The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up & Shepherd’s Cross

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo was a Mother’s Day gift.  My daughter knows I am always trying new organization methods and thought this book sounded right up my alley.  The central tenet behind Ms. Kondo’s system is the idea that all the items you own should bring you joy….asking this question “Does this item spark joy?”  The book is really about culling your items and not relying on complicated and/or expensive storage options.  There are some helpful practical hints but the majority of the book focuses on being able to let go and questioning why we hold onto specific items and being grateful for the times we do use and keep.

This was a very quick read and I did find myself marking passages to return to later.  The book is written in a very personable manner, as though Marie Kondo is speaking directly to the reader.  i enjoyed reading it and will put some of the practices into use.  I would recommend it for anyone who is interested in self-help books of the organizational variety .

Shepherd’s Cross is a supernatural thriller set in a small, remote English Village.  In the opening scenes, a farmer stumbles across a horrifying altar erected on his land with in the sight lines of an old “abandoned” manse.  He involves the police and the investigation takes off at a hectic pace as bodies and crimes begin to accumulate with no seeming concern for the police who are investigating.

The plot was interesting and involved satanic rituals, virgin sacrifices, and the dark history of the village with a side plot of romance for one of the police officers.   I did feel that it was too rushed and this did not give the characters a chance to develop fully. But overall, it was a decent read.

The Secret History

The Secret History is a debut novel for author Donna Tartt.  I noticed it on several websites and lists and picked up my copy to read.  The premise of the book is that a very exclusive society has formed at a small private college in the north east.  The society of five is immersed in the teachings of one professor, known as Julian.  The students are isolated in the intensive study of ancient Greek culture, language, and arts.  The more immersed they become in Julian’s clique he and teachings, the more removed they become from the college and the world as a whole.  The protagonist Richard, a new student to the college, manages to break into the inner circle and he follows them “down the rabbit hole”.  A murder occurs and the group, who considers themselves elite and definitley above the rules, deals with the fall out.  The murder uncovers the flaws in their group, the individual members, and even their worshipped professor.  The novel follows the splintering of Julian’s society and the tragic consequences for the students.

This was a compelling read, with intriguing albeit unlikeable characters, and an elitist tone.  The book manages to both put intellectualism on a pedestal and hold it up to intense scrutiny.  One of the critques of the books is the incorporation of anachronistic language and cultural references.  In reading the book, it appeared to me that this was purposeful technique of the author intending to highlight the groups removal from mainstream society.  As such, I was not put off by it. An Interesting, well written mystery that boasts  an intricate plot with little onscreen violence.