Tag Archives: story

‘The Thirteenth Tale’ TWSM Book Review

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield


As the fall air turns crisp and pumpkins abound, why not curl up with a spooky story? The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield will whisk you away into a world of mystery, mansions, and family secrets. 

The story is told by Margaret Lea, a book lover and biographer who is hired to interview one of the most celebrated writers of her time, Vida Winters, an elderly woman with emerald eyes, copper curls, and a past full of secrets. Miss Winters is still full of fire and needs to tell her story before time runs out. As the novel unfolds, we learn about the love and loss that has shaped and strengthened both women. 

Some of my favorite quotes from The Thirteenth Tale include: 

“My story is not only mine; it is the story of Angelfield. Angelfield the village, Angelfield the house. And the Angelfield family itself. George and Mathilde; their children, Charlie and Isabelle; Isabelle’s children, Emmeline and Adeline. Their house, their fortunes, their fears. And their ghost. One should always pay attention to ghosts, shouldn’t one, Miss Lea?” (Chapter entitled And so we Began…) 

“There is something about words. In expert hands, manipulated deftly, they take you prisoner. Wind themselves around your limbs like spider silk, and when you are so enthralled you cannot move, they pierce your skin, enter your blood, numb your thoughts. Inside you they work their magic.” (Chapter entitled The Letter) 

“My gripe is not with lovers of the truth but with truth herself. What succor, what consolation is there in truth, compared to a story? What good is truth, at midnight, in the dark, when the wind is roaring like a bear in the chimney? When the lightning strikes shadows on the bedroom wall and the rain taps at the window with its long fingernails?” (Chapter entitled The Letter) 

The Thirteenth Tale is a gripping story that will keep you reading long past the witching hour. Setterfield honors the ashes of the past while providing a glimpse of enduring happiness for the future. Light a few candles, brew a cup of tea, and give it a read!

Rating 4 ½ out of 5 stars

Copyright 2006 by Diane Setterfield 

Liz is a technical writer by day and a humor writer by night. She lives in Minnesota with her two teenage daughters and their cats, Beau and Phoebe. When Liz is not reading, writing, or searching for new books to review, she can be found practicing yoga or enjoying time with friends and family — usually around a fireplace or a lake. She is savoring the time that she still has with her daughters under her roof, yet she secretly dreams of being an empty nester who can travel more and not have to worry about other people borrowing her socks.

Battle Scars

Scars. Some look at scars as ugliness. Something that could make us less feel attractive or makes us feel as though we’re unlovable. In my opinion, that couldn’t be more wrong. According to the dictionary a scar is defined as a mark left after injury has occurred and healing has begun or has been completed. A mark where something was previously attached. A lasting emotional or moral injury. At some point in everyone’ life, injury of some nature is bound to occur – whether it be physical, emotional, mental, moral (you get the picture). Not a single soul is immune to it. You will never be able to outrun it. There is no escape…if any of you have figured out a way to do this – – please, show me your ways.

It’s a hands down “no brainer” that physical injury heals much faster than any emotional injury. Get a surgery. Add some hardware. Throw a cast on it or stitch it up – wait a little while and good as new. Off you go and if you’re lucky you’re back to doing most or all of the things you were doing before the injury even occurred.

Emotional pain is much much more complex (duh). If I could click the heels of my ruby red bottoms (my version of Ruby Red Slippers) three times and heal any and all emotional pain I’ve endured over my 39 times around the sun, I’d be all for it. It sure sounds a hell of a lot better than the raging hangover you’re sure to have from a night of downing your pains in Whiskey just to forget. 🙂 I’m sure I got an amen out of a few of you out there, right? Yes? No? Moving along…

I personally find that it’s strange that when you’re in the middle of dealing with your major emotional pains, you feel as if you have not moved anywhere. Not one step off of ground zero. Paralyzed. Stuck in a constant swirl that can make you nauseous. In reality, life continues. YOU are basically on auto pilot. The world keeps spinning, the sun still shines, and seasons come and go. Minutes turn to hours, hours to days, days to weeks and so on. Finally when think of taking a look back – you’ve actually come a lot further than you have been feeling or thinking you have. It is there in that moment when we look back and can see we’ve actually “moved” and have not been in the same spot we were left in – THAT is when you realize that your healing has begun and scars are starting to form over the open wounds and broken pieces of our hearts and souls. Progress.

There’s not a person alive that can tell you the timeline in which this all is supposed to happen. There are no rules. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Your schedule to healing and dealing is autonomous. It’s yours and yours alone, no one has the right to tell you to get over something or “magically heal” from something that is or was of utmost pain for you. When you’re ready, you’ll know and it will be. It’s just that complicated and simple. We’re each at our own pace, and healing over things – whatever they may be – a broken family, abusive childhood, an ended marriage, lost friendships, death, etc. we need to remember that we’re not racing against anyone else in the world, because not one of us is the same as the next. Honestly, I envy those who are able to just pick themselves up, dust themselves off and carry on – but it also makes me wonder if they were ever bothered by what it was in the first place if they just move on with Mach 10 speed. Personally, I tend to be a person that holds on to things a hell of a lot longer than I should or way more than whatever it was deserves. I choose to believe (for myself) that it’s because I love harder than most – so letting go, moving on, and healing is harder as well. My opinion. You certainly don’t need to by that brand.

The bottom line and point is this – these scars that we form from become our “battle scars”. They are not a life sentence. They do not make us ugly. They do not make us unlovable. They help mold us into the person we’re ultimately supposed to be. Sometimes it’s to strengthen us. To help us grow up. To be a better version of ourselves. To walk away from what is not made for us, or to simply make us realize that we deserve so much better.

They remind us that even though there’s been ups and downs, some catastrophic in nature, some not so much… that we showed up for life and we survived. Each battle scar telling their own tale. They show us where we’ve been but they do not dictate where we will go.

To the warrior within you…

You’ve survived what you thought you wouldn’t. Wear your battle scars proudly.


  • Jenn


As promised, here I am blogging again…this is the first in a series of musings as I approach my 50th birthday in August…they will likely be random in nature…enjoy…XO…

In all of our life stories there are always those moments, the ones that alter everything.  The ones that change you in a way that will never be undone.  They are in every story of consequence that we carry with us…often in a wonderful way and also often in a way that we will never recover from.

Bear in mind that I don’t say “will never recover from” in a negative way, I say that in a true way as in we will move on from that moment, we will put ourselves back together, stand up, forgive, keep going…yet we will NEVER be the same exact person that we were before that moment occurred.  We will be more cautious (perhaps), wiser, less innocent, less naïve…most of all we will be DIFFERENT.  Often the people that contributed to those moments will want us to go back to being the same, they will want to erase the damage that they helped to happen…yet we cannot.  We are different now and will remain so.

I think this is why my Grandfather would tell me that once you left someone or they left you, once it was over—do not go back.  He would say that people don’t really change and that eventually the things that didn’t work would reappear.  For the most part, after just about 50 years now, I believe this to be the truth.  I think that there are cases where exceptional people do the work and repair broken things with success, however, I would call that rare…

The moments, they are not always in romantic relationships…those moments can be with a friend, a parent, a relative, a job…the moments that change you, they come from all kinds of places…sometimes they are caused by actions and sometimes by words.  I can recall holding my tongue more than once in my life for fear that if I uttered the words I wanted to it would cause a moment that could not be undone.  I can also recall times that I said those words, the ones I should have held in and I did cause moments that couldn’t be taken back.  I am guessing we have all been on both sides of that coin.

As I approach 50 in August, I am doing a lot of sorting and reflecting…making decisions about who I want around for the next 50 and who and what I can do without.  We put up with a lot of things…I am finding that I don’t really want to do that anymore.  My time is valuable to me and I want it spent on things and people that matter.

Looking back through the last 50 years, I gained an understanding of these ‘moments’ that I am speaking of.  I think that there is a lot of power in owning these moments and recognizing how they changed us, it can provide us with wisdom for what is to come next.

No matter what kind of moment it was, there was always a lesson…granted sometimes one that I did not learn until long after the moment had passed…really though that is how most things are, often we don’t see what there is to see until we get to the other side.


April 2, 2018


Are You Building A Legacy?

Gurdjieff ([1877-1949], priest, physician, teacher, author of ‘Meetings With Remarkable Men’) tells us that to live in a truly creative and dynamic way; we would have to think in a completely new way.  He encourages that to be completely fulfilled, we must engage in our own conscious evolution. In his work he also speaks about conscious labor and intentional suffering and about the importance of undertaking the burden of responsibility for serving the future…in other words building a legacy…

Gurdjieff’s student J.G. Bennett  “…adopted as a major theme of his life and work the teaching known as “The Fourth Way”. This is very simply that in the face of a threat, whether environmental disaster, war and conquest, or economic collapse, those persons who are able to do so must accept the responsibility of guiding and supporting the less resourceful, but not through the conventional institutions of government or religion, but rather on the level of new ideas and attitudes, inspiration and spiritual regeneration. As many Sufi teachers have done, he hinted at a world of experience in which the laws are quite other than those governing the material world – in some cases, the reverse. Those who are able to decipher this riddle must inevitably dedicate themselves to serving humanity, and the future of our world.” (www.jgbennett.net)

Those of us that understand that there is far more to life than what we can physically “see”, understand also that we have a responsibility to encourage other people not to be limited by their own thinking.  I speak often of the fact that you should never, ever judge or evaluate a situation by the way that it looks in any given moment—you should only ever operate from your intention about what the outcome will be.  So many people are stopped in their tracks because they think that the obstacles they encounter are “real”…they fail to understand that what makes obstacles “real” is believing that they exist.  There are people that are never stopped, people that never quit…if one way gets blocked up they find another…these are the people that succeed and know how to live ‘outside the box’…these are the kind of people you want to know.

I mostly live in a conversation called ‘what’s next…what else needs doing’, the past few weeks I have been living in a question called, “What is your Legacy?”

It is interesting that when you begin to engage in this discussion your life and what you have done or not done shows up in a whole different light…complaints and grievances don’t hold much water in the Legacy conversation…25 years after you’re dead nobody is going to care that your back hurt or you had a cold or a headache or that you were too tired to do the laundry.   Some people have told me that their children are their legacy and that is certainly true for all of us that are parents, however, for me that isn’t enough.

I want to leave something that breathes on long after I checked out…something that is dedicated to making people’s lives better, something that educates people and teaches them how to succeed…something that helps those that need helping…something that can be carried forward …something that makes a difference…

My life will change from living in the question, “What is your Legacy?”…do me a favor and take a moment to answer that question for yourself…honestly.  How are you giving back, who are you helping, and what are you serving besides yourself?  How do you serve the future?

I have a theory that if people lived in these questions life would take on a whole new meaning…if people lived for a purpose bigger than themselves the small annoyances they suffer would become much less significant.

Certainly not the average conversation, but average conversations never create much growth or much action—they also don’t cause you to think much.  I leave you with my favorite quote by George Bernard Shaw:

This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap; the being a force of Nature instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.


George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman, Epistle Dedicatory

  • written by Noelle (in case you couldn’t tell)


The Greatest Love Story of All Time…

Good Lord…I haven’t blogged for you guys in forever, so today I thought I would remedy that.  From time to time I will dabble at writing fiction and so I thought we would restart our blogging relationship with a bedtime story for you…a story for all of you romantics at heart…I think I used to be one of those people before life got in the way…here’s to the romantics in all of us…enjoy…

The Greatest Love Story of All Time


…The little girl said, “Mama tell me the greatest love story of all time…”  And the Mother brushed the hair from her child’s forehead and looked into her expectant eyes, took a deep breath and began…


She had a beautiful spirit and the smile in her eyes could leave you weak in the knees, you could feel her before she entered the room and her energy was contagious, she was generous, intelligent and kind…she was strong where others were weak, forgiving where others were hard-hearted and had the generosity of Spirit that only comes from understanding the real meaning of life…

He was sexy, handsome and fierce, chivalrous and kind, strong beyond measure, witty, smart and charming with an engaging sense of humor…he was the kind of man you would want your daughter to marry, the kind of man every woman wants to have…

You knew when you looked at him that he really understood things and that he would protect you and keep you safe …you knew when you stood near him and breathed into him that if he loved you; your life would never be the same…

He was both sweet and hard and to drink him in was like enjoying a very fine wine…to touch him and feed his passion was like spinning into something that had no words…

So many things had come before this, so many concessions made, so much craziness and then years of near solitude…

Ever since her father left her she had pretty much made the choice that she would never be with a man that she really, really loved because it seemed that life had taught her early on if you loved someone beyond reason they would leave you…and so she had carefully constructed a life with many fine people that she loved,  however there was always that place that they could never get to and they were never smart enough to know it even existed…she found that most people don’t care to look very deeply and in a world like that even her reserved form of loving showed up as something to treasure.  Her father came back after 25 years to right old wrongs and after a couple of years that allowed her to see that loving beyond reason and without conditions was, perhaps, possible…

Her heart had been smashed, stomped on, broken into bits…her ego periodically destroyed…she knew enough now to understand what really loving someone meant, love is an endless act of forgiveness and real love is a growing up.

He, perhaps had never quite found what he was looking for…to her,  he seemed strong, savvy and fierce,  yet somewhat sad and lonely underneath …it seemed that he had been unappreciated, unseen at a soul level and that he had suffered some from that.

A man suffers more than he knows when he isn’t loved properly…he becomes somewhat hard-hearted and uncharacteristically cynical…outside things can look so very perfect, yet sometimes somewhere deep in the heart and soul of him something is missing…

She sensed that he had some broken dreams that were difficult to get over…she wished that she could love him enough to make all the bad things disappear…yet she was smart enough to know he had to banish the demons on his own, perhaps using her love as a grounding place to become stronger for the fight.

She knew that true, pure love could restore anything…the trouble these days is that people don’t love pure and true and their stupidity destroys love’s power.

Her response to him was strong, quick and pure, it was without history and reason …it just was…

Meeting him caused her to re-think each aspect of her life and she saw that in some ways parts of her had nearly faded from neglect…it was so masked that she never even noticed until she met him…but he noticed, he saw it

He saw things about her that she couldn’t even see, until she looked through him and that was when she saw the empty places…the ones she thought didn’t matter anymore…

She didn’t need him to ‘complete’ her—she wanted him to ‘compliment’ her and she him…she felt that those were the things that lasted forever, the ones where you made each other better people by being together.

At this point the little girl interrupted her Mother and said, “Mama is that true, that people can make each other better by being together?”

Her Mother answered, “Yes, little one that is true…when soul mates come together they make each other shine, they help each other to find their best parts and everyone around them benefits from this.”

After she met him everything she thought changed…she woke up missing him and thought of him throughout the day…he was so far away yet he was inside of her as if he had always been there…it seemed that he belonged there…

At first she questioned her sanity…then over the days and weeks that passed she realized that perhaps her unspoken prayer had been answered…perhaps life could be completely altered in just one single moment…she was willing for that…

The Mother paused at this point and the little girl said, “Mama what’s wrong, why have you stopped?”

 And her Mother said, “The greatest love story of all time is a work in progress my love, these two people have had some Divine Intervention and now the rest is up to them…they have to be willing and they have to trust…”

 “But Mama I need to know what happens…I need to know the end of the story.”

 Her Mother answered, “Little One the greatest love story of all time will never have an end, it is a timeless story recreated by lovers’ everyday.  It is a promise and a prayer and it is ageless and timeless…and someday you will write your own chapter.”

 The little girl sighed and smiled at her Mother, “What about them Mama, the people in this story…what happens to them, how do we know if they will be alright?”

 “He will go to her, it will take him awhile to get there, but he will go and then they will write their own chapters together…”

 “Mama, I want them to be happy, I want them to believe…”

Her Mother replied, “Then every night before you go to sleep, say a prayer for them…say a prayer that will become timeless, a prayer for lovers everywhere…pray that they have faith, that they are strong enough to face their fears and pray that they believe in the magic of God’s Grace…”

And the little girl looked at her Mother and knelt down and prayed and when she was done she knew in her heart that the lovers had heard her…