Sunday Bookends: Little white lies, Three Amigos, and it is time for Christmas books

It’s time for our Sunday morning chat. On Sundays, I ramble about what’s been going on, what I and the rest of the family have been reading and watching, and what I’ve been writing, and some weeks I share what I am listening to.


What I/we’ve been Reading

I finished Love and A Little White Lie last night after working on it for a few weeks now. It didn’t take me this long because it was bad, but because I kept getting interrupted by writing projects, books, or just the everyday weirdness of life.

I will be honest that I almost bailed on this book part way through because the one character was so annoying to me and because the middle dragged a little bit. I really wanted to reach into the book and slap the one character. He was so whiney. Argh! But the book was really worth finishing because the writing was so good, the main character was so complex, and many of the supporting characters were loveable.

In case anyone reading this is interested, here is the description:

There’s a lot of irony in hitting rock bottom

After a heartbreak leaves her reeling, January Sanders is open to anything–including moving into a cabin on her aunt’s wedding-venue property and accepting a temporary position at her aunt’s church despite being a lifelong skeptic of faith. Choosing to keep her doubts to herself, she’s determined to give her all to supporting Grace Community’s overworked staff while helping herself move on.

What she doesn’t count on is meeting the church’s handsome and charming guitarist. It’s a match set for disaster, and yet January has no ability to stay away, even if it means pretending to have faith in a God she doesn’t believe in.

Only this time, keeping her secret isn’t as easy as she thought it would be. Especially when she’s constantly running into her aunt’s landscape architect, who seems to know everything about her past-and-present sins and makes no apologies about pushing her to deal with feelings she’d rather keep buried.

Torn between two worlds that can’t coexist, can January find the healing that’s eluded her, or will her resistance to the truth ruin any chance of happiness?

I am finishing a book for an author friend this week (By Broken Birch Bay by Jenny Knipfer) and then I plan to focus on Christmas books, including Shepherd’s Abiding by Jan Karon, America’s Favorite Christmastown by Dawn Klinge, and A Highland Christmas: A Hamish Macbeth Mystery by M.C. Beaton. If I can find a paperback copy, I’d also like to read some of Christmas with Anne by L.M. Montgomery, if it is a real book and not just some knock-off Amazon thing. Has anyone heard of it?

Little Miss and I are reading Paddington before bed and Children of the Longhouse by Joseph Bruchac during the day.

The Boy is reading Sea of Monsters, which is a Percy Jackson book and yes, during the week I am making him finish The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

The Husband is reading Kagan The Damned by Jonathan Maberry.

What’s Been Occurring

This past week we had a good school week during which I actually felt like I had fun, even if the children didn’t.

We didn’t do much else during the week, other than visit my mom on Thursday and grocery shop on Friday. Our shopping trip was delayed by an issue with the van that I thought was going to cost a lot, but turned out could be fixed by my dad dumping three quarts of oil in the engine. In other words, I don’t pay attention to the lights on the dash of my car.

This week’s weather was a mix of mess, wind, and cold. Still no snow, which was fine with me.  

This next week we don’t have a ton planned and if it’s going to be as cold as it has been, I am fine with that too.

What We watched/are Watching

Last Sunday, The Boy and I watched Planes, Trains, and Automobiles while The Husband took Little Miss to a train ride with Santa.

Later in the week we watched The Three Amigos, an old movie from the 80s with Steve Martin, Martin Short, and Chevy Chase.

It is a movie I used to watch with some friends of mine, probably when I was 9 or 10 and it was so weird and funny to watch it again all these years later. There was at least a couple of off-color moments, but for the most part the movie is clean.

The movie is about three actors who portray a trio of heroes called the Three Amigos in silent movies. A woman who is looking for someone to rescue her town from an evil man who is terrorizing it sees the movie, thinks it is a newsreel and sends them a telegram, asking them to come save her town. The telegraph operator decides to edit the telegram so she can afford to send it and, unfortunately, the actors think they are being hired for an acting job. Hilarity ensues from there as “they” say.

During the movie, there is a scene where Martin Short and Steve Martin sing a song called “My Little Buttercup,” which I had forgotten all about until it started. I used to sing the song to my mom and dad after my friends and I watched the movie and they would laugh so hard because I looked so ridiculous. I’m leaving it here for your viewing pleasure.

Little Miss’s impression of the movie: “Nope. Too much fantasy. Not enough reality.”

Sigh. If you knew what movies she watches, you’d really laugh at that comment.

There is a scene in the movie where the villain has a discussion about the word plethora and what it means. As I watched it I remembered that this is where I learned the word and from then on kept finding ways to use it in sentences. I still find a plethora of ways to use the word in sentences. Get it? I still find a plethora – yeah, okay. You get it.

Anyhow, later in the week, I started to watch You’ve Got Mail then realized that I don’t really like that movie because the two main characters are lying to their boyfriend and girlfriend and chatting to each other behind their backs. It is essentially a movie about cheaters, even if parts of it are cute.

I clicked off that and saw The Bookshop Around the Corner with Jimmy Stewart and then realized something I didn’t realize before. You’ve Got Mail is based on this 1940 movie.

As usual Hollywood is not original because I also started to watch A Man Called Ove this week and it is a Swedish movie that is being released in the U.S. under the title A Man Called Otto starring Tom Hanks. From what I can see, the American movie has been recreated frame for frame. I enjoyed what I did watch of A Man Called Ove, even though I would consider it a dark comedy and those aren’t usually my thing. I stopped it because I decided I should watch something a little happier since I was home by myself. I plan to finish the movie this week.

Anyhow, back to The Bookshop Around the Corner – it’s supposed to take place in Hungary, but only one person has a Hungarian accent. The rest either have New York accents or British ones. Besides that odd glitch, it is a very good movie about a man who is writing to a woman and later learns that the woman is someone he actually knows in real life.

I very much enjoyed the movie and was glad I watched that instead of You’ve Got Mail.

Also this week I watched The Muppets Christmas Carol as part of the ‘Tis the Season Cinema with Erin from Still Life with Cracker Crumbs and Katja_137 from Breath of Hallelujah.

They both had such interesting posts about the movie. I loved how Katja_137 threw in so much trivia about it, including an edited scene I didn’t even know existed.

You can read her post here: https://breathofhallelujah.com/2022/12/02/the-muppet-christmas-carol-tis-the-season-cinema/comment-page-1/#comment-56

And Erin’s here: https://crackercrumblife.com/2022/12/01/tis-the-season-cinema-the-muppets-christmas-carol/



What I’m Writing

I’ve been working on a short story that I will start sharing on the blog Friday and run for 12 days after that. It will feature the characters from Spencer Valley, including Molly, Alex, Robert, Annie, Franny, and maybe a little bit of Jason and Ellie and Matt and Liz.

Here is a little sneak peek for those of you who might like to read along:

Cold bit at Robert Tanner’s skin, stung his lungs, and made him wish he could stay inside under a blanket with a warm cup of coffee. Instead, he stepped further into the cold, pulling his winter cap down further on his head.

Between the house and the barn snow swirled wildly, darkening the sky and making it feel like dusk instead of late afternoon.

Inside the barn it was warm, and he was grateful for it, even if his arrival did mean he’d have to start cleaning out the cows sleeping area and preparing the second milking of the day.

Truthfully, his mind was far away from the tasks of the day. His thoughts were consumed with another project he hoped to have complete by Christmas – a gift for his wife of 30 years.

On the blog this week I shared:

What I’m Listening To

I have not been slowing down and listening to anything except for some worship guitar music while I write. I hope to remedy that this week and listen to some more music. Some nights my daughter and I listen to the family hour on our local Christian radio station, which features Adventures in Odyssey and other Christian radio dramas from 7 to  8 p.m.

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: friend visits, warm weather, and Christmas movies

It’s time for our Sunday morning chat. On Sundays I ramble about what’s been going on, what I and the rest of the family have been reading and watching, and what I’ve been writing, and some weeks I share what I am listening to.


What I/we’ve been Reading

I have been reading a collection of Father Brown stories by G.K. Chesterton and have been enjoying them for the most part. The third one I read went off on a weird ramble for several pages that had nothing to do with the story I thought but these were written in the early 1900s so I cut Chesterton some slack.

I have also been reading The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain with The Boy for school and The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe with Little Miss.

I’ll probably start a new fiction book this week, but I’m not sure which one yet. I have a few I’ve read the first few pages of an am liking so I just need to pick one. The Seven and a half Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle has caught my attention so far.



What’s Been Occurring

This past week Little Miss and I were both surprised when her little friends who moved to Texas a year and a half ago, came back to stay.

Little Miss had a blast visiting with them during the week. We were still able to finish schoolwork but it was pushed off to the evenings to they could play together.

The friends are signed up back into school now so we won’t have our school days interrupted as much.

She was able to visit with some other friends yesterday.

We didn’t do a lot last week other than school. We had been doing game nights once a week with my parents but I had congestion and they were doing other things most days so we will have to have a game night another time.

The weather was oddly warm all week and then today it dropped into the 40s and it is literally downhill from here. It’s like we were in spring and then drastically plunged into winter. Our sinuses are definitely going to suffer even more this week. As I was writing this actual snow started to fall. Yuck.

What We watched/are Watching

This week I watched light and fluffy stuff including a couple of Hallmark movies even though I am not the biggest fan of Hallmark movies. I do like the movies based on the short-lived show Signed, Sealed, Delivered which follows a group of employees in the Dead Letter Office of the United States Postal Service. The premise – of them solving mysteries surrounding lost letters or packages — is a bit far fetched but the overall stories are uplifting and encouraging.

Earlier in the week I watched The Man Who Invented Christmas as part of the ‘Tis the Season Cinema feature Erin from Still Life, With Cracker Crumbs and I started this week. We are watching Christmas movies from now until the week before Christmas. Next up is A Christmas Carol Goes Wrong which you can find here on YouTube:

This special was on the BBC and is part of a series of specials and shows about a theater group who is always messing up or somehow ruining their shows with misspoken words or mishaps.

What I’m Writing

I didn’t share much on the blog this week other than the last chapters of Mercy’s Shore (Shores of Mercy).

I had to add a quick chapter to Shores of Mercy and also started a couple other stories to see which one sticks in my brain for me to continue it.

I did share a blog post about The Man Who Invented Christmas.

What I’m Listening To

I am listening to a lot of Family Life, our local Christian radio station.


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.

Book review and giveaway: Dog Days of Summer

Book: Dog Days of Summer

Author: Kathleen Y’Barbo

Genre: Christian/Mystery/Romance Fiction

Release date: October 2022

Trina Potter, Nashville country music star, buys a ranch near her hometown in Brenham, Texas, to help her niece open a rescue facility for dogs. Her presence in town stirs up some old high school rivalries—and romance. Finding property to buy is a challenge, convincing her mother to move there with her is daunting, and navigating a string of strange accidents is perplexing. Sometimes Trina feels like she’s purchased her own three ring circus instead of a beautiful piece of land. But her first priority will be figuring out who wants Second Chance Ranch shut down before they even have the grand opening.

Click here to get your copy!






MY REVIEW

If you are looking for a cozy mystery with entertaining characters, then Dog Days of Summer is a good choice.

The book starts off pulling you into the story with characters who are downhome, even though one is a famous country singer.

This is the second book in the series, but you don’t have to read the first one to know what is happening in this one.

Y’Barbo writes characters who are very relatable.

A few sections dragged a little bit for me, but that’s merely my opinion. Other readers may not mind a little meandering. I felt that there could have been a bit more information about the main character’s singing career but that’s because I was interested, not because there was anything wrong with how it was written. I wasn’t a huge fan of how the love story was tossed in there as a plot point. It didn’t feel flushed out to me. The love story and the ending felt rushed to me but other readers may feel the pacing was just fine. Overall, this was a clean, cozy story that left me with a happy feeling at the end.

About the Author

Kathleen Y’Barbo is a multiple Carol Award and RITA nominee and bestselling author of more than one hundred books with over two million copies of her books in print in the US and abroad. A tenth-generation Texan and certified paralegal, she is a member of the Texas Bar Association Paralegal Division, Texas A&M Association of Former Students and the Texas A&M Women Former Students (Aggie Women), Texas Historical Society, Novelists Inc., and American Christian Fiction Writers. She would also be a member of the Daughters of the American Republic, Daughters of the Republic of Texas and a few others if she would just remember to fill out the paperwork that Great Aunt Mary Beth has sent her more than once.

When she’s not spinning modern day tales about her wacky Southern relatives, Kathleen inserts an ancestor or two into her historical and mystery novels as well. Recent book releases include bestselling The Pirate Bride set in 1700s New Orleans and Galveston, its sequel The Alamo Bride set in 1836 Texas, which feature a few well-placed folks from history and a family tale of adventure on the high seas and on the coast of Texas. She also writes (mostly) relative-free cozy mystery novels for Guideposts Books.

Kathleen and her hero in combat boots husband have their own surprise love story that unfolded on social media a few years back. They make their home just north of Houston, Texas and are the parents and in-laws of a blended family of Texans, Okies, and one very adorable Londoner.

More from Kathleen

Do you love dogs…or cats…or both…? I’m firmly in the “both” category. Since childhood I’ve always lived in homes that had at least one or the other, usually several of each. With every dog or cat comes at least one good story. One of my favorites is the tale of Bandit, the inspiration for the cover of my cozy mystery DOG DAYS OF SUMMER.

Once upon a time there was a black and white dog named Bandit. He was an English Springer Spaniel by birth but was completely convinced he was human. Bandit loved his people—three growing boys and a baby girl—even more than he loved popcorn and playing keep away (his version of catch). After many years, Bandit’s people grew up and he grew old. Toward the end of his very long and pampered life, he was plagued by the unwanted and yet much appreciated friendship of an ornery orange-striped cat named Baby and a snooty pedigreed feline named Fifi.

Everyone loved Bandit…except the territorial squirrel who lived in a tree in our backyard in Southeast Texas. From the moment Bandit joined the family, the furry fellow was determined to rid himself and his backyard of the trespassing canine. The squirrel’s favorite tactic was to tease Bandit until the dog chased him up a tree. Once treed, the crafty critter would run around the trunk just out of Bandit’s reach. Once the squirrel tired of this, it would retreat to a limb. There, the battle of the backyard beasts would commence again but with the squirrel lobbing pinecones and the dog trying to catch them.

While every good story has a beginning, middle and end, unfortunately at the end of this one there was no winner in the dog vs. squirrel wars. A job transfer led us to Houston where squirrels were in abundance in our new neighborhood but none of them were nearly as much fun as the one Bandit left behind. The last time I spoke with the owners of our old house, they told the funniest story: they loved their new home, but there was this squirrel in the backyard that kept throwing pinecones at everyone.

In DOG DAYS OF SUMMER, I tell the story of another Texas backyard. This one is located in Brenham, Texas, and it is about to become a very special place for some very special dogs named Patsy and Cline. Have I mentioned these dogs belong to a country singer named Trina who has a mother named Mama Peach who happens to own a cat named Hector that dislikes almost everyone and can open doors? Then there’s the problem of the next door neighbor and his penchant to forget to close the lid on his grill when he’s cooking? Did I mention that Patsy and Cline enjoy nothing more than whatever they happen to find on an unguarded grill? While the two furry scoundrels are rounding up trouble next door, there is even more trouble happening at the building site for Second Chance Ranch Dog Rescue on the other side of the property. Apparently not everyone is happy about the new neighbors. The mystery is who that person might be. While you’ve got to read DOG DAYS OF SUMMER to find out, I can give you one hint: it’s not the squirrel!

I’ve told you mine; now tell me your favorite dog or cat story. I can’t wait to read them.

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Kathleen is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon e-gift card and a print copy of the book!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/2244a/dog-days-of-summer-celebration-tour-giveaway

Sunday Bookends: Fun romantic comedies, all our leaves are gone, and finishing up Shores of Mercy

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

Last night I finished The Do Over by Sharon Peterson. This is the second book by the same title that I’ve read this year and I liked this one a lot more. Sharon is a new to me author who was nice enough to read and review The Farmer’s Daughter for me about a month ago.

The book is not Christian but is a clean romantic comedy with some mild language. I absolutely loved the mouthy grandma and I am pretty sure Sharon has been in my house and met Little Miss because the little girl in the book acts and talks like her – right down to knowing a bunch of facts about animals.

The only downside to the book was that it was fairly predictable and I already knew what was going to happen during part of it. Luckily it was presented in a very creative and fun way, even though I knew where it was going. In other words, I had fun reading it anyhow.

I also wish all the romances today would stop putting out covers with faceless animated people. It’s not trendy anymore. Everyone is over it. Thank you. *just a little bit of joking. I’ll still read the books, even with those covers.*

Now I will continue to read Dog Days of Summer by Kathleen Y’arbo. It’s a very light read about a country singer who goes home for a visit and learns someone left a bomb at her niece’s dog rescue. I am reading it for a book tour and so far I am enjoying it.

I have a couple other books I hope to get to after these two, including, the second book in the Joe Pickett series by C.J. Box and The Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz.

The Husband is reading The Word is Murder by Anthony Horowitz.

Little Miss and I are finishing Paddington At Work and then will probably return to Anne of Avonlea. During the school week I am reading a book about George Washington Carver to her for history.

The Boy (I know this is a ridiculous blog nickname for him, but he and I couldn’t come up with a better one this weekend) and I are going to start The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn this week for school. Meanwhile, he breezed through The Lightning Thief by Rick Riorden, which is the first book in the Percy Jackson: The Olympians series. He was up until 3 a.m. reading it one night after which he made a snarky remark that people always suggest reading if you can’t go to sleep but instead it kept him awake until 3 a.m. He is now on book two.



What’s Been Occurring

Yesterday Little Miss and I were supposed to go to gymnastics and then a trunk-or-treat near there, but Little Miss woke up with a congested nose (most likely from the weather change) and threw up. She was a coughing, gagging, miserable mess all day and refused almost all suggestions to help her feel better. Hopefully today will be better.

Almost all the leaves fell off our trees and I found this very depressing because I am not a fan of winter. I do like curling up inside on snowy days with hot cocoa and a good book so I am sure I will survive.

Scout, the big footed kitten (she is a polydactyly cat), decided she wouldn’t come in until 10:30 at night Friday which left me convinced she had been run over and I should have carried her in earlier in the evening. I even drove around the block, looking for a squished kitten on the roads in the neighborhood. After I pulled back into the driveway, I headed to the garage to look again to see if we had shut her in (we rarely actually park our cars in the garage. Don’t ask.). While in I heard The Husband say, “oh there you are Scout.”

We have no idea where that little jerk had gone or where she came from but suddenly she was strolling up to the back porch and I simultaneously wanted to scream at her and kiss her.

She has been snuggling with me at nights, reminiscent of when we first got her when she was a kitten, sprawled on my chest. When I couldn’t find her, I worried we might have had our last snuggle session.

What We watched/are Watching

Last week we watched Brokenwood and a couple episodes of a 80s British sitcom, Yes, Minister.

Yesterday the kids watched Despicable Me 1 and 2 while Little Miss dealt with her illness.

We didn’t watch much else during the week because I mainly read and wrote .

Oh, but I did watch the Season 3 trailer for The Chosen. Oh my. I can’t wait for this season.

What I’m Writing

I am almost done with the first draft of Shores of Mercy so I have been working on that.

What I’m Listening to

This week I plan to listen to the new Steven Curtis Chapman album that just came out. I’ve been listening to him since I was in elementary school so I’m happy he has a new album out.


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.

Little Miss’s Reading Corner: Silly, spooky, and grasshopper books

Little Miss and I took a trip to the library a couple of weeks ago and she picked out some books for us to read together. I thought I’d share a few from our stack today for her Reading Corner. I took photos of the fronts of the books, but our library puts the barcode right over the titles, which I find terribly annoying as someone who likes to photograph what I’m reading. Silly, I know. I suppose I’ll get over it. Sigh.

Little Miss wanted something “spooky” even though she doesn’t usually like spooky stuff. She said she would read it during the day. So we grabbed a book called simply The Spooky Book by Steve Patschke and illustrated by Matthew McElligott.

It was a very cute book about a boy reading a spooky book that is about a girl reading a spooky book at the same time. When something happens in the book, it happens to the boy too.

It’s a fun book that insists a book can’t scare you while it scares the people reading it. We thought it was very cute.

Next Little Miss picked a book about dragons because she loves dragon stories.

Dragons Are Real by Holly Hatam is a board book probably meant for younger readers and those less discerning about dragons because Little Miss kept correcting the lore within its pages saying “that’s not true,” or “dragons don’t do that” when she disagreed with the declarations made inside it.

Overall we enjoyed the book, however, because the illustrations were very colorful.

 

I picked out Grumpy Monkey by Suzanne Lang and illustrated by Max Long (brother and sister) and we both ended up really liking it, partly because the illustrations featured extra creatures in the images, hanging out on trees and in leaves, etc.

The story is about a monkey who is grumpy but doesn’t know why and tries his best to be happy for everyone who keeps telling him he needs to be happy.

The message is that sometimes we are grumpy and it’s okay and we don’t have to figure out why we are grumpy. As long as we aren’t mean to others while we are grumpy. That’s not okay.

I placed The Ant and The Grasshopper by Luli Gray and illustrated by Giuliano Ferri on hold as part of our grasshopper unit.

This was a very cute book about an ant who prepared for the winter and a grasshopper who didn’t and how the ant helped the grasshopper and they became friends.

Little Miss has been fascinated with grasshoppers lately, including catching them in the backyard and running to me to show me what she’s caught.

We also signed out a book about dinosaurs and another one about grasshoppers, but haven’t had a chance to read them yet.

Hopefully we will get to them this week before they are due.

So that’s what Little Miss has been reading. How about you?

Sunday Bookends: The last swim, the passing of a queen, and a variety of books

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 finished Junkyard Dogs, A Walt Longmire Mystery, by Craig Johnson yesterday. It was hard to put down, it was constant action, as usual. It is the sixth book in the series. The eighteenth book in the series came out last Tuesday and The Husband is excited. I don’t usually like books with harsh language but I’ve read a lot worse (or started to and put them down), there is no on-page sex (except in one book and it was thankfully really brief), and I love the characters.

I hope to finish Refuge of Convenience by Kathy Geary Anderson by today or tomorrow.

I was glad to have the two books to switch back and forth on since the Longmire book has heavier topics and isn’t as clean. Kathy’s books are all listed under Christian Historical Fiction and are engaging and make me want to find out what happens.

Up next in my list is The Cat Who Wasn’t There by Lilian Jackson Braun, a book from a cozy-mystery series I enjoy. It’s a comfort read to me.

Little Miss and I are reading either Paddington or Anne of Green Gables at night. She’s enjoying Anne so much that she has even been drawing photos of her. We are also reading The Year of Miss Agnes for her school lessons.

The Boy is reading War of the Worlds by H.G. Welles for school.

The Husband is reading Hell and Back by Craig Johnson.


What’s Been Occurring

Last Sunday we attended a picnic at our neighbors and my parents came as well. It was a super nice day.

It wasn’t a hot day, which made it even nicer, but Little Miss still took a dip in their little pool in the backyard. She talked me into going in as well and it was awful. It was so cold it was like standing in a large glass of ice water. I lasted about seven minutes.

It appears that it will be our last swim in a pool this season, unless the weather warms up this week.

It’s supposed to rain all day today and part of tomorrow.

Zooma the Wonder Dog even got some socialization in, visiting with the neighbors’ Shitzu dogs while Little Miss jumped in the pool.

Today we have a family reunion to attend. It should be interesting in the rain and will probably consist of me talking to former neighbors of mine who I am not actually related to but attend the reunion every year because they are like family.

Last week was our first week of homeschool and it got off to a bit of a bumpy start for Little Miss and me because neither of us has actually adjusted to being back at school. She wasn’t ready to sit and learn just yet and I was way too uptight about it all so on Thursday we both feels to separate parts of the house to have a good cry at one point.

What We watched/are Watching

Last week The Boy and I watched Clue as part of a feature Erin from Still Life, With Cracker Crumbs, and I are doing called Spooky Season Cinema. I talked more about that in this post. This week we are watching The Addams Family.

The Husband and I watched a Brokenwood Mysteries episode, some specials about Queen Elizabeth, and an episode of a hilarious old British sitcom called Yes, Prime Minister.

Sunday morning, I watched the coffin of the queen being driven from Balmoral Castle to the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh, Scotland, and will admit I felt weepy over it. I believe this queen was a very “grand lady” who had a great deal of dignity, unlike a few members of her family (*cough* Andrew. *cough* Harry lately.). With her gone, I’m not sure what the family will devolve into, though they had devolved into a pretty big mess in the 1990s with the divorces of Charles and Diana and Andrew and Sarah Ferguson.

As I mentioned on a post on Instagram last week, the world is not only mourning a person, who seemed very kind and compassionate, but an era of respect, dignity, and grandeur that is slowly being eroded away. I didn’t finish The Crown when we had Netflix, but I enjoyed watching it and later doing my own research on what parts of the show were accurate and which parts weren’t. I feel, somehow, as I am sure the people of Great Britain feel even more, that after watching and reading so much about her that I knew her personally.

Of course, I didn’t know her personally, her family did and I do feel for them as they mourn her. Some might say “Well, she was old, so it was to be expected,” but that doesn’t take away from the pain of losing someone who was more than a queen to her family. She was a mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother to her family and not having her around to interact with anymore, to not having her wisdom to rely on, will be extremely difficult.

In addition to all the queen news, I watched The Young Philadelphians as part of my “Fall of Paul” yesterday since I didn’t finish a couple of movies I wanted to watch with Paul Newman during my Summer of Paul movie-watching experience. I hope to watch Mr. and Mrs. Bridge with Paul and Joan (his wife) later this week.

I’ve also started a documentary on Mae West last week that I hope to finish this week.

What I’m Writing

I am working on The Shores of Mercy, but honestly, I am discouraged in my writing. I started writing fiction to have fun but for some reason I’ve been focusing too much on how poorly my books are doing in rankings, etc.

Sadly, I feel like I often start things and enjoy them for a bit and then feel depressed when I watch others get the “success” I worked for but could never reach. But at the same time, I feel like success for me is connecting with other people and by that measurement, I have had success and it’s all I really need. It’s a weird dichotomy of wanting to be popular with my writing yet loving that I am not popular and can write whatever I want.

I think one issue is that I have been writing books I think certain readers want instead of stories I want to tell, even though I have enjoyed getting to know the characters of my Spencer Valley books. I also appreciate, more than anyone knows, my blog readers who have faithfully supported me in my writing journey, especially Bettie who offers prayers for me and my fictional characters. I often feel like even if I am only writing for Bettie and my mom, it is worth it.

This week on the blog I shared:

What I’m Listening To

This week I listened to Toby Mac’s new album again and I don’t love every song, but I really like most of them. I plan to listen to some sermons this week and maybe an audiobook since I’ve decided to check out Chirp, where you can buy audiobooks a you go, versus having a membership.

So far, this one is my favorite:



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: Juggling books with my mood and tours, smells (good and bad) returning, and playing in water

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 had to abandon my plans from last week when I realized I had a couple books I agreed to read for blog tours. Luckily I have a little bit of time before the reviews need to be up, but I never know what each week is going to bring so I figured I’d better start them.

I am reading an indie book by Milla Holt called Into the Flood, which is a Christian romance. I’ll share a little bit more about it after I finish it and post a review, but it is available for sale at this time.

A description:

One mistake imploded Sonia Krogstad’s PR career, leaving her with a stack of debt and no job prospects. Out of options, she returns to her tiny hometown in the northern wilds of Norway, planning only to stay long enough to get back on her feet and prepare for her big-city comeback.

Reclusive tech genius Axel Vikhammer bought a non-profit community arts center that’s fast becoming a money pit. Closing it down is not an option, especially since it’s a refuge for the teenage daughter he only recently learned he has. With her PR background, Sonia seems the perfect hire for the job as his center’s fundraising manager.

Yet as feelings develop between the two, Axel wonders how he can trust Sonia with his business—or his heart—when her dreams don’t include his small town or him.

With her head and her heart pulling her in different directions, Sonia needs to take a leap of faith. But every time she’s done that in the past, she’s fallen flat on her face. Why should it be different now?

I’m also reading Dead Sea Rising by Jerry B. Jenkins. It is the second book in the Dead Sea Chronicles, but I didn’t realize that when I signed up for the tour. So far I am able to follow along without reading the first book. This is the first book I’ve read by Jenkins, who co-wrote the Left Behind series and is all the father of Dallas Jenkins who is writing and directing The Chosen series.

A description:

Nicole Berman is an archaeologist on the brink of a world-changing discovery. Preparing for her first dig in Jordan, she believes she has found concrete evidence of a biblical patriarch that could change history books forever. But someone doesn’t want the truth revealed. While urgently trying to connect pieces of an ancient puzzle, a dangerous enemy is out to stop her.

I’m switching between the two books and since I have a couple weeks before Dead Sea Rising needs to be finished, I am reading A Breath of French Air, the second book in the Pop Larkins series by H.E. Bates before bed each night because it’s very light and fun.

Little Miss and I are reading Ramona and Her Mom by Beverly Cleary.

The Husband is reading Noir by Christopher Moore.

The Boy is still reading War of the Worlds by HG Welles.


What’s Been Occurring

I had mentioned a few times in the last nine months, since the dreaded virus, that my smell has either remained dulled or distorted, sometimes to the point of making me physically ill. My taste had also been off and still is for some things. For the longest time most meats, anything with garlic, and many other foods tasted rancid or like burnt rubber. I don’t know how else to explain it. Also, like sweaty feet smell, if that makes any sense. There are still times that chicken, especially with skin, garlic, and tomatoes don’t taste right. This summer has also been rough because watermelon doesn’t taste sweet any longer. It tastes like squash in a way. Strawberries sometimes taste like strawberries and sometimes have what I, and others who have had their smell and taste effected by the virus, call The Covid Taste/Smell.

As for smell, things that still have the Covid Smell are sweat (sorry), gasoline, propane, chemicals, and sometimes … um…poop (like cat and dog).

This week, though, I noticed I was smelling things I couldn’t smell at all before. For the last nine months smells have been muted or I haven’t noticed them much. When someone says “oh that smells good” I say, “can’t smell it.” Of course, I had sinus issues before the dreaded virus as well, and that had also dulled my smell.

Late in the week, when I walked outside with my daughter and walked between our pine tree bushes I suddenly realized I could smell pine. A couple of days later I could smell — excuse me for sharing, but dog poop in our yard. It didn’t smell like Covid, it smelled like poop. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to rejoice for that or not.

For most of my life, smells that don’t bother other people, bother me. Like perfumes or air freshners. I get headaches and sometimes my chest tightens. That hasn’t been common the last nine months but The Husband sprayed some Febreeze and it was overwhelming. I could actually smell it. Again, I don’t know if I want to rejoice that I can smell smells which bother me, but it is nice to be able to smell pine trees and freshly cut grass again.

Little Miss and I went swimming again this week at my parents. We also grocery shopped again, which I always dread and hate. Grocery shopping went wonderful but then I got to my van, which has issues with its locks and its key fobs and I accidentally locked it while trying to open the back hatch. When I went to open the hatch it was locked, as was the rest of the van. This left me standing in the parking lot with Little Miss and a cart full of groceries but no way to get home. To cut a too long story already short, I called The Husband, who called our insurance company to have someone come open it. Our insurance company apparently stinks because they called someone a half an hour away. The Husband came and traded cars with us and waited for the locksmith (or whatever he is called) and I drove home wondering why I can’t buy groceries without something weird happening.

The day before we picked up groceries, we visited our neighbor who broke her ankle a few weeks ago and is still laid up from it after spending some time in the hospital and a rehabilitation center. Our kitten walked with us to her house and when we came out after the visit, she was waiting for us and walked back home with us. Our neighbor is about five houses from ours. Our animals crack us up and I also think it is sweet that the cats, who sometimes seem like they couldn’t care less about us, apparently do.

Yesterday The Husband and The Boy borrowed my dad’s truck and picked up some firewood to help us prepare for this winter and hopefully cut down on our heating bill since we are currently struggling to pay the one we just received.

Earlier in the week, the kids had fun on the Slip N Slide and yesterday Little Miss had fun running through the sprinkler.

What We watched/are Watching

I did not watch as many movies last week, partially because I tried to read more and also because I was outside so much with Little Miss and grocery shopping and all that kind of stuff that I just didn’t have time to sit down and watch an entire movie. Not until The Boy and I watched Gladiator, which we started Thursday and finished Friday. I hadn’t seen it in years and forgot how good it was.

Last night, The Husband and I watched a Poirot movie, Murder on the Links.

This week I am returning to the Summer of Paul with a list of Paul Newman movies I hope to get through before the end of August.


What I’m Writing

I am working on Mercy’s Shore, The Shores of Mercy, whatever I’m going to call it, but this week I forgot to post Chapter 13 on Friday. I am going to make up for it this week by posting Chapter 13 on Thursday and Chapter 14 on Friday.

I guess my brain was mush from all the little weird things that seemed to happen Friday and how busy we were playing outside during the week.

On the blog I shared:

What I’m Listening to

Matthew West. I don’t know if I have praised him enough on this blog, but his songs are so uplifting, so encouraging and help soothe my spirit on the most anxious days. On the days where I am really shook up and worried I turn his songs on, especially the ones on his greatest hits album. Those songs, the lyrics, all of it, help me so much.

The album is Brand New, and I really encourage you to check it out via whatever music listening service you listen to.

This song is not on that album, but it is Matthew’s latest:


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.

Book Tour with Celebrate Lit: The Heart of the Mountains by Pepper Basham

About the Book

Book: The Heart of the Mountains

Author: Pepper Basham

Genre: Christian Fiction / Romance

Release date: July 1, 2022

Can their hearts overcome the darkness of the mountains?

To escape a forced marriage, Cora Taylor travels from England to the Blue Ridge Mountains in search of her brother, who is working as a teacher in a mission school. She hopes to find a place where her nursing skills and independent ideas will be accepted and appreciated, but nothing prepares her for the wild mixture of isolation, community, brokenness, and hope within these mountains…or in the person of Jeb McAdams.

Returning from the devastation of World War 1 emotionally damaged, Jeb McAdams struggles against the rampant mountain alcoholism to soothe his nightmares. It’s easy to hide within the mountains, or it was, before Cora Taylor arrived. Now, she seems to show up at every turn, bringing her modern ideas, curiosity, and beautiful eyes with her.

Bound by their shared war history, the pair develop an unlikely friendship, which unexpectedly hints to something more. But when Cora’s desire to help the women of the mountains crosses an unspoken line, will Jeb be able to protect this feisty flatlander from the wrath of the mountain men or will he end up losing much more than his heart?

Click here to get your copy!

My Review

If you are a fiction of historical fiction and historical romance, then Pepper Basham is the author for you, and her latest, The Heart of the Mountains, will have you hooked from the beginning.

I connected with the two main characters early on and felt like I needed their lives to turn out okay after all they had been through before the book even started and then went through during the book.

There was non-stop action and a variety of interesting characters which transformed what could have been a simple run-of-the-mill, cookie-cutter inspirational romance book into a novel with depth, complexity, and heartfelt tenderness.

There were quite a few side characters in this two-person point of view book. Crisis after crisis popped up involving each of the side characters, which could have been a bit confusing at times but wasn’t because it kept the booking moving along at a speed just fast enough to hold my interest but not too fast to make my head spin in confusion. Basham kept the characters straight for the readers like a true professional, balancing subplots like a well-trained literary juggler.

About the Author

Pepper Basham is an award-winning author who writes romance peppered with grace and humor with southern Appalachian flair. Both her historical and contemporary novels have garnered recognition in the Grace Awards, Inspys, and ACFW Carol Awards. Her historical romance, The Thorn Healer, was a finalist in the 2018 RT Awards. Her historical romance novels, My Heart Belongs in the Blue Ridge and The Red Ribbon, and her contemporary novels, the Mitchell’s Crossroads and Pleasant Gap series, showcase her Appalachian heritage, as well as her love for humor and family. She currently resides in the lovely mountains of Asheville, NC where she is the mom of five great kids, a speech-language pathologist to about fifty more, and a lover of chocolate, jazz, hats, and Jesus.

You can learn more about Pepper at her website http://www.pepperdbasham.com or connect with her on FB, IG, or Twitter.

More from Pepper

It’s so interesting how one idea can influence an entire series, or…how one person’s story can.

The idea for The Heart of the Mountains started in Laurel’s Dream with a hint of a family history story about a girl named Kizzie. (Someday, I hope to bring Kizzie’s story to the pages of a book). From there, the idea began to grow out of a love for my Appalachian culture into a series of books which highlighted (and fictionalized) stories from my family history.

The main story in The Heart of the Mountains is about Jeb and Cora, two different people with similar servant hearts, but the secondary story that touched me so much was the one based on my great grandfather’s life. I write about it in the Author’s Note at the end of the novel, so I won’t go into detail about it. However, what I loved getting to do is bring the truth of God’s redemption in my great grandfather’s life…to life again.

I never knew “Papa Rat”. I only knew the stories handed down to me by my granny and my mama, but in writing this story, I feel as though I had a tiny opportunity to “meet” him in these pages. He was a gruff mountain man with a broken past which led him to make a whole lot of broken choices, but his story is incredibly encouraging, because it points to the God of broken people. My great grandpa wasn’t left in his brokenness, but, after years of running away from God, he would later recount that God pursued him. The beauty of Sam McAdams’ journey in The Heart of the Mountains is only a little glimpse into what I imagine my great grandpa’s redemption story looked like.

Because my great grandpa was forever changed when Jesus saved him (as any of us should be).

I think that’s what my granny and her siblings (and even “Papa Rat” himself) would want most -that his story would point to Jesus. I hope that’s what you see when you read about Sam McAdams in The Heart of the Mountains.

Have you ever read a book based on family history? One of my favorites is Catherine Marshall’s Christy.

Blog Stops

Bizwings Blog, July 28

Rachael’s Inkwell, July 28

Bigreadersite, July 28

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, July 29

Texas Book-aholic, July 29

Inklings and notions, July 30

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, July 30

Boondock Ramblings, July 30

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, July 31

Reading With Emily, July 31

Gina Holder, Author and Blogger, July 31 (Author Interview)

lakesidelivingsite, August 1

Where Crisis & Christ Collide, August 1

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, August 1

Daysong Reflections, August 2

deb’s Book Review, August 2

Live. Love. Read., August 2

Betti Mace, August 3

Book Looks by Lisa, August 3

Locks, Hooks and Books, August 3

Remembrancy, August 4

For Him and My Family, August 4

Blossoms and Blessings, August 4

Mypreciousbitsandmusings, August 5

By the Book, August 5

Wishful Endings, August 5

For the Love of Literature, August 6

Books, Books and More Books, August 6

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, August 6

Connie’s History Classroom, August 7

SodbusterLiving, August 7

Splashes of Joy, August 7

Where Faith and Books Meet, August 8

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, August 8

Back Porch Reads, August 9

Through the Fire Blogs, August 9

Pause for Tales, August 9

Labor Not in Vain, August 10

Miriam Jacob, August 10

To Everything There Is A Season, August 10

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Pepper is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon e- gift card and a paperback copy of the book!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/20389/the-heart-of-the-mountains-celebration-tour-giveaway

Sunday Bookends: Anything Goes, hot days, and books that are in the wrong genre

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

So I finished The Do Over by Bethany Turner this week and I’m going to offer a little review here instead of breaking it out in a separate post.

I like Bethany as a person. She’s fun to watch and listen to and as someone who writes Christian Fiction and actually mentions God and is still told my books aren’t Christian enough, I do feel bad writing that this book isn’t Christian fiction, but, well . . . it isn’t.

It’s a clean book. It’s a funny book and I did enjoy it for the most part. It’s full of pop culture references – so many you can barely get a few pages, sometimes a few paragraphs, before another movie or celebrity is referenced, but there is not one reference to God in the book. Not even anyone going to church.

It’s a simple, clean romantic comedy written by someone who once wrote Christian fiction and that is not a bad thing. I am, however, a little bewildered why the book is listed under Christian fiction. It definitely didn’t hold my attention as well as some of her other books and the reveal of the person who committed a crime in the book wasn’t a surprise at all.

The book was also yet another romantic comedy love letter to New York City, which is getting a little tiresome actually. It’s like yet another love letter to Jane Austen books or London. All the name drops of locations in New York City did very little for someone who isn’t as excited by the city as Turner is, unfortunately. But if you love NYC and squealing about specific locations like they are a big deal, you’ll love this book. (We’ll all just pretend crime isn’t a daily occurrence and instead believe that the characters aren’t praying they don’t get mugged while walking by the homeless on the streets.)

The saving grace of this book was Henry Blumenthal, even though he could have been a little more well-rounded in my opinion. He seemed very stoic and awkward, but he was supposed to be so I guess that worked. What I do love is how Turner writes a kiss scene. It’s not overdone or over explained, but you feel the emotion and I like that.

I think after reading The Do Over, though, I might have to finally admit something. I don’t like a lot of traditional romance books. I don’t like when the entire book is built around swoons and misunderstandings, break-ups and then resumed swoons (shhh…I know mine are similar but I try to throw in a little bit more plot to even it out and hopefully I’ll get better at it.) Oh, and then epilogues with weddings or future scenes of happy marriages with children now born. (Yep. Totally did this in my second book. Never did it again.)

Almost every single romance or romantic comedy I’ve read in CF has ended this way and Turner’s books are no exception, but I wish they were.

So what’s next for me?

I don’t know yet. I can’t decide what I am in the mood for, but The Husband has suggested a couple of books for me, including What’s the Worst That Can Happen by Donald Westlake and The Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz.

I’m also considering reading the second book in the Pop Larkin series because those books are fairly quick reads.

I hope to finish Anne of the Island this week as I have enjoyed reading it leisurely at a couple chapters a day for the last couple of months.

The Husband is reading Don’t Know Tough by Eli Cantour (which he is almost done with).

The Boy is reading War of the Worlds by H.G. Welles.

Little Miss and I are re-reading Romona and Beezus by Beverly Cleary but she also let me read from Anne of Green Gables last night.


What’s Been Occurring

My husband had a small part in the local theater group’s production of Anything Goes and this week was showtime. He had dress rehearsals the first part of the week and then the show Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. He was on stage for the speaking part for about five minutes but then he was in the background as a sailor.

Little Miss, The Boy, and I went for the dress rehearsal Monday but it got late and we slipped out after the first act. Little Miss wanted to go back to watch the whole show but we didn’t make it for various reasons (partially because I wasn’t sure she’d stay seated for a three-hour show) so I looked up a production of it we could watch at home and found one performed in the West End Theater in London earlier this year and showcased on PBS. Someone had put it up illegally on YouTube (yeah for pirating! 😉). I thought Little Miss would like to see the second half of it but it turns out she only wanted to see the version our local performers did. Boy did I feel like a jerk that I didn’t get her over there after that. I enjoyed it at least and will include a link to it under the What I’m Watching header.

I took some photographs of the dress rehearsal along with The Husband for the paper since The Husband was in the first act and couldn’t take photos of himself. He took photos of the second act and a collection of both our photos were used for a photo page in the paper, which is a weekly paper.

The Husband doesn’t want me to post any photos of him, but I thought I’d share a few others I took that night.



This one is my favorite and it is close to the one on the front page of the newspaper he works at:

We took a break on Tuesday and then Wednesday we went to my parents to swim but were dive bombed by some wasps and had to head out earlier than we wanted to. We hope to be able to spray them before we go in the next time. It’s been very hot here for the last two weeks. You know it’s been hot when you see it’s going to be 81 later in the week and you’re excited about the cooler temperatures. I know that 90 to 92 is not as hot as down South or in Arizona, but it’s hot for Pennsylvania and it’s hot for me since I’ve never done well in the heat.

Friday it was grocery shopping day again. Blah. I hate grocery shopping.

Yesterday it was time to relax for me and today The Husband finally gets to relax after several 14 or more hour days in a row (between work and rehearsals).

What We watched/are Watching

I continued watching Paul Newman movies this past week with Sweet Bird of Youth. I’d never heard of this movie and was blown away by the acting and the viscousness of the characters. This was another movie based on a Tennessee Williams play.

This one startled me a little to be honest. It was put out in 1962 and dealt with some more steamy topics than I expected. Newman was a gigolo and at one point he was rolling blunts for his current client, a washed-up actress who he’d taken with him back to Talahasee to see the girl he wanted to marry as soon as he hit it big as an actor. His character seriously drove me nuts – he was so fixated on becoming famous and hitting it big so he could provide for the girl he loved that he literally would do anything to get to the top. And I mean just about anything.

The plus side of this movie, besides the fact the acting really was very good, was that Paul had his shirt off more than he had it on. This, of course, annoyed The Boy who told me at one point, “Just go back and watch your movie with shirtless Paul Newman.” He then rolled his eyes. I, of course, obliged. *wink* (Please know that I am just joking around. I am a married woman and Paul is, well, dead.)

As I mentioned above, I then watched Anything Goes, essentially by myself since my children abandoned me. This version was with Sutton Fuller who won a Tony for her performance.

I also watched The Bachelor and The Bobby Soxer with Cary Grant, Myrna Lloyd, and Shirley Temple, which I have watched before and really enjoyed. It’s very funny.

The plot is that Temple falls for Cary Grant, who is probably 25 years older than her, when he speaks at her school, and tries to chase after him. Her older sister, Loy, is a judge who has had Grant before her in court for another matter. Long story short, Temple goes to Grant’s apartment and is caught there and Grant is framed for tying to get involved with a minor. In an effort to try to deter Temple, Loy’s uncle, the city District Attorney, suggests that Grant carry on the charade (no pun to the other movie Grant was in) and try to frighten Temple off. This completely backfires and hilarity ensues.


What I’m Writing

I’m also working on Mercy’s Shore, of course.



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.