Sunday Bookends: Finishing homeschooling, flowers blooming, and eclectic reading

Ten days.

That’s how many days in a row I have posted on WordPress.

I have no idea why I am telling you this, other than I’m still getting notifications from WordPress and now I feel like I have something to prove.

I know.

Sad life for me.

But, hey, we all need our little hobbies and this week my two hobbies have been working on finishing a fiction novel and making sure I post every day on my blog for as long as I can so I can keep racking up those pats on the back from my blog host.

Other than those odd hobbies, I didn’t accomplish much else.

We did travel to our homeschool evaluator’s house Wednesday to have our school portfolio reviewed, which I wrote about yesterday on the blog.

Since we live in the middle of nowhere we drove 45 minutes to her house and used the trip to also pick up a Walmart order and my new eyeglasses. My new glasses look exactly like my old glasses. I am that boring and predictable.

The flowers around our house are starting to bloom, which is always exciting for me. Some people take exotic vacations, other people, like me, stare at their flowers and wait for them to bloom.

The peonies are budding and will probably open in a few days, as they always do, around my brother’s birthday. Last year was our first year in this house and I was very excited about having peonies since we had peony pushes in front of the house I grew up in.

What I’m Reading

It only took me two days to finish Amanda by Sarah Monzon. It moved along that well and was also fairly short. I’ll have a review of it out later this week.

Here is the description for anyone who is curious:

“The devil made me do it” is a phrase that will never pass my lips. Why would it when I have Delores, my undiagnosed autoimmune disorder, to make all my decisions for me? (Yes, I named her myself since the doctors couldn’t do it for me.) A get together with friends? Delores says no. I’ll have my prescheduled daily afternoon fever and fatigue at that time.

My two biggest regrets with having Delores direct my fate? One, my family thinks my illness is all in my head. And two, I set the love of my life, Peter Reynolds, free from my anchoring tether so he could fly. I never thought I’d see him again, but five years later he’s soaring in the limelight as one of the most talked-about defensive players in professional football. Oh, and did I mention he also happens to play for the team my boss just assigned me to as a social media manager?

Meanwhile, nothing much has changed for me. Delores still bosses me around, and I’m still hopelessly in love with Peter. What’s a girl to do?

I’m now reading Sarah’s Choice by Pegg Thomas. It is historical fiction and while I’ve never been a huge fan of historical fiction, this is now my second book by Pegg and she’s making me fall in love with historical fiction. This book won’t be released until August so I consider myself lucky that Pegg chose me as an Advanced Reader.

I am also reading The Love Coward by Naomi Musch in between it all.

What I’m Watching

I’ve mainly been watching Jonathan Creek episodes and this farming YouTube Channel:

I’m watching it for book research, but also because farming is fascinating.

What I’m Listening To

I have been listening to The Civil Wars this week (and sadly they are not together any longer). I plan to listen to the new Crowder album when it drops this week.

What I’m Writing

I’ve been writing a lot, on here and on my book Harvesting Hope, which is set to release in the beginning of August.

Blog posts I wrote last week included:

So that’s my week in review, how about all of you? What are you reading, writing, listening to, watching or doing these days? Let me know in the comments.

Sunday Bookends: The Moonstone, Finally reading A Classic, Bookstore Bliss, and Warmer Temperatures Come Upon Us

Welcome to my weekly post where I recap my week by writing about what I’ve been reading, watching, writing, doing and sometimes what I’ve been listening to.

What’s been occurring

The weather has finally started to warm up and has helped to take the foot and a half of snow we had left on the ground to about 8 inches. I can see the corners of my garden boxes now and there is grass peeking out of the snow on a hill on the other side of town. We’re hopeful to see the grass in our yard for the first time in two months.

Our cats seem to have some sort of cabin fever. They’re so bored with looking at the snow they now come into the bathroom when I’m taking a bath and just stare at me, which is creepy. Pixel is getting used to Scout, the kitten we brought home in August. She still doesn’t love her, but she tolerates her and Pixel is either enjoying chasing Scout or is hoping to kill her. I’m not sure which.

My animals have teamed up now too. Pixel and Zooma did it before, but now Scout gets in on the action when she can. Pixel is very adept at opening doors and if Zooma wants to get in a room, Pixel finds a way to open the door for her. My daughter has a door that slides open and closed and in the morning, when I get up for my third trip to the bathroom, either I or my husband close it to keep the animals from waking Little Miss up too early. Pixel knows how to open the door so she slides her paw under it, moves the door and Zooma runs in and jumps on the bed for cuddles. Scout seems to be learning how to do the same thing from Pixel because my husband found her in my daughter’s room one morning after he’d already closed the door.

On Friday we took a family trip to a book store. Yes, we are that boring. We live in a rural area and there aren’t a lot of malls or bookstores around us so we took a 45-minute trip to eat at a Cracker Barrel and walk around a Books-A-Million at a small mall down the road from the restaurant. I had been wanting to go to this store since my husband visited it and sent me photos. So many books in one place! I haven’t been to a bookstore in years but my husband and I used to go to Barnes and Noble near our old home (near in this area means a 30 minute drive), walk around, look at books and sip coffee (coffee for him, milk and sugar with a splash of coffee for me) so this brought back memories.

When we walked in to this store I seriously almost cried to see so many books. I kept going, “Oh. Oh. Oh it’s amazing.” I don’t know if I am sheltered or what but the idea of so many worlds under so many roofs was exhiliarating to me, especially since I have gotten back into reading again in the last couple of years. The Boy was embarrassed by my exuberance and wandered into the fantasy section so no one would know we were together.

I couldn’t find a section for Christian fiction and thought they might have slid them into the regular fiction section, or removed them all together, but a half an hour into our exploration of the store (it was fairly large), I found an entire corner dedicated to “religion”, which was mainly Christian-based books.

There were four or five sets of shelves of journals, Bibles, devotionals, Christian living books and an entire wall of Christian fiction. Sadly, since I found the section so late, I didn’t have as long to peruse the books as I would have liked. Print books are so expensive anymore ( trust me, I know why — when I price mine on sites, you have to set them high or you will make next to nothing as the author from their sale), but I did find a used copy by a new-to-me author, Nancy Mehl.

I also grabbed a couple of bargain classic books. I originally had a larger pile, but we have bills so I put two back. I grabbed Emma by Jane Austen and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain and I was going to buy Uncle Tom’s Cabin, but for financial reasons (like I was trying to spend too much on the week before we pay our mortgage) I put that one back, hoping I’ll still be able to buy them after all the ranting and raving some in our country are doing about what is racist and what isn’t. I want to make sure I have these books in print in case some try to ban them and in case Amazon decides to remove them from my Kindle, which I learned this week they are doing with books they have deemed “unacceptable.”

What I’m Reading

It seemed like a good transition to move from the bookstore visit to what I’ve been reading. This week I finished Sweeter, a book by an indie author, Jere Steele. It was a nice, easy-going and light read. I’ll have a review for it on the blog later this week.

I enjoyed Sweeter but decided to switch to Death Without Company: A Walt Longmire Mystery by Craig Johnson for a little more grit and suspense. I shouldn’t read Longmire books before bed, though, because then I have very intense dreams about being chased or trying to solve a murder in Wyoming.

I will probably start Emma this week as well to keep me to my plan to read more classics this year.

Little Miss and I are still reading Stormy: Misty’s Foal by Marguerite Henry. This book is a little tougher than some since it deals with the aftermath of a winter storm that wiped out more than half the pony population of Assateague Island. I’ve been skipping the many references to “airlifting dead ponies off the island” and instead reading “lifting debris off the island.” I don’t think the 6-year old needs to go to sleep picturing dead ponies being dragged onto the backs of trucks.

The Boy and I took a break from reading The Lord of the Flies this week, but will pick it back up on Monday.

What I’m Watching

We’ve been watching The Muppets and Friday we watched episodes with John Cleese, Peter Sellers, and Steve Martin. I loved all three but enjoyed Sellers the most. He was such a versatile talent.

We also went back to Doc Martin this week. We started season 4 and I don’t know if I will enjoy these later seasons as much as the first. I’m finding Louisa annoying and sort of want to throttle her and hug her all at the same time. Continuing on the British show theme, I started Agatha Raisin this week on Acorn TV and enjoyed the first episode. I will not, however, watch this series with my kids. It is not graphic so far but there are some adult themes featured that I’d rather not discuss with them.

What I’m Writing
Last week I shared some random thoughts, but not much else. I shared some photos from February as well. I have a few posts lined up for this upcoming week, however. I am also working on a couple of fiction stories, The Farmers’ Sons (notice the name change there. I had meant to change that before. It’s a book about at least three farmers’ sons, maybe a couple of more), and Lily. I may share the prologue of Lily sometime in March, but I’m not sure I’m ready to share this one yet. It’s going to be a tough one for me, dealing with some tough topics, but I still hope to have some joy in it.

As I mentioned Friay, The Farmer’s Daughter, is available now on Amazon and Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Apple iBooks, Scribd, and Smashwords.

For blog readers, I am offering the first two chapters free HERE.

I shared photos of our week yesterday in the February recap post, but here are few from the past week.

The hills are bare but still pretty impressive from this overlook. Our area isn’t called the “Endless Mountains” for no reason.
My dad decided to take us up to the overlook on this road, covered completely in snow. The higher we got the more snow was on the road and I was starting to get nervous, but Dad has a 4-wheel drive truck so he seems to think he can go wherever he wants. Luckily we made it down the road safely.

So that is my week in review, how was yours? Let me know in the comments!

Sunday Bookends: Christmas displays, somewhat unrealsitic books, Maggie Cole

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

What I’m Reading

I started one of those books that annoy me because part of the premise was stupid but the more I got into it, the more I was accepting of the dumb premise, probably because the characters were somewhat interesting and the writing well done. I don’t know that the premise itself was really stupid, but aspects of it were. I don’t want to say what I didn’t like about the story because it would be a spoiler for those who might read it in the future. Of course, now that I said I didn’t like part of the book, others will say they won’t want to read it, but I wouldn’t discourage you from reading it because even though aspects of it irritated me, I had a hard time putting it down. 

The storylines in Wild Montana Skies by Susan May Warren were actually very engaging. There are four main characters. Two major main characters and two minor main characters. Their stories intersect at times, but the main story is of Kasey and Ben, young lovers who grew apart when Ben left to become a Country Music star. The book sets up future storylines or at least future characters, including the story of billionaire Ian Shaw who spends this book look for his niece who has gone missing. I do enjoy how Susan May Warren writes, but I don’t know if I will buy the other books in this series or not. I am reading this first book in the series because it is on Kindle Unlimited and I usually only pay $9 for an ebook if it is from an author I really enjoy, which isn’t to say I don’t enjoy this author’s work. I’m just not sure I’m going to keep buying the ebooks for that price when I can get the paperbacks for about the same price. I’ll probably purchase paperbacks of hers in the future. 

I’ll probably finish that book in the next couple of days and then I plan to read a book by Ted Dekker, who I’ve heard a lot about recently, and one by James L. Rubart, who I’ve only just heard about. 

Dekker’s is called Water Walker, which is a book that combines four serial “episodes”. The description on Amazon is: “My name is Alice Ringwald, but the man who kidnapped me says that’s a lie.”

 Thirteen-year-old orphan Alice Ringwald has no memory beyond six months ago. The only life she knows is the new one she’s creating one day at a time with the loving couple that recently adopted her and gave her new hope. That hope, however, is shattered one night when she is abducted by a strange man. In a frantic FBI manhunt, the kidnapper vanished with Alice.”

Rubart’s book is Rooms. The Amazon description: What if you inherited a brand-new mansion on the Oregon coast—from a great uncle you never knew? Would you blow it off? Or head down there to check it out?

 Micah Taylor isn’t stupid. He’s made a fortune building a Seattle software empire. But he can’t figure out why he’s been given a 9,000 square foot home right on the beach.

 And not just any beach.  The one beach he loves more than any other.  The one beach he hates more than any other.  Both at the same time.  Micah drives down to check out the house. On the surface, everything seems legit. He instantly feels at home and then he meets a beautiful young woman at the local ice cream shop.  Now there’s two reasons to keep coming back to Cannon Beach. But the house still feels off. Things start happening that Micah can’t explain.  That Micah doesn’t want explained.  Because he’s slowly realizing the house isn’t just a house.  It’s a physical manifestation of his soul.

 He begins a journey into the most glorious rooms of his life, but also the darkest.  Rooms where terrible things happened.  Things that must not be remembered, but scream out to be heard.  Micah can’t run. Can’t hide.  Because the memories aren’t just memories.  They’re real.  Memories that can heal and set him free.  But that can also destroy him.  And there’s no way to know which side will win in the end.

What I’m Watching

My husband and I finished The Trouble with Maggie Cole this week, which we found on the PBS Masterpiece channel on Amazon. I mentioned this show in my post last week. It was six episodes and we really enjoyed it. We don’t see how they could have a season two but Dawn French, who stars in the show, says a second season is planned. I was so nervous that the show, which was fairly clean, was going to delve into this super dark place in the last couple of episodes, but it didn’t. Instead, it was a nice, but suspenseful story with redeeming characters. 

The show starts with Maggie Cole (French) being interviewed by a radio show host who gets her drunk so she will gossip about the people in town. She doesn’t remember or know the gossip part will be on the show when she sets up a party at her house for everyone in town to listen with her. She thinks the man is going to be doing a story on the 500-year celebration party she is organizing for the town, which is what they agreed on when they first met.

The show follows her efforts to make it up to the people she “outed” but also the stories of each person who she shared gossip about. Throughout the series, we learn what is true and what isn’t about the six victims of her drunken ramble.

As I said last week, I completely relate to Maggie, except that I don’t feel I am a pushy person who forces people to do what I want. Sadly, when I asked my husband if that part of her was like me, he paused much too long. He’s still taking care of that lump on his head from the book I threw at him. That last part, of course, is a joke. The part about him pausing too long is not. 

Christmas season is starting so I’m sure I’ll watch my share of stupid Hallmarkesque Christmas movies this week. 

What’s Been Occurring / What I’m Writing

I finished the first draft of The Farmer’s Daughter yesterday. The final version will be a bit different than what I shared here on the blog since I have removed both Franny and Jason’s storyline from this book. Their stories will be separate novels or novellas. It felt pretty good to finish the book since I’ve been working on Molly’s story for the last couple of years when I first wrote the kiss scene on a whim. I started her story before I started A New Beginning and in the middle of writing A Story to Tell. I’m so glad I won’t be saying goodbye to Alex and Molly, though. Their story will continue some in The Farmer’s Son, which will be Jason’s story, and in The Business Man’s Son, which will be Alex’s story.

I will be working on rewrites and edits this week if I can keep my brain from jumping to the other stories I am planning for the series. 

Last week’s posts included:

Last week we spent my husband’s birthday visiting a light display at a golf course about a half an hour away. The Christmas lights lined trees and displays across the course and it was a beautiful sight. The way they made lights look like a running river was amazing. I’m sure my photographs don’t do it justice. I’m sharing a few here and will share more in my Photos of the Week post tomorrow. The only issue we had during the tour were the odd comments from my kids, including when my daughter asked if that was Santa in an airplane in one of the displays and when my husband said “yes,” she said “That is so cringe.”

After the tour, they offered hot chocolate, cookies, and other snacks in a space near the main club room location. One of those snacks were smores kits., which were simply one marshmallow, a mini Hershey chocolate bar, and two graham crackers. The marshmallows were roasted over fire pits they had set up in the open courtyard.

We spent Thanksgiving with my parents, enjoying three different types of pies they made, a turkey my husband made, and a variety of other food we all made together. 

So that’s what I’ve been up to this week. How about you? Let me know in the comments!

Sunday Bookends: Holy drama and bad Southern accents, blooming flowers, and cozy mysteries

What’s Been Going On

Since moving to our new house we’ve watched various plants around the property bloom and it has been fun waiting to see what shows up. Last week, I mentioned being excited because peonies were blooming next to our house. I was excited because we had peonies outside our house when I was growing up and I haven’t really seen them since. Last week I counted four of the bushes, two on the side of the house, one on each front corner, but then I discovered there is a fifth near the neighbor’s property and Friday I discovered a sixth on the other side of our garage.

My mom told me that the blooms usually open by my brother’s birthday so I waited and the first blooms did indeed open on my brother’s birthday. He came to the house for a visit that day (he lives 90 minutes away) and had to leave before we went to see if the blooms had opened (he had work the next day) but later I checked and there they were – opened, or at least part of them.

Now we are waiting for the purple/pink ones to open fully.

The white ones were slightly damaged during heavy rains one night. Either that or the resident bear laid in the middle of them. I did mention our neighbor saw the resident bear in the backyard two weeks ago right? If I didn’t, then I’m telling all of my readers now. The bear is real and he/she was about 50 yards from our house at 5 a.m. one morning.

We missed him/her but have seen a lot of other wildlife, including rabbits, blue herons and our neighbor let us know her daughter saw a rattlesnake. My husband says if he sees the snake it will be dead within seconds. He’s not a fan of snakes. At all.

Anyhow, I digress; back to the blooming flowers. After discovering the peonies I also woke up one morning to find pink roses blooming outside behind our garage, near the lilac bush (which barely bloomed this year). I knew my daughter, who loves flowers, would be excited so we walked up the hill to see them together. We then discovered another rose bush next to the peonies bush near the neighbor’s fence.

There are also these purple/blue flowers, but I have no idea what they are. I really am ignorant about plants and flowers.

I’ve stayed away from social media, for the most part, but did jump on quick this past week. That was a huge mistake. The atmosphere there was even more toxic than it was about a week or so ago when I decided to step away. Everyone is angry, offended, and calling each other racists if they ask a question. Quite frankly, I don’t have the energy for it all so I’m back off social media. I can’t live my life offended 24/7 like the rest of the world. It’s just not healthy.

It seems like a lot of the pastors are out there trying to tell people they need to feel offended 24/7 too so I’m not even listening to well-known pastors right now. Honestly, I need to get back into the Bible and stop listening to pastors anyhow. They seem to be led by the world lately and when I listen to them I feel further away from God and my faith than ever.

What I’m Reading

I am finishing up two books, A Light in the Window by Jan Karon and The Knife Slipped by Earl Stanley Gardner and I am also hoping to dive into a couple of cozy mysteries this week, including By Book or By Crook (A Lighthouse Mystery No. 1) by Eva Gates. I’ve peaked into this book and after reading the first page, I’m not sure this is going to be my type of book, but I’m going to try anyhow because I may be totally wrong!

What I’m Watching

Sweet Magnolias

I binged watched the first season of Sweet Magnolias on Netflix this week (we have a trial month of Netflix because I’m not a big fan of them, for various reasons) and I have a lot of opinions on it, but will try to keep my “review” short.

First of all, for the writers of the show: thanks for the parenting lessons on how NOT to be a parent. None of these parents actually talk to their children or ask them what’s really wrong. They just assume and then act on what they assume and then the kids get upset and the parents get upset because the kids get upset. It’s a really strange cycle to watch and I suppose it is slightly realistic but a little overblown.

Then there is the little girl the husband hooked up with and got pregnant and the fact she’s an idiot and doesn’t understand she is only a few years older than her new boyfriend’s oldest child so she shouldn’t be acting like she’s going to be the new mom of these children.

Then there is the whole “lifetime friends” baloney. Three women who always remained friends. What is that even like? You know it’s fiction when there is a story line like that — with friends who actually talk to each other after high school.

They meet once a week or so for margaritas and seem pretty wound up in their own lives and not their kids’, but the show is primarily about them so they can’t pause it every five seconds for a heart-to-heart with the kids.

The show is supposed to take place in a tiny town named Serenity in South Carolina. The one problem is that only half the members of the town have Southern accents and the actors who do try the accents (especially Chris Kline who plays Bill) are pretty bad at it. They are some of the oddest southern accents I’ve ever heard.

I did binge-watch the show in two days but that’s partially because I fast forwarded a good portion of the last three or four episodes because the drama had gotten to be a bit too much and I really wanted to run over Bill. If you watch the show you will realize very quickly why I want to run over Bill and then back over him again. Then later I wanted to run over Maddie, but again, you’ll have to watch the show to figure out why.

I talked to the screen a lot with this one. I said things like “Hey, maybe you should have been paying attention to your kids and that wouldn’t have happened.” Then I looked up and my 5-year old was missing. Luckily she’d just gone to get a piece of bread and was still in the house, but still . . . I learned to be less judgmental of these fictional parents in that moment.

Virgin River

After fast forwarding through part of the last episodes of Sweet Magnolias, I started Virgin River, which is a fairly feel-good show that has a very similar storyline to Hart of Dixie, (which I watched a couple of episodes of this week as well.) in that a woman comes to a small town to work with a much older doctor. Oddly, the actor (Tim Matheson) playing the doctor in Virgin River also played the doctor on Hart of Dixie. Typecast much?

The difference is that in Hart of Dixie, the woman is a doctor who needs to earn more experience before she can become a heart surgeon and in Virgin River the woman is a nurse practitioner who is looking to escape her past. On Virgin River we learn about the main character’s (Mel’s) past through flashbacks throughout each show. Trigger warning: so far the show does deal with the topic of infant loss. By the way, Virgin River is the name of the town.

I much prefer Virgin River and it’s acting and story line to Hart of Dixie and Sweet Magnolias (so far anyhow). I’d have to say my favorite character in Virgin River is the mayor, Helen. She’s a pistol and I used to know a small town mayor just like her. The mayor I knew dragged an oxygen tank behind her while also smoking a cigarette, just to give a sneak peek into her personality.

What I’m Listening To

I haven’t been listening to a lot and that may be why I’ve felt off some days. I have still been listening to some of the Dead South and this week I listened to Unchained Melody by Marc Martel because his voice soothes me. I haven’t been listening to some of the worship music I used to listen to because it just seems like a big money-making machine at times since every big church sings the same songs over and over again. When I do listen to it, I listen to Michael W. Smith’s Awaken album.

I enjoy Unchained Melody by Marc Martel because the beauty of his voice makes the world seem less ugly.

What I’m Writing

I’m still in the middle of The Farmer’s Daughter and I’m also plugging away on my novella Fully Alive. I haven’t had much time to finish the short story I started — Rekindle —- which is the sequel to Quarantined.

My first two books A Story to Tell and A New Beginning are both on Kindle Unlimited, at least for the next months.

So, what have you all been up to this past week? Reading? Watching? Doing? Listening to? Let me know in the comments.

I’ll leave you with a few photos from our week:

Sunday Bookends: What the family is reading, cold weather moves in and a self-imposed media break

It finally happened. My brain snapped this week and I had to impose an overall media break on myself.

Social media.

News media.

Gone for three to four days at least, if not longer. After snapping at people, shaking from anxiety every time I logged off, and having crying fits based in depression and anxiety I knew it was time.

Luckily, after starting the break I felt so much better with less bouts of anxiety. Until I went back on and got in a completely unnecessary word exchange with an acquaintance

I broke it a couple of times for brief updates then went right back into my clueless hole and blocked the sites on my phone and Facebook.

If anyone else wants to join me on my break, you’re welcome to. Just make a list of things you would rather be doing and then commit to staying away from news and social media and at the end of the time you set for your break write about you felt during the break and after.

So far, I have filled my time with some reading (not as much as I would have liked), blog reading, working on formatting novel two and writing novel three, researching gardening and compositing (Lord Jesus, help me. I’m not sure I’ll be able to figure all that out), and watching The Chosen.

I also spent two days avoiding looking out the window since it snowed. Yes. Snowed. In May. I did not take any photos of it because it was insanely depressing.

I thought I’d share what the family is reading this week, since I’m reading pretty much the same books that I’ve been reading for a while.

What I’m reading: A Light in the Window by Jan Karon and Sweet on You by Becky Wade and About Your Father by Peggy Rowe (I read one story a night from this and talked about the book first HERE).

Planning to read soon:
Death of A Gossip (A Hamish Macbeth Book) by M.C. Beaton

Husband: The Poet by Michael Connelly

Description: An electrifying standalone thriller that breaks all the rules! With an introduction by Stephen King.

Death is reporter Jack McEvoy’s beat: his calling, his obsession. But this time, death brings McEvoy the story he never wanted to write–and the mystery he desperately needs to solve. A serial killer of unprecedented savagery and cunning is at large. His targets: homicide cops, each haunted by a murder case he couldn’t crack. The killer’s calling card: a quotation from the works of Edgar Allan Poe. His latest victim is McEvoy’s own brother. And his last…may be McEvoy himself.

Son: Harry Potter and the Half-Bred Prince

Daughter (with me) Ree Drummond’s book Charlie and The New Baby and Ramona The Pest.

Mom: Somebody’s Daughter by Rochelle B. Weinstein


Emma and Bobby Ross enjoy a charmed life on the shores of Miami Beach. They are a model family with a successful business, an uncomplicated marriage, and two blessedly typical twin daughters, Zoe and Lily. They are established members of a tight-knit community.

Then, on the night of the girls’ fifteenth birthday party, they learn of Zoe’s heartbreaking mistake—a private and humiliating indiscretion that goes viral and thrusts her and her family into the center of a shocking public scandal.

As the family’s core is shattered by disgrace, judgment, and retribution, the fallout takes its toll. But for Emma, the shame runs deeper. Her daughter’s reckless behavior has stirred memories of her own secrets that could break a marriage and family forever.

and before that Angel Killer by Andrew Mayne (My mom reads much faster than me so I have trouble keeping up with what she is on).


In this self-published bestselling e-book by a real illusionist—the first thriller in a sensational series—now available in paperback, FBI agent Jessica Blackwood believes she has successfully left her complicated life as a gifted magician behind her . . . until a killer with seemingly supernatural powers puts her talents to the ultimate test.

A mysterious hacker, who identifies himself only as “Warlock,” brings down the FBI’s website and posts a code in its place. It hides the GPS coordinates of a Michigan cemetery, where a dead girl is discovered rising from the ground . . . as if she tried to crawl out of her own grave.

Born into a dynasty of illusionists, Jessica Blackwood is destined to become its next star—until she turns her back on her troubled family, and her legacy, to begin a new life in law enforcement. But FBI consultant Dr. Jeffrey Ailes’s discovery of an old copy of Magician Magazine will turn Jessica’s carefully constructed world upside down. Faced with a crime that appears beyond explanation, Ailes has nothing to lose—and everything to gain—by taking a chance on an agent raised in a world devoted to seemingly achieving the impossible.

The body in the cemetery is only the first in the Warlock’s series of dark miracles. Thrust into the media spotlight, with time ticking away until the next crime, can Jessica confront her past to embrace her gifts and stop a depraved killer?

If she can’t, she may become his next victim.

I tried to distract myself this week with movies, but mostly failed on that front. I had considered the newest version of Emma, which you could have rented on Amazon for $20 and now can buy for $14.99. I knew I didn’t want to buy it and after reading some reviews, I’m not sure I even want to rent it. This was my favorite review on Amazon:

“I am sitting here alone, in the midst of quarantine, because the rest of my family couldn’t handle this movie any longer and fled. I have not left my house in five days, but death by coronavirus would be more merciful than continuing to watch this movie. Everyone in this movie is so unlikable, which is not Jane Austen’s fault. The other versions were good. The only saving grace is Chummy from “Call the Midwife.””


So then I tried Little Women. My brother and sister-in-law loved it and telling them I didn’t was hard, but I didn’t. I just didn’t. I guess it was supposed to be artistic but I had to agree with what a reviewer on Amazon said: “The film felt like a very long trailer.”

Saoirse Ronan and Timothée Chalamet in Greta Gerwig’ LITTLE WOMEN.

All the flipping back and forth between the past and present was extremely confusing at times and the orange glow on all the outdoor scenes made me want to adjust the lighting on my computer. If the story had been told in a more linear way I might have been able to actually like the characters, but since it was a movie of five minute clips here and there, I never really had a chance to get to know them unfortunately. Of course, I know them from other movies. I should say I know them from the book, but I never finished the book. I know. I’m awful, but it’s true.

The actors were very good, however, so I really wanted to give the movie a shot again after stopping it only half an hour in the first time. The guy playing Laurie looked 14 whether he was actually supposed to be 14 or in his 20s and he looked slightly stoned the entire time so I really had little interest when he came on the screen. I won’t lie and say there weren’t parts I didn’t cry through, because there were, but I’m not lying when I say I barely had time to cry for Beth because they had flipped to another scene before I knew what happened.

Instead, I watched a more traditional version I found on Amazon that was split into four episodes and featured actresses who seemed to fit the parts more for me than the other actresses did.

I also distracted myself from the news of the world by blogging last week:

Faithfully Thinking: He will lift it soon

A small family greenhouse in the middle of nowhere (this was my most popular in months. I think because it was shared on Facebook and a lot of local people saw it.)

“Did you go outside today?” Yes, Mom, in fact we did.

Fiction Friday: The Farmer’s Daughter Chapter 7

So how about all of you? What are you reading, watching, writing and doing these days? Let me know in the comments.

Sunday Bookends: Peggy Rowe, The Chosen, rocking out the stress and country living

It has definitely been a crazy week with moving in, trying to get settled in to our new house and having the sudden realization we now live in the country. Sure, we have other houses around us and technically live ‘in town’ but our backyard (beyond the neighbor’s garden that is) is a forest. Not only that but the other day our neighbor suggested we move our trash cans inside the garage until pick up day because one time the previous owner didn’t and a bear got into it.

Yes, a bear.

Into the garbage.

That may be the moment I actually realized we live in the country. That and when he told me about the six or seven deer who visit their yard from time to time. I have this bad feeling we might put a crimp in that with the arrival of our dog. I’ve noticed neither of the neighbors on either side have pets, or at least dogs. How sad for them. (*wink*)

I’m still waiting for the weather to warm up so we can start getting our garden ready. We had more cold and rainy days this week but hopefully we will finally have spring in the next couple of weeks. The previous owners were nice enough to leave garden supplies in the small shed out back, including fencing to keep the deer out.

They also left several rakes, hoes and shovels. We’re not a drinking family but they left us wine glasses and a bottle of wine as well, which was nice. I might need that when I start trying to plant a garden since I’ve only done it once before and it didn’t go so well. I have a tendency to kill plants, which I think I’ve mentioned before.

My daughter and I cleaned out some old leaves from the flower beds Saturday using rakes we found in the garage, including a small one for my daughter. Even though I kill plants I’m going to try to plant some around the house when the local greenhouse opens up in the beginning of May. I also discovered several perennials that I am hoping will come up soon. After that we tried a bike ride on the street in front of our house, hoping the cars that zoom by when they use it for a short cut didn’t run us down at any point. We took the dog with us and she found a cat to bark at and watch closesly.

I’ve been able to get back into some reading this week. I am really enjoying Peggy Rowe’s new book, as I’ve mentioned the last couple of weeks. It’s made up of short stories about her life with her husband and son’s so it’s easy to read one or two stories a night before bed. This week her son, Mike Rowe (from Dirty Jobs, The Way I Heard it podcast, MikeRoweWORKS Foundation, and Return the Favor on Facebook.), shared a video telling her that for the second time in a couple of years she has a book on the New York Times Bestseller list. For those who are Christians on my page, don’t let the screenshot below dissuade you from watching this clip or reading the book. It’s less offensive than it looks!

I’m also finishing up True to You by Becky Wade this week (as I’ve been saying I would do for awhile now).

As for what I’ve been watching I’ve started The Chosen, an online dramatic series based on the life of Christ. It weaves a lot of Biblical fiction within the story of Jesus, so don’t look for this to be a word for word interpretation of the Bible, but it still keeps very inline with the message of the Bible and of Christ. The acting is excellent and the imagery is compelling. I’ve only watched the first episode and part of the second and I’ve already cried twice (in a good way.) I ordered a DVD set of the show to help support the production costs for Season 2. You can learn more about this project and how to watch it on their site.

I thought I would share a little about what I am listening to this week, as well. I started my Friday morning with a playlist of Skillet on Youtube and I highly recommend it since it woke me up and got my day started off right. (I know. I don’t seem the Skillet type, but I am, just without the leather jackets and dyed hair and nose ring.)

My day would have been better if I had done what I had originally planned to do and turn the phone off and never looked at social media, but live and learn.

I’ve also been listening to this new song by Elevation Worship since I loved watching them perform it live on Easter morning. That service was such a breath of fresh air and a move of the Holy Spirit I couldn’t stop watching it and am thrilled I can listen to the song on my phone or anywhere else now.

So how about all of you? What have you been reading, watching, listening to or up to this week? I’d love to read about it in the comments. Let me know!

Sunday Bookends: Books? What are those?

I miss reading to enjoy a story instead of reading only to try to escape life. I’m sure I’m not alone in that. This last week I wanted to escape life a lot — not only because of the stress everyone else in the country is facing but because of the fact our mortgage lender dropped us three days before we were supposed to close on the house we were purchasing. This meant we could not purchase our new house. However, we still had to move out of our current house because it was being purchased.

So we kept packing (we’d already rented the truck) and packed up the house by ourselves in four days (still not done, actually). We headed to my parents, who we were trying to stay away from because of You Know What and had planned only to spend one night with. Now it looks like it could be two weeks or more living at my parents (pray for them) and we aren’t even guaranteed the new loan program we are in will pan out and we will still be able to buy the house we wanted to.

While we would have liked to have delayed everything until the country’s leaders decide if they can tell their butt from a hole in the ground (they can’t, by the way and before someone says I’m a this or that person hater, I’m talking about all of them of all parties. Not picking sides on this one.) we were told we could get sued for not moving out for our buyers so we did. And we moved in the original deadline we were given, not the extended deadline we were told AFTER we rented the truck and started moving. It turns out we could have had almost another week to move because the buyers weren’t even ready to sign (not their fault, but it would have been nice if their rep had told our rep about the delays. Just a little communication would be nice these days.)

To say things are stressful in my life is an understatement right now. I have a teenager who feels lost, displaced and panicked because the home that was once his source of feeling grounded is gone and the new house we thought we were going to make our own is also gone (hopefully not permanently.). My son is separated from friends at the same time all of this is going on and he’s still trying to recover from some hurts inflicted on him by past friends. In two days, I have dealt with four or five panic attacks, two of them being my own. Writing all this almost triggered another one.

Our TV is packed up and my parents have some of the most awful WiFi on the planet so we can’t stream anything. I’m having trouble focusing enough to read, but when I do get a chance to read, I’ll be reading A Light in the Window with Jan Karon and maybe I’ll actually finish True to You by Becky Wade. With everything going on, I had stopped reading it and my mom returned it on Kindle Unlimited again. Mooooom. (Wink).

I started two new stories this week on the blog. I’m not sure I’ll share from both stories each week or not. I had one criticism that the chapter of the second story was too long. I deleted the comment because I keep getting rude comments from this same person. Just a reminder: I’m not forcing anyone to read the fiction I share on my blog or anything on my blog. If you think a chapter is too long, or a story is boring, don’t read it. It’s fairly simple. As simple as scrolling by on Facebook if you don’t like what someone has written.

I shared the first chapter of Fully Alive on Thursday and the first chapter of The Farmer’s Daughter on Friday.

Last week I also shared some photos I’ve taken over the years at our house and some laughs with Alice, the fictional advice columnist from our local weekly hometown newspaper. I also shared some advice I needed for myself about where to find our longterm peace.

I’m very behind on my blog reading, mainly because of the move and all the drama that went with it, partially because of my parents’ WiFi. When their WiFi is working, I’ll be certain to get caught up on some my favorite bloggers (you know who you are).

I hope most of your lives are much calmer and delightful compared to mine this past week, despite all that is going on in the world.

Give me some ideas for books, something to watch (if the WiFi is having a good day here, or if you have something I can watch on cable, which my parents have at least), or let me know what is up with you (even if it is depressing. It’s okay. You don’t have to cheer me up. I’ll figure that out on my own eventually!)




Sunday Bookends: Light romances, what the kids are reading, and unrealistic TV shows

Since this weekly feature is called “Sunday Bookends” I decided I would actually start off by talking about what books the children and I are reading. I should mention what my husband is reading but he reads a lot of books and I can’t keep up, plus I would have to put in descriptions of them and what he thinks about them and, well, quite frankly, he can just start his own blog for that. Ha.

So, anyhow, my youngest is 5 and she’s “reading”, or actually having read to her, Beezus and Ramona by Beverly Cleary.


I read the Ramona books when I was anywhere from 9 to 12 so it’s been years since I’ve read the stories. That’s probably why I forgot that this book would actually be better for my son to read because it’s from the perspective of Beezus, the older sister, who is trying to figure out how to deal with her 4-year old younger sister. Instead of my son reading it, though, I’m reading it to my 5-year old who is getting all kinds of ideas from Ramona’s antics. When I start reading a chapter I issue a warning (or two) to Little Miss.

“We don’t do this in real life, okay?” I tell her. Or, “Don’t you ever invite all of your little friends over for a party without asking me, understand?”

She looks at me with wide eyes and says “Okay,” but I can just see her little wheels turning and I now wonder which mischievous activity of Ramona’s she will choose to emulate. I have been reading the book to her at night before bed, but unlike Paddington, she stays wide awake for Ramona, which has meant some later nights for us both. I’ve decided to start our nightly reading earlier now since my hope of her falling asleep while we are reading has now faded.



My 13-year old is finally reading the fifth book in the Harry Potter series. I say finally because it took him a year to finish the fourth book. It didn’t take him a year because he struggles to read. It took him a year because he kept getting distracted by video games, Legos, and building amazing creations in Minecraft. He finished the fourth book over the last month because I assigned it to him for his English class and this week he will be assigned a book report on it. He’s done a nice job with his last two reports, so I’m sure he’ll do fine with this one, as well.

As soon as he finished book number four, he went looking for the next book in his dad’s collection and spent two hours in his room, lost in Hogwarts instead of Youtube. It was heavenly for this book-loving mother.

As for me, I finished Take a Chance on Me, a novella by Becky Wade and really enjoyed it. Her first official book in that series, The Misty River Romance, is coming out in May and is called Stay with Me. While I wait for that book, I found True to You, the first in her Bradford Sisters Romance series. I am enjoying it so far. Her romances are, as Amazon says, “clean and wholesome,” but written well and not cheesy like other romances can be. Don’t look at me like that. My romances aren’t cheesy. Well, maybe they are, but hey, cheesy is a nice distraction some times.


For those who are interested, I’m including the description for True To You from Amazon (It is currently available for free on Kindle Unlimited if you have a membership).

Winner of the 2018 Christy Award Book of the Year

After a devastating heartbreak three years ago, genealogist and historical village owner Nora Bradford has 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 and Medal of Honor recipient John Lawson is a modern-day man, usually 100 percent focused on the present. But when he’s diagnosed with an inherited condition, he’s forced to dig into the secrets of his past and his adoption as an infant, enlisting Nora to help him uncover the identity of his birth mother.

The more time they spend together, the more this pair of opposites suspects they just might be a perfect match. However, John’s already dating someone and Nora’s not sure she’s ready to trade her crushes on fictional heroes for the risks of a real relationship. Finding the answers they’re seeking will test the limits of their identity, their faith, and their devotion to one another.

As for what I’m watching, I wasted too much time on Granchester and was turned off by how they tried to shove 2020 sensibilities into a show that takes place in the 1950s. I made it into part of Season 2 before I bailed on it. I would have bailed before, but the lead actor’s masculine jawline and cheekbones had me a bit mesmerized.


There were only so many scenes of him drinking his sorrows away with a glass of brandy, a cigarette, and some jazz that I could take. Not only that but this vicar is the most un-vicar like vicar I’ve ever seen. He’s completely ruled by his demons, which is realistic, but I like to watch shows where the main characters learn from his mistakes and this dude never does.

I know that I am supposed to recognize these are flawed human beings who are growing and learning but the main character seemed to repeat the same mistakes over and over with little to no revelation on his part. And I also questioned that he was a vicar but practiced very little of the Bible. In fact, he was almost never conducting the duty of a vicar at all, yet he never got fired.

As for what I was doing this past week, we’ve been packing, cleaning out and all-out panicking about our move in less than three weeks. One day at a time, though. We know it will all work out eventually.


My husband’s car is in the shop and will be there for a long time, based on the price for the repairs, so the kids and I have been pretty much marooned at home. This would drive most people crazy, but as an introvert, I don’t mind having an excuse not to go out into public and deal with – shudder – other people. It has also been made easier by the fact it’s been super rainy and cold this past week. When it warms up and we are stuck without a car to go to the playground, I might start to freak out a little bit. Luckily my husband is home from work early most evenings.

I added three chapters of A New Beginning to blog this week, not wanting to leave my devoted readers on a cliffhanger until next week. I’m also giving copies of the manuscript to friends and family to ask them to proof it and hopefully catch typos so I can publish it on Kindle sometime in April. You can find links to those chapters HERE or at the link at the top of the page under A New Beginning.

So, how are all of you? What have you been reading, watching and doing? Let me know in the comments and if you want to jump onto Sunday Bookends each week, feel free to do so and leave me a link so I can read your weekly review as well.



Sunday Bookends: big house news, books finished, books to start


I finished two books this week. One was a middle school-aged book and the other was an adult book (not that kind of adult book!). The adult book was a library book, the first I’ve actually read in probably 10 years, if not more. Normally I borrow books or read them on Kindle.

The middle school book, The Misadventured Summer of Tumbleweed Thompson by Glenn McCarty was one my son and I read together for his homeschool English. It was a fun book, full of adventure and perfect for every age, but especially 5th to 7th-grade boys.

Tumbleweed Thompson

I helped my son write a book report about it and realized it really is not easy to write a book without giving away the entire plot. Of course, I realize this when I mention books on the blog, as well. I decided I’d share part of my son’s book report to let my readers know what it was all about and why he said he felt sad when he realized he had reached the end of it.

The Misadventured Summer of Tumbleweed Thompson (or M.S.T.T.), a book made for kids about the Wild West, was written by Glenn McCarty and is his second book. This book follows Eugene Appleton and the son of a shady businessman Tumbleweed Thompson. They go adventuring, doing kooky stuff like being tricked into looking for a fake treasure to getting kidnapped.

The story starts when Eugene Appleton was walking in Rattlesnake Junction when he saw Tumbleweed and his dad “performing. After a scandal involving a misunderstanding about what was actually in Mr. Thompson’s tonic, they became friends, despite the fact the tonic worked as a laxative. Eugene, Tumbleweed, and Charlotte (the love interest) go on crazy adventures, but it gets serious. While they are looking in a widow’s old house, they found out robbers were living there with plans to rob a train. The rest of the book is them trying to stop the robbers.

Eugene, Charlotte and Tumbleweed are the main characters of this story. Eugene is smart, brave, and trusts people too much. Tumbleweed is dumb, brave and lies a lot. Charlotte is smart, brave, and a love interest of Eugene and Tumbleweed, who sometimes compete for her attention. Together they try to stop a band of robbers named the No Shave Gang. It’s probably important to say everything is told through the eyes of Eugene.

Well, in conclusion, this book has everything a children’s book should have. It has adventure, interesting characters, and slapstick comedy. I love how three dimensional some of the characters are, take for instance Widow Springfield the local widow whose husband got in trouble with a local gang. The plots and the great description of the locations are on point and make you feel like your really there. If you like stories that make you think this is the book for you. Even if you don’t like thinking, there’s a lot of action.

I also finished Falling Home by Karen White.


The book was well written but was fairly melodramatic and cliche. Since I like books that are melodramatic and cliche, that didn’t make me hate the book but I did find myself rolling my eyes a few times. (Let me clarify that the books I write are also melodramatic and cliche and sometimes I even roll my eyes at my own writing, so this isn’t a negative review 😉 ). I ended up skimming through some of the chapters toward the end because the subject dealt with a very real fear of mine and I couldn’t handle reading about it. White did such a good job of bringing out the emotion of the situation I could immediately see myself in a similar situation. She’s a wonderful writer, but during those chapters, I almost wish she hadn’t been and I could have had an excuse to abandon the novel. I read all the way to the end, even though I had figured out both plot twists well toward the beginning of the novel and I was squirming reading the one plot twist because of the aforementioned personal trigger.

Up on the reading block this week is a book recommended by Erin at Still Life, With Cracker Crumbs: Love Begins at Willow Tree Hall by Alison Sherlock. I’ve started it and so far I’m really enjoying it. It’s a nice light read, which I need right now. The description, according to Goodreads:

51TD7VdahCL (1)

A feel-good love story in a gorgeous country village, perfect for fans of Milly Johnson and Heidi Swain.
Previously published as A House To Mend a Broken Heart.

Willow Tree Hall has been the proud ancestral home of the Cranley family for centuries. But now the house is falling apart, and the elderly Earl is growing too frail to manage it himself.

Annie Rogers is looking for a job that will allow her to disappear. The role of live-in housekeeper to Arthur, Earl of Cranley, and his reluctant heir, Sam Harris, is just perfect. How hard can it be to run a household? But with no qualifications, and Sam criticising her at every turn, Annie suddenly finds herself completely out of her depth.

But it turns out that Sam and Annie have more in common than they think. Both of them are running from their past. And both of them have fallen under the spell of Sam’s beautiful, once-grand home. Maybe, just maybe, together they can save Willow Tree Hall … and bring each other back to life at the same time.

As for what I watched recently, not a lot. I’ve been reading and writing more than watching. I did watch a movie by myself on the recommendation of my brother: About Time, starring Domnhall Gleeson (what a name) and Rachel McAdams. If you don’t recognize Domnhall’s name you might recognize him from the newer Star Wars movies as General Hux:


And if you have children, you might recognize him as Thomas McGregor from the latest adaption of Peter Rabbit:


Or from the Harry Potter as Ron Weasley’s brother Bill (which I added here after my brother reminded me.):


After I saw him in Peter Rabbit, I recognized him in Star Wars I said “Hey! It’s that guy!” Since I don’t know how to pronounce the man’s name, I will most likely say “Hey! It’s that guy!” And honestly, I’ve been saying that a lot lately since he’s been in a lot of movies we have watched recently. When my brother mentioned About Time, I looked it up and said “Hey! It’s that guy!”


Anyhow, the movie was very good (rated R for language, just an FYI if you sit down to watch with the family). The R rating surprised me in some ways because the movie really was pretty clean. I think a couple uses of the f-word were what gave it the R rating. The basic premise is that the main character learns that the male members of his family can go back in time to certain points in their lives to change what happened without changing the timeline drastically, as long as they don’t go back before a child or person is born, which can pretty much mess everything up.

The theme was love in all forms – between couples and family, but especially love between a son and father. Yes, I cried. I cried a lot. I think I damaged a muscle in my cheek from crying toward the end because for the rest of the day a muscle along my cheek and temple jumped.

I will probably be burying myself in books the next few weeks while we deal with the stress of selling and buying a house and moving. Last week someone made an offer on the house and we accepted and hope to have it sold by the beginning of April. We also hope to be able to move into our new house around the same time, if all goes as planned.

Last week on the blog, I shared photos from our winter; wrote about my need to trust in God even when I don’t feel he’s near; and I shared Chapter 20 and Chapter 21of my novel in progress, A New Beginning.

Up on the blog this week will be a post sharing some of my favorite blog posts from the last month and two more chapters of A New Beginning and a post about nightmares in children and adults.

How about you? What are you reading or watching or simply doing this week? Feel free to share in the comments.

This post is part of Readerbuzz’s Sunday Salon and Caffeinated Reviewer’s Sunday Post.