Memory Man by David Baldacci

Well, Fall has arrived and with it, our first windstorm. Thankfully not a bad one. In the Pacific Northwest, we rarely get close to hurricane or tornado status, but we do have some blustery days. And, of course, hubby had just cleaned up the yard. Now it’s covered in fir needles and branches. That should keep him out of trouble for a couple days. 🙂 With all this stay at home time, I’m working hard on my romance series, set in a small town on the Washington coast. And…I’ve released the prequel to the Earth Legacy Fantasy series. For more information about that, click here.

For this month’s reading, the challenge was a thriller or mystery book. I’ve never been much for gory stories and I get way too freaked out at thrillers. It took me 10 years to finally watch Poltergeist and I had to sleep with the lights on for a few nights afterwards. Lol.

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I ended up choosing a murder mystery from one of the masters, David Baldacci. And wow, am I glad I did!

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What It’s About:

Amos Decker’s life changed forever–twice.

The first time was on the gridiron. A big, towering athlete, he was the only person from his hometown of Burlington ever to play in the NFL. But his career ended before it had a chance to begin. On his very first play, a violent helmet-to-helmet collision knocked him off the field forever, and left him with an improbable side effect–he can forget nothing.

The second time was at home nearly two decades later. Now a police detective, Decker returned from a stakeout one evening and entered a nightmare–his wife, young daughter, and brother-in-law had been murdered.

His family destroyed, their killer’s identity as mysterious as the motive behind the crime, and unable to forget a single detail from that horrible night, Decker finds his world collapsing around him. He leaves the police force, loses his home, and winds up on the street, taking piecemeal jobs as a private investigator when he can.

But over a year later, a man turns himself in to the police and confesses to the murders. At the same time a horrific event nearly brings Burlington to its knees, and Decker is called back in to help with this investigation. Decker also seizes his chance to learn what really happened to his family that night. To uncover the stunning truth, he must use his remarkable gifts and confront the burdens that go along with them. He must endure the memories he would much rather forget. And he may have to make the ultimate sacrifice.

Memory Man will stay with you long after the turn of the final page.

My Thoughts:

That last line is so true. This story will stay with you for a long time. I got so into it, I read it in 24 hours, and I rarely, if ever, do that. Baldacci is amazing at crafting the ins and outs of unfolding a mystery with unerring perfection. Wow. I rarely read this type of story, but I’ll read more of his books. Yes, this was my first Baldacci book. But it won’t be my last. Wow. Wow. Wow. A high recommend from me.

Stay safe! Stay healthy!

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Well, how’s everyone doing? Are you managing to find a balance between staying healthy and being happy? That’s not an easy thing to do these days, and it takes an effort. The biggest thing I’ve been working on personally is trying to listen more. To remember to think about what must be going on in someone’s life when they are frustrated or angry. To be mindful that others have a right to their opinion.

I live in the Pacific Northwest. Washington State, USA. And we’re struggling with air quality, but thankfully, none of the fires is very near us. It’s been tough in California and Oregon, especially. Our daughter has been in “get ready to evacuate” stage for a few days now. I am praying regularly that everyone manages to stay safe and out of harm’s way.

Writing-wise, I’m close to releasing Awakening, the prequel to the Earth Legacy fantasy series. I’m also working hard on a romance series set in a small oceanside town. It’s been fun setting up the town and fleshing out the characters and I hope to have several books out in this world in the next few years.

But, this blog is really about the writing challenge.

This month, the story needed to be written prior to 1950. I went waaaaayyyyy back to 1813. I have a confession to make. I’m a romance author who, until now, had never read Pride and Prejudice. Shame on me. This story was delightful and I should have read it eons ago.

What It’s About:

Since its immediate success in 1813, Pride and Prejudice has remained one of the most popular novels in the English language. Jane Austen called this brilliant work “her own darling child” and its vivacious heroine, Elizabeth Bennet, “as delightful a creature as ever appeared in print.” The romantic clash between the opinionated Elizabeth and her proud beau, Mr. Darcy, is a splendid performance of civilized sparring. And Jane Austen’s radiant wit sparkles as her characters dance a delicate quadrille of flirtation and intrigue, making this book the most superb comedy of manners of Regency England.

My thoughts:

Why didn’t I read this story years ago? Yes, it took a while to get used to the olde style of writing, but man, does she do romance well. Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy are perfection. So, if you read romance and haven’t read this story, it’s well worth the time.   Now I have a question. I think there are multiple movie versions of this story that have been made. Does anyone have a version they recommend?

The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson

My prayers continue to wing out to anyone struggling in this COVID-19 world. I hope you are all staying safe. Our county just lost a 19 year old with no health problems to this horrible virus. This isn’t over by a long shot, sadly.

There’s not a lot we can do about that, except to pray and stay home and mask up. And wash our hands. What we can also do is feed our souls to stave off depression. And reading has been helping me with that a lot lately. I crave travel, but for now, I do it through books. And boy, did I just take an epic trip…

IMG_1143August’s reading challenge was fantasy, which is one of the top two genres I like to read. Romance is the other, of course. Most of the fantasy I read is YA, so I decided to stretch myself this month.

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What It’s About:

I long for the days before the Last Desolation.

The age before the Heralds abandoned us and the Knights Radiant turned against us. A time when there was still magic in the world and honor in the hearts of men.

The world became ours, and we lost it. Nothing, it appears, is more challenging to the souls of men than victory itself.

Or was that victory an illusion all along? Did our enemies realize that the harder they fought, the stronger we resisted? Perhaps they saw that the heat and the hammer only make for a better grade of sword. But ignore the steel long enough, and it will eventually rust away.

There are four whom we watch. The first is the surgeon, forced to put aside healing to become a soldier in the most brutal war of our time. The second is the assassin, a murderer who weeps as he kills. The third is the liar, a young woman who wears a scholar’s mantle over the heart of a thief. The last is the highprince, a warlord whose eyes have opened to the past as his thirst for battle wanes.

The world can change. Surgebinding and Shardwielding can return; the magics of ancient days can become ours again. These four people are key.

One of them may redeem us.

And one of them will destroy us.

My Thoughts:

1,001 pages. No, I didn’t say 1,001 nights, as in Scheherazade. Pages. I wasn’t sure I could read a story this long.  But Brandon Sanderson pulled me in. Wow. I did find I was more vested in Kaladin’s story than any other character, but they were all compelling. As with any epic story, it was slow building. There was a lot of thread to tangle together to get to the end. And ending that is both solved and left hanging, since there’s a second book. Overall, I’d say this is a great read for fantasy folks. And it’s worth sticking it out for the long haul. I’m glad I read it.

I hope your month is less 2020 and more, well, any other year. Stay safe!

This Wandering Heart by Janine Rosche

We’re halfway through July already. Wow. That’s crazy. I’d say “where has this year gone” but I think time has slowed down for all of us, eh?

One of the happy notes from June was my birthday. Lots of family and friends reaching out, and one spectacular picnic at the park, a surprise from our daughter and family with my husband’s help. (It’s a little scary he kept that secret so well. Lol.)

On the writing front, the epic prequel to my fantasy series, Earth Legacy, just went to the editor. So things are moving along.

And now, it’s time to get on with the reading challenge. The newest unread book on my shelf was a gift from another daughter. A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking, God rest his soul.

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Ooh, boy. This was a brain-burner. Fascinating, but I’m still not done with it. I have to stop and think about almost every paragraph, let it sink in and try to make sense of it, even though it’s very well written for a layman to read. That man was brilliant and I am in awe. Still, I needed something to post for this month’s challenge, so I fudged a bit and picked up a new-to-me book/author. Yes, another romance. 🙂

 

What It’s About:

In the first entry in the Madison River Romance series, Keira Knudsen gets the traveling opportunity of a lifetime, but when she reunites with her first love, Robbie, she learns that even a wandering heart needs a home….

No one in the quaint town of West Yellowstone, Montana knows that unassuming geography teacher Keira Knudsen moonlights as sensational travel blogger Kat Wanderfull. No one, that is, except for her first love, Robbie Matthews, who has just discovered the woman he is falling for online is the same one that broke his heart five years ago.

But Robbie has another problem: the mother of his daughter, Anabelle, has resurfaced after a three-year absence determined to rip Anabelle away from him. Robbie needs a steady paycheck for a chance at custody, and now, on the eve of a grand adventure that could give Keira a chance to flee her old, troubled life once and for all, she is in need of assistance.

With so much broken trust between them, Keira and Robbie must keep an arms-length away to make this partnership work. But the more time they spend together, exploring majestic places and sharing new experiences, the closer they get–until their secrets and dreams threaten to cost them everything.

My Thoughts:

I didn’t realize this was inspirational, and it worked very well for this story. There’s a world of hurt between these two, and one adorable four-year-old girl to bring them together. Honestly, I loved every minute of it. Even the reading disability the hero had was very, very well handled. It was full of hope, love, and everything that brings families together. It’s a recommend from me.

Have a great month, everyone! Stay safe! And hang in there.

Blessings

Counting blessings…

Over The Backyard Fence

First of all, a belated happy Fourth of July to our U.S. readers. I hope you were able to enjoy a safe and sane day/evening.

This shelter-in-place has been both a struggle and a blessing. Staying home so much has been hard, being someone who likes to travel. We are not going through what some people are, and we’ve tried to help where we could. I know we’re lucky to be able to wait out this virus until they have a way to prevent it. But that doesn’t mean my head and heart aren’t a little screwed up. I have dips into depression that I have to claw my way out of. This hasn’t been easy for any of us and I’ve been trying to journal the process for me, as well as what I see happening in the world.

On the flip side, one of the ways I’ve tried…

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The Inn at Eagle Peak by Sherryl Woods

How’s everyone doing? I know there’s been a lot going on lately. I find myself in tears over the strife and inequalities, yet bolstered by the acts of kindness and solidarity I see. That’s what I hang my hope for the future on.

We are still staying home, though our state is opening back up in phases and that has started here. Salons are opening up, among other things. Still, I’m not quite ready to venture out. I’m grateful we have a large yard to spend time in, and the ability to video chat with friends and family.

Okay, time to get on with the reading challenge before I get too wordy.

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June’s book had to have a place in the title. Since it didn’t say it had to be a REAL place, I chose a fictional one. A romance, which is my favorite genre. Oh, and I just read that it’s a series on the Hallmark Channel.

 

What It’s About:

It’s been years since Abby O’Brien Winters set foot in Chesapeake Shores. The Maryland town her father built has too many sad memories and Abby too few spare moments, thanks to her demanding Wall Street career, the crumbling of her marriage and energetic daughters. Then one panicked phone call from her youngest sister brings her racing back home to protect Jess’s dream of renovating the charming Inn at Eagle Point.

But saving the inn from foreclosure means dealing not only with her own fractured family, but also with Trace Riley, the man Abby left ten years ago. Trace can be a roadblock to her plans…or proof that second chances happen in the most unexpected ways.

My Thoughts:

I generally always like reunion stories and this was no exception. Abby and Trace are reunited, maybe by parental design, maybe not. But the attraction between these two is strong and immediate and gets them through some harrowing times. I enjoyed the characterization, especially the five-year-old twins, Abby’s complicated sister, Jess, and the parents that have their own wounds to recover from. The setting is rich and peaceful and well-thought out. I’ved picked up the second book in the series to keep reading because I wasn’t ready to leave Chesapeake Shores.

Stay safe, everyone! And hang in there. This, too, shall pass.

Moments of Joy

A few of my favorite things…

Over The Backyard Fence

2020 has been a pretty tough year so far. My household is on Day 87 of sheltering-in-place, though we have made the occasional trip out for necessaries we couldn’t get delivered. And we got to stare at different walls for a few days when we went to my sister’s last week. It hasn’t been easy. I like to travel and we’ve now cancelled our 4th and final trip for 2020.

But that’s peanuts compared to what others are struggling with. With the world in crisis, it can be hard to find joy in life, and that’s the focus of my blog today.

Finding the joy.

To that end, here are some of the joyful things in my life. I hope some of them give you ideas that make you smile.

  1.  Getting along with my husband for this long. Who’da thought? 🙂 Actually, he’s been my rock through all this…

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Maximum Ride by James Patterson

Well, this is, for my husband and I, day 74 of following stay-at-home protocols. We’re doing fairly well. Still married. Hahaha. Still managing our daily lives, with grocery pickup and the occasional masked up visit to a store. We’ve had socially distanced visits with family in back yards, which has been a godsend. For me, the thing I miss most right now is hugs. My husband gives great hugs, but I would love to put my arms around my children, you know?

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This month’s reading challenge is: A children’s or young adult book. Since I read quite a bit of young adult, I thought I’d see if one of the books from my childhood would still be as beloved as they were then. So I went to the kids books we have here at home and found Heidi by Johanna Spyri. First published in 1881, I fell in love with this story as a child. I credit it for helping me fall in love with reading. So I opened the book and started to read. Alas, the edition I have apparently spent some time in the garage over the years because before long I was sneezing and watery-eyed from the musty smell. So I had to set it aside.

Then I chose a YA book to read. Thought I’d check out James Patterson’s Angel Experiment series. I grabbed the ebook for Maximum Ride, book 1.

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What It’s About:

Max soars above the world . . . but in James Patterson’s thrilling adventure, fantasy can come crashing down to reveal the nightmares of the Angel Experiment.
Maximum Ride and her “flock” — Fang, Iggy, Nudge, Gasman and Angel — are just like ordinary kids, only they have wings and can fly. It may seem like a dream come true to some, but their lives can morph into a living nightmare at any time.
Angel, the youngest member of the flock, is kidnapped and taken back to the “School” where she and the others were experimented on by a crew of whack jobs. Her friends brave a journey to blazing hot Death Valley, CA, to save Angel, but soon enough, they find themselves in yet another nightmare: fighting off the half-human, half-wolf “Erasers” in New York City. Whether in the treetops of Central Park or in the bowels of the Manhattan subway system, Max and her adopted family take the ride of their lives.
Along the way, Max discovers that her purpose is save the world. But can she?

My Thoughts:

The characters are very different from each other and the premise is intriguing and complicated in a way only James Patterson can do. I felt for the kids in the story. However, the chapters were very short, many only a page or so. I’ve not seen that in a lot of young adult books and it made it hard for me to fully embed myself in the pov character, since it changed from chapter to chapter quite a bit. I haven’t picked up book 2 yet. I’m still mulling it over, but I’m betting I’ll pick it up. I did like the plot and would like to get some answers from this continuing series. I’d recommend this book, really I would. Just be prepared for those short chapters. 🙂

Stay safe, everyone! And hang in there. This, too, shall pass.

Projects and Legends

Reblogging my post from Over The Backyard Fence. How long does it take to crochet an afghan?

Over The Backyard Fence

As this post, my husband and I are on day 56 of our stay-at-home time. We’re still married and are actually getting along pretty well, thank goodness. For me, an interesting happenstance has come out of this time. I’m finishing incomplete projects, like the art project I posted about last month.

And this:

So, there are urban legends and there are family legends. I’m about to tell the tale of one of our family legends. A crocheting one.

When my daughter found out she was pregnant with our first grandchild, I let my joy fill me with enthusiasm. I did what most budding grandparents, at least, grandmothers, do. I decided to make a baby blanket. I don’t quilt, though I admire those that do. I don’t knit. I have, on a rare occasion, crocheted, so that was what I opted for.IMG_1805

I finished the project this week. My grandson, our…

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Virgin River

Last night, I closed a book I was so into that I read it over the course of about 30 hours. It wasn’t just the book. It was the last unread book in a twenty book series.

Have you read any of Robyn Carr’s Virgin River series? Seen the new Netfix series? Because both are soooo worth the time. I love reading romance stories, and small town romances always leave me smiling at the end, so I tend to gravitate toward them.

Over the years, I’ve read several stories from this series, set in a small town in the redwoods of Northern California. I rarely read them in order, not that it mattered. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, I made finishing this series one of my goals for our stay-at-home time. (Thank goodness for ebooks!)

And last night, I hugged my kindle after reading the end, sad to think that there were no new books to read in this world. My favorite characters are, of course, the bedrock of the series, Jack and Mel (book 1: Virgin River.)

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But I’ve been waiting for Nora’s story ever since she was introduced. Dumped in Virgin River with a baby and toddler by an unscrupulous ex, she had to work hard to survive and I wanted her to get her happy ending. Through Tom’s eyes, we get to see her amazing strength, her learning to trust again, and how much she sticks to her own principles.

I fell in love with Nora, with Tom and his grandmother, with Nora’s kids, with the apple orchard. But more than that, I got one final look at beloved characters and a world I’d been putting my reading glasses on for over the past several years.

I’m sad I’m done, but so happy to have spent the time in Virgin River. In fact, visiting the redwoods is now on my bucket list. This series is a high recommend from me.

And now the search is on to find a new series to read. Any recommendations?

Be safe, stay healthy. Survive! And, when life gets you down, I hope you are able to pick up a book and disappear for a while.