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Monday, April 5, 2021

Extending my 'spring break'...

Hello book friends!  Hope you are all well and had a Happy Easter yesterday.  I don't have any flower pictures for you this time, but I wanted to share a bit of an update on what I've been doing in the last few weeks.  And also say that my 'spring break' will be extended for a while longer.  No flowers are blooming in our yard quite yet, but our plants are slowly beginning to come out of their shells after the mega-cold weather our area experienced in February.  I was comparing to last year at this time and there are definite differences.  The bluebonnets are finally beginning to show up in Central Texas and also other wildflowers, but they have been much slower to appear.

As to regular life, we have been quite busy.  After a lot of thought, we decided to move forward with our eventual 'retirement' plan - location wise anyway.  We had always planned to move further out into the Texas Hill Country when my husband retired.  He is not doing that for a few years, but with the housing market in our area at an all-time peak, we have decided to sell our current house and look for one further into the Hill Country of Central Texas.  Nothing is finalized quite yet, but we plan to have an apartment in the Austin area and then decide on a place an hour or two away from Austin.  With my husband still working from home and the idea that his company will likely do a 'hybrid' type work thing in the future, it has seemed a workable plan.  Lots of decisions and work involved.  

I have been distracted and busy and my reading has really taken a hit.  It will bounce back again after I don't have quite so many things to do and think about.  So, I'll be missing for more weeks.  Missing the chatting here, but I will definitely be back eventually.

Hope you all take care and enjoy your spring!

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

An early 'spring break'...

 

Hello book friends!  Just coming by to say that I'm going to take an early 'spring break' for a bit.  No, it's not time for the bluebonnets quite yet in our area, but in another month they will likely be beginning to bloom.  So, I decided to share those above.

Nothing is wrong and we have been well.  However, we've got a lot going on and we'll be busy for a while.  And my review writing mojo has evaporated for a time as well.  I just didn't want anyone to worry if I didn't check in for a bit.

Take care and I'll be reading your blogs even if I don't comment all the time.  I'll be back in a few weeks!  Happy early 'spring break'!  And Happy Valentine's Day this coming Sunday!

Saturday, January 30, 2021

January 2021 comes to an end and a reading/life update...

Hello book friends!  Yes, I'm still around and reading your thoughts and occasionally commenting.  It's good to check in and hear what you've been up to and also relate what I've been doing.  First the doing - well, pretty much the same with almost no changes.  Ha!

I have started working out using our rowing machine on a regular basis.  Yes, we have a rowing machine.  I'm up to 15 minutes a day and though I haven't used it much in the last couple of years, I'm using it now.  Good for building upper body strength.  My walking and yoga continue, but I am certainly looking forward to the cedar pollen waning in our area and then I'll be able to get back outside for my walks.  Only another few weeks to go.

My reading has been going well.  I decided to try to clear some books (i.e. read some books) that were on my actual shelves and also on my Kindle and if I liked them and they kept my interest, I would finish them.  If not, out they go.  Some are re-reads and some are new to me.  I've also been pairing several with the audio version that I can check out at my library and so the story continues whether I am walking or folding clothes or driving.  I've also been catching up on a few podcasts.  My list of books read is below:

And The Shofar Blew by Francine Rivers -  a re-read from a long time ago - enjoyed it again - Christian fiction.

The Scarlet Thread by Francine Rivers - also a re-read with an Oregon Trail storyline - also Christian fiction.

The Best Of Times by Penny Vincenzi - thought I had read this one before but I don't think so - long book - over 600 pages with lots of characters and much drama.

The Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffiths - I really enjoyed this one, which is good because our mystery group is discussing it this upcoming week.  Standalone by Griffiths or standalone at least for now.  A 2nd book with the same investigator will be out in March - The Postscript Murders

The Lies You Told by Harriet Tyce - domestic thriller - a mother who is a barrister and a daughter at a school with lots of drama - held my interest but not many likeable characters.

Reputation by Sara Shepard - author of Pretty Little Liars and about a hacking scandal at a college - multiple points of view - lots of drama again - a fast read for me.

The Perfect Guests by Emma Rous - lots of secrets in this one - definitely can see the influence of the game of Clue - again, it read very fast for me.

Goodnight Beautiful by Aimee Molloy - husband in this one is a therapist and someone is listening to his sessions with clients through a vent in the ceiling - lots and lots of twists and upside down moments - took inspiration from a Stephen King book (won't say which, but it wasn't one I cared for) - liked it well enough, but glad to move on to the next book.

And that's it for my reading in January.  As I said, our mystery group will be discussing The Stranger Diaries next week and I'm looking forward to hearing what others think.  

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Otherwise in life, our daughter got her second vaccine dose yesterday.  We suspect it will be quite some time before we're able to get ours, but our county has been doing well with the supply they have been given.  Patience is hard in this regard I think, but we know that even after we get it our lives won't be that different.  Ah well.  I'll just think about spring flowers that will be coming in a few weeks and I'll enjoy sharing some pictures of those when they appear.  

Hope you all have a good week and I'll be back in a couple of weeks to share another update.  Take care!

Thursday, January 21, 2021

And as a new day dawns, there is hope...for so many things

 


Here are some quotes that remind me that hope is possible and indeed is desirable in so many ways these days.  For people, for ideas, for actions, for our whole world.  My daily prayer...


'To love means loving the unlovable.  To forgive means pardoning the unpardonable.  Faith means believing the unbelievable.  Hope means hoping when everything seems hopeless.' -- G.K. Chesterton

'But I know, somehow, that only when it is dark enough can you see the stars.' -- Martin Luther King, Jr. 

'There is some good in this world, and it's worth fighting for.' -- J.R.R. Tolkien

'I don't think of all the misery, but of the beauty that remains.' -- Anne Frank

'Hope sees the invisible, feels the intangible, and achieves the impossible.' -- Helen Keller

'Listen to the mustn’ts, child.  Listen to the don’ts.  Listen to the shouldn’ts, the impossibles, the won’ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me… Anything can happen, child. Anything can be.' -- Shel Silverstein

Monday, January 11, 2021

A snowy Sunday and my peaceful reading aim...

Hello book friends!  Stopping by to share a few pictures of our snowy Texas Sunday yesterday.  The weather people said it had been over 15 years since we had gotten as much as fell yesterday - 2004 I believe.  I know many of you get a whole season of snow, but we here in Central Texas get very little.  There are occasions though.  It kept snowing for several more hours after I took these pictures, but it's melting this morning and the sun is out.  It won't stay around long and the best part is that it was almost exclusively a snow event and not an ice or sleet event (which is more likely for our part of the world).  It was beautiful and peaceful to see those big, big flakes falling.  Just wonderful.  I am grateful for peaceful snow.









After all the turmoil, sorrow, stress and upset of the last few months and especially more recently, I decided that 2021 will be the year that I focus on 'peaceful reading'.  Not completely sure what that will mean for me.  I have made a point of getting back to some devotional time for myself.  And I've recently read a book or two that I had read many years ago and that reminded me of aspects of the faith that I hold dear to my heart and that I try to live by.  I don't talk about that much on this blog, but I am a person of lifelong faith in God.

I was made very, very sad this last week hearing of a dear friend who is quite ill in the hospital (not with COVID).  She had been diagnosed with dementia a couple of years ago and that condition was progressing very slowly.  She is still at home with her husband, but this last year has been quite hard on both of them.  Her hospital time now is much worse because he can't be with her and she's often confused about where she is and where he is.  All I can do right now is pray for both of them.  So I am.  And trying to turn my mind to 'peaceful' things.  Take care, please, all of you and I pray for peaceful thoughts and actions to help all of us and our world.      

Saturday, January 2, 2021

The Last To See Her - Courtney Evan Tate

The Last To See Her by Courtney Evan Tate

First Paragraph:

Genevieve tipped the courier and set the certified letter on the coffee table.  She knew what it was.  She'd been waiting for it for almost a week.  Every day, she'd wondered, Will it be today?  And each day it wasn't.  Until today.

My Thoughts:

The Last To See Her is my first book completed in 2021.  It was an OK-ish read.  That sounds terrible, but it's my honest opinion.  The first I've read by this author, who writes under the name Courtney Cole and also with darker stories under Courtney Evan Tate.  I was intrigued by the blurb and thought this would be an absorbing missing person story and it was to an extent.  Told through various viewpoints and back and forth in time, we learn that Gen goes missing when she walks out of the hotel suite she and her sister Meg are sharing in New York.  We hear about the 'before' from various people and the 'now' as well.  I would say that this is not so much about the missing aspect as about what the sister, Gen herself, and others thought or didn't think.  There were definitely twists, some I guessed and a few I didn't.  Lots of repetition though.  And by about 2/3 through the book, I just wanted to know the ending.  Almost turned to the end and peeked, but I read on.  I guessed the ending, closed the book, and said - OK, done with that, on to the next.  Not a bad book, but probably not one I'll be tempted to revisit. 

Blurb:

A woman disappears into the dark city night…

Gen is on the verge of a divorce from her cheating husband. When her sister, Meg, has a convention to attend in the Big Apple, she invites Gen along to celebrate her newly found freedom. But the perfect sisters’ getaway quickly goes awry when a tipsy Gen defiantly throws her wedding ring off the hotel room’s balcony. Then, wanting some fresh air, she decides to take a late-evening walk alone and vanishes without a trace.

The investigation that follows uncovers secrets—and betrayals—between sisters and spouses that will twist the truth in on itself until nothing is clear.

What really happened to Gen and who, besides Meg, was the last to see her?                                         

Friday, January 1, 2021

Happy New Year - Welcome 2021!!



My wish is that each of you have a peaceful and joyful 2021!  Welcome to a new year!  I shared these quotes last year on New Year's Day, but I think they are even more important in 2021.  Enjoy!


“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” — C.S. Lewis


“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.” —Maya Angelou


“Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.” —William James


“Be the change you wish to see in the world.” —Ghandi


“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow.” —Albert Einstein

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

In which I'm not unhappy about waving bye-bye to 2020...

 


Hello book friends!  Well, Christmas has come and gone and our daughter gave us the ornament pictured above as part of our Christmas goodies.  I love it, but wonder whether I'll want to display it after 2020.  We shall see.  Our Christmas Day itself was very nice.  We did the 'porch drops' and visited with area family in the outdoors.  Happily, the weather cooperated and we had a good time visiting for a few minutes with each household.  We went to our daughter and son-in-law's house last and enjoyed some fun time with their two dogs.  Both Cody and Max (the pups) came and sat with their heads on my knee and just rested there for a while.  We hadn't seen the grand-dogs for a long time.  And, yes, we also enjoyed visiting with our kids.

Another happy thing is that our daughter just texted and said she got her first dose of the vaccine this morning at her hospital.  I'm very relieved about that and am hopeful that we all will be able to get the shots in upcoming months. 



So, reading in 2020 and stats.  I have them, but honestly, I read so many books that were not 'new-to-me' - aka 're-reads', I'm not going to do a 'Top 10' list.  I will say that I think my favorite book this year was Louise Penny's newest, All The Devils Are Here.  I also enjoyed reading Kelley Armstrong's Rockton series, David Baldacci's Memory Man books, and Sherry Thomas' Lady Sherlock series.  I read 130 books in 2020 and that's about normal for me.  What it doesn't reflect is the number of books that I began and then set aside.  I have no idea how many of those there were.  Lots.

As for reading goals and other goals for 2021 - I think I'm going to just 'go with the flow' in that regard.  Read what I want and that might be new books and it might be 're-reads'.  I do want to get back to sharing at least a short paragraph about my thoughts for books that are new-to-me reads.  And who knows?  I might even share a bit about older books that I'm revisiting.  

I'm not going to pick a focus word for this year either.  I've done that in the past, but again, this new year will be as stress-free as I can manage.  I'm planning on more yoga, especially in the breathing and meditation area.  Continuing my walking.  Better choices in my eating because those have not been very helpful in 2020.  Just healthy in mind, body, and soul 2021 - that sounds good to me.  

I feel like I've had way too much 'news' in 2020 and am going to attempt to create my peaceful place here while I'm visiting with all you about books and good stuff.  Take care and wishing everyone a safe New Year's.  Let's bring on 2021!!         

Friday, December 18, 2020

The Xmas elves have been here and the 'porch bags' are ready...

 


Our 'porch bags' are ready to share with family and friends.  We just need to make a few tasty goodies to include and set the delivery times.  Goodie-making will commence next week.  We had a good time coming up with a few fun items for our loved ones - not big things, but useful things and funny things.  A few got a book from me and the dog lovers got a bag of treats for their pups.  There were funny socks and bookmarks and hand cream and little soaps.  Some little flashlights for the guys and some puzzle books - you get the idea.  

I'll be making Strawberry Nut Bread (small loaves) and Gingerbread Cookies and my husband has some kind of candy thing he's going to try.  

Some had asked about my Christmas playlist.  It includes Christmas albums from Pentatonix, Amy Grant, A Very Special Christmas - Vol. 1 & 2, Faith Hill, Vanessa Williams, and Michael Buble'.  Maybe my two favorite songs that are not 'traditional' holiday tunes - Amy Grant singing 'My Grown-up Christmas List' and Faith Hill singing 'A Baby Changes Everything'.  

Hope all have a safe, peaceful weekend.  I am still trying to 'Be of good cheer...'.  Grateful my daughter will be getting the vaccine in the next few days at her hospital.  

And if I don't get back around until after Christmas Day, I wish you all much joy and peace and love - and some tasty goodies!

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Another funny thought...for 2020, the oddest year ever...

 


I promised if I found another funny thing, I'd share it.  I found this made me laugh and nod my head.  I got my hair cut this morning and my stylist (who has a single-woman hair studio) had things decorated for the holidays.  It was very pretty and cheerful.  Plus, she had this 'sign'.  Ha!  I asked about it and she said it made her think of some of the difficulties of understanding people with their masks on.  Very appropriate, right?  Yes, the masks do make things a bit garbled now and then.  I do back away when people decide that if they need to repeat, they also need to pull the mask below their chin.  Um....no.  Ha!

As this is now cedar pollen season in our area (I hate cedar pollen and it hates me!), I've had to move my walking regimen back into the rec center.  Which is fine as they are very careful with a reservation system and lots of rules.  However, I don't get to see the Christmas decorations or wildlife.  I decided that with my quest of 'Be of good cheer...', I'd create a holiday music playlist.  I've done that and my walking has been very cheerful the last few days.  Now my goal is to not forget where I am and start humming or singing under my breath.  Ha!  I mean, who doesn't want to sing along?

Hope you all have a nice weekend.  Our shopping is done.  Now to get organized and get all the little treats put in bags and wrapped up in tissue for our 'porch deliveries'.  I'll do a post next week giving a peek at what I've found to share with people this year.  It's just little things...and maybe some gingerbread cookies...