Saturday, November 28, 2020

Sunday Synopsis


Lying Next to MeLying Next to Me by Gregg Olsen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really liked this novel. I had read Olsen's true crime book, If You Tell, several months ago and decided to give his fiction a try. Olsen is a great storyteller!

Set in Washington State, Adam and Sophie Warner decide to work on their marriage by taking a short holiday to Hood Canal over Memorial Day weekend. Adam and their 3 year old daughter Aubrey are on the water when Sophie is abducted by a stranger in broad daylight. All Adam can do is watch helplessly. Luckily, one of the responding detectives is an old friend of Adam's, his childhood best friend's little sister, detective Lee Husemann, someone he can trust. Also by luck, there was an eyewitness to the crime. An older gentleman beachcomber saw the whole thing.

An older woman is staying in the cabin next to the Warners along with her two grandchildren. They were in their cabin when it happened. The other cottage was rented by Connor and Kristen Moss who arrived very late the evening before the abduction and were still sleeping when it took place. Will Lee be able to put all the pieces together and find the killer? It might not be who you think it is.

The tone of this book reminded me of Gone Girl. Each chapter is written from a different character's point of view, and your opinion of each character will change based on what the others say about him or her. Sometimes there will be two chapters in a row by the same character, but you won't know which character to believe. Olsen masterfully builds each character's personality through introspection, conversation, thoughts, and actions. He keeps the plot moving forward by revealing new information bit by bit which builds so much suspense that when you get near the end, you can't put it down.

One of my biggest pet peeves is when authors don't write a resolution, and Olsen did not commit that offense. I liked this story from the first page, and I can't always say that about books!

View all my reviews

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Thursday Thirteen

1.  I am grateful I still have my mom and my husband still has his dad. I miss my dad every day, and I know he misses his mom.

2.  I'm thankful for all of my family!

3.  I'm so grateful that I was able to retire last December.

4.  I appreciate my eyes. I would hate to miss all the beauty in our world.

5.  I'm grateful I have things like a home, food, a vehicle, things that many other people struggle with.  I have a comfortable life.

6.  I'm grateful for my cat, Lacy.  A pet's love is unconditional.

7.  I'm blessed to be able to read.  I can take adventures or solve crimes without even leaving my house.

8.  I'm glad I have hobbies to feed my creativity:  scrapbooking, sewing, coloring, taking pictures.


9.  I'm thankful for hugs!  They're good for the soul.

10. I'm so glad to live in this country where I am FREE to be ME.

11. I am grateful for the people who make our lives safer and better:  doctors, nurses, farmers, delivery drivers, police, firemen (and women), military, and so on.

12.  I'm thankful for the best meal of the YEAR!  Turkey, gravy, cornbread dressing, and cranberry sauce.

13. I'm so thankful for Jesus Christ.  Even when I have troubles, I make it through due to my faith.

Find more lists at Thursday Thirteen.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Photo Wednesday

 Robinson Park, Seabrook, Texas, November 21, 2020.  It was a beautiful day!

I'm linking up with image-in-ing and Wordless Wednesday.  Come join the fun!

Monday, November 23, 2020

Random Happy Tuesday

 I'm linking up with Stacy and Sandee.

Last week I made a recipe I had made two weeks prior, and it was delicious!  Chicken with artichokes, mushrooms, and parmesan. However, this time I had stomach problems shortly after dinner and on into the night.  I guess it could have been the spinach I sautéed.  My son had some issues, but my husband didn't, and we all ate the same thing.  Mine was worse than my son's.  Could  my age be the reason mine was worse than his? 

You probably don't care to hear any more about that.  But, speaking of food, my favorite meal of the year is coming up!  I love turkey, gravy, rolls, cornbread dressing, green bean casserole, and cranberry sauce - the jellied kind, not the berried kind.  My mom lives alone, and since neither my family nor my husband's are having large gatherings, I decided to purchase a family meal from Cracker Barrel.  My son and I will take it to my mom's.  She lives alone, and I hate the thought of her being isolated on a holiday.

Moving right along...

Thought this was funny, and so me!

This!!!  Cracks me up!

And last, but not least...

Happy Thanksgiving and have a great week!

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Sunday Synopsis


Through a Mother's Tears: The tragic true story of a mother who lost one daughter to a brutal murderer and another to a broken heartThrough a Mother's Tears: The tragic true story of a mother who lost one daughter to a brutal murderer and another to a broken heart by Cathy Broomfield
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I think I downloaded this book because it was either a freebie or a 99 cent book offered through Bookbub. If you've never heard of it, it's a site that recommends books for free or very low priced. They don't sell the books. They just send you the deals that are available for whatever electronic device you use. I was using NOOK at first, but now I am using Kindle, and it was easy to change so I was getting the links to Amazon instead of Barnes and Noble. I get about one email a week with recommendations and personalized offers. Now, to the review...

True Crime is one of my favorite genres. That being said, my observation is that true crime is usually done well by an author who wasn't involved in the case. While this was a sad, yet interesting story written by the mother who experienced it, it was a little disjointed and repetitive. There was a little too much whining (and I would whine, too, if I were this mother), but it doesn't make for compelling literature.

That being said, it was a good story. Set in England, Cathy is a mother of three, divorced, but remarried. Kirsty, her youngest daughter, rushes into a hasty marriage with a man her family doesn't approve of. When she goes missing, her family prays she has gotten away from her abusive husband and will get in touch when she feels it is safe to do so. Then comes a knock at the door. It's the police. They have found Kirsty.

Justice is slow in coming, but when they finally go to trial, shameful secrets are revealed. In addition, Cathy's middle daughter Hailey has "learned" to cope by drowning her sorrows in liquor, which doesn't lead to anything good. This family is dealing with tragedy after tragedy, and it is truly heartbreaking. I just wish it were written better.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Thursday Thirteen


I have had bison on the brain since visiting the Armand Bayou Nature Center where we observed some from a viewing platform (as well as from Guy's Grocery Games where chefs often cook with it).  I asked my husband if he knew the difference between a buffalo and a bison.  He didn't, so I decided to look it up.

1.  Well, guess what?  A buffalo is NOT a type of bison or vice versa!  Bison and buffalo are not interchangeable names.

2. The confusion likely stems from early European explorers that may have described bison using the French word boeuf, which means beef.  

3.  Buffalo never roamed the American plains.  They are native to Africa and Asia while bison are native to North America and Europe.

4.  The horns on buffalo and bison are very different.  Water buffalo have horns that resemble a handle-bar mustache. Cape buffalo have long crescent-shaped horns. Bison have short, sharp horns.

Image Credit

5.  They have thick coats that they shed in spring and summer.

6.  Bison have large humps at their shoulders as well as large heads.

7.  They also have beards.

Image Credit

8.  Bison are not endangered, but they are nearly at a threatened state.

9.   About 30,000 exist in conservation herds and another 500,000 are raised as livestock. (This makes me sad.)

10. Bison are the largest land animal in North America with males weighing up to 2,000 pounds and females up to 1,000 pounds.

Image Credit

11. Bison make grunting and snorting noises and bellows, but they don't moo like cows.

12. Bison are only aggressive if they feel threatened, and they can run up to 40 miles per hour.  They can also jump vertically up to six feet. But don't worry about them hunting you; they're herbivores.

13. They have excellent senses of hearing and smell, but they have poor eyesight.

Link up with Thursday Thirteen for more fun!

Thanks to these great sites for giving me great information about bison!

Smithsonian's National Zoo

National Wildlife Federation

Tuesday, November 17, 2020


 At Armand Bayou Nature Center, which I wrote about yesterday, they have a bison viewing platform in their prairie lands.  

Look at this big boy! (or girl? You can't tell gender by the horns.)

I'm linking up with image-in-ing and Wordless Wednesday.  Jump over to these sites for more great photos!  And stay tuned for more bison information tomorrow!

Monday, November 16, 2020

Random (and Happy) Tuesday

 It's time to link up.  Random Tuesday and Happy Tuesday.

Now that I'm retired, I'm still having trouble remembering what day it is!

 Maybe it's not just because of retirement, which, by the way, is a year next month.  Yay!  Should have done it sooner.  Maybe it's a symptom of 2020 with all the chaos and COVID.  Most of the websites I've read say that forgetting what day it is a common memory lapse that doesn't indicate any underlying cause.  In fact, one site says that it is because our days are all basically the same with a lack of transition and differentiation in our routines.  That sounds about right!

Yesterday my husband and I did something different, though. We visited a local place call Armand Bayou Nature Center.  I loved it!  I get very bored taking walks around the neighborhood, but going to ABNC where there were distractions such as ponds, wildlife ( most of which we didn't actually see), forestry, a pioneer village, and even bison.  I was so looking forward to seeing some alligators, but they weren't out and about.  They're actually very common around here.  Walking through the hiking trails, you can still see some of the damage caused by Hurricane Ike back in 2008, but I am looking forward to going again.  I want to go back soon.

Nothing else exciting here since last week, so I'll get to the good stuff...

And a little sweetness to end this post:
Youtube kitten video

Have a great week!

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Sunday Synopsis


A Time for Mercy (Jake Brigance, #3)A Time for Mercy by John Grisham
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really like Grisham's legal thrillers. This one was better than Sycamore Row, and almost as good as A Time to Kill, which I still consider his best. Another Grisham book that really affected me was The Chamber, but that's a post for another day.

I enjoyed being back in Clanton with the Brigance family, Jake, Carla, and daughter Hanna. I feel like I know them. I would like to revisit them again in another book down the road. This one was left open to that because, darn you, John Grisham! I didn't get the resolution I wanted! The case is not completely over at the end of the novel, although it appears that it possibly could be. I don't want to give anything away.

In this book, it is 1990, five years after the Hailey case, and Jake is once again defending an unpopular defendant, this time not by his choice. He is assigned the case. The accused is Drew Gamble, a sixteen year old boy who has murdered a county deputy in whose home he has been living with his mother and sister for a few months. Most of the town wants the death penalty, and they do not hesitate to say and do what they feel they must to get their own brand of justice. With Jake defending the boy who killed a law enforcement officer with strong ties to the community, Jake also is subjected to the wrath of many of his fellow Clantonites.

Like A Time to Kill, you get a sense of life in a small town where most people know everyone and gossip runs faster than a Bugatti. We come face-to-face with Harry Rex and Lucien Wilbanks, and Judges Omar Noose and Rueben Atlee as well as Carl Lee Hailey. With several plot twists - one I saw coming and a few I didn't - this book was difficult to put down. And I heard that Grisham wants Matthew McConaughey to again play Jake Brigance. That sounds dandy to me!

View all my reviews

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Thursday Thirteen

 I learned a thing or two about weddings in the last few months, particularly now that it is over.

1. No matter how much time you spend planning or how many lists you make, you will forget something.  I forgot a lighter for the unity candle and an ice chest for the leftover alcohol, but luckily, my husband hadn't left and was able to bring them.

2.  Speaking of alcohol... some people are happy with none.  Some people are happy with whatever you provide, and some people will never think you provided the right things.  Please yourself!

3.  You don't want anyone getting drunk and driving home.  Have a plan.

4.  Something else about alcohol... unopened packages or bottles are returnable in most states like mine as long as the alcohol was not already chilled.

5.  Your food may not turn out exactly as it did at your tasting, which is what happened to us.  It was okay, though.

6.  Make sure the photographer has a list of all the "special" photos you want including the rings, the gifts, the cake, any special decorations, any particular poses you want.

7.   Many young people don't like the "older" traditions such as the bouquet toss, or at least they say they don't, but we did it anyway.  We did not, however, have the groom take of the bride's garter.  That's just trashy!  Or it can be.  He threw an extra garter I had waiting in my purse.

8.  About ten to twenty percent of your guests won't RSVP.  Call them.  You need an accurate number.

9.  Assign tables even if your guests decide to move and sit with someone else.  Due to Covid, we did tables according to households except when there were only 2 or 3 per household, but they were able to sit 6 feet across from another couple that had a small household, so it worked out.

10. Most guests love wedding cake, so make sure you taste it and get a good one!

11.  Guests also love other desserts such as donuts, cookies, cake pops, and candy.  We did a candy table with bags they could fill to take home in lieu of favors they would just throw away.  But I overordered the candy, so I should have done more research on that.

12. If you are providing a lot of your own decorations and supplies, cleaning up is a hassle.  Either have a plan that includes specific people who will help or pay someone to do it.

13.  The most important thing I learned?  Dance like no one is watching!!  

Link up and play or read with Thursday Thirteen.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Random Tuesday

 I'm linking up with Stacy for Random Tuesday and Sandee for Happy Tuesday.

Whew!  I did it!  I survived the wedding!  Everything was beautiful.  The couple, of course, the ceremony, the decorations, the food and bar, the dancing, the photo booth, and DJ.  There are things I would do a little differently if there were a next time, but it truly was close to perfect.  We had beautiful weather, too.

The whole day was kind of a blur until the actual ceremony started: Getting her hair and makeup done, getting to the venue, setting up decor, trying to get myself ready, and all the emotions.  I held it together until she walked down the aisle, then I cried some, but I didn't make a spectacle of myself!  

The reception was awesome!  Our photo booth attendant was the best!  And the DJ played some great music.  I danced and danced with my sister, my daughters, other guests, and even got my husband to do ONE dance with me (he's not a dancer).  My sister and I kept up with all the youngsters, but we felt the pain the next day.  In fact, Sunday was just a washout.  Hangover headache (I drink very rarely) and sore muscles!  I organized My daughter's gifts and the decorations she wanted Sunday night since they were coming by to collect everything Monday, but mostly, I rested.  Then, I forgot Monday was Monday.  I feel like I lost a whole day.

What a weekend!

And I didn't have to think about politics, current events, or bills, nor did I even care! I didn't once think about the tornado that is my scrapbook room!  It was a refreshing break from daily life, and probably the happiest day of my daughter's whole life.  And that's all I have to say about that.

So here we go...

So true! And about all I can handle right now, craftily speaking.

This makes me laugh!

This WAS me.  Now, it's my sister planning an April wedding for her son.

And last, but not least, I'll leave you with something warm and fuzzy.

Probably not what you had in mind!  Haha!

Have a great week!


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