Sunday Bookends: Unrealistic books, lots of Andy Griffith, banning books and boring days

This is my weekly post where I share what I am reading, watching, writing and occasionally what I am listening to.

What I’m Reading

I’m jumping around to different books right now. I feel like a Christian looking for a new church at this point.

I’ve been bouncing back and forth between And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie, which I am enjoying; a Christian fiction romance called Rescue Me by Susan May Warren, which is so-so; and a Christian suspense book, Northwest Counter-Terrorism Taskforce Book 1 by Lisa Phillips.

Rescue Me is unrealistic in many ways, like most romances (and my books. *wink*).

First of all two of the main characters are stuck on a ledge at one point in a van after an accident, with teenagers and having a heart to heart, flirting session in the front seat. Everyone can hear them. This isn’t the time to be all gushy. The kids have just gone through a a car accident and this is after one of their friends was mauled by a bear a week earlier (but somehow lived) and a few weeks before that stranded in a flood. All of this, mind you, happened under the watch of the same girl who is pouting in this book because the church had decided she shouldn’t be the youth leader anymore. I can’t imagine how they let her take the kids anywhere after the bear mauling and what in the world kind of youth group is this that the go on all day and all night hikes every weekend? It is extremely far fetched to me.

I think the reader is supposed to feel sorry for the main character and hope she gets together with the love interest but I don’t feel sorry for her. Every comment made to her about how stupid she was is justified. Every thought she has that she is awful for being in love with her sister’s boyfriend is spot on. It is rare I dislike the main character from a book I am reading as much as I do this one. I want to throttle her despite her awful upbringing by a crazy woman who took her to live in a commune as a child. In real life some of the supporting characters of this book (her sister, her sister’s boyfriend, the pastor and his wife, and the youth pastor) would have already throttled her.

Despite all the “complaints” here, (I am teasing about most of it) I can’t seem to put the book down and I do want to know what happens. It is still well written and at least my complaints aren’t as rude as one of the negative reviews of it that I read on Amazon.

I couldn’t read the following review without picturing a woman with clenched teeth pounding on her keyboard, seething with absolute jealousy. You have to read it in a really snotty, “Karen” type voice. I also left in all the typos: “Susan apparently lives in a city, and doesn’t use search engines to research her writing. In this book, I had to skim several pages to avoid the absolute ignorance displayed in this book about, well, anything related to mountains, rescue, or climbing. It’s too back the background for the book is RESCUE. It simply ruins the book. The highlights are a group of kids and adults crossing a mountain river WITHOUT A ROPE, which they were carrying, or how about the grizzly 15 feet above a ledge taking a swipe at the rescue folks below (where do I start on that?) who then SPIDER REPEL (for those not in the know. which is everyone but Susan and her editor, it’s repelling head first) . *Clue clenching teeth, pounding keyboard* Clearly Susan should get out, you, know, get a clue, or actually research what she’s poorly attempting to write about. *Cue jealousy and inability to spell…even worse than me* Oh, and Susan, not everyone is beautiful, hansom, capable, and oh so desirable….like ALL of your characters. Oh, wait. Maybe you were writing about Olympus? I hear all the gods and goddesses there are hansom, beautiful, and quite desirable!

Two books I am looking forward to coming out in February are ‘Til I Want No More by Robin W. Pearson:

And a non-fiction book (which I rarely read), Andy Ngo’s Unmasked: Inside Antifa’s Radical Plan to Destroy Democracy, which Antifa is currently trying to get banned from all major bookstores because ya’ know – “freedom of speech ain’t real, ya’ll”.

Their efforts to censor the book was why my husband and I preordered a copy to help it climb up the bestseller list on Amazon. I don’t know, when someone wants to ban something, or squealch free speech, it makes me want to know why. I figure there must be a wee bit of truth in there if certain people are afraid for it to go public. An aside, Andy was beat by Antifa last year while peacefully filming their terroristic activities and left in the hospital with a brain bleed. He’s been covering Antifa as an independent journalist for several years now.

When I heard that thin-skinned people wanted to ban Jordan Peterson’s new book, 12 More Rules for Life, I decided to pre-order that one as well.

I find Jordan Peterson fascinating and I don’t know if I agree with all his observations, but I haven’t heard anything he’s said that should be banned. So I’m looking forward to his book in March and hope to get his first book before it arrives. I like to have hard copies of non-fiction books, that way I can make notes in them if I want to.

I plant to talk about this renewed trend of banning books and other things we don’t like in a post later this week. Should be fun. Will probably step on some toes, but everyone is offended these days so what’s new?

What I’ve Been Watching

I’ve been watching a lot of The Andy Griffith Show, which I watch when the world feels off kilter and I am watching Murdoch Mysteries with the hubs most nights. We are taking a break from Doc Martin. We are still traumatized from “the scene” I mentioned last week (which will from now on be just referred to simply as The Scene) but I am also dreading future episodes becaues I worry that the romance that has been blossoming between Martin and Louisa is just going to implode and make me weepy.

What’s Been Occurring

Nothing has been occurring. Not really anyhow. We’ve been iced or snowed in for a couple of weeks now. We had to escape one day this week because Little Miss was exhibiting symptons of a bladder infection but it turned out she didn’t have one. After some research, we have decided her frequent urination may be caused by stress she is feeling from only friends moving away, from all the world stuff I haven’t done a good enough job sheltering her from, and simply growing pains. It may have also been caused by her drinking more juice than she should have and causing some irritation of her bladder.

The doctor we took her to had no idea and wasn’t very helpful other than saying if it doesn’t clear up we can take her to a specialist. The doctor (who is actually a physician assistant, technically) was very nice, however. The nurse and PA were both nice, even when my daughter looked them straight in the eye and announced, in a very firm, non-emotional tone: “I don’t want to be here.” She was extremely indignant I made her pee in a cup as well, but the nurse was very nice and had me come to the office and pick up the cup so Little Miss could pee into the cup in the comfort of her own home. By Saturday, the issue had started to improve immensely.

What I’m Writing

I started writing The Farmer’s Son this week and I am working on edits/proofreading of The Farmer’s Daughter. On the blog, I rambled out some random thoughts and shared a prologue to The Farmer’s Son for Fiction Friday.

What I’m Listening To

Brandon Lake has a new life album on Apple so I’ve been checking that out and also a new band called CAIN.

So that’s my week in review. How was yours? Let me know in the comments.

Sunday Bookends: Reading Books, Long Old Movies, and Snow . . . Again

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 really enjoying the two books I’m switching back and forth between: Home to Holly Springs by Jan Karon and Maggie by Charles Martin.

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Home to Holly Springs is the story of Jan’s Mitford character Father Tim returning to his hometown to confront his past relationship with his father. While there he will stumble on a family secret that will shatter the view he had of his father and other members of his family. He takes this journey at the age of 70, which puts an entirely different perspective on things for me, thinking about a man at this late stage of his life learning how much of his past was a lie.

It is written in the same charming way Jan writes all her Mitford books. I pretty much love it, in other words, and don’t know why I never read it when it first came out and my husband bought me a beautiful hardcover copy of it for Christmas.

Maggie is the sequel to The Dead Don’t Dance and takes the reader down the road of healing in a marriage and of a couple who suffered the loss of a baby in childbirth. These are the first two books Martin wrote, on his way to becoming a NY Times best seller, and he’s a master writer and storyteller.

Here is a quote from Maggie I really enjoyed: “Love has its own communication. It’s the language of the heart, while it has never been transcribed, has no alphabet, and can’t be heard or spoken by voice, it is used by every human on the planet. It is written on our souls, scripted by the finger of God, and we can hear, understand, and speak it with perfection long before we open our eyes for the first time.”

I don’t have plans for what to read after these two books because I’m just enjoying getting to know the characters in both of them. Maggie is a little heavy in spots,  so I try not to read that one before bed.

What I’m Watching

Last week I watched a movie with my mom. I’ve been trying to do this on Sunday afternoons to give my mom a break from all the politics or news stuff of the world. A little escape for her and me, I guess you’d say. So last week I decided we would watch Anchors Aweigh with Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly (1945). My husband and I had watched it before years ago. Apparently, it was so many years ago that I forgot how blasted long that movie is. It was like the movie that would not end. I mean, it’s pretty entertaining, but how many times do we have to watch a Gene Kelly movie and be subjected to half hour dance scenes. Frankly, I would have preferred to have more scenes with Frank in them, but oh well, Gene was the movie star back then.

My mom has a cataract she will eventually need surgery on, and I always worry it will affect her eyesight but so far it hasn’t. This was proven to me again last week when she noticed in the beginning credits that Dean Stockwell was in the movie. I was like, “How old is that guy that he was in this movie and was still acting in the 90s on Quantum Leap.” I couldn’t imagine who he had played in the movie so, of course, I Googled it, imagining it was a different Dean Stockwell. It wasn’t. It was the actual Dean Stockwell and he played the 5-year old little boy in the movie. Apparently, Dean started as a child star in several big movies of the 40s.

One interview with him that I found said he didn’t enjoy the experience on Anchors Aweigh because he was supposed to be tutored during the filming but was usually only tutored for 15 minutes every few hours and worked 8 to 9 hour days for six days a week at a time. He also didn’t like working with Gene as much as he liked working with Frank, but that’s not new. I’ve read that from other co-stars of his, but Dean said that like most movie stars, Gene didn’t like playing opposite children because the child inevitably got all the attention. He said that Frank didn’t care about that stuff and was more down to earth and had fun with him.

So, there is your movie trivia for the week. If you do choose to watch the movie, just be warned that it is long and to be ready to skip past a few dragged out Gene Kelly dance scenes. You will, of course, want to pause in your fast-forwarding for the infamous scene where he dances with Jerry, the cartoon mouse from Tom and Jerry and any singing scenes with Frank.

While watching the movie my daughter said, “Hey! That guy sounds like that Frank Sinatra we listen to before bed!” She’s never seen a photo of Frank, but we have listened to him before bed almost every night (when we don’t read Paddington) since she was a few months old.

I also watched a couple Hallmark-type movies this weekend but I don’t want to talk about them. They were too stupid to mention.

What I’m Writing

I finished The Farmer’s Daughter last week and then started ripping it to shreds and rewriting/rearranging it for when I throw it up as an ebook in February.

I also started The Farmer’s Son and a story about Liz which will be called The Secrets We Hold.

I wrote a couple of blog posts this week:

Photos of the Week

Randomly Thinking: The Weird Things Children Say and Do and other Random Thoughts

The Farmer’s Daughter Chapter 37 (final chapter).

What’s Been Occurring

Snow fell this week and I hiked up behind our house, trespassing on our neighbors’ land to take some photos of the snow all over the trees.

Little Miss hiked up behind me, complaining part of the time that she was cold (it would have helped if she had buttoned her coat) but then enjoying collecting snow to roll into snowballs that we eventually placed in our freezer in the garage. I don’t know why we are collecting snowballs and mini snowmen in our freezers, but I guess because Little Miss wants to hold on to her happiness a little longer and she’s happy in snow.

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Zooma The Wonder Dog was very happy that day because I let her off the lead so she could run all over in the snow and sometimes jump up and smack Little Miss’s snowballs out of her mitten-covered hands with her nose.

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Hubby was not as happy with the snow because the car wouldn’t go up the driveway, he fell twice trying to get in the house and then got stuck in the spot across from the driveway the next morning.

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I fell on our sidewalk taking snow photos when my foot slipped into a crack between panels, which I couldn’t see because it had been covered by snow. It was one of those fall where you know you are falling and you can’t do anything about it. I told my husband I toppled over slowly like a toy top, but I guess it would be better to say I toppled over slowly like a toy soldier. Either way, the slow fall was good because when I slammed my elbow into the hard sidewalk, it didn’t hurt as much as it could have.

I will share a few more photos tomorrow for my Photos of the Week post.

So that is my week in review. How about you? What are you reading, watching, writing, listening to, or what have you been doing? Let me know in the comments.

Sunday Bookends: cat routines, cat stories, and ‘chick shows’

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.


Our adult cat Pixel has a nightly routine where she jumps up on the edge of the bathroom counter and waits for one of us (me) to turn the faucet on for her so she can drink water out of it. She has been doing this for a couple of years now. Her routine has been thrown off, however, since we adopted the new kitten (Scout) about a month ago.

We close Scout in the bathroom at night to keep her from hurting herself and to protect her from Pixel, who likes to slap Scout around if she gets too close. I still tried to keep Pixel’s routine by letting her into the bathroom for a drink before we put Scout to bed, but instead of drinking Pixel would sit on the counter watching Scout play on the floor below and growl. I’d finally toss Pixel out and she’d swish her tail at me and then proceed to glare at me from the hallway while I slept.

This past week Pixel started walking in the bathroom before we closed the door for Scout, yowling at Scout but then jumping up on the counter to actually drink from the faucet, reclaiming some of the routine she had before Scout. Incidentally, the water has to be turned on to just the right flow for her to drink from it. If it is too fast or too slow she sits back and looks at me through narrowed green slits until I tap the handle and get the flow right.

Unfortunately Pixel doesn’t want to leave her spot when she’s done drinking now. She’d rather sit and watch Scout and growl warnings at her. But I need her to leave because otherwise she might eat Scout when we are asleep. So, I try to carry her out of the bathroom, which is hard lately because she’s gotten so fat that we are wondering if some of the other neighbors are feeding her when she’s outside pouting about the new addition to the family. Or maybe she ate one of the neighborhood cats. We don’t know but she’s gotten large.

For the first week we had Scout, Pixel wouldn’t even let me pet her and spent the majority of her days outside, scowling at us from the backporch like a teenager.

Now she at least comes into the house for part of the day and allows me to pet her again. She has even returned to sleeping at the bottom of the bed (an aside: she snores). Hopefully she will eventually accept Scout or at least stop slapping her in the head when Scout tries to sniff her.

What I’m Reading

I guess the theme for this week is cats because in addition to our “cat drama” I also noticed a paperback on my shelf that I had never read: The Cat Who Had 14 Tales by Lillian Jackson Braun. It is a collection of short stories about, well, cats, obviously.

Braun is the author of The Cat Who . . . mystery series so of course she would write a collection of short stories about cats. They are really entertaining and cute stories. I’m sure it is available at local libraries or on Kindle as well.

On the other side of the spectrum I am still reading the first book in the Longmire series by Craig Johnson and enjoying it so far. It’s a series about a slightly unconventional sheriff in a rural area of Wyoming. It’s also been made into a show on Netflix.

We are also still reading The Bottle Cap Lady by John Spier from My Life With Gracie each night before bed. Little Miss has been playing hard this week with the temperatures being so nice and mild so we haven’t gotten too far in the book. She’s been passing out in exhaustion about five minutes into the reading. We’re going to try to start earlier the rest of this week.

Up on the reading list next is some lighter fare with The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck by Bethany Turner. I started this one a couple of months ago but got distracted with a couple of other books, not because I didn’t like the book, but because I have the attention span of a gnat sometimes when it comes to books.

What I’m Watching

I asked my husband if we were going to go to a fish fry near our house Friday night and he said “Nah. I’d rather stay home and watch TV with you.” That’s when it hit me. I’d made him watch a couple episodes of Virigin River with me on Netflix and now, even though he’d made fun of it for using evey trope known to girly/CW shows, I had gotten him hooked on it.

Me: “I got you hooked on my girly show didn’t I?”

Him: “Sadly, yes.”

Ha! Love it. In all all honesty, though, we’ve spent most of the episodes making fun of some serious plot holes and the over use of romance novel-like tropes. I also had to confess to him that I fast forwarded a lot of the later episodes because they were a bit cringe-inducing and the main character was driving me crazy by telling another main character he needed counseling for his PTSD when it was clear she also needed counseling.

It was also hard for us to watch scenes with a character named Connie because she reminded us so much of a family member who has caused us all a lot of trauma over the years. We would both visibly shudder when she came on screen and my husband said he was certain he “smelled sulfur and ozone” at the sight of her. I took that to mean she had come from the depths of hell like the family member of ours clearly has.

I unfortunately watched Nights in Rodanthe one day this week. Yikes. When will I ever learn? I very rarely like Richard Gere movies but here I was, trying it again. Honestly, I don’t think playing an arrogant surgeon was a stretch for Mr. Gere. If anyone is reading this and is a fan of this movie, I’m sorry. It actually wasn’t a horrible movie but [SPOILER ALERT] I prefer happier endings for movies. That’s all I’ll say about that. I will say, however, that the acting, of course, was very good. Richard Gere is a very good actor, as is Diane Lane. And I do have to admit that the story was a good one as well. (I should probably insert here that I’m not a fan of Nicholas Sparks so that may be why I didn’t enjoy this movie .. even though I didn’t realize until later it was based on one of his books.

What I’m Writing:

I’m still sharing chapters from Quarantined: A novella (on Thursdays) and The Farmer’s Daughter (on Fridays).

I shared about homeschooling this week as well.

What I’m Listening To:

I’ve been listening to a few worship songs this week, but I really need to listen to more. Here is one my favorites:

For the past year or so I’ve fallen asleep listening to a podcast on Apple that features episodes of an old late 40s early 50s American radio/TV show called Our Miss Brooks. The show started on CBS radio in 1948. It was about a high school English teacher, Miss Connie Brooks, who somehow always seems to end up in a misadventure She’s in love with the biology teacher, Mr. Phillip Boyton, who is completely clueless. She rents a room from Mrs. Davis who is also clueless and absent-minded.

Her boss is Principal Osgood Conklin, who is obnoxious and gruff. Other characters are Walter Denton, a high school student who gives her a lift to school because her car is always broke down; Harriet Conklin, Mr. Conklin’s daughter and Walter’s girlfriend; Stretch Snodgrass, a space-cadet jock; and Daisy Enright, the other English teacher in the school who is Connie’s rival for Mr. Boyton.

I did see a clip of the show on YouTube one time and from what I could tell it was super, super low budget. The writing, however, is pretty good and while some of it doesn’t hold up all these years later, the majority of the humor remains on point. Listening to it takes my mind off the stresses of the day and keeps my brain from wandering to various topics about various issues that are usually completely out of my control.

What’s been happening besides cat drama

Our weather finally broke last week, or at least briefly. The cooler temperatures were such a welcome blessing. Not feeling sweaty and light headed from the humidity was certainly welcome. It’s odd but I’m actually looking forward to Fall and being able to curl up under the covers with a good book. I say it’s odd because I once dreaded Fall since I knew it meant winter was coming and I’m not a huge fan of the cold and clouds of winter.

As I’ve gotten older, though, I’ve started to hate the heat. I can barely tolerate it, so I eagerly welcome Fall to get a little break from the hot weather.

We had two days in the mid-80s and during one of them I pulled the sprinkler out for my daughter while my son went on a camping trip at my parents’ with my dad and a friend. My daughter and I also pulled some carrots and tomatoes out of my slowly dying garden. This summer has been hot and dry for the most part and our gardens and backyards are showing the damage.

Photos of the week

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

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

What I’m Reading

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

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

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

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

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

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

Up next on my list to read:

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



What I’m Watching

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

What’s Been Happening:

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

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

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

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

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

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

What I’m Listening To

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

Photos from the week:

Sunday Bookends: Amazing roses, new authors, and a little too much binge watching

What I’m Reading

I found a new author this week. Someone I “met” on Instagram world where self-published and traditional authors intermingle and share their latest publications.

Bethany Turner has authored a selection of books and I’m trying out Wooing Cadie McCaffery on Kindle Unlimited. I hope to grab up her latest, Hadley Becket’s Next Dish, at another time (I have to limit my book budget or I’ll go crazy.)

Here is the Amazon description for Wooing Cadie McCaffery:


After four years with her boyfriend, Cadie McCaffrey is thinking of ending things. Convinced Will doesn’t love her in the “forever” way she loves him, Cadie believes it’s time for her to let him go before life passes her by. When a misunderstanding leads to a mistake, leaving her hurt, disappointed, and full of regret, she finally sends him packing.

But for Will, the end of their relationship is only the beginning of his quest to figure out how to be the man Cadie wanted him to be. With the dubious guidance of his former pro-athlete work friends and tactics drawn from Cadie’s favorite romantic comedies, Will attempts to win her back. It’s a foolproof plan. What could possibly go wrong?

Bethany Turner is back with more of the heart and humor readers love. Anyone who enjoys a good romance or binges romantic comedies on Netflix will devour this delightful story.


I’m on Chapter 2 and so far I’m really enjoying it. Bethany really pulls the reader into the story right from the beginning. Her writing is fully relatable and full of humor and romance. Definitely a winning combination. (Bethany did not pay me for these comments, don’t worry. She doesn’t even know me or that I’m writing this.)

Another new author to me that I hope to read this next week is Robin W. Pearson who I also just discovered on Instagram. Her first book is A Long Time Comin’ and so far I am absolutely in love with her writing and with her main character Granny B. I can’t wait to really get into t his one. I don’t often buy books at full price on Kindle but I did this one.Her second book is coming out in February and also sounds great. It can be pre-ordered at this time.

A Long Time Comin’:

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

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

(Just a FYI, I know some authors plug other authors to get attention to themselves, but that is not my intent here. I actually only thought of that after I started writing this. I don’t know these women, but I’m really enjoying their writing and wanted to pass them along because many of us need some good distractions right now.)

Looking for intense escapism to hide from the absolutely insanity of the world, I plan to head back to a familiar cozy mystery series with another Lady Hardcastle book at some point, if not this week, then next. Death Beside the Seaside sounds very interesting. T.E. Kinsley’s stories are fairly light and even if the mysteries are easily solved, it’s not always clear how Lady Hardcastle and her maid Flo will reach their conclusion.

Death Beside the Seaside:

July 1910. Lady Hardcastle and her tireless sidekick Flo have finally embarked on a long-overdue seaside break. But just as they’re wavering between ice creams and donkey rides, their fellow guests start to go missing—and the duo find themselves with a hysterical hotel manager and a case to solve.

The first to disappear is Dr Goddard, a scientist doing something terribly top-secret for the government. Gone too are his strongbox and its mysterious contents. By the time Lady Hardcastle has questioned the horde of international guests, her number-one suspect has been dispatched in grisly circumstances—and then the others start vanishing too.

As the case begins to look like a matter of national security, Lady Hardcastle takes advice from her brother in the secret service. But could there be an even more personal connection at play? To solve the case, Lady Hardcastle may face a shocking discovery of her own.



Still in my reading que:

The Knife Slipped by Earle Stanley Gardner (I hope to finish it this week. I like it so far. It’s very different from what I’ve read before. I shared a little about it a couple of weeks ago.)

By Book or By Crook by Eva Gates. This author was recommended by Erin at Still Life, With Cracker Crumbs and last week I said I wasn’t sure it was my type of book, which sounded sort of rude. Well, guess what, my finger must have bumped the wrong book in my Kindle because this week I reopened it and that is not the book I started and said I didn’t think I’d like. I actually started reading the book this week and I do think I’m going to like it! I don’t know which book on my Kindle I looked at last week but this wasn’t it. So thank you, Erin! This particular book is the first in the series.


What I’m Watching

I finished Virgin River this week and totally predicted the last episode but I want more. Luckily Netflix just announced they will be having a second season.

To fill the void of missing Virgin River I’m alternating between Hart of Dixie (I’m in the first season and it’s growing on me), When Calls the Heart, and my husband and I started watching Longmire, which is different for me, but I’m really enjoying.

What I’m Writing

I’ve been sharing chapters from The Farmer’s Daughter each Friday and I’m also writing the second part of Quarantined and I’ve decided to combine it with the first Quarantined and make it a novella on Kindle Unlimited at some point. I have to fix all the typos and errors on Quarantined first, of course. (Oh my gosh, I wish I had caught those errors before sharing it on here but, well, the blog is for fun and doo-doo happens!) I’ll most likely share another part of the second part , which I am currently calling Rekindle; on Thursday. Chapter 13 for The Farmer’s Daughter was published Friday.

A New Beginning is for sale on Amazon in ebook or paperback form and it can be read through Kindle Unlimited. You can find an excerpt from it HERE.

What’s Going on Otherwise:

Our roses bloomed even more this week and I also learned from the neighbor, who once lived in the house, that the rose bush is over 100 years old. So, the bush has been growing for 100 years or more and the flowers have bloomed year after year for the families that have lived here. I love that thought.

I seem to have a slightly sad life since I check on the status of the roses every day and have possibly taken a couple hundred photos of them. I don’t know what I’ll do with a couple hundred photos of roses, but I have a feeling I may need to look back on them in these next several months and especially in the Fall and Winter when I struggle with Seasonal Depression that I have a feeling will be even worse this year with the state our world is in.

We also had another peonies bush bloom and this one produced lighter pink flowers that were gorgeous.

We, unfortunately, weren’t able to walk out and enjoy the flowers as much this week because there are a bunch of gnats swarming us in the backyard near the bushes. We aren’t sure what is up with that but our neighbor thinks maybe they just hatched and will hopefully go away. I’ve never seen them this bad and I guess the neighbors haven’t either.

This is my daughter trying to wave the gnats away.

The roses that bloomed late last week are starting to fall and I have a feeling by next week they will be gone. It’s sad how fast the flowers bloom and then fade, but I’m enjoying them while they are here.

So, how about all of you? What have you been reading, watching, or doing? Let me know in the comments.





Sunday Bookends: Things I’m already sick of, new house, new books.

For those who are following along, we moved into our new house this past week and though it’s only been a few days we somehow feel almost at home already. Sure, there are some days everything feels a little weird and surreal, maybe even a bit disorienting because the house and the neighborhood are new to us. For the most part, though, we are settling in well. It probably helps that we are 10 minutes from the house I grew up in and the house where my parents live now (which was actually my grandmother’s house when I was growing up.)

In a lot of ways, this house has features I’ve always wanted in a house, including a tiny bathroom. You know what I mean, right? One of those bathrooms that are so small it’s equally cute and claustrophobic-inducing? Yeah, I have one now. Just one tiny door, one toilet, and a tiny sink and no windows. Cooool. Yeah, I know, I’m weird. I’d take a photo of it for you but .  . . uh, it’s tiny. I did take a photo of the cool wallpaper and decor though. I love how the people who owned this house before decorated.

We also have a gorgeous staircase, which I’ve always wanted, a banister my kids can slide down, large windows with beautiful light in the living and dining rooms, a wide-open kitchen, a front porch we can sit on (complete with a porch swing) and one of the best things is that there is a small space in our backyard for a garden.

Oh, and I now have this fridge that has a digital setting on the outside and on the inside, the light slowly brightens when you open it. Yes. Little things like that excite me. I know. It’s sad.

I’ve had almost no time for reading with unpacking, calling heating oil companies and the propane company and then weeping slightly on Friday when the snow started to fall. Yes! Snow. About three inches of the yucky, cold, white stuff. I was in denial, rocking in a corner when it started. I was also getting yelled at in an email by our mortgage broker because I didn’t give her a positive review in the survey her boss sent me. Yeah. That was fun.

I started About Your Father by Peggy Rowe last week but literally got two pages in before I fell asleep, not because it is boring but because I was so tired that day from all the moving and getting adjusted. I can’t wait to read more of it this upcoming week.

I haven’t been able to work on my books at all with everything going on and just as it started to settle down my computer died. Luckily the stimulus money will help me buy a new one (and luckily my son is letting me use his to write my blog posts until it arrives.) Maybe I will actually get to finish Chapter 3 in Fully Alive next week and hopefully Chapter 4 in The Farmer’s Daughter. Who even knows at this point.

I’ve been posting some on my blog, but I won’t lie: I’m not reading a lot of blogs. Part of the reason for this is there has been no time with the move and all the drama that has gone with it. The other reason is I’m flat out of sick of talking about You Know What and I don’t read many posts where other people are talking about it.

I’m tired of sappy “we’ve got to stay strong” posts (even if I understand and agree) and posts that regurgitate facts that aren’t even facts because the “facts” change every single day. One day it’s “don’t wear masks they don’t help.” Less than a week later: “Wear a mask or you’ll die!” In PA it’s now: “Wear a mask or you’ll go to jail.” So, yeah, that roller coaster has been “fun.”

I’m already sick of the term “social distancing,”, DIY face masks tutorials, Facebook posts lecturing people, blog posts lecturing people, family members lecturing other family members (no, not in my family, don’t worry. This isn’t a veiled comment against my family!) and Americans seeming really, really happy being told what to do and what not to do. I did, however, enjoy this Youtube video that was not your traditional DIY facemask tutorial.

 

I had to run to the Dollar General yesterday when my husband forgot his wallet. The plan was to meet him outside but he wasn’t outside when I got there so I had to grab a face mask and head on in to find him. It was so apocalyptic in there with people all walking around with masks, glaring at each other. There was one couple without masks, violating the signs on the doors that stated the governor has made it mandatory to wear masks in the store, smirking at everyone else. I wasn’t sure if I should be mad at them or not, since, like I said, the recommendations change every few days.

Plus, I’m tired of being offended and outraged about everything like the rest of the world. In other words, I decided to let them do their own thing and be their own people. I know. I’m awful.  How could I let others live their own lives instead of living it the way I think they should?

Yes, I may have a little bit of sarcasm issues today.

I thought I’d share a few photos I took over the last week or so, some at the new house, some at my parents. I had to pull these off my DSLR using the phone so I’m not sure if the quality will be great, but, eh..whatever.

So what have you all been doing, watching, reading,  and how are you handling life with all this craziness? Let me know in the comments and yes, I will read them, even if they do have to do with You Know What. I’m merely taking a break from that topic, when I can, not boycotting it all together (mainly because there is no actual way to do that!)

Sunday Bookends: house selling drama, Sweet Land and small town libraries

The house selling process plods forward and as it does I seem to be having more breakdowns than normal. The roller-coaster of emotions as we worry about something falling through with either the sale of this house or the purchase of the other is getting to me I guess. I find myself sitting down and having a good cry a couple times a week.

After an unexpected removal from the house when the inspector came and wanted to bring the buyers, I cried as we toured our small town, not so much because I will miss the place, but because of all the bad memories made while here.

“That,” I said as I pointed at the hospital, the largest in our region, tears rolling down my face. “is the last place I saw my grandmother alive.”

This was after we drove past the house where some family members live but who no longer speak to us, though they never spoke to us much before either. That situation has broken my heart for a long time and resulted in a lot of confusion and hurt feelings on all sides. In some ways, it’s as if we think if we pack up the house and get out of this place we can leave all the emotional baggage behind, but of course, we really can’t.

We can drive away but we will still carry the scars we’ve gotten here. From the broken family relationships to the loss of my husband’s grandparents to driving by the last place I saw Grandma alive so many times in the last 16 years to the knives in our backs from former places of employment and former friends, living in this town hasn’t always been easy. I know only God can heal those scars so I have to lean on him now more than ever.

In happier news, I watched a movie called Sweet Land this week, which was actually pretty “sweet”, so it lived up to its name. It starred Elizabeth Reaser, Tim Guinee, Alan Cumming, and Alex Kingston.  I kept writing in circles when I tried to explain the plot (that’s how muddled my brain is this week), so I pulled it off Wikipedia:

In the aftermath of World War I, Inge Altenberg (Elizabeth Reaser), an orphan from Snåsa, Norway, arrives in America to a very cold reception. The parents of immigrant farmer Olaf Torvik (Tim Guinee) remain in Norway, where they met her. Dialogue reveals that the four of them have worked out an agreement that allowed her to emigrate to America for the purpose of marrying Olaf. The Minnesota farming village of Audubon, in which her intended husband lives, is horrified to learn that she is a German immigrant with no papers. To make matters worse, she has accidentally obtained membership papers for the American Socialist Party. Scandalized, both the town’s Lutheran minister and the county clerk refuse to marry them.

When events lead them to openly cohabit with each other, they find themselves ostracized by the entire town. They are then forced to harvest their crop completely by hand and alone. This particular harvest season brings not only work, but love as well.

I streamed the movie on Amazon, but I’m sure it is available on other services as well.

On the book front, I am still reading Love Begins at Willow Tree Hill and still enjoying it. I haven’t had as much time for reading with all the “drama” (so to speak) in our life, but this week I hope to escape that drama a bit with reading and working on my two novels. (If you haven’t been following my novel, you can find a link to the chapters at the top of the page or HERE. I post new chapters on Thursdays and Fridays and will post it to Kindle when I’m finished, possibly with changes, but definitely edited and revised.)

I visited what was once my local library and will hopefully be our new local library when we move. My son and I had headed to the new house to pick up a radon test we’d ordered ahead of the inspection. After we left the house we mailed the test and then I asked my son if he wanted to see the little library in town. It was the library my mom and I always went to when I was a kid.

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“You don’t understand,” I told my son. “I didn’t have video games and social media when I was growing up so books were my only way to escape and experience life.”

When I walked into the library, the smell of books overwhelmed me just like it did when I was a kid. That smell was a sign to me that entire worlds were opening up to me and my mom and I would spend probably an hour choosing the books we wanted. We’d drag them home in a big bag and my dad would say “More books?” Sometimes we would bring home books we bought from the book sale and Dad would say, again, “More books? We don’t even have room for the books we have!”

But he let us have them anyhow and Mom and I would delve into them and float away from our small house in the country to worlds far away that were much more exciting than cleaning houses and cooking dinners and washing clothes and doing homework.  And we met new people, learned new ideas, developed new vocabulary, and for me, dreamt dreams of sharing stories as compelling as the ones I was reading.

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Before we left town, I decided to let the little old library ladies sitting at the front desk know how important the library was to me when I was growing up. They appreciated me letting them know, they said, and hope it works out for the library to be our home library by spring.

As for what I’m writing this week:

A flash fiction piece about a “sugar report” (letter to a soldier from a romantic interest);

Did you drink your water?

Faithfully Thinking: God’s Kingdom is in Your Own Backyard

Fiction Thursday, A New Beginning Chapter 22

Fiction Friday: A New Beginning Chapter 23
I’ve also joined *eyeroll* Wattpad…the place that teens apparently share all their bizarre pubescent sex fantasies. My story, however, is nothing like that so it will not, most likely, get traction on Wattpad. But, why not try? Life is short and we need to go for it, right? If you want to follow The Farmer’s Daughteron there (though this version probably won’t be what I finally publish on Kindle), you can find it HERE.

As for what I’m listening to this week (something new I’m adding):

Oldies to get me in the mood for revisions on A New Beginning (which takes place in the mid 60s):

Marc Martel:

and sermons like this one:

So, how about you? What are you up to this week? Reading? Watching? Learning? Listening to? Share with me in the comments!

Sunday Bookends: Christmas romance movies off the agenda, Christmas prep with Michael Buble, British cleavage, and social media detox failure

I wrote last week that I was on a Christmas movie binge, but, no. I’m over it.

Oh. My. Word.

Seriously?

How many more movies can I watch where one parent of the main character is already dead at such a young age? Or where the husband has died and now she’s looking for new romance?

Duuuuudes. Stop the tropes already. I just can’t take it.

I just want one Christmas movie where Mom and Dad are still alive and their death isn’t the reason someone hates Christmas.

So, bah-humbug. No more of those cheesy Christmas romance movies.

Back to reality.

(Oops. There goes gravity…sorry that line immediately made me think of Eminem’s Lose Yourself. And I don’t even really listen to Eminem.)

And part of that reality was watching a 1934  film from England called The Scarlet Pimpernel (yes, there have been a few remakes) where there was plenty of harsh reality and cringeworthy brutality. The movie, starling Leslie Howard (no idea, but I think he’s a famous British actor)  opens with the beheadings of French citizens during the 1792 French Revolution’s Reign of Terror by the guillotine. Movie makers from the 30s made in England didn’t bat an eye at disturbing visuals or sounds, let me tell you that.

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According to the trivia link on Amazon (yes, Amazon! And no, I’m still not trying to sell Amazon Prime to you and have not been paid for this reference. Ha! But I should be.), movie makers of the 30s also weren’t afraid to show a little skin. However, the folks in the United States weren’t pleased with that skin, based on what the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America said about the movie: “There is cleavage in Reel 1. There is cleavage in Reel 4. There is gross cleavage in Reel 8,” adding that it was the last film it would pass containing ‘scenes of offensive cleavage.'”

(My husband interjects here “That was during the time of the Hayes Code which was basically the movie industry censoring itself because parents were complaining.” Thank you movie and history trivia Rain Man. And actually, I like his little interjections of history, so don’t take this teasing too seriously).

I read this bit of trivia before I watched the movie so I immediately turned it back on to find out where the cleavage was, not because I enjoy cleavage of women (I don’t swing that way) but because I wanted to see if it was truly “offensive.”

My verdict? There was definitely- gasp!!!– dare I say it? Clear and fairly offensive cleavage from Miss Merle Oberon who leaned over quite seductively more than once! By the way, be sure to say cleavage in a very pompous or posh British tone or it doesn’t work at all for this conversation.

I actually kept watching the movie as a joke because of the cleavage trivia but then I got engrossed in the story and couldn’t stop watching it. The story is basically that aristocrats in France were being marched to the guillotine on a daily basis but some were being saved by an English man called the Scarlet Pimpernel, which had the ones doing the beheadings on high alert and on the lookout for him.

Cleavage or not I highly recommend the movie (on Amazon or wherever you choose to watch it.). The movie was well written and acted.

Here, I took a photo of the cleavage for you in case you’re curious….

I’m kidding. You can find the cleavage yourself and be appropriately horrified, even though it’s tame compared to what we see in today’s movies. The censors of the 30s would have a stroke if they saw what was on today’s movie screens.

Anyhooo….

Enough about the cleavage of the French, er, British pretending to be French. Also, I’m not writing the word cleavage ever again because I feel like a weirdo now. Plus, I’ve written the word how many times now in this post? Let’s not count.

We got more snow this past week but it looks like we will not have a white Christmas this year since the predicted temps are set at the mid-40s.  I’m okay with that since snow on Christmas could mean we can’t get to my parents to spend the day with them. We went to their house Friday so we could help decorate their Christmas tree.

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I’ll probably ramble on about Christmas decorations later in the week.

I’m not doing great with my social media detox lately but it’s better than it could be. Last year my detox involved not logging on to any sites at all but this year I find myself logging on to check certain groups only. The issue with that is that I sometimes trail off of those groups and get stuck into the ridiculousness that is our world today.

(A beautiful painting of a newborn baby as Jesus and then a thread moaning over how white the baby is? Come on already! It was the sentiment behind the photo that mattered, not the perceived race of the baby! Social media makes us horrible, bitter, nasty, self-serving morons. I mean, how many more things we once enjoyed can everyone piss all over so we are all a bunch of depressed, uptight, self-righteous, finger-pointing, miserable people like most of Hollywood?)

I actually had to pull up the post I wrote last year where I made a list of suggestions of activities a person can engage in other than social media to remind me of activities I’ve been remiss on participating in because I have been distracted by the stupidity that is social media.

To try to take my mind off of everything with house selling and buying this weekend, I put on Michael Buble’s Christmas album this week (and did NOT look up to see what anyone’s opinion of it was), pulled out a book about Advent (also did NOT look up what anyone’s opinion of THAT was), kept working on my novel, watched more Dick VanDyke and read more light mysteries (The Cat Who) and romances.

For your enjoyment, because I was so excited to find it! Michael Buble’s Christmas Album and the Yuletide Log at the same time! Enjoy (or run away screaming if you aren’t a fan of either.)

So what were you reading, watching or doing this past week? Let me know in the comments.


Lisa R. Howeler is a writer and photographer from the “boondocks” who writes a little bit about a lot of things on her blog Boondock Ramblings. She’s published a fiction novel ‘A Story to Tell’ on Kindle and also provides stock images for bloggers and others at Alamy.com and Lightstock.com.