James J. Cudney’s books on sale!!! Cozy mysteries and a thriller

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I have enjoyed all the cozy mysteries in Cudney’s Braxton Campus Mystery Series and want to share information about the great prices available for a limited time for different books in the series. To see his blog post about this sale and his works, follow this link. (There is also a thriller on sale, but I have not read it.)

Enjoy!!!

The Jerusalem Assassin–deadly peace proposal

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The Jerusalem Assassin

by Joel C. Rosenberg

The Jerusalem AssassinNot every book is a good match for every reader. I think that may have been the case for me and Joel C. Rosenberg’s The Jerusalem Assassin which is a Christian political thriller. Most of this book is the setup for a very convoluted assassination plot involving groups of high level leaders and secret operatives from seven countries as well as a terrorist group.

It becomes apparent to world leaders that the president of the Palestinian Authority “doesn’t want to go down in history as the man who made peace. He wants to be remembered as the man who refused to surrender to the ‘criminal Zionists’…” In response, the leaders of the United States, Saudi Arabia, and Israel decide to meet on the Temple Mount and announce a peace proposal. Unfortunately, that opens the door for a targeted attack on the leaders of those countries.

Without the included Cast of Characters, I would have been lost. Instead, I was able to follow plot development by continual back and forth referencing of unfamiliar names, slowing the reading down considerably. I can’t say I actually enjoyed the book until the final fourth when the action played out.

The main character is Marcus Ryker who is ostensibly working for the Diplomatic Security Service, but is actually a special operative for the Central Intelligence Agency. Highly trained, efficient, and trusted, he uses his many connections to obtain critical information. He is a caring Christian, but his job puts him and those he loves in danger. I learned a lot about the daily physical and weapon training for agents and also the complicated logistics involved in setting up security for a U.S. president for a special event abroad.

Although the scenario of world conflict and years of attempts at a Middle East peace settlement are real, the details of the book’s plot and the people involved are fictional providing the author with much flexibility in creating his story. The results are deadly for many of the characters.

I would like to extend my thanks to NetGalley and to Tyndale House Publishers for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 3/5

Category: General Fiction (Adult), Mystery and Thriller

Notes: 1. #3 in the Marcus Ryker Series, but this book did not appear to rely on very much background from other books. 

  2. This author has written many books, both fiction and nonfiction, that focus on the Middle East.

Publication:   March 17, 2020—Tyndale House Publishers

Memorable Lines:

They were coming, and he knew they were coming, and he knew why—they were coming to kill him and to kill the president and to kill anyone else who got in their way. They were coming to settle scores.

…he and his son-in-law “must have undergone a Vulcan mind meld at some point, so unified are their views on theology and politics and even where in the Old City to buy the best baklava.”

Mahdi, the long-awaited Promised One…when that savior came, he would finally judge the Jews, the Christians, the atheists, the agnostics, and the pagans. Indeed, the Mahdi would judge every infidel and do so with fire and fury such as the world had never seen nor imagined.

The Ideal Education System

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Education is the best wealth among all. No one can steal it, no one can snatch it. As one consumes, it increases. As one shares, it expands.

Sanskrit Shloka

Hello, fellow Mumblers! I’m back with a new post! Read along and let me know what your favourite part was, in the comments section below! Much love!❤

From ancient times, India has always been the land of knowledge seekers. This is why it had the Gurukul system of learning. The students or ‘shishya’ would live in with their ‘guru’ i.e. teacher in small groups. Each of the students’ cognitive and emotional needs were catered to, individually by the gurus. The ‘ashram’ where they stayed would also help in making them self-sufficient through experiential learning.

Thus, for me, an ideal education system would be one, where the core tenet is ‘inside out’ rather than ‘outside in’. In such a system, students will be able to expand their horizons and not be constricted into a mould of certain subjects forced upon them.

However, this does not mean that the usage of modern technology should be shunned. Rather, state of the art computerised aids must be integrated with the ancient system to provide holistic development to children.

Such a system must focus not only on enriching the knowledge base but also on keeping the children physically and mentally in good shape.

In saying this, I heartily welcome the new education policy being introduced in India to get our education system at par with the ones abroad.

***

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In the Land of Blue Burqas–eye opening view of the women behind the blue veils

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In the Land of Blue Burqas

by Kate McCord

What would it be like to live in a country where the language, religion, and culture are extremely different from your own, a country like Afghanistan? Kate McCord raised support from friends and embarked on what was destined to be a five year adventure as a project manager, arranging for and supervising programs to help the local people. In the process, she found ways to interact within the cultural norms which, if violated, could result in penalties including physical abuse, expulsion, or execution. 

Although she could not openly evangelize, she spent much time there having tea with women, and sometimes men, sharing stories to illustrate the teachings of the Honorable Jesus who is regarded as a prophet in Islam. Those stories included parables Jesus himself shared with His followers. In recounting tales they could relate to and by the way she lived her life, Kate was able to show her Muslim neighbors and friends a God who loves them, unlike Allah, who is never associated with love. Allah’s followers obey him according to the interpretations of the local mullah in a most legalistic fashion.

Kate spent time learning the language and culture. Led by the Holy Spirit, she developed culturally sensitive ways to share difficult concepts like the Trinity. She lived as an Afghan woman, learning clothing requirements and social rules such as where to sit on a bus and when to make eye contact. Clearly a foreigner with her own religion, she adapted their customs to her own in a way that respected both traditions. Kate faced challenges in deciding whom to help in the most culturally appropriate way and looked to the locals to ascertain their attitudes toward individuals seeking aid. Knowing she could not revolutionize a society in which none of her many female friends said their husband had never beaten them, she nevertheless planted seeds of generosity, good attitudes, and kindness which helped the women in their relationships as well as showed them a side of the Honorable Jesus that they did not know thus drawing them to Him.

In the Land of Blue Burqas is the canvas on which Kate McCord paints a remarkably positive picture of Afghanistan and its citizens in spite of their dislike of most foreigners and regardless of the many brutal aspects of their culture.  I came away with a clearer understanding of why the country vehemently resists change and is so hostile to non-Muslims. I also emerge from this enlightening book grateful that I live in a country where I am free to choose to worship a loving God.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Evangelism, Christian Missions

Notes: I had a difficult time choosing the memorable lines I wanted to share. Sound bites and even longer quotes don’t do this story justice. I urge you to read the book to get a more complete understanding. It is a fascinating read. It also stimulates me to want to read about how Islam plays out in other countries.

Publication:   May 1, 2012—Moody Publishing

Memorable Lines:

Still, my greatest fear in the country has always been that I would be kidnapped and sold to some warlord as a fourth or fifth wife, relegated to household and sexual slavery behind a twelve-foot, mud-brick wall and locked gate. Even the mildest stories of Afghan women’s lives haunt me.

Our very presence challenges the power of the mullahs and the worldview of our neighbors. It’s one thing to hate and reject the voiceless, faceless masses of pig-eating, alcohol-drinking sons of Satan from the other side of the world—mythic caricatures interpreted by the mullahs through history and religion. 

But we Christian foreigners are flesh and blood with eyes and voices, laughter and tears, stories and faith. When Afghans meet us, see our lives, hear our stories, and recognize our humanness, conflicting worldviews collide. The safe box of well-defined ideological fortress-orthodoxy trembles, walls collapse, and doors open.

To Vaccinate or Not to Vaccinate: It’s Totally the Question

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I have finally found two things that everyone appears to agree on:

  1. Everyone is on hold until there’s a vaccines
  2. NO ONE PLANS ON GETTING THE VACCINE

Doesn’t matter gender, sexual orientation, nationality, religion, socioeconomic status, political affiliation or which Kardashian is your favorite. In my very unscientific survey, absolutely no one wants to be inoculated.

The reasons vary:

  1. They don’t trust the government
  2. They don’t trust Bill Gates
  3. Vaccine was too rushed
  4. They are tired of being told what to do
  5. Due to other issues, they have problems with vaccines and  the preservatives in them

I understand and empathize with every one of those reasons. I get it.

But here’s my question:

If no one plans on taking the vaccine, why do people keep saying- “Oh, life will be great when the vaccine comes out…things will go back to a sort of “new normal”.

Do people expect everyone else to get inoculated, but not themselves?

I didn’t intend to write about this today. I expected to give you a rather interesting essay about my recent hunt for sneaker laces including a picture of my new kicks (coming soon to a blog near you late October 2020), but day seizing my new attitude, I went with the topic that I’ve been discussing with friends and family for the past few days.

What are you going to do LA? you ask. (I heard you saying it- I do have a Mother’s spidey sense when I think someone is talking about me- and that my very wise friend G asked me the exact question yesterday)

I assume that students will be required to be vaccinated in order to go to school. If that is the case, then my daughter will be mandated. If my daughter gets the vaccine I will without hesitation, get the vaccine when I am able to.

There is no other option for me.

But my thought process is a little bit pessimistic right now.

If no one plans on actually getting the vaccine, what are we doing right now? If no one gets the vaccination, we will be in exactly the same place we are for the foreseeable future.

Which brings us to:

Will we all be required to get vaccinated?

Will we need to brandish ID cards to show we’ve been vaccinated before we will be allowed to do anything?

Here are my questions for you:

  1. Have you put everything on hold because you are waiting for the vaccine?
  2. Do you plan on getting the vaccine?

I get that this is a big deal, so you don’t have to comment. But please think about what I’ve written today. Discuss your issues and concerns with your family/friends.

Discuss/Think

It’s Only a Day Away

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Blogging friend Janet has something featured in an exhibit at the Brooklyn Art Library. I’d known about this for awhile, but hadn’t gotten to seeing it. I made plans with my friend M to see it on March 6.

The morning of March 6, M texts me that she has a massive headache. Did she mind if we postponed?

Sure. I said. There’s no rush. We can see it next week.

And the world said HA HA- because really, there was no next week for New Yorkers…

They opened a cute tea parlor in my neighborhood. It was on my “Someday” list. Now the tea shop is permanently closed.

A craft studio opened down the block from me. I kept missing the sign up for hand knitting (you weave big blankets with your hands or something- I don’t know what it is, but the blankets looked awesome and that’s why I wanted to take a lesson.) That shop is now permanently closed.

There were one or two opportunities that I missed because I didn’t thing the timing was right…and now these things will probably never happen.  Sometimes, things are once in a lifetime- and you will look back with regret and say –

What was I thinking? Why didn’t I do that when I had the chance. Boy- that was a mistake…

Because opportunities are more fleeting than we realize. Time is more fleeting than we realize…

What are the things on your “SOMEDAY” list?

What are the things in life that will make you happy, or excited but maybe you’ve been hesitant about doing?

What are the things that you will be sorry that you never did? What are the things that you will regret?

I’ve been seizing my mini moments as they happen: as things open up I’ve been doing them. Last week I had a dreamy look on my face and my husband asked:

“What are you thinking about?”

My daughter actually responded- “I bet she’s thinking about what museum she’s going to visit first now that they’ve said that they can reopen.”

And she was right. (I haven’t decided yet, but I’m pretty sure it’s going to be the Met. They have the most permanent collections)

And I’m totally signing up for in person Asian cooking classes when they eventually open.

I’m going to figure out how to fix something I screwed up.

I’m going to take a few acceptable risks…

Things will not be filed under “SOMEDAY”. They will be placed in dates and I will do them…

I get that there are people who are scared right now- people who don’t want to take a risk at all…

but…

Isn’t life always a risk?

Driving, getting on the subway, taking a bath….aren’t these all risks?

You need to take precautions. You don’t drive while impaired. You stand well behind the yellow line at the subway, you put adhesive duckies on the bottom of your tub.

You wear a mask.

Youi observe social distancing protocol.

Wash your hands.

You use good judgement.

I get that things are scary right now, but when haven’t things been scary?

Eleanor Roosevelt is sort of a Goddess in our household, so I will leave you with a quote of hers:

You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face

Carpe Diem baby…

 

 

 

Montana Welcome–runaway bride and a cowboy

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Montana Welcome

by Melinda Curtis

Lily Harrison loves adventure, and she has had plenty of them since she met daredevil Danny Belmonte at the age of seven. They remain steadfast best friends through good times and bad, including long term damage to Lily’s hands. But is friendship enough to take them to the wedding altar?

It seems everyone in Melinda Curtis’ Montana Welcome wants to arrange Lily’s life for her, to take care of her, but Lily has to decide if that is what she really wants. Woven into a runaway bride story are threads of family relationships and secrets; “Big E” wants to get to know his newly discovered granddaughters, and Rudy Harrison wants to keep the daughters he raised. Connor, a handsome cowboy, with hangups and responsibilities, is tasked with getting Lily from California to the Blackwell Ranch in Montana. Connor and Lily, along with her new-found cousin Pepper and Pepper’s maid of honor Natalie, have thrills and laughs as they make the trek in a travel trailer in time for Pepper’s cowboy style wedding.

Montana Welcome will entertain you as you get to know these characters along with their motivations and quirks. It is a quick read that will leave you wanting more. This is not a deeply complex romance, but it does deal with real issues of love, control, and secrets. The characters are interesting, and the plot includes action and contains surprises.

The Blackwell Sisters series, each book written by a different collaborating author, will focus on one of the Blackwell sisters who all consider themselves Harrisons. As the series moves forward, Rudy and Big E set out to look for Thomas Blackwell, the girls’ biological father to answer questions and possibly bring closure to the family. Bring on the next book!

I would like to extend my thanks to Melinda Curtis and Harlequin Heartwarming for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Romance

Notes: #1 in The Blackwell Sisters series from Harlequin Heartwarming, noted for their clean romances. This is a followup series to The Return of the Blackwell Brothers, and it is written by the same authors. You absolutely do not have to have read the first series to enjoy this one.

Publication:   August 4, 2020—Harlequin Heartwarming

Memorable Lines:

She knew what she should do. and it didn’t involve walking down the aisle on the arm of a man who wasn’t her father to pledge herself to a man who didn’t want to marry her.

On the trip out west, he’d been lulled to sleep by Big E’s snoring, which was like listening to waves regularly crashing on a beach. Loud waves that covered the noise semitrucks made when they pulled in and out of the rest stops where he and Big E parked each night.

Pepper’s carefully constructed dreams, her life plan, her desire for lucrative freedom. Could it be possible that Pepper hadn’t been frivolously wishing upon a star? That she’d been wanting to create a life she, and she alone, controlled?

Avoid it Like the Plague

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My cousin posted on Facebook the other day:

Guess we can’t say ‘avoid it like the plague anymore’…

It was kind of serendipitous that she wrote this recently, as my scheduled topic for today is about my neighbor and how she thinks I have the plague.

Ok- she doesn’t actually think I have the plague…

Ok- maybe she does think that…

Here’s the story:

A few weeks ago I entered the lobby of my building, armed with groceries and a smile under my mask. As I approached the elevator I saw one of the women from my hopefully temporarily defunct book club.

I gave a big “Hi” while remaining about five feet away.

M retreated backwards. She literally cringed and I could see her eyes and forehead tense up.

She didn’t say “Hi” to me. She just looked panicked. A woman I’ve had innumerable conversations with over the past twenty years.

She told me she hoped I didn’t mind but she was taking the elevator by herself.

She then proceeded to look straight ahead at the doors as they opened and she ran in and elbowed the DOOR CLOSE button about a million times.

What’s the expression- “deer in headlights”?

Or

She ran away from me like I had the plague…

Because, you know, I really could have the plague.

Of course, my building has a rule that if you have the plague you must disclose it and quarantine yourself- but it’s not like anyone actually listens to rules- so…

But anyway-

There are some people that are totally scared of catching Corona. I get it. I really do. I have lived through this nightmare too.

But, I wonder if many are ever going to recover.

We have now gotten to the point where we don’t trust our neighbors. We have now gotten to the point where many are afraid to leave their houses.

Will these people ever be able to get over their fears of living through COVID 19?

Will they ever be comfortable going to a store?

Saying “Hi” to a neighbor?

Sharing an elevator?

A year from now- will they still be scurrying to and fro like mice avoiding a cat?

Will people want to leave their houses ever?

Or will they exist in virtual life?

Work from home?

Zoom parties?

Amazon orders?

Netflix nights?

Anything to avoid human contact?

Will we become a society of introverts?

Discuss…

How Do I Know You

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After you’ve been blogging awhile, you begin to develop relationships with other writer/readers. It’s a natural thing: when you “see” people on a repeated basis, you begin to know one another, like the person at the cubicle next to yours if you are working in an office, or the person who works the check out at your favorite market. These people achieve a certain status in your own social hierarchy.

I’ve been blogging for awhile now, and I definitely have blogger friends. I kinda/sorta treat these people a little differently when I comment on their blogs and vice versa.

One such person is blog friend Cindy. Cindy writes a very nice blog, where sometimes she writes practical things (this morning she posted a recipe), sometimes you writes inspirational things , and sometimes she just rants a bit. Sometimes, I make a sarcastic  comment on her posts. because I know she gets my humor and what I’m going at…

See, that’s just it: when you talk to someone for awhile, you know what you can and can not say…and you know who you can be a little snarky with…

So a few weeks ago, Cindy wrote a post that was a slight rant/commentary. And I posted a slight sarcastic/witty comment….

Except…

After I read Cindy’s post, I had gone back to “Reader” because her comment box wasn’t appearing at the bottom of the post (one of the offshoots of the recent update)

But…

And this is a really big but…

I clicked on the post of another blogger. A post I hadn’t read yet. A blogger that doesn’t post very often and I don’t know very well, and I don’t think I’ve commented on or received a comment from…

I left my slightly sarcastic, a little witty comment…

ON THIS OTHER PERSON’S BLOG

I realized my error the moment I pressed “Send”…

I hurriedly read the post I had just commented on…

Oddly…

My comment sort of worked with the content of her post…

But this blogger doesn’t know me or my penchant for sarcasm…

I was mortified…

Mortified I tell you…

And that blogger responded back….

And I think she was a little surprised but she replied back gracefully…

And I never admitted that I’d originally commented on her post my accident…

But there you have it…

So, my advice for the day is: when doing anything in WordPress, be super careful, because WordPress updates totally make you screw up…

If not for WordPress, I would never make an error…

 

Highlights August 16

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History of my the Gramercy neighborhood
This is Gramercy park from Lexington…
See…optimists…
Good Thanks…Lower East Side
Fashion shoot….don’t know if model is masked
Watermelon strawberry lemon aid
Jue Lan Club
Breezy Point, Queens, New York
Kennedy’s Breezy Point
Strawberry…
Soft scrambled eggs
Early and empty

Gratitude Saturday

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I had a Covid era pedicure the other day. My favorite part of a pedicure is the foot massage: I still walk a lot, on pavement and my feet are normally achy, no matter what shoes I wear. #Firstworldurbanlivingproblems. So, I always get an extra ten minute foot massage…

I am really grateful for the nail technician who gave the most amazing foot massage. She got the spot on the soul of my foot, the lower part of the arch,  that just released all the tension in my body right up to my hair….I just melted into a puddle of happy…

I was ready to divorce my Husband and marry her…

 

Friday Favorites August 14

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I don’t think I taxed your brains and spirits too much this week…don’t worry…I’ll try harder next week…

But for today- random favorites of mine! Feel free to play any way you want!

  1. Favorite Song You’re Embarrassed to Like: Oh, I love cheesy pop music just as much as I like other tunes- but we will go with “I Think I Love You” by The Partridge Family, followed by “Sugar Sugar” by The Archies
  2. Favorite Thing to do at the Beach: Sit in a chair under an umbrella with a book and a cold beverage
  3. Favorite Thing about a rainy day: Sitting by a window watching the rain while reading a book with a hot beverage
  4. Favorite Professional Athlete– John McEnroe
  5. Favorite Halloween Costume You’ve Worn– Ok- not big on the dress up thing- but in college I dressed as a smurf (with two other friends)- and as I’ve admitted this, I will say that I saw this really cute guy at a party when I was dressed as a smurf but didn’t want to talk to him as smurf, and then a few months later I saw the guy again and he came up to me and said “Hey- weren’t you one of the smurfs?” And then I burst into flames…
  6. Favorite Soap Scent- would anyone be surprised if I said Lavender?
  7. Favorite Baby Boy Name: Michael.
  8. Favorite Cookie: soft and chewy ginger molasses
  9. Favorite Leonardo Dicaprio movie: “Wolf of Wall Street”
  10. Favorite Foreign Band/Artist: So many! Hmmmm U2, Adele, Queen, Beatles, etc

Dog On It–funny K-9 mystery

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Dog On It

by Spencer Quinn

Dog On ItHave you ever looked at your dog and wondered what in the world he or she (Chet says, “no ’it’s’ please”) is thinking? In Dog On It, you will be treated to author Spencer Quinn’s take on the imagined inner workings of a dog’s thoughts and personality. His vehicle for sharing these insights is the very likable and competent K-9 sidekick named Chet. The story is humorously told from his point of view.

I figure my dogs have the mentality of a two-year-old. They have a little understanding of the English language, even a smattering of Spanish, but I’m sure most of what I say goes over their heads. In a similar way, P.I. Bernie Little of Little Detective Agency talks over his cases with Chet. Chet picks up on the tone of the conversation, and over the years they have developed cues and routines that make them an outstanding team. When it comes to expressions like “wild good chase,” however, Chet is excited but confused.

We get to know Chet very well as he tells the story emphasizing what he and his “tribe” can do and how they are different from humans. Seen from his perspective, we learn the importance of scents, what delights Chet, and how easily distractible he is. Bernie does the thinking, but Chet’s role is equally important in following even the faintest whiffs and intimidating criminals.

Chet says that Bernie often has a cash flow problem although he doesn’t understand what that is. The source of the problem seems to be undercharging and an abundance of pro bono work. Bernie works to control his smoking and drinking. He has a combat past that Chet only shares a little about. Bernie is divorced and has a young son he adores. The detective displays intelligence, courage, and physical prowess. He isn’t perfect, but he is a very likable character.

Although this book truly brought a smile to my face throughout, don’t be deceived. Packing a good solid mystery with plenty of leads and some adventure as well, Dog On It is much more than a humorous book. On the other hand, don’t expect a deep plot exploring heavy issues; that’s not what this book is about. It is a quick read because it is so entertaining. I never tire of hearing what Chet is thinking or even why he is not thinking at all. This work is the most exquisitely funny example of anthropomorphism I have read in a very long time. I am looking forward to more reading pleasure with this series which currently has ten books.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Mystery, Humor

Notes: 1. This book does not contain much in the way of casual inappropriate language, but it does take God’s name in vain multiple times.

2. #1 in the Chet and Bernie Mystery Series

Publication:  February 10, 2009—Atria Books

Memorable Lines:

At that moment I heard a funny swishing sound. Susie glanced over. “Getting close to home, huh?” I realized the funny swishing sound came from my own tail, whipping back and forth against the seat.

The woman’s mouth opened and closed, but no sound came out. I loved when Bernie made that happen. We walked outside feeling like winners, at least I did.

I’d been in a few car chases like this—one of the very best perks in our line of work, car chases—and they always ended the same way, with some perp’s pant leg between my teeth.

Phase F

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We’ve reached Phase F of the pandemic.

What is Phase F you ask?

It’s the part of the pandemic where my daughter and I make a pot of tea, and at 10pm we turn on Nickelodeon for reruns of Friends…

One episode, Ross is on a leave of absence from his job and is living with Joey and Chandler. Ross complains to Joey that he did all his errands, and now he’s bored. Joey scoffs at him: He tells Ross that you need to spread out the errands. Bank on Monday, post office on Tuesday, drug store on Wednesday etc. In essence, you do one errand a day…

I used to be a Ross. I used to run all my errands on Mondays.

Good Times…

Sixth Avenue in Chelsea is one of my go to blocks. They have a Trader Joe’s (food), Container Store (containers), Harmon Drug. Michaels Art Supplies, a Bed Bath and Beyond, Staples (office supplies), and a Fairway Market. With a block of this are two Home Depot (hardware), Whole Foods, Barnes and Noble(books), and a Sephora (make up). The bank, post office and thrift stores are within a block of my house and I need to pass them to get to the other stores. – I would leave the house with three or four reusable bags, a long list and a spring in my step…I could go store to store and get whatever I needed/wanted.  Returning home would be with a sense of accomplishment as I unpacked and put away all the things I need to get through a week…A smile would light up my face as I placed the reusable bags back onto the magnet hooks behind my front door…

Fast forward to this week:

Monday I went to Fairway (really large market).

Tuesday I went to Harmon (drug store with no prescriptions  but wide array of beauty products)

Wednesday I went to Bed Bath and Beyond (I needed a new pan, but I’m going to talk about that on October 1 when I have a post scheduled about it)

Today I am going to Target.

Tomorrow I am dropping stuff off at Salvation Army (thrift store)

Saturday- one thing…

Sunday….

Just call me Joey.

Some would say the luxury of time is a blessing.

I am not one of those people.

I liked having a day where I got everything done, leaving the rest of the week open to possibilities…

And even if the possibility was working four hours a day on my book, it was wonderful…

But now I take my to do list and rip it into seven pieces…one for each day of the week…

And yes- I totally long for the days when my planner was filled with more than just stickers…

But to be fair, I might need to buy a larger planner because I’m really loving the stickers and I can’t see them going away any time soon…

And I really look forward to getting back to being a little bit like Ross, and a whole lot like Monica…

Alone Again, Happily

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A few weeks ago, my Husband’s work computer had a hiccup. After two hours on hold for the help desk (to which he got disconnected) and then further emails and such, it was determined that he and his computer had irreconcilable differences.

His computer was unfixable without being in the office- (his company has all sorts of firewalls when employees are working on their own internet connection- so he wasn’t even able to get onto the internet so that the help desk could shadow him) Technically we were in whatever stage allowed you to go to the office (he’d already lost a day of work though- during a really busy time) but- the help desk told him:

DO NOT GO INTO THE OFFICE

Well- work does have to go on…

So my Husband spent a day at the office…

And the heavens cried out.

I had the living room to myself. He wasn’t taking up half the small living room with his stuff. I didn’t hear his work calls. He wasn’t asking me to do anything for him. No listening to the dulcet tones of Stephan A. Smith and Max Kellerman talking about nothing on ESPN. No asking me from 730 “What’s for lunch?”

I was alone and I liked loved it.

(OK- my daughter was home but she had an internship and was volunteer tutoring and was taking a class and probably saving the world in some other way, so I didn’t see her)

But back to the me being alone part…

Bliss I tell you…like a whole day of comfort drawer without any lavender…

And last week…..

He had to do a week at the office for a trial run…

Do you hear birds chirping and see unicorns jumping over rainbows?

And…

I think his office wants to try 50% capacity after Labor Day…

Imagine if you will, me doing a little tiny uncoordinated jig around my apartment…

Because I am now filled with hope that maybe one little tiny thing in my life can go back to normal…

It’s no secret that quarantine has brought out the worst in me- I am ashamed to admit that I do not thrive under the pretense of everything in my life changing. But by far the biggest thing that drove me crazy was not having any time alone. Ever. i was never alone. Even when I went to the bathroom someone was always calling me or needing the bathroom or whatever.

I need time alone to be a whole person…

So here’s hoping that soon I can start to get my life back…

FYI- it took ten days for my husband to get his new computer mailed to him. If he’d listened to the help desk and not gone into the office he would have been two weeks behind and deadlines wouldn’t have been met and actually financial world’s would have collided…so this work from home thing has plenty of other drawbacks…

The One Where I Forgot

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You know by now that I get an idea for a post, write it down in my planner, and then when I get to that day, I write the post.

For today, I have written down:

Is freedom constricting or freeing-Grantchester episode w/ nun

Here’s the thing: I’m about a month ahead on ideas- (when I wrote down a post idea yesterday I was scheduling September 20 I think). Often, when I open my planner my one hope is   that my notes aren’t totally cryptic and I have a vague idea about what I intended when I wrote it down.

Today I totally remember what I was thinking when I wrote down the note. I had watched the PBS show Grantchester, which is about a clergyman in England in 1957.In the season finale, one of the characters mentions a great quote asking whether freedom is freeing or constraining.

It was a great quote.

But instead of backing up the TV to write down the quote, I just saved the episode to my DVR, figuring that I would just go back to the episode when it was time to write the post…

But then my cable box died and I lost the episode. I don’t have PBS Passport, so I can’t rewatch the show. There was a far more interesting quote in the episode,  so when I google the episode, my quote is not there.

I can’t find the exact quote.

But it was something about too much freedom actually being worse than having to follow a strict set of rules- that too many choices stymy a person more than less choices…

So…in my roundabout way:

Do you think it’s easier to have less choices? Does a plethora of choices make life more difficult?

When you go to the paint store, do you really want thirty shades of gray, or do you just want one shade of light gray, one shade of regular gray and one shade of dark gray?

How often do you get option paralysis- where there are so many choices before you you actually can’t decide? Your brain hurts from overthinking the possibilities?

So- choices- good, bad, too few, too many…

Discuss

Shake Down–reality TV is so fake!

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Shake Down

by Kendel Lynn

Shake DownElliott Lisbon is the director of the billion-dollar Ballantyne Foundation and is also a very frustrated PI-in-training. There are plenty of cases to work on, but her boyfriend Lieutenant Ransom and other law enforcement officers do not share much information with her. So, Elliot enlists her best friend Sid, and the pair hone their investigative skills in the complicated search for Daphne who has a reputation for going missing and following her whims without warning. Would she do that with her friend’s wedding less than a week away?

In Shake Down by Kendel Lynn, lots of plot lines intersect. The Ballantyne Foundation is sponsoring a BBQ fundraiser honoring families who host the homeless. We are also introduced to Daphne who disappears shortly before she is to be maid of honor for her best friend Juliette. The girls met on a reality TV show where they were competing for an eligible bachelor. Much of the plot is centered around the town’s search for Daphne. That part of the book drags just a bit, but the pace and action pick up later and culminate in a conclusion I could never have predicted.

I would like to extend my thanks to Edelweiss and to Henery Press for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 4/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: #5 in the Elliott Lisbon Mystery Series but OK as a standalone as characters from previous books in the series are clearly reintroduced.

Publication:   March 17, 2020—Henery Press

Memorable Lines:

She stopped as if her soles had been superglued to the asphalt. She seemed to be experiencing the second half of fight or flight. Freeze or faint.

“He’s being all cagey and friendly. Helpful in a distinctly not very helpful way.”

The shot was beyond loud. Like saying a hurricane was breezy or a ghost pepper had a little kick.

Year of Wonders: A Novel of the Plague

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Year of Wonders: A Novel of the Plague

by Geraldine Brooks

Year of WondersOur book club undertook Year of Wonders by Pulitzer Prize winner Geraldine Brooks. There are many things to recommend it, especially the depth of character development. Also prominent is the ability of the author to immerse the reader in the year 1665 in a small town in England where women of all classes were subject to the whims and humiliation of men.

We divided the reading and the discussion into two parts. The first half of the book was well received even though graphic descriptions of the Plague were tough to read. Several of us had to put the book aside for a time because of the horrors of the Plague and the difficult lives of the characters. 

The ending of the book was met with a consensus of disappointment. After detailed and extensive exploration of the characters, author Brooks turns everything upside down leaving a shambles of motivations and actions that are disjointed based on expectations drawn from previous descriptions of their personalities. There is a baseness and meanness rising to the surface of characters who have been portrayed as admirable. The theology exposed by the ministers is not Biblically sound, but if one were to read the notes at the end of the book, it would not be surprising as the author refers to herself as having a “secular mind.”  This is a dark book and not one that I would recommend mainly because the ending tries to provide closure much too quickly and, in the process, rather bizarrely changes the essential characters of all the major actors in the story.

I would like to extend my thanks to NetGalley and to Penguin Books for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 2/5

Category: Historical Fiction

Notes:  This book includes an afterword, interview with the author, and discussion questions.

Publication:   April 30, 2002—Penguin Books

Memorable Lines:

I liked her, too, because it takes a kind of courage to care so little for what people whisper, especially in a place as small as this…She was a rare creature, Anys Gowdie, and I had to own that I admired her for listening to her own heart rather than having her life filled by others’ conventions.

And so, as generally happens, those who have most give least, and those with less somehow make shrift to share.

“…we must take stock of these herbs and such remedies as the Gowdies may have left here. The key to defeating this Plague, I am convinced, must lie here, in the virtue of such plants as can be used to nourish those who remain in health. We must strengthen our bodies that we may continue to resist contagion.”

Musings in the Backyard

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Hello, fellow Mumblers! Firstly, I’m so sorry for this late post which was supposed to go up yesterday but better late than never. So, here we go. 😅😄

The pandemic has forced all of us to be enclosed in our homes and I’m fortunate enough to be near mother nature even at this time. With all the free time I had, ( but still couldn’t put up a post smh) I sat in the backyard, just looking around. What revelations nature made to me in those few moments are penned below. Enjoy! Much love!❤

There’s a whole world out there, right outside your window. You’d be a fool to miss it.

Charlotte Eriksson

The sunlight slithers through the dense canopy of leaves

And dances on the ground with each sigh of the wind

***

A tiny bulbul perches on the parapet and calls out

Fearlessly interrrupting my morning reverie

***

With its chest thrust out

And a handsome crown

The red whiskers, fit for a clown

***

An old, weary leaf gently falls from above

And onto the ground, where it shall be buried

***

It’s funny how nature seems to join the earth upon death

While we the mortal humans, still think of our souls floating to the heavens above.

***

One Little Lie–dangerous thriller

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One Little Lie

by Colleen Coble

One Little LieI didn’t know quite what to expect from Colleen Coble’s new series Pelican Harbor, so I dove into the first book wondering how the author would combine some mystery, a little thriller, and a bit of clean romance while incorporating a Christian viewpoint. Not that it couldn’t be done or hasn’t been done, but it is not my typical cozy mystery read. As it turns out, One Little Lie is a page turner. Its plot and characters have depth, and the threads occur on many levels. The reader has to wonder if they are parallel or will possibly collide making this a very intricate mystery indeed. 

Jane Hardy is chosen to be the new Pelican Harbor Chief of Police after her father resigns. What was behind his leaving the force? Why is Reid Dixon, who makes documentaries, having conversations with Jane’s father? Reid has been granted approval by the mayor to follow Jane around. Besides the pressure of extra scrutiny on her first days as Police Chief, why does Reid’s presence make her uncomfortable? Several murders and kidnappings later, events ramp up to a high danger level for Jane and her K-9 officer and companion Parker. Who can Jane trust?

The prologue of this book is set fifteen years earlier during an attack on a cult. That event and the years prior cast a shadow and create devastating secrets for the characters in this book. As for the Christian viewpoint, some of the characters in the book trust in God and have a relationship with Him. Those characters have challenges in which they rely on God; other characters come to see that believing in God could impact their lives and choices in a positive way as they struggle to get past the lies others have told them. This book provides closure for many threads, but I feel there is more story to be told in Pelican Harbor, Alabama. I’m looking forward to the publication of Strands of Truth, the next book in the series, in September 2020.

I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Mystery, Romance, Christian

Notes: 1. #1 in the Pelican Harbor Series

2. Discussion questions are included at the end of the book.

Publication:   March 3, 2020—Thomas Nelson

Memorable Lines:

Jane had no idea how much he was going to mess with her life. It had been a long time coming Retribution was an exciting word, one he’d rolled around and around in his head for years. It would be a freight train coming for the Hardys at full speed. None of them would understand his purpose until it was too late.

But if Olivia could face the horror of her future, surely Jane could face the past that couldn’t reach out and hurt her any longer.

She teetered on high heels and wore tight-fitting jeans and a top that showed off her curves. False advertising. A cute figure was never a substitute for a beautiful spirit.

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