Check back next Tuesday for more writerly words of inspiration!
Seven-year-old Wen and her parents, Eric and Andrew, are vacationing at a remote cabin on a quiet New Hampshire lake. Their closest neighbors are more than two miles in either direction along a rutted dirt road.
One afternoon, as Wen catches grasshoppers in the front yard, a stranger unexpectedly appears in the driveway. Leonard is the largest man Wen has ever seen but he is young, friendly, and he wins her over almost instantly. Leonard and Wen talk and play until Leonard abruptly apologizes and tells Wen, “None of what’s going to happen is your fault”. Three more strangers then arrive at the cabin carrying unidentifiable, menacing objects. As Wen sprints inside to warn her parents, Leonard calls out: “Your dads won’t want to let us in, Wen. But they have to. We need your help to save the world.”
I have to say that while my past experience with this author had me expecting a heavy dose of visceral horror, that’s not quite what I got with this one. I’m not quite sure how to describe this book. There’s definitely some horror in it, and parts are horrific, but the frightening bits seemed almost to take a backseat to what seemed to be the focus of the plot, which was, perhaps, a study in existentialism in terms of horror? I don’t know. This was a weird one. I enjoyed it, but it was strange and perhaps a tad unruly in that it’s not at all what I thought I’d be getting.
In Furiously Happy, a humor memoir tinged with just enough tragedy and pathos to make it worthwhile, Jenny Lawson examines her own experience with severe depression and a host of other conditions, and explains how it has led her to live life to the fullest:
“I’ve often thought that people with severe depression have developed such a well for experiencing extreme emotion that they might be able to experience extreme joy in a way that ‘normal people’ also might never understand. And that’s what Furiously Happy is all about.”
Jenny’s readings are standing room only, with fans lining up to have Jenny sign their bottles of Xanax or Prozac as often as they are to have her sign their books. Furiously Happy appeals to Jenny’s core fan base but also transcends it. There are so many people out there struggling with depression and mental illness, either themselves or someone in their family—and in Furiously Happy they will find a member of their tribe offering up an uplifting message (via a taxidermied roadkill raccoon). Let’s Pretend This Never Happened ostensibly was about embracing your own weirdness, but deep down it was about family. Furiously Happy is about depression and mental illness, but deep down it’s about joy—and who doesn’t want a bit more of that?
Whether you suffer from depression, love someone who does, or are just looking for some entertainment, Lawson’s your girl. Her unexpected wisdom, wit, and weirdness are inspiring, endearing, and just plain fun! I can trust that her books will make me laugh out loud while also making me think about common things in an entirely new light!
Some doors are locked for a reason…
While eleven-year-old Nora Davis was up in her bedroom doing homework, she had no idea her father was killing women in the basement.
Until the day the police arrived at their front door.
Decades later, Nora’s father is spending his life behind bars, and Nora is a successful surgeon with a quiet, solitary existence. Nobody knows her father was a notorious serial killer. And she intends to keep it that way.
Then Nora discovers one of her young female patients has been murdered. In the same unique and horrific manner that her father used to kill his victims.
Somebody knows who Nora is. Somebody wants her to take the fall for this unthinkable crime. But she’s not a killer like her father. The police can’t pin anything on her.
As long as they don’t look in her basement.
McFadden has quickly become one of my go-to authors when I need a book that will keep my attention and deliver an intriguing plot with impressive twists. She’s a master at suspense, and I love that no matter what the ‘theme’ of the book, from influencers to camping trips to serial killers, there’s going to be something that feels fresh, inventive, and unexpected in the pages!
It all started with the American White Pelican. They’re huge and they’re only in my area in the winter and they don’t want me to get any good photographs of them. So, of course, I’m obsessed with taking photographs of them.
The problem is, all the places I know of where they hang out keep them well shielded from my camera lens, forcing me to shoot through thickets of mangroves and tangles of trees – that is until two weeks ago, when I happened to take a short cut to grab lunch when I had jury duty and discovered a flock of white pelicans in a pond surrounded by condos. I didn’t have my camera, or the time to stalk them, but I promised myself I’d return and get the pictures I so badly wanted.
Fast forward a week, and I set out early with my camera on the way to do some grocery shopping at a store slightly out of my way – but on a direct course leading to a pond full of white pelicans. I’m almost to the pelican pond, what should I see but a Crested Caracara right at the side of the road trying to pull a flattened opossum to a better dining spot.
I know where a nesting pair of these fierce looking birds live, but I got my camera at about the same time that the area opened up to air boaters who decided that buzzing the shore was good entertainment and the birds no longer hang out on the trail like they once did, which makes them another bird I’ve been trying to get a good picture of, but there was a curb and nowhere to pull over and I refuse to do squirrely moves while driving, so I decided to go to the pelican pond real quick and then find a place to park and hike back to the Crested Caracara.
Only – I drive the half-mile to the pond and the pelicans aren’t there. Bummer. So I turn around, find a park, and hike to where the Crested Caracara was. And it was gone, too, although the opossum it was hoping to snack on was still there. This is the type of thing that happens to me quite often, a situation that my husband says is specific to Shannons because they rush into things without thinking them through which I would disagree with (in this case) since I’d been thinking about this excursion for over a week and how was I supposed to know there’d be a bonus bird dangled before my camera lens, PLUS I did stick with my original plan which makes his point moot (again, in this case), but at least he agrees it sucks when this kind of thing happens, so we’re on the same page there.
By this time it’s nine in the morning and since it’s late February in Florida I’m already rather sweaty so I decided to keep walking for a bit along the road, hoping to spot the caracara somewhere else or at least get some exercise but mainly refusing to leave until I’ve captured something interesting with my camera.
And then I see it. The (rather new) high school. And in the pond beside it – a pond which was dug to provide fill dirt for the school and the condo building next to it because the whole area used to be wetland but is now one of the top 10 planned communities in the US and because of this there are manmade ponds every quarter mile or so to keep the whole place from flooding – there, in that pond, I see several white pelicans!
They were on the high school side, and since I didn’t think campus security would appreciate me trespassing for the sake of pictures (and no way would I ever want to return to high school, anyway), I hiked down to the pond on the condo side and used my zoom lens.
And this is a typical Shannon type adventure, where the best laid plans go awry, but out of sheer stubbornness and refusal to give up and maybe a bit of the luck of the Irish (I’m not sure if I’m Irish but my name is so I claim it!), things work out in their own not perfect but better than nothing way. AND, I didn’t even have to confront any giant alligators this time (although, of course, I did see some smaller ones).