Friday, May 29, 2015


Photo by Annisa Lam (former member of Stock.exchng)
Licensed photo DO NOT COPY

Currently I am keeping the following in my thoughts &  prayers:

Husband is trying again to give up cigarettes...starting by doing an electronic cigarette that should work better than the last few he has tried. He will be trying to quit under a doctor's supervision. This is one of MANY attempts and I hope it works...and that we can move on to their not even being the e-cigarette.
Update: A part isn't working on the e-cig and he has started smoking again! I am hoping this is not a permanent or month-long thing (we are on a very limited budget and thus might have to hold off on the new part).
Update: The broken part and some stress really threw things off. He is smoking again but intends to try quitting again. There are a few events this Summer and Fall that might be an environment that would encourage another attempt at quitting.

-----Iowa's governor has declared a State of Emergency due to Avian Flu outbreak. Iowa is the top egg-producing state. Experts seem divided as to whether this will raise egg prices (particularly in the Midwest). Of course, this outbreak will affect farms involved. Hopefully, the outbreak can be contained and there is no mutation.  
-----A relative with terminal cancer and his devastated wife. He is only on pain medicine and things are quickly getting worse.
-----Friends of South Asian descent who are having their business vandalized because people assume they are Muslim. (Note that I am not saying there would be anything lesser about them if they were Muslim.)
-----I need to be in better physical shape and beat the symptoms of several thyroid problems. I also need to find a place that does a digital mammogram (my Mother died of breast cancer).
-----All who battle mental illness.
-----A couple I know who would like to afford getting married. This has been an issue for them for a while now.


This post is in no particular order. Prayer/thought requests just go to the top as I hear more about what is going on. If you can think of a way to help these people, PLEASE do so. This post will be second-from-the-top during the midst of an emergency (such as an Amber Alert).

Note: I would not advise linking to this will wind up with a broken link each time I have to change the post-dating to keep this a Vigil at the Top.

At JPUSA. Summer 2011.


Tuesday, May 26, 2015


Flintlock is the second book in the Cutlass Trilogy. It continues Barren and his crew's story.

Barren Reed hopes to protect the Orient from his tyrant uncle, but his plans to make the King’s life a living hell aren’t supported by the Elders of the pirate community. As it stands, Barren has earned the Elders’ disdain for his carelessness, and they threaten him into exile if he makes one more mistake.

Barren’s not the only one feeling the Elders’ wrath—they don’t trust Larkin either. Worse, Barren can’t comprehend Larkin’s wish to have a relationship with her father, and the secrets she’s forced to keep create a tension that may pull them apart forever.

When the Pirates of Silver Crest begin to die, bullets laced with dark magic are to blame. With more and more of these weapons infiltrating the Underground, discovering who’s behind the dissemination is no easy feat. As fear and tension mount among the people of the Orient, Barren and his crew find themselves in a race against time to stop the spread of dark magic before the world of Mariana spirals into collapse.

Pirate captain Barren Reed and (former Lady) Larkin Lee find their relationship and world is getting ever more...complex. Mariana is rife with political upheaval among men and elves (not to mention various people who can use magic). Barren and his crew go through many battles and conflicts (this is not just a pirate story with one or two big moments). As the story unfolds, heartstrings can't help but tug at the braveness of their friends Cove and Leaf. The many villains of this story are determined, for whatever their personal agenda is, to quickly spread dark magic throughout Mariana. Despite many codes and allegiances, it's still a guessing game as to where loyalties lie or how deep they will extend.

My rating:  5 out of  5 stars. Each chapter's ending significantly influenced the rest of the story (mark of a good writer). The middle book of a series and I can't wait for the third. :-)

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Ashley was born and raised in Oklahoma, where the wind really does sweep down the plains, and horses and carriages aren't used as much as she'd like. She has a Bachelor's in English Writing and a Master's in Library Science and Information Technology. When she's not writing she's either working out or pretending she's Sherlock Holmes. Her obsession with writing began after reading the Lord of the Rings in the eighth grade. Since then, she's loved everything Fantasy--resulting in an unhealthy obsession with the 'geek' tab on Pinterest, where all things awesome go.  Blog Newsletter  Goodreads  Facebook 



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Sunday, May 24, 2015

-----Internet throwback: When someone posted they had "moobs like Jabba." Hmm, I should make a "Moves Like Jagger" (Maroon 5) parody out of this. :-)
-----“Perhaps a man really dies when his brain stops, when he loses the power to take in a new idea.”-George Orwell

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Pandemonium: The Phoenix Blade, Book 3
Cover Reveal!!!

Paranoia is at an all-time high. After the recent attack on the group formerly known as the Revolution, Andrew Lancaster (A.K.A. the Phoenix) has decided to retreat and take the group back to New York. To make matters worse, the terrorist known as Reaper, has gone into hiding…or has he? 
Months of silence has left the Lancaster with a false sense of security. His defiance of Presidential orders have left the group vulnerable to another attack. With Reaper hiding in the shadows, he sets his sights on complete chaos. He will stop at nothing to destroy everyone in the Andrew Lancaster’s life. 
Will the Phoenix let his friends and loved ones fall victim to Reaper’s deadly games or will he rise from the ashes one more time to stop the man with the white skulled face?

Andrew Hess is a resident of Long Island New York who likes to spend much of his time traveling between Long Island, New York City and the Dutchess County areas. In 2011 he debuted with his first book Chamber of Souls, a small book of free verse poetry which depicted the struggles of a man who thought he had everything in the world only to feel like he lost everything after a rough break-up. In 2013, Andrew debuted his novel The Phoenix Blade: Project Justice; the first in The Phoenix Blade series.
Andrew is also a blogger at where he interviews and promotes other authors in order to assist indie authors get more exposure. Andrew is also a frequent guest on the Anthony Charles Podcast, a show dedicated to creative professionals as they give insight into their works and the lives they lead; guests have included authors, comedians, musicians, stuntmen, actors and producers.
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Sunday, May 17, 2015

Misc. Food Stuff

-----Fried Baklava Ice Cream
-----General Mills announces Star Wars cereal. :-)
-----Sirloin Marinara recipe
-----I still think this Poached Pear & Cranberry Cake looks incredible. :-)
-----Bacon Marmalade. To go on burgers, steak, ribs, etc.

-----Hmm. Martha Stewart has a Roasted Eggplant Dip recipe.
-----I still haven't checked to see if our Walgreens is carrying the MADD Virgin Drinks. MADD as in Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

Talking about Artic animals in the Summer with Preschooler.

-----I haven't used Shelfari in so long.

Doggies, (human) biscuits and my aggravating neck.

-----Flipping through one of last year's Family Circle magazines and I found out there is such a thing as a chewable flea and tick medicine. We might try NexGard instead of the nasty stuff that we put on the back of our dog's back and then have to constantly watch to make sure kids don't touch.

I finished this book...but now I have just started the AIP "diet" (autoimmune protocol). Yeah, most pioneer cooking doesn't fit into that regime.
My thyroid has been enlarged on and off for years...just a part of Hashimoto's thyroiditis. At the last appointment, the casual suggestion of a biopsy was tossed around for the second time. I have been thinking that maybe I will just have a biopsy anyway but I am doing all I can to get my goiter/nodule issues under control. I did research and then got mad, the most dangerous thing I have as far as my immune system is the Hashimoto's Disease and no doctor has ever told me that it could go into remission (or even aimed for that). Despite "advocating" for myself about what is going on with my body, I find myself either medicated into just being low "normal" or ignored. My medical coverage and the number of doctors stepping out of business is making it harder and we find ourselves traveling for medical care often. I am getting really disillusioned by the American medical system.

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Red Fury Revolt

Something keeps drawing G. Julius Agricola to Britannia again and again…
This is where it starts… book one, Red Fury…Revolt
A.D. 60…
Camulodunum! Londinium! Verulamium!
Three towns writhe under the Iceni queen’s wrath, as she leads her warriors intent on destroying all things Roman – be it Roman temples, Roman villas, or entire families sympathetic to Rome. At stake is Suetonius Paulinus’s reputation. With only 80,000 legionaries, will he destroy Boudica or will he endure the disgrace in Rome for losing–to a woman?
Julius Agricola-Rome’s tribune, and Rhianna-Boudica’s youngest daughter, become ensnared in this horrific historical revolt against Roman injustice. Just as Julius and Rhianna reveal their love to each other, they are hurled back into the harsh reality of their differing worlds that are determined to destroy each other.
Who will survive?

The beat of distant drumbeats and the clank of metal carried over the nearby ridge. People’s attention shifted from Prasutagus’s funeral stanchion to the standard of Rome’s tax-collector slowly appearing with each stride. A soldier covered with the hide of a silver wolf marched into view. He carried before him Rome’s banner embroidered with gold letters ‘LEG II AUG’ that hung on the elegant staff.
Behind him glided a column of soldiers appearing over the grassy hilltop like a long, metal-scaled snake. Row after row of gleaming armor marched in unison, each man carrying a blackened javelin in one hand and, in the other, a red rectangular shield with yellow-winged pattern. Their swords called gladius banged against hips as their long red capes swayed with each measured step.
Like eyes of this silver serpent, two officers on horseback rode behind the standard. A black-crested helmet hid one man’s face while the other held his red-crested helmet under his arm. The bareheaded officer lifted his free arm.
In that same breath, the black-crested officer shouted, “Consiste!”
A trumpet sounded and the serpent’s body halted.
All watched as the bareheaded officer slid from his horse, handed his helmet to a foot soldier, and strode up the rise toward the stanchion. Rhianna’s mother’s sharp glower followed each step until the Roman halted before her. The Iceni people stirred restlessly as the silence thickened like thunderclouds between the leaders.
“Who are you, Roman, to intrude this day?” Boudica demanded.
The man tore his attention from the mound of gifts to focus on her mother. “Decianus Catus. Procurator of Rome.”
“If you come to honor my husband, you are welcome. If not, I demand you leave.”
“Demand?” A glimmer of mirth lit in his eyes. “And you…are his wife?”
“His queen.”
The procurator lifted a hand, a finger pointing skyward. It flicked. “Tribune.”
The black-crested officer dismounted and then motioned to another soldier with a white crest crossing his helmet. “Centurio. With me.”
Both joined the procurator on the rise.
“Circle the men around the stanchion,” the procurator ordered.
The tribune hesitated. Even the white-crested soldier shifted as if uncertain.
“You heard me, Tribune. Give the order.”
The tribune’s red cape whipped around his leather sandals as he whirled to the white-crested soldier. “Centurio, circle the men.”
The centurio raised the first two fingers of each hand and pointed between the stanchion and her people. One hand circled to the left and the other to the right. The serpent split and surrounded the rise where Rhianna stood with her mother and sister as it separated them from the others coiling in anger like angry dogs.
Her father’s first man jerked his sword arm across his chest. “Wait.”
Beyond the circle of red shields, Rhianna saw the Iceni warriors bristle. Wives halted husbands with a hand to an arm. Children hid behind their mothers’ skirts, whimpering.
Morrigan stepped forward.
Mergith caught her wrist. “Morrigan, Churl said to wait.”
Her sister braced, as everyone focused on the smirking Roman.
“I regret to find the leader of the Iceni dead,” the procurator said loud enough for the gods to hear. “Still, I have orders from Rome to collect payments on loans granted to the Iceni.”
“We owe nothing to anyone,” Boudica said equally as loud. “Not even to Rome.”
“Records show your people owe much for the loans that built Camulodunum.”
“Camulodunum?” Her mother shrieked laughter. The Iceni joined her mirth and then silenced when she continued. “We owe nothing to your designs except for what my husband granted your emperor.”
The procurator relaxed back on one leg. “What has the leader of the Iceni… granted Rome?”
Frigid air formed in the silence. Rhianna watched as her mother’s fists opened and closed at her sides. She could only wonder what thoughts were searing through her mother’s mind.
Finally Boudica spoke. “Prasutagus grants half of the Iceni wealth and no more to this Nero.” Her hand flicked as if throwing a tidbit to the Roman.
“And you have papers proving this agreement?”
“Proof? We have no need for proof. Our word is law. Is not Rome’s word equal?”
“No papers?” Laughter bellowed from the procurator’s lips. “Tribune, they expect us to accept the word of a Britanni woman who calls herself their queen.”
The tribune’s attention set on the arrogant Roman and then scanned the rise as if in disbelief. It settled on her, locking with hers until the tribune tore his away.
Rhianna staggered from its intensity, gasping for air.
The tribune said something to the centurio who motioned to six soldiers to leave the ring to come up to stand beside her, Morrigan and Mergith. Their presence threatened every nerve in her body.
“Agreed! Half of the Iceni wealth now belongs to Rome as well as the loan payments owed,” the procurator announced.
“How dare you!” Her mother scooped a handful of dirt and hurled it into the Roman’s face.
“By word of Rome I dare.” The procurator backhanded her mother, twisting her aside like a bent tree.
As if struck, Rhianna hand flew to her cheek as if she had been the one slapped.
In that same instant, soldiers braced behind their shields. The points of gladii flashed into view, glinting like metal teeth.
“Curse you! Curse Rome!” Boudica screamed and then coated the Roman’s face with spit.
Cheers and laughter roared up through the Iceni as the procurator slowly lifted the edge of his red cape and wiped his face. The cape dropped and his finger rose.
“Flog her.” …

Rhianna finds her young life turned upside down when Romans plunder her homeland....almost everyone she loves being part of the plunder. The least likely person, a tribune in the Roman army, is compassionate towards her in the midst of the horror. Of course, the Iceni people seek revenge and freedom from Roman oppression...and the revolt is bloody. Not everyone survives and the Roman commander, Suetonius finds that Rhianna's mother, Boudica, is a formidable opponent.

At first, I thought I was never going to get used to the many long Roman names...but I did. On the second reading, it was like the characters were all old friends (or enemies).

I must applaud the emotional development of the characters. The author does a really good job of showing what is on the mind and heart of each character. (Dom is a bit of a mystery to me and I am glad to find, from the interview I did, that she is explored further in the next book.)

Smiles for me: My copy is autographed. :-)
My rating: 5 out of 5. Excellent storytelling and a fascinating time in history.

Amazon...Kindle and paperback
Barnes & Noble...NOOK book
Google Play...Purchase or sample
Smashwords...epub, mobi,pdf,rtf,lrf,pdb,txt,html,sample

Ms Ridgley loves the ancient world. Even after years of researching and many trips to the sites of her stories, she is still fascinated by what she can use for her next story. One thing she does enjoy more is bringing this world to life in her award-winning stories of power, greed, violence, and love.
Be sure to stop by her website to discover her books and novellas available on Be sure to sign up for her newsletter to stay up with her next book or her next giveaway!
You can also connect with JF Ridgley on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Google+.



What are the most beautiful ruins and landscapes that you have seen in your travels to Rome?
I am completely enthralled with Italy. But it always starts in the city of Rome.

I picture such elegance in the ruins of Pompeii and Herculaneum when walking through these beautiful places as in the picture below. Messalina’s house is middle left…Alexius’s house middle right, Balbus’s shrine below and to the left and below Messi’s house are the fishing huts where people were boiled alive. Above it all is the present day city of Ercolano that once covered Herculaneum. In the skyline and to the right is Vesuvius.

We visited Fishbourne, England, recently and toured a massive Roman villa built during the time of Agricola’s time in Britannia, It will be in the forthcoming books of my Agricola series.

This is making me very homesick to go back. So I need an easy fix and need to go to Malibu, California, to the Getty Villa that is a replication of the Cornelius Sulla’s villa in Threatened Loyalties.
J. Paul Getty purchased a copy of the Villa of Papyri and had it remade. It is free to the public and something we here in the States can go to and experience Rome’s grandeur. It’s just plain wonderful. Did I say it’s free.

While reading "Red Fury Revolt" and the preview of "Red Fury Rebellion," I very much admired your talent for creating conflict among your characters. What are your tips to beginning authors on this skill?
Thank you so much for the compliment. One thing I do is rather crazy. Yes, I mean, it involves talking to yourself. I interview my hero, heroine, and villains about why they do what they do. And I just let them talk through my fingers, typing everything down they talk. (Yes they do talk to me). And I ask/type more questions. And keep digging like a physiologist, deep into their innards. Actually it’s kind of scary. I did this with the villain of Pompeii’s Plague (coming 2016) and uncovered the reason why he hates Faustina. His reasons are extremely valid. As crazy as it seems, the characters will talk to you.

Another writing skill question...what goes into the process of your deciding to kill off a character and writing that demise?
Oh that one hurts. So there has to be a long-reaching reason for doing this to a beloved character or villain. This is what George R.R. Martin in his Games of Thrones series made apparent to me. The death must keep the plot moving ahead. You don’t just kill ‘em off because you don’t want them around anymore.

What would you recommend as must reads when it comes to historical fictions about Rome?
Colleen McCullough Grass Crown Series. All of her Roman books are amazing in detail and research. Gates of Fire by Steven Pressfield is amazing. I bought six books one Christmas to share with those I knew would like Spartans and Thermopylae. I love this book.Steven Saylor’s Rome series. His understanding of Roman history is impeccable. Be sure to enjoy his Gordianus mystery series. They are just plain fun. To be submerged in a place as Egypt, don’t miss Margaret George’s Memoirs of Cleopatra. Wow. Rome influenced and was influenced by all these eras.

There are so many authors who enjoy traveling with Rome’s legions. Conn Iggulden, Ben Kane, does one fantastic job in creating the world of the legionaries as does James Mace who pulls his experience from his tours in Afghanistan as well, as his love of ‘living’ with his soldiers. Don’t miss any of Mace’s Soldiers of Rome- Artorian Chronicles That’s just a start of historical fiction.

Who are your writing mentors?
I’ve been writing and studying this art for fifteen years, and list of mentors is longer than my arm. But hands down, the best mentor for writing is reading. I read as many Roman writers as I can. (See above) As for the practical art of writing I definitely recommend joining writing groups as Romance Writers of America and Historical Novel Society. They offer so many classes and sessions on line and at their conferences on what writers need to know. And they offer critique groups. Having your ‘baby” critiqued is tough. But these critique partners truly help you see what needs to be reconsidered.
I know they helped me.

Will the Agricola series be more than 2 books?
Absolutely. Julius has quite a history in Britannia as he covers over twenty years of his life there, searching for something he has lost.. Red Fury Rebellion is next, which sets up his return to Britannia. Let me ask you. If your child was kidnapped and you had access of the U. S. military, would you use them to find your child? And how long would you search?

Please tell us a bit about your current project(s).
Red Fury Rebellion is next. It is set in a very electric period of history known as ‘the year of four emperors,’ when Rome endures four men who claim the title of Caesar. It is a time when Rome’s legions go against Rome’s legions and gladiators. When those who fell in battle were left to rot in the battlefield. When constant turmoil and war tears at the heart of the empire. Caught in all of this, Julius struggles with his heart, the woman who still owns his soul, and his loyalty to Rome. What’s more, Domitia is a woman not to be ignored.
All this will determine whether Julius returns to Britannia to find his son.

I can’t thank you enough for letting me share my world that is like quicksand but unlike quicksand, I don’t want to ever leave it….for long

Monday, May 04, 2015

In My Life

Sadly, this is a tip: If there is no one around to scratch an itch between your shoulder blades and you don't have a back scratcher, pull a sturdy plastic ladle out of the kitchen drawer.

A 31" Darth Vader action figure in a drawer that is waiting to go back into a table is creeping me out. I either need to move the figure or reassemble the table ASAP. Darth Vader in a coffin is just a weird image.

I am finishing reading "The Little House Cookbook." I will likely turn right around and do a re-read. So much to learn and it will take a WHILE to learn it. One of the things I am interested in right now is something Almonzo Wilder's mother made-apple core vinegar. I want to try making apple cider vinegar from scraps.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

To Catch a Falling Star

To Catch a Falling Star is the eighth book in Anna Belfrage’s series featuring time traveler Alexandra Lind and her seventeenth century husband, Matthew Graham.
Some gifts are double-edged swords …
For Matthew Graham, being given the gift of his former Scottish manor is a dream come true. For his wife, Alex, this gift will force her to undertake a perilous sea journey, leaving most of their extensive family in the Colony of Maryland. Alex is torn apart by this, but staying behind while her husband travels to Scotland is no option.
Scotland in 1688 is a divided country, torn between the papist Stuart king and the foreign but Protestant William of Orange. In the Lowlands, popular opinion is with Dutch William, and Matthew’s reluctance to openly support him does not endear him to his former friends and neighbors.
While Matthew struggles to come to terms with the fact that Scotland of 1688 bears little resemblance to his lovingly conserved memories, Alex is forced to confront unresolved issues from her past, including her overly curious brother-in-law, Luke Graham. And then there’s the further complication of the dashing, flamboyant Viscount Dundee, a man who knocks Alex completely off her feet.
All the turmoil that accompanies their return to Scotland pales into insignificance when a letter arrives, detailing the calamities threatening their youngest daughter in Maryland – at the hand of that most obnoxious minister, Richard Campbell. Matthew and Alex have no choice but to hasten back, no matter the heartache this causes.
Will they make it back in time? And what will Richard Campbell do?

By the time they reached Grassmarket, the cloud cover was beginning to thin, and weak rays of sunlight filtered through to sparkle on the odd stand of wet grass, puddles and cobbles. The boys perked up at the sight of so much livestock, and after ensuring Alex was sitting safe and sound with a warm pasty in her hand, Matthew took his sons and dived into the market proper to find them horses. Alex leaned back against the worn granite of the water post and regarded the scene before her.
In one corner, poultry was being sold, just in front of her were the sheep, and for some minutes she exchanged belligerent stares with a heavy ram before someone bought him and led him away. She strolled across the open space, meandering around warm piles of dung, small children, huge muddy patches, and the odd gyps selling lucky charms. Voices rose and fell around her, people laughed and haggled, and it was all quite agreeable. Until the damned horse tore itself loose from the temporary smithy and set off like an enraged bear through the crowds, with a man hanging on to its reins.
“Bloody hell!” Alex wheezed, trying to get off the ground. Her cap had been knocked off, she had sat in something suspiciously soft and warm, and her back was soaked through.
“Uuuuuhhh,” the man on top of her said, and heaved himself up on his knees. He looked a sight. His right side was caked in mud, and blood flowed freely from his nose, dripping down on Alex who shoved at him.
“Help me up!” she said, and the man somehow got back on his feet and extended his hand to her. Shit, how it hurt! Her ribs ached, she seemed to have cracked the back of her head against something, and her hip...
“My sincerest apologies,” the man said in a deep, cultured voice.
“As if that will go very far in covering the costs for new clothes.” Alex twisted round to confirm that, yes, she had landed in a cowpat. She glared at him as she adjusted her bum roll: quite the gentleman, with his dark wig knocked askew to reveal long dark hair beneath it, substantially less curly than the impressive, if somewhat bedraggled, hairpiece.
He righted his wig, looked about for his hat, and swept her an elaborate bow, incongruous given the state of his fine embroidered coat and matching velvet breeches.
“You saved my life, ma’am.”
“Let’s not exaggerate,” Alex replied edgily. “All I did was cushion your landing.” He pointed, she swiveled, wincing at the accompanying twinge that flew up her back. “Oh.” She had, in fact, saved his life. If he hadn’t crashed into her, he would have ploughed head first into the water post.
The man looked her up and down with interest. “Not only my savior but a most handsome one at that,” he said gallantly, using a muddy handkerchief to staunch the blood welling from his long, narrow nose.
“Not only a moron, but blind as a bat,” Alex riposted, and the stranger laughed.
“I can assure you, mistress, that there’s nothing wrong with my eyesight.”
“So you live a life of delusions – poor you.” Alex had by now assured herself that all of her was in working order, even if she suspected she might have sprained her wrist. “What happened to the horse?” she asked, gingerly moving her hand back and forth.
“Treacherous creature!” the man spat, but it was obvious he didn't agree with his own assessment, his face shining up when a boy came leading the horse.
“And who’s the lucky one?” Alex muttered. “Not a bruise or a scratch or even a dab of mud on you!”
It was an impressive horse, seventeen hands or so, and with a hide that shifted in all shades of grey from a pearly almost white to the nearly black of graphite. The horse scraped with its hoof and jerked at the reins, making Alex back away.
The man said something in a low voice to the horse before turning back to Alex. “John Graham of Claverhouse, at your service.”
“Alex Graham, but, as far as I know, we’re not related.”
“Now we are,” he laughed. “After all, I owe you my life.” He was a few inches taller than she was, with a longish face in which the nose and two dark brows were the main features. The mouth was a bit too small and prim, but the eyes…She was flustered by his open and admiring look, even more so when Matthew grabbed her from behind.
“Alex? Are you alright?” He frowned at John Graham, his free hand dropping to the hilt of his sword.
“What? Oh, yes, yes, I’m alright. A bit dirty, but quite alright.” Alex nodded in the direction of John. “This is potentially a relative of yours. Mr John Graham, no less.”
“I know who he is, and I can assure you he’s no relative,” Matthew said, his voice dripping ice.
John seemed to find it all slightly amusing, raised his brows, swept Alex yet another bow, and, after promising to compensate her for her ruined clothes, walked away, leading his horse.
“That was rude,” Alex said.
“He was rude, to barge into you like that.” Matthew wiped at her clothes.
“It was an accident. It was the horse that took off.” She could still see the unknown Graham, now back at the smithy, and when he smiled at her she smiled back. “I quite liked him, despite that ridiculous wig.”
“That’s the man responsible for much of the despoilment of south-west Scotland. Bluidy Clavers, they call him, and for good reason.”
“Aye, he has chased Covenanters across the moors for years.” Matthew spat, tightened his hold on her arm, and led her away.

A love between a couple and the strong love that they have instilled throughout their large family. Alexandra Graham has reluctantly accompanied her husband from The Colonies to reclaim his family estate, Hillview. Alex and her husband, Matthew, find that Scotland is a much more complex place than when they very divided by the nation deciding whether it wants to be Catholic or Protestant and what monarch should rule. Well-drawn characters who take stands and often make tough, tough choices. In addition to dealing with the immense Revolution, much closure is found regarding the long string of time traveling that has been done by the Lind family.
Character I will remember most: Isaac
Warning: Some frank sexual content.
My rating: 5 out of 5 stars. Characters come with both flaws and strengths. Like a time traveler, I found myself immersed in  another era.
Plus: Beautiful cover.    
Giveaway: Leave a comment on this post with the tag #GrahamSaga to be entered in a giveaway of a paperback copy! Entries will be excepted until 11:59 PM CST May 8th and I will draw a winner on the 9th.



I was raised abroad, on a pungent mix of Latin American culture, English history and Swedish traditions. As a result I’m multilingual and most of my reading is historical – both non-fiction and fiction.
I was always going to be a writer – or a historian, preferably both. Instead I ended up with a degree in Business and Finance, with very little time to spare for my most favorite pursuit. Still, one does as one must, and in between juggling a challenging career I raised my four children on a potent combination of invented stories, historical debates and masses of good food and homemade cakes. They seem to thrive … Nowadays I spend most of my spare time at my writing desk. The children are half grown, the house is at times eerily silent and I slip away into my imaginary world, with my imaginary characters. Every now and then the one and only man in my life pops his head in to ensure I’m still there. I like that – just as I like how he makes me laugh so often I’ll probably live to well over a hundred.
I was always going to be a writer. Now I am – I have achieved my dream.


Sunday, April 26, 2015

Spring into Horror Read-a-Thon 2015.....
Wrap-Up Post :-)

Rules said you have to read at least one "horror" book but it can be tamer.

FINISHED. 26 pages.
An alphabet book read with my daughter. The animals interact with each other and there are 98 of them!
My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I read 129 pages. :-)

"Caesar at the Rubicon: A Play About Politics" by Theodore H. White. 174 pages. There are 23 pages of Prologue before the actual play and I am on page 14. I intend to read the play aloud and try to get some exercise by acting it out versus sitting in my chair. This story concentrates on how Caeser might have felt about things and will try to show how crossing the Rubicon transformed him (Caeser did not always have the personality of the dictator he became). A giveaway from the library.

I have read 4 more pages. An engrossing read filled with a lot of philosopher's thoughts on consumerism and real world examples (both of the author and the general consumer). I wonder how I will change after having read this.

39 more pages read.
My preschool son really wanted this from the, I told him we would read it a bit at a time. He had a theory that the hand reaching out is "Frankenstein from the Beetleborgs movie." Now he thinks that "Drew" might have done it.
Our preschooler has been banned from his over-abundant "Poopy Jokes." For one night we relaxed this ban and let every Nancy be Poopy instead. Phrases like "She recognized Poopy by her reputation" kept the entire family amused.

I have finished the 6 pages of Forward and I am on page 4. The forward is talking about how people who were already self-sufficient in rural areas did not suffer as much during the Great Depression.

FINISHED. 27 pages
Preschooler wanted to read Rochelle Larken's retelling of Aladdin because he thought the genie of the lamp and the genie of the ring looked like a man with two heads (that's the illustration that made him eager to buy this above). Preschooler got this book with his piggy bank money for 10-cents at a Salvation Army store.

24 pages that weren't a part of my original goal. Fun read with toddler. :-)

I have read some of this but I am starting a re-read to make sure I comprehend well for a review, excerpt and giveaway that I am posting tomorrow. The story is of (repeated)time travel and confronting deep emotions. Characters with a long entangled history.
186 pages of 431 thus far.
(I have finished it since the Read-a-thon.)

I read it twice to daughter. "Pouch" is one of Preschooler's favorite books. A story about overcoming fear of meeting new people(animals). Very cute and this book was a part of Dolly Parton's Imagination Library.

FINISHED. 20 pages.
Cute book with a handle and a little lock on the side that Preschooler got from Grandparents. This read was to Toddler. Both of our young children enjoy this book (and Mother Goose in general).

I have also decided to re-read "Julie & Julia" and I am now on page 10. It is a good read...nice pace and Julia Child's recipes sound so yummy. I just don't like a lot of the things Julie Powell does as a person (even more so in the book following this, "Cleaving: A Story of Marriage, Meat and Obsession").


I have read 131 pages of 424.
"Hunting aficionados will devour the shark bear action." -Kirkus Reviews

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-thon

(My total count was 181 pages. Stay tuned for a Wrap-Up Post!)

Pages so far..63.
I am making sure I have Anna Belfrage's "To Catch a Falling Star" well read for a review, excerpt and giveaway I am posting on the 29th. :-)

I have just finished page 118.
I am learning the different names there were for ingredients during the pioneer days (baking soda was called saleratus). I had forgotten about the presence of Laura's grandmother in the Little House stories. Laura and Almanzo's childhoods were quite different as far as ease of obtaining food.
---Codfish Balls. The author advises to do the simmering of the codfish while the people in your house are sleeping- serve it for breakfast and avoid having the smell that accompanies the cooking.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Toddler comes up to me and wraps her little hand around mine.
Toddler: Mommy, get me.
Me: Mommy, get me. What's Mommy supposed to get you for?
Toddler: Um. Um. (thinking) Ice cream cone.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Read-a-thon progress :-)

Rules say you have to read at least one "horror" book but it can be tamer.

FINISHED. 26 pages.
An alphabet book read with my daughter. The animals interact with each other and there are 98 of them!
My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

6) I have read 4 more pages. An engrossing read filled with a lot of philosopher's thoughts on consumerism and real world examples (both of the author and the general consumer). I wonder how I will change after having read this.

29 more pages read.
My preschool son really wanted this from the, I told him we would read it a bit at a time. He had a theory that the hand reaching out is "Frankenstein from the Beetleborgs movie." Now he thinks that "Drew" might have done it.
Our preschooler has been banned from his over-abundant "Poopy Jokes." For one night we relaxed this ban and let every Nancy be Poopy instead. Phrases like "She recognized Poopy by her reputation" kept the entire family amused.

I have finished the 6 pages of Forward and I am on page 1. The forward is talking about how people who were already self-sufficient in rural areas did not suffer as much during the Great Depression.

24 pages that weren't a part of my original goal. Fun read with toddler. :-)

I have read some of this but I am starting a re-read to make sure I comprehend well for a review, excerpt and giveaway that I am posting on the 29th. The story is of (repeated)time travel and confronting deep emotions.
I am on page 16 right now.


I have also decided to re-read "Julie & Julia" and I am now on page 10. It is a good read...nice pace and Julia Child's recipes sound so yummy. I just don't like a lot of the things Julie Powell does as a person (even more so in the book following this, "Cleaving: A Story of Marriage, Meat and Obsession".

I have read 14 pages. The white shark was introduced and we have have just met the bear. The bear seems to have less need to kill than the shark...wondering how this characterization will affect their encounter.
"Hunting aficionados will devour the shark bear action." -Kirkus Reviews

Friday, April 17, 2015

Spring Into Horror Read-A-Thon...
Goal Post

Rules say you have to read at least one "horror" book but it can be tamer. I am not sure what my horror selection(s) will be yet.

1) "Caesar at the Rubicon: A Play About Politics" by Theodore H. White. 174 pages. A giveaway from the library.

2) Starting "The Shadow of Blooming Grove: Warren G. Harding in His Times." 691 pages. A book I inherited from my Mother and I want to use it in our homeschooling. I plan to read it slowly with Google nearby...I know nothing about President Harding.

3) The Horizon Book of Daily Life in Ancient Rome. 127 pages. Published in 1975. I found this among the giveaways at the library today. There are 5 books in this series (5 ancient lands, I think). I want to see if I can find the rest of the series for homeschooling.

4) Notes from a World Music class I took. 83 pages. Yes, for my purposes, I am counting this as a book. I will not officially count it in the final post but it will be a very good accomplishment for me to go through this again.

My moment of silence.....
Brief pause here to reflect on the fact that I found my Mother's medication list at the bottom of a book box I was unpacking. I inherited the vast majority of her books (about 5,000) when she died of breast cancer in 2013. The medication list is extensive...she was battling Stage 4 breast cancer. She also found she had diabetes and was in heart failure from a silent heart attack when she was first diagnosed with the cancer. The medicine list was from 2009 and there was about a dozen things she had/was taking on it.I can only imagine what that list looked like by the time she passed.

5) An alphabet book that I am reading with my daughter.

6) I am on page 51. An engrossing read filled with a lot of philosopher's thoughts on consumerism and real world examples (both of the author and the general consumer). I wonder how I will change after having read this.

7) My preschool son really wanted this from the, I told him we would read it a bit at a time. We are on page 19. He has a theory that the hand reaching out is "Frankenstein from the Beetleborgs movie."

277 pages. The forward is talking about how people who were already self-sufficient in rural areas did not suffer as much during the Great Depression.


Friday, April 03, 2015

Redfield Farm

Ann Redfield is destined to follow her brother Jesse through life – two years behind him– all the way. Jesse is a conductor on the Underground Railroad, and Ann follows him there as well.
Quakers filled with a conviction as hard as Pennsylvania limestone that slavery is an abomination to be resisted with any means available, the Redfield brother and sister lie, sneak, masquerade and defy their way past would-be enforcers of the hated Fugitive Slave Law.
Their activities inevitably lead to complicated relationships when Jesse returns from a run with a deadly fever, accompanied by a fugitive, Josiah, who is also sick and close to death. Ann nurses both back to health. But precious time is lost, and Josiah, too weak for winter travel, stays on at Redfield Farm. Ann becomes his teacher, friend and confidant. When grave disappointment disrupts her life, Ann turns to Josiah for comfort, and comfort leads to intimacy. The result, both poignant and inspiring, leads to a life long devotion to one another and their cause.

An excellent (fictional) memoir of the time a Quaker family spent helping conduct passengers along the Underground Railroad. A bold author whose characters are not all good or all bad. Not much is shown of the actual slavery that is being run from...but there is one moment with a slave catcher that really shows what it was like to be owned. The world needs more people like the Redfields to take a stand so intensely...let's be honest, history could have used more people taking a stand like this!
My rating:  5 out of 5. It will go in our homeschool library for the older years.
Smile: My copy is autographed. I see my daughter inheriting a complete set of Judith Redline Coopey books someday. :-)

Judith Redline Coopey, born in Altoona, PA holds degrees from the Pennsylvania State University and Arizona State University. A passion for history inherited from her father drives her writing and a love for Pennsylvania sustains it. Her first book, Redfield Farm was the story of the Underground Railroad in Bedford County, Pennsylvania. The second, Waterproof, tells how the 1889 Johnstown Flood nearly destroyed a whole city and one young woman’s life. Looking For Jane is a quest for love and family in the 1890s brought to life through the eyes of Nell, a young girl convinced that Calamity Jane is her mother. Her most recent work, The Furnace: Volume One of the Juniata Iron Trilogy, is set on an iron plantation near where she grew up and tells the story of an ill conceived marriage of convenience as it plays out over a lifetime. As a teacher, writer and student of history, Ms Coopey finds her inspiration in the rich history of her native state and in stories of the lives of those who have gone before.

Interview with Judith Redline Coopey!
Ann and Jesse's family were quite industrious. What homesteading skill do you wish you had?
I’ve always thought spinning and weaving would be interesting. I have a copy of a diary of a young Quaker woman from Bedford County around the time of the Civil War. I was struck by the endless list of tasks, all of them hard work, that women faced every day.

Do you find yourself to be more like Ann or more like Jesse?
Interesting question. I think Ann is much nicer than I am and more dedicated. Jesse is an interesting choice, since he was a self-starter and a mover in the Underground Railroad, I would like to think I was more like him, but I think they’re both unique characters, unlike me, but sharing my values.

I notice a lot of good cooking mentioned through the book (foodies always pick up on these things). What are your favorite comfort foods? Are there any foods that are particularly Quaker that you have liked or would like to try?
I guess there’s nothing like roast beef, mashed potatoes and gravy. I don’t know much about Quaker cooking, but I do have a Quaker cookbook. My daughter is the foodie in the family. She makes her living teaching cooking, whether classes offered by various cooking schools, or individual small groups. If I asked her, she would come up with a whole menu based on traditional Quaker foods. Since my family had lost touch with our Quaker roots, I can’t say whether any of our traditional foods had Quaker origins.

Have you visited any of the known sites of the Underground Railroad. What were they like?
Better yet, I’ve visited places in the immediate area where the story takes place and seen hiding places in attics and between two partitions in a room. I’ve also seen an entrance to a church from the river bank and up through from the basement. Every time I see one of these, I marvel at the dedication it took for people to go to such lengths to modify their homes or public buildings so they could help people escape. I plan to visit museums in Marietta, Ohio and Maysville, Kentucky this summer.

What did the Fugitive Slave Act entail? Were there other events in Pennsylvania that contributed to the Civil War?
The Fugitive Slave Law said slaves were property, and as such, they had to be returned to their owners if caught. Anyone found hiding a fugitive slave was liable to incarceration or a heavy fine. It wasn’t enforced as fully in the north where local officials often sided with the fugitives and did what they could to prevent the slave owners or slave catchers from taking them back. But the people who took part in the Underground Railroad did so at the risk of jail, fines, injury or even death.

Tell us some about your research process for "Redfield Farm."
I love research. Once I decided on the topic, I gathered all the books I could find on the Underground Railroad. When I read articles I make a note of sources the author used and looked them up for further reading. I own about thirty books on the Underground Railroad, and I’ve read maybe twenty more. Sometimes a whole book will be valuable and I’ll want to own it so I can refer to it again and again as I write. Some of the best are: Levi Coffin’s memoir which has a very long title, but if you enter his name into your search engine, you’ll come up with his book; The Underground Railroad From Slavery to Freedom by Wilbur Henry Siebert, Let My People Go by Henrietta Buckmaster and Bound For Canaan by Fergus M. Bordewich.

What are your upcoming projects?
I may very well write another book on the Underground Railroad. It won’t be for a while because I have two more books for the Juniata Iron Trilogy, but after that, I may return to a book I started some time ago about a white Southerner, born and raised in a slave-holding society, whose hatred of slavery led him to oppose it throughout his life, even to the point of stealing his uncle’s slaves and shepherding them to Canada. It’s a great story and it keeps calling to me, so….



:-) 2009-06-11 daily 0.5 2009-06-11 daily 0.5