The Anatomist’s Wife by Anna Lee Huber

First in a series, “A Lady Darby Mystery”, The Anatomist’s Wife takes place in Scotland, 1830. Lady Kiera Darby is a young woman, recently widowed and involved in a scandal related to her late doctor husband’s anatomical studies. As the story opens, Kiera has taken refuge with her sister’s family on their estate in Scotland, away from the vicious gossip of Edinburgh and London society.

Unfortunately for Lady Darby, when Lady Godwin is murdered (within the first few pages of the novel), Lady Darby is asked to assist Mr. Sebastian Gage in his inquiry into the crime. Not only is Mr. Gage a rake and perhaps somewhat brainless, he also may, like everyone else in the house party, suspect Kiera Darby of having some culpability in the murder. After all, Kiera’s reputation is still in shreds after her husband’s death and subsequent revelations about his work with dissecting dead bodies and having his wife draw them.(!)

There wasn’t really much Scottish atmosphere to be found in this mystery novel. The occupants of the manor call upon the services of a “procurator fiscal” rather than a coroner in the wake of the murder, and Kiera’s brother-in-law, Philip, lapses into Scots dialect a couple of times under stress. Other that that, the events in the novel could have taken place anywhere in England or Scotland or even Ireland or the continent without much change in the descriptions or the plot.

The post-Regency and pre-Victorian time period of the novel, makes it an interesting mix between what I think of as Regency promiscuity and profligacy and Victorian propriety and conventionality. The society women are appalled at Kiera’s history of having helped her husband in his study of human anatomy. And yet, these same ladies seem to be quite athletic in their pursuit of other women’s husbands. This moral schizophrenia affects the men, too, as when Gage explains to Keira that he is a rake, but certainly not a rogue: “I assure you, my lady, that were you closeted with a rogue rather than a rake, you would know the difference. If a rogue decided he wanted you, he would use all of the means at his disposal to persuade you, but ultimately he would debauch you whether you wished it or not. A rake would never dishonor a woman in such a way.” (In other words, he may be an adulterer and a cad, but at least he’s not a rapist.)

I found the ending to the book and the solution to the whodunnit rather unsatisfactory. The murderer turns out to be insane, with quite a thin motive for his or her actions. And those actions progress from a bloody and violent beginning to an even more brutal and murderous ending.So, finally, although it was good enough to keep me turning the pages, I found only few things to like about this mystery and many others to dislike: too much romance, not enough mystery, too much insanity, not enough sense, too much sexual immorality, not enough virtue, and too much generic setting, not enough Scotland. Fans of Georgette Heyer or other Regency/Victorian romance/mystery writers may enjoy this one more than I did. It wasn’t awful, just not what I was looking for.

If you want to do some more research in the area of Scottish mysteries or post-Regency era mysteries:

Rachel Knowles: When Is the Regency era?
Cozy Mystery Books with a Scottish Theme.
Books in Scotland: a resource for information on all the best in Scottish Books and Writers.

Thank You, #NeverTrump

The following pundits, pols, and celebs have indicated that they will NOT support Donald Trump:

Rep. Justin Amash (Mich.)

Gov. Charlie Baker (Mass.)

Brian Bartlett, former Mitt Romney aide and GOP communications strategist

Glenn Beck, radio host

Michael Berry, radio host

Max Boot, former foreign policy adviser to Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.)

Brent Bozell, conservative activist

Former Gov. Jeb Bush (Fla.)

Bruce Carroll, creator GayPatriot.org

Jay Caruso, RedState

Mona Charen, senior fellow at Ethics and Public Policy Center

Linda Chavez, columnist

Dean Clancy, former FreedomWorks vice president

Eliot Cohen, former George W. Bush official

Former Sen. Norm Coleman (Minn.)

Charles C. W. Cooke, writer for National Review

Doug Coon, Stay Right podcast

Rory Cooper, GOP strategist, managing director Purple Strategies

Jim Cunneen, former Calif. assemblyman

Rep. Carlos Curbelo (Fla.)

Steve Deace, radio host

Rep. Bob Dold (Ill.)

Erick Erickson, writer

Mindy Finn, president, Empowered Women

David French, writer at National Review

Jon Gabriel, editor-in-chief, Ricochet.com

Michael Graham, radio host

Jonah Goldberg, writer

Alan Goldsmith, former staffer, House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

Stephen Gutowski, writer Washington Free Beacon

Rep. Richard Hanna (N.Y.)

Jamie Brown Hantman, former special assistant for legislative affairs for President George W. Bush

Stephen Hayes, senior writer at The Weekly Standard

Doug Heye, former RNC communications director

Quin Hillyer, contributing editor at National Review Online; senior editor at the American Spectator

Ben Howe, RedState writer

Former Rep. Bob Inglis (S.C.)

Cheri Jacobus, GOP consultant and former Hill columnist

Robert Kagan, former Reagan official

Randy Kendrick, GOP mega-donor

Matt Kibbe, former FreedomWorks CEO

Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.)

Philip Klein, managing editor at the Washington Examiner

Bill Kristol, The Weekly Standard editor

Mark Levin, radio host

Justin LoFranco, former Scott Walker aide

Kevin Madden, former Mitt Romney aide

Bethany Mandel, senior contributor at The Federalist

Tucker Martin, former Gov. Bob McDonnell’s (R-Va.) communications director

Former RNC Chairman Mel Martínez (Fla.)

Liz Mair, GOP strategist

Lachlan Markey, writer for the Free Beacon

Mary Matalin, political strategist

David McIntosh, Club for Growth president

Dan McLaughlin, editor at RedState.com

Ken Mehlman, former RNC chairman

Tim Miller, Our Principles PAC

Russell Moore, president of the SBC Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission

Joyce Mulliken, former Washington state senator

Ted Newton, political consultant & former Mitt Romney aide

James Nuzzo, former White House aide

Katie Packer, chairwoman of Our Principles PAC

Former Gov. George Pataki (N.Y.)

Former Rep. Ron Paul (Texas)

Katie Pavlich, Townhall editor and Hill columnist

Brittany Pounders, conservative writer

Rep. Reid Ribble (Wis.)

Marlene Ricketts, GOP mega-donor

Former Gov. Tom Ridge (Pa.)

Rep. Scott Rigell (Va.)

Mitt Romney, 2012 GOP presidential nominee

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (Fla.)

Paul Rosenzweig, former deputy assistant secretary, Department of Homeland Security

Jennifer Rubin, Washington Post conservative blogger

Patrick Ruffini, partner, Echelon Insights

Sarah Rumpf, former BreitBart contributor

Mark Salter, writer and former aide to John McCain, wrote “”Are we in such dire straits that we must dispense with civility, kindness, tolerance and normal decency to put a mean-spirited, lying jerk in the White House?”

Rep. Mark Sanford (S.C.)

Sen. Ben Sasse (Neb.)

Elliott Schwartz, Our Principles PAC

Gabriel Schoenfeld, senior fellow, Hudson Institute

Tara Setmayer, CNN analyst and former GOP staffer

Ben Shapiro, editor-in-chief The Daily Wire

Evan Siegfried, GOP strategist and commentator

Ben Stein, actor and political commentator

Brendan Steinhauser, GOP consultant

Stuart Stevens, former Romney strategist

Paul Singer, GOP mega-donor

Erik Soderstrom, former field director for Carly Fiorina

Charlie Sykes, radio host

Brad Thor, writer

Michael R. Treiser, former Mitt Romney aide

Daniel P. Vajdich, former national security adviser to Ted Cruz

Connor Walsh, former digital director for former Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), founder Build Digital

Former Rep. J.C. Watts (Okla.)

Peter Wehner, New York Times contributor

Former Gov. Christine Todd Whitman (N.J.)

Meg Whitman, the CEO of Hewlett Packard declared Trump “unfit to be president.”

George Will, writer

Rick Wilson, Republican strategist

Nathan Wurtzel, Make America Awesome super-PAC

Bill Yarbrough, chairman of the Republican Liberty Caucus of Ohio

Dave Yost, Ohio auditor of state

Thank you. I have one question for Republicans who want my vote in November. Are you supporting or have you endorsed Donald Trump? If affirmative, then I will not vote for you.

I have voted Republican for approximately 35 years, but now I am no longer bound to any sort of party loyalty. I will be evaluating candidates individually and carefully. One “test” will be whether or not the candidate was able to hold up to the incredible pressure that will be applied to make him or her toe the line and fall in for Trump. If so, this #neverTrump candidate is one who will be able to stand up for principle under pressure in Austin or Washington, D.C.

Saturday Review of Books: May 7, 2016

“We have grown to associate morality in a book with a kind of optimism and prettiness; according to us, a moral book is a book about moral people. But the old idea was almost the opposite; a moral book was a book about immoral people.” ~G.K. Chesterton

SatReviewbutton

Welcome to the Saturday Review of Books at Semicolon. Here’s how it usually works. Find a book review on your blog posted sometime during the previous week. The review doesn’t have to be a formal sort of thing. You can link to your thoughts on a particular book, a few ideas inspired by reading the book, your evaluation, quotations, whatever.

Then on Friday night/Saturday, you post a link here at Semicolon in Mr. Linky to the specific post where you’ve written your book review. Don’t link to your main blog page because this kind of link makes it hard to find the book review, especially when people drop in later after you’ve added new content to your blog. In parentheses after your name, add the title of the book you’re reviewing. This addition will help people to find the reviews they’re most interested in reading.

After linking to your own reviews, you can spend as long as you want reading the reviews of other bloggers for the week and adding to your wishlist of books to read.

Dealing With Dragons by Patricia Wrede

Dealing with Dragons is Book One of the Enchanted Forest Chronicles, and I’m eagerly anticipating my reading of the remaining four books in the series. That’s a pretty high recommendation right there.

Cimorene is a princess in the kingdom of Linderwall, “a very prosperous and pleasant place.” Her six older sisters find being a princess quite a satisfactory lot in life, but Cimorene hates “princess stuff” and wants to learn fencing, Latin, magic, cooking, and economics, even though such pursuits just aren’t proper for a princess.
So Cimorene does the best she can with the hand she’s been dealt and runs away to volunteer as a dragon’s captive princess. The dragon she finds to take her on, Kazul, is a bit unorthodox herself, and the two renegades get along swimmingly until the world intrudes in the form of meddling wizards, rescuing knights, and other discontented captive princesses. But whether its finding the ingredients for a fireproofing spell or serving up some cherries jubilee for her dragon’s dessert, the strong-minded (same say stubborn as a pig) Cimorene is up to the task.

The humor in this book reminded me of The Princess Bride for some reason, sort of wry and unexpected. Cimorene herself is an unexpected kind of princess, or rather a princess who defies conventional expectations. The dragons are suitably grumpy and and a bit volatile, hence the need for a fire-proofing spell, but generally likable enough if you don’t stir them up or cross them too much. Cimorene’s fellow princesses in captivity run the gamut from weeping to preening to friendly, and there is a helpful witch named Morwen who lives in the Enchanted Forest.

“Cimorene was surprised to hear that Kazul intended to take her along on the visit to Morwen, and she was not entirely sure she liked the idea. She had heard a great deal about the Enchanted Forest, and none of it was reassuring. People who traveled there were always getting changed into flowers or trees or animals or rocks, or doing something careless and having their heads turned backward, or being carried off by ogres or giants or trolls, or enchanted by witches or wicked fairies. It did not sound like a good place for a casual, pleasant visit.”

If that short excerpt appeals to your sense of humor and whimsy, you should check out the Enchanted Forest Chronicles. Since I’ve only read the first book, I’m not sure the rest of the series holds up to the high standard the first book sets, but I’m certainly hopeful. A friend recommended this series to me, and I’m certainly thankful for the tip and passing it on to my readers, young and old. After all, I’m 50+ and still finding children’s books that tickle my funny bone and enhance my imaginary reading world. I’m adding Cimorene and her Enchanted Forest world to the landscape of my own fantasy world, which includes Prydain, the Shire, Narnia, Oz, Neverland, Wonderland, Earthsea, Pern, Lilliput, Shangri-la, Slipper-on-the-Water in the Land Between the Mountains, and Aerwiar, just to name a few of the places I’ve visited time and time again. (Can you name the book or series for each fantasy world or country?)

The Big Book of Animals of the World by Ole Könnecke

This large board book groups pictures of animal by continent or part of the world, beginning with the Arctic and continuing on to North America (Canada), Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia, South America, North America (Southwestern USA), and finally, under the ocean surface. The Last page spread has a map of the world with continents labeled so that children can see where the animals live that they have been viewing.

The pictures of the animals fall somewhere between cartoonish and realistic. There’s probably enough characteristic features that children might be able to recognize the various animals at the zoo or in their natural habitat, but the illustrations are still fairly small and stylized. And for some reason, perhaps to create interest, each two page spread has a picture or two of mice dressed in clothes and doing things like painting a picture or riding a camel or sunbathing. The only words in this book, originally published in German, are the English animal names printed under each animal picture and a few physical features that arenalso labeled, such as glacier, desert, savannah, and oddly enough, “chainsaw”, “garbage”, and “ant hill”?

Little children and even older animal lovers would probably enjoy this Richard Scarry-type word book, but I can tell you from experience that adults who are anything like me will tire quickly of repeating the names of the animals over and over again. With no narrative or story, the book is only of limited interest to the adult reader—which makes it a problematic book to have in the house. Usborne sells a lot of these word books, too, and I hated them when my children were little. My preschoolers, who weren’t reading for themselves, kept wanting me to “read” the books to them. But without a story, I was bored stiff.

Still The Big Book of Animals of the World might keep your children busy on a rainy day, or you might be a different kind of parent/teacher/reader than I am. Enter at your own risk.

Scottish Chiefs and the Morning After

Last night, after grieving over the news and the state of our country, I took up my book and began to read. After all, it’s what I do. When times are bad or times are good, I read. I had already decided on a journey to Scotland for the month of May, and Scottish Chiefs by Jane Porter was the first book on my mental list.

I began reading:

“Bright was the summer of 1296. The war which had desolated Scotland was then at an end. Ambition seemed satiated; and the vanquished, after having passed under the yoke of their enemy, concluded they might wear their chains in peace. Such were the hopes of those Scottish nobleman who, early in the preceding spring, had signed the bond of submission to a ruthless conqueror, purchasing life at the price of all that makes life estimable,—liberty and honor.

Prior to this act of vassalage, Edward I., king of England, had entered Scotland at the head of an immense army. He seized Berwick by stratagem; laid the country in ashes; and on the field of Dunbar, forced the Scottish king and his nobles to acknowledge him their liege lord.

But while the courts of Edward, or of his representatives, were crowded by the humbled Scots, the spirit of one brave man remained unsubdued. Disgusted alike at the facility with which the sovereign of a warlike nation could resign his people and his crown into the hands of a treacherous invader, and at the pusillanimity of the nobles who had ratified the sacrifice, William Wallace retired to the glen of Ellerslie. Withdrawn from the world, he hoped to avoid the sight of oppressions he could not redress, and the endurance of injuries beyond his power to avenge.

Thus checked at the opening of life in the career of glory that was his passion, he repressed the eager aspirations of his mind, and strove to acquire that resignation to inevitable evils which alone could reconcile him to forego the promises of his youth, and enable him to view with patience the humiliation of Scotland, which blighted her honor, and consigned her sons to degradation or obscurity. The latter was the choice of Wallace. Too noble to bend his spirit to the usurper, too honest to affect submission, he resigned himself to the only way left of maintaining the independence of a true Scot; and giving up the world at once, all the ambitions of youth became extinguished in his breast. Scotland seemed proud of her chains. Not to share in such debasement seemed all that was now in his power.

The analogy is not perfect. We’ve submitted, not to a foreign invader, but to our very own pet demagogue. But the “degradation”, “pusillanimity”, “resignation”, and “inevitable evils” are all dismayingly familiar. I pray that I can view with patience the humiliation, blighted honor, and debasement that are imminent, indeed already at hand.

Wallace was not allowed his self-imposed exile for long. I doubt that those of us eschew the choice between the Demagogue and the other dishonest Democrat will be left alone for long either. We can enjoy our liberty while the summer lasts and hope to come back to fight again.

Hungry For Math by Kari-Lynn Winters, Lori Sherritt-Fleming, and Peggy Collins

Hungry for Math: Poems to Munch On by Kari-Lynn Winters, Lori Sherritt-Fleming, and Peggy Collins.

Poems galore fill this Canadian import, such as:

Hungry for Math: “He was hungry for math/ always ready to munch/ Math for his breakfast,/ math for his lunch.”

The Balanced Bee: (It’s symmetry!)

Rot-TEN Dragons: “Count fifty hiding dragons/ in five groups of ten.”

Move Around the Clock: A take-off on Hickory, Dickory Dock.

And my favorite, The Spendosaur: “Spendosaur, Spendosaur,/ hear him ROAR,/ thundering down to the candy store.”
The Spendosaur proceeds to spend all of his money on chocolate-dipped pickles, gumdrops smothered in swampy slime, gloppy-plops, and something big and expensive that eats up his very last penny. I want a gloppy-plop.

Although the meter felt just a little off in some of the poems, these would still be good for the beginning of math class, just to get children warmed up. Or you could read a poem a day during “circle time” or “morning time” until you’ve spent your last poem. Then, have a gloppy-plop.

More mathematical poetry books:
Marvelous Math, selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins. “An anthology of poetry with a mathematical theme.”
Arithme-Tickle: An Even Number of Odd Riddle-Rhymes by J. Patrick Lewis.
Edgar Allan Poe’s Pie: Math Puzzlers in Classic Poems by J. Patrick Lewis.
The Grapes of Math by Greg Tang.
Math For All Seasons: Mind-Stretching Math Riddles by Greg Tang.

Any other suggestions?

Sam and the Construction Site by Tjibbe Veldkamp

This over-sized picture book is a translation from the Dutch, illustrated by the Dutch illustrator Alice Hoogstad and translated by Ineke Lenting. It translates well. Sam is a little boy who loves watching the big machines at the construction site and imagining himself driving the steamroller or manipulating the crane. One day he’s left to keep an eye on the construction site while the workers go off to lunch.

“If anyone does enter the construction site, call the police!” says the boss. But will someone else call the police if Sam is the one who breaks the rules and enters the construction site?

Sam and the Construction Site is an exciting story for preschoolers, especially those who have a love for big machines and big adventures. The pictures themselves are big, and yet detailed, with hidden clues to the ending of the story that make the book a read-again-and-again book rather than a one time read. Sam has a bad reason for going into the construction site, a dare from some bigger boys, but then he has a good reason for his next rule-breaking actions.

What a great story and such an opening for discussion! Preschoolers might want to talk about rules and rule-breaking, dares, when to call the police, consequences, observational abilities, and of course, steam rollers, cement trucks, and cranes. Pair this one with Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel by Virginia Lee Burton, Trucks and New Road! by Gail Gibbons, Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site by Sherry Rinker, and Building a House by Byron Barton.

Other favorite building construction picture books?

May in Scotland

I’ve decided, in honor of the musical theater production, based on George MacDonald’s romance novel Malcolm (aka The Fisherman’s Lady), that my girls are involved in this month, to make a quick, imaginary visit to Scotland during the merry month of May. I thought I’d link to some old posts about books set in Scotland and read a few new ones.

First the old:
Wee Gillis by Munro Leaf. I just read and posted about this picture book a couple of weeks ago.
The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley. Also a recent read, this novel is historical fiction set before, during and after the Jacobite attempted restoration in 1715 of James III of England and James VIII of Scotland, the Pretender, to the throne of Scotland.
Game of Kings by Dorothy Dunnett.
Queen’s Play by Dorothy Dunnett.
The Disorderly Knights by Dorothy Dunnett.

Pawn in Frankincense by Dorothy Dunnett.
Rescuing Seneca Crane by Susan Runholt.
The Island of Mad Scientists by Howard Whitehouse.
Hamish McBeth mysteries by M.C. Beaton.
The Sunday Philosophy Club by Alexander McCall Smith.
Caledonia, Legend of the Celtic Stone: An Epic Saga of Scotland and her People by Michael Phillips.
44 Scotland Street series by Alexander McCall Smith.

I’d like to read some of the books from this list during May and post about them for my hurried trip to Scotland:
Scottish Chiefs by Jane Porter.
Mrs. Tim Gets a Job by D.E. Stevenson.
The King’s Swift Rider by Mollie Hunter.
The Fields of Bannockburn by Donna Fletcher Crow.
Martin Farrell by Janni Howker.
Waverley by Sir Walter Scott.
Rob Roy by Sir Walter Scott.
Valiant Minstrel: The Story of Harry Lauder by Gladys Malvern. Sir Harry Lauder was a vaudeville singer and comedian from Scotland.
Malcolm, or The Fisherman’s Lady by George MacDonald.
The Marquis’ Secret by George MacDonald.
Sir Gibbie by George MacDonald.
How the Scots Invented the Modern World: The True Story of How Western Europe’s Poorest Nation Created Our World & Everything in It by Arthur Herman.
The Ringed Castle by Dorothy Dunnett. I’d like to finish this fifth book in the Lymond Chronicles, but my huge city library system doesn’t have this one. I may have to actually purchase it.
Checkmate by Dorothy Dunnett. And the sixth and final book in the series.
The Hornet’s Nest by Sally Watson.
Highland Rebel by Sally Watson.
The Anatomist’s Wife by Anna Lee Huber.
The King’s Swift Rider by Mollie Hunter.
Scottish Seas by Douglas M. Jones III.
The Flowers of the Field by Elizabeth Byrd.
In Freedom’s Cause: A Story of Wallace and Bruce by GA Henty.
Meggy MacIntosh: A Highland Girl in the Carolina Colony by Elizabeth Gray Vining.
Mary Queen of Scots and The Murder of Lord Darnley by Alison Weir.
Letters from Skye by Jessica Brockmole.

Then, here are some Scottish flavored books I’ve read but not reviewed here at Semicolon. I remember all of these as books I would recommend:
Immortal Queen by Elizabeth Byrd. Historical romance about Mary, Queen of Scots.
The Iron Lance by Stephen Lawhead.
The 39 Steps by John Buchan.
Beside the Bonnie Brier Bush by Ian MacLaren.. A collection of stories of church life in a glen called Drumtochty in Scotland in the 1800’s. Recommended.
The Little Minister by J.M. Barrie. I get this one mixed up in my head with the Bonnie Brier Bush because both are set in rural Scotland among church people, and both are good. Also recommended.
The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald.
The Princess and Curdie by George MacDonald.
The Queen’s Own Fool by Jane Yolen. Mary, Queen of Scots again.

Recommended by other friends and bloggers:
The Tartan Pimpernel by Donald Caskie. Reviewed by Barbara at Stray Thoughts.
Robert Burns’ poetry, highlighted at Stray Thoughts.
Thistle and Thyme by Sorche Nic Leodhas. I actually have this collection of Scottish folktales in my library, and I must read it this month.
Heather and Broom by Sorche Nic Leodhas.
Claymore and Kilt : Tales of Scottish Kings and Castles by Sorche Nic Leodhas.
The Scotswoman by Inglis Fletcher.
Guns in the Heather by Lockhart Amerman.
The Gardener’s Grandchildren by Barbara Willard.
Duncan’s War (Crown and Covenant #1) by Douglas Bond.
Outlaws of Ravenhurst by M. Imelda Wallace.
Quest for a Maid by Frances May Hendry.
Little House in the Highlands by Melissa Wiley.
Bonnie Dundee by Rosemary Sutcliff. “The beginnings of the Jacobite rebellion when King James fled to Holland.”
The Stronghold by Mollie Hunter.
The Lothian Run by Mollie Hunter.
The Three Hostages by John Buchan. Recommended by Carol at Journey and Destination.
Scotland’s Story by H.E. Marshall.

Movies set in Scotland:
Brigadooon. I like this one partly because of Gene Kelly, partly because it takes place in Scotland, and partly because Eldest Daughter was in a local production of Brigadoon several years ago.
Stone of Destiny. Recommended by HG at The Common Room. I enjoyed this movie based on a true incident in 1950 when four Scots student stole the Stone of Scone from Westminster Abbey and returned it to Scotland from whence it came back in the thirteenth century.
Braveheart. William Wallace and all that jazz.

Scots poetry:
Young Lochinvar by Sir Walter Scott.
From Marmion by Sir Walter Scott.
My Luve’s Like a Red, Red Rose by Robert Burns.
In the Prospect of Death by Robert Burns.
Lament for Culloden by Robert Burns.
Beneath the Cross of Jesus by Elizabeth Clephane.
O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go by George Matheson.

If you have anything posted at your blog that tastes of Scottish heritage or culture, let me know, and I’ll add a link to your book review or post in this round-up of all things Scots. Or if you have a book or even a movie to recommend, leave me a comment. I’ll keep this post on the front page during May, and I’ll be adding to it as my journey progresses. You are welcome to travel to Scotland with me this month, and we will see what there is to see.

Seven Things That Made Me Smile in April

April was a difficult month, but I’m not going to tell you about all the things that made me do the opposite of smile in April. (Hint: for one, initials are DT, and police were involved in another frown-maker.) Instead, I’m going to play Pollyanna and tell you about the stuff that made me smile, sometimes through the tears, this month in the grand old year of 2016.

1. Speaking of Pollyanna and the the “glad game”, this post at Living Books Library, called “Are You Glad?” made my day a little gladder (gladder or more glad?) when I read it.

2. Randy Acorn’s book, Happiness, was a compendium on the subject of happiness from a Biblical perspective. He quotes practically everyone from the Bible itself to St. Augustine to Matthew Henry to John Piper, and most every Christian writer or thinker in between, all on the subject of happiness. I didn’t finish the book because I had to return it to the library, but I think I need a copy of my own anyway so that I can dip into it whenever the frowns and grumps seem to be gaining the upper hand.

“Being happy in God and living righteously tastes far better for far longer than sin does. When my hunger and thirst for joy is satisfied by Christ, sin becomes unattractive. I say no to immorality not because I hate pleasure but because I want the enduring pleasure found in Christ.”
~Randy Alcorn, Happiness

3. Podcasts. I am truly glad to have discovered podcasts a few months ago. They have made my driving times and other times much more enjoyable. I found a couple of new-to-me podcasts to add to my growing list of favorites. Here’s the list of favorites, which I notice that I have never before posted here on Semicolon:

Read Aloud Revival. The lovely Sarah MacKenzie talks all things reading aloud with your children. She’s interviewed such guests as Sarah Clarkson, Andrew Pudewa, N.D. Wilson, Anne Bogel, Melissa Wiley, and many more. Excellent podcast.
Homeschooling IRL with Andy and Kendra Fletcher. “Discussing the topics that you might not find covered at your local homeschooling convention, veteran homeschooling parents and bloggers, Andy and Kendra Fletcher, use humor, honesty, and grace to pull the veil back on Christian homeschooling.” Good, encouraging, real stuff here.
The World and Everything In It, a daily, Monday through Friday, news update from the people at WORLD magazine.
What Should I Read Next? with Anne Bogel of Modern Mrs. Darcy. I wrote about this new-to-me podcast here.
Two from NPR: This American Life and The Moth Podcast.
Two from the CIRCE Institute Podcast Network: The Mason Jar, about Charlotte Mason’s ideas on education, and Close Reads, a book discussion podcast.
Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth.
Tea or Books? with Simon of Stuck in a Book and Rachel who blogs at Book Snob. This one is velly, velly British, and I’ve just listened to one episode so far. But I like it–if I can understand what the two podcasters are saying, what with my hearing loss and their accents.

What podcasts do you recommend to make me smile?

4. My youngest daughter will be acting in a musical called Malcolm at the end of May, based on the book by George MacDonald of the same name. The book was edited by Michael Phillips and republished as The Fisherman’s Lady, and it has a sequel, The Marquis’ Secret. These updated versions of Macdonald’s romantic novels are, I’ve been told, quite well done and useful for modern day readers who might have trouble with MacDonald’s use of Scottish dialect and Victorian language. I’m already smiling to think of watching Z-baby and her friends in the musical version of Malcolm, and I hope to read The Fisherman’s Lady and perhaps another one or two of MacDonald’s books in May.

5. I would take a picture if I could of the lovely books that I was able to purchase at Half-Price Books this week, a few additions to my library. But a list will have to suffice:
God King by Joanne Williamson.
Abigail Adams (Childhood of Famous Americans) by Jean Wagoner.
Rosa Parks (Childhood of Famous Americans) by Kathleen Kudlinski.
Elizabeth Blackwell (Childhood of Famous Americans) by Joanne Landers Henry.
*How Do I Love Thee? A Novel of Elizabeth Barrett Browning by Nancy Moser.
Navigating Early by Clare Vanderpool.
Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears by Verna Aardema.
*The Sword and the Flame by Stephen Lawhead.
*The Dolphins of Laurentum by Caroline Lawrence.
*Dealing With Dragons by Patricia Wrede.

I’m smiling about the ones I’ve already read and can now give to my family and library patrons and about the ones that I’m looking forward to reading (*).

6. WORLD magazine’s latest issue features children’s books, including an article about the WORLD Children’s Book of the Year, Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley, an interview with John Erikson, author of the Hank the Cowdog series, a discussion of Victorian author GA Henty and reading historical books in cultural context, and lots and lots of book suggestions. I was on the committee that picked the middle grade fiction Book of the Year and the runners-up, so I definitely had a smile on my face as I read the many articles about children’s books in this weeks issue of WORLD magazine.

7. I had three library open house dates for my private subscription lending library that I run out of my house here in southeast Houston. Several families came to visit, and it looks as if several will join the library. I really, really enjoy having a library for children and adults (mostly homeschoolers) and sharing my books with them.