Sunday Bookends: Floods, Plagues, and A New Year of Reading

Here we are in a new year and — yeah.

That’s all I got.

No big goals for me this year.

No big plans.

My goal is simply to survive, while also having some fun.

If that sounds like I’m depressed, don’t worry. I’m not. I’m simply going to take it day by day this year, which is something positive that 2020 taught me.

This week I am recapping two weeks of what I’ve been reading, watching, listening to and doing. My heart really wasn’t in writing last week for many reasons, but partially because Christians can be mean, which I will leave for another day. They (we) can also be lovely, so don’t take the first statement as a broad-brush stroke declaration. Christians are human too, despite my belief to the contrary some days. (The previous sentence is a joke, in case you need me to tell you that.)

What I’m Reading

I have seen a lot of book bloggers and bookstagramers announcing their first read of the new year this year.I never get official about that stuff, since I’m not an actual book blogger. But I have just downloaded And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie into my kindle at the suggestion of my husband so that may be my first book of the new year. I’m also reading Rescue Me by Susan May Warren

I finished Home to Holly Springs this week. It wasn’t my favorite book from Jan Karon’s Mitford series, but it was a very interesting look into the past of her main character Father Timothy Kavenagh. Even though I liked the book, I was disappointed that Jan got stuck in some familiar tropes in this one; one of them a theme that seems to run throughout her books, but I won’t say which theme so I don’t ruin the secret Father Tim learns.

I actually already knew mostof what happened in this book, because I had read about it in subsequent books in the series. I did read some reviews on Amazon for Home to Holly Springs out of curiosity once I finished it and found that and a lot of Karon fans did not enjoy it because it strayed from the usually cheerful Mitford stories. There was much less humor in this book as it dealt with some tougher topics, including racism, rape, adultery, and Father Tim’s decades long anger toward his father.

The book dragged in a few parts. Those parts involved very long storytelling dialogue by side characters, which were fairly unncessary for the plot of the book. I “fast forwarded” through my Kindle to push through those parts. Those sections aside, the book was well written and kept me interested long enough to find out what happened. I think the pages and pages of dialogue between Father Tim and people he met during his return to his hometown of Holly Springs could have been eliminated. The characters weren’t integral to the story whatsoever and I didn’t need to know their backstories through long winded conversations.

The ending of the book was lot like the Lord of the Rings movies for me – it could have and should have ended a lot earlier than it did.

The thing about Jan’s books, though, is that you really do feel like you’re getting to know her characters even through the long and rambling conversations or mundane details. In other words, even though there are times you want to say “Okay..move along already, Jan,” you also find yourself feeling like you are sitting in a cozy living room listening to your elderly relatives chat after Christmas dinner. Or maybe I just feel that way because Jan’s characters are mainly from North Carolina and my mom’s family is from there as well so that is what Christmas’ were like in my childhood.

I put Maggie by Charles Martin on the back burner when I was reading Home to Holly Springs and Shepherd’s Abiding by Karon and A Christmas Carol by … well, you know who, I don’t have to tell you, (by the way, don’t ever Google his life story. Yikes.) in December. I hope to finish Maggie this week because I really am enjoying it, though I know some tough parts are coming up in it.

What I’m Watching

We finally watched Alfred Hitchcocks Rope last week and it stressed me out!

I was cringing and squirming even without any gore or violence. It was all psychological, as Hitchcock’s films are, and my psyche took a direct hit while watching it. I recommend it. Highly.

We’ve also been watching Murdoch Mysteries for the last couple of weeks and this past week we watched all three Christmas specials and enjoyed them. They are fairly light mysteries that are often easy to solve and that’s just fine with me and my husband. It’s about all our brains can handle at this point with all the other craziness in the world.

We also watched a couple episodes of Lovejoy, which I always seem unable to follow the plot of for some reason, but am still entertained by.

This past week we started Doc Martin which made my husband and I realize we watch a lot of British shows and movies because pretty much every British actor we’ve ever seen in any British show has been on this show at one point or another. We were hooked in the first episode, breezed through the first season and are now into the second.

What’s Been Occuring

My husband has a scanner app on his phone now to keep track of any emergencies he might have to cover for work in the evenings and on weekends. Hearing the tones drop sent waves of anxiety rolling through me, even though some of the situations weren’t even life threatening.

On Christmas Eve we had to listen to the scanner because our area was under a flood watch. After receiving 24 inches of snow the week before, it rained steady all day Christmas Eve, washing the snow into the rivers and streams around us, of which there are a lot. Rivers and streams continued to rise on Christmas Day and then temps dropped fast. It made for some interesting travel situations but also some interesting situations for people along the river who had to flee from their homes on Christmas. In the end, there was no major flooding.

Christmas Eve I kept an eye on the street down below our house, wondering if the pond in town would flood across it. It didn’t. Then we thought snow on the rain covered roadway might keep us from visiting my parents, but it didn’t. In the end, the calamity I expected to highjack our Christmas didn’t come.

We were able to spend the day with my parents, but did leave early as the temperatures dropped so we wouldn’t be driving the five miles to our house in the dark and possibly hit black ice.

My parents bought new bikes for both of the children, which was a total surprise for them. They will love riding the bikes as soon as their hands won’t freeze to the handle bars when they go outside. Winter had been mild to begin with but colder temps seem to be here to stay.

I think one of the more poignant moments of our Christmas break this year was when we listened to Linus’ speech on A Charlie Brown Christmas where he told everyone what Christmas is really about. In case you’ve forgotten, I found that clip on YouTube.

This past week we didn’t do much of anything at all other than a game night at my parents.

We will start school again tomorrow with some new curriculum for both kids, but especially Little Miss who will start a new Kindergarten curriculum. In some educational areas she is beyond Kindergarten curriculum and in others she almost beyond it or way beyond it. Verbally and cognitively she’s at a sixth grade level or beyond, so most days it’s like living with a 6-year old going on 16-year old.

She has some issues with her letters but over the break she seemed to be getting a lot better at recognizing her letters by typing out what she wanted to name things in Minecraft. Who says video games can’t be educational? But all of that school stuff is something I’ll have to ramble about in a future Homeschool update post, which I have already started drafting.

So that’s my weekly (but actually two week) review. What have you been up to lately? Let me know in the comments.

Sunday Bookends: Special Christmas Music, Christmas books, and More Snow

Welcome to another Sunday Bookends where I share what I’m reading, watching, writing, eating, seeing, smelling — no, wait. Only what I’m reading, watching, writing, sometimes what I’m listening to and a little about what we’ve been up to. Feel free to let me know what you’ve been up to in the comments.

What I’m Reading

I am reading A Christmas Carol with my son for school (we will be reading Lord of the Flies and To Kill A Mockingbird next semester and already read another classic – Silas Marner.)

I’m also enjoying a slow read through Home to Holly Springs by Jan Karon and Maggie by Charles Martin, but will take a break from them this week to read A Shepherd’s Abiding by Jan Karon because it has a sweet Christmas theme.

What I’m Watching/Have Watched

I watched a really stupid, cringe-worthy movie on Amazon prime that I had to fast forward through part of because the acting was pretty bad but then also cried through – and not because the acting was bad.

It was called Holiday Switch and the whole premise was that this woman was unhappy with her life with her poor husband and kids and when she runs into her rich ex-boyfriend, she wonders what her life would have been like if she married him instead. She bumps her head and crawls in a — hang in here with me — a dryer and comes out in an alternate life where she would have been married to the ex-boyfriend instead of the current husband. Long story short, she discovers life with the boyfriend wouldn’t have turned out like she had hoped, even with all that extra money. While in the “other life” she runs into her real life husband and children and falls apart at the idea that the don’t know her and her real husband is married to another woman.

I’m sure my having a sinus headache and being very tired had nothing to do with me crying while this poor woman cried, thinking about how awful my life would be if I didn’t have my family (kids and husband) and holding my kids in vice grips while I sobbed into their hair. They were so bewildered, poor things.

“I love you too, Mom,” The Boy said, adding quickly to ruin the mood, as he always does, “The cat scratched my nipple last night.”

With that mood ruined, I sent him off to do the schoolwork he’d skipped doing when I gave the kids a snow day on Thursday (more about that later).

Sunday night we watched a livestream of The Chosen Christmas Special on Youtube. It’s still available on Youtube but it will also be shown on some Christian cable networks on Christmas and Christmas Eve. It will also be on TBN on Christmas at 8:00 PT/9pm MT/10pm CT/11pm ET and on UPtv: December 24th @ 4:30pm PT/5:30pm MT/6:30pm CT/ 7:30pm ET.

You can still watch the livestream on Youtube and I highly recommend it and staying until they show The Shepherd, which was a short film Dallas Jenkins (writer and director of The Chosen) made for his church, before he made the series. Season 2 of The Chosen is supposed to start airing sometime around Easter, I believe.

This upcoming week we will watch The Man Who Invented Christmas, which is a movie about Charles Dicken’s and how he created A Christmas Carol. It’s a fun movie that I am sure ‘takes liberties’ with the real story, but is more entertaining than seeing yet another retelling of the story. We are watching it because my son is reading A Christmas Carol for English and is scheduled to finish it this week. He’s cheating some by listening a reading of it and earlier in the week he tried to do that while playing a game on the Playstation. I have informed him that’s not how school works and he can play games after his work is done. Homeschooling is not for the faint of heart.

What’s Been Occurring

As I mentioned yesterday in my Photos of the Week post, we had 24 inches of snow dumped on us Wednesday into Thursday. We spent the rest of the week digging out. Or I should say, my husband spent the rest of the week digging out. I really didn’t help at all other than making a couple lunches and dinners and cheering him on. Towns about 40 minutes north of us ended up with between 3 and 4 feet of snow.

I shared the majority of the photos yesterday, but will share a few here as well .

One adventure I didn’t mention yesterday was that one of our neighbors actually tipped her car over the embankment leading to their house during the beginning of the storm. It was almost completely tipped on it’s side. My neighbors and I watched in horror as her car slid sideways, (slowly thankfully) and ended up on it’s side and she had to be lifted from the car through the passenger side door. My neighbors had been on their way to help her get unstuck from the snow next to the long driveway and I was looking out the window, getting ready to head out to see how I could help (which would have been very little, I imagine), which is how we watched it all unfold.

It was surreal to see a car of that size and weight move like a matchbox car and tip over. Thankfully she was fine, the car was able to be pulled upright about a half an hour later, and all ended well. I did not take photos of the incident, even though I was sorely tempted since I had never seen a car end up tipped like that without completely tipping over.

This is our first winter at our new house, but I grew up a few miles from the town we now live in so I’m used to the heavier snow the county we now live in can get. This area had not had two feet of snow dumped on it during one storm in quite a while, though, so the neighbors assured us this isn’t the norm for our little hill. I asked my neighbor, “Are you ready for the snow?”

He said he was but when I said, “This is our first snowstorm up here. I’m sure it will be fine,” he looked a little worried and said, “Well, two feet is a lot of snow.”

At that point the Weather Service was telling us we could get anywhere from 8 to 20 inches, so they didn’t even seem to know what to expect.

My neighbor’s apparent lack of confidence that the storm wouldn’t be so bad made me a little nervous, but we still tried to anticipate the storm with some sense of wonder and excitement. We had worried we would lose power (aka WiFi!) but somehow we didn’t. We live in a more rural area than we had for the last 18 years and while digging out of snow can be a downside, we still love our new house, our new neighbors, and are glad we made the move.

We’re even glad we made the move when we are chasing our six month old kitten out through two feet of snow (three foot snow drifts in some places) or digging our happy puppy out a spot in the backyard where she can use the bathroom.

This upcoming week we might get some more nasty weather on Christmas Eve and Christmas day but not 2 feet. That we know of anyhow.

We don’t have anything too exciting planned for the week. There will be three days of school for the kids before a week long break, making sausage balls with my mom one day (in memory of my aunt Dianne), making homemade pizzas on Christmas Eve, and then spending Christmas with my parents.

What I’m Writing

I will not be writing as many blog posts in the upcoming weeks as I have lately. Posting a blog post a day for a week was a personal challenge, but I don’t have as much to write about this next week (lucky for all of you, huh?!).

I’m still working on editing The Farmer’s Daughter and am starting a couple of other stories that are connected to The Tanner’s story.

On the blog last week I wrote a lot (too much), but couple of them I didn’t write myself:

Photos of the Week (our first little snowstorm)

Victorian Reading Challenge

Want A Way to Delete Your Facebook And Never Look Back?

My Grandfather’s Pipe (written by my husband) (By the way, he says ‘thank you’ to all those who commented on it. He doesn’t always hear feedback on his columns unless a reader disagrees with him and wants to complain.)

Fiction Friday: The Secrets We Hold

Photos of the Week: Now That’s a Lot of Snow ( I had two Photos of the Week because I am moving Photos of the Week to Saturday. I think. Maybe. We’ll see.)

So that was my week in review, what was your week like? Let me know in the comments and if I don’t talk to you again before the end of the week, have a Merry Christmas!

Sunday Bookends: Death Comes to Pemberly, Books finished and Snowy Days

Welcome to another Sunday Bookends where I share what I’m reading, watching, writing, eating, seeing, smelling — no, wait. Only what I’m reading, watching, writing, sometimes what I’m listening to and a little about what we’ve been up to. Feel free to let me know what you’ve been up to in the comments.

What I’m Reading

I finished Wild Montana Skies by Susan May Warren last week. It was a good book and I will read the next one in the series, Rescue Me, when I get it. I’m waiting for a used paperback of it to come in the mail.

I decided I wanted to hold and read a paperback again. Christianbook.com had a huge Cyber Sale last week (it ends tomorrow, December 7) and they had a few books on sale, but they also had a Fiction Mystery Box for 93 percent off ($9.99) and it included ten Christian fiction books from a variety of genres (romance, Amish romance, suspense, thrillers and general). I won’t list them all here, but there were a couple from authors I’ve been wanting to try so I’m sure I’ll mention them in future Sunday Bookends posts.

This week I plan to read a Christmas novella by Julie Klassen called An Ivy Hill Christmas, keep reading Death Without Company by Craig Johnson, and Maggie by Charles Martin. Yes, these are all very different books from each other. That’s how I roll in book reading and in life. I’m very eclectic. And sarcastic.

What the Family is Reading

My husband is going to start Night World by F. Paul Wilson this week, which he said is a reread for him. My son is reading World War Z (a book about zombies and please don’t ask who told him he could read that. No, it wasn’t this parent.). My daughter is having Paddington Races Ahead by Michael Bond read to her and then we plan to finish up How to Explain Christmas to Chickens by John Spiers from My Life With Gracie.

What I’m Watching/Watched

This past week I watched Death Comes to Pemberley twice, once by myself and once with my husband. It was a three part mini-series made in 2014 and based on a book by P.D. James. It continues the story of Jane Austen’s Elizabeth Bennett and Fitzwilliam Darcy (swoon! Mr. Darcy!) by Pride and Prejudice in an imaginative retelling and continuation that involves a murder in Pemberley Woods.

I thoroughly enjoyed that when I watched it again when my husband was in the room, he got wrapped up in it.

I had to give him the entire background of Pride and Prejudice, which was fun, and it was also fun to watch him talk to the characters.

“Don’t do that. No! Your just a young girl that made a mistake!”

“So, they’re saying he hadn’t slept with her all those years and then he knocked her up that one time?”

It was as entertaining to watch him as it was the show.

This triggered a couple of days of watching Jane Austen based movies including Northanger Abbey on Amazon, which was also very good. I don’t know if any of this will encourage me to actually read Jane Austen, but we shall see.

I’ve now started Beechum House and was hooked in the first episode.

What’s Been Occurring

Cold weather kept us inside most of the week. The only trips we took out of the house involved chasing our six-month old kitten outside in the snow when she escaped the house. She’s still very young so we don’t want her out where a racoon, coyote, or fox could eat her or she could be run over. She’s delighted to run out the door but then completely freaks out once she’s outside, losing her mind and dashing from our front bushes, to under our van, to the neighbor’s bushes and front porch, to our front porch — back and forth until we’re all breathing hard and she looks like she might pass out. Little Miss and I spent 15 minutes in the snow chasing her one day and then I spent a few minutes another evening, but finally gave up because I needed to cook dinner. The Boy eventually brought her inside.

After snow fell another day, Little Miss went outside and made mini-snowmen. We know winter has come when we open our freezer and see mini-snowmen sitting there. It seems to be a winter tradition. Another tradition for us is to try to make a gingerbread house, which almost always end up in a disaster. As usual, the house looked pretty awful, but the kids had fun making it.

What I’m Writing

I did not write a lot of blog posts last week because I am working on finishing revisions for The Farmer’s Daughter and have also started The Farmer’s Son and another yet to be titled book about Liz, Molly’s friend.

I did share a blog post about novel writing called Creatively Thinking: When You’re Okay Not Writing Deep and Praiseworthy Books and two chapters of The Farmer’s Daughter.

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

Sunday Bookends: Warmer weather, comfort reading, and the boy turns 14

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 read through a sappy romance last week, which I enjoyed, and for a change of pace I’m reading another Longmire book by Craig Johnson. I’m also reading A Cat Who book, and I haven’t forgot Maggie by Charles Martin. I’m reading whichever one that fits the particular mood I’m in on whatever day.

What I’m Watching

I needed to go back to the basics this week so I watched a couple of sappy Signed, Sealed, Delivered movies from Hallmark and several episodes of The Andy Griffith Show.

What’s Been Occurring

Warmer weather hit our area again this week, which was a welcome surprise since I wasn’t really paying attention to what the weather was supposed to be. We used the warm days to run around our yard with the dog and take my daughter’s school outside to have some fun learning a few sight words.

Other than getting outside a few times, we didn’t do a lot this week except for celebrate my son’s 14th birthday on Saturday. He and his dad went to an actual mall and a Chick-Fil-A, my son’s first trip to one. For some reason he’s been obsessed with going to a Chick-fil-A for a few years and we finally found one about an hour and a half from us. I tried not to sit and reflect how fast the last 14 years have gone this week but it hit me a little hard one night and I cried for about 15 minutes. My son hugged me and promptly ruined the moment by farting. I could say that he only developed this inappropriate farting only when he became a teenager, but that’s not true. He’s always farted away sweet moments, even as a newborn. Of course, when he was a newborn his farts were cute. Not so much anymore.

Notice: The next paragraphs were written early in the week before any announcements about the election so this is not a reflection of who was chosen and is related to my frustration with all politics. I am truly at peace about outcomes, which I mention below. Also this is not so much about politics as it is an opinion on how it makes people act!

Later in the week, I had to stop looking at the news because of the absolute vitrol coming from a variety of different people on all sides of the political spectrum — all of them claiming to be kinder and nicer than the others. Newsflash: if you are telling people you hope they die and their children are raped and murdered, you’re not a kind person, I don’t care what party you are a part of. You’re a mentally ill person. Period.

After a couple of days of reading these comments go back and forth and even watching so-called journalists (from a variety of “news” outlets) use the same language (FYI: there are no longer journalists left. Only commentators.), I had to back away because I had sunk into a very deep depression.

This is the world my children are being brought up in. The world that says it’s normal to spit in the face of people and call that normal, threaten the lives of those you don’t agree with, and childishly scream at each other when you are in your 70s. I say if you want to disagree or peacefully assemble, that’s fine, but keep your spit and your threats to yourself — no matter what party you allign yourself with. And I have seen it coming from people who allign with both this past week. It’s so bad I’m about to declare myself an independent. I don’t want to be associated with either of the major parties.

It’s like the whole world has gone mad.

I’m not sure how to explain that world to my children so I don’t allow the news to be on around them or near them these days.

If it hadn’t been for the warmer and sunnier weather, plus reminding myself of the post I wrote last week (and having other Christians remind me online of similiar sentiments) I probably would have slipped even deeper into depression.

What I’m Writing

I’m gutting The Farmer’s Daughter right now and didn’t share any chapters this past week. It’s not like people are clammoring to find out what happens (haha!) so I’m sure missing a week or two isn’t a big deal. Who is going to notice, right? Not really anyone.

I renamed Quarantined on Kindle because the book isn’t about quarantine really. It’s about relationships rekindling so I went back to what I had originally called it on here “Rekindle” and re-posted it on Amazon with a new cover as well. Republishing it removed the lovely review that had been written for it and that annoys me, but I had to rebrand it because I figure there are a lot of people who are like me and are sick of hearing about quarantines and lock downs and all of that jazz.

Photos of the Week has been moved to Monday for this week.

How was your week? Reading or watching anything interesting? Let me know in the comments.

Sunday Bookends: When ‘best selling’ authors are a total let down; taking the dog to the groomers; and the perils of living in a rural 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.

What Has Been Occurring

Tuesday morning I woke about the time my husband was leaving for work and sent him a text instead of leaving my warm bed, to tell him I loved him and to have a good day. When I closed my eyes to try to go back to sleep (but never did), I thought about the winding road he drives on to get to work and how it’s made even more dangerous by the threat of deer running out in front of cars and large water trucks taking up more than half of the already narrow road. I prayed for his safety and dozed for a few more moments before starting my day.

Little Miss and I took Zooma the Wonderdog to a local groomers so at the end of the day, when Hubby pulled into the driveway, I let the dog out so he could see her new “do”. The kitten snuck out at the same time and I was chasing her when I noticed my husband was looking very annoyed at the front of his car, taking photos of it with his phone. I knew that wasn’t a good sign. When I saw the smashed in windshield I hugged him and told him I was glad he was alive. More than one fatal accident in our area has been caused by a deer going all the way through a front windshield so the fact he was still standing meant more to me than having to figure out how to pay to fix the damage. The deer hit the left fender, rolled up over the windshield and the top of the car and my husband thinks it kept going. All he knows is that he didn’t see if after that.

Our insurance claimed we had some huge deductible so they won’t cover any of the repairs. Par for the course in our life. We will deal with the repair somehow. I’m just glad we didn’t have hospital expenses or a funeral on top of the car damage.

Other than that, our week was fairly routine and very boring. It was so boring I didn’t even pick up my camera this week so the only photos you’ll have for this week are from the smashed windshield. I would share with you the photos of how awful our dog looks after going to the groomers but one, she looks awful, (little tiny head and huge body because it was the like the groomer only half did the job), and two, I haven’t been able to get her to sit still long enough to get it. My pups long hair I love was pretty much butchered and we’ve decided we will do her grooming from now on.

What I’m Reading

I read a Fannie Flagg book last week and to say I was underwhelmed is an understatement. I was totally shocked at how the entire book “told” a story but never “showed” anything. There were no character descriptions and the dialogue was like I was reading Fannie’s outline for the book. It was like reading a tenth grade book report instead of an actual book. It was just the oddest thing because she’s a New York Times best seller and I couldn’t figure out how based on this book. The story was good, but the telling of it was…well, just a “telling.”

The book was The All-Girls Filling Station Last Reunion. The premise was truly interesting, but the way she just stated the story instead of showing us what happened was so strange. I think maybe she sent her outline for the novel and the publisher accidentally published it and was too embarassed to admit their mistake and retract it.

Listen, I’m not the best writer either but this read like a teenager telling a blow-by-blow telling of their day. In fact, most teenagers could have added more feeling and description to this novel than Fannie did.. Fannie Flagg, as sweet as she seems in real life, should have hired someone to add descriptions and inflections to her novel to make the reader really feel like they were there instead of feel like tey were being presented an oral pesenation on how paint dries.

So, the bottom line? I agreed with this Amazon review: “Although the story was good, the writing was amateur, which is surprising. Fannie Flagg has been one of my favorite writers, but this book was a complete let down. In good writing, the reader gets lost in the story, with no sense of the fact that he or she is in a fictional world. As I read this novel, I was aware at all times of the writing. The character development was often trite and under developed. There was far too much telling of the story–and not nearly enough showing. The story had potential, and with more development, could have been fabulous. Unfortunately, it just fell short.

This doesn’t mean I’ll never try Fannie Flagg again, of course. She’s a good storyteller (She wrote the book that the movie Fried Green Tomatoes was based on) and maybe this book was just a fluke.

I’m still reading Silas Marner and guess what? Once I got over Elliot’s tendency to “over describe” (I know, first I complain about an author that never describes and then I complain about one that describes too much. I’m never happy), and the older language (the book was written in 1861), I got caught up in the story and have been enjoying it. Unfortunately, because the language is a little more of a challenge than the other books I’ve been reading, I can’t read it late at night or I fall asleep. I feel bad I complained about it last week, and the week before, as if I was suffering through reading it. The story really is interesting. There is something for everyone in this one — romance (of sorts), a sweet story about an outcast who wants to adopt a little girl, a traitourous brother, a family scandal and family secrets.

The Boy and I are reading this as part of his Economics/English curriculum (from Notgrass) and he has gotten so into the story he’s been reading ahead of what I assign to him, which is fine by me. I like to see him engaged in something other than Minecraft or Harry Potter (though I don’t mind either of them. I just like that he’s broadening his horizons.).

As if I don’t have enough to read I’m also finishing Charles Martin’s book, which I mentioned last week, and just started Expired Refuge (Last Chance County Book One) by Lisa Phillps.

What I’m Watching

My husband and I watched a couple more episodes of Shakespeare & Hathaway Season 3 on Britbox and last night we watched Death on the Nile, a Hercule Poirot movie from 2004 staring Emily Plunt and David Suchet (who is well known for playing Poirot from 1989 to 2013.). This version of Death on the Nile was a television movie. A remake is being released this year starring Gal Gadot and Kenneth Branagh. See it in a theater near — oh, never mind. See it on your TV later this year.

For those who don’t know, Shakespeare & Hathaway is a fairly light crime show about a private detective team. They became a team sort of by accident. The woman, Luella Shakespeare, came to PI Frank Hathaway, to find out if her fiance is cheating on her. After the investigation the two become a team as she goes into business with him. It’s a fairly formuliac show, but I still like it and the reporte between the two main characters. Sebastian, Frank’s assistant, makes the show even better.

I’m also watching some rather sappy Hallmark movies. I’d rather not talk about that, though.

What I’m Writing

I’m still working on The Farmer’s Daughter (even though I did not share a chapter on Friday, but instead lamented on how I’m hating the story right now) and on Tuesday Quarantined, the novella, will publish on Amazon. On the blog I published:

Faithfully Thinking: Keep Your Eyes Focused on Christ, Not on the Storm;

Randomly Thinking: Pets are Trying to Kill us and Are Cats Inherhently Evil? I Say Yes.

and I shared a guest blog post on Blessings by Me about ways to support your immunity.

As I mentioned above, I don’t have any Photos of the Week this week but will be sure to take some this week to share for next week.

How about you? What’s been happening in your life? What are you reading, watching, writing, listening to, etc.? Let me know in the comments.

Sunday Bookends on Monday: Fannie Flagg, Hallmark movie distractions, and playing in leaves

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.


The plan to walk among books, touching them, looking at them, choosing some to take home was thwarted Saturday by the memorial service of a sweet 90-year old man who had attended the church I grew up in. He and his tough-talking Bronx-born wife were both piano players who often performed together for local senior groups and others. I last saw them play together about a year ago at my husband’s great-aunt’s 90th birthday party.

It was delightful and mesmorizing to watch them perform, no music in front of them, playing by memory and for Ernie, the husband, by ear. Saying ‘good-bye’ to Ernie here on earth was more important than going to the local library’s fundraising book sale and I’ll have to wait for another time when I can walk among books again. (As we all know, that could be a very long time.)

The memorial service, combined with a week where I didn’t feel particularly motivated to write blog posts, kept me from drafting a Sunday Bookends post for yesterday.

It seemed like every time my mom would call the last couple of weeks, she would tell me someone had died. As soon as she would deliver the bad news, my husband would deliver more bad news with some tragedy or one night the death of a man who was a cornerstone of the community we lived in for 18 years. It’s gotten to the point I’m almost afraid to answer the phone because I figure it’s Mom telling me about someone else’s death.

Despite the depressing news, I was able to drag myself out of depression most days by working on The Farmer’s Daughter, reading a couple of different books, and watching and making fun of some really stupid Hallmark movies.

What I’m Reading

I finished Courtney Walsh’s Just Like Home. So, yeah. I finished it. I should stop there, but I’ll share a couple thoughts instead. First, Courtney is a really good writer, but second, I’ve never seen one romance book use every single romance book trope imaginable not only throughout the entire book, but especially in the last five chapters. Despite not enjoying the use of all those tropes and what felt like a very predictable, rushed ending, the book was a nice distraction from, well, life.

I have not yet finished Silas Marner — again, I should keep my mouth shut, but I won’t because I seriously am baffled how George Elliott is considered an amazing writer. Her run-on sentences make me have vivid flashbacks to the year I had to reach John Steinbeck in high school.

This week I continued reading Down Where My Love Lives, which includes two books (The Dead Don’t Dance and Maggie) by Charles Martin. I’m curious who published this collection because on Kindle the book cover reads The Dead Don’t Dance, but the index reads “The Death Don’t Dance.” It was the second typo I’d seen in a book published by a big name publisher in a week. Despite that odd typo, the book is very good, although slightly depressing and heavy at this point.

Here is a description of the first for those who might be interested:

A sleepy rural town in South Carolina. The end of summer and a baby about to be born. But in the midst of hope and celebration comes unexpected tragedy, and Dylan Styles must come to terms with how much he’s lost. Will the music of his heart be stilled forever—or will he choose to dance with life once more, in spite of sorrow and heartbreak?

The Dead Don’t Dance is a bittersweet yet triumphant love story—a tale of one man’s journey through the darkness of despair and into the light of hope.

Maggie, is the sequel to The Dead Don’t Dance, but I won’t add the description because it’s a major spoiler for the first book. These are Charles Martin’s first two books and he is now a multiple-time New York Times Bestselling author (which my husband says really doesn’t matter anymore considering how far down the NYT has fallen in the journalism world.).

I’m also reading a hardcover of Fannie Flagg’s The All Girl’s Filling Station’s Last Reunion that I reserved at the library, and am enjoying it so far. My mom warned me the book might be “dirty” because she said one she’d read by her before had had something “dirty” in it, but so far the book has had no dirt and only one swear word and I’m half way through it. I did find a typo in it, which made me feel better about my typos, considering this was edited was by a large publishing firm.

For those who might be interested, here is a description:

The one and only Fannie Flagg, beloved author of Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe, Can’t Wait to Get to Heaven, and I Still Dream About You, is at her hilarious and superb best in this new comic mystery novel about two women who are forced to reimagine who they are.

Mrs. Sookie Poole of Point Clear, Alabama, has just married off the last of her daughters and is looking forward to relaxing and perhaps traveling with her husband, Earle. The only thing left to contend with is her mother, the formidable Lenore Simmons Krackenberry. Lenore may be a lot of fun for other people, but is, for the most part, an overbearing presence for her daughter. Then one day, quite by accident, Sookie discovers a secret about her mother’s past that knocks her for a loop and suddenly calls into question everything she ever thought she knew about herself, her family, and her future.

Sookie begins a search for answers that takes her to California, the Midwest, and back in time, to the 1940s, when an irrepressible woman named Fritzi takes on the job of running her family’s filling station. Soon truck drivers are changing their routes to fill up at the All-Girl Filling Station. Then, Fritzi sees an opportunity for an even more groundbreaking adventure. As Sookie learns about the adventures of the girls at the All-Girl Filling Station, she finds herself with new inspiration for her own life.

What I’ve Been Watching

Last week I watched The Outsider with Tim Daly and Naomi Watts. It’s classified as a Western/Romance by Google. Filmed in 2002, it was fairly clean but also pretty unbelievable in some parts. It’s a movie, though, so we’ll let those parts slide. Daly was — quite honestly — hot in this movie. It completely erased my memories of him on Wings and made me wonder why he didn’t do more acting in movies. After I saw some clips about it YouTube, I discovered Hallmark had edited the sex scene out on the Amazon app. Yes, I signed up for the Hallmark channel on Amazon for a month and I’m somewhat regretting it at his point. I regret it when I watch movies made from about 2010 on because they are so cheesy, predictable and horribly acted. Luckily The Outsider featured some strong acting and I was able to stomach it enough to not fast forward the majority of it.

My husband and I are continuing to watch Murdoch Mysteries and we were also thrilled they are adding episodes of Shakespeare and Hathaway’s third season on Britbox (another Amazon offer). There are two up and they are apparently adding a new one every Tuesday. Both of these shows are fairly clean, simple, formulaic mystery/crime shows. We’ve been finding these types of shows are about all our brains can handle with all the weirdness of the world going on around us.

What I’ve Been Writing

I finished making changes in Quarantined so that I can publish it on Kindle on October 20 and continued writing The Farmer’s Daughter, sharing another chapter on the blog this week. Thursday I answered a question if Quarantined was a horror book or a romance.

So what have you been doing, reading, or watching? Let me know in the comments.

Photos of the Week:

I have less photos this week. I didn’t take as many. There is one in here of a chipmunk that was watching us from a hole in a tree in my parent’s yard while we played in the leaves Sunday. It cracked me up how he just sat there, acting like we couldn’t see him while he hid from our dog and watched us. He eventually escaped to hide under a storage shed.

Sunday Bookends: Changing leaves, Hadley Beckett is not a boy, and Matthew Macfayden is no Colin Firth

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

How awkward it was when I ordered a book for my birthday and thought that the main character was a man because I was too clueless to know that the name Hadley is a girl’s name. Ha! But truthfully, I didn’t care what sex of the main character was because so far I have enjoyed both of Bethany W. Turner’s other books and knew I would enjoy this one too. I enjoyed Hadley Beckett’s Next Dish as much as Wooing Caddie McCaffery and more than The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenback (though that was a fun one too).

This book followed the same “formula” so to speak as Wooing Caddie McCaffery, with one chapter written in the first person and focusing on Hadley Beckett, the sweet Southern belle chef, and cooking show host, and the next being written in the third person and focusing on the unlikely love interest of chef world cad Max Cavenaugh. I am not usually a fan of books that switch point of view once you get into it but Bethany does it in such a creative way I don’t mind it with her books. It’s her style and it works for her. I probably wouldn’t try it with another author.

For those who might be interested in the book, here is the Goodreads description:

Celebrity chef Maxwell Cavanaugh is known for many things: his multiple Michelin stars, his top-rated Culinary Channel show To the Max, and most of all his horrible temper. Hadley Beckett, host of the Culinary Channel’s other top-rated show, At Home with Hadley, is beloved for her Southern charm and for making her viewers feel like family.

When Max experiences a very public temper tantrum, he’s sent packing to get his life in order. When he returns, his career in shambles, his only chance to get back on TV and in the public’s good graces is to work alongside Hadley.

As these polar-opposite celeb chefs begin to peel away the layers of public persona and reputation, they will not only discover the key ingredients for getting along but also learn the secret recipe for unexpected forgiveness . . . and maybe even love. In the meantime, hide the knives.

Fan-favorite Bethany Turner serves up a heaping helping of humor and romance with this thoroughly modern story centered on cooking, enemies, and second chances. 

Next week I’ll offer my own review of the book in a separate post.

I’ve been trying to find another book to enjoy reading as much as I did Hadley’s story. So far I’m trying different books, looking for the happier reads, and rejecting anything that starts out with tragedy or death. Or if not rejecting, taking my time to read them so I have only small slices of depressing subjects to read. Two books that so far deal with some sad topics but that I’m still trying are Down Where My Love Lives by Charles Martin, which is two novels in one (The Dead Don’t Dance and Maggie.) and Just Like Home by Courtney Walsh. Walsh writes mainly romances so I’m gathering this one is a romance.

For some reason, I am also still pushing through The Cat Who Said Cheese by Lillian Jackson Braun, even though it is terribly boring and isn’t featuring Qwilleran’s cats Koko and Yum-Yum enough.

What I’m Watching

I watched the 2005 version of Pride and Prejudice with a group of sweet romance authors and readers Friday night. We were commenting back and forth about the characters, plot, but mainly the actors or how the movie was directed and that’s when Facebook started blocking us from commenting. Facebook is like a lot of people in this day and age — they ruin everything and take the fun out of life.

Luckily we were all still able to post status updates within the discussion and converse back and forth. Bethany Turner, the author I mentioned earlier in this post, was on with us and hilariously argued that the 2005 version was not as good at the 1995 BBC mini-series, which starred Colin Firth.

I had to agree with Bethany Turner, who is a massive Colin Firth fan, that Matthew Macfayden is no Colin Firth and that I much preferred Colin’s Darcy. All this to say that I’m not necessarily a huge fan of Jane Austen or her movies, but it was fun watching it with a group of women so we could all make fun of the movie, or swoon in some parts, at the same time.

As per our usual pattern of being behind the trend, we finally saw Hamilton on Disney Plus this week as well. We enjoyed it and it is brilliant, but I didn’t like the last half-hour as much as the first two hours. Yes, it was 2 hours and 40 minutes. This was my favorite song, but sadly, I can never listen to it again because it was stuck on a loop in my head all week after watching it. (Sorry ahead of time for the cheesy graphics on this one. It was the only clip of the song I could find.)

What’s Been Occurring

Nothing much has been happening this week. It’s been pretty routine. Homeschool, errands, cooking meals, working on my novella and novel. Blah, blah, blah.

Little Miss has a new friend who she’s been seeing a few times a week. The little girl’s great-grandmother, who lives at the end of our short street, watches her during the week and sometimes on the weekends. I’m glad to have a little friend for my daughter because she hasn’t had any real friends her age for most of her life. I had actually prayed the week before that God would send her some children her age for her to play with. I’m regretting that prayer a little bit because it means walking her back and forth between my house and my neighbors a few times a day, but I’m still glad to see her learning how to play well with others.

It has been nice to watch our trees change from green to brilliant orange, red, and yellow almost overnight. The trees in our backyard were a dull orange at the beginning of the week and by Saturday morning they were on fire with colors.

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

How awkward it was when I ordered a book for my birthday and thought that the main character was a man because I was too clueless to know that the name Hadley is a girl’s name. Ha! But truthfully, I didn’t care what sex of the main character was because so far I have enjoyed both of Bethany W. Turner’s other books and knew I would enjoy this one too. I enjoyed Hadley Beckett’s Next Dish as much as Wooing Caddie McCaffery and more than The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenback (though that was a fun one too).

This book followed the same “formula” so to speak as Wooing Caddie McCaffery, with one chapter written in the first person and focusing on Hadley Beckett, the sweet Southern belle chef, and cooking show host, and the next being written in the third person and focusing on the unlikely love interest of chef world cad Max Cavenaugh. I am not usually a fan of books that switch point of view once you get into it but Bethany does it in such a creative way I don’t mind it with her books. It’s her style and it works for her. I probably wouldn’t try it with another author.

For those who might be interested in the book, here is the Goodreads description:

Celebrity chef Maxwell Cavanaugh is known for many things: his multiple Michelin stars, his top-rated Culinary Channel show To the Max, and most of all his horrible temper. Hadley Beckett, host of the Culinary Channel’s other top-rated show, At Home with Hadley, is beloved for her Southern charm and for making her viewers feel like family.

When Max experiences a very public temper tantrum, he’s sent packing to get his life in order. When he returns, his career in shambles, his only chance to get back on TV and in the public’s good graces is to work alongside Hadley.

As these polar-opposite celeb chefs begin to peel away the layers of public persona and reputation, they will not only discover the key ingredients for getting along but also learn the secret recipe for unexpected forgiveness . . . and maybe even love. In the meantime, hide the knives.

Fan-favorite Bethany Turner serves up a heaping helping of humor and romance with this thoroughly modern story centered on cooking, enemies, and second chances. 

Next week I’ll offer my own review of the book in a separate post.

I’ve been trying to find another book to enjoy reading as much as I did Hadley’s story. So far I’m trying different books, looking for the happier reads, and rejecting anything that starts out with tragedy or death. Or if not rejecting, taking my time to read them so I have only small slices of depressing subjects to read. Two books that so far deal with some sad topics but that I’m still trying are Down Where My Love Lives by Charles Martin, which is two novels in one (The Dead Don’t Dance and Maggie.) and Just Like Home by Courtney Walsh. Walsh writes mainly romances so I’m gathering this one is a romance.

For some reason, I am also still pushing through The Cat Who Said Cheese by Lillian Jackson Braun, even though it is terribly boring and isn’t featuring Qwilleran’s cats Koko and Yum-Yum enough.

What I’m Watching

I watched the 2005 version of Pride and Prejudice with a group of sweet romance authors and readers Friday night. We were commenting back and forth about the characters, plot, but mainly the actors or how the movie was directed and that’s when Facebook started blocking us from commenting. Facebook is like a lot of people in this day and age — they ruin everything and take the fun out of life.

Luckily we were all still able to post status updates within the discussion and converse back and forth. Bethany Turner, the author I mentioned earlier in this post, was on with us and hilariously argued that the 2005 version was not as good at the 1995 BBC mini-series, which starred Colin Firth.

I had to agree with Bethany Turner, who is a massive Colin Firth fan, that Matthew Macfayden is no Colin Firth and that I much preferred Colin’s Darcy. All this to say that I’m not necessarily a huge fan of Jane Austen or her movies, but it was fun watching it with a group of women so we could all make fun of the movie, or swoon in some parts, at the same time.

As per our usual pattern of being behind the trend, we finally saw Hamilton on Disney Plus this week as well. We enjoyed it and it is brilliant, but I didn’t like the last half-hour as much as the first two hours. Yes, it was 2 hours and 40 minutes.

What’s Been Occurring

Nothing much has been happening this week. It’s been pretty routine. Homeschool, errands, cooking meals, working on my novella and novel. Blah, blah, blah.

Little Miss has a new friend who she’s been seeing a few times a week. The little girl’s great-grandmother, who lives at the end of our short street, watches her during the week and sometimes on the weekends. I’m glad to have a little friend for my daughter because she hasn’t had any real friends her age for most of her life. I had actually prayed the week before that God would send her some children her age for her to play with. I’m regretting that prayer a little bit because it means walking her back and forth between my house and my neighbors a few times a day, but I’m still glad to see her learning how to play well with others.

It has been nice to watch our trees change from green to brilliant orange, red, and yellow almost overnight. The trees in our backyard were a dull orange at the beginning of the week and by Saturday morning they were on fire with colors.

What I’ve Been Writing

I finished Quarantined here on the blog last week and shared a hodge podge of chapters from The Farmer’s Daughter. I’m now in the middle of rewrites and editing of Quarantined with a hopeful publication date of Oct. 10 on Kindle. My husband is both content and line editing it for me and I hope he can do the same after I rewrite and edit The Farmer’s Daughter this winter.

Photos of the Week

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

Description:

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).

Description:

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.””

Ouch.

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.