I have been remiss over the years in reading books that are considered classics so this year I hope to read a few at least.
Now, I will admit that I said the same thing last year. Or was it the year before? I can’t remember now but I do know I said I would read more classics and didn’t, except for what I read with The Boy for school.
We read Silas Marner, Lord of the Flies, To Kill A Mockingbird, and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
We are now reading The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien.
On my own, though, I hope to read at least five other classics this year:
Lilies of the Field
The Secret Garden
and something by one of the Bronte sisters. Who can give me a suggestion of which one to read?
Also, are there any other classics you would suggest for me to read this year? I’ll see if I can squeeze them in.
Have you read any of the classics I mentioned? What did you think of them?
I love it when someone besides me understands a literary character who I love and it’s even better when that someone is my seven-and-a-half-year-old daughter.
I’ve mentioned before on my blog that Little Miss has been making me read the Little House on the Prairie books again and I’m not really enjoying reading them again because, well, they are a bit tedious at times and Ma drives me bonkers (she’s so rude and well, racist, at times. I still don’t think the whole series is racist, however, and I definitely think children should read them or have them read to them to learn more about life in the 1800s). I’ll write about Ma and her idiosyncrasies in a future post.
Recently I had convinced Little Miss to let me read Anne of Green Gables before bed instead, but sadly she seemed unable to fall asleep while I was reading that book, mainly because, as she said, “It wakes my brain up too much.”
I read the dialogue in the voices of the characters when I read to her, and I’ve watched the Anne of Green Gables movie (Canadian version only) so many times that I was really getting into it. I made Anne a little bit too hyper, but that’s how she is. Little Miss told me that she was too into the story to fall asleep and asked me to go back to Little House because it was “boring enough for me to fall asleep to.”
Earlier this week I had simply had had enough of Ma and told Little Miss I could read Anne but dull it down a little.
“I can make it boring,” I told her. “Make Anne sound boring. Less bouncy.”
She gasped. “No! You can’t do that! You have to read it with Anne’s bouncy voice because Anne’s bouncy voice is what makes Anne, Anne!”
Oh gosh! She gets it! Anne’s personality is what makes Anne Anne and that’s really the point of the books, but especially the first one. The theme is that Anne is dramatic and silly and swoony and, well, wonderful, and Little Miss gets it!
I’ve really enjoyed reading the Anne series these last couple of months. It’s been comfort reading for me. While reading, I have written down or snapped photos on my phone of several quotes I have enjoyed the most. I thought I’d share some of my favorites here for you today.
“Marilla felt more embarrassed than ever. She had intended to teach Anne the childish classic, “Now I lay me down to sleep.” But she had, as I have told you, the glimmerings of a sense of humor–which is simply another name for a sense of the fitness of things; and it suddenly occurred to her that simple little prayer, sacred to the white-robed childhood lisping at motherly knees, was entirely unsuited to this freckled witch of a girl who knew and cared nothing about God’s love, since she had never had it translated to her through the medium of human love.”― Anne of Green Gables
“Having adventures comes natural to some people”, said Anne serenely. “You just have a gift for them or you haven’t.” Anne of Avonlea
“Oh, here we are at the bridge. I’m going to shut my eyes tight. I’m always afraid going over bridges. I can’t help imagining that perhaps, just as we get to the middle, they’ll crumple up like a jackknife and nip us. So I shut my eyes. But I always have to open them for all when I think we’re getting near the middle. Because, you see, if the bridge did crumple up I’d want to see it crumple. What a jolly rumble it makes! I always like the rumble part of it. Isn’t it splendid there are so many things to like in this world? There, we’re over. Now I’ll look back. Good night, dear Lake of Shining Waters. I always say good night to the things I love, just as I would to people. I think they like it. That water looks as if it was smiling at me.” ― Anne of Green Gables
“Well, I don’t want to be anyone but myself, even if I go uncomforted by diamonds all my life,” declared Anne. “I’m quite content to be Anne of Green Gables, with my string of pearl beads.” — Anne of Green Gables
“Oh, Marilla, looking forward to things is half the pleasure of them,” exclaimed Anne. “You mayn’t get the things themselves; but nothing can prevent you from having the fun of looking forward to them. Mrs. Lynde says, ‘Blessed are they who expect nothing for they shall not be disappointed.’ But I think it would be worse to expect nothing than to be disappointed.” – Anne of Green Gables
“Well, we all make mistakes, dear, so just put it behind you. We should regret our mistakes and learn from them, but never carry them forward into the future with us.” – Anne of Avonlea
“After all,” Anne had said to Marilla once, “I believe the nicest and sweetest days are not those on which anything very splendid or wonderful or exciting happens but just those that bring simple little pleasures, following one another softly, like pearls slipping off a string.” – Anne of Avonlea
“Yes, it’s beautiful,’ said Gilbert, looking steadily down into Anne’s uplifted face, ‘but wouldn’t it have been more beautiful still, Anne, if there had been no separation or misunderstanding . . . if they had come hand in hand all the way through life, with no memories behind them but those which belonged to each other?” – Anne of Avonlea
“When I think something nice is going to happen I seem to fly right up on the wings of anticipation; and then the first thing I realize I drop down to earth with a thud. But really, Marilla, the flying part is glorious as long as it lasts…it’s like soaring through a sunset. I think it almost pays for the thud.” – Anne of Avonlea
“Whenever you looked forward to anything pleasant you were sure to be more or less disappointed…that nothing ever came up to your expectations. Well, perhaps that is true. But there is a good side to it too. The bad things don’t always come up to your expectations either…they nearly always turn out ever so much better than you think.” -Anne of Avonlea
“It takes all sorts of people to make a world, as I’ve often heard, but I think there are some who could be spared,” — Anne of Avonlea
“There is so much in the world for us all if we only have the eyes to see it, and the heart to love it, and the hand to gather it to ourselves–so much in men and women, so much in art and literature, so much everywhere in which to delight, and for which to be thankful.” — Anne of the Island
“I am afraid to speak or move for the fear all this wonderful beauty will vanish just like a broken silence.” — Anne of the Island
“That’s one of the things we learn as we grow older — how to forgive. It comes easier at forty than it did at twenty.” — Anne of the Island
“People told her she hadn’t changed much, in a tone which hinted they were surprised and a little disappointed she hadn’t.” — Anne of the Island
“There is a book of Revelation in everyone’s life, as there is in the Bible.” — Anne of the Island
“Never write a line you’d be ashamed to read at your own funeral.” — Anne of the Island
“I’m going home to an old country farmhouse, once green, rather faded now, set among leafless apple orchards. There is a brook below and a December fir wood beyond, where I’ve heard harps swept by the fingers of rain and wind. There is a pond nearby that will be gray and brooding now. There will be two oldish ladies in the house, one tall and thin, one short and fat; and there will be two twins, one a perfect model, the other what Mrs. Lynde calls a ‘holy terror.’ There will be a little room upstairs over the porch, where old dreams hang thick, and a big, fat, glorious feather bed which will almost seem the height of luxury after a boardinghouse mattress. How do you like my picture, Phil?”
“It seems a very dull one,” said Phil, with a grimace.
“Oh, but I’ve left out the transforming thing,” said Anne softly. “There’ll be love there, Phil—faithful, tender love, such as I’ll never find anywhere else in the world—love that’s waiting for me. That makes my picture a masterpiece, doesn’t it, even if the colors are not very brilliant?”
Phil silently got up, tossed her box of chocolates away, went up to Anne, and put her arms about her. “Anne, I wish I was like you,” she said soberly.” — Anne of the Island
Have you ever had someone ask you what kind of genres of books you like and draw a blank? Well, I have many times so recently I did some research on the different genres to see what genres the books I read are in. I mean I know some of the genres I like but sometimes I don’t know what genre a book falls under.
I don’t really pay attention to a genre when I pick up a book and read what it is about. If I like the sound of the book, I read it. I do know that I read a lot of inspirational fiction and mystery but I couldn’t figure out what genre some of the other books are in.
I now know that I like cozy mysteries, Christian fiction, some women’s fiction, mystery/detective, thriller and suspense (although not all), contemporary fiction, romantic comedy, and some classics. I also like some historical fiction but not all.
The genres I don’t like as much as science fiction (so sorry dear husband), fantasy (so sorry dear husband, son and friends), non-fiction (with the exception of a few), memoir, and action and adventure (with a few exceptions).
A couple genres which I don’t hate but don’t exactly love, include historical romance and mainstream romance. This is because so many of these books are the same book written over and over.
Historical romance drives me nuts at times because it often oversimplifies and over glorifies times in history that were not simple or worthy of being glorified. It also drives me crazy when someone writes historical fiction in the style of the time period, as if they were in that time period, especially if it is a third person book. If the book was written in 2022 but the author is writing sentences like, “And she did walk upon the frosty morning grass with the air of a newly crowned queen….” I tune out pretty fast.
Genres I don’t like at all: horror, erotica, political, satire, political-satire (if you can’t tell, I’m not a fan of political writing in general), dystopian, paranormal, vampire, young adult, and magical realism.
Thanks to a few different sites, I can help you identity the book genres you like, including some examples of books listed in that genre.
I’m going to list only 10 of the popular genres, their description as I see it, and some of the books in them for the sake of time and space. Some articles online detail more than 30 different genres and then genres under the umbrellas of those genres. I know. Who knew books could be so complicated? I will list those blog posts and articles at the bottom of this blog post.
These books are usually written with deeper prose, more description, and deep plot points. They usually focus on a personal or social issue to be addressed. In my opinion they are a bit over dramatic, but I still enjoy them. As is the case with many genres there are books in this genre which can fit into other genre categories or into a sub-category of this genre. There are also those in the fiction world who break this further into genres like classic literary fiction and contemporary literary fiction.
Some examples of general literary fiction that I know of include Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens, anything by Charles Martin (who is also listed in Christian/Religious fiction), Harper Lee, J.D. Salinger, and anything by Margaret Atwood.
I consider classic literary fiction a different category altogether.
I don’t think I really have to explain the romance genre. Most romance goes like this: boy and girl meet, boy and girl hate each other then later they love each other, then they have a misunderstanding and fall away from each other and then something happens to bring them back together and they have a happily ever after ending.
Many romances end with a wedding. There are, of course, romances which are clean and romances which are not-so-clean. There are also sub-genres of romance, such as sweet or wholesome or erotica. There is also inspirational romance or Christian romance.
Example of romance books include anything by Becky Wade, Danielle Steele, Nora Roberts, Robyn Carr, Debbie Macomber, Carolyn Brown, Sarah MacLean, Bethany Turner (clean romantic comedies), and Nicholas Sparks. This definitely is not an exhaustive list so….
Women’s fiction is not romance. This is fiction about women but it doesn’t usually involve a romance or if it does, the romance is secondary. To me, women’s fiction is often focused on deeper thoughts and situations that face the female protagonist, and during the book she works through those various issues.
Examples of women’s fiction authors that I found online include Kristin Hannah, Colleen Hoover, Mary Kay Andrews, Lisa Wingate, Karen White, Jodi Picoult, and Karen Kingsbury.
Mystery is what it sounds like. They are books that include a mystery of some kind whether they are being investigated by a professional or not. The protagonist is the one investigating the mystery.
There are a couple other genres that I think are offshoots to this one – suspense and thrillers which usually have a mystery in them as well. And of course cozy mysteries, which I personally read a lot of.
Detective obviously means the protagonist is a detective of some kind, either a private one or with law enforcement.
There is old detective/crime/ mystery like Raymond Chadler, Earl Stanley Gardner, Donald Westlake, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and the queen Agatha Christie. Then there is the new stuff like Lee Child’s Jack Reacher books, The Walt Longmire Mysteries, John Grisham, Michael Connelly’s Bosch series, C.J. Box, and Robert Gailbrith just to name a few.
Some sites list Stephen King in mystery and some put him in thriller. I consider him horror-thriller so I’ll list him below under horror too.
For cozy mysteries I have enjoyed Lillian Jackson Braun’s The Cat Who series, the Miss Julia series by Ann B. Ross (these are super cozy with not even murder in them most of the tienand the Lady Hardcastle series. Cozy mysteries are often written as series. There is also the Agatha Raisin series by M.C. Beaton, which the show was based on. I am sure the beginning of the series is okay but the later books are absolutely awful. Maybe because they were trying to capitalize off the success of the show and pushed the elderly writer to try to write more. I don’t know but I’m glad I picked it up on clearance.
Fantasy is another one of those broad genres that can include other genres (like dystopian fantasy or magical fantasy) but mainly it focuses on books about fantastical worlds with dragons and warlocks and wizards, etc. There are also often fantastical monarchies and other crazy creatures, as well as humans.
Fantasy authors include Neil Gaiman, J.K. Rowling (who also falls into child or young adult books), Terry Pratchett, George R.R. Martin, J.R.R. Tolkien, Brandon Sanderson, C.S. Lewis (who is also a theological and children’s book author), and Katherine Arden. Again — a very short list in a hugely popular genre.
Most people think of Science Fiction as books or movies that are usually about other planets or stories which take place in space. The genre is much broader than that, however. According to the site, Famous Authors, “The world of sci-fi is a unique experience as, unlike other genres, it allows for an author to take their imagination to new limits and thus provide a surreal experience for their readers.”
Time travel books fall under this genre, in addition to books that take place in space. Some famous authors in this genre are H.G. Wells, Jules Verne, Ray Bradbury, William Gibson, Mary Shelly, Isaac Asimov. Modern writers of this genre include Ann Leckie, Martha Wells, Tamysn Muir, and Charles Stross. Personally, I’ve never heard of any of them.
Classic literature is usually considered (or at least by me) books written more than 40 years ago. Articles online state that classic literature must be anything that has universal appeal, has “high artistic quality”, and stands the test of time. Which authors should be included in this category seems to create debates and controversy online.
When I think of classics I think first about the Victorian age authors like Jane Austen, the Bronte sisters, Charles Dickens, George Elliott, Edgar Allen Poe, L.M. Montgomery, and Leo Tolstoy, for example. Then I go on to Mark Twain, William Faulkner (good grief! His run-ons!), Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck, Harper Lee (even though she only wrote one book), William Golding, and George Orwell.
Horror to me are stories of the macabre, the grotesque, plenty of violence and gore, but in the early days they were simply novels or stories which instilled fear in the reader.
Some classic horror writers include Bram Stoker, H.P. Lovecraft, Edgar Allan Poe (who can also go to the classic genre, as I mentioned), Mary Shelly, and Franz Kafka.
More modern horror writers include Stephen King (considered the king of the genre), Anne Rice, Dean Koontz, Joe Hill (son of Stephen King), Jonathan Maberry, Mylo Carbia, and Clive Barker. Neil Gaiman is put into this category by some, but I always thought he was more fantasy. I guess I’ll have to ask The Husband his opinion this one since he is a huge Gaiman fan. (Update, he says he doesn’t consider his work horror. He considers it fantasy/science fiction. See?! Genres are so complicated! Another combined set of genres. Sigh)
Christian Fiction is a genre in itself but under this genre are many of the other genres, even horror (I know..what?!).
Popular Christian Fiction authors include Karen Kingsbury (general and women’s fiction), Tessa Afshar (Biblical fiction), Becky Wade (romance), James L. Rubart (science fiction/supernatural), Frank Peretti (supernatural/horror), Ted Dekker (fantasy, suspense, thriller, youth, mind benders), Francine Rivers (romance, Biblical and women’s fiction), Terri Blackstock (suspense, mystery), Bethany Turner (romantic comedies), Robin W. Pearson (southern fiction), Jerry B. Jenkins (suspense, mystery and a variety of other genres), Lynn Austin (historical fiction), Sarah Sundin (historical fiction), Susan May Warren (suspense, romance), and Jan Karon (general/Southern fiction). There are soo many Christian Fiction authors.
Click here for a more thorough list (though, of course, not comprehensive):
Welcome back to an old feature of mine, Tell Me More About . . . I’m so excited to resurrect it this week with super-succesful, Inspy Romance author-extraordinaire Elizabeth Maddrey.
Tell Me More About . . . is a feature which focuses on every day people from a variety of walks of life who impact the world around them in big or small ways.
So, let’s get to it! Welcome, Elizabeth to the blog!
Tell us a little bit about yourself such as background, where you’re from originally and now (general region is totally fine), your family, hobbies, etc.
I grew up in northern New Mexico. We moved to the DC area when I was eleven—just before sixth grade. After college and grad school and a few years with hubby in the Army, we landed back in the DC area, so at this point I feel like I have to call it home. I have a PhD in computer science and my professional life, before I became a mom, was all centered on software engineering in one form or another. That’s probably why my book heroes trend geeky – they’re my peeps and I love them. Hubby and I have been married coming up on 26 years, we have two boys (13 and 9). Hobbies include reading, crochet, and continued attempts to learn to love knitting despite the fact that it stresses me out.
When did the writing bug first bite you?
This is hard to answer! I don’t remember not writing. I’ve always loved to read and it always seemed a natural extension to write. I started getting serious about seeking publication probably eighteen years ago, but it took me another nine(?) before I had something finished that I thought was actually good enough.
What made you pursue becoming an independent author?
Honestly? I spent two years querying agents in search of that dream contract. I got fed up with the “no” that kept coming—or, more often than not, the silence (and I still get frustrated that it’s considered acceptable for agents and publishers to not even bother with a form letter to say no thank you. There are very few other places where that’s considered de rigueur. Although I say that and a lot of the big software companies are that way with resume submission. So you’d think I’d be used to it. Anyway, I did get a contract with a small press and started that way, but the owner encouraged me to go Indie because she knew I had the technical chops to handle it (and you don’t need a ton, but this was back before there were quite so many amazing tools for indies) and that it would be more beneficial for me. So I did.
What advice do you have inspiring authors, indie or otherwise?
Believe in your stories and don’t read your reviews.
What has influenced you in your writing style in your past or present?
I read. A lot. More than 200 books a year across a broad variety of genres. I know there are successful authors out there who say they aren’t readers, but I firmly believe those are the minority. Most authors are also readers.
What author comes to mind when you think of authors who have influenced you over the years?
So many. Anne McCaffrey, who was the mother of so many of my best friends in middle and high school. Elizabeth Moon for the same reasons. L.M. Montgomery. Jane Austen. Madeline L’Engle. Susanna Kearsley. Nora Roberts.
What future projects do you have planned that you would like my readers to know about?
This summer, I have a six-book sorta-billionaire romance series that’s coming out, one book each month through October. And I feel the eye rolls, I do, but I love these stories. I’m so, SO pleased with how they turned out and I hope that readers give them a try and love them as much as I do. The series is called So You Want to be a Billionaire.
How many books have you penned since starting your career?
I have 36 out right now, but if you count all the Billionaires which are written but not released yet, it’s an even 40.
How would you define your writing style? Pantser? Plotter? Share with my readers a little about your writing process, if you don’t mind.
I’m definitely a pantser. Part of what took me so long to finish a book I thought was worthy of trying to have published was that I spent a ton of time doing it the way you’re “supposed to.” I read so many craft books. I made outlines, timelines, character interviews. I cut out magazine photos of people who could be the characters (the Internet was still a baby and I didn’t always want to use the dial up). I found outfits in clothing catalogs. And I hated all of it. I had all this information for the story and by the time I was done doing “what you had to do,” I was over the story. I didn’t want to write any of it. It wasn’t until I gave myself permission to just sit down and let the story come as it did that I was able to write and finish and love the process. So now that’s what I do. I generally have a vague idea of what the story is, but other than that, it’s a blank page and a timer and writing sprints.
Where can readers connect with you online and otherwise?
Welcome to my weekly post where I recap my week by writing about what I’ve been reading, watching, writing, doing, and sometimes what I’ve been listening to.
What I’m Reading
This week I finished More Than Honor by Carol Ashby. It was a Biblical fiction/Roman historical fiction book and very intriguing. It was well written but the time frame was a bit unrealistic for me, if I read it right, and the story wrapped up much too soon for me. It appeared that the book was supposed to only have happened in a week, but some of the headers suggested it had actually been more than a week. I really don’t believe some of what happened would have actually happened in a week. The characters were so rich, though, I was able to overlook the difficulty with the timeline.
Carol writes a series of books and continues the stories in other books. I’m sure I’ll be picking up another one of her books.
I am continuing Sarah’s Choice by Pegg Thomas, which I am reading before it is released in August to provide a review for the author. It is very good and I’m sure it will be a popular book when it is released.
I’m also reading The Heart Knows the Way Home by Christy Distler and Promises Kept, an Advanced Reader Copy by Jodi Allen Brice. I hope to finish at least two of these books this week so I can start Plot Twist by Bethany Turner and The Edge of Belonging by Amanda Cox.
What’s Been Occurring
Saturday was our county’s dairy parade. Yes, we live in an area that still holds dairy parades and celebrations. The celebration was very small, with only a few booths up downtown. The library hosted a magician for their summer reading program and he did a great job. He was in a very small room which made his slight-of-hand magic even more impressive to me. Many of the adults were as impressed as the children.
Afterward, Little Miss wanted to meet him and tell him about her stuffed kitten, Mittens, so we went up to him. He was sweet and attentive and seemed a little taken aback when she announced that our kitten, Scout, is a polydactyl cat, adding that means she has extra toes. I don’t think he expected such a large word to come out of such a tiny little girl.
The parade was in the evening and the sky darkened up and rain let loose as the parade started, but everyone stood in the rain and watched the business and organization floats and fire apparatus drive by anyway, getting soaked in the process. Children ran for the candy that was thrown out and I came home with my purse packed with what the children had collected.
We joked as the dark clouds came in over the town right before the parade started, that people would later say, “And that’s when the tornado touched down and all the pick up trucks and cows were sucked up inside.” Thankfully, that never happened and the parade went on as planned.
During the week I became obsessed with designing a book cover for my next book. I’ve worked with Photoshop before and really felt I could pull it off if I simply kept pounding away at it.
In the end I decided on this one:
But I also designed this one:
What I’m Watching
Yesterday I watched this video after reading a blog post written by the singer. I really encourage you to read the blog post and then watch the video and be ready to be kicked in the cut and wrenched in your heart while also inspired.
My husband and I have been watching Yellowstone. It’s a hard show to watch. It’s not something I would usually watch but I am a big Kevin Costner fan. It’s violent and depressing but somehow its easy to get caught up in the lives of the characters.
I also watched a movie called Ondine with Collin Farrell. It was interesting and different. It was about an Irish fisherman who pulls a woman out of the ocean. The fisherman’s daughter needs a kidney transplant and decides the woman who was pulled out of the ocean is a selkie, a mythical creature who is magical for those she meets. The woman is anything but mythical, as they will soon learn, but she does help a family come together in an unconventional way. The characters are pretty dark and the low of the low, but somehow I found myself rooting for them anyhow. It sounds like I was in a dark mood this week, but I promise I wasn’t.
I also watched the 10th Generation Dairyman, which I mentioned in my Randomly Thinking post. I am a bit addicted to this YouTube Channel about a dairy farm in Lancaster, Pa. (by the way, to pronounce Lancaster properly, say it fast and leave the “a’s” out. You’re welcome.
This week I plan to watch Episode 6 of The Chosen which will premiere on YouTube and Facebook at 9 p.m. Wednesday night for 24 hours and then be on their app.
What I’m Writing
Last week I wrote a blog post every day. This week I most likely will not. I have edits to do on Harvesting Hope and two advanced readers copies to read.
Welcome to Sunday Bookends where I ramble about what I’m reading, watching, listening to, writing, or doing.
Happy Mother’s Day for those who are mothers, had a mother they cared about, or who are spending a mother’s day remembering their lovely mothers.
What We’re Reading
The Boy and I have been reading To Kill A Mockingbird. He’s halfway through and I finished it this weekend. To make sure he finishes it by the time we finish school in three weeks, I purchased an audible membership so he could listen to it as well as read it. It’s narrated by Sissy Spacek.
Anyone who says To Kill A Mockingbird is a racist book has obviously never read it. Using the “n” word does not make a book racist. I’m guessing too many people got to the first “n” word, but it down and never got to the parts where it is clear Atticus and many others in Maycomb, Alabama are not racist. Using the word and many other references to black people made the book painfully real, painfully raw. Without it, it wouldn’t have been clear how the people of this county in Alabama looked at black people as less than human, which is why they were so willing to put a black man on trial for a crime he didn’t commit.
Have you ever read To Kill A Mockingbird? If so, what did you think? Let me know in the comments. If you haven’t, I highly encourage you to do so. It is considered a classic for a reason. Reading it again as an adult had an even bigger impact on me than it did when I read it in 7th grade (on my own, I might add.) I cried as a teenager over the injustice of it all, but I practically bawled as an adult.
I may write a book review on this next week, if I can stop crying.
Besides reading that this weekend, I also started The Sowing Season by Katie Powner
and I’m still reading Kindness Goes Unpunished by Craig Johnson (A Longmire Mystery). I’m not reading the Longmire book slowly because it is bad. Quite the opposite. It is very, very good.
I wanted to finish To Kill A Mockingbird first, because it is a very good book and I needed to for my son’s English, and I’ve been writing Harvesting Hope (new name for The Farmers’ Sons) so Walt Longmire has been pushed aside a little.
I’m also reading Rooms by James Rubart this week because at the end of the week I am going to be “attending” a author workshop with him as the main speaker. It is all on Zoom. I’m sure I’ll update my blog readers about that next week.
I hope to get to The Number of Love by Roseanna White this week as well, but I had to move Rooms up so I would at least now wat James is talking about during his keynote speech.
What We’re Watching
This week we tried something different by watching Prince Charles Inside the Duchy of Cornwall on Acorn TV (through Amazon). If you don’t know what a Duchy is, (because I didn’t either), it is an area of land run by a Duke or Duchess. On that land are towns, small businesses, and various small farms.
The description of the show from the AcornTV website:
Prince Charles provides exclusive access to the royal lands that have belonged to successive Prince of Wales for 700 years I this moving, candid, and humorous observational documentary. Established in 1337, the Duchy of Cornwall is today a vast, varied estate of rolling farmland, visionary housing development, and even parts of inner-city London that embody the prince’s sustainable philosophy.
The two-part documentary gave my husband and I a completely different look at Prince Charles, also known as the Duke of Cornwall. I don’t know about some of you, but when I was growing up Charles was often painted as the bad guy while Princess Diana was considered sweet, demure, and innocent. Charles cheated on Diana with his first love Camilla (now his wife), but listening to him talk during this documentary I couldn’t imagine him as evil or emotionally abusive. It gave me a more complex view of him and the entire situation, actually.
Charles’ estate in Cornwall helps pay for the royal family’s expenses, as well as various charities.
In addition to learning more about Charles and his work, we also got the impression from the show that the royals do have to work for their money. I think most Americans believe royals are born with a silver spoon in their mouth and never have to work for the lavish lifestyles they have. It’s clear from this special, and others I’ve seen, they do work and are under extreme pressure at times.
Last night we were looking for a film to watch as a family. When my husband came to the preview of The Towering Inferno and I saw that Paul Newman (my favorite actor. Swoon! ) and Steve McQueen (more swooning!) were in it together, I said, “Yes! This is the film for us!”
My son said, “Mom. Eww. And how old are these guys now?”
“They’re dead,” I responded.
“Oh mom. That’s disturbing.”
My husband was like, “Watch all the people who are in this. You’ll be surprised by one.”
And then there was his name: O.J. Simpson and after him, Robert Wagner.
“Wow,” I said. “It’s a movie with all the wife killers.”
If you’ve never seen the movie, you haven’t missed much. I wouldn’t rush to watch it unless you need to have a good laugh and cringe more times than people at a Justin Beiber concert.
At one point The Boy said, “why do all the blond women at this party have the same hairdo? They look like a bunch of Lego women.”
A man stumbles out of an elevator on fire, into a party scene, at one point and I quipped, “Wow. This party is lit.”
A building 135 stories high with bad wiring and no safety protocols? What could go wrong? This is NOT a movie to watch if you, or anyone you know, were near the World Trade Center in 2001, however. There are a couple of very triggering scenes that brought memories of that day even to my mind. We almost turned it off, but there were too many illogical and giggling-inducing bad acting moments to make the movie too upsetting.
Apparently, there are a series of these disaster films, so I told my family I think we should watch all of them over the next few Saturday nights. We need a good laugh and to question again how these high-quality actors ended up in such horrible films.
I have also been re-watching the first three episodes of The Chosen with my son (for his Bible lessons) and my mom and then Dallas Jenkins announced that episode four is debuting Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET. I’m very excited for episode 4 because I believe it’s about the man at the pool who Jesus heals and tells to pick up his mat and go be well.
What I’m Writing
Last week I wrote about taking more breaks from news (and I did really well this week, by the way. I hardly looked at news at all and it was so nice.). I also challenged all of you to do the same if you don’t already.
On Friday, I shared another chapter from The Farmers’ Sonswhich I have now renamed Harvesting Hope and announced that the book version of it will be out this summer (most likely the end of July).
What I’m Listening To
I am listening to the live album by Needtobreathe and a new album by Elevation Worship. Here are a couple of samples of those. They are both available whereever music is streaming.
What’s Been Occurring
We have not been doing anything very exciting lately. We’re such boring people that going to a doctor’s appointment is the highlight of our week. I’m not even 70 yet. A couple of weeks ago we traveled 45 minutes to pick up my son’s new glasses and made it a family trip. This past week we traveled 30 minutes for an eye doctor appointment for me and for the first time in 30 years, my prescription wasn’t increased. I also avoided bifocals, but just barely, and after I got back to the house and tried to type on my computer, I thought about how I might should have asked for the bifocals after all.
Last week my kids enjoyed playing outside at my parents, rolling in the grass after I told them I didn’t want them in the grass because I was worried about deer ticks. Oh well, at least they had fun and when we did a tick search that night we didn’t find any, thankfully. It’s weird to have to worry about ticks now because when I was a kid, we were never told not to roll in the grass because of ticks. We were never told not to roll in the grass period, unless we were wearing a nice Sunday dress.
So, that’s my week in review. How about yours? What have you been reading, watching, listening to, or doing? Let me know in the comments or link to a blog post where you shared your week.
Welcome to another Sunday Bookends where I share what I’m reading, watching, writing, eating, seeing, smelling — no, wait. Only what I’m reading, watching, writing, sometimes what I’m listening to and a little about what we’ve been up to. Feel free to let me know what you’ve been up to in the comments.
What I’m Reading
I finished Wild Montana Skies by Susan May Warren last week. It was a good book and I will read the next one in the series, Rescue Me, when I get it. I’m waiting for a used paperback of it to come in the mail.
I decided I wanted to hold and read a paperback again. Christianbook.com had a huge Cyber Sale last week (it ends tomorrow, December 7) and they had a few books on sale, but they also had a Fiction Mystery Box for 93 percent off ($9.99) and it included ten Christian fiction books from a variety of genres (romance, Amish romance, suspense, thrillers and general). I won’t list them all here, but there were a couple from authors I’ve been wanting to try so I’m sure I’ll mention them in future Sunday Bookends posts.
This week I plan to read a Christmas novella by Julie Klassen called An Ivy Hill Christmas, keep reading Death Without Company by Craig Johnson, and Maggie by Charles Martin. Yes, these are all very different books from each other. That’s how I roll in book reading and in life. I’m very eclectic. And sarcastic.
What the Family is Reading
My husband is going to start Night World by F. Paul Wilson this week, which he said is a reread for him. My son is reading World War Z (a book about zombies and please don’t ask who told him he could read that. No, it wasn’t this parent.). My daughter is having Paddington Races Ahead by Michael Bond read to her and then we plan to finish up How to Explain Christmas to Chickens by John Spiers from My Life With Gracie.
What I’m Watching/Watched
This past week I watched Death Comes to Pemberley twice, once by myself and once with my husband. It was a three part mini-series made in 2014 and based on a book by P.D. James. It continues the story of Jane Austen’s Elizabeth Bennett and Fitzwilliam Darcy (swoon! Mr. Darcy!) by Pride and Prejudice in an imaginative retelling and continuation that involves a murder in Pemberley Woods.
I thoroughly enjoyed that when I watched it again when my husband was in the room, he got wrapped up in it.
I had to give him the entire background of Pride and Prejudice, which was fun, and it was also fun to watch him talk to the characters.
“Don’t do that. No! Your just a young girl that made a mistake!”
“So, they’re saying he hadn’t slept with her all those years and then he knocked her up that one time?”
It was as entertaining to watch him as it was the show.
This triggered a couple of days of watching Jane Austen based movies including Northanger Abbey on Amazon, which was also very good. I don’t know if any of this will encourage me to actually read Jane Austen, but we shall see.
I’ve now started Beechum House and was hooked in the first episode.
What’s Been Occurring
Cold weather kept us inside most of the week. The only trips we took out of the house involved chasing our six-month old kitten outside in the snow when she escaped the house. She’s still very young so we don’t want her out where a racoon, coyote, or fox could eat her or she could be run over. She’s delighted to run out the door but then completely freaks out once she’s outside, losing her mind and dashing from our front bushes, to under our van, to the neighbor’s bushes and front porch, to our front porch — back and forth until we’re all breathing hard and she looks like she might pass out. Little Miss and I spent 15 minutes in the snow chasing her one day and then I spent a few minutes another evening, but finally gave up because I needed to cook dinner. The Boy eventually brought her inside.
After snow fell another day, Little Miss went outside and made mini-snowmen. We know winter has come when we open our freezer and see mini-snowmen sitting there. It seems to be a winter tradition. Another tradition for us is to try to make a gingerbread house, which almost always end up in a disaster. As usual, the house looked pretty awful, but the kids had fun making it.
What I’m Writing
I did not write a lot of blog posts last week because I am working on finishing revisions for The Farmer’s Daughter and have also started The Farmer’s Son and another yet to be titled book about Liz, Molly’s friend.
Sunday Bookends is my week in review, so to speak. It’s where I share what I’ve been up to, what I’ve been reading, what I’ve been watching, what I’ve been listening to and what I’ve been writing. Feel free to share a link or comment about your week in review in the comments.
The best thing about taking a news and social media break (with little peeks here and there) is that there is more time to read, write, and watch documentaries about country music superstars. This week I finished a book, started three more, watched two movies, a half of another and finished a documentary about Garth Brooks.
What I’m Reading
I finished A Long Time Comin’ by Robin W. Pearson this week and really enjoyed it. I’ll have a review of it later in the week.
I’m reading The Bottle Cap Lady by John Spiers of My Life With Gracie with my daughter, who is also a Gracie (but a human one, not a chicken one.). She must be enjoying it because on our second night of reading she asked for it instead of Paddington. I know I am enjoying it and the subtle little life lessons in the stories about chickens.
The description of The Bottle Cap Lady:
The mysteriously troubled Bottle Cap Lady had proudly held the record for serving up more Deluxe Chicken Dinners than anyone else in a single evening as a waitress at The Chicken Place until she lost her job for coming to work drunk. After failing at one part-time job after another, she turns her attention towards Pearl, a small and curious white hen who resembles the chicken statue on top of The Chicken Place Restaurant. The Bottle Cap Lady does not realize there is a Christmas gift only Pearl can give her, but will The Bottle Cap Lady let her give that gift or will she turn Pearl into a Christmas dinner before she even has a chance?
“The Bottle Cap Lady” is the unillustrated version of “How To Explain Christmas To Chickens.” (The author considers this version to be a work of children’s fiction pretending to be adult fiction.) The story text is the same for both novels. Only the preface, introduction, and epilogue are slightly different.
For something completely different I am reading a Longmire novel by Craig Johnson. I was going to read The Dark Horse but my husband suggested I go back to the first book in the series, The Cold Dish. The Netflix show Longmire is based on Johnson’s series of books about Sheriff Walt Longmire in Wyoming. (Warning: These books are not Christian and not for anyone who prefers clean, romantic fiction.) It remains to be seen if I make it through this one, but so far I do like the writing style.
For nonfiction, I hope to start Jesus Among Other Gods by Ravi Zacharias this week.
What I’m Watching
My husband and I watched a two part (90 minutes each) mini-series about Garth Brooks on Netflix this past week. I think it was originally made for CMT to promote his last album. It was an interesting look at a singer we’ve both followed for almost his entire career, although my husband discovered him first because he’s been a country music fan longer than me. Still, I watched Garth when I was in high school, well before I met my husband. It was interesting to see how his career developed, to learn about his divorce from his first wife and leaving his career to raise his three girls and then his marriage to Trisha Yearwood. One thing we knew but learned even more during the documentary was that Garth is very emotional. He must have broke down ten times during this thing as he remembered his career and rise to fame. That’s not a bad thing so don’t get me wrong, it was just something we noticed.
I also watched a movie on Netflix called The Lost Husband with Josh Duhamel this past week. The movie is about a woman who is widowed, loses her house, and moves her and her children in with her great aunt until she can get back on her feet. Her great aunt runs a goat farm and expects her to work on the farm when she gets there, which is a huge culture shock for a city girl like her.
The movie is a little bit of a romance, yes, but it’s not the main focus of the story. The main focus is on the woman not only trying to rebuild her life, but deal with her grief over the loss of her husband and with the unraveling of a family secret. It’s not super dark, not overly cheesy and I enjoyed the story line.
Duhamel was perfect in his role. I liked the subtly of the story, for lack of a better description.
I didn’t mean to pick another Josh Duhamel movie, but somehow did when I watched Life As We Know It, which also stars Katherine Heigel. My husband said the movie was probably awful, but it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. It did drag in some places and was a little too cheesy, but I have definitely seen worse.
My son and I have been watching Zac Efron’s travel show on Netflix aptly titled “Down to Earth with Zac Efron. It’s an interesting show that has shown me Zac is much more than a guy who spells his name weird, has amazing eyes, and often plays the doe eyed love interest in movies. He’s a combination of down to earth and Hollywood sheltered in this show.
The show focuses on natural ways to sustain our life, including how we eat, how we get our energy and our mental health. Efron shows that he really understands the need for a healthy life all around and it’s interesting to see him looking less like an actor and more like an every day person with his beard and chilled out personality. Apparently the internet even made fun of his “dad bod” because he didn’t work out for this show, he was just a normal guy and guess what? He looked healthy and like a normal guy enjoying himself and my husband said he’d love to have Zac’s “dad bod” any day. In other words, we live in a superficial world and the fact comments about the show were more about his looks than the substance of the show just shows how shallow our society can be. The bottom line is that the show is a combination of education and entertainment.
Not much has been happening here honestly. We are gearing up for homeschooling to start the first week in September, I had some bloodwork done and had an autoimmune disease and diabetes ruled out for causing some of my health issues, which is good, and the kitten is growing fast.
Yesterday there were twin fawns in our backyard so I thought I’d share some photos from their visit in our photos from the week. These are a combination of photos I took and my husband took. The camera and lens are not the one I regularly use and I really didn’t like the quality of the shots but it was still neat to see the twins again and grab some photos of them.
I’m also sharing some photos of the kids’ swimming and the view of our “Endless Mountains” as well as some scenes from a recent political rally we went to for my husband’s job.
I finished two books this week and they couldn’t have been more different from each other.
The Knife Slipped by Earle Stanley Gardner was a noire crime novel, of sorts, while Wooing Cadie Mccaffey by Bethany Turner was a well written, humorous and light romance with light Christian undertones. Even if you’re not a Christian you would enjoy Cadie and Will’s story of love, break up and maybe love again. It was extremely entertaining and not preachy at all.
I don’t usually write book reviews but I might try to do a couple on these this week, just for fun and to distract myself from the weirdness of the world.
Gardener is the author of the Perry Mason books, of which the show and movies are based. Speaking of Perry Mason movies, my husband made me watch a couple of those this past week on his vacation. We enjoyed them, since they hold sentimental value for him (he used to watch them as a kid) but we also made a lot of fun of them. We especially made fun of the one actor’s hair because each movie it became more and more “flock of seagulls.”
Books I started this week include:
By Nook or By Crook by Eva Gates, which I am really enjoying so far (I’m up to chapter 2); a Lady Hardcastle Mystery, Death Beside the Seaside by T.E. Kinsey; and A Long Time Coming by Robin W. Pearson.
Up for later are Top of the Heap by Earle Stanley Gardener, another Cool and Lamm mystery; a Perry Mason book and Dreamwalker by a self-published author, Carrie Cotton.
Upcoming this week I am planning a post entitled: Our Cat Has No Consideration For My Mental Health, possibly a book review or two, and at least one installment of fiction. I also hope to share a post about the stone railroad bridge we visited this week, including its history and photos from our visit there.
I am working on some upcoming installments for The Farmer’s Daughter and would love to get back into working on Fully Alive this week. I also hope to finish Rekindle, which I want to combine with Quarantined as a novella at some point, which will probably mean adding a little more background and developing the characters more.
What I’m Watching
I already mentioned we watched some Perry Mason episodes and movies on my husband’s vacation this week.
We also watched Knives Out with Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Christopher Plummer, Don Johnson, Jamie Lee Curtis and many others. I didn’t think it would be my type of movie but I was pleasantly surprised by it. It was definitely not what I expected but I did predict the “who done it” in some ways at the end. Daniel Craig was great but his Louisiana accent was really throwing me off since I’m used to him as James Bond. If you don’t like hard language I would skip this one (even though the big F-word is only said once) but one thing you won’t have to worry about it too much gore.
I gave up on Hart of Dixie this week. I know that I am going to sound like a super, super prude in a moment but I gave up on it because some of the characters jumped in and out of beds like they were eating candy instead of having sex. I mean I get that the show is meant to be a bit silly at times but I had a feeling if I kept going I was going to lose track of Dr. Hart’s bed partners. Plus my husband made fun of me for watching it so I bailed out.
I did start Frankie Drake Mysteries on Amazon and so far I like it but I am only on the second episode. It’s about a female detective group in the 1920s. Frankie Drake is the lead detective. I love the 20s swing music featured throughout the show, but could do without them playing it in the background during some scenes where I think it is out of place. I don’t mind music during scene switches or beginnings but I don’t like when it’s played behind dialogue. Also, it’s a wee-bit preachy about feminism and their Hollywood is showing because they are sort of pushing socialism and communism. I still like the simple story lines, so far, however. And no, I’m not a tv critic but I play one on my blog.
What I’m Listening To
I’m actually not listening to a ton of music because my son has been playing music around us a lot and he has very eclectic tastes — like his dad and me and his uncle (my brother). I’m not really a fan of the 80s rock he’s been listening to or metal or whatever it is — Aerosmith, Guns and Roses and AC/DC but I’m good with Johnny Cash, The Beatles, and Bill Monroe and Bruce Springsteen. If he Rick Rolls me one more time, though, I am going to pop him one (I don’t hit me kids so this is a total joke. I may shut off the WiFi on him, however.
My daughter and I listen to Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra, or Dean Martin before bed on nights she’s super tired and wants music instead of a book. I often keep listening to whichever one we’ve chosen even after she is asleep.
I am also trying to listen to more sermons lately. I listened to one by Steven Furtick called Why Am I Anxious (I listen to this one a lot) and I also listened to one by Chip Ingram, but I fell asleep (sorry Chip! It wasn’t boring. I was just tired.
What’s Been Going On Otherwise
I mentioned I’ve been watching my garden grow, and in some cases die, in a post earlier this week.
We also watched all our lovely flowers leave us and I will miss them. Luckily my parents and neighbors had some day lilies pop up to perk up the greenery a bit.
My husband was on vacation this past week and we didn’t really go anywhere other than a day trip to the Nicholson Viaduct, which is the largest stone railroad bridge in the world, or at least the country. Like I said, I’m planning another post on this later this week.
We spent all day Friday at my parents and the kids went swimming there and we had chicken and vegetables on the grill. We celebrated the Fourth with a hot dog and marshmallow roast and my dad shot off some fireworks for us. We invited one of The Boy’s friends to join us. After the fireworks we stood in my parents’ field and watched the fireflies (lightening bugs to some). I thought that they were something fading out of existence because I don’t usually see as many as I did as a kid but last night there were hundreds of them in the fields and the trees and it was so cool to watch them.
Now that we live more in the country our drive home includes a lot more wildlife sightings. This time it was mainly deer jumping out in front of us.
We still haven’t seen the bear everyone has told us about and we are starting to wonder if our neighbors are playing a joke on us and there really isn’t a bear and her cubs in our neighborhood. I joked with my son that they meet behind our backs and say “I told them I saw the mom and cubs in the backyard this morning” and laugh. The other one then says “So funny! I told the wife yesterday that I stepped out by our backdoor and the bear was right there and turned and ran away.” Then the other one says, “And then I told her that there is a huge male bear down the road too!” Then they laugh together at us and how naive we are.
Of course I am kidding about the neighbors. I really do think there is a mama bear and cubs out there and while part of me would like to see them (from the window of my home only), I’m okay with not seeing them, especially after someone about five miles down the road said they walked into their backyard and found a bear with it’s mouth around their dog’s throat. Yikes!
My son is so determined to catch sight of the bear he now goes out with our dog at night and sits on the back porch with his BB gun across his lap like a real redneck. He seems to have decided that if that bear tries to mess with our dog he’ll fill it with some BBs.
So, how did last week go for you? What are you reading, watching, listening to or up to? Let me know in the comments.