Ma a lot actually as I run my own home. And sometimes I think, “Boy, Ma had it easy compared to these modern times.”

For one thing, she didn’t have to create any special Pinterest dinners or unique snacks. In fact, she didn’t have to worry about food intolerances at all. During the long hard winter, this was the “menu” for most days. Breakfast: brown bread and tea. Lunch: boiled potatoes. Dinner: boiled beans. Now mind you, they were practically starving at this time…

That aside, the food they ate was pretty simple and no one was making Ma feel guilty for not trying out the latest beef stirfry recipe. She cooked the same things over and over again…salt pork and gravy, brown bread, pie, potatoes, beans, eggs. I definitely think we could take a leaf out of Ma’s book and be more content with simpler fare.

Now, leaving out the fact that the laundry had to be done by hand and diapers were probably a serious bummer, Ma really didn’t have it too bad in the laundry department because of how few clothes they owned. The more clothes you have, the more laundry you have to wash. Ma did wash once a week. I have to do a load about once a day just to keep up.

Lastly, I really think Ma had an easier time not spending money because of the lack of advertising and stores. The country store usually had some pantry essentials–flour, sugar, tea, as well as other household sundries like fabric. But as far as I can tell, very little advertising and when they weren’t living in town, they wouldn’t have gone out of the house much to go shopping.

Not that Ma used all that extra time lying around though…because of course she still had to make butter and cheese, butcher entire animals, sew all the clothes by hand with a needle, garden, and care for livestock. On second thought, I’ll take the burdens of Pinterest and advertising…