Sunday Bookends: Enjoying Christmas movies (yes, already); Charles Martin is a master writer; and cold weather hits our area

Sunday Bookends is my week in review, so to speak. It’s where I share what I’ve been up to, what I’ve been reading, what I’ve been watching, what I’ve been listening to, and what I’ve been writing. Feel free to share a link or comment about your week in the comments.


Cold and rainy weather hit our area this week so we barely left the house. On Friday we even had snow. Yuck.

Since it rained all week I managed to delve into some books (finishing one, starting two others), and watch three movies (five or so if you count me watching part of the Harry Potter movies with my son and his friend while they binged watched all the movies). I also wrote quite a bit more of The Farmer’s Daughter.

What I’m Reading

I finished The Dead Don’t Dance by Charles Martin this week and oh, it was so good. I believe it was his debut novel in 2004 or 2005.

He is a masterful writer and it made me wish I could write that well. After reading his book I considered giving up on writing all together, but decided we can’t all be Charles Martin and not everyone wants to read Charles Martin, though they should. To show an example of his writing, here are a couple of my favorite sentences/paragraphs:

  • “Whatever it was, I know that if someday the roles were reversed, I’d want her to do the same for me. I’d want my wife’s hands on me. I’d want to know she was there, thining about me, and her hands could tell me that better than anything else she might do.”
  • “I’m not quite sure where, but from someplace deep within, where the scabs are hidden, where the doubt can’t go and the scars don’t show, I began to cry.”
  • “Professor, you don’t know it, but you introduced me to me. This life needs people who stand in the ditch and argue with God because the rest of us are either too scared or too proud. I don’t really like all I see in the mirrior, but I’m beginning to think that the girl behind the glasses is worth digging into. Maybe I’ll take them off one day.”
  • “Moments before, I lived in a world where wisteria snake across my son’s grave as he rotted beneath a cement slab; where Vietnam Vets inhaled beer to help them forget the day they wiped Vicks salve in their noses so they wouldn’t have to smell the bodies as they zipped up the bags; where a no-good farmer bathed in a cornfield but couldn’t wash the blood clean; where snow fell on iced-over railroad tracks; where used-car salesmen robbed old women with inflated prices and double-digit interest rates; where little boys peed in the baptistry and pastors strutted like roosters; . . .”
  • “Standing there in my new boots and covered in pig smear, I didn’t know who to be until I knew where she was. I needed Maggs to tell me who to be-because that would tell me where she was, and most importantly, who we were.”

There are so many tough topics in this one (infant loss, wife in coma, rape, abortion, self-harm, alcoholism etc.) but it’s dealt with in such tasteful ways that it isn’t full-on in-your-face horror. You are pulled on this journey, sometimes kicking and screaming, with Dylan Styles, a man who has had a lot of heartache in his life and is dealing with more heartache as his infant son has died in childbirth and his wife is in a coma after losing too much blood during delivery. He is a teacher, writer, and a farmer after taking over his grandparents’ farm, where he moved with his wife. He spends much of the book struggling to come to terms with Maggie being a coma, the loss of his infant son, and where God was in all of it. This book is not your typical Christian fiction and it is not preachy at all, even though there are definite Christian undertones and Charles Martin is a Christian, having written non-fiction Christian books as well. I don’t even believe it is listed in Christian fiction (I mean he uses the word crap so that pretty much eliminates him from being allowed to publish a book under the Christian fiction title).

I’m delving into Maggie, the sequeal to The Dead Don’t Dance this week.

I’m also reading A Handful of Hope (Taste of Romance Book 4) by Elizabeth Maddrey. It’s my first book by her and though it’s part of a series, it stands on it’s own, like her other books seem to. It’s a straight up romance with very little side story other than the romance so it’s a nice, light read.

Book description:

She wants to be worth loving.

Repeated heartbreak has convinced Jen Andrews she’s unlovable. When the groomsman she’s paired with at her best friend’s wedding shows interest, she wonders how long it will be before he realizes his mistake.

David Pak is ready to settle down with the right woman. After a disastrous first date with Jen, he’s determined to look elsewhere. But he’s haunted by the wounded look in her eyes.

How will David set aside his hesitations and see past Jen’s barriers to find love? And if he tries, will she let him?

A Handful of Hope is the fourth book in the Taste of Romance series of contemporary Christian romance novels set in the metro Washington, D.C. area. If you like stories of love and hope in the fast-paced modern world with realistic characters and heartwarming romance, then you’ll love Elizabeth Maddrey’s latest journey with this beloved circle of friends.

The third book I hope to start this week is Amanda Dykes’ Whose Waves These Are, which was nominated for a Christy Award for best first novel and best novel. My mom read this in two days and then called me to tell me to read it so I think I’d better read it this week. Plus it’s on Kindle Unlimited and if I don’t hurry up and read it, my mom will return it. She’s a reading beast.

What I’m Watching

I watched Christmas romance movies this week. Yes, I did. I don’t care if I am two months early. They weren’t actually as cheesy as other Hallmark-type movies I’ve watched either. I only had to fast forward part of the one because of the “you lied to me!” trope.

Christmas Contract starred people I don’t know and was about a woman who had gone through a break-up but had to go home for Christmas and knew she would see her ex-boyfriend so her friend decides she should take the friend’s brother home with her to make it look like she has a new boyfriend. Yeah, you can figure out the rest. The acting was actually pretty good and that’s all that saved this horrible plot.

Christmas on the Bayou was with the same actress as Christmas Contract and was another story of a woman going home for Christmas, not because of a break-up but because she knew she needed to spend more time with her son. The subtly between the romantic interests was a breath of fresh air compared to those movies where they are all hot and heavy the whole time and sleep together after their first kiss.

Wild Prairie Rose was the better of the three movies I watched this week. It was a sweet story of a woman who — um, yeah, — goes home. Yes, I know. Very similar plot to the other two. BUT it wasn’t at Christmas this time. This time she went home in the summer because her mother had not been feeling well and she wanted to help her take care of her home and simply to see her during that time. The story takes place in 1952. While there, Rose, the main character meets a man who is both deaf and dumb and forms a friendship with him. Will it develop into more? Won’t it? You’ll have to see but it’s not only a romance and I suggest you pull out some tissues before you watch it.

All three movies were on Amazon but may be available other places as well.

What I’m Writing

I shared two chapters from The Farmer’s Daughter this week and a post with tips about how to combat anxiety and depression during COVID and a toxic political season. I didn’t really have much mental energy to write much else.

Photos of the Week

I do not have a ton of photos this week because, again, it was dreary and miserable out and we didn’t really do anything worthy of photographing. We did attend a Trunk-or-Treat in town on Halloween so I have some photos from that, but that was about the extent of our “excitement” for the week.

How was your week? What have you been reading, watching, doing, writing, listening to and all that jazz? Let me know in the comments.

Published by

Lisa R. Howeler

I'm a mom, a wife, a writer, a photographer and a former journalist. I write a little bit about a lot of things on my blog Boondock Ramblings. In September of 2019 I self-published my first novel, A Story to Tell and published another one, A New Beginning, in May of 2020. I enjoy John Wayne and Cary Grant movies, Jan Karon's books, and I have an electic taste in music. Welcome to my blog and feel free to poke around. Fridays are Fiction Fridays, where I share a piece of fiction I'm working on.

2 thoughts on “Sunday Bookends: Enjoying Christmas movies (yes, already); Charles Martin is a master writer; and cold weather hits our area

  1. The beginning of the week was cold, raining, and dreary. It began to warm up Thursday. I had a productive week in writing book reviews and housework. One of my best friends is early in her journey with stage 4 metastatic breast cancer. She lives next door to me. We text each other almost daily but she’s too sick to visit in person. My mother-in-law was in the hospital 3 days with severe anemia. My husband’s hand is healing (injury at work in late August) but he has 3 more weeks of restrictions and OT. I’ve made a few more changes in how to have more peace in my home: putting cell phone in another room, turned off email notifications, deleted several apps, and made several changes on Facebook. Have a beautiful Sunday!

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    1. Whew. A lot going on right now for you! Praying for your friend and mother-in-law and husband! I’m glad you had a more productive week than me but I know I’ll have a productive week at some point. 😉 well, I made it through homeschooling this week without having a total breakdown so that’s pretty productive at least. 😂

      Those changes sound great. I have blocked all social media from my phone and computer this week and I really hope to keep it up for about 30 days just to reset and maybe finish some projects this month.

      Liked by 1 person

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