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Health Update March 2020

3 Apr

As I sat here, trying to decide just what to write next for SGL, it dawned on me that I’m due to share a health update with you. I know that with the Covid19 pandemic occuring right now, this probably isn’t the thing you want to read about – more health news, really?! But, in a way, life goes on. Especially when you’re chronically ill. You’ve still got to take your protocol, increasing it every 3 or 4 days and watching for any side effects – good or bad- of what you’re now taking.

Overall Health: Short attention span, mental fatigue/brain fog but more energy and overall less severe pain than normal. Mood struggles and fairly regular leg/foot twitches.

Feb 19th – IV , very tired,  hard to concentrate/ short attention span. 
Feb 20 to 24 had more energy than I have in months.  Still fibropain and some migraines, as well as fatigue.  But the fatigue was minor comparative to normal.  Attention span is still shot though and motivation to do any writing/blogging isn’t there. 
Feb 23rd – started biofilm
(1st phase of new protocol) Feb 25- cycle started,  crazy fatigue and bad migraine.  Scintillating scotoma in late afternoon
Feb 26- felt surprisingly better today.  Fibropain flaring in hands especially. Attention span still very short.
Feb 27 – increased thyroid meds to 1 1/2 pills a day to help with energy. Funny vision stuff going on
Feb 28- minimal motivation all day,  very tired,  couldn’t nap really.  Fibro flaring in left calf late evening. 
3-4 started g.i. detox
Tired, lacking motivation and short attention span (i.e. brain fog ) the 4th and 5th. Some emotional struggles as well.
3-6 overwhelming fatigue and brain fog all day.  Couldn’t nap. 
28th- hard to keep migraine pain down all day. Tired. Basic addition was difficult in evening when playing a board game
29th bad fatigue all day. Fibro flared bad in evening.  Kept me up it was so bad in legs. 
30th worse fatigue than yesterday.  Described it as having taken a sleeping pill but not necessarily being able to sleep.  Awful.  Migraine flaring off and on all day.  2 short, fitful naps. 
31st- fatigue isn’t quite as bad as has been.  Migraine kicked up in afternoon and evening.  Brain fog

Migraine: While the severity is mostly still calmer, they’ve been kicking up ever more frequently lately. And I’m in the midst of one that’s been going on for almost a week now that I just can’t get rid of completely.

Sleep:  I’m getting about 7 hours each night, with the normal 2 or 3 wakings. I do frequently take involuntary naps however. And I’ll add that I never feel rested after sleeping.

Memory/Brain Fog:  This has improved some, but when the brain fog hits – it hits hard and doesn’t want to lift for quite a while.

Vision: I have been still dealing with times where my eyes just don’t want to focus. Thankfully the scintillating scotomas haven’t occured as often as they were.

TMJ:  My jaw has been tight/tense more lately and has been popping every so often. So this has increased although it’s not where it used to be.

Fatigue: I was doing so much better in this area for a few weeks at least and now I’m stuck back in the cave of fatigue. My body just drags and aches.

Fibromyalgia:  This is a persistent, constant pain. Especially in my knee, elbow, ankle joints. Frequently it rears in my hip as well. I have noticed the random twitches that I get have been increasing over the months. – this is the same as january’s update, sadly

Weight Loss: Not at all. It’s been more of a weight gain issue. Very frustrating.

Mood: This was very rough for a few weeks but it’s leveled out again, thankfully!

Digestion:   This has been good for me – which means, still not where it should ideally be, but for me, it’s okay.

So, as you can see, I’m in the midst of another flare up, just trying to get through day by day.

I have a disability hearing coming up next month – assuming nothing changes what with everything that’s going on in the world right now.

~Laura

Flowers in the Rain

21 Mar

I’m sharing a quick writing prompt with you all today! I know I’ve been so absent on SGL for the past month. Here’s to hoping I can start getting back into a regular posting schedule. I hope you enjoy this.

With a quick glance at the gray sky as I pulled the door shut behind me, I decided that I just might have enough time before the storm hit. I’d not been able to make it the past week and it gnawed at me. Chancing getting caught in the rain far outweighed the knowledge that I’d not sleep well tonight if I missed this opportunity to sneak away.

As usual, my steps were heavy even though they were quick and long. My only thought was to get there. My path wasn’t the shortest route though. First I needed to stop and get some flowers. It was only right, to take flowers with me as an offering. Before long, I spied the small house that sat on the corner lot. It was of no particular interest, being a bit shabby and bleak. But the owner faithfully tended a garden and that was what I was aiming for. I casually glanced around me, but the neighborhood was empty.

Just like it always was.

Hopping over the low fence, I  stooped to pick a small handful of lilies, asters and roses. Really, I didn’t care what they were, the point was something beautiful and bright. I adjusted the flowers in my hand, deciding I needed a few more and bent low again.

“You might as well take those last few lilies.”

I shot up at the sound of the raspy voice mere feet from me. I stared at the stooped man who looked as if he’d eaten something sour. His lips turned up on one side and his eyes were slits.

“I’m sorry. I – ” I faded out as I realized that I couldn’t tell him what I was doing.

“You’re stealing my best beauties, just as you always do. Why don’t you go to a florist shop, instead of destroying my garden? Hmm?”

I hung my head, eyeing the flowers in my hand. A raindrop hit the petal of one, trailing down to land on my thumb. I looked up at the sky and noticed the old man doing the same. “I’m sorry. I -” I tried again, but the words got stuck and my hand clenched around the stems.

He squinted at me, and then muttering , reached inside his front door. I took a step back, thinking of making a run for it when he pulled an umbrella out. “Let’s go deliver those before it’s a deluge out here.” His words stopped my feet.

Was he really saying what I thought he was? “But you can’t come with me.”

“Son, you’ve been stealing my flowers for nigh on the whole summer, so I suppose I deserve to see this pretty girl that has warranted such flower theft.”

I followed his shuffling gait out of the small yard and accepted the umbrella he held out for the both of us. We walked with no other noises but his occasional grunts and the click of his cane on the sidewalk. As we drew closer to my destination, I tried to come up with how to tell him just where we were going. I kept my eyes low, but I knew the instant he figured it out. The tapping of his cane stopped and eventually so did he. I paused just ahead of him, looking back. I begged him silently not to say any of the trite things people feel the need to say at a time like this. I begged him to understand.

And he did. The sorrow in his eyes told me.

He started walking again, but he remained silent, merely joining me under the umbrella again, his cane tapping out a rhythm.

He stayed with me until I stopped before a stone laid flat in the green grass, the patter of raindrops on the umbrella sounding out the beat of my heart. I handed him the handle, then knelt to replace the dead flowers with the new. I hung my head, not caring that I was getting soaked from kneeling on the wet ground. A gentle hand cupped my shoulder,

“The grief never leaves, son. The grief never leaves.”

Here’s the prompt that I started this from: “Sometimes I steal flowers from your garden on my way to the cemetery, but today you’ve caught me and have demanded to come with me to make sure the ‘girl is pretty enough to warrant flower theft’ and I’m trying to figure out how to break it to you that we’re on our way to a graveyard”

Thanks for stopping by SGL. If you want to check it out, I’m on Instagram fairly regularly.

~Laura

February 2020 Book Reviews

11 Mar

It’s a bit late for a Monthly Book Review but I’m going to give you guys a quick one! I’m going to be talking about the books that I shared in My Library Book Haul.

I’ve already shared my thoughts about The Bridge to Belle Island. Trust me, you want to click over and have a read.

The Lost Girl of Astor Street by Stephanie Morrill – When Piper Sail’s best friend, Lydia, goes missing, the only thing she knows is that she can’t just sit around waiting for the police to find her. Especially when it seems that they are looking in all the wrong places. She sets out on her own investigation, with the aid of a young detective, into the underbelly of Chicago in 1924. She’s determined to find Lydia, no matter what. But she soon has to decide exactly what that means as the truth just might upset her privileged life. ~This book immediately made it to my Favorite Reads of the year list. I’ve not read anything else by Morrill but she wove an incredible story of family, intrigue and 1920s Chicago. It was also very clean, with only subtle mentions of women of a certain profession and innocent romances. If you’ve followed SGL for a while, you’ll know that for this to be on my Faves list, it HAS to be clean! I adored Piper’s spirit, her brother (even when he was being a jerk), and of course, the detective who decides to help her.

The Sinister Mystery of the Mesmerizing Girl (The Extraordinary Adventures of the Athena Club #3) by Theodora Goss – When the girls of the Athena Club return home only to find that their friend, Alice has been kidnapped along with Mary’s employer, Sherlock Holmes, they rush to find them. But along the way they realize that the kidnappings are only a small part of a sinister plot that threatens not only the Queen, but all of England. Can Mary, Justine, Diana, Catherine and Beatrice stop the plans already in motion and save, not only their friends, but their country as well? ~As I shared in the Library Haul, I’ve not read book one. These were both on the ‘new arrivals’ shelf of my local library and they intrigued me. This series is very different from what I’m used to – seeing as how each of the girls are victims of an evil scientists’ experiments on them (one’s poisonous, one’s a vampire, one’s part cheetah etc). I’d almost say that I’d enjoy these stories more if those elements were taken away. But, I’m certain that those very parts are what makes this series stand out. I did end up enjoying this one- to a degree. The chase and revealing of the sinister plot were clever and intriguing – and were what kept me reading. The other stuff relating to the… vampire and such, were a bit much for me. Just like in the first book, honestly. But it seemed to be more present in this one. I don’t think I’ll read either of these again but they were well written with a fun, unique plot. If you want to see my review for the first book, click here.

Inheritance by Christopher Paolini – I want to do a review of the full series, so for now – know that I enjoyed this conclusion to The Inheritance Cycle

Bing Crosby: A Pocketful of Dreams – The Early Years 1903-1940 by Gary Giddins – This covered Bing’s childhood and on up to his rise in fame til the 1940s. I did enjoy what I got read of it. But, well… it took me several weeks to get a quarter of the way through it. And that was with skipping ahead to a section that was of more interest to me. Giddins wrote it well, and he did extensive research on Bing’s ancestors and life. While I fully appreciate that, it was a bit more than I was wanting. I finally just wanted my (huge) stack of library books gone, so I returned it without finishing it. Perhaps one day I’ll get back to it. But, even if I don’t, I still learned some cool (and sad) information on Bing. And found some songs of his that I’d never heard before!

Prince Caspian (Chronicles of Narnia #2) by C.S. Lewis – When Susan’s horn is blown, the Pevensie children are called back to Narnia to help Prince Caspain reclaim his rightful throne. The false king is ruthless and will stop at nothing to kill the old Narnians and maintain his rule. ~I’m reading this series as part of a reading group on Instagram. It’s been fun to re-read these again as I feel it’s been a while! Prince Caspian is, I think, one of my favorites of the series as we see some of the growing up the Pevensie’s have to go through and of course, we meet Caspian and see Aslan again.

Jennifer: an O’Malley Love Story by Dee Henderson- I have read the O’Malley Series, for years and I still enjoy them immensely. This is a short story with one of the siblings as the main character. It was so nice to get to read more about Jennifer as a doctor and see as she falls in love. The heartache though! Agh. Even knowing what is coming (thanks to reading the O’Malley series beforehand), it was still a good, quick read. If you love the O’Malley’s, check this one out.

Thrive by J.J. Eden – A small book of poetry and micro-fiction that focus on the highs and lows of life. On keeping the will to thrive strong in our hearts. ~I got this book free for my honest review. And while I haven’t read any poetry in several years, I enjoyed this a lot. So many of her words resonated with me and some of the micro-fiction I was wishing was a full length story!

Currently Reading:

Hero of Ages by Brandon Sanderson

None Like Him by Jen Wilkin

Tate (Montana Marshalls #2) by Susan May Warren (ebook) – this one is so good but with it being an ebook, I’m just not reading it much.

Zorro by Isabel Allende

To Read:

Voyage of the Dawn Treader (Chronicles of Narnia) by C.S. Lewis

The Bridge to Belle Island Book Review

3 Mar

Synopsis:

Lawyer Benjamin Booker has just been publicly humiliated by a beautiful woman. Vowing never to be taken in by a pretty face again, he is relieved to turn his attention to another case. One involving the murder of the law offices senior partners old friend. Both unsatisfied by the progress by Bow Street, Benjamin agrees to start his own investigation, which takes him from London to Belle Island. While he’s glad to be free of London for a while, he finds that the island – isolated on the Thames and veiled in mystery – is home to the beautiful Isabelle.

Isabelle claims to have never left the island in ten years. She’s created a full and productive life in her small world, one that she’s proud of, even if she is ashamed of her fear keeping her trapped. When the handsome lawyer shows up on her doorstep to tell her of her uncle’s death, she’s shocked. But when evidence points to her, Isabelle isn’t sure what to do. Can she trust her own mind? Can she trust the friends surrounding her, or should she trust the handsome Benjamin?

After having read some reviews that were all over the place on how good this book was, I was unsure if I would enjoy it as much as I’ve enjoyed her other books that I’ve read. (for links to those that I’ve reviewed here, they’re at the bottom of this post!).

My review on Goodreads right after I finished it :
Klassen did it again. This murder mystery was so engaging and kept me guessing right up til the end. I liked Benjamin Booker – just out to do the right thing and not get misled again by a pretty face. And while I didn’t understand the given reasons by some of the characters (Isabelle included) held back information about the night in question, it did add to the suspense of it. I admit – I found myself wishing I could live on Belle Island.

This made it on to my FAVORITE Reads of 2020 book list! So even though there were bits that I was scratching my head on, I liked the differences of Klassen’s story line for this murder mystery. I would recommend this for pretty much anyone – although I’d suggest pre-reading it before handing it to a younger teen reader.

Here are links to the other books by Klassen that I’ve reviewed here on SGL!

The Painter’s Daughter

The Secret of Pembrooke Park

Book Review – The Silent Governess

While covering different genres, I do not read anything that has blatant sexual content. I will tell you if there is any sort of such (typically very mild and delicately put) in them and if I don’t think they’d be appropriate for young/teenage readers.

Thanks for stopping by SGL! If you’d like to see what I’m up to on a -slightly – more regular basis, check out my Instagram page.

~Laura

My Library Book Haul

24 Jan

I decided that it might be fun to share with you the stack of books that I picked up from the library earlier this week.

 

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Due to a large stack of TBR’s that I already own, I hadn’t planned on going to the library for quite some time. But, since I’m in the middle of The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini and of course I had to get the next (and last!) book of the series. Which meant going onto the library website. Which meant that I requested several more books than just that one.

I tried, really I did, to just get Inheritance.

Fast forward to when I actually went to the library… and ended up in the little book sale corner and found this book that is the origin story of Diego De La Vega  aka Zorro, by Isabel Allende . *I don’t know anything more about this book other than what it says on the back cover, so if you have read it, I would definitely love to hear what you thought about it!* I couldn’t resist it, or the three Disney VHS tapes that were 25 cents each.

Anyhow, I’ll give you a quick rundown as to what made me pick these particular books – and indeed, I’ve already read a few of them.  Click on the titles to go to Goodreads and read what they’re about.

Jennifer: an O’Malley Love Story by Dee Henderson- I have read the O’Malley Series, for years and I still enjoy them immensely. This book, Jennifer, is a short story with one of the siblings as the main character. If I remember correctly, Henderson wrote it due to her fans begging for it.

The Witness by Dee Henderson – I’m telling you, I’m feeling another Henderson reading spree coming on. I can’t believe that I’d never read this before. It was another good suspense story with characters that I would absolutely love to see in more books – although I can’t find any evidence that it’s part of a series.

The Bridge to Belle Islandby Julie Klassen – I have recently fallen in love with several of Klassen’s novels and wanted to try another one. The reviews on Goodreads for this weren’t the most positive but I decided it would be worth a try

The Lost Girl of Astor Street by Stephanie Morrill – a friend recently recommended this to me and come on, it’s set in the 1920s in Chicago. How can I not give it a chance?

The Sinister Mystery of the Mesmerizing Girlby Theodora Goss – Now, you might remember my review of European Travel for the Monstrous Gentlewomanwhich is book 2 of this series…that makes this one the 3rd book and I’ve never read the first one. I know, I’m terrible. Once again, this was a random pick-up, and I’m kinda curious to see how the story continues.

Inheritance by Christopher Paolini – as I said above, this is the 4th (and final) in the Inheritance Cycle. This thing is a beast, I tell you, a beast. I’m a couple hundred pages in and it’s just as good as I expected. I’m learning that J.R.R. Tolkien’s words are quite true :

“It simply isn’t an adventure worth telling if there aren’t any dragons.”

 

And just for fun, I’ll tell you what I’m currently reading:

Inheritance by Christopher Paolini

Bing Crosby: A Pocketful of Dreams – The Early Years 1903-1940 by Gary Giddins

Tate (Montana Marshalls #2) by Susan May Warren (ebook)

None Like Him by Jen Wilkin

 

To Read:

Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis

The books by Goss, Klassen or Morrill

 

Well, I hope you enjoyed this quick post on what I picked up on at the library! It’s a bit different from usual but, that’s what makes it fun! (hopefully anyway!)

Watch for a health update coming up next week!

~Laura

 

The FlyLady Cleaning System- 7 Months Later

18 Jan

Back in June of 2019, I wrote a post all about how I tried the FlyLady Cleaning System for a Month. I wanted to share with you (well, those who are interested anyway!) how I’ve been keeping up with it and if I love it and if I recommend it still.

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Photo by Curology on Unsplash

First off, I’ll share what the Flylady system is, from Wikipedia –

“FlyLady is a support and self-help group that offers advice to help people with housekeeping, founded by “The FlyLady”, Marla Cilley. … FlyLady’s messages cover topics include clutter, the value of routines, weekly and monthly cleaning, increased self-esteem, and letting go of perfectionism.”

The FlyLady has you separate your home into five zones that you work through one each week. It’s a nice system that keeps you getting through your entire home every five weeks which, if you’re like most people, is more a more faithful timeline than otherwise you’d be doing those guest room closets or vacuuming under the furniture. Here’s what my home looks like, put into zones:

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You might notice that the dining room somehow didn’t get put into a zone. I’m not sure how that happened! But I’ve been seeing which zone it fits into the best (i.e. which one I’m more likely to get to it) before absolutely sticking it into one.

Since my original post, I have updated my lists – they are still handwritten although I do want to type them up one of these months.

 

I know, you can’t really read it that well what with it being handwritten and handwritten by me. (I’m telling you, my script hasn’t changed since I was about 10 years old. It’s terrible.) But hopefully, it’ll give you an idea of what I’m talking about with zones and such. I have written the lists so that the cleaning goes from top to bottom and I do try to stick with that although sometimes I just clean what I feel like that day. I have also changed/added to some of the lists as I realize that some things aren’t getting done (for example: cleaning the dishwasher and mopping the bedrooms).  The FlyLady is big on encouraging you to make it work for you.

Since I am human as well as having a chronic illness, my dedication to this cleaning system has waned at times but I am always glad when I come back to it. I took some (much needed) weeks off around the holidays and am still feeling like I’m trying to catch up, but that’s okay, I’m not pushing myself.  A little at a time is still progress.

All in all, I would still recommend this to you to try! I was greatly relieved when I was able to get off the FlyLady’s email list as there were several coming in each day, and all I needed was the daily/or weekly, cleaning list. So, once I had those all written down, I unsubscribed. If she pared down (significantly) what she sent out each day, I would still be getting them most likely, as it’s good encouragement and reminders. But, as frustrating as the deluge can be, it’s worth it to deal with them for the month-odd in order to really get a feel for the system.

I will add that I’m doing a very pared down version of her cleaning system. There’s also a focus for each day – paying bills, cleaning out your car, anti-procrastination, etc. that are very helpful! There are also missions for each day that are lickety-split cleaning focuses (like tossing the empty soap bottles in your bathroom) that I’m contemplating adding to my routine. Check out the website for more info.

I can’t finish this post without doing a shout out for the lady who got me turned onto the FlyLady system and that’s The Secret Slob. She’s so much fun to watch and she really breaks down the system into an easily understandable thing. Check out this video to see her one-year into FlyLady.

If you’ve been feeling overwhelmed with the state of your house, I suggest you give this a try. Even if you don’t end up using the system, it might spur you on to looking at cleaning as less of a beast – and feeling motivated to just do one small area of your house and feeling accomplished for having done it.

~Laura

 

My List of To-Read books for 2020

13 Jan

After scrolling through several articles on ‘must-read-books’ on Pinterest, I decided to put one together for myself for this coming year. I’ve focused on five different areas/genres as well as making sure that I either own them or am able to get them from the library. Yes, I will inevitably buy books throughout the year but it won’t be to read what I’ve put on this list. I’ll also add, that there’s only 25 books here and there is no doubt I’ll read more than double that. But, this is a place to start – a focus, if you will.

As I read them, I intend on coming back here and marking them – how I’m not sure yet? – so that I know just where I’m at with this list by the end of the year.

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Faith and Personal Growth

 

 

Biographies:

 

Writing Related:

Fiction:

 

Potential Re-Reads:

 

I’ve also created a Pinterest board full of reading challenges, go check it out if you’re thinking of starting one, there are several to choose from! There’s even ones that are based by country (so cool). But I’ve just decided on doing this one:

Inky-Bookworm-Reading-Challenge-2018-c

(I got this from The Inky Bookworm)

These are the pages that I gathered some of these book suggestions from, go check them out and see what else you can add to your To-Read list!

Creative Home Keeper

More Radiance

4 Hats & Frugal

 

Have you ever done a Reading Challenge? What books are you planning on reading this year?

*you can find me on Instagram or on Facebook *

~Laura

FAVORITES BOOKS OF 2019

5 Jan

Because I’ve been so lax in book reviews the past while, I’m going to actually review the books I share with you today. The majority of these favorites are new-reads but I will share some re-reads with you as well at the bottom of the post.

I have a post in the works sharing my reading goals and a personalized reading list for 2020, make sure you don’t miss it!

favreads2019

While covering different genres, I do not read anything that has blatant sexual content. I will tell you if there is any sort of such (typically very mild and delicately put) in them and if I don’t think they’d be appropriate for young/teenage readers.

~The Inheritance by Tamera Alexander – Accepting her cousin’s invitation to join them in Colorado was an easy decision, but McKenna Ashford’s real reason lay in the haughty attitude of her younger brother. She is determined to get them a fresh start and hopefully, tame his ever growing wild streak. But life in Copper Creek isn’t what she thought it would be. The responsibilities of an unexpected inheritance threaten her resolve to be independent while offering an second chance, if only she can keep it.  U.S. Marshall Wyatt Caradon never expected to be drawn into such a heartbreaking situation – but something about McKenna pulls him back to Copper Creeek and makes him think of leaving behind his years of living on the trail. Can they both trust again though?

~ It is no secret I enjoy this genre, especially when it’s western-based. But Alexander delivered such a refreshing story – filled with obstacles, tender moments, sweet friendships all with a realism that I appreciated. The morals/life lessons within add depth to the story, helping lend weight to the full plot and well-rounded characters. There really can’t be enough good said about this book! I highly recommend this heart-wrenching-and-warming novel. 

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~Hunted by Meagan Spooner – Beauty knows the Beast’s forest in her bones – and in her blood.  Here in the wilderness Yeva is under no pressure to make idle chatter with vapid baronessas… or to submit to marrying a wealthy gentleman. Here she feels one with the ebb and flow of life. Here she is home.  But when Yeva’s father goes missing in the woods, Yeva sets her sights on one prey : the creature he’d been obsessively tracking just before his disappearance. Deaf to her sister’s protests, Yeva hunts this strange Beast back into his own territory – a cursed valley, a ruined castle and a world of creatures that Yeva’s only heard about in fairy tales. A world that can bring her ruin, or salvation. (synopsis from back of the book)

Getting little snippets from the Beast’s side added so much to the tale, and gave us a chance to see the Beast more fully than just a selfish man having to pay a heavy price until someone comes to, basically, rescue him. His story is just as important as Beauty’s and getting to read his feelings about his transformation, about Beauty and…well, all of it, was great.

~The Painter’s Daughter by Julie Klassen – Sophie Dupont has been assisting in her father’s studio for years, a shop that is popular with artists as it is near the north Devon coast. When a handsome artist, Wesley Overtree arrives and compliments her not only on her beauty but on her painting as well, Sophie falls hard for him. When he disappears, leaving her in a difficult position, she’s not sure what she’ll do. But then his brother, Captain Stephen Overtree arrives, looking for Wesley to take him home. Finding instead, a young woman suffering from his brother’s recklessness, Stephen offers to marry her in name only. Sophie must decide if she’ll wait for the uncertain chance that Wesley will return or if she’ll trust her future to his brooding brother.

~ I’ve fallen in love with Klassen’s stories. This one did not disappoint in the least. Because of the subject matter, it was a little more…personal than others of hers. But she wrote it well, touching on the topic without being vulgar. I loved both Sophie’s and Stephen’s struggles. And the other twists and turns throughout meant that I was pleasantly surprised at the end. I highly recommend this novel, although not for a younger audience.

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Dark Canyon by Louis L’amour – Having rather fallen in with the Colburn gang when he was young, Gaylord Riley sets out to forge a new life for himself by settling down and building his own homestead. But his plans are complicated by the richest man in town and Riley must accept the help of his outlaw friends to stay alive.

~I found this gem at a used bookstore and instantly snapped it up. Being a L’amour, I knew I had to give it a try.  This book was rather short but it was perfect for a lazy afternoon read – the characters as per the authors’ usual genius, weren’t left bland and half formed but were vibrant in their own selves, leaping off the page. I liked the story of redemption – which is a common theme in his novels – that threaded through the plot. And retirement for outlaws? Yes, that’s a thing here too. If you enjoy westerns, or are thinking of trying the genre, I recommend this one highly! It’s sweet and full of adventure.  *also check out The Finding of Jasper Holt.

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The Lady and the Highwayman by Sarah M. Eden – Elizabeth Black is not only a headmistress of a girls’ school but is also a well-known author of ‘silver-fork novels’ – the respectable novels that women read. Her secret is that she’s also someone else – under the pseudonym Mr. King, she writes Penny Dreadfuls. But when she’s approached by Fletcher Walker in the hopes to find Mr. King, Elizabeth agrees to help just to keep him from finding out her secret identity.

Eden creates a world in Victorian London that feels real as you follow Elizabeth on her campaign to keep her school respectable and money coming in through her writing. Fletcher Walker is a fun character that has a feel of reality to him with his rough origin, talk of the ‘streets’ and goal to save as many kids as he can from the life that he himself escaped. I do always enjoy when a main character is an author and this one had two! There’s so much more to this story than the bit of synopsis above, click the title link to read my full review!

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The Secret of Pembrooke Park by Julie Klaasen – After being disappointed in love, Abigail Foster finds out that their family has lost their London home. An unexpected offer comes for them to live in Pembrooke Park, a manor home that has been abandoned for eighteen years. The handsome curate offers nothing more than a warning to beware of any strangers that might be drawn by the rumors of a secret treasure room inside the mansion. Intrigued and wanting the possible treasure for her own family, Abigail begins to covertly search for the treasure room but isn’t prepared for the startling secrets that she’ll find.

~The intrigue of a lost treasure in the setting of Victorian England was so fun. Abigail wants to help her family but she also longs for her lost love. The new life that she must adjust to at Pembrooke Park is quite different from the one she led in London but she finds herself pleased by the changes and what she’s accomplished. Her family’s opinion isn’t quite so optimistic however. When she does decide to seek the treasure, anonymous notes are left for her, revealing a danger that she hadn’t expected. And that’s when the story gets even more fun! 

 

 

Honourable Mentions:

Sherwood by Meagan Spooner –  With her betrothed dead, Maid Marian is bereft and unsure exactly what she’ll do next. Guy of Gisborne not only wants to become the new Lord of Locksley but her fiance’ as well.  With no one there to stop him, or his harsh command of the people – carrying out the Prince’s absurd laws – Marian stumbles onto a way to help the people. As well as relase the frustration that’s burning inside her. She dons Robin’s hood and accidentally steps into a new identity for herself: Robin Hood

In this retelling, we get to see not just Marian’s side of the story, but Robin’s as well. Filling in gaps and letting us get to know Marian even better, Spooner once again weaves a tale full of adventure, intrigue and romance (major and minor) between her characters. There is a section that is a bit more sensual than I normally read, which is why this book is only an honorable mention. without that, this would absolutely be up there in the Absolute Favorite list.

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The Good Neighbor: The Life and Work of Fred Rogers by Maxwell King – This is the first full length biography of Rogers, it follows his life through interviews, oral histories and archives. It not only focuses on his work life, but his personal and artistic life as well.

~I enjoyed this biography so much as there were so many nuggets of wisdom from Mr. Rogers that I kept reading aloud to my OH, or texting to my mom. His spirit of compassion and caring and giving came through, and for that I thank King for taking the time to make sure that was the case. 

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Falcon for a Queen by Catherine Gaskin – Suddenly an orphan, Kirsty Howard leaves her home in China and travels to Scotland to visit her grandfather. His home of Cluian is a strange one, utterly different from what she’s used to. Secrets abound in the old house, kept in place by the arrogance of the lonely old man and the two women who run his house. But being the site of one of the world’s finest whiskey distilleries, gives Kirsty an opportunity to carve her own place in the Highlands.

~ It was intriguing, unexpected and enjoyable. Yes, there was far too much information about distilling whiskey. But in the context of their livelihood, it made sense, you know? It was a rather dry topic though, one that I tended to skip through, to get to the actual story.  I had the ending figured all wrong, but readily admit that it was far better, and more satisfying than I had come up with. I wouldn’t recommend this for younger readers as it is a darker, aka ‘gothic’ novel. There are only innuendos of a scandalous nature, but Gaskin kept it clean even in that. I fully intend to read it again. If you want a book that will surprise you (and you’re willing to sift through the whiskey aspect), find a copy of this book.

 

Re-Reads:

Shadowfell Series by Juliet Marillier

Maire by Linda Windsor

Letter Perfect  (California Historical #1) by Cathy Marie Hake

Bittersweet (California Historical #2) by Cathy Marie Hake

 

If you’d like to see my Year in Books according to Goodreads, click here! I enjoy getting to see all of them in one go – can you believe that I read 78 books in 2019?! I’ve decided I’m going to aim for 65 books this year.

And remember, there’s going to be a post up soon sharing what my reading intentions are for this year.

What was one of your favorite reads this past year?

~Laura

The Lady and the Highwayman by Sarah M. Eden Book Review

24 Dec

I’m back here on SGL for a review of a completely unexpected new favorite book! Not only that, but it was printed this year – 2019- and if you’ve been around here for a while, you probably know that it’s very rare when I read a book in the same year it was printed. And I always, inevitably, end up feeling proud of myself.

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This was one of those on the new-arrivals shelf at the library the other day and its gorgeous cover and intriguing synopsis pulled me in and I decided to try it.

Let me tell you, I was not disappointed. Just in case you didn’t catch that by my opening statement…

It’s titled a Proper Romance (if you want to know more about them, click here), and that of course, called to me too. Could it possibly mean that it’s a clean love story?!

It was. You guys. IT WAS.

Sorry, I’m just a little excited about this. This story was as clean as a christian romance novel – actually, cleaner than some – without any preaching obviously.

Here’s the synopsis for you (from goodreads) before I squeal with excitement without you guys knowing anything about the book.

Elizabeth Black is the headmistress of a girls’ school and a well-respected author of “silver-fork” novels, stories written both for and about the upper-class ladies of Victorian society. But by night, she writes very different kinds of stories—the Penny Dreadfuls that are all the rage among the working-class men. Under the pseudonym Mr. King, Elizabeth has written about dashing heroes fighting supernatural threats and dangerous outlaws romancing helpless women. They contain all the adventure and mystery that her real life lacks.

Fletcher Walker began life as a street urchin, but is now the most successful author in the Penny Dreadful market, that is until Mr. King started taking all of his readers–and his profits. No one knows who King is, including Fletcher’s fellow members of the Dread Penny Society, a fraternity of authors dedicated to secretly fighting for the rights of the less-fortunate.

Determined to find the elusive Mr. King, Fletcher approaches Miss Black. As a fellow-author, she is well-known among the high-class writers; perhaps she could be persuaded to make some inquiries as to Mr. King’s whereabouts? Elizabeth agrees to help Fletcher, if only to insure her secret identity is never discovered.

For the first time, Elizabeth experiences the thrill of a cat-and-mouse adventure reminiscent of one of her own novels as she tries to throw Fletcher off her scent. But the more time they spend together, the more she loses her heart. Its upper-class against working-class, author against author where readers, reputations, and romance are all on the line. “

 

Quotes:

“I suspect I’ve always been bold underneath it all. I’ve simply never allowed myself to let that part of me escape its shackles.”

“If I were you, I’d not disappoint her like that again, guv’nah.”

“As much as she was enjoying playing spy, she had to be careful else these moments of adventure might cost her every bit of security she had fought for.”

“There was no time for hesitation, not even for the woman of his very dreams.”

 

Eden creates a world in Victorian London that feels real as you follow Elizabeth on her campaign to keep her school respectable and money coming in through her writing. Fletcher Walker is a fun character that has a feel of reality to him with his rough origin, talk of the ‘streets’ and goal to save as many kids as he can from the life that he himself escaped.

I do always enjoy when a main character is an author and this one had two!

I plan on keeping my eye out for this book on sale as it is one that I definitely want to add to my personal library. If you’re looking for an intriguing, suspenseful romance that is also clean with a bit of the ‘penny-dreadful’ feel, you must check this one out.

~Laura

The First Weeks of Nanowrimo 2019 (and what else I’ve been up to)

16 Nov

I know, I know, it’s been quite a while since I shared a post on here! I’ve thought about it – many times.  I’ve wished I could just sit down and give you all an update on how I’m doing, what I’ve been reading and share oodles of puppy pictures with you. And I know what you’re going to say –

“If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.

If turnips were watches, I’d wear one by my side.

If “if’s” and “and’s” were pots and pans,

There’d be no work for tinkers’ hands.”

That’s not what you were going to say? Oh.

Well.

This is awkward now.

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And, moving on-  suffice it to say, I’ve been busy, life can knock you down while at the same time bring you a cute rambunctious fluffy puppy to snuggle.

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In case you haven’t met her yet, this is Rory. We picked her up October 2nd and she’s been – mostly- a little doll since. She sleeps through the night -!! – and absolutely adores Abby. She gets sad when Dad leaves for work and has gone from crawling up on to just jumping onto the ‘dog couch’.

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Aside from that, I’ve struggling with some health set backs that have been frustrating. But I’m going to be talking with my doctor soon to start a new protocol.

And now, for the last bit of news – National Novel Writing Month started on the first of November and I have actually been doing really well! There’s only been a few days where I didn’t meet my minimum word count goal of 1,667 (and only one day that I didn’t write at all). I am editing my novel – again – so I decided to just make i easy on myself and chose to aim for 50k words. As you’ll see, my current draft word count is over that mark, as of last night! I’m excited about this as it means I’ve been able to add in the other POV’s that the story needed, as well as some desperately needed changes in the overall plot.

*POV is  point of view*

My goal is to get as much edited as I can before the month is over. And then to just keep at it until it’s ready to send to beta readers!

Total word count so far: 33,580

Current Draft word count: 52,012

 

I will do my best to come back and update you as the month progresses on how I’m doing with Nano and my health but I’m not going to push myself on it. Those are my main two goals this month (as well as taking care of the puppies of course) and I’m trying to not add any more pressure about anything else.

If you’re doing Nano, how is it going for you? 

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A Musing Maverick

"What good amid these, O me, O life? - Answer: That you are here—that life exists and identity, That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse." - Walt Whitman

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