Sunday, December 31, 2017

Bundle UP!

These temps are NO joke and all the fur and feathered babies still gotta eat! 
Happy New Year!
We will be snuggled in and grateful for shelter & heat tonight! 

Saturday, December 30, 2017

My 2017 Top Reading List :)

10. Lie to Me by J. T. Ellison (Thriller)
Sutton and Ethan Montclair's idyllic life is not as it appears. They seem made for each other, but the truth is ugly. Consumed by professional and personal betrayals and financial woes, the two both love and hate each other. As tensions mount, Sutton disappears, leaving behind a note saying not to look for her. 

Ethan finds himself the target of vicious gossip as friends, family and the media speculate on what really happened to Sutton Montclair. As the police investigate, the lies the couple have been spinning for years quickly unravel. Is Ethan a killer? Is he being set up? Did Sutton hate him enough to kill the child she never wanted and then herself? The path to the answers is full of twists that will leave the reader breathless.

9. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng (I can’t put into words why I loved it, but I did!)
In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is planned – from the layout of the winding roads, to the colors of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principle is playing by the rules.

Enter Mia Warren – an enigmatic artist and single mother – who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenaged daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past and a disregard for the status quo that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community.

8. A Different Blue by Amy Harmon (This author has yet to disappoint me!)
Blue Echohawk doesn't know who she is. She doesn't know her real name or when she was born. Abandoned at two and raised by a drifter, she didn't attend school until she was ten years old. At nineteen, when most kids her age are attending college or moving on with life, she is just a senior in high school. With no mother, no father, no faith, and no future, Blue Echohawk is a difficult student, to say the least. Tough, hard, and overtly sexy, she is the complete opposite of the young British teacher who decides he is up for the challenge, and takes the troublemaker under his wing. 

7. The Passenger by Lisa Lutz (Thriller)
“A dead-serious thriller (with a funny bone)” (The New York Times Book Review), from the author of the New York Times bestselling Spellman Files series, comes the story of a woman who creates and sheds new identities as she crisscrosses the country to escape her past.

Forty-eight hours after leaving her husband’s body at the base of the stairs, Tanya Dubois cashes in her credit cards, dyes her hair brown, demands a new name from a shadowy voice over the phone, and flees town. It’s not the first time.

She meets Blue, a female bartender who recognizes the hunted look in a fugitive’s eyes and offers her a place to stay. With dwindling choices, Tanya-now-Amelia accepts. An uneasy―and dangerous―alliance is born.

6. Pretending to Dance by Diane Chamberlain (another excellent author in my opinion)
Molly Arnette is very good at keeping secrets. She and her husband live in San Diego, where they hope to soon adopt a baby. But the process terrifies her.
As the questions and background checks come one after another, Molly worries that the truth she's kept hidden about her North Carolina childhood will rise to the surface and destroy not only her chance at adoption, but also her marriage. She ran away from her family twenty years ago after a shocking event left her devastated and distrustful of those she loved: her mother, the woman who raised her and who Molly says is dead but is very much alive; her birth mother, whose mysterious presence raised so many issues; and the father she adored, whose troubling death sent her running from the small community of Morrison Ridge.
5. Secrets of a Charmed Life by Susan Meissner (WWII historical fiction is one of my favorite genre’s)
Current day, Oxford, England. Young American scholar Kendra Van Zant, eager to pursue her vision of a perfect life, interviews Isabel McFarland just when the elderly woman is ready to give up secrets about the war that she has kept for decades...beginning with who she really is. What Kendra receives from Isabel is both a gift and a burden—one that will test her convictions and her heart.

1940s, England. As Hitler wages an unprecedented war against London’s civilian population, hundreds of thousands of children are evacuated to foster homes in the rural countryside. But even as fifteen-year-old Emmy Downtree and her much younger sister Julia find refuge in a charming Cotswold cottage, Emmy’s burning ambition to return to the city and apprentice with a fashion designer pits her against Julia’s profound need for her sister’s presence. Acting at cross purposes just as the Luftwaffe rains down its terrible destruction, the sisters are cruelly separated, and their lives are transformed...

4. The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson (I could NOT put it down!)
In a tantalizing set-up reminiscent of Patricia Highsmith’s classic Strangers on a Train… On a night flight from London to Boston, Ted Severson meets the stunning and mysterious Lily Kintner. Sharing one too many martinis, the strangers begin to play a game of truth, revealing very intimate details about themselves. Ted talks about his marriage that’s going stale and his wife Miranda, who he’s sure is cheating on him. Ted and his wife were a mismatch from the start—he the rich businessman, she the artistic free spirit—a contrast that once inflamed their passion, but has now become a cliché.
But their game turns a little darker when Ted jokes that he could kill Miranda for what she’s done. Lily, without missing a beat, says calmly, “I’d like to help.” After all, some people are the kind worth killing, like a lying, stinking, cheating spouse. . . .
3. Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate (LOVED it!  A must read!)
Memphis, 1939. Twelve-year-old Rill Foss and her four younger siblings live a magical life aboard their family's Mississippi River shantyboat. But when their father must rush their mother to the hospital one stormy night, Rill is left in charge--until strangers arrive in force. Wrenched from all that is familiar and thrown into a Tennessee Children's Home Society orphanage, the Foss children are assured that they will soon be returned to their parents--but they quickly realize the dark truth. At the mercy of the facility's cruel director, Rill fights to keep her sisters and brother together in a world of danger and uncertainty.

Aiken, South Carolina, present day. Born into wealth and privilege, Avery Stafford seems to have it all: a successful career as a federal prosecutor, a handsome fiancé, and a lavish wedding on the horizon. But when Avery returns home to help her father weather a health crisis, a chance encounter leaves her with uncomfortable questions and compels her to take a journey through her family's long-hidden history, on a path that will ultimately lead either to devastation or to redemption.

Based on one of America's most notorious real-life scandals--in which Georgia Tann, director of a Memphis-based adoption organization, kidnapped and sold poor children to wealthy families all over the country--Lisa Wingate's riveting, wrenching, and ultimately uplifting tale reminds us how, even though the paths we take can lead to many places, the heart never forgets where we belong.

2. A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman (A feel good, must read book!)  *BearTown by this author is also really good, but starts off slow.  Once it gets going though, it is EXCELLENT!
Meet Ove. He’s a curmudgeon—the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him “the bitter neighbor from hell.” But must Ove be bitter just because he doesn’t walk around with a smile plastered to his face all the time?

Behind the cranky exterior there is a story and a sadness. So when one November morning a chatty young couple with two chatty young daughters move in next door and accidentally flatten Ove’s mailbox, it is the lead-in to a comical and heartwarming tale of unkempt cats, unexpected friendship, and the ancient art of backing up a U-Haul. All of which will change one cranky old man and a local residents’ association to their very foundations.

1.     The Orphan Keeper by Camron Wright (based on a true story!!! Incredible!!)

Seven-year-old Chellamuthu's life--and his destiny--is forever changed when he is kidnapped from his village in Southern India and sold to the Lincoln Home for Homeless Children. His family is desperate to find him, and Chellamuthu anxiously tells the Indian orphanage that he is not an orphan, he has a mother who loves him. But he is told not to worry, he will soon be adopted by a loving family in America.

Chellamuthu is suddenly surrounded by a foreign land and a foreign language. He can't tell people that he already has a family and becomes consumed by a single, impossible question: How do I get home?But after more than a decade, home becomes a much more complicated idea as the Indian boy eventually sheds his past and receives a new name: Taj Khyber Rowland.

Young Adult MUST read:
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas  (Graphic language and some violence so I don’t recommend for elementary or even some middle school students.  A great read that makes you think!)
Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.
Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.
But what Starr does—or does not—say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.

Red Queen series by Victoria Aveyard
Graceling meets The Selection in debut novelist Victoria Aveyard's sweeping tale of seventeen-year-old Mare, a common girl whose once-latent magical power draws her into the dangerous intrigue of the king's palace. Will her power save her or condemn her?

Honorable Mention:  If you read The Glass Castle from my previous list, you will also enjoy Half Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls.  LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it!


Friday, December 29, 2017

Afternoon in Pics...

Because today felt incredible after the 4 degree wind chill yesterday was 40 degrees!  Praise!!
Not that Ruby Rue could tell the difference! :)
Think they want something?
Ms. Cool cat, Prim.  Happy because she has been stuck inside with the freezing temps!
 Rex caught another mole today.  He was worried I was going to take it from him! :)
It looks like she's guarding them...she's not! LOL!
They'll be coming around the mountain when they come...
Pretty girls!
My bliss!  :)

And time for bed...let's coop up ladies!

 Tomorrow is back to COLD, COLD, COLD!

Thursday, December 28, 2017


The Christmas season can be a bit exhausting with all the road trips.  This year, it just fell where we were in the car 3 straight days.  Luckily all day trips so we were able to take care of the "kids" at home.  
The festivities started Saturday with a trip to Piggott (little over 3 hour drive one way) to have Christmas at Granny's house.  
My family: Dad, me, mom and Bubby 
This is Granny with her kids (Aunt Debbie, Uncle Scott, Aunt Kim and Mom):
So Christmas at Granny's is with her kids and grandkids and great grandkids and now great-great grandkids!  
We got home Saturday night in time for our nephew, Austin to spend the night & go to our church with us the next morning for Chrismtas Eve service.  Love that kid!
After church, we headed to Perryville to the lake house for our Benson Christmas.  Big Bear wanted to try his hand at some prime rib and it was yummy!!
We love any time we get to spend with the nephews!
And of course, there is my yearly gift of cats to John!  This year, I outdid myself!  WAY better than a bookmark! LOL!
We got home in time to feed the masses Christmas Eve night and at this point they were missing their parents!!  (Or really me! LOL!)  Or was it me missing them?  
Then, it was Christmas morning and Santa stuffed my stocking FULL of goats, chickens and books!  How did he know? LOL!
Christmas morning breakfast by Big Bear never disappoints! Breakfast tacos with farm fresh eggs!
Then, it was time for a little momma attention to my neglected babies!  
About mid-day, we got back in the car for a final Christmas trip.  This one just an hour away for my family Christmas.  It's a little sad with my niece in California.  She is the center and light of our little family.  We miss her terribly, but she is happy so we are happy.
Me and Bubby:
And just more proof that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree:
After presents and lunch, I loaded up some hay for the kids.  Loading hay on a full tummy is not an easy task.  And my hubby napped through the whole ordeal! But the donkeys were happy! They dug right in!
Everyone was happy...even the cats!  Because what is better than empty boxes! LOL!
3 days in a row was a bit much...not wanting the holiday to fall like that again any time soon!

The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon

This book has been in my "to read" pile for well over a year.  I grabbed it this week because it seemed a fitting title for a week that is bone chilling cold! LOL!  It didn't disappoint.  Not what I was expecting but I liked how it goes back to 1900's and then back to present.  It is a spooky novel and a good read in my opinion.  

Summary from barnes and
Boston Globe Best Book of the Year 
West Hall, Vermont, has always been a town of strange disappearances and old legends. The most mysterious is that of Sara Harrison Shea, who, in 1908, was found dead in the field behind her house just months after the tragic death of her daughter.
Now, in present day, nineteen-year-old Ruthie lives in Sara’s farmhouse with her mother, Alice, and her younger sister. Alice has always insisted that they live off the grid, a decision that has weighty consequences when Ruthie wakes up one morning to find that Alice has vanished. In her search for clues, she is startled to find a copy of Sara Harrison Shea's diary hidden beneath the floorboards of her mother's bedroom. As Ruthie gets sucked into the historical mystery, she discovers that she’s not the only person looking for someone that they’ve lost. But she may be the only one who can stop history from repeating itself.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Week of Vacation... :)

It has been a productive week of cleaning house, Christmas shopping, wrapping presents, reading, and resting!! 
Every year the dogs get new beds for Christmas and we donate their old beds to the humane society.  They LOVE a new bed...Rex most of all! LOL!
Santa also came early and delivered an igloo dog house to Kix, which was promptly stolen by Crackle and then Snap.  So, Santa brought another one! :)
While finishing up Christmas shopping, we found this little back door mat treasure for ourselves! LOL!
I went to mom's farm one day to help her with a project...

And of course, steal a few bales of hay while there! LOL! 
I have loved the pretty weather days sprinkled through the week to hang out with my peeps all afternoon! :)  Today is raining ALL day! ;(
We have also enjoyed several lazy mornings!!  I LOVE NO ALARM CLOCK DAYS!
Best of all, my know the goats are my fav! :)
A good week of vacation...much needed rest and relaxation and catching up around here!  Now the rest of vacation can move slowly!!!  No need to rush the days!

The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck

This is one of my favorite genre's - WWII historical fiction.  And, this one actually starts right after the war and is the story of 3 German women that had husbands that were in the resistance.  A different perspective than I've read before.  I think once you get into it, it's a really good story.  It takes you through their lives from '45 to '91.  It also flashes back to parts of their past so you can understand why they make some of the decisions they do.  A really good read.  Little slow to start, but totally worth the time to read and invest. 

Summary from
Set at the end of World War II, in a crumbling Bavarian castle that once played host to all of German high society, a powerful and propulsive story of three widows whose lives and fates become intertwined.

Amid the ashes of Nazi Germany’s defeat, Marianne von Lingenfels returns to the once grand castle of her husband’s ancestors, an imposing stone fortress now fallen into ruin following years of war. The widow of a resistor murdered in the failed July, 20, 1944, plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler, Marianne plans to uphold the promise she made to her husband’s brave conspirators: to find and protect their wives, her fellow resistance widows. 

First, Marianne rescues six-year-old Martin, the son of her dearest childhood friend, from a Nazi reeducation home. Together, they make their way across the smoldering wreckage of their homeland to Berlin, where Martin’s mother, the beautiful and naïve Benita, has fallen into the hands of occupying Red Army soldiers. Then she locates Ania, another resistor’s wife, and her two boys, now refugees languishing in one of the many camps that house the millions displaced by the war. 

As Marianne assembles this makeshift family from the ruins of her husband’s resistance movement, she is certain their shared pain and circumstances will hold them together. But she quickly discovers that the black-and-white, highly principled world of her privileged past has become infinitely more complicated, filled with secrets and dark passions that threaten to tear them apart. Eventually, all three women must come to terms with the choices that have defined their lives before, during, and after the war—each with their own unique share of challenges.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Took a Little Break...

Christmas season is much to do.  So little time! We made it though.  The past 3 weeks have been a count down to Christmas break and it is HERE!  Two weeks off with my babies! Priceless!!
Elly May says "Merry Christmas!"

What She Knew by Gilly MacMillan

This one was just ok.  Not great but not horrible either.  It just didn't keep me wanting more.  

Summary from goodreads:

In her enthralling debut, Gilly Macmillan explores a mother’s search for her missing son, weaving a taut psychological thriller as gripping and skillful as The Girl on the Train and The Guilty One.

In a heartbeat, everything changes…

Rachel Jenner is walking in a Bristol park with her eight-year-old son, Ben, when he asks if he can run ahead. It’s an ordinary request on an ordinary Sunday afternoon, and Rachel has no reason to worry—until Ben vanishes.  

Police are called, search parties go out, and Rachel, already insecure after her recent divorce, feels herself coming undone. As hours and then days pass without a sign of Ben, everyone who knew him is called into question, from Rachel’s newly married ex-husband to her mother-of-the-year sister. Inevitably, media attention focuses on Rachel too, and the public’s attitude toward her begins to shift from sympathy to suspicion.

As she desperately pieces together the threadbare clues, Rachel realizes that nothing is quite as she imagined it to be, not even her own judgment. And the greatest dangers may lie not in the anonymous strangers of every parent’s nightmares, but behind the familiar smiles of those she trusts the most.

Where is Ben? The clock is ticking... 

Friday, December 1, 2017

Road Trip...Thanksgiving in Nashville

Thanksgiving morning, we turned the farm over to our farm sitter and hit the road to escape for a few days.  It was MUCH needed.  We have been so busy lately that we were just passing each other coming and going.  Nashville is about a 5 hour drive for us, so we were still on the road for the lunch hour and since Crackle Barrel had a line that seemed to wrap around the building, we opted to have Waffle House for Thanksgiving lunch! LOL!  
We were in Nashville by dinner and staying downtown in the midst of everything, so we went to explore the Honky Tonks and find food.  We had Thanksgiving dinner at Luigi's ... lasanga and pizza work just fine for me!
That night we walked around downtown and got a feel for where we wanted to explore further the next day.
For black Friday, there was no bargain insane shopping for us.  After breakfast at Puckett's, we walked around downtown and then explored the Johnny Cash museum. 

 We had lunch at Demo's.  Yummy pasta!!  Then, we took a little nap!  Then, the plan was to go to the Country Music Hall of Fame.  But it was 4 and they close at 5, so we opted to wait until morning.  However, we stumbled on a little concert in the lobby by Tracy Lawerance to kick off the lighting of the Christmas tree.  So we stayed for that! :)
We went to Acme Feed & Seed for dinner and that was cool because as we got our dinner, a band started playing.  They were fun!

Saturday morning, we toured the Country Music Hall of Fame.  Tim McGraw and Faith Hill had a display for the month and that was probably my favorite.  Also, more Johnny Cash and seeing one of Elvis' cars. :)

We decided Nashville might have a cool zoo, so why not get in the car and check it out?  So far, the car had not moved from the parking garage.  Big Bear did a great job of getting us a hotel right in the middle of everything.  But, the zoo was disappointing. 
The absolute BEST part of the trip was saved for last...the grand ole opry at the Ryman Auditorium!!!  Oh my goodness! I have NO words!!  It was just amazing!!
It was a lot to cram into 3 days, but it was a great trip!  I love a downtown that you feel safe walking around at night and has so much going on for everyone.  It was good to get away, but also good to get home.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Wow!  I love to see a first time author knock it out of the park!! This was a great read.  Its target audience is young adult (middle school to high school), but I think adults can read it too.  Makes you a perspective you may not have thought of before.  Just give it a try!  Read it. :)

Summary from
Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil's name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does or does not say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Oh happy day!

My niece (who moved to California about a year ago) is home for a week, and everyone is happy, happy, happy!!!  The horses are happy, the grandparents are happy, friends are happy, everyone is happy!  Poor girl is trying to fit all her family into basically 5 days, but she knows she is loved. :)  It did my heart good to be her paparazzi again today and get some pics of her with her horses.
(And bonus, her boyfriend is pretty awesome too!)

Monday, November 20, 2017

Have you...

hugged a goat today?  I highly recommend it! :)
Or, moved a freezer with your tractor?  LOL!