Boondock Ramblings

Sunday Bookends: Rembrandt Stone and a short update

Welcome to Sunday Bookends where I ramble about what I’m reading, watching, listening to and doing.

What I’m Reading

This past week I ended up skimming through a couple of the books I volunteered to read for book review tours. The one just was not good, the other one was good but just not my type of book.

Two books I read in the last couple of weeks that I enjoyed included:

A Convenient Risk by Sara Turnquist and Songs of the Storm by Kathy Geary Anderson.

Both books are historical fiction, which I don’t usually read.

I am reading another historical fiction, Saving Mrs. Roosevelt, by Candace Sue Patterson, for another book tour.

I am reading the last book in the Rembrandt Stone Series, Heart of Stone, for a book tour and for fun. I’d like to breeze right through it, but I’m also enjoying savoring it and don’t want the series to end. I’m having a hard time going to bed when I get into it, though, because I really need to know what happens and that it turns out okay. I might have it finished in the next couple of days as it is a fairly short, quick read.

Rembrandt Stone is a detective who comes into possession of a watch that takes him back in time to solve cold cases, but as he works to solve his cold cases he also tries to fix some other situations, resulting in a messed up timeline and his entire world being turned upside down. Even if you aren’t a fan of science fiction, you will like these books, I promise you. If you like suspense, intrigue, and romance, then you will really love these books.

Little Miss and I finished These Golden Years by Laura Ingalls Wilder last week and started The First Four Years. I hope to finish Blood Brothers this week, which I have been reading with The Boy. It is about a Christian Palestinian and the challenges he faces as a child, as well as how he has fought for peace and reconciliation between Jews and Palestinians for more than 50 years.

What I’m Watching

This past week I have been watching Irish R.M. with Peter Bowles. I had previously watched To the Manor Born with him, so I thought I’d check this one out as well and now I’m caught up in it. I guess you would describe it as a lighthearted comedy without laugh tracks. The characters are endearing and hilarious, especially the Irish who the main character (Major Sinclair Yeates) has come to be the magistrate for. Flurry is devious, but the charming character who is always getting the main character, the Major, in trouble either locally or with visitors.

In fact, most of the people of the town are usually trying to trick the magistrate in one way or another which makes for hilarious developments during each episode.

This show was very popular in the UK when it was on and apparently ran for a number of years.

What’s Been Occurring

We literally have been doing school and that’s about it. If anything exciting or halfway interesting happens, I’ll be sure to let you know in a future blog post.

What I’ve Been Listening To

I finally set up a playlist on my phone that features some of my favorite songs.

I thought I’d share a few of those today.

So that is my small update for today. How was your week last week? Let me know in the comments.

Sunday Bookends: The Boy is 15 (gulp), I’m finally reading non-fiction, and driving on narrow, dirt roads.

Welcome to Sunday Bookends where I talk about what I’ve been reading, watching, listening to, doing, and sometimes what I’ve been writing.

What’s Been Occurring

Today is my son’s 15th birthday.

I don’t want to write too much about it, to be honest, because one, I’ll probably start to cry and two, he’s a teenager and values his privacy now. Because he doesn’t like me to share photos of him now that he is a *cough* mature *cough* teenager, I decided to share the photos he would allow me to share of himself today.

That’s right. Teenagers aren’t a fan of having their photos being shared and I have to accept that.

We are going to my parents for some dinner and his favorite dessert, my mom’s homemade apple pie. And then I shall cry a little later over the fact these 15 years have gone by so insanely fast.

Last week Little Miss had her last science class at a local camp. My dad went with us to visit with a friend who he went to high school with and whose son owns the camp. Before we went he asked me what he was supposed to do for three hours.

“I can’t talk to Tom for three hours.”

Yeah. Right.

My dad is a talker. I practically had to drag him away from the camp at the end of the science class.

We left the camp with an extra child. A friend of my daughter came home to play with her. On the way home Dad decided to take a detour up a narrow dirt road to show us a gas well up on a hill near our house.

I didn’t realize there was a natural gas well so close to our house, but I should have known since there are so many around us.

As we drove up a tiny dirt road toward our house, Little Miss asked how close we were to home.

“Remember, when we ride with Grandpa we always go on an adventure,” I told her. “Isn’t that—” I tried to say fun, but she quickly said, “No,” before I could finish my sentence.

My dad cracked up. “Well, that answer was a little too quick.”

What I’m Reading

I struggled with one of the books this week that I agreed to read for a review tour, so I ended up mainly skimming it toward the end.

Now I am on to Saving Mrs. Roosevelt by Candace Sue Patterson and Songs in the Storm by Kathy Geary Anderson. I’ve actually read Kathy’s book before for a critique group but I’m going to read it again for a review tour.

I’m also reading Relative Silence by Carrie Stuart Parks because Saving Mrs. Roosevelt doesn’t have to be read until December.  So far I am having a very hard time putting Carrie’s book down.

I never read a book for Non-fiction November because I don’t really read a lot of non-fiction books but had already started Blood Brothers by Elias Chacour and am hoping to finish reading it this week. I am partly reading and partly listening to it through the Kindle app on my phone.

This is an eye-opening book about the Palestinian people from the perspective of a Palestinian Christian who was living in Israel when it became a nation and whose family was pushed from the land their family had owned for generations.

Elias Chacour would eventually leave Palestine and Israel as he studied to become a pastor, but returned later.

I am so glad that Notgrass includes this book as part of their World Geography Curriculum because it has certainly painted a new picture for me of what the Palestinian people went through and continue to go through today. The book doesn’t strike out politically against one side or another but expresses Chacour’s desire for the Jewish and Palestinian people to live in peace as they did for hundreds, even thousands of years, with some heartbreaking exceptions. The tilt of the world’s view of Palestinians, describing them as terrorists and the Jews as victims, was a harsh reality for Elias and his friend when they were sent out of the Middle East and to Paris for further, more formal education within the Christian church.

I am reading the rest of this book with anticipation but also trepidation. So much hardship has fallen on Elias and his family by the point in the book that I am at, that I am almost afraid to read what will happen next, yet I desperately want to know how his story ends, or at least to the point of the end of the book.

What I’m Watching

I have had pain in my neck and shoulder from a pinched nerve this week so I have been watching Bob and Brad on YouTube. Have you ever seen these guys? I love them. They are Physical Therapists who have a YouTube channel.

If you’re wondering if their suggestion worked, the answer is, yes, it did. Very well. The pain was gone after a few minutes of trying the chin tuck and the stretching with the towel, and like they suggested, it is something I have been repeating a few times of day since yesterday.

My husband and I watched a couple episodes of Dark Shadows last night. It was interesting. I didn’t know much about it, even though I have heard of it before. If you don’t know, this was a show that ran in the 60s. It was filmed live five days a week for six years, I think it was. It was a show beyond its time. It featured vampires, ghosts, goblins, werewolves, and other supernatural characters, something common today but not as common back then.

I also ran to my comfort food of TV with The Andy Griffith Show to escape the sadness of the world. I wanted to watch The Dick VanDyke Show but the only place I can stream it now offers it with commercials and I didn’t want to watch the commercials.

That’s my week in review. How about all of you? What have you been reading, doing, listening to, or watching? Let me know in the comments.

Sunday Bookends: A short update. A few books. Annoying TV characters. A little trick-or-treating and the last of fall.

Welcome to Sunday Bookends where I talk about what I’ve been reading, watching, listening to, doing, and sometimes what I’ve been writing.

What I’m (We’re) Reading

I finally finished Another Man’s Moccasins by Craig Johnson, which kept getting pushed aside because of books I was reading for book tours.

This week I should finish The Love Coward by Naomi Musch and I am starting The Inn On Hanging Hill by Christy Barritt.

Little Miss and I finished Tolliver’s Secret for school this week. At night we are reading These Happy Golden Years, which I haven’t read since I was maybe ten. I am completely caught up in this book as I re-read about Laura’s romance with Almanzo. I didn’t remember the stories about her rivalry with Nellie Olson and I found myself reading ahead after Little Miss fell asleep. It was a lot of fun to do Nellie’s stuck-up voice; though I feel my effort was lost on Little Miss who kept falling asleep.

Speaking of Little Miss, I think I need a new blog nickname for her. Little Miss makes her sound stuck up. She’s opinionated and sometimes a bit bold and bossy but she isn’t stuck up. I’ll have to think about a new blog name for her down the road.

Anyhow, I have digressed.

The boy and I are reading Blood Brothers by Elias Chacour. I don’t participate in non-fiction November but this could count.

What I’m Watching

I’m watching The Eliott Sisters and I’m waiting for the one sister to get what is coming to her because she is having an affair with a married man and she’s totally arrogant about it. She’s a terrible character right now. She’s always sure her latest relationship (we are on three or four and this is only the second season) is “the one” and it never is.

The other sister is just very stuck in her ways and is overly intense.

The show is set in 1920s England follows the lives of a pair of sisters running a fashion business.

Why do I keep watching the show? Because sometimes making fun of shows is a nice distraction from the trials of life.

What’s Been Occurring

This past week we did almost nothing because the last key fob to our van broke and we have had to wait for a replacement before we can start our van. Even after we get the replacement in the mail, I have to go to a dealership to have it programmed.

On Saturday we went to a trunk-or-treat and trick-or-treating event in a town about 30-minutes away as a family. We met up with some friends for the event and my husband also took photos for his job at the local paper.

The earlier part of the week was warm so we enjoyed some time outside for school before the cold weather set in, along with rain, on Thursday.

This week we have the last science class for the fall at a local children’s camp and a grooming appointment for our dog. Our son’s 15th birthday is next Sunday.

What I’m Listening To

Last week I watched The Dove Awards, which TBN put on YouTube. I enjoyed the performances by Natalie Grant, CeCe Winans, and Zach Williams.

So that is my week in review.

Let me know what you’ve been reading, watching, listening to or doing in the comments.

Sunday Bookends: fiction with real messages, books for book tours, and a little trick or treating

Welcome to Sunday Bookends where I talk about what I’ve been reading, watching, listening to, doing, and sometimes what I’ve been writing.

What I’m Reading

I finished two books this week but I was almost done with both of them.

I finished The Rhise of Light by Max Sternberg (a Christian fantasy book) and my first Terri Blackstock book, Double Minds.

Double Minds was a raw look at the not-always-perfect world of Contemporary Christian Music and how even Christians fall into the trap of fame and power. That trap can lead to lies and murder, or at least it did in this fiction book. While I have had heard a couple stories about the lies and power traps within the Christian music community, I luckily have never heard of a murder case.

I am sure there are also many women in the industry who have struggled with the body issues that one of the characters in this book did. I’ve heard about Blackstock’s books before and how they are clean but also very honest and raw, not afraid to pull aside the curtain and show that Christians struggle like everyone else.

The Rhise of Light held my attention all the way through, even though I’m not usually a fan of fantasy books or movies. I posted a review of it yesterday.

This week I am continuing The Love Coward by Naomi Musch and am determined to finish Another Man’s Moccasins by Craig Johnson, since I have been interrupted by other books since I started it some three or four months ago.

After that I have a small list of books I need to read for book tours or reviews by mid-November or early December.

Those books include:

Saving Mrs. Roosevelt by Candace Sue Patterson;

A Convenient Risk by Sara R. Turnquist;

Heart of Stone by David James Warren (the last book in the Rembrandt Stone Series and oh my gosh I am sooooo excited I get to read it early!);

The Inn on Hanging Hill: The Beach House by Christy Barritt;

and Songs in the Storm: Wind River Chronicles by Kathy Geary Anderson (written by a woman in my writing critique group so I have actually already read this and I really enjoyed it. I’m not a huge fan of historical fiction, but I got caught up in the lives of these characters.).

What’s Been Occurring

This past week was a fairly relaxed week other than the cat drama I wrote about earlier in the week.

From Thursday to Friday our temperature dropped about 20 degrees and Little Miss ended up with her normal weather change sickness. She always develops a fever of about 101 when the weather changes, it lasts about a day, and it’s done.

About three weeks ago this happened but she had a legit cold because my son got it as well.

We went to a trunk-or-treat event in the town where my husband works yesterday and I only allowed Little Miss to go if she wore her mask, which she was fine with since it was part of her costume (Spider Gwen from a parallel universe). She was pretty tired from not sleeping well the night before but didn’t want to miss seeing her friends and getting candy. She immediately told her friends to “social distance!” in case she could get them sick.

What I’ve Been Writing

I’m working on The Next Chapter, but am taking a different approach than my last books. I am actually trying to develop lists for my characters so I know exactly where they are going in the story and why. The main reason for doing this with this book is that I have three point of views and therefore three character arcs I need to make sure develop, but also interconnect at some point in the book.

I am also trying my hand at a little bit of plotting, versus writing by the seat of my pants. I still don’t like strict plotting before I start writing, but with three POVs, I will need to have some idea of where the story is going to go as I write.

I’ve always been a bit of a hybrid writer, or at least since book three that is. I write my books mainly by the seat of my pants, but I also plan out chapters as I get going, writing down a few thoughts about what I want to happen in future chapters.

Last week, I didn’t share a ton on the blog. I wrote a post about our tree climbing cat and shared a chapter from The Next Chapter. I’m sure most of the chapters I am sharing will change  a ton before the book is finally published sometime in the spring.

What I’m Watching

I did not watch a ton this week. My husband and I started season four of Lovejoy (which I talked about last week).

What I’m Listening To

I listened more to Crowder’s new album Milk and Honey this week and love it.

So that’s my week in review. How about all of you? Reading anything good? Watching anything interesting? Let me know in the comments.

Sunday Bookends: Do you listen to podcasts? Suspense novels and remembering when Doctor Who was a good show

Welcome to Sunday Bookends where I talk about what I’ve been reading, watching, listening to, doing, and sometimes what I’ve been writing.

What I’ve Been Reading

Up for reading this week is The Rhise of Light by Max Sternberg, which I will finish this week, Double Minds by Terri Blackstock in hardcover, and The Love Coward by Naomi Musch on Kindle. 

I also need to catch up on Blood Brothers, which I am supposed to be reading with my son. He is reading this book for his social studies/English. Here is a description of this important book, written in 1984:

As a child, Elias Chacour lived in a small Palestinian village in Galilee. When tens of thousands of Palestinians were killed and nearly one million forced into refugee camps in 1948, Elias began a long struggle with how to respond. In Blood Brothers, he blends his riveting life story with historical research to reveal a little-known side of the Arab-Israeli conflict, touching on questions such as: -What behind-the-scenes politics touched off the turmoil in the Middle East? -What does Bible prophecy really have to say? -Can bitter enemies ever be reconciled? Now updated with commentary on the current state of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as well as a new foreword by Lynne Hybels and Gabe Lyons, this book offers hope and insight that can help each of us learn to live at peace in a world of tension and terror.’

Double Minds is a suspense book in the Christian genre and so far, it’s holding my attention, even though I’ve repeatedly been interrupted while reading it and even loaned it to my mom at one point while I was reading books for book tours. Yes, I do read suspense from time to time. The two genres I don’t read much of are Science Fiction and Fantasy. I can’t seem to keep up with the characters in most of these books since they often deal with aliens or fantastical creatures with strange names and histories.

Little Miss and I are reading These Golden Years, book eight of the Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder at night. During the day we are reading Toliver’s Secret for social studies/English.

What I’m (We’re) Listening To

I was forced to buy a new phone since I share my Apple account with my son and he fills my phone with photos and memes. My phone had very little memory and was also starting to wig out when I wanted to make calls. My old phone became a “game phone” for Little Miss so now she can play her games on it and I can have my phone for things like listening to podcasts. I don’t listen to podcasts often, but I hope to more now. 

My husband listens to a lot of podcasts. A blogging friend and I were talking about her love for all things dark and mysterious (but not too gory) and I told her my husband likes a lot of podcasts that deal with murder mysteries or darkish things. I snagged a list for her and thought I’d share it here as well. His podcast list of mystery type podcasts: 

Death of A Starlet

The Burned Photo

Love Is A Crime

The Plot Thickens

Murder in Hollywoodland

The Black Dahlia Serial Killers

Murder Book by Michael Connelly 

You Must Remember This 

Roanoke Falls

As for me, my podcasts are much less exciting or suspenseful. My list is much different than my husband’s, though he listens to a couple of the same ones I do, including Unashamed with Phil and Jase Robertson. My other podcasts include The Andrew Klavan Show (only when I can handle political things and lately I haven’t watched, read, or listened to politics because my nerves are shot), Living on the Edge with Chip Ingram, Story Chats with InspyRomance, The Basically Bookish Podcast, The Matthew West Podcast, Novel Marketing Podcast, Marriage Today, Elevation Church, and Laugh More with the Skit Guys. 

What podcasts do you listen to? Let me know in the comments.

In addition to podcasts, I’ve also been listening to a new-to-be band called We The Kingdom.

What We’ve Been Watching

Last night I forced my son to watch Armageddon with me, not because I liked it, but because I hated it and I wanted him to hate it too. We had a blast making fun of it for about an hour but just couldn’t stomach it anymore after that. My son made some hilarious jokes during it but mainly was baffled by how some of the things that blew up did blow up. If you don’t know the movie, it is directed by Michael Bey. If you don’t know Michael Bey, he makes films where there are constant explosions and special effects. So many explosions, in fact, that, as my son said, they can’t afford writers for the movies he directs so the movies have no plot.

When my husband came home from a work assignment, we watched a couple of Lovejoy episodes, one of them a mystery that took place in Prague.

The show follows Lovejoy, an antique dealer who has a penchant for getting in trouble, his sidekicks Eric and Tinker, and Lady Felsham who is married but with whom he has sexual tension with for much of the series.

We just started series four so I’ll be anxious to see how that friendship goes or if they simply write her off like so many British shows do.

The Boy and I also watched several episodes of the 11th Doctor of Doctor Who over the last couple of weeks. Watching Matt Smith as The Doctor reminded me of the days when Doctor Who was good. Sadly, they made the show a feminist soap box when they made The Doctor a woman because we all know a woman can’t be a lead in a show without being a preachy woman who has a cause to fight against, especialy in science fiction or fantasy. God forbid she just be allowed to fight aliens, or have space adventures. No, she has to preach for women’s rights or make a statement against racism. In my humble opinion, the lastest series of Doctor Who is the worst I have ever seen and I have been watching it since the 80s. It’s also extremely sexist to me to make a female Doctor a champion of women’s rights instead of just a fun, interesting character. If how the female Doctor was written doesn’t show that the male writers of shows like Doctor Who aren’t sexist, then I don’t know what is. They couldn’t simply let her have fun — she had to be working to fight a cause and preach to viewers too. Gah. Drives me nuts.

So you can remember the “good ole’ days” of Doctor Who (of the modern era anyhow) here is a clip of Matt Smith as the Eleventh Doctor.

And here is when my two favorite Doctor incarnations met in the 50th anniversary special.

Please ignore Clara in this clip. This is about the time I was waiting for her to die.

And here is the Doctor I grew up on.

What’s Been Occurring

I took the youngest to a science camp this week, getting up at what felt like the crack of dawn since it was so foggy outside and for the entire 35-minute drive there.

With the fog . . .
When the fog lifted about an hour later . . .

She learned about building and how animals in the wild build homes to protect themselves. While she was learning, I wandered and took some photos of the changing leaves, but not a ton since our leaves never did turn pretty colors but instead turned mainly brown, died, and fell off around us. There were a few pretty oak leaves around us there so I took photos of them.

After the event, Little Miss surprised me by asking me to go home with a friend. She rarely does that since she’s a Mama’s Girl and likes to stay home with me. She spent the afternoon with them and we picked her up later in the evening. Her dad picked her up and when she came up to me she ran up, threw her arms around me, and declared she thought I had abandoned her because I hadn’t shown up at the exact time she thought I would. Apparently, she missed me after all.

It was very weird driving home without her. Weird and a little bit lonely. This is the road I used to travel every day for six years when I went to high school 20-minutes away from where I lived:

This doesn’t really show how windy and twisty it is but every day, for a good 90 minutes after I got to the school, I was car sick after the bus ride. You would think after that many years my body would have gotten used to it, but it never did. I still get sick on this stretch sometimes, or at least am left feeling dizzy.

I did not pass this property evey day on my way to school, but I have passed it hundreds of times over the years and always love the view.
These gorgeous wildflowers were along the road as I drove home all alone from the science class.

We have one more of these science classes in a couple of weeks and then we won’t have any more homeschool-related outings for much of the winter, since we are not part of any local co-ops. There isn’t a local co-op, other than one where we used to live, about 45 minutes away.

So that is my week in review.

How about all of you? Let me know what you are reading, listening to, watching, and have been doing in the comments, and if you want to join in some week, feel free to right-click on the graphic below and join in.

Sunday Bookends: Movies about death, books about the undead, and dying leaves but still hope in Christ

Welcome to my weekly Sunday Bookends post where I rambling about what I’ve been reading, watching, listening to, writing and doing.

What I’ve Been Reading

I finished Sunny: The Weather Girls Book One this week. It was an okay book. Very simple and sweet with a totally out of place “conversion” scene tossed in at the end, as some Christian fiction books do. I will have a review up for it Tuesday, since it is part of a book tour.

I am in the middle of The Rhise of Light by Max Sternberg and enjoying it.

Last week I neglected to share the description for it and thought I would do so this week. It is a Christian fantasy novel.

The entirety of living civilization stands on the very brink of death. Undead hordes have rampaged across the world. Determined to do his part, Leon Rhise left his wealthy father’s estate and chose to defend the last living kingdom by joining the military. It had seemed to be a good idea at the time.

After his career in the airship navy came to an abrupt end Leon arrived home, hoping for a warm reception. Instead, he was abruptly tossed out. Disowned, unemployed, and friendless. All hope seems lost. Then Leon discovers a mysterious relic, which opens up the possibility of him becoming a Judge: a hero of legend. One that has not been seen for centuries.

As Leon travels the road less taken his destiny converges with newfound companions, each one surrounded by mystery. Advised by strange beings in dreams and visions, Leon learns that the undead onslaught the world has suffered is part of a much larger problem. A solution can be found by learning about the forgotten being known as Adonai. But the world is ending, and time is running out.

Delve into a world that brings a unique twist and interpretation to faith-based high fantasy. With emotional highs and lows, certain peril, dysfunction, and humor; tough questions are asked, and answers will come to light.

I am really enjoying the fourth book in the Craig Johnson Longmire series, despite having started it two or three months ago. I haven’t taken on any other books for the rest of the month, into November, so I should have plenty of time to finally finish it this week. Yes, the Longmire books are much different than what I write or usually read.

Little Miss and I are reading Little Town on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder at night and Toliver’s Secret by Esther Wood Brady for her school during the day. Now that we are on book seven of the Little House series, it is interesting to see how Wilder’s writing progressed from her first book. There is much more description in the later books, as well as a lot more introspection on the part of Laura.

I do have to wonder though, if the story about Laura’s future sister-in-law Eliza Jane being so mean to her when Eliza Jane was her teacher was true or not. After looking up some information about Eliza Jane, I found it interesting that she passed away before Laura finished her series. Maybe that was why Laura felt comfortable writing about how mean Eliza Jane was too her. Of course, a lot of Laura’s books were only based on fact, not completely factual, so maybe she elaborated that story for the sake of the fictional Laura’s story.

If the story was true and Laura had to see Eliza Jane at family gatherings, I would imagine that was a bit awkward, to say the least.

The Boy is reading Blood Brothers by Elias Chacour, which is a book about Palestine around the time that the nation of Israel was established, for school.

What We’ve Been Watching

I’ve been watching The Elliot Sisters, which is chocked full of drama every episode. I can’t seem to look away, even though the drama is a bit silly at times. The one sister seems always to fall for a man who is at risk of dying and the other sister is often overly, and illogically, dramatic and uptight about the simplest of things. But the acting is good, it is very clean, and it is a nice distraction from the craziness of the world.

Another nice distraction is the show Lovejoy, a British show about an antique dealer who seems to always get himself mixed up in some kind of trouble. I usually watch that with the Hubs.

The Boy and I finished up Paul, Apostle of Christ, a movie I encourage all Christians to watch. I assigned it to The Boy for his Bible lesson this past week. It stars Jim Caviezel as Luke from the Bible as he tries to record the words of Paul before he is executed in Rome.

The movie includes an underlying story of Christians being persecuted by Nero as well as the story of the jail keepers daughter dying from an illness. This a complex movie that is not your traditional “Christian” movie in other words.

The Boy and I were watching a scene when a woman comes in to the Christians in hiding, covered in blood. They ask her where she is hurt and she says, “This is not my blood. It is the blood of my baby.” The Romans had killed her husband and baby and only she was able to escape. My son looked at me and said, “Daaang. They aren’t pulling any punches in this one.”

And they do not. From Christians used as torches to light the streets of Rome to Paul being brutally beaten and whipped, this is real life at it’s most raw and horrific. Yet in the end you will find hope. A hope that does not come without trials, just as Paul told us in his letters.

What’s Been Occurring

Last week Little Miss had two days to celebrate her birthday. We took her to a fall event at a local camp on her actual birthday and then she had a party at our house on Sunday.

After that we had a very regular, routine week of school and life. We watched the majority of leaves around us turn brown and fall off, which was rather depressing. We did take one day to seek out some pretty leaves and found a few laying in our yard and a few on a couple of maple trees around us.

The large maple tree in front of our house that usually showcases lovely red leaves instead turned brown and looks awful. It’s a bit depressing, actually.

Our one adventure this week was when the kitten escaped and was gone for several hours. We had just decided that she had been eaten by a wild animal when she sauntered up the driveway toward me, running at first, then slowing down and flopping on her side to let me know she didn’t give a fig that she’d completely freaked us all out.

She’s now grounded.

We try to keep her inside anyhow, but she’s a quick little stinker and darts out our back door before we can stop her. She isn’t like our other cat who sneaks out and then wanders around close to the house. I have a feeling Scout, as we named our crazy kitten, tours the entire town before returning home, which is the main reason we aren’t letting her outside for a long while.

Saturday, we took Little Miss to a roller rink to try out the skates we and her grandparents gave her for her birthday. We met a friend there and she had a blast.

Later this week we have a science camp for her at a local Christian camp for homeschool.

What I’ve Been Writing/What’s Been on The Blog

I’ve been working on The Next Chapter in between writing book reviews and blog posts about homeschooling.

This week on the blog:

Creative Fusion: Book Review with Celebrate Lit

Yes, you can homeschool your children. No, you don’t need a teaching degree. Links for parents ready to step into the world of Homeschooling

Ten pieces of advice to make your homeschooling experience easier

Blood From a Stone Book Review with Just Read Blog Tours

Fiction Friday: The Next Chapter Chapter 6

Fiction Friday: The Next Chapter Chapter 6

On Hopes, Hearts and Heroes, a blog I contribute to, I shared a blog post from 2017 about planting a garden, taking a step away from rambling about writing and fiction.

What I’ve Been Listening To

I’m including this section because sadly I have not been listening to anything and I should be. I’m much more relaxed when I listen to music or podcasts and I have been failing on that lately. I hope to find some good podcasts to delve into this week. I started listening to Livin’ La Vida Gokey with singer Danny Gokey and his wife and enjoyed it so I hope to get back to it. I have also enjoyed Matthew West’s podcast and hope to get back to that as well. I seem to only find time for podcasts at the end of the day, so when I lay down to listen to them, I fall asleep.

So that is my week in review. How about yours? What are you reading, watching, writing, listening to or doing these days? Let me know in the comments or link up your own blog post if you want to take part.

Sunday Bookends: weird days, another birthday,

Welcome to my Sunday Bookends, where I share what I’ve been doing, reading, watching, writing, and blah, blah, blah.

What’s Been Occurring

The past month has brought a lot of odd occurrences in our family.

It all started with Little Miss’s snake bite that ended with her receiving an ambulance ride to the local emergency room (about 20 minutes from my parents) on Labor Day. The snake wasn’t venomous that any of us know of, but Little Miss passed out and hit the kitchen table and then passed out again and well, after that, we were off to the ER.

After that incident, things were fairly calm until Little Miss and The Boy came down with a cold last week and then a spider dropped on Little Miss in her bed one night while we were getting ready to lay down. Later in the week Zooma the Wonder Dog broke her lead and went head to head with a skunk, which resulted in, yes, of course, her being sprayed in the face by the offended creature.

That old saying “when it rains it pours” has held true for us this past month, but luckily in smaller ways that it does for many.

We washed Zooma twice, but we are still unable to get too close to her without getting a whiff of the skunk’s perfume. We will most likely have to wash her again in a couple of days, but the smell isn’t as overwhelming as I thought it would be. I knew this was going to happen at some point, since I had seen the skunk wandering in our yard on at least one occasion and smelled it on many others.

Yesterday and today we celebrated Little Miss’s seventh birthday by visiting a local Christian camp for children during their fall roundup (as they called it) and then we will have a small family gathering here at our house later today. We also invited a couple of neighbors to stop by.

Little Miss had a hayride and a pony ride yesterday, along with playtime in the woods and some s’mores and then hung out with her little friends the rest of the day at our house.

This week we have nothing exciting planned and will be getting back into the swing of homeschool since it was interrupted this week by sickness.

What I’m Reading

I am reading a lot this week for book tours. I am determined to finish the Walt Longmire book I’ve been reading for a month (oh wait..I think it’s been two months!), but I still have to finish The Weather Girls: Sunny for a review in a couple of weeks.

I am also reading The Rhise of Light by new author Max Sternberg. It is a Christian fantasy novel and it is extremely well written. I’m enjoying it and hope to have a review up soon on the blog.

I have so many books on my shelves (both real and digital) that I want to read, but I feel like there is only so much time. Of course, I would have had more time this week if I hadn’t been so obsessed with that Gabby Petito murder case. I really hope they find out what happened to her boyfriend this week because it’s driving me crazy. In addition, the images and videos of Gabby have left me in tears too many times and it’s starting to worry my family. They believe, rightly so, that watching coverage on it all is traumatizing me, so this week I will be reading more fiction and reading less of the real-life tragedy that is unfolding.

What the family is reading

I’m not sure what my husband is reading right now , but the kids are either being read to or are reading books for school. Little Miss and I just finished Benjamin West and His Cat Grimalkin by Marguerite Henry for school. I am also reading Little Town on the Prairie to her before bed each night.

The Boy is reading a selection from Frederick Douglass’ autobiography in his lit book. This week we will start Blood Brothers, a book about Palestine at the time the state of Israel was established.

What I’m Watching

I did not watch a lot this week at all. Hubby and I watched a McDonald and Dodds episode and thoroughly enjoyed it. The episodes of the show are about 90 minutes long. There were only two episodes, or mini-movies, for the first “season”. I believe there is another season up on Amazon now so we will probably start that season soon.

What I’m Writing

I worked more on The Next Chapter this week and shared another chapter for Fiction Friday.

What I’m Listening To

My son introduced me to a new band Saturday, The Crane Wives, so I am trying them out:

So that is my rather short week in review. Share with me what you’ve been reading, watching, writing, doing, etc. in the comments.

Sunday Bookends: Too much depressing news, but also fun on birthday

Welcome to my Sunday Bookends post where I ramble about what I’ve been doing, reading, watching, listening to, writing, etc. each Sunday.

 What’s Been Occurring

Last Sunday was my birthday and we spent it with my parents. They bought steaks to cook on the grill and then my dad built a fire in the side yard and the kids made s’mores.

I ate some of the chocolate but can’t do full s’mores because of my weird food allergies (I know. I’m so weird. I swear I only mention it because my weird food issues just crack me up sometimes, not to try to paint myself as a victim. It is not the end of the world I can’t eat s’mores. Really. I can eat plenty of other things that are bad for me, including chocolate. . . as long as said chocolate doesn’t have corn syrup).

The rest of the week was very tame, other than the fact cold, wet weather moved in and as it always seems to happen when that happens, Little Miss got sick. As of last night she was running a 102-degree fever off and on, pretty run down, but still insisting she was getting better. She might be right because each year when the weather changes from warm to cold, this happens to her, including the fever. It lasts about a day and then it’s gone. I am hoping this keeps the same trend.

If she is feeling better by Thursday, and no one else comes down with anything, we will be going to a science class at a local Christian camp and then next Saturday we will go back to the camp for their fall open house, which will also be on her seventh (hold me!) birthday. Next Sunday we will celebrate her birthday with my parents.

 What I’m Reading

 I finished the fifth book in the Rembrandt Stone series and am now impatiently waiting for book six, which is supposed to be the last. Boy, I hope they clean up this guy’s timeline mess-ups in the last book or my head is going to explode!

It’s a good series. Easy to read and captivating. I recommend it to anyone. It is clean but does mention some crimes that are hard to read about.

It is written by two Christian fiction writers and one of the writer’s sons, but it is not Christian fiction.

I am planning to exclusively read The Weather Girls Book One: Sunny this week, but also finish up Creative Fusion, a book about how creativity is given to us by God. Both of these books are for book tours for Celebrate Lit and I will provide reviews for them, and the Rembrandt Stone books, in October.

So far, The Weather Girls is a good book and capturing my attention more than Creative Fusion. I think that’s because Creative Fusion has some very deep thoughts and I am having issues focusing on anything too deep these days. It is extremely well written, and it is a book I will most likely go back to from time to time in my writing/creating journey.

I really hope to finish the Longmire book next week, but I will probably take a break this week because it has a heavy subject matter and after reading way too much about the Gabby Petito murder case, I can’t really handle a book about the murder of a young girl. It makes me extremely down, depressed, and anxious, so I will take a break and pick it back up next week. I really do want to find out what happens and I enjoy Craig Johnson’s writing.

What I’ve Been Watching

I’ve been watching way too much on the Gabby Petito murder case this week, but then I started to break it up with The House of Eliot because that show has a much lighter subject matter.

Hubby and I also watched more of Upstart Crow, a British sitcom about the life of William Shakespeare. It’s ridiculous and I need that right now with all the craziness of the world.

I barely check the news anymore. Just can’t stomach it and I have no idea who is telling the truth any longer.

What I’m Writing

I’m working on The Next Chapter and shared a chapter this week that I found a ton of typos in after I posted it. Argh! I will probably replace what I posted with a corrected version later this week. Oh well, my fiction is a work in progress, as I often explain. And it is just fiction I am posting for fun on my blog, so I am not going to stress too much.

On the blog this week:

Comfort reading with The Cat Who . . . book series

Randomly Thinking: Florida men stories, murder case obsessions, behind on blog reading and other random thoughts

Fiction Friday: The Next Chapter Chapter 4

Blog Posts I Enjoyed This Week

I mentioned in my Randomly Thinking post this week that I am very behind on reading blogs. I did, however, read a few good ones this week as I caught up on my favorite bloggers and thought I’d share a few of those posts with you.

Erin’s After Dark Musings hit a nerve with me because it sounded a lot like how I have been feeling lately.

I also enjoyed this post from Words From Annelli about entire houses being moved.

Our Little Red House wrote about her adventures going to five stores in one day. She always makes shopping sound fun.

Mama’s Empty Nest wrote about her love for lighthouses and one she visited in Rochester, N.Y.

So that is my week in review. How about you? Let me know how and what you have been doing in the comments.

Sunday Bookends: My birthday ice cream, Addicted to Rembrandt Stone, and I’m not leaving my house this week

What’s Been Occurring 

Today is my birthday and I’m old. 

That’s all I’ll say about that.

Along a similar line of thought, I am a very introverted person. Even when I worked for newspapers, I had to force myself to talk to people and do the interviews necessary to get the story. I essentially became another person for as long as it took me to talk to the person and then I withdrew back into my shell. I have no idea how I did it for 14 years and it is no wonder I almost mentally cracked at the end. Or maybe I actually did crack, which may explain my mental status some days. *wink*

Now, ten years or so after leaving the paper, I am even more introverted than before.

If I am forced to attend something in public, it can take me three days to recover from the mental stimulation. I am not kidding. I am mentally, emotionally, and physically drained after events where I have to speak to or interact in some way with people. Therefore, I only plan one outing a week, if that, any more. We have not been attending a physical church, which has lifted one interaction from my shoulders. All that smiling and saying “I’m fine. I’m great. Things have been so good,” for an hour or more is exhausting.

I had one event planned with my daughter. A science camp 35 minutes away at a local Christian camp. We went, we met up with some of our friends we hadn’t seen in a while, we came home. I breathed a sigh of relief because I had a day in between when my husband wanted to take me out to dinner for my birthday.

I wouldn’t have minded mind if we’d had dinner at home and just hung out and did nothing, but my husband was brought up that when there is a birthday, there is a trip to a restaurant to celebrate, so we went to a restaurant. Once I get to the restaurant, I usually have fun, but leading up to it I’m always stressed the entire time drive, thinking I am going to do something stupid in public like pass out, trip over something, get sick and shaky or have a full-blown panic attack.

That’s normal right? 

I know. 

I didn’t think so either.

So, I’m mentally preparing for the Saturday event with my husband (we also had to go to a wine festival he had to cover for the paper. Wine might have helped relax me, but I don’t drink alcohol. I know. I’m such a weirdo.), when my dad calls and wants me to take my children to an event at a church 45 minutes from our house on Friday night. I’m thinking, “No. Sorry, my human interaction quota has been reached. My tank in that area is full while my emotional and mental tank is drained.”

But how do you say ‘no’ to a very persistent man in his late-70s? You don’t, sadly.

And just for the record, I did have fun at the restaurant, but I am still going to do everything I can to not interact with any humans outside my own house this next week. Okay, I probably will have some interaction, but not on a big scale, because my brain and heart really can’t take it. Give me a cup of tea, a good book, and my computer to write my silly little stories on and I am happy. Thank you very much.

My biggest excitement for my birthday weekend besides my dinner out with my husband wasn’t any gift — it was ice cream. Häagen-Dazs ice cream to be specific. I haven’t been able to find Häagen-Dazs locally for almost 18 months. In a way that has been a good thing. I try not to eat too many high sugar items and Haagen-Dazs is a weakness of mine. The tiny stores in our tiny town don’t carry it and I never think of it when I am in a bigger store.

But this past week, I knew what I wanted for my birthday. A pint of chocolate Haagen-Dazs. This is sad to say but when I took a bite of it, I actually teared up. I’d forgotten how amazing it is. An ice cream with only a handful of ingredients, no high fructose corn syrup, or anything else I can’t eat. Plus, I used to eat Haagen-Dazs when I was pregnant with my son and he’s about to be 14 in another month and a half so . . . my emotions are high right now. 

I rarely treat myself to anything so decadent. I always feel guilty but yesterday I managed to feel guilty for only a few minutes before devouring half a carton on the 40-minute drive home by taking tiny little bites and savoring every single bite.

It had been so long since I’ve had it, they had actually changed the design of the cartons. I also almost panicked because when we were looking for it, all I could find were a bunch of weird concoctions. I just wanted plain chocolate, not cookie dough, caramel and chocolate, etc. I was afraid I’d have to go home with plain vanilla, which is okay, but not chocolate. 

Anyhow, enough about my favorite ice cream . . .                                                       

What I’m Reading

I am ripping through the fifth book in the Rembrandt Stone series by David James Warren, Blood From A Stone. I’m sure I’ll finish it this week and probably cry a lot while I wait for book six, the final book in the series.

I wrote a review of the fourth book in the series last month. To give you a little background, the books are from a time traveler series and focus on detective Rembrand Stone who goes back in time to solve a series of cold cases and in the process messes up his life. I find myself chewing my nails and yelling at the book often. “No, Rem! Stop!” The book includes some romance with Rem’s wife as he fights to keep his life with her, but also keeps messing it up with the changes he makes in the past. Mixed in it all is an unsolved mystery by a serial killer.

I will probably continue and finish The Weather Girls, Book 1: Sunny, as well as it seems an easy read.

I would love to finish Craig Johnson’s Another Man’s Moccasins as well because I want to know what happens! I am reading the other books for a book tour so I need to finish them first.

Little Miss and I are reading Little Town on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder at night and during the week we are reading Benjamin West and His Cat Grimalkin by Marguerite Henry.

 What I’m Watching

This weekend we watched a couple more episodes of Season 1 of Yellowstone (which we can’t watch when the kids are around) and earlier in the week I watched more of The House of Eliot.

What I’m Writing

 I didn’t share much on the blog this week because I either had events with the kids, had homeschool to do, or was working on The Next Chapter (the third book in the Spencer Valley Chronicles). 

I did share Chapter 3 of The Next Chapter on Friday.

 What I’m Listening To

I’m discovering music by accident these days when I leave Youtube on while writing and it skips to a new artist like Jimmy Allen singing with Abby Anderson.