Favorite Books Read in 2020

I thought about sharing a list of the books I read this year, but I share an Amazon and Goodreads account with my mom (it makes it easier for me to add books to her Kindle for her) and she read a lot more books than me so sifting through what she read and what I read was a little overwhelming. My Kindle list also includes books from my husband’s account and he’s also read a lot more books than I have this year (as he always does.)

I’ve been lesson planning for when school starts for the kids next week so I didn’t have time to sit and figure out what I read, what she read, and what he read. I do know she read around 200 this year (some of them short, some of them awful Kindle books, poor lady) on her Kindle and he read 80 on his Kindle. They both also read a few hard copies of books.

Since I didn’t want to try to make a list of all the books I read, which would have been short (maybe 20), I thought I’d list some of my favorites of what I read this year instead.

My favorite reads this year were:

A Long Time Comin’ by Robin W. Pearson

Lead Me Home by Amy K. Sorrells

Falling Home by Karen White

About Your Father And Other Celebrities I Have Known by Peggy Rowe (the only non-fiction book I read all the way through.)

A Longmire Mystery: The Cold Dish by Craig Johnson

Hadley Beckett’s Next Dish by Bethany Turner.

The Dead Don’t Dance by Charles Martin


Honorable Mentions:

Borders of the Heart Chris Fabry

Whose Waves These Are by Amanda Dykes

Silas Marner by George Elliot

The Knife Slipped by Earl Stanley Gardner

A Cord of Three Strands by Christy Distler

I know a lot of readers announce a reading goal for the new year, but I find goals like that distract me from simply enjoying reading. I guess I could set my goal at 20 and see what happens, but . . . that just sounds so organized, so I don’t think I’ll really set that as my goal. Pretend I did, though, so I fit in with all the book bloggers of the world.

So how about you? What were some of your favorite reads of 2020? Let me know in the comments.

Sunday Bookends: Enjoying Christmas movies (yes, already); Charles Martin is a master writer; and cold weather hits our area

Sunday Bookends is my week in review, so to speak. It’s where I share what I’ve been up to, what I’ve been reading, what I’ve been watching, what I’ve been listening to, and what I’ve been writing. Feel free to share a link or comment about your week in the comments.


Cold and rainy weather hit our area this week so we barely left the house. On Friday we even had snow. Yuck.

Since it rained all week I managed to delve into some books (finishing one, starting two others), and watch three movies (five or so if you count me watching part of the Harry Potter movies with my son and his friend while they binged watched all the movies). I also wrote quite a bit more of The Farmer’s Daughter.

What I’m Reading

I finished The Dead Don’t Dance by Charles Martin this week and oh, it was so good. I believe it was his debut novel in 2004 or 2005.

He is a masterful writer and it made me wish I could write that well. After reading his book I considered giving up on writing all together, but decided we can’t all be Charles Martin and not everyone wants to read Charles Martin, though they should. To show an example of his writing, here are a couple of my favorite sentences/paragraphs:

  • “Whatever it was, I know that if someday the roles were reversed, I’d want her to do the same for me. I’d want my wife’s hands on me. I’d want to know she was there, thining about me, and her hands could tell me that better than anything else she might do.”
  • “I’m not quite sure where, but from someplace deep within, where the scabs are hidden, where the doubt can’t go and the scars don’t show, I began to cry.”
  • “Professor, you don’t know it, but you introduced me to me. This life needs people who stand in the ditch and argue with God because the rest of us are either too scared or too proud. I don’t really like all I see in the mirrior, but I’m beginning to think that the girl behind the glasses is worth digging into. Maybe I’ll take them off one day.”
  • “Moments before, I lived in a world where wisteria snake across my son’s grave as he rotted beneath a cement slab; where Vietnam Vets inhaled beer to help them forget the day they wiped Vicks salve in their noses so they wouldn’t have to smell the bodies as they zipped up the bags; where a no-good farmer bathed in a cornfield but couldn’t wash the blood clean; where snow fell on iced-over railroad tracks; where used-car salesmen robbed old women with inflated prices and double-digit interest rates; where little boys peed in the baptistry and pastors strutted like roosters; . . .”
  • “Standing there in my new boots and covered in pig smear, I didn’t know who to be until I knew where she was. I needed Maggs to tell me who to be-because that would tell me where she was, and most importantly, who we were.”

There are so many tough topics in this one (infant loss, wife in coma, rape, abortion, self-harm, alcoholism etc.) but it’s dealt with in such tasteful ways that it isn’t full-on in-your-face horror. You are pulled on this journey, sometimes kicking and screaming, with Dylan Styles, a man who has had a lot of heartache in his life and is dealing with more heartache as his infant son has died in childbirth and his wife is in a coma after losing too much blood during delivery. He is a teacher, writer, and a farmer after taking over his grandparents’ farm, where he moved with his wife. He spends much of the book struggling to come to terms with Maggie being a coma, the loss of his infant son, and where God was in all of it. This book is not your typical Christian fiction and it is not preachy at all, even though there are definite Christian undertones and Charles Martin is a Christian, having written non-fiction Christian books as well. I don’t even believe it is listed in Christian fiction (I mean he uses the word crap so that pretty much eliminates him from being allowed to publish a book under the Christian fiction title).

I’m delving into Maggie, the sequeal to The Dead Don’t Dance this week.

I’m also reading A Handful of Hope (Taste of Romance Book 4) by Elizabeth Maddrey. It’s my first book by her and though it’s part of a series, it stands on it’s own, like her other books seem to. It’s a straight up romance with very little side story other than the romance so it’s a nice, light read.

Book description:

She wants to be worth loving.

Repeated heartbreak has convinced Jen Andrews she’s unlovable. When the groomsman she’s paired with at her best friend’s wedding shows interest, she wonders how long it will be before he realizes his mistake.

David Pak is ready to settle down with the right woman. After a disastrous first date with Jen, he’s determined to look elsewhere. But he’s haunted by the wounded look in her eyes.

How will David set aside his hesitations and see past Jen’s barriers to find love? And if he tries, will she let him?

A Handful of Hope is the fourth book in the Taste of Romance series of contemporary Christian romance novels set in the metro Washington, D.C. area. If you like stories of love and hope in the fast-paced modern world with realistic characters and heartwarming romance, then you’ll love Elizabeth Maddrey’s latest journey with this beloved circle of friends.

The third book I hope to start this week is Amanda Dykes’ Whose Waves These Are, which was nominated for a Christy Award for best first novel and best novel. My mom read this in two days and then called me to tell me to read it so I think I’d better read it this week. Plus it’s on Kindle Unlimited and if I don’t hurry up and read it, my mom will return it. She’s a reading beast.

What I’m Watching

I watched Christmas romance movies this week. Yes, I did. I don’t care if I am two months early. They weren’t actually as cheesy as other Hallmark-type movies I’ve watched either. I only had to fast forward part of the one because of the “you lied to me!” trope.

Christmas Contract starred people I don’t know and was about a woman who had gone through a break-up but had to go home for Christmas and knew she would see her ex-boyfriend so her friend decides she should take the friend’s brother home with her to make it look like she has a new boyfriend. Yeah, you can figure out the rest. The acting was actually pretty good and that’s all that saved this horrible plot.

Christmas on the Bayou was with the same actress as Christmas Contract and was another story of a woman going home for Christmas, not because of a break-up but because she knew she needed to spend more time with her son. The subtly between the romantic interests was a breath of fresh air compared to those movies where they are all hot and heavy the whole time and sleep together after their first kiss.

Wild Prairie Rose was the better of the three movies I watched this week. It was a sweet story of a woman who — um, yeah, — goes home. Yes, I know. Very similar plot to the other two. BUT it wasn’t at Christmas this time. This time she went home in the summer because her mother had not been feeling well and she wanted to help her take care of her home and simply to see her during that time. The story takes place in 1952. While there, Rose, the main character meets a man who is both deaf and dumb and forms a friendship with him. Will it develop into more? Won’t it? You’ll have to see but it’s not only a romance and I suggest you pull out some tissues before you watch it.

All three movies were on Amazon but may be available other places as well.

What I’m Writing

I shared two chapters from The Farmer’s Daughter this week and a post with tips about how to combat anxiety and depression during COVID and a toxic political season. I didn’t really have much mental energy to write much else.

Photos of the Week

I do not have a ton of photos this week because, again, it was dreary and miserable out and we didn’t really do anything worthy of photographing. We did attend a Trunk-or-Treat in town on Halloween so I have some photos from that, but that was about the extent of our “excitement” for the week.

How was your week? What have you been reading, watching, doing, writing, listening to and all that jazz? Let me know in the comments.

Sunday Bookends: Going down south, in a book that is; the new kitten is crazy; and my garden was a failure but my dad’s wasn’t

Sunday Bookends is my week in review, so to speak. It’s where I share what I’ve been up to, what I’ve been reading, what I’ve been watching, what I’ve been listening to and what I’ve been writing. Feel free to share a link or comment about your week in review in the comments.

What I’m Reading

I’m savoring A Long Time Comin’ By Robin W. Pearson. The story takes place in North Carolina, which I am familiar with since my mom is originally from there. I’ve been reading from it all week but I have had to pause and have a good cry during part of it, not because it is depressing, but because much of it is touching.

I have mentioned this book before but I thought I’d share the description again:

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To hear Beatrice Agnew tell it, she entered the world with her mouth tightly shut. Just because she finds out she’s dying doesn’t mean she can’t keep it that way. If any of her children have questions about their daddy and the choices she made after he abandoned them, they’d best take it up with Jesus. There’s no room in Granny B’s house for regrets or hand-holding. Or so she thinks.

Her granddaughter, Evelyn Lester, shows up on Beatrice’s doorstep anyway, burdened with her own secret baggage. Determined to help her Granny B mend fences with her far-flung brood, Evelyn turns her grandmother’s heart and home inside out. Evelyn’s meddling uncovers a tucked-away box of old letters, forcing the two women to wrestle with their past and present pain as they confront the truth Beatrice has worked a lifetime to hide.

So far I can absolutely relate to Evelyn and somewhat to Granny B. Granny B can be a difficult character to like, in some ways, but I do like her and I am enjoying slowly learning about her, savoring a chapter or two a day. I’m also learning about her seven children, the husband who left the family, and the frayed ties that hold them all together.

Robin’s next book is due in February 2021 and it’s already on the hot new releases for Amazon. I guess that tells you a little about how much people like her first book.

Up next on my list to read:

Above the Fold by Rachel Scott McDaniel and for a complete opposite of Rachel’s book, I’m going to try a Longmire book, The Dark Horse by Craig Johnson, since I’ve watched a few episodes of the show.



What I’m Watching

I’m still watching Father Brown and I’ve also been watching reruns of Benson (the old show with Robert Guillaume), which actually holds up pretty well (other than the keep call black people “the blacks.”). Benson is available on the Roku app on the . . . well, Roku.

What’s Been Happening:

The new kitten is fitting in fairly well, though our resident adult cat still hates her. Pixel, our adult cat, is spending a lot of time outside still, but did let me start petting her again. For the first few days she wanted nothing to do with me, glaring at me from under the table most days. She still glares some, but it’s better and her tail flares less now when she sees the kitten, but she still hisses and growls at her if the kitten dares to get within a few feet of her. We did finally choose Scout for the kittens name and I guess Little Miss has accepted that the kitten will not be called Mittens.

Scout climbs on my chest anytime she wants comfort or sleep which can be very inconvenient at times, like when I need to make dinner or type or well, do anything at all. It was cute at first and it’s sweet she sees me as her comfort but the other night I had to switch her to my husband so I could finish dinner.

This past week was also stock up on stock photography week. I took a bunch of new stock photos to submit to my stock agencies, including Lightstock, a Christian-based stock agency. During that upload I had to ask a question on their chat and Scout ran across the keyboard which led to a humorous exchange with the gentleman I was chatting with, mainly me apologizing for all the extra letters on the keyboard.

You will see some of the photos for stock in my photos of the week. The photos of my son doing school work were set up that way; we haven’t started school yet. We probably won’t start until after Labor Day.

I visited my Dad’s garden this week to grab some kale (he has tons and now I have tons waiting to be cooked) and not only took some photos of the garden, but the sun pouring through the clouds overlooking the property and some of the purple cone flowers at the front of the house.

I don’t know if I will be taking too many photos this upcoming week, at least the first half of it, because it is supposed to be very hot and I hate the heat, or my body does at least. Temps are supposed to decrease later in the week so maybe I will venture out then.

What I’m Listening To

Zach Williams and Toby Mac have been on my playlist lately. For Zach I have been listening to his Chain Breaker album and for Toby I’m listening to his Lost Demos album, which is what it sounds like – demos that he wrote but then never actually made the albums. The songs are very good and of course hold some memories for Toby since a couple were written about his son, who died last year.

Photos from the week:

Book Review: Wooing Cadie McCaffery by Bethany Turner

These days it’s nice to have something light to read and while Wooing Cadie McCaffery by Bethany Turner had some serious topics, it dealt with them in a lighter way than most books might have.

The book is definitely Christian, yes, but it isn’t a preachy Christian fiction book. It’s very real, authentic and points out some of the struggles within the Christian faith, especially when it comes to relationships, sex before marriage, and dating in general.

Lest I make this sound like a serious book, however, let me assure you there is some serious humor in this book. Humor and characters you will fall in love with. Cadie is an employee in the accounting department of a sports channel similar to ESPN. Her best friend, Darby, works with her in the same department.

Cadie’s boyfriend is Will Whitaker, a researcher within the company who will eventually become more of a face of the company when he lands a big story.

The book begins with Cadie and Will meeting each other but continues four years later when Cadie has just about given up on Will ever proposing to her. And since he won’t propose she wonders if their relationship has any real future. An incident within them leads Cadie to break up with Will and Will to strive to become the man she wants him to be and “woo” her back. Humor abounds during this process, involving Cadie and Will, their boss Kevin, who is a retired famous NBA player, Darby, and Cadie’s parents.

Cadie is a hopeless romantic, which is part of her problem throughout the book. She seems to think her life will play out like a romantic comedy, but is thrown off kilter when life instead starts to play like a tragedy.

Cadie’s mother is a well-known personality within the Christian world and the host of a show on a church network. There are times Cadie feels like nothing she does is right in her mother’s critical eyes and when she and Will separate she dreads telling her mother about the incident that led to the breakup, afraid her mother will lecture her about her failings as a Christian.

Cadie’s parents certainly don’t make it any easier on Will either, since he feels they’ve already told him he doesn’t measure up for their daughter. Adding to the complication for Will is the fact that the career he always wanted is taking off just as his personal life is crumbling. He’s almost ready to give up the career to win Cadie back, though, and he decides to recreate scenes from some of her favorite romantic movies to do it, which definitely allows for some hilarity to ensue.

This book switches between first and third person every other chapter and at first I found that distracting, but Turner pulled it off by creating an entertaining plot and lovable characters. All of Cadie’s chapters are told in the first person and all of Will’s in the third. This allowed Turner to let the reader see into the mind of each of the characters throughout the book.

For anyone looking for a fun, light ride, with a little bit of emotion tossed in, and who isn’t these days, then I would definitely recommend this one.



Sunday Bookends: Finished books (finally), news detox, and what really matters

I finally finished Sweet on You by Becky Wade and I thought I should explain that it didn’t take me so long to finish it because it wasn’t good, or didn’t hold my attention, but because I was finding it hard to concentrate with everything going on in the world these days. After clicking off the news and social media for an extended time, my focus came back and I was able to read again.

Which is why I finished Sweet on You and also progressed on Light in the Window by Jan Karon and The Knife Slipped by Earl Stanley Gardner (who also wrote the novels the Perry Mason show was based on).

Here is a short description of Sweet on You for anyone who might be interested:

Britt and Zander have been best friends since they met thirteen years ago, but unbeknownst to Britt, Zander has been in love with her for just as long. When Zander’s uncle dies of mysterious causes, he returns to Washington to investigate. As they work together to uncover his uncles tangled past, will the truth of what lies between them also come to light?

This is the third in the Bradford Sisters’ series.

This is also the third book I have read by Becky Wade and I’ve discovered that she is very interested in describing the fashion of her characters, while I am not. That doesn’t mean she is a bad writer or I don’t enjoy her books. In fact, based on her Instagram account, I think Becky and I would get along nicely and we would laugh about how much she enjoys describing the fashion of her characters and how much I hate doing that with my characters. I skim her descriptions of the fashion simply because – well, I don’t care. It doesn’t add anything to the story for me to know in a very detailed way the main character is wearing. Thankfully she’s not overly detailed, just gives enough to describe the person’s outfit really.

A description of a character’s fashion can add something to the story, because what a character is wearing helps to paint a picture of who they are, so please know I’m only teasing a little about not caring about a detailed description of what the character is wearing. But I really do just skim those descriptions myself if they get too detailed.

I follow Becky Wade on Instagram (when I’m on Instagram, which I haven’t been for more than a week now, maybe two. I don’t know. I don’t really like Instagram.) and she recently mentioned the books from her Bradford Sisters series is being optioned for a movie. I would gather a Hallmark movie. I’d be interested to see those movies as there is a lot of intrigue in each of the books. These are light, somewhat schmaltzy romances (yeah, sort of like what I write) just to let you know.

I wanted to offer a description of The Knife Slipped too (not so sure about that cover but I think it is made in the style of the old Noir crime novels. So far this book is not full of s-e-x (said like Miranda Hart in her show Miranda). Just intrigue and slightly off color language.):

At the time of his death, Erle Stanley Gardner was the best-selling American author of the 20th century, and world famous as the creator of crusading attorney Perry Mason. Gardner also created the hardboiled detective team of Cool and Lam, stars of 29 novels published between 1939 and 1970—and one that’s never been published until now.

Lost for more than 75 years, THE KNIFE SLIPPED was meant to be the second book in the series but got shelved when Gardner’s publisher objected to (among other things) Bertha Cool’s tendency to “talk tough, swear, smoke cigarettes, and try to gyp people.” But this tale of adultery and corruption, of double-crosses and triple identities —however shocking for 1939—shines today as a glorious present from the past, a return to the heyday of private eyes and shady dames, of powerful criminals, crooked cops, blazing dialogue, and delicious plot twists.

Donald Lam has never been cooler—not even when played by Frank Sinatra on the U.S. Steel Hour of Mystery in 1946. Bertha Cool has never been tougher. And Erle Stanley Gardner has never been better.

This is a new genre for me so we will see if I stick with it or not.

So how am I doing on my news/social media detox I invited others to join me on this past week? Fairly well. I won’t say I’ve quit cold turkey. I still have the urge to check news sites and social media but last week something happened that really made me not care about the turmoil of fire the national media keeps flaming to line their pockets. My mom ended up in the ER. She’s fine. It was gastritis and not a heart attack but, you know what? That day I could have cared less about who was calling who racist. I could have cared less what one politician said about another politician. I just wanted my mom to be okay.

Clicking on a news site wasn’t even on my radar that day and it hasn’t been there since. Like I said, I do feel a sense of “I’m out of the loop” and think about “getting in the loop” but I just don’t go there. My brain had gone all the way to planning my mom’s funeral last week. Yes, I know. That’s nuts but the initial report I got was hazy and I thought “this is it. I finally move closer to my parents and this is it…” Even though it wasn’t “it” I was left feeling off for the rest of the day and I knew logging on to a news site would push me even further into unsettled darkness.

I decided it might do the same in the days that followed so I’m here, in semi-darkness about what is happening in the world (my husband works for a small town paper so I do know some things and I did log on Facebook once on Friday) and guess what! It feels great! I’ve never felt happier to be a clueless (or semi-clueless) schmuck with my head in the sand.

Join me.

Come to the light side.

Ignore the urge to watch the world burn around us (quite literally) and shut the computer off or click off the phone and go work in your garden, for a walk, paint, write, take a photo. I don’t know. I don’t care how you do it but just give your poor brain a break; it wasn’t meant to take in all that information at once. Of course, I sound like those people who are always telling everyone what to do here, so I’ll modify a bit and say: Do it if you want to, but I can guarantee you will feel less stressed if you take that break.

Seriously, how many more articles do we need to read with headlines like this: “[Celebrity] says he doesn’t think [politician] is/will/can/ever doing/do/do/did a good job.” I can’t find a care left for what a celebrity or politician thinks and I bet many of you are in the same boat.

Since I’m not watching news, or trying not to, I’m watching only what requires the least amount of brain cells. Things like Corner Gas (a Canadian sitcom), old shows like The Dick VanDyke Show, and British sitcoms like As Time Goes By. I also watched Murder Mystery on Netflix with Adam Sandler and Jennifer Anniston. It wasn’t award winning, but it was entertaining and a nice distraction. (My son said to add it was a little stupid as a warning.)

I don’t have much of an update on the garden because it’s growing very slowly. It rained a couple of times last week but other than that I probably didn’t water it enough throughout the week. Some additional flowers bloomed outside the house but I’m still waiting on the peonies.

I hope to have photos of them next week.

So how about you? What have you been you reading, watching, or doing lately? Let me know in the comments!


Sunday Bookends: Trying a little crime fiction, garden progress, and spending time outside

I decided to break up some of my light fiction this week with crime fiction suggested by my husband (after I asked for a recommendation.) I needed something different than what I usually read. So I’m trying Earl Stanley Gardner’s The Knife Slipped and so far I like it. I love his character descriptions. Here is one of my favorites:

“Her face was the color of a tropical sunset with rouge over the cheeks, and crimson lipstick trying to turn the upper lip into a cupid’s bow. The thing must have been weird enough so far as the average spectator is concerned, but to a detective who trains himself to look closely and see plenty of details, it looked like an oil painting done by Aunt Kate or Cousin Edith, the kind that are hung in a dark corner in the dining room where the open kitchen door will hide ’em during mealtimes.”

I also loved this dialogue:

“To hell with that stuff. I’m objective, Donald. I have no more feeling than the bullet that leaves a rifle barrel. If it’s a charging elephant that’s in front of it, the bullet smears him. If it’s a poor little deer, nursing a fawn, the slug tears through her vitals just the same. I’m like that Donald. I’m paid to deliver results, my love, and by God, I deliver ’em.”

I’m still reading my daughter Paddington books at night and right now we are re-reading Paddington Abroad, which is one of our favorites. I’m also finishing up Sweet On You by Becky Wade.

We are loving our new house and the children are too, especially Little Miss who wants to spend just about all day outside as long as it isn’t hot. I love that she loves to be outside, even though sometimes I need a break to do things inside. She was never outside this much at the old house, which had a smaller yard, was in town, and where we always felt uncomfortable because people drove and walked by and watched us (or maybe that was only in our heads.)

There was a lot of concrete and asphalt there and it wasn’t as friendly. Here we have neighbors who love to pet our dog (one of our neighbors up there did love our dog), welcome us to the neighborhood with hanging plants; wildlife to watch (I caught a toad the other day for my daughter who promptly decided it was her pet and she didn’t want to let it go), we also have bunnies hopping through the backyard, a space for a garden, and all kinds of plants and flowers popping up all over. And for my son, the best thing is that we are 5.3 miles away from his best friend’s house.

We have discovered peonies on one side of the house, which delighted me because I had peonies at the house I lived in when I was a child and they were over 100 years old. I’m so excited for them to bloom I just want to sit next to the bush and wait. My mom says they usually bloom around my brother’s birthday which is June 9. She said when they did bloom they would bother her asthma and a friend told her to have them pulled up so they would stop coming back each year.

“I can’t have them pulled up!” she cried. “They’re over 100 years old!”

I think there was some story about my great-grandfather being very sick one time and when he woke up and was healthy enough to leave the house, the first thing he saw was the peonies. It was some relative anyhow. Later this week I will have an interesting story involving my great-grandfather and his sister Mollie. (I know. You’re just on the edge of your seat waiting to read it, aren’t you? Ha. 😉 But it has to be better than the news these days.)

We spent a lot of time outside on Memorial Day weekend too. It’s a family tradition to visit the cemetery down the road from my parents behind a 150-year-old (or so) church where my ancestors and sister are buried. My mom gave birth to my sister prematurely four years before I was born and she did not survive.

My daughter seemed oblivious to the fact she was dancing on the final resting places of her ancestors as she ran around, twirled, jumped and sang Frozen songs and occasionally helped my dad plant flowers. My son told her she needed to stop but I told him if the dead people could see my daughter they’d probably be delighted to watch her with all her en


We found a pigeon when were there and my daughter loves all animals so I thought she was going to try to take it home, especially when she saw it was injured. It couldn’t fly at all. Instead it would try to walk, limp and then fall forward on it’s face. We decided to let it go it’s own way since we weren’t sure what was wrong with it, but it was very sad to see. I wish we could have helped it but I think it was sick and not only injured.

My son thought he was funny to lean on the gravestone of his namesake (his great-great-great grandfather who was a Civil War veteran) and call him a “boomer” but then realized he shouldn’t joke since without the man he wouldn’t even be here. I agreed and that’s when I launched into a Biblical-type lineage speech.

“Yes, son, because John begot J. Eben who begot Ula, who begot Ronnie, who begot me, who then begot you.”

My son didn’t find me humorous. Why would he? He is a teenager now. (Don’t let the smile here fool you…his laughter was at his own joke, not mine.)

I finally finished planting our garden after my dad, son, and husband finished building the fence around the raised garden beds my son and Dad built. I have one more plant to . . . er. . . plant. Broccoli I almost forgot it. I’m really not sure what is going to grow and what isn’t at this point but the green beans and some of the lettuce are already sprouting. My dad finally found us some summer squash. The garden centers around here were wiped out. Summer squash was what I really wanted in the garden because that was the one plant that survived at the other house and actually produced a veggie I could use.



I’ve also planted tomatoes, zucchini, carrots, and potatoes. We will see if any of them come up or not. It will be fun to watch.

So that’s about it for me here this week. How about all of you? What have you been reading, watching or doing this past week? Let me know in the comments.

Bookish questions: short chapters or long chapters?

As I started getting back into reading in the last couple of years, I’ve noticed there are all kinds of opinions among book readers. Everyone has different tastes, everyone has different interests and what one person likes in a book another one doesn’t. Of course we all have our own preferences. It’s part of being human.

One varying perspective among book readers is chapter lengths. Some like longer chapters, some like shorter. Personally I’m in between. I don’t enjoy super short chapters but I also don’t want chapters so long that I feel like the story is dragging on.

I know I mention Jan Karon a lot but when I was thinking about longer chapters in books, she came to mind because her chapters are quite long. Even though her chapters are long they are interesting enough to not make it feel like I am pushing through and dying to get to the end of the chapter. She makes the chapters easier to read by breaking them down into sections or scenes throughout the chapters.

The only issue is that sometimes these sections are too short so it feels like I am reading clips from a movie and not a fully cohesive narrative. At times, but not always, it feels almost as if I am jumping in and out of scenes and I lose track a bit, but I still love the stories Jan weaves.

As a writer it is hard to know how long to make a chapter and it’s even harder when a writer is sharing their book or chapters on a blog. When I share the chapters of my stories on my blog I tend to make them shorter because I know most people don’t want to read a long blog post, but when I rewrite them for the final book, I tend to add sections together and make the chapters a little longer.

There are tons of opinions online about how long a chapter should be too. Wordcounter.com says that 5,000 is too long and 1,000 is too short, in the opinions of many. However, Writer’s Digest says that as a writer, you should make your chapter as long as you need in order to propel your story forward. The article’s author, Brian A. Klems says that he thinks of a chapter as an act in a television show.

He writes: “When a TV show finishes Act 1 (which almost always happens just after something significant is revealed or an important question is raised), it goes to commercial break. Ditto for Act 2, 3, 4 and so forth. Look for your chapters to have those similar elements. When you find those “commercial breaks,” end your chapter and start a new one. In other words, let your content dictate your chapter length, not the other way around.”

So, how about you? As a reader, when you read a book do you like short chapters or long chapters? Do you like chapters with lots of scene breaks in them or one big, long scene? If you are a writer, how do you decide how long to make your chapter? Let me know in the comments.



Sunday Bookends: Gardens are too much drama, still reading the same books (I’m serious), and adding truth to Bible stories

My cellphone rang at 7:30 a.m. after a rough night of sleep. I struggled to find it where I’d dropped it somewhere in the sheets and looked at it with bleary eyes.

Dad. Uh-oh. Was something wrong? I’d better pick it up.

My dad sounded panicked. But my parents and the rest of the family was fine.

“Did you leave your plants out last night?” he asked hurridly.

“Uh..yes?”

“We had a frost last night. Listen, if you go out and sprinkle them lightly with cold water you can wash the frost off and maybe save them.”

That’s when I realized. . . taking care of a garden is way too stressful.

I don’t even have the garden planted yet and I’m already stressed about the plants. They’re in a tray outside my door and each night I go to bed and wonder if the deer will come this far down and eat them. I planted a few tomatoes and Dad says he’s pretty sure they won’t eat those. Deer don’t like tomato plants but they like shrubs and carrots and green beans and anything else they can get their mouths on, I guess.

We will see.

If I don’t give up on the garden all together. I still have to stretch a fence around the garden, which is why I haven’t planted the other plants just yet. I would like to plant carrots but my dad says they are a pain and probably won’t grow in my soil. I’m still going to try it, even though the topsoil we picked up really is quite awful and rocky. Who knows. It doesn’t hurt to try.

I’m still reading the same books and watching the same shows, for the most part. For books: Sweet on You by Becky Wade and then switching off with A Light in the Window by Jan Karon. These are books that are filling a type of comfort reading for me.

I’ve also read the first chapter of Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes by Kenneth E. Bailey. I’m planning a separate post on that book at a later date, but I can say for now that the book is broken down into simple, short chapters and it’s fascinating. I have a feeling it is going to spin my view of the real Jesus on it’s head, which I’m excited to have happen since it is coinciding with my watching of The Chosen.

If you haven’t heard about The Chosen before (or missed when I mentioned it before), it’s a TV series based on the life of Jesus and is available on The Chosen site, The Chosen app, and on DVD via their site. Purchases of the DVD help to support series two, which is currently being written. The Chosen has fictional aspects within the true story of Jesus in that it offers backstories of some of the most important people of the Bible – Simon (Peter), Mary Magdalene, Jesus’, the disciples, Nicodemus and many other supporting characters. This is not your typical Bible retelling.

My 13-year old son and I have been watching it for homeschooling and he said “I like how this makes the people of the Bible seem like real people.”

And that is what the show does. It shows the humanity and authenticity of the people we’ve spent our lives reading about on the page. I love how the show portrays Jesus as I feel he really was. So many movies about Jesus show him as stoic and serious and just very . . . how do I put it? Heavy and dramatic.

But in The Chosen, Jesus laughs and jokes and relates to his followers as any other person in real life would. It shows us a new view of Jesus. A view that he is God but he was also man.

Even if you aren’t a Christian, I’d encourage you to watch the show anyhow because it is very engaging and tells the story of people, not religion, which I believe is what our relationship with God should be – the story of us, not of what the world sees as simple “religion.”

Although the books I’m reading and the shows I’m watching are the same, I’m listening to some different things this week, including a new-to-me group The Dead South. Their language on some songs are not “clean”, just as a warning. (I always hesitate sharing music that might have some hard language because I don’t want to offend any of the Christian followers I have, but hopefully they won’t judge my heart for liking some of the songs, but not the language. )

On the blog last week I shared some thoughts on how social media kills our creativity (which I’ve actually blogged about before but forgot. Apparently this is a subject I feel strongly about *wink* ), shared Chapter 5 of Fully Alive and Chapter 9 of The Farmer’s Daughter.

So, how about all of you? What have you been up to lately? Reading? Watching? Listening to? Just simply doing? Let me know in the comments!

Sunday Bookends: Light romances (in book and movie forms) welcomed this week

I won’t be rambling too much about what the rest of the world is rambling about this week because first, we all need a break and two, I’ve discovered situations like this really bring out the crazies and I’m crazy enough for myself.

So, on to books I’m reading and watching this week. I’m sticking with light romances both in books and movies, even if they are a little bit stupid. I don’t mind if they are stupid because then I can make fun of them while I read them or watch them. Luckily, I read a book this week and watched a movie I didn’t have to make fun of.

I share a Kindle account with my mom, mainly because I’m more technical and set it up for her. Most of the time this is fine because my mom utilizes Kindle Unlimited more than me. The main issue is that Mom is retired and reads more and faster than me so, sometimes, while I am in the middle of a book Mom will return my book to “take out” another one, which is what happened this week.

Luckily, I was able to get the book, True to You by Becky Wade, back and finish it. It was really worth finishing and I’m glad I did. The book had me hooked from the beginning, even if the main character did grate on my nerves part of the time (a very little part of the time). I fell in love with the love interest as much as the main character did. If I wasn’t married and John Lawson was real I would. well —  I’d still only stare at him from afar because I’m totally not his type.

Anyhow, this was the first of a three-book series about The Bradford Sisters. There are also two novellas in the series.

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I shared the plot of the book last week, but thought I’d share it again this week, in case you are interested.

After a devastating heartbreak three years ago, genealogist and historical village owner Nora Bradford decided that burying her nose in her work and her books is far safer than romance in the here and now.

Unlike Nora, former Navy SEAL John Lawson is a modern-day man, usually 100 percent focused on the present. However, when John, an adoptee, is diagnosed with an inherited condition, he’s forced to dig into the secrets of his ancestry.

John enlists Nora’s help to uncover the identity of his birth mother, and as they work side-by-side, this pair of opposites begins to suspect that they just might be a perfect match.  But can their hope for a future survive their wounds from the past?

I am planning to start the second book this weekend.

I also watched a light romance movie this week: Road Less Traveled with Lauren Alaina (A country singer), Donny Boaz, and Jason Burkey.  Without giving too much away, I will say this movie was not your typical small-town girl who goes home, runs into an old boyfriend and falls back in love with her old boyfriend movie. Not exactly anyhow. It threw me for a bit of a loop. The acting was pretty good and realistic, but I will say that it made light of getting drunk a little more than I thought it should.

As I have mentioned before, I am a prude, in many ways, but not in others. Still, it doesn’t offend me if someone is drunk in a movie. What bothered me was how often the characters were holding a beer, wine, or in a bar and how many times they were roaring drunk – like to the point they couldn’t remember what they did while drunk. And I guess we were all supposed to laugh about that? I don’t know. That bothered me, but I still enjoyed the movie.

The weather warmed up this week, a little anyhow. On Monday it was 70 and the temperature steadily declined over the week, but it was still warmer than it has been. The kids and I walked to our local health store for snacks, unaware of the craziness that would settle over our country in the next couple of days and that shelves would empty of food.

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DSC_8717DSC_8730Sadly, there are many in our community, like us, who can not afford to stockpile and instead live week to week so we are hoping those who have the money or are running up credit cards will leave us some food for our next paycheck. Even if we had the money we wouldn’t be stockpiling the way others are because fear is a liar. We will make it one way or another. My parents are the stockpiling kind and have assured us we can have some cans of beans if it gets too bad.

In many ways, I wish we could go back to Monday when we were sitting on our front lawn with our biggest worry being that people driving by as the busses let out for school would think that my children were actually drinking beer, instead of the natural soda they were drinking.

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In house news, we are busy packing and are supposed to be moved out, per our contract, by April 3.

To keep the escapism alive, I blogged more of A New Beginning this week and am keeping the rest of my blog posts for this week as light as possible.

So what are you reading or watching this week? Is the weather getting any warmer where you are? Feel free to let me know in the comments.