Reading List in Review: My Recommendations and the New Year Weekend Update

It was a productive year as far as “reading” is concerned – only technically – I was really “listening” through Audible for many of these. I think I had a pretty good mix of books to keep me happy while on my commute, or at 1:30 a.m. when I can’t sleep. This time I think I will insert them in order as I liked them. ;-). That will give you an idea on a relative scale, as to how I enjoyed them, should you be interested in them as well. I’ll also give a comment or two on each.

  • Where the Crawdad’s Sing by Delia Owens – This one is at the top of my list and I can see why so many have chosen it and it’s become a best seller and eventually a movie is coming out, I think? Oh my. This one is very different. A girl mainly raises herself, with the help of a very trusting few. The things she has gone through, will go through, in the marshes of North Carolina. Oh yes. Read this one. There is mystery, wonder, strength, candor, suspense, empathy. You will like it.
  • Winter in Paradise by Elin Hilderbrand – This one was well written. It had mystery, feeling, details, twists, turns. There were lots of little mysteries inside other mysteries. The characters were strong and true. The book was descriptive and painted a good picture of the story at hand and all the little mini ones going on. Yet something is still hanging out there in the shadows unexplained. Loved loved this one.
  • Green Lights by Matthew McConaughey – I mean Wow! What a guy. I first thought he was going to spin a conceited and cocky tail of himself, and maybe he does a bit, but I was very impressed. This is not your average Hollywood pretty guy. He’s actually a very intellectual, deep, complex and well versed individual. He’s a very good writer and story teller. I loved every minute of this book. Except for the beginning. It started off a little slow for me but quickly sped up. I hated for it to be over. His life and adventures – oh my gosh – you won’t believe it and there’s lots of humor. I give him a green light!
  • Running Against the Tide by Captain Lee – Well obviously this one made it upwards to the top. I love stories of the sea and also watched “Below Deck” until the show became more annoying than interesting with its bickering and horny crew members (sorry but the best way to put it) instead of how the crew manages the boat, the food, the guests. But the book itself takes Captain Lee and how he became a captain and how it led up through the years to being a boat captain on TV. I think if you didn’t know Captain Lee and you loved the ocean – you would love this behind the scenes of a captain book. He goes through what it takes to be a captain and all the pitfalls and scenarios that can happen in a such a career. I loved it. It helped having watch the show as I knew who Captain Lee was but he spoke very little of the show itself. Loved his book and was excited to get to read it.
  • Into the Storm by Reed Timmer – the story of a storm chaser’s life. I mean Wow! I read this one trying to understand how one develops the bravery to chase tornadoes. What makes them different? This was a psychological book for me. I am on the opposite spectrum and deathly afraid of big thunderstorms with their high winds and possible tornadoes. It was interesting for me. He tells in details some of the many chases of storms, including hurricanes. It was a thrill for me, with my heart beating loudly as I commute to work while listening. I couldn’t wait to get back in the car and head home to see how he made it through each storm. He even has a storm chasing dog. Can this type of person have relationships that last? Check it out.
  • The Next Wife by Kaira Roada – Well, this was, I believe, a freebie through Amazon first reads or something like that. It was on my phone where I had downloaded it earlier. One night at around 1:30 I couldn’t sleep and I clicked on it, on my phone, and mainly read this at night in the middle of the night, lol. I would read for an hour and go back to sleep, during the time that Mom stayed with us. So this catches your attention from the start. It held me all the way through. It even had a spot or two with humor but mainly you just want to know what is going to happen and see how the character’s react. Check it out. The storyline? A man leaves his wife for another person in their business and they all still work together. Just the dynamics of watching this play out is like watching a chess game with fireworks after each move, lol.
  • Three Years in a Walmart Parking Lot – by Sharon Waters – So, the writing is not spectacular as far as telling a tale, but it was very interesting in the beginning and about 2/3’s the way through. I was mainly interested to see how someone who has not RV’d got through this period of time just taking off in an RV. Toward the end, ummm, it’s like she got tired of telling the tale and wanted to end the book. So it kinda left me with a feeling of “I read this for what reason?”. But it’s making it upwards in my list because I was enthralled reading it and enjoyed it most of the way through. I looked forward to reading a chapter before bed every night. I remembered the “freedom” I felt for her and the “excitement” of the adventure. So much so that I will give her a break that the book petered out somewhat. Just know that the ending was not bad, nor dramatic, but just kinda ended. I think if I had known that I would not have been expecting some big reveal at the end where she finds herself and life is so worth it. I mean she could have played it up a little but the details started to drop off about 2/3rd’s through like it was just “finished up” hurriedly. So just know that.
  • Ellie Dwyer’s Great Escape by Diane Winger – Yep, picked this one b/c of the RV. Why not. So glad I did. It was very entertaining all the adventures/misadventures Ellie got into. With her spouse leaving her, several disasters occurring all around – she has to scramble to figure out what is happening and what to do next. She meets loving characters and friends along the way – will she find the answers as to why her husband left her? This one had humor. Quite an enjoyable book.
  • Fourteen: Daughter’s Memoirs of Adventure, Sailing, & Survival by Leslie Johansen Nack. Oh wow. This was a very interesting read. You want to see what happens next and how this ends. It was a bit dark as the daughter is abused along with her siblings in this tale – physically, mentally, and sexually as they are on a sailboat cruising the world. I won’t spoil it for you but all eyes are on this one to see how she handles it all.
  • Lucky Charming by Kate Chasten – So I just really was curious what this book would entail as Kate talked about how she got into being a yacht stewardess. Beware of her sassy attitude. It’s in person on the Below Deck shows and also comes through in her book. It was interesting all the happenings on the boat and interesting how each boat has a different dynamic, and all the experiences can be so different from boat to boat. I can’t say I can relate to her lifestyle. Seems like a really hard life. But I enjoyed learning about the industry itself.
  • Empty Nester’s by Carolyn Brown – A delightful tale. First chapter or so hard to catch your attention but push through it. I thoroughly enjoyed this cheerful “feel good” book as they travel in an RV and each work through life’s issues. Of course I picked it since there was an RV involved. ha. Sometimes the silliest things can sway you to pick a book.
  • Sailing into Oblivion: The Solo Non-Stop Voyage of the Mighty Sparrow by Jerome Rand – So I know I enjoyed this book, but honestly nothing stuck with me to tell you about it. I just simply went along with him in his journey as I drove to work and back. A sailing journey.
  • Sailing with Impunity: Adventures in the South Pacific by Mary Trimble. This was a pleasant read as you travel along with this couple on their dream trip. Again I don’t remember a lot but having watched several sailing channels, I was familiar with some of their routes – particularly Tonga. They get into some interesting situations. Just a pleasant read since I love to hear stories of sailing.
  • The House by Chambrae Blue – This is actually an old blog buddy/Facebook friend that wrote this book. This is not her real name but her pen name. The book is very different, a lot mysterious. It involves a man and a dog. It kept me entertained for miles. There were a few twists and turns and surprises. What is it that is floating through that house that makes it haunted? hmmmm.
  • The Beach House by Rachel Hanna – It’s obvious why I picked this book. Who doesn’t want a beach house to renovate? lol It was not a deep read, but a predictable but fun read. It was pleasant. Not a lot of twists and turns, just your basic “starting over in life, will I find love again as I renovate this new beach house?” Family shows up to complicate/help things. Basic but fine.
  • Float Plan by Trish Dollar – Ummmm I’d say Average. I think you can do better. It was just ok. That said, it caught my attention and kept it. It just wasn’t very deep, wasn’t a lot to it. Just mainly a girl trying to get over losing her fiancé who had committed suicide and she tries to move on in the love compartment. It was a little dark but I enjoyed the fact that she was on a boat. That is what I liked about it. How she managed to handle the boat and the journey itself.
  • Time Bandit by Andy Hillstrand – Oh, this one made it to the end. I guess I wanted more of the Time Bandit’s experience from the standpoint of the show “The World’s Deadliest Catch” but instead it was more about the life of the Hillstrand Brothers and their boat and all the crazy stuff they did growing up. I just didn’t get into it really. I couldn’t relate to their haphazard and rough ways of living. I did understand their wanting to be in a boat on the water and I can relate to that somehow as I have a calling to be on or near the water and never really answered to it except through books and shows, but it took me a year to finish this book so…I’m putting it at the end. No offense Hillstrands but I just couldn’t relate to much of it.

New Year’s Day

We had a very unruly day of unbelievable wind, clouds, rain, and tornadic supercells in parts of our mid state area. The limbs you see here are what’s left from the last bad storm a few weeks ago, when an F1 tornado came through our town.

I also chose to work on the house and put up Christmas and do laundry and put up our gifts. I love this kind of day after Christmas. It takes a few weeks to “flip” the house back but I enjoy the process. The house is starting to look bare but I’ll clean it good next, and then begin to put things back into place. A lot of time I’ll end up moving things around and decorating it back differently (meaning plants, pic frames, Nic nacs, lamps, etc).

Where’s Waldo?

I decided to leave the tree up until after the 15th. We still have Christmas to do with my SIL and BIL. So these are gifts left that have not been opened. Some are for our BIL and SIL and family and then some are for the Irelands Christmas. BIL and SIL – they are coming on the 15th from Knoxville and will spend the night with us, we’ll celebrate my birthday, do Christmas and they’ll get some things from our storage downstairs. This sounds so fun to me that they are spending the night. We will have a great time, maybe play some games, sip some wine, and get up and I’ll have some kind of breakfast thing for us to eat. I’m thinking eggs, fruit, bacon, avocado toast!

We also want to see our Ireland friends and need to set a date with them as well. We want them to come to our house this time. They have hosted us so much it’s embarrassing. I have been so ashamed of my carpets and floors in the past. And now we are in so much better shape for having company. I have known that December and January were going to be crazy and told Lisa it may be Feb before we can catch our breath. Once back from Texas and celebrating birthday dinners (mine) lol – and then having to work longer hours because of month end, quarter end, year end, and also missing time from work as we go to Texas – makes planning a lot this month, hard. I like to have time to focus on something and look forward to it and not sling something together. I will be more relaxed when Feb hits. I’m relaxed right now but I know how this month goes. It can be crazy with worry over “will I get it all done?” I don’t like the last week of any quarter but the last week of January really puts my stomach in knots. I want to avoid that if I can this year. But I’ll be much more ready to celebrate life come February.

February is my real new year! lol. January is just a practice. ha. February is my new hibernation month as they call it. I plan on downloading Final Cut Pro and learning it. I am also re-evaluating the blog, vlog, and may make some changes. I need to “have a meeting with myself” and outline a few things, realign some goals, and steps. This is fun for me. This is my hobby. I won’t go into my thoughts yet but all I will say is that I think I would like to grow the blog and vlog. I’ve always wanted to grow the vlog. But the blog I’ve kinda enjoyed keeping it on the down low. Because the more you do the more you can say. But I’m ok with growing it now and being intentional about it because I want to grow the vlog and spend more time growing it. I really haven’t had much time this year for research and learning or even training on my camera, or about YouTube itself. I just don’t have the spare time to go down each little highway that I want to go down. But it’s there for the taking whenever I do.

Caring for Mom has taken a lot of my hobby time away and I’ve struggled with that A LOT. If you read my blog at all last year you know that I’ve struggled with a lot of the changes. I’m glad to help Mom – so don’t miss my point. It’s an adjustment for her too. We’ve all had a lot of changes and with us including the loss of dear pets, in the last year or so. But at least we don’t have TWO MOVEs and two houses to get ready for her to live in this year. So that should gives us back *some* time. I am trying to figure out the best way to care for someone in another household though and how to work that into a doable schedule with minimal surprises for everyone involved. Like I will never be a fan of having my day planned out and getting a call “I need this now”. We will all be disappointed on a day like that. So I think we’ll try to stay on top of some kind of a schedule once the holidays, trips, etc settle down. I’m not worried about it. I just try to keep it all the forefront. One method is to ask Mom “what is your top three things you want done?” so we stay on radar with her needs and expectations as she depends on us for a lot.

Little Bit spent much of the afternoon and evening in with us. He’s smart. He knew storms and rain was coming. He slept for a long long time right here. He gets around good for an old fart! Let’s see how old he is- we rescued him shortly after moving into this house in 2008 as a little kitten George found at the lake access in Gallatin. Why he was at the lake access was interesting to me, but anyway, he came home with him. So he’s about 13. He does not act 13 but yesterday he seemed to move a little slower.

Meanwhile in Texas

Weather was not as bad in Texas and the front moved through yesterday. They (Katy and Little Roo) got a walk in on the ranch before the wind and cold really kicked up. We got to FaceTime with them yesterday and hang out. He loves his little lamb “Lamb-y”. He smiled more for us yesterday because he remembered who we were! He was glad to see us. That was heartwarming. We will see him again soon.

So I’m going to get a lot of things done in the house today. Tomorrow is booked so TODAY is IT! Tomorrow is my birthday but I’m planning on doing some things. I need to work on the schedule as it’s crammed full.

Here’s what I want to do today:

My normal weekend duties, work on the house, clean, organize, put up Christmas, pack for Texas, but still have some fun! Just not go anywhere. Work on my planner some. (I have stickers for my planner. My inner little girl will come out today.)

But here’s what I want to do tomorrow:

  1. Film a personal segment for Roger’s tribute (George will be at work, the house will be quite and I can focus and get it done).
  2. Get my nails done. It’s becoming urgent!
  3. Mom and I are celebrating my birthday lunch tomorrow
  4. Take Mom to look at curtains or whatever she wants to do
  5. Get her mail
  6. George and I are celebrating my birthday at dinner.

So happy new year to ya! Thanks for popping in to check on me. And hope your day goes well!

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