Sunday Bookends (on Monday): Good music, scary or depressing movies, books about chefs and summer activities


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

I didn’t finish this in time for a Sunday posting, which is why it’s being posted on Monday instead. Obviously. *wink*


What I/we’ve Been Reading

I have been reading but quite slowly. I was rotating between three books and I still haven’t finished one of them so this week I am going to focus on Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain and when that is finished I am going to finish The Heart of the Mountain by  Pepper Basham and then I will go back to Anne of the Island from the Anne of Green Gables series.  The Heart of the Mountain is the first book I’ve read by Basham and I am enjoying it. So far it’s not a cliché Christian fiction romance and I am grateful for that. It releases on July 1.

A description for those who are curious about it:

Can True Love Weather a World of Differences?

To escape marriage, Cora Taylor runs away from her home in England to join her brother in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, but not even her time as a nurse in the Great War prepares her for the hard landscape and even harder lives of the mountain people. With the help of Jeb McAdams, a quiet woodcarver, who carries his own battle scars, she fashions a place for herself among these unique people. But the past refuses to let go, and with dangers from within and without, can hearts bruised by war find healing within the wilds of the mountains?

Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly is the book that blew Bourdain into stardom and details his journey working at the lowest levels in kitchens up to the big time. If you don’t know who Bourdain is, then you really missed out (though you didn’t miss out on his potty mouth. *wink* He was known to be a bit crass, crude, and rude at times, but he was also a brilliant writer and food connoisseur. So warning: there is swearing in this book but not constant swearing ).

 He was a chef who became famous when he traveled the world for the Travel Channel tasting and discussing food from countries all over the world, all while giving the viewers a bit of history and culture lessons during each episode.

A description of Kitchen Confidential for the curious:

Anthony Bourdain, host of Parts Unknown, reveals “twenty-five years of sex, drugs, bad behavior and haute cuisine” in his breakout New York Times bestseller Kitchen Confidential.

Bourdain spares no one’s appetite when he told all about what happens behind the kitchen door. Bourdain uses the same “take-no-prisoners” attitude in his deliciously funny and shockingly delectable book, sure to delight gourmands and philistines alike. From Bourdain’s first oyster in the Gironde, to his lowly position as dishwasher in a honky tonk fish restaurant in Provincetown (where he witnesses for the first time the real delights of being a chef); from the kitchen of the Rainbow Room atop Rockefeller Center, to drug dealers in the east village, from Tokyo to Paris and back to New York again, Bourdain’s tales of the kitchen are as passionate as they are unpredictable.

Kitchen Confidential will make your mouth water while your belly aches with laughter. You’ll beg the chef for more, please.

Bourdain committed suicide in 2018. My family and I had been watching his show for years. When we heard the news it was like losing a friend. A foul-mouthed, jokester, who loved life so much you couldn’t believe he’d choose to end it type of friend. Many of his shows are available on a variety of streaming services and I highly recommend them. If you are sensitive to seeing animals killed or hearing course language, maybe avoid them, but neither of those items are consistently present in his earlier shows and are present more, but still not constant, on his show that ran on CNN a few years before he passed away.

This is my first time reading a book by him. It is the first of several he wrote, including a couple novels.

The Husband is reading Fade Away by Harlan Coben.



What’s Been Occurring

Little Miss has been excited to jump on our neighbor’s trampoline but has been sorely disappointed that Mom and Dad won’t jump with her. Big brother isn’t that interested either and her friends from Texas are now gone home so she had to be content with jumping for us instead of with us.

We spent a few nights last week up the hill on the trampoline, me reading a book or watching her while she jumped.

Our roses are still blooming which has been so exciting for me. I can’t remember if they bloomed this long last year or not and I figure we will lose most of them this week or next so I am simply enjoying them while I can.

The Husband is on vacation this week, but we don’t have any big plans. We are going to visit a couple of local state parks and hopefully go on a train ride near us and spend time with my parents.

Yesterday we kicked off The Husband’s week with a cookout with my parents and jumped in the pool for the first time after my son and dad worked hard to clean it out.

What We watched/are Watching

I watched a rerun of the K-Love Fan Awards early in the week.

The link to the entire show can be found here:

My favorite performances included:

TobyMac Promised Land (made even more powerful to me since Toby lost his son to suicide two years ago)

Phil Wickham House of the Lord (such a fun and worshipful performance. He’s fairly new to me as of this year, but I’m enjoying his music):

CeCe Winans and Lauren Daigle, I Believe For It (two Christian powerhouse singers):

Katy Nicole, In Jesus Name (God of Possible). This one just broke me down pretty hard for various reasons. It was the first time I heard it. Powerful stuff.

I also loved when Matthew West won for best male vocalist of the year. You can tell he had no idea. He was floored, emotional, and he just deserved it. I love following him on social media, his music and listening to his podcast. He’s just a sweet man and we need to be praying for his heart and that he can continue to impact the world for Christ.

This week I watched Streetcar Named Desire for the first time at the suggestion of Erin from Still Life, With Cracker Crumbs. She and I will be watching classic movies we suggest for each other this summer. I have been rubbing my hands together at this prospect because I am a huge fan of classic, or old, movies. I love picking out movies I enjoyed to share with others and I also love to receive suggestions from others.

I will give you my impression of Streetcar on Wednesday. I suggested Double Indemnity for Erin and she will be sharing her impressions of that movie on Wednesday as well.

Also this week I watched A Quite Place with The Boy, a movie I told him I would not watch because I hate horror-type movies. I finally caved in when Little Miss and The Husband had a day out on Saturday. It turns out this movie was different than other “horror” movies and was more of a psychological thriller. I was very impressed and enjoyed the storytelling of it. The Boy and I both feel that the movie should have stood for itself and there was no need for A Quiet Place 2 but The Boy, who has already seen that movie as well, said that he actually enjoyed A Quiet Place 2 and jumped more during that movie than the first one. I told The Boy I would watch the second movie with him sometime soon. The key for movies like these are finding a time Little Miss won’t be in the room with us. Obviously, I’m not letting her watch these types of movies with us at the tender age of seven.


The Husband and I finished Why Didn’t They Ask Evans, which was a three-part miniseries based on an Agatha Christie book and directed by Hugh Laurie. It was very good. I would have liked some more Emma Thompson, but you can’t have everything.


What I’m Writing

I’ve been working some on The Shores of Mercy and hope to be more strict about carving out writing times to work on it next week.

I shared two posts on the blog this week in addition to Chapter 8 of The Shores of Mercy (which is being called Mercy’s Shore on here):


Now it’s your turn

Now it’s your turn. What have you been doing, watching, reading, listening to or writing? Let me know in the comments or leave a blog post link if you also write a weekly update like this.

Which genre are your favorite books in?

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.

  1. Literary Fiction

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.

Other literary fiction authors and books:

https://www.goodreads.com/shelf/show/literary-fiction

2. Romance (including romantic comedy)

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….

For more romance authors:

https://www.tckpublishing.com/best-romance-authors/

For Christian/inspirational romance authors:

https://jocolibrary.bibliocommons.com/list/share/74067937/1826651979

3. Women’s Fiction

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.

For more women’s fiction authors:

https://www.goodreads.com/genres/womens-fiction

4. Mystery/Detective/Crime/Thriller

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.

Here is a little more info on mystery authors:

https://becomeawritertoday.com/top-mystery-writers/

https://becomeawritertoday.com/crime-thriller-authors/

Here is a whole site about Cozy Mystery books and writers:

https://cozy-mystery.com/

5. Fantasy

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.

https://www.audible.com/blog/article-best-fantasy-authors-ever

6. Science Fiction

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.

https://www.wired.co.uk/article/best-sci-fi-books

7. Classic

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.

Find a ton more classics here:

https://www.penguin.co.uk/articles/2018/100-must-read-classic-books.html

8. Horror

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)

For more horror authors click here:

https://booklaunch.io/bestsellers/best-horror-authors

Or

https://bookriot.com/best-horror-authors/

9. Historical Fiction

Historical Fiction is what it sounds like. It’s fiction either based on a historical event,  person or time period.

Some Historical Fiction authors include Hilary Mantel, Graham Greene, Ken Follet, Philippa Gregory, Sarah Waters, Sarah Sundin, Lynn Austin, Bodie and Brock Thoene, Kate Alcott, and Bernard Cornwall.

Here are a couple of sites with some author Historical Fiction authors:

https://becomeawritertoday.com/best-historical-fiction-authors/

https://bookriot.com/best-historical-fiction-authors/

10. Christian Fiction

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):

https://bloggersforthekingdom.com/top-christian-fiction-writers-that-know-how-to-hook-you/

https://kristiwoods.net/10-not-to-miss-female-christian-fiction-authors/

And for a couple of posts about the many variety of genres and what books are in them:

https://booksummaryclub.com/genres-of-books/

https://www.oprahdaily.com/entertainment/books/a29576863/types-of-book-genres/

So what genres of books are your favorites? Let me know in the comments!

Sunday Bookends: Keeping it low, blooming flowers, quiet books

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

What’s Been Occurring

This week we had some difficult news about someone we knew so we laid pretty low and tried to focus on our mental health. I wandered my yard and took a lot of photos of our flowers, which I shared in a post earlier this week.

Last Sunday Little Miss and my dad planted some gladiolus bulbs around the garden.

Friday Little Miss learned how to ride her bike without her training wheels, and she spent almost all day yesterday riding it.

We really didn’t do much else this week because I preferred to hide away from people. Little Miss’ friends who were visiting from Texas left to go back this week and that left us both down. I’ll miss those little girls running up from their great-grandma’s to play with Little Miss every afternoon and them playing together until the light outside was almost too dark to see their hands in front of their faces.

Remember when I was complaining all winter about it being too cold out? Well for two days this week the temperatures were lower (in the 60s!) and I loved it! On Saturday it was spring weather and I was all for it. I loved curling up under the covers with a book and wearing my sweater. I’m not a fan of hot, sticky summer weather so if it is like that in July and August for us, I’m sure I’ll complain a time or two about it on here.

What I/we’ve Been Reading

I am reading quiet books for now.

I am reading The Heart of the Mountains by Pepper Basham on the Kindle.

I am reading Anne of the Island by L.M. Montgomery in paperback.

I usually read a Kindle book at night when all the lights are off and a paperback during the day.

This week I will be reading Pepper’s book slowly for a book tour that isn’t until late July and Anne’s book slowly because I enjoy taking my time with it.

I am also hoping to start a mystery book of some sort this week or next but I am not sure which one yet.

Little Miss finally let me read Anne of Green Gables to her instead of The Long Winter from The Little House series at night this past week. It’s been a nice break (since this is our second time through the series), but I have discovered she doesn’t fall sleep as fast when I read Anne. Anne speaks very quickly and excitedly and because I do all the voices, Grace gets into the story even more than the other books.

“You speak very fast, and it wakes my brain all up,” she told me Friday night.

I read The Long Winter after that, and she dropped off to sleep in five minutes. Anne might have to be a book we read during the day if this continues.

What I’m Watching

The Husband and I started Why Didn’t They Ask Evans? Friday night. It is based on an Agatha Christie book and is a mini-series. We are enjoying it so far. We have two more parts to finish.

My husband either had to work or go to play practice every night during the week so we didn’t watch much else together. I actually didn’t watch much alone either. I had a hard time focusing on anything for very long.

I did rewatch some of As Time Goes By, which is a British sitcom I’ve watched a few times now.


What I’m Writing

I wrote some blog posts to distract myself this week and also worked a little on Mercy’s Shore.

What I’m Listening To

I listened to some Jack White music this week. I needed something different than what I had been listening to. Jack White is a bit too weird for me sometimes, but I love his guitar work. I wouldn’t say I’d recommend listening to him all the time but when you feel a little pissed off at the world (for lack of a better way to explain it right now) it scratches an itch.

Now it’s your turn

Now it’s your turn. What have you been doing, watching, reading, listening to, or writing? Let me know in the comments or leave a blog post link if you also write a weekly update like this.

Sunday Bookends: Bear in the neighborhood, little girls everywhere, and a summer reading list


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

What I/we’ve been Reading

I have two or three more chapters to read of Anne of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery and will probably finish it today.

I also hope to finish Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain later this week.

I am starting The Heat of the Mountains by Pepper Basham this week for a book tour, which isn’t until the end of July.

I hope to start the next book in the Anne series (Anne of the Island) as well.

I have a few books I would like to read during this summer including:

The sixth book in the Walt Longmire series, Junkyard Dogs;

The Hot Rock by Donald Westlake;

The House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz;

Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie;

 A Ted Dekker book (haven’t decided which one yet);

At least one Jane Austen book

The Edge of Belonging by Amanda Cox

The Do Over by Bethany Turner.

The Murder of Mr. Wickham by Claudia Gray

Do I think I will get through all these books? I have no idea but we will see.

The Husband is reading Hooker by Lou Thesz (a book about a wrestler, not a prostitute.).

The Boy is taking a break from reading after reading so much for school this year.

I finally got Little Miss to let me read a book other than Laura Ingalls Wilder — Anne of Green Gables. She’s letting me read one chapter of Anne one night and a chapter of The Long Winter the other night.

What’s Been Occurring

Little Miss had a very busy, exciting week. She was able to see all of her friends, including the ones still visiting the area from Texas. They had moved there last year (I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, but I’m too lazy to go back to my previous Sunday Bookend and look. *wink*). Her friends who live locally were visiting Thursday and then her friends from Texas were down the street at their great-grandmothers so they came up to visit too. For about three hours I had six crazy girls between the ages of 6 and 8 here and it was actually a lot of fun, more for Little Miss than anyone else.

I’d love to show the photos of them all together but I don’t have permission to share their photographs on the blog so I’ll just tell you that they were all crazy and had fun posing for a photograph that they could all remember when they go their separate ways.

Little Miss was able to see her friends from Texas the next day as well and then last night the neighbor’s daughter took her to our local dairy parade where she milked a cow and was able to ride on a fire truck.

On Friday we traveled 45 minutes one way and 45 minutes back to have the kid’s evaluations done with our homeschool evaluator. We didn’t visit the town where we used to live like we usually do when we go there, partially because we simply didn’t feel like and partially because they last time we went there some young men yelled nasty things at my son while he was riding his bike. The incident was a stark reminder of how much the town we lived in for about 18 years had changed, and not for the better.

With the evaluations done, we can now submit our paperwork to the district both for this past school year and for next. And that also means we are officially on summer break. No, we don’t have any concrete exciting plans for this summer. One of my plans is to start looking for curriculum for The Boy who is now a sophomore in high school (hold me!). Yes, I am a very exciting person.

In less interesting news for most people, my peonies and wild roses bloomed this week, which is just about one of the biggest highlights of the year for me. Yes, my life is that boring.

In unrelated news, I have been waiting to see a bear since we moved here and I might have seen one Monday if I had been outside my house because one visited my neighbor down the street — the great grandmother of Little Miss’ little friends. The bear was young and walked up her driveway and into her side yard (which is very small and leads to her patio doors) and visited her granddaughter’s dog and then kept going, I guess. We only found out about it when the local newspaper wrote about it. I told my neighbor to call me if a bear shows up in her yard again, but really, what am I going to do if it does? I’m certainly not going to walk down the street, but maybe I’d drive down there to check it out.

Now that I know there has been a bear on the street, I am trying to be very careful when I let the pets out and check on them while they are out there.  Bears aren’t known to kill dogs or cats in this area, but it still makes me nervous.

What We watched/are Watching

Last Sunday I started to rewatch Season 2 of The Chosen. Wow. I caught so many things I had missed when I watched it last year, especially during the episode with Jesus and John the Baptist. It is a seriously powerful show. If you have not watched it, I really encourage you to do so. Even if you aren’t a Christian. It’s very well put together and tells a wonderful story about people, in addition to God.

You can either watch it on The Chosen app, which is very easy to download on your smartphone or another device. You can cast the episodes to your TV and download the channel if you have a Roku.

I watched a couple more episodes of The Durrells, which is on Amazon, and based on a trilogy of books about a real life family called The Durrells. It’s an interesting show, with some odd moments, but nothing outlandishly inappropriate or violent.

I also watched a bunch of videos by homesteader YouTubers like Roots and Refuge Farm all week long. This gave me ideas for things I can do around my own home to create a garden or grow food without planting a full garden. I am behind on starting a garden this year (clearly) and I’ve been dragging my feet on it because it can be very time consuming and I sort of blew it last year. But these videos have inspired me to try it on a smaller scale, so I am producing at least something this year. As my neighbor said last week, this is definitely the year to be planting a garden considering how bad our economy is and how much worse it is going to get.

It is also inspiring to watch Roots and Refuge because they have built their farm and their YouTube channel up over the last several years to the point they are now making a full, supporting income from both.

The Husband and I also watched an episode (they are 90 minutes each) of Brokenwood Mysteries and on Saturday I watched the new Obi Wan Kenobi show with The Boy and then an episode of the third season of Star Trek Discovery with The Boy and The Husband.


What I’m Writing

 I worked more this week on The Shores of Mercy, which is what I’ll be calling the new book. It is called Mercy’s Shore for the blog.

I’ve decided to write one more book after this one and complete The Spencer Valley Chronicles with five books. The fifth book will be about Alex and his relationship with his father, as well as a little more about his relationship with Molly. I felt like that will bring the series full circle. Since it started with Molly, it will end with Molly.

In addition to working on the book, I also wrote several blog posts including:



Now it’s your turn

What have you been doing, watching, reading, listening to or writing? Let me know in the comments or leave a blog post link if you also write a weekly update like this.

What books do you have to have physical copies of?

My husband and I started to buy more Kindle books a few years ago because our bookshelves were literally starting to sag under the weight of all of our books. Moving them when we left our old house to move into this new one wasn’t very fun either.

So, we have decided that it isn’t that we won’t ever buy physical books again, but that we will only buy physical copies of books that we will want to read again. If we do pick up books at library sales that we don’t really like we can always donate them to another library sale.

I am fine with reading most books on my Kindle (ebook reader for those not familiar with it, though I’d be surprised if there was someone not familiar with it), but there are a few authors I like to read while holding a physical copy of their book.

I don’t know how to explain the difference between reading on the Kindle and reading an actual hard copy of a book. It isn’t that I think the Kindle is inferior, but I don’t feel like I really own the books, even if I have “bought” them off of Amazon. The issue I have is that unless I physically download every book I have purchased off of Amazon, I don’t really own that book. It’s still on Amazon’s servers, which could go down at any point, or which they could choose to remove books from. I’ve even heard of them removing books people have purchased because Amazon deemed the book inappropriate.

That is why I purchased a physical copy of the book Irreversible Damage by Abigail Shier. People were reporting that their digital copies were being removed from their digital clouds if they purchased it through Amazon. I don’t agree with that type of censorship and wanted to read Abigail’s message without the issue of transgenderism rising in young women, so I purchased a hard copy of the book and put it on my shelf. Who knows if or when I might need it at some point.

Side note: as far as I know, Amazon stopped removing books they disagreed with when people started to notice and threw a stink. I’m not a huge fan of Amazon for this and many other reasons, but they are the largest bookseller in the U.S. so it’s hard to completely ignore them.

Moving on from the critique of Amazon, I’ll get back to the original intent of this blog post which is that there are certain books I want physical copies of, even if I read them on a digital device.

For example, I have set out to collect all 14 of the books in The Mitford Series by Jan Karon. When I originally started those books, I read physical copies so reading a physical copy of her books holds a sentimental value to me. I did read her new releases on the Kindle but then realized I also wanted physical copies, again to be sure I don’t lose them in the future. Those are books I will read more than once.

That’s really why there are some books I want physical copies of — I know I will want to read them again and I might not always have a Kindle to read them on.

I feel like the books which need to be read in a hard copy form (paperback or hardcover) feature more polished or classic writing, which dictates that it be read like we used to read books. The writing in these books is not a waste of paper, in other words.

Books like Anne of Green Gables and all of L.M. Montgomery’s books and all of the Little House on the Prairie books should be read in paperback, for example. I also have a paperback collection of The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis.

Another author whose books I need a physical copy of is Robin W. Pearson. I have read a couple of her books on Kindle, but afterward, I make sure I buy a physical copy to place on the shelf.

I have found I am doing the same with the Miss Julia series by Ann B. Ross and after a quick glance at the Pop Larkin Chronicles by H.E. Bates (written in 1958), I think I’ll probably purchase the paperbacks of these books as well.

Of course, the ultimate book I prefer to hold a physical copy of is the Bible. I find it easier to flip through the pages to the part I want to read than to skim through it on a device screen.

How about you? Are there certain authors or books you want to read in a hard copy form versus on an e-reader? Let me know in the comments.

Sunday Bookends: Winter’s last blast? Remembering family. Jane Seymour with a potty mouth?

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

What’s Been Occurring

Friday and Saturday we remembered a couple of people in our family. Friday was the tenth anniversary of the day my husband’s grandfather passed away. He was a good man and we miss him and my husband’s grandmother very much.

Yesterday was my Aunt Dianne’s birthday so Mom and I plan to make sausage balls in her memory today because she loved to make them every year for Christmas. I tried to make them for Christmas this year, but I didn’t do such a great job. I think the key might be to not make them with gluten-free Bisquick, even though that means I can’t eat them, since I can not eat the corn in the Bisquick.


I don’t actually like remembering people on the day they died. I like to remember them the way they lived and when I picture Grandpa, I picture him smiling like he was on the day of our wedding. I picture my aunt with smiles as well and I hope they are in heaven together now smiling as they wait for us to meet them someday.

I mentioned in a post last week that we had unexpected snow in the beginning of the week. Our town received about nine inches of very heavy snow which left trees broken, wires down from the weight of the trees and snow, and more than 13,000 people out of power.

Our local power company posted these photos of what they had to deal with to get to the lines they needed to fix:



I took a few photographs, but, honestly, I’m so over winter weather, I wasn’t interested in photographs of snow. I did take a few of the kids when The Boy decided to run out and build a snow Batman.

Luckily the snow melted a day or so later. Little Miss enjoyed sitting in the grass with the snow surrounding her. The grass was left from The Boy shoveling a path for the dog the first day after the storm.

Today the temperature is supposed to be almost 80 with a drop into the 40s later in the week. Yes, my sinuses are suffering.

What I’m Reading

Last week I finished Miss Julia Rocks the Cradle, a cozy Southern mystery written by Ann B. Ross.

I also finished a book by indie Christian Historical Fiction author Jenny Knipfer, which she plans to release this summer. She had asked members of her group if they would help her proof it, in addition to her editor. I will be starting an ARC of a novella by her, Violet’s Vow, this week or next as well.

I started Open Season by C.J. Box so I would have something a little different up on the reading block. The book is the first book in the Joe Picket series. This is my first crack at one of his books. We will see how it goes since it isn’t something I usually read.

Depending on my mood I may move to The Lord God Made Them All by James Herriot. I am also still reading Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain here and there before bed.

Little Miss and I will be finishing Plum Creek this weekend and hopefully moving on to a book other than one by Laura Ingalls Wilder.

The husband is reading Slow Horse by Mick Herron.

The Boy may finish Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde sometime before the end of the century at this point, but I’m not holding out much hope.

What I’m/We’re Watching

We tried out Harry Wild, a new mystery show with Jane Seymour this week. Dr. Quinn has a wee bit of a potty mouth in this one, but we still enjoyed the premise and her acting. I told my parents she was in a new show we are watching. I said, “She’s looking pretty good for 71.” My dad said, “Oh, really, what’s that show on?”

My mom said I didn’t need to tell him.

I started rewatching As Time Goes By, one of my favorite British sitcom to try to get me through some of the down moments of the week.

I also spent way too much time watching the Johnny Depp/Amber Heard defamation trial. Don’t ask why. I have no idea, other than it was a distraction from the rest of the craziness of the world. What I learned from all of that mess is that hurt people hurt people and Hollywood actors are some seriously messed up people. I also think Amber Heard is vindictive and nuts and Johnny Depp medicates his emotional pain way too much.

What I’m Listening To

I’ve been listening to comedians like Chonda Pierce lately and then some worship music.

What I’m Writing

During the week I worked on Mercy’s Shore, the next book in my series.

Now It is Your Turn

What have you been reading, watching, listening to, or doing? Let me know in the comments.

Fiction Friday: Some thoughts about when I know a story is starting to click

The best part of writing a fiction story is when the characters start to come to life in my mind. When that happens, I start to daydream about them— including their interactions, personalities, and conversations they might have with other characters. The magic really happens later on the page as I start to write it all down and the character starts to tell me their story from their point of view.

The daydreaming phase has started with Mercy’s Shore, book four in the Spencer Valley series, when I thought it might never come. This week I started to get to know Ben Oliver, the main character, better Now that we are getting a feel for each other, I’ll be able to tell his story.

It will take me a few more chapters before I really know Ben, obviously, but he’s starting to give me a peek at who he is, which he also did when I started to write a character biography for him a month or so ago.

Only through his actions, conversations, and interactions with those around him will I really find out who he is, though, and that will require me to just write.

As I write scenes begin to piece themselves together, other characters begin to show themselves, and conversations evolve from one piece of dialogue to the next as I imagine what one person would say and what the logical, or more interestingly, the more illogical response will be.

Before I know it, I’ll have Ben’s full story down on the page.

Now I just have to get to know Judi even better than I did in Harvesting Hope and add her story to the mix. Or maybe I’ll just stick with Ben telling the story. I plan to make that decision this weekend, but I have a feeling that Judi is the kind of person who isn’t going to let someone else tell her story. Not again that is. Ellie told it for the most part in Harvesting Hope. Now it’s Judi’s turn to speak out.

Now a little update for my blog readers on future plans for the Spencer Valley Chronicles:

As it stands now, I have (possible) plans for at least one more full-length novel and three novellas.

One novella will focus on the story of Molly’s grandparents Ned and Franny Tanner and will be historical in nature as we go back to when they first met.

Another novella will focus on the origin story of Robert and Annie, Molly’s parents.

A third novella will focus on Ginny and Stan Jefferies’ (you will learn more about them in Beauty From Ashes if you didn’t read the chapters on here) daughter Olivia and . . .well, you’ll have to wait to find out.

The full-length novel will feature Alex from The Farmer’s Daughter as the main character as he works through issues with his father, who, if you remember from The Farmer’s Daughter (spoiler if you have not read that) had been diagnosed with cancer.

I won’t give a time frame for when all these books and novellas will come out since I do have a couple of stand-alone books I am interested in writing in between.

I had considered writing a book about Spencer’s newspaper editor, Liam Finley, and I may still do that but I don’t know if I will include that book as part of the Spencer Valley Chronicles, or make it a separate, stand-alone novel. That story is starting to capture my attention more and more, probably because of my own background in newspapers and my current connection to them as well.

If you’ve been following along with these stories, what storyline most intrigues you? And are there stories of other characters you would like to see expanded on as well?

Sunday Bookends: Rembrandt Stone and a short update

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

What I’m Reading

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

What I’m Watching

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

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

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

What’s Been Occurring

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

What I’ve Been Listening To

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

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

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

Sunday Bookends: A day out, new books, and addicted to The House of Eliott

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

What’s Been Occurring

After our scary incident with Little Miss last week, we didn’t do much this week except take it easy and schoolwork. Little Miss didn’t have to do too much schoolwork on Tuesday, but we picked up our work the next two days and then both kids had Friday off for a family day. We used our family day for something simple — a trip 45 minutes south for some lunch from Weis Markets and playing at a small playground we all like near the store.

Our view on the drive.

This week it will be more of the same with schoolwork planned and then maybe a day out for the husband and I on the weekend for my birthday.

There is a science class being held later in the week for homeschoolers at a local camp about 40 minutes from us (probably a little less) that I plan to take Little Miss too as well.

What I’m Reading

I’m finishing up Anne of Green Gables this week and have also started a book for a book tour called Sunny: Book 1 of The Weather Girls.


I am also continuing to read Another Man’s Moccasins by Craig Johnson which keeps getting pushed back because of books I’m reading for book tours. I don’t have to have future books finished for another couple of weeks, so I hope to finish that book as well this week.

But it may get put aside again because I was just sent Blood from a Stone, the latest by David James Warren – the next book in the Rembrandt Stone Series. I am going to be reading it for a blog tour and I can’t wait to get into it after the cliffhanger in book four. This is the fifth book in the series and then we have one more book after this one before it is *sniff* all over.

Little Miss and I will finish The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder this week and are also continuing a book about Quacker Artist Benjamin West for her social studies/English curriculum.

The Boy is reading Know What You Believe by Paul Little for school and will move on to a different book in the next couple of weeks.

The husband is reading The Wheel of Time.


What I’m Watching

I’m completely hooked on The House of Eliott, a British drama on Britbox about two sisters who start a fashion business in the 1920s. I think there are only three seasons of it so I will enjoy it while I can.

I talk to the computer screen when I watch it. It’s sad.

“Oh, yeah, Arthur? You think so? Because I don’t. I think you’re going to be sent packing, you arrogant oaf.” (I didn’t actually say oaf, but it sounded funnier if I claimed I did.)

“That’s right, Sebastian. You’re going to Paris on your own because you are a total jerk.”

“Sheesh, Evie. You are so blasted dramatic. You’re seriously a big baby. Grow up.”

The kids look at me confused and I just say, “Oh, it’s just mommy’s show.”

Only I don’t really say “mommy” because both of my children stopped calling me mommy around the age of 3. One called me “mama” until he was 8 or so and the other one started calling me “Mom” in a very adult tone at the age of 2 and a half. It was creepy and still is.

The husband and I have also been watching Upstart Crow, a British sitcom about the life of William Shakespeare. It’s just the level of ridiculousness we need right now.


What I’m Writing

I’m working on the third book in the Spencer Valley Chronicles and this week things finally started to click. I got so into writing the story Friday that I wasn’t even very interested in looking at all the crazy, scary news. I have to keep writing so I know what happens to my characters. Say what? Yeah, sounds crazy. I’m writing the book, but I seriously have no idea where this one is going.

I mean, I know somewhat where it is going. I have some of it mapped out, but not all of it so it’s fun discovering who my characters are and what their stories are. I’m excited for this one. I think it might be a little different than the first two.

There will still be some romance, but romance isn’t going to be the main focus of this one – or will it?

Maybe there will be some romance, but it won’t be the same as a traditional “romance”, if you know what I mean. Anyhow, I am having fun writing it and I hope readers will have fun reading it.

I am sharing the chapters on the blog on Fiction Friday as I did with my other books. As usual these are rough drafts, of sorts, with typos, plot holes, that will be fixed and changed before the final book is published. You can find a link to the first two chapters HERE.

On the Blog Last Week

What I’m Listening To

I’ve discovered a new artist who doesn’t seem to have an album out yet, but I love her style. Victory Boyd.

Recent Blog Posts I enjoyed from Other Bloggers

Living Water: Our Story, Chapter 8

Thoughts and Hope for the Times

16 Mind-Blowing Uses for Coffee Filters

So that’s my week in review. Let me know what you are reading, watching, listening to and doing in the comments.