The Cuckoo’s Calling almost made me Cuckoo and the week in review

(This post is part of Readerbuzz’s Sunday Salon).

I promised a couple of weeks ago I would finish The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith (pseudonym for J.K. Rowling) and I finally did it. I was determined to finish the book because it was a different type of book for me and one my husband suggested.

For anyone who is a fan of clean fiction, with positive and cheerful stories of loving people — this is not the book for you. I didn’t count them but I would say there are about 300 uses of the “F” word and about 1,000 semicolons and 100 parentheses.  This isn’t my usual type of read, as I said above, but it was well-written (even if I don’t think the excessive curse words were necessary).

I guess J.K. Rowling was making sure she shook off any Potter fans with this crime novel debut, using the Galbraith pseudonym and the fictitious author bio in the back of the book.  I wouldn’t call the book a fast read by any means. At 466 (or more) pages, the book is definitely dense and full of detail I often found unnecessary. However, the extra information was entertainingly written so I didn’t mind that J.K. rambled on a bit in places. It’s not like I’m the queen of being succinct, as anyone who has read my blog knows.

51VB32EnfTLI’m not sure if I’ll continue with books 2-4 of the Cormoran Strike series, though my husband said he especially enjoyed book four (and strongly disliked book three). I enjoy crime fiction but sometimes the gritty stories filled with ridiculous uses of swear words (especially the f-word), are not my cup of tea (pun totally intended since this book was based in London).

As for finishing The Hobbit, another goal I have for November, I’m not there yet, but I did advance further in the book this past week. My son, for his part, is almost done with the book and will be writing a book report for it this week.

I’m still reading through two Mitford books – re-reading A Light in the Window (because it’s been so long and I love the love story of Father Tim and Cynthia) and reading A Light from Heaven, which I somehow never read when I was going through the series. I also never read “Home to Holly Springs” which was a Father Tim novel. It was supposed to be the first of others but I don’t think Jan Karon ever wrote any other Father Tim novels and now in her 80s, she has ended the series. I plan to tackle Home to Holly Springs after I finish these two Mitford books and The Hobbit.

I’ve been watching Shakespeare and Hathaway, a light crime series that takes place in Stratford-Upon-Avon, England to keep my mind off the stress of house hunting and house selling. The main characters are a man and woman private detective team. The man, Frank Hathaway, was the private detective to start with, after being kicked off the police force and the woman, Luella Shakespeare, sort of fell into the profession when she hired Frank to investigate her fiance and then stayed on to help him at his office.

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The episodes feature some humor with drama mixed in but they are fairly light and void of any topics that are too dark, which was a nice reprieve after reading through The Cuckoo’s Calling.

As for my writing quest, I’m in the middle of writing the sequel to A Story to Tell, and I’m sharing the chapters here on the blog each Friday for Fiction Friday. I’m also offering others a chance to link any fiction they have written on their blogs every Friday. If you share fiction on your blog, please feel free to join me this Friday and share your links.

Speaking of fiction, if you haven’t checked out Lunch Break Fiction, I highly suggest you do. It’s one of my favorite blogs out there these days.

So what are you up to this week? What are you reading or watching? Let me know in the comments. I’d love to know!

 

Looking back at October ahead to November, reading and otherwise

I actually managed to finish a couple of books in October and start a couple more.

I don’t read as fast as others who share and link up on Readerbuzz’s Sunday Salon and Caffeinated Reviewer’s Sunday Post and The Book Date’s, What Are You Reading post, but I enjoy the books I do read so I figure it’s all good. I read them in between working on my own stories, homeschooling a 12-year old and 5-year old, cooking dinner, editing photos for stock photography, and occasionally cleaning the house (being a housewife is not necessarily my calling).

I won’t have as much time for reading this month since I’ve decided to participate in National Novel Writing Month and hopefully finish the sequel to A Story to Tell and maybe even make progress on Fully Alive.

I’m ahead of the game for NaNoWriMo since I already have 27,000 words for A New Beginning and about 14,000 for A Fully Alive but both books need a lot of work, plot and character development.

But I do plan to read some books this month and on the list to either start or finish include:

  • The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith (to finish)
  • Light from Heaven by Jan Karon (to finish because I just started it)
  • The Misadventures of Tumbleweed Thompson by Glen McCarty (starting. It’s a middle school book for my son’s homeschool group book discussion).
  • The Hobbit (I know! I’m still reading it! I’m pathetic!)
  • All Things Bright and Beautiful by James Herriot (to finish)
  • The Dog That Whispered by Jim Kraus (to start)
  • Just Me On This by Donald Westlake (to start)
  • Leota’s Garden by Francine Rivers (to finish)

Books I finished in October:

  • In this Mountain by Jan Karon
  • Memphis & Me by Diane Moody
  • The Runaway Pastor’s Wife by Diane Moody

I’m also reading Paddington Marches On by Michael Bond and Stuart Little by EB White with my 5-year old daughter at night. I love when she asks me to read to her to help her fall asleep, though it is frustrating when she falls asleep in the middle of the story and I want to know what happened. I can never figure out if I should wait to finish the story with her the next night or finish it. (Both books are broke into individual stories.) Sometimes I just go ahead and finish it and read it again the next night.

Our autumn leaves were pretty much completely annihilated by heavy wind and rain this week but we found these cool leaves I have never seen in my life in Pennsylvania at a playground near us.

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I have no idea what tree they are from but they were awesome. My daughter wasn’t really into throwing the leaves up in the air for me to take photographs but my son helped a couple of times.

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We had stopped at the playground after a funeral for my husband’s great aunt, who passed away at the age of 90 last Sunday. I was ready to go home since when I drove to the funeral I realized I had forgotten some photo albums my husband’s cousin had wanted and had to drive 15 miles back to my house and 15 miles back down to give her the albums. But my children don’t play at playgrounds as often as they used to so I took some photographs of them and then sat in the van reading Jan Karon while they played with a couple of little girls who had come to the playground as well.

Coming up this month my son and husband both have birthdays (my son will be 13 on Thursday and my husband will be … a certain age .. later in the month) and my brother and his wife celebrate their 23rd wedding anniversary (on the same day as my husband’s birthday). We don’t have anything super exciting planned for November beyond recognizing those milestones. We will be plowing forward on homeschooling for both children and hunting for a house closer to my husband’s job and my parents during the month as well. I am planning a post later about house hunting. The post will be entitled “The soul-sucking process of house hunting.”

As for what I was watching in October, I watched a lot of a British sitcom called One Foot in the Grave (but Amazon only offers up to season three thorough Britbox so I may look for a DVD collection that can be played on American DVD players) and also watched Paul: Apostle of Christ, which I rambled about here.

On my blog in October, some of the subjects I rambled about were: autumn, a little about books and movies, and a bit about writing fiction.

I also blogged about:

For Fiction Friday in October I shared:

On my blog this month I’ll be continuing to share A New Beginning, the sequel to A Story To Tell, for Fiction Friday every week, or at least every other week. I’m sure I’ll ramble some more about my children and I’m sure I’ll share more photographs of whatever I see throughout the month. I’ll probably blog about what I’m reading or lessons learned during NaNoWriMo and maybe even some insights on God (because, you know, I’m someone people turn to for thoughts on God. Har. Har.).

So, how about you? What are you reading, watching, or up to?

 

Fry bread, Smoke Signals and cat mysteries. Or what I’m reading this week

Here we are to Sunday Salon, where bloggers share mainly what they’ve been reading and sometimes what they’ve been watching and doing. Want to get involved? Feel free to link up to Readerbuzz’s Sunday Salon post (which is usually up by Saturday).

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We made Navajo fry bread for homeschool a couple of weeks ago which made me think immediately of this scene from Smoke Signals:

That meant looking up the movie and finding it for free on Hulu, so we watched it as the family movie for my birthday. In case you’re interested in the movie, I’ll leave a link to the trailer. It is based on a short story called This is What it Means to Say Phoenix, Arizona” from Sherman Alexie’s book The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven (1993).

In my son’s textbook, they called it flatbread, but I’d always heard it called frybread. My first attempt at making it with the kids wasn’t perfect, but it wasn’t the worst either. We hope to try it again soon, even though I personally can’t eat gluten (I won’t lie, I did try some of the fry bread and I paid for it with some achy muscles the next day, but not as bad as it could have been.)

As for what I have read or am reading right now:

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I started The Runaway Pastor’s Wife by Diane Moody, a self-published author I discovered, that my mom and I are really enjoying and who was sweet enough to answer me by email when I had some questions for her this week. I’m really enjoying the book. It’s fast-paced but also weaves a lot of thoughtful sections about the struggles both pastors and their wives face while serving in ministry.

I first discovered her husband, McMillian Moody, on Kindle Unlimited with his Elmo Jenkins series. I’m in the first book of that series and I’m not catching on to his book as quickly as I did The Runaway Pastor’s Wife. Diane’s one book series about World War II is based on her father’s time during the war, when he dropped from planes for people in Holland. I’m looking forward to delving into those books soon, especially since she will be releasing the fourth book in that series in 2020.  I need to hurry and read the books, though, because my mom rips through books at high speed and she keeps returning the books in Kindle Unlimited before I get to them (we are on a joint account). Seriously, I can get them back later, but come on, Mooom! Slow down.

51xr-HD6D7L._SY346_I’m in the middle of another book, Murder in Cherry Hills by Paige Sleuth (real name Marla Bradeen), who is another self-published author. So far the book is carrying me along quickly. It is about a woman (Katherine Harper) whose neighbor is murdered and she starts to investigate it, even though the police, including a childhood friend who has turned all hunky, are already investigating it. Katherine is a former foster child and that aspect is woven into the story as well.

I just need to find some time to read it and finish it since I’ve also been writing my own book (the follow up to A Story to Tell, which is out on Amazon Kindle now), homeschooling my children, cooking dinner, and pretending I’m an actual housewife.

Also on the reading list, The Hobbit by JRR Tolkein. Fantasy isn’t always my thing, but I am reading it with my son for his English for homeschool.

On the watch list lately has been Lark Rise to Candleford on Britbox (through Amazon). I’ve already watched Season 1 and am on to Season 2. I understand the series is based on a series of books, which I plan to look up at some point. I don’t watch a ton of television so I usually watch one series with a couple episodes a day and then go on to another series.

I also rarely go to the movies but a friend invited me to see Brittany Runs a Marathon at our local theater (which was a shock, because our smalltown theater rarely shows movies that are more independent). It was pretty good. Language and sexually suggestive moments warning for anyone who is bothered by those types of aspects in a movie. I could have done without some of the language and the sexually suggestive portions, because I don’t know that they added anything to the movie, but it was still a good (and inspiring) movie (and, forgive me if I offend you with not being impressed with the F-word being used so much. I’m a bit of a prude at times 😉 ) I’ll leave you with a trailer for the movie, in case you want to check it out. I would imagine it will be up on Amazon before long, since it was produced by Amazon.

As for what I’ve been doing, I rambled a little bit about that on the blog on the following posts:

Grumpy posts and a busy weekend

I found some old photos and it was the most exciting thing that happened to me all week

Our Homeschooling Journey So Far This School Year

I also rambled a little about self-publishing on THIS POST.

How about all of you? What are you reading, watching, writing, doing? Let me know in the comments or add a link to a recent blog post that covers those subjects.

What I’ve been reading (suspense and meandering southern tales), and watching (vets in the English country side), and doing (not much)

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I usually read something light before bed but I’ve been having a hard time putting down Taken by Dee Henderson. It’s listed as a Christian suspense novel but the faith conversations are not too overt or cheesy. The story is captivating, yet also hard to read because of the subject. It surrounds the story of a 27-year old woman who was held captive for 11 years after being kidnapped at the age of 16 near her home in Chicago. She enlists the help of a retired Boston police officer, now private investigator, Matthew Danes, whose own daughter was kidnapped at one point and returned to him eight years later.

Together the two try to bring down the people who kidnapped her and also ran a child abduction and burglary ring. The story definitely isn’t light as Shannon, the woman, deals with her abduction but also some surprises in her family since she’s been missing. I found myself both disturbed and intrigued by the story but learned I needed to put it down before bed or I would have unpleasant dreams. Or more unpleasant than other nights. However, one night this week I didn’t read it before bed and I dreamt I was hanging out with Paris Hilton, so maybe I shouldn’t read lighter things at night.

As a writer myself, I don’t like to be critical of books, knowing a lot of hard work put into them but honestly there were entire chapters I would have completely dropped from Taken. There were definitely unnecessary parts written that did not move the story forward. One of those was a huge, unrealistic section about how much money a person could make from photographs of landscapes. Take it from this photographer, very few photographers are raking in millions for landscape images. The author probably should have done a little more research there. Or she did do some research and there is an untapped market out there that I’m completely missing out on because I don’t have an art agent. That’s always a possibility.

All in all it was a good book, but I’ll be cleaning my pallet with some different types of books this week – mainly The Hobbit, which my son and I are reading for his homeschool. I’m very behind on that but he’s cheating by listening to a reading of it I found on YouTube while reading along.

68251I’m also still in book two of the James Herriott books and watching the BBC show All Creatures Great and Small, which Amazon just included with our Britbox subscription. I haven’t watched the show since I was a teen so it’s fun for me to watch now that I’m older, though the makers of the show definitely made the show very realistic and graphic when it came to caring for the animals. I’m going to have to Google and see if those actors actually had to stick their hands up the rear ends of cows and pigs and horses for some of those scenes. While looking for a photo to go with this post, I saw that they are rebooting the series for PBS. I don’t plan to watch it as I think the original was so true to the books, especially the actor who played Siegfried.

I finished Book 6 of the Mitford Series, In This Mountain, and still have two books in the series that I haven’t read – Light From Heaven and Home to Holly Springs. Like I’ve said before I enjoy the Mitford books because they really are a meandering walk through the lives of the people of Mitford. Jan Karon really takes her time building up her characters through little snippets of their lives. There are a lot of characters too; so many that sometimes it is a little hard to keep up with them. I like having so many characters to get to know, though. My mom once said you can pick up a Mitford book and feel almost like you are coming home because of how endearing the characters are. You can also pick up any of the books and read them again and again and see something new every time because they are so dense.

In between reading books and watching shows based off books, I’m in the midst of rewriting and tightening my novel ‘A Story to Tell‘ which I have been featuring on the blog on Fridays and plan to publish for fun on Kindle next week. I’m also working on the follow-up to the story which I’ve tentatively entitled “Waking Up.” Soon someone will come across my writing and do to it what I just did to Dee Henderson’s. Ouch. I probably won’t enjoy that but I also recognize we have different tastes and just because we don’t like one aspect of a person’s writing style, doesn’t mean we don’t like their work overall. I should remind myself that I didn’t say I didn’t like Dee’s writing – I do like it. I just felt part of the descriptions and long pieces of dialogue were unnecessary but others may have found it was needed.

In between writing and reading (and watching) I’ve also been homeschooling my children (as mentioned above) and editing photos for my stock photography accounts (of which I make a little money with so I keep plugging away at it).

On my reading list for the next couple of weeks (a bit eclectic):

  • Fear is A Liar by Dr. Daniel B. Lancaster
  • Of Windmills and War by Diane Moody
  • Lead Me, Holy Spirit: Longing to Hear the Voice of God by Stormie Omartian
  • The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling).

Some of the posts I’ve featured since I last posted an update for Sunday Salon include:

So how about all of you? What are you reading, watching, or up to these days? Let me know in the comments and if you are participating in the Sunday Salon on Readerbuzz’s blog (which this post is part of) leave me your link.

 

 

Weekly Review in books and life or the week I actually read a book in a day.

Here we are to our weekly update, which is actually a bi-weekly update for me. Other bloggers who participate in the Sunday Salon usually write a weekly post, but honestly, there are some weeks I haven’t done or read or watched anything worth writing about. Some weeks? Ha! Most weeks. Anyhow, the Sunday Salon is a blog link up on Readerbuzz’s site that mainly focuses on what the bloggers have been reading in the last week, but also what they have been watching or just doing.

Last week I actually managed to finish a couple of books- one of them in one day. I can’t remember ever reading an entire book in one day, unless it was a child’s book, but this one was only 163 pages.

The book, Bleachers by John Grisham, isn’t a book I would normally read. It was about a former All-American football player who returns to his hometown when he hears his high school football coach is dying. The story revolves around a dark history between the player and the coach, but also between the coach and other players on his past teams. The coach was undefeated for hundreds of games, won many state championships and was treated like the king of the town for the most part. 9780385511612_p0_v2_s550x406

Waiting for the coach to die creates a type of vigil among the former football players as they relive their histories together and with the coach. And yes, I did cry a little, but not too much because I’m really not a sports person with my opinion closely in line with one of the side characters who says how ridiculous she found it that an entire town worshiped a bunch of adolescent boys and their coach simply because they could run a ball down a field. Still, all in all, I enjoyed the book and I’m glad I took the time to read it.

I read it after my husband and I watched John Grisham and Stephen King on Youtube talk about writing and their books and their books that were made into movies. My husband like John Grisham’s earlier books and pulled this one off his shelf and handed it to me. I’m sure he figured I’d do what I do with other books he recommends and ignore it, but this time I didn’t, maybe because I enjoyed listening to John Grisham talk about life and writing and felt like he’d someone I would get along with.

I fell into a Youtube spiral from the one interview with Grisham and stumbled on to his writing regimen, which intrigued me since I’ve been working on my own novels. He said he starts a novel on January 1 of each year and blocks out six months to write it. He wakes up early, starts writing at 7 a.m. and strives to write 2,000 words a day on a good day and 1,000 on a bad day, but as he said, “most days are a good day.” I thought that setting 2,000 words a day as a goal was a bit high, but Grisham is fairly prolific, even if he isn’t selling as many books as he used to (his own words).

As for other books I’m reading, I finished A Lineage of Grace by Francine Rivers and am quickly clipping through In This Mountain by Jan Karon, but I never want to finish Jan’s books quickly. I enjoy meandering through them, much like she meanders through them. I’m not against a meandering book if it is still entertaining. I’m also dragging myself through the book slowly because I know Jan’s going to kill off one of my favorite characters in this book and I know I’m not going to handle it well at all. I’ve been following the character for 7 books now and he feels like a close relative. I’m fairly certain I’ll be mourning him for a few days after I read it.

I’m contemplating a Jack Reacher book since my husband is a huge Lee Childs fan. The book is sitting there in my Kindle to read so I’m sure I’ll get to it this week.

I’m also considering starting The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien since it is the book our homeschooling group is reading for the first book discussion of the year in September. I’m forcing my poor, put upon, 12, almost 13-year old, to read from it a half an hour a day so we can at least discuss it some at the meeting. I’m waiting for my son to ask, “Why can’t I just watch the movie?” I think we tried that already and barely made it through (why are those movies sooooo looooong?!). I can’t believe I’ve never read the book, which I’m sure my husband and brother are horrified about. But, actually, I haven’t read a lot of classic books, so this shouldn’t surprise them in the least.

Books I am still reading include: “All Things Bright and Beautiful” by James Herriot; “The Cat Who Played Post Office” by Lillian Jackson Brain; “In This Mountain” by Jan Karon; and at night I’m reading my daughter “Paddington Takes the Test” by Michael Bond.

Besides reading, we’ve had a couple outings these past couple weeks, with the main one being a trip to my old college town – Mansfield, Pa. – for a picnic with my brother and his wife and my parents and then a concert with my parents. The concert was with The Isaacs, a popular Southern gospel group. One of the singers is known for writing Martina McBride’s song “I’m Going to Love You Through It”, based on The Isaac’s founding member Lily Isaac’s battle with breast cancer, and other well-known hits.

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I don’t have many photos from the evening because we were pretty far back from the stage. I do have a couple photos of my dad with Becky, one of the sisters who sings in the group, but she looks annoyed. We found out later, when my dad talked to Lily, that Becky wasn’t annoyed – she was sick and on an antibiotic and their travel schedule, which is on a tour bus, had been taking its toll.

This was my first time hearing The Isaac’s and I was very impressed. Their harmonies are amazing and their talent playing instruments, especially Sonya on the mandolin, was very impressive. I thought I’d link to a couple of their live performances in case any of you are interested in learning more about them. They are widely known among anyone who is familiar with Bill and Gloria Gaither’s Southern Gospel tours and live shows.

And my favorite hymn (though the story behind it is heartbreaking) that was sung when I was baptized.

Our other outing over the last couple of weeks was pretty tame – a trip to the local blueberry patch. The sun was blistering hot and the gnats were out to eat us alive so the children didn’t last long at first, but once the sun went behind some clouds we were able to get some more picking done.

DSC_0604DSC_0608DSC_0647That day was the most relaxed I’d been all week and I was able to push through my normal aching muscles and exhaustion and almost forget about it as I picked. We ended up with 7 lbs of blueberries and I think I ate most of them myself. I’m not really a baker so my daughter didn’t get the muffins I had planned on making her, but hopefully, I’ll make that up to her if we make it to the farm for another trip soon.

as-time-goes-byAs for what I’m watching: I’m on a British kick again and have pulled my husband into it. We’re now watching ‘As Time Goes By‘ to escape the depressing news these days. The show is a fairly light Britcom with Judi Dench and Geoffry Palmer. My husband, who doesn’t usually watch shows like this one, enjoys the chemistry between Judi and Geoffry and I do as well. I first watched in when it was on PBS years ago and I was living alone in my old house. It was a nice distraction from my day job at a small-town newspaper where I often covered some fairly depressing news (car accidents, fires, child abuse, murders). I’d never be able to do that job now. I compartmentalized back then. Now it all spills over and I cry over the news. Not that I didn’t cry back then. I did, but I waited until I got home.

So what have you been reading, watching, doing? Let me know in the comments or leave a link to your post at Readerbuzz.

 

Good Omens leads to my weekly show, book, whatever review

I have to confess I’ve never read Good Omens or anything by Neil Gaiman (other than Fortunately the Milk with the kids) or Terry Pratchett (I tried in high school but – my head – well, it still hurts.) so when my husband insisted my son and I watch Good Omens with him on Amazon – well, honestly I had no choice. I was sort of told I was watching it and I sort of had to because I’m a huge David Tennant fan. It was six one hour episodes, so like a mini-series and we binged watched it over a couple of days.

So we spent last weekend watching all six episodes while randomly covering my 4-year old daughter’s eyes or taking her out of the room altogether. And when it was done my husband looked at me, as he so often does after he lets me into a little of his world, and said: “So, what did you think?”

“I think I need to start the next book in The Mitford Series so I can escape into a very sweet, very innocent and maybe even a little pointless world.”

And that’s what I did. I put the thoughts of Armageddon behind me, even if it was a humorous take on the end of the world, and finally finished the fifth book of the Mitford series “A New Song.” As for what I really thought of Good Omens: I’m still very confused by it all but I’m still a David Tennant fan and I think even more so now. Yes, Michael Sheen was very good as well and I actually was able to stand Jack Whitehall for more than five minutes, which is longer than I can normally stand him.

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What was hilarious to me was how Gaiman got slammed on Twitter for making Adam and Eve black (hello… they most likely were). That’s what people were upset about? The whole series was pretty much mocking the Christian faith, in a way, though not in the worst way I’ve ever seen, but someone got their panties in a bunch over Adam and Eve being black? Um… okay? Weird.

After watching Good Omens, I saw an interview with Gaiman about writing that I really enjoyed.

As so often happens when I start asking questions about a favorite author of my husband’s, I ended up with another piece written about said author being shoved into my hand:

I can’t say I minded. It was very interesting, well written (of course) and the artwork outstanding. The story was intriquing, a bit baffling for me in parts (since I don’t know every incarnation of Batman in the comics), and definitely engaging.

Keeping with my weird, eclectic literary taste, I watched Good Omens, read Batman: Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader and then finished Jan Karon’s light, skipping through the tulips writing with “A New Song” (the fifth book in The Mitford Series) and then also, finally, finished All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot (or real name Alfred Wight).

I thought I’d try a Debbie Macomber book since I saw an interview with her I really liked, but then I saw the pilot episode of a series on the Hallmark Channel, based on a series she wrote, and am having second thoughts.

The worse line in the Cedar Cove show?

“One thing she won’t have in the city are her memories because they are here in Cedar Cove.”

Uh … no … her memories are in her head. Dork. That newspaper editor who was supposed to have written that should be fired. Immediately. And if it that is how Macomber’s books read I may have to fire her too. We’ll see what I think after I read “A Little Bit Country.”

So, I approach my first Debbie Macomber book with a huge amount of trepidation, even though I loved this interview with her on YouTube (though less so the awkward interviewer):

Also in my queue to start this week are the following books:

All Things Bright And Beautiful by James Herriot

In This Mountain by Jan Karon

The Elmo Jenkins Trilogy by McMillan Moody

The Father Brown Complete Collection by G.K Chesterton

As for my blog this week, here are the links to what I rambled about.

A Story To Tell: Part Seven

Franny: A little piece of fiction

Justice for Michele

I Would Have Never Made it As A Pioneer, or The Day Smoke Filled our House and I called My Husband Before I called 911

So what is on tap for all of you this week in books, movies, or shows?

Let me know in the comments or leave me a link to your contribution for this week’s Sunday Salon, which you can find on Readerbuzz or the Sunday post which you can find at Caffeinated Bookreviewer.

A little chaos in my weekly review

A little chaos reigned for me a few weeks when I watched the movie “A Little Chaos” on Netflix. The basic plot is that Kate Winselt is a designer or a builder or a large breasted woman they needed to look forlorn and longingly at the guy who was also a gardener or a designer or whatever for the king. She is hired to design a fancy concert hall/garden for King Louise VIII (Alan Rickman) and few seemed phased she’s a woman building for the king in 1800 whatever. She’s a woman with tragedy in her past and it takes the entire movie to figure out what her tragedy is.

I believe all the characters are supposed to be French but only the gardener and a couple other characters have actual French accents. The rest have British accents. Not sure what that was about. It sort of reminded me of Robin Hood when Kevin Costner kept losing his British accent and slipping back into Brooklyn or something.

I spent most of the movie trying to figure out why Kate seemed the only woman who wore a dress that pushed her breasts up and almost out completely.

I guess the French were (and are?) an open group but I was really getting confused over who was sleeping with whom as well.

And is it bad that every time I saw Alan Rickman all I could think was “why does the king look like Captain Hook?”

All in all, there was still something charming about the movie. The scenery and sets were beautiful, the costumes were breathtaking, the plot fairly predictable.

Would I watch it again? Not unless I needed another good giggle.

Also in the movie department, I found myself completely delighted with Tea with the Dames on Amazon. This was one my brother mentioned to me when we were talking about another movie. The Dames are Maggie Smith, Judi Dench, Joan Plowright and Eileen Atkins. Once a year they meet in the country and chat and “talk shop” so to speak. The movie is a documentary and features the women chatting about their careers, what it meant to become a “dame” and their time as actresses on the stage.

In case your curious, here is a trailer to give you an idea what it’s about:

In the book realm, I am finishing up All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriott and A New Song by Jan Karon.

It was nice of my brother to ruin Herriott’s books for me a bit when he told me that wasn’t his real name. After looking up the reason why James Alfred Wight used a pen name, I understood better and accepted that it wasn’t appropriate for veterinarians at the time to promote themselves so he felt it was better not to use his real name. He also changed the names of those in the books, to protect the innocent and not-so-innocent. The fact James Herriott isn’t his real name doesn’t take away from the witty and touching stories in the book for me like I thought it might. I have learned not to talk to my brother about books I’m reading if he has already read them. Who knows what else he will feel compelled to tell me – maybe the endings of one or two.

I’ve been reading All Creatures Great and Small on my Kindle, which is connected to the Kindle my mom uses. She’s on my account and we share Kinde Unlimited. Normally we are reading different books at different times but Mom started All Creatures Great and Small after me and blew through it before I was done. I almost attempted a competition when my Kindle would notify me that another device registered in my name had made it to a page further than I had, but then I remembered my mom is retired I am a mom with two young children, a needy dog, a pushy cat and a newspaper editor husband who asks me to proof his weekly columns. I finally gave it up and let her blow right past me and finish the book before me, even though I had been reading it for a month longer than her. That’s how slow of a reader I am.

A New Song is a slight departure from Karon’s other books in the series because the story takes place outside of Mitford, N.C., which is where most of Karon’s other books about Father Tim Kavanaugh take place. In case you’ve never read the books, the main character is Father Tim, an Episcopalian priest who lives in the small town of Mitford. The books are about his adventures and how they relate to the quirky, fun, and sweet characters in the town. If you’re looking for something light and not very deep then Karon’s books are for you.

Next up on my book list to read or finish is The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith, All Things Bright and  Beautiful (after I finish All Creatures Great and Small) by James Herriott and On Writing by Stephen King.

As for what I’ve been writing on my blog lately: here are some links to my recent posts:

When You Finally Stop Waiting for the Calls to Come

A New Beginning For A Small Pennsylvania Farm

And the fifth part in my fiction story “A Story to Tell”

So what are all of you reading or watching or even writing ? Feel free to share here or find out what others are reading by visiting Readerbuzz’s weekly wrap up and Sunday Salon feature on her blog.

The week in review, books, shows and looking at new beginnings

Here is a little week in review and a little of what I was reading, watching and doing this past week. You can follow some other updates on the Sunday Salon on Readerbuzz and The Caffeinated Book Reviewer.

This week is a week of saying goodbye to the old and looking forward to new beginnings. My husband is leaving his job after 16 years there and has taken a new job about 40 minutes away. This is his last week at the old job. Eventually, we will move closer to his job since it is also closer to my parents who are growing older. I met my husband while we were both working in newspapers. My degree is in journalism and I spent 14 years working at small-town newspapers before walking away to stay home with my kid, first, and then kids later.

When I left newspapers, he was my boss and the editor of the daily (six days a week) paper we worked at and that’s where he’s been ever since. In two weeks he will become the editor of the small weekly paper where I got my start writing my high school news column. It’s also where I worked for nine months when I did the newspaper hop, bouncing between the two main county papers before going to work for a slightly larger paper in New York State where everyone hated me, and then back to the paper where my husband worked, staying there until I “retired” so to speak.

Speaking of people hating me . . .(well, maybe, and hopefully not, but possibly):

I didn’t mean to say goodbye to a friend this week but the writing has been on the wall for a while so when I was pushed to answer why I wasn’t fully answering texts I gave an answer. The answer wasn’t appreciated.  The ending of the friendship won’t be too much of a change since we’d only seen each other once in eight months but it could create some awkward moments since our boys are still friends. In the last two years, I’ve become the queen of awkward moments so it won’t be anything new for me.

As for what I’m reading and watching this week:

The Hairy Bikers was on my watching list part of the week. They have a couple shows on Netflix but the kids and I enjoyed watching them learn about all things chicken on their show: The Hairy Biker’s Chicken & Egg. This series shows them traveling the world to learn more about how versatile the chicken really is – thanks to the many ways to cook its meat and its eggs. They showcase some recipes, introduce the viewers to some amazing chicken-based dishes, all while being slightly odd and hilarious. If you haven’t seen the show, they are two British bikers (motorcycle riding dudes) who are also chefs. So they are refined in their tastes and delightfully less refined in their personalities, which is a perfect combination for me.

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According to their site, they’ll be debuting a show in the UK sometime later this year featuring their tour of Route 66 in the US. I’m not sure when, or if, that will debut here in the US but I’d be interested to see it.

On the book front, I’m finishing up the fifth Mitford book, which I talked about last week, and then I’m starting (or at least hoping to) the following books:

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Quite an eclectic group of books but it’s a combination of books my brother suggested and my reading obsessed husband ordered me to – I mean suggested – I read.

I also finished a couple books this week:

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And

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The Green Ember is a young adult book about medieval, sentient, anamorphic rabbits avenging the loss of their past king, finding their future king and working toward a kingdom of peace. It sounds weird but it really was engaging. Wish me luck, I have to lead a middle school book discussion on it for our homeschooling group next week.

So how about all of you? Any new beginnings you’re starting? Any friendships you’ve ended (I hope not!)? What are you reading or watching these days? Let me know in the comments if you so desire.

My week in books

I’m in the midst of the same books I’ve been reading, so I don’t have a lot to report on the book front for this week for the weekly “Sunday Salon”.

First a little bit about when I read and how (playing off my brother’s post from last week). I read any hardcopy books during the day and books on my Kindle I read mainly at night so I can use the backlight on the Kindle, but not use the way-too-bright book light I bought on Amazon for my hardcopy books. So, I usually have at least two books going at a time – one hardcopy and one Kindle.

This week I’m reading the fourth book in The Cat Who series (The Cat Who Saw Red) on the Kindle and the fifth book in the Mitford series by Jan Karon in hardcopy version. I could have bought the Jan Karon book on the Kindle, but it was $5 more on Kindle than a paperback and I got stingy and bought a used copy of it online instead. I bought that used copy and then realized I actually had a copy of the book in my collection so I didn’t need to buy it after all. Oops. Now I have two copies.

I read the Mitford series years ago – or so I thought. It turns out I missed a few books so I’m going back and rereading them. Book 5, ‘A New Song’ takes place on White Cap Island, which is obviously not the main character’s hometown of Mitford. Actually, Mitford isn’t Father Tim’s hometown, but it’s where he’s lived for 16 years since becoming the parish priest of the local Episcopal Church.

If you haven’t already guessed, or don’t know about the Mitford series, the books follow the everyday life of Father Tim Kavanaugh and the characters he meets, adopts, or has becomes friends within the small North Carolina town of Mitford. I can relate to these books because my mom is originally from North Carolina and she is even familiar with some of the towns mentioned in the book, except for Mitford, which is fictional. Plus I live in a small town and some of the characters in the fictional Mitford remind me of real-life characters in the small town I grew up in.

Almost all of the books in the series take place in or around Mitford, with exception of A New Song and A Home to Holly Springs (when Father Tim returns to his hometown). In A New Song, Father Tim has retired from his parish in Mitford and has been assigned, temporarily, to a church on an island, so we are introduced to an entirely new cast of characters, while also hearing from the old ones.

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I won’t mention too many other characters other than Father Tim or I’ll spoil some of the books for you. If you’re looking for something hard hitting, you won’t find it in these books. They do feature some tough moments, some moments that will bring tears of sadness to your eyes, and maybe a cringe or two from the seriousness of the subject, but for the most part, you’ll take a peaceful walk with Father Tim, with a bit of drama thrown in from time to time. In other words, you’ll laugh, you’ll cry…etc., etc. You get the drift. I find I run to Mitford when the rest of the world seems to be crashing down around me. It’s a great, often light-hearted escape (unless Mrs. Karon decides to kill off a favorite character or two and then I end up bawling about how her books are too stinking real and life sucks and hand me the chocolate ice cream already!)

The Cat Who books by Lillian Jackson Braun are similarly fairly light, but are mysteries. As I’ve mentioned before, the books follow Jim Qwilleran and his two Siamese cats Koko and Yum Yum. Koko is mysteriously brilliant for a cat and always seems to help Qwill, as he is called affectionately throughout the book, solve mysteries that Qwill shouldn’t even be involved in. Braun refers to Qwilleran as Qwilleran throughout the books. He’s a newspaper reporter who often gets assigned the lame beats, like fashion or cuisine, or something else he deems as beneath him because his start was in the crime departments of bigger newspapers than where he is working now.

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I can relate to the Cat Who books for a couple of reasons. First, Qwill is a newspaper reporter, which I was for 14 years and my husband still is. Second, Qwill is in his mid-40s and I’m almost in my mid-40s. Braun does seem to describe him a little too often as graying and old, which reminds me I’m graying and old, but Qwill’s quirky cats and personality make up for that for me.

So how about you? What are you currently reading this week? Want to see what others are reading this week? Then join Readerbuzz’s Sunday Salon, Or Caffeinated Book Reviewer, where other readers (most of them really cool book bloggers, unlike this blogger who is sort of a “whatever blogger) and if you want, add your own post about what you are reading, watching, doing, thinking, eating, or whatevering this week.

For those of us who celebrate Easter – I leave with you one of my favorite Easter songs, adaptly titled “The Easter Song” by Keith Green.