23461002Thank you to William Morrow for the Advanced Reader’s Copy of Woman With A Secret (Goodreads).

Woman With A Secret (British version: The Telling Error, which is much better, more interesting and descriptive title) opens with a personal ad, thus beginning a twisty tale of murder, deception, and intrigue. The ad itself describes the murder scene at the forefront of the novel, and, immediately, the reader is brought into the investigation from what seems to be an insider; one cannot tell at this juncture whether the ad was written by the murderer or by an observer.

Each of Ms. Hannah’s Spilling CID novels take us through the dark, dank alleyways of our imaginations, deep into psychological mysteries that tend to focus on women at the center, as victims, as strong allies, and, sometimes, as perpetrators of the crimes involved. Woman With A Secret has several women who straddle the fence between victim and perpetrator, and, as usual, Ms. Hannah’s style of writing allows us to empathize with the female characters more strongly than the male stereotypes that appear in this story about murder, betrayal, and emotional abuse.

While we wonder if Nicki Clemens (whose sections are in first person) can be trusted as a narrator, mostly due to her perpetual lying to everyone in the story, including the police (could she be lying to us as well?), we also sympathize with her story, given her familial history as it slowly is revealed. Other, minor female characters also cause the reader to pause, and wonder about their believability and their motives; through the course of the novel, though, the male characters (besides our main CID detectives) seem to be more clichéd that nuanced: here, we have the doting husband(s), there, we see the misogynistic writer(s). Ms. Hannah has a deeper, more sophisticated hand writing one-off, single novel female characters than she does writing men.

That said, the Spilling CID male detective characters are fully developed, and each story brings more elements to each character, even the minor ones, such as Gibbs and Sellars. Unfortunately, in Woman With A Secret, there isn’t as much time spent on the Spilling CID main characters (Charlie and Simon) as in the past novels; one of the reasons this series is so enjoyable is the depth of detail and interest in these two flawed characters, and their relationship as it has developed over 9 novels and cases.

Without giving away any spoilers, it should be noted that Woman With A Secret is an interesting addition to the collection of the Spilling CID canon, with more slithery twists and turns than a basket of snakes, and more characters that turn out to be just as slimy.


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I’m so excited!

The other day, I emptied out our gorgeous quarter-sawn oak china cabinet (full of books) and took a picture of it. For a while now, I’ve been wanting to either sell it or put it in storage, as we had two large pieces of furniture in our living/dining area that were kind of making it seem smaller than it is. I am in a mindset right now of getting rid of things (perhaps it’s spring cleaning?) and paring down belongings and repairing what needs repair.

This cabinet in particular has an interesting story: it was in pieces in my parents’ attic for years upon years, until CarpenterBoy and I moved from a small town to the Big City 11 ½ years ago. They gave it to us, to put back together and use as storage. CarpenterBoy did a wonderful job piecing it together and got the glass for cheap, so since then, it’s been holding books.

CarpenterBoy said he didn’t mind if we sold it, but I had to call my parents to ask them if they wanted it back; finally, on Thursday, I remembered to ask my mom when we were on the phone (I kept forgetting to ask her that). And she said neither of them minded (but wouldn’t I rather just GIVE it to my sister—who also has too much furniture—instead? No, mom, then I wouldn’t get money for it, which is also nice to have….)

So I cleaned it out, rearranged all of the books on our built-in bookshelf, and we took pictures of the oak cabinet. I wanted to send the offer to friends and family first, then wait a few days and put it on Craigslist. And today, one of our friends said she wanted it! It’s going to a great home, we’ll have an extra snowflake to send to our emergency fund and to CC#1, and I’ll have a little more air in our living room!

Now, to find other things to sell and pare down some more!!

We had to run down to CarpenterBoy’s hometown last week, when his father had another stroke; I got the call when I was teaching and rushed home, and we got things together for the normally 6 hour drive (that took us 8 hours that day). We had to rent a car and cancel a LOT of things that were on the schedule last week, but made it to visit with his family and sit at the hospital in the ICU waiting room for three days.

His dad is okay now, and seems to be getting through this health issue. We won’t know for a few weeks what the mental damage is, but so far, he’s healing physically just fine.

All this running around and missing out on a few volunteer and paid gigs and having to rent a car and having to spend money eating at the hospital rather than home/leftovers has taken a crunch out of our money situation; I had intended to work through a few things last week, and send a big chunk to both savings and CC#1, but haven’t even had time since we returned on Friday to get to the financial stuff. I’m hoping to do that today when Bean naps.

All in all, I think we’ll be okay, but the trip will throw a small wrench in the plans to snowflake some of the money we were paid last week. That’s okay, though. I just have to be all calm and zen about it—it’s life. Things happen. Plans can be adjusted when necessary.

Lately, I haven’t had any time to work on this blog, and haven’t had much time or inclination to work on our financial goals.  Sure, I’ve paid things on time, even way in advance of due dates (I’m trying to get at least a month ahead rather than living paycheck to paycheck) but, for the most part, I’ve not put much time or effort into it.  I have been so busy with teaching and workshops and the Bean that I’ve sort of placed this blog and the financial goals off to the side.

That’s not to say I don’t think about it a lot of the time.  I tend to worry a great deal about money, and about how/when we’re going to pay things off, and about money coming in and going out.  

And lately, it seems like there’s always some obstacle or surprise standing in our way.  Something was wrong with the brakes on Car#1 and CarpenterBoy fixed them last week, only to find out that something more intense is wrong with the rotors on the brakes.  He’s got to fix that, now.  I’m lucky in that he’s able to work on these things and to fix these things wrong with the car, but it’s still got me stressed as to how much money the parts will cost us, and how it will take him away from the work he needs to do in his cabinetry shop.

I have several subaccounts at ING—and send money each month to the vacation fund and the holiday fund—but I don’t have one for car repair and issues.  I probably should.  I don’t know if I can squeeze any more money out of our budget, though.  I’m having a hard time right now as it is.  It would be so much better—it will be so much better—once the $700 we send each month to credit cards is done and going into OUR coffers again.  

I know that what I need to do is take deep breaths and remind myself of the big picture here.  The financial goals we’ve set, the things we need to take care of so later we can be more secure–those are the things I need to keep my eyes on.  The prize of financial freedom is what I need to keep my eyes focused on.  

Deep breaths.

In the effort to get things rolling (again) here, I’ve updated my numbers page. There are a few things happening in the next couple days, such as a huge snowflake to CC#1 ($450) and some transfers to savings, so the numbers will change slightly by this weekend.

I was pleased to note that our net worth went up by over $1000 since mid-January, partly due to paying most of the pediatrician and hospital bills, and due to me being more diligent in my goal to save money and pay down debt.

Go, me!!

So, I haven’t had much time lately to do much besides work and sleep. Today, though, the Bean is sick and we are at home; in a few minutes, he’s going to take a nap and I’m going to have a window of time to update the Numbers page.  I’m also hoping to be able to spend a few minutes writing something else, as I haven’t had time for that lately!