Review: Walk Two Moons

Title: Walk Two Moons
Author: Sharon Creech
Publisher: Scholastic
Release Date: May 1994
Length: 280 pages
Series?: no
Genre: Children’s

“How about a story? Spin us a yarn.”
Instantly, Phoebe Winterbottom came to mind. “I could tell you an extensively strange story,” I warned.
“Oh, good!” Gram said. “Delicious!”
And that is how I happened to tell them about Phoebe, her disappearing mother, and the lunatic.

As Sal entertains her grandparents with Phoebe’s outrageous story, her own story begins to unfold — the story of a thirteen-year-old girl whose only wish is to be reunited with her missing mother.

In her own award-winning style, Sharon Creech intricately weaves together two tales, one funny, one bittersweet, to create a heartwarming, compelling, and utterly moving story of love, loss, and the complexity of human emotion. 

Find the book: Goodreads | Amazon

This book is a tough one. It is the required novel for my sixth grade students. The book has a large focus on grief and death, as well as relationships and judging others. There is also strong representation of nature, mothers, and trips. The overarching theme (and also a guiding line from the book) is “Don’t judge a man until you’ve walked two moons in his moccasins.”

The story follows coming-of-age kiddo Salmanca Tree Hiddle as she travels on a roadtrip with her (maternal) grandparents to find her mother. [The grandparents already know where mom is and what happened.] Throughout the trip there are some events that happen at certain points along the way, and Sal spends the time telling her grandparents about all of the things that have happened recently since she and her dad moved to Ohio. Everything revolves around her crazy friend Phoebe or another mysterious neighbor that her father has taken a liking to. The ironic element about Sal is that she never realizes how her life parallels Phoebe’s life and how they are very alike in so, so many ways.

I think I enjoyed the secondary characters and their story arcs more than Sal and her story arc.

Review: First Earl I See Tonight

ABOUT THE BOOK

Title: First Earl I See Tonight
Author: Anna Bennett
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Release Date: October 2018
Length: 338 pages
Series?: Debutante Diaries #1
Genre: Historical Romance

An heiress with a daring proposal. An earl who’s determined to resist her. And a love that just might be written in the stars…

Recently jilted by his fiancée, David Gray, Earl of Ravenport is not in the market for a wife. Even if Gray didn’t have his hands full renovating his crumbling country house, it would take more than a bold marriage proposal from a headstrong young beauty to thaw his frozen heart. Gray is confident that spending a week at his ramshackle estate will change her mind about marriage, but every passionate moment he spends with her tempts him to change his…

A talented artist, Miss Fiona Hartley desperately needs her dowry money to pay off a blackmailer set on ruining her sister. The handsome earl seems a sensible choice for a husband…if only she can convince him that romance will play no part. But marrying in name only may prove difficult for Fiona. Gray can’t help but be dazzled by her genuine warmth. Yet as their feelings deepen, Fiona’s deadline looms. Will her secrets destroy them, or is true love their final destiny?

Find the book: Goodreads | Amazon

my review

Fiona Hartley is a kind-hearted young lady who seems prone to mishaps and accidents. It seems to deter men’s interest in her. She is an incredible artist and can often see past the façade many put on for appearances.

She loves her father and sister so much that she’s willing to risk so much to save them. Someone is blackmailing her. If she doesn’t pay up, a family secret will be revealed that will ruin Fiona’s younger sister, who is just coming into her own and quite eligible on the marriage mart.

How can she pay a blackmailer with no money? So she decides to marry in order to acquire the funds she needs. Upon her marriage, Fiona’s dowry will be paid out and she can pay the blackmailer! Fiona sets her sights on David Gray, Earl of Ravenport. Fiona has considered and eliminated a number of men of the ton and has finally settled on the Earl of Ravenport, carefully selected after he was kind to her after one of her mishaps at a ball.

Gray is in need of funds himself in order to renovate his crumbling home, called the Fortress. After receiving a written proposal from Fiona, which Gray has no intention of entertaining, he invites Fiona, her sister, and stepmother to stay at the Fortress for a week in hopes that it will scare Fiona away. But Fiona isn’t like the rest of the ladies of the ton and rises to the challenges set forth.

Gray inherited his earldom when he was barely double digits. He has endured a lot of trauma from childhood and then his parents’ deaths. Now he’s essentially penniless. He is a fairly cold person and has vowed to never love. Not again. Gray’s primary goal is to renovate the Fortress for his grandmother, who is losing her sight. He wants her to see it restored before she can no longer.

It’s a marriage of convenience for both Fiona and Gray, but Fiona is determined to turn it into a love match after a while. Gray is adamant that they won’t suit, but slowly warms to Fiona.

The one glaring issue I had with the entire plot is that the blackmailer selected Fiona as the target. She was an unmarried woman who didn’t have access to any actual funds. Why not select her father, the head of the house, business, and coiffers? The explanation that he was ill won’t deter a blackmailer who is bent on ruination.

Chit Chat – July 2021

July brought me back to my blog, officially! I did some reflecting this summer and decided I want to find more things to be joyful about in my life, and reading and my blog brought me happiness and contentment. I was a little under the weather with gastro issues for about two weeks, which prompted me to demand a future appointment with a gastroenterology clinic. I foresee another endoscopy and colonoscopy in my future. We have also been doing all the things to get rid of fleas. Poco seemed to pick up just a few, so it was easy to get under control. I am having to save up for a $4300 transmission replacement after already sinking $1300 into my car with replacements and maintenance in June. It’s a CVT, so there is no rebuilding – it’s all or nothing. I’ve got a little less than half from my summer school pay. I squandered my last few weeks of summer staying up late and sleeping in while re-watching Downton Abbey. And of course the end of the month brought all manner of technology PDs to have a leg up for this coming school year. Lastly, Baby A is doing great and is now 14 weeks. I’m still convinced it’s a boy and will be a big baby.

@sissybearla

I read these books this summer (June and July).

Average Rating:     2.8
Pages Read:           1,528
Favorite Book:       Brown Girl Dreaming

I think I’m going to forgo any previous challenges I used to participate in until the new year. I have set a Goodreads goal of 12 books for the past couple of years, and I have met that goal this year. Most of the books were read during our Texas Snowstorm Shut-Down in February when we had no power, heat, and water for a week or more. I spent the time snuggled with the dogs underneath 4 or so comforters in bed the entire week. Plenty of reading time!

Reviews:

Christmas Angels | Once Upon a Bad Boy | The Earl Next Door

Personal Posts:

Where in the World is Girl of 1000 Wonders? | Baby A

At the time of this posting, I am reading One for the Rogue by Manda Collins and I Thought You Said This Would Work by Ann Garvin. Then I think I’ll pick up these three.

How are you doing? What is going on in life?

Review: This Earl of Mine

ABOUT THE BOOK

Title: This Earl of Mine
Author: Kate Bateman
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Release Date: October 2019
Length: 336 pages
Series?: Bow Street Bachelors #1
Genre: Historical Romance

In a desperate bid to keep her fortune out of her cousin’s hands, shipping heiress Georgiana Caversteed marries a condemned criminal in Newgate prison. The scoundrel’s first kiss is shockingly heated, but Georgie never expects to see her husband again. Until she spots him across a crowded ballroom. Notorious rogue Benedict Wylde never expected a wife. He was in Newgate undercover, working for Bow Street. To keep their marriage of convenience a secret, Wylde courts Georgie in public, but the more time they spend together, the more their attraction sparks. Could an heiress with the world at her feet find happiness with a penniless rake? Kate Bateman’s This Earl of Mine is a delightful start to the Bow Street Bachelors series, with witty banter, dynamic characters, and swoon-worthy romance.

Find the book: Goodreads | Amazon

my review

Georgiana Caversteed is the eldest, born into a wealth built on shipping. She is an attractive marriage prospect, but every man balks after reading the marriage contract. It weeds out those only interested in lining their own pockets.

To “help” Georgiana in her misfortunate single-tude, her lecherous cousin Josiah tries to force himself on her. Georgiana won’t be played like a fiddle and forced to marry her narcissistic and slimy cousin so that he can gain her father’s holdings and gamble and drink them away like he did his own finances. Instead, she decides to marry a condemned prisoner…and then become a widow the following morning.

There’s just one problem in her plan. The man from Newgate that she marries works undercover for Bow Street and the crown. Benedict Wylde is trying to help restore the family coiffures after his late father left them with many gambling debts. MANY. Clearly a conflict already, in more ways than one, because Ben certainly plans on staying alive!

Ben is well known as a rake and on the fringes of polite society, brother to the Earl of Morcott and recently returned from the Napoleonic War.

Georgiana is a headstrong and knowledgeable young woman. She is smart in finances, business, and the shipyard. When it comes to relationships, men, and love she is at a loss. While she may be a lost cause, Georgiana’s mother has high hopes of becoming high society and settles on using Georgie’s younger sister to do so.

But now Georgie is in a sticky situation. And Ben a bit too. Their marriage is valid and binding. It provides the solution that Georgie needed, but Ben has no need to be married, nor does he want a wife. It is fairly well-known the dire financial straits the Wyldes are in. In some ways, Georgie can’t outrun the curse her father has left her with.

I loved the interesting path that led Georgie and Ben to one another and the friendship they build. Of course there is attraction and chemistry and heat, and along the way they both come to terms with loving the other.

Review: How to Love a Duke in Ten Days

ABOUT THE BOOK

Title: How to Love a Duke in Ten Days
Author: Kerrigan Byrne
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Release Date: August 2019
Length: 440 pages
Series?: Devil You Know #1
Genre: Historical Romance

These men are dark, bold, and brave. And there is only one woman who can bring them to their knees…

Famed and brilliant, Lady Alexandra Lane has always known how to look out for to herself. But nobody would ever expect that she has darkness in her past—one that she pays a blackmailer to keep buried. Now, with her family nearing bankruptcy, Alexandra strikes upon a solution: Get married to one of the empire’s most wealthy eligible bachelors. Even if he does have the reputation of a devil.

LOVE TAKES NO PRISONERS

Piers Gedrick Atherton, the Duke of Redmayne, is seeking revenge and the first step is securing a bride. Winning a lady’s hand is not so easy, however, for a man known as the Terror of Torcliff. Then, Alexandra enters his life like a bolt of lightning. When she proposes marriage, Piers knows that, like him, trouble haunts her footsteps. But her gentleness, sharp wit, independent nature, and incredible beauty awakens every fierce desire within him. He will do whatever it takes to keep her safe in his arms.

Find the book: Goodreads | Amazon

my review

***Trigger Warning: The opening scene of this book is a graphic rape scene.***

Lady Alexandra Lane is a young woman who experienced unspeakable trauma. It makes her uneasy around men and causes her to refuse the idea of intimacy or marriage. Her secret is one that many victims keep, and in the time period especially remains unspoken. Now, however, her secret could be revealed – and worse done – by a blackmailer.

She has the best of friends in Cecilia and Francesca. Together the three form The Red Rogues. Without them, Alexandra might not have survived her past. The trio are such great ladies and fantastic supports for one another. They would do anything for one another.

Piers Atherton, Duke of Redmayne, is a scarred man physically and emotionally. He presents this persona to the ton, but he is so much more. He is a sexy protector. He is hell-bent on revenge after his fiancé dumped and duped him. He is drawn to Alexandra. She is a strong and independent woman despite her past. With the threats of her blackmailer hanging over her head, Alexandra seizes a solution to her current and future problems.

The two marry and embark on the archaeological dig of a lifetime. For Alexandra, it is a dream come true and she is in her element. Unfortunately, the intimate parts of their marriage must wait on the expedition after some things go a little wayward between them – and while a killer is out to get them!

Review: The Earl Next Door

ABOUT THE BOOK

Title: The Earl Next Door
Author: Amelia Grey
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Release Date: May 2019
Length: 294 pages
Series?: The Cavensham Heirresses #5
Genre: Historical Romance

Adeline, Dowager Countess of Wake, is all on her own after her husband’s sudden death. The good news? Losing him allowed her to find herself. Finally, Adeline is free to do, go, and be as she pleases. She cherishes her newfound independence and is not looking for another man to wed. But seeking out a new lover? Well, that is a whole ’nother story. . .

Lord Lyon, son of the two-timing Earl of Marksworth, wishes to have a respectable, loving wife someday. When he meets the beautiful and self-reliant Adeline, Lyon is instantly smitten. But Adeline would rather have the handsome suitor in her bed than to take his hand in marriage. It’s a scandalous proposal—and one that’s hard for Lyon to refuse. Unless the fire of his passion can melt Adeline’s resolve. . .and he can find a way to be the Wickedly Wonderful Widow’s lover for all time?

Find the book: Goodreads | Amazon

my review

This is the first book in the series and the characters are connected. The ladies featured in each book in the series and series set-up are introduced. They are a compelling group of women.

Adeline is the Dowager Countess of Wake. She is a young widow who lost her husband at sea. She isn’t in any way a traditional female of the time. Even though she is a widow, she isn’t searching for a husband as many would in her situation. She is a feisty spitfire of a thing and speaks her mind.

As the countess, she was expected to produce an heir. She was in an almost cruel and loveless marriage and forced to stay at the country estate. She has returned to London and everything has a bit of that new glimmer to it.

Adeline meets two other young widows whose husbands died alongside her own. Together, the three have decided to open a school for young girls whose fathers died in the shipwreck. There is little future for these girls and their families without a male supporting them. The three women are now quite wealthy and can fund such a venture. It is Adeline’s dream and she has all of the right things in place to fulfill it.

Except for her rude and judgmental neighbor, Lord Lyon, the Marquess of Marksworth. The opening scene of the book is like a comedy of errors. These comedic scenes cracked me up – although the characters didn’t think they were funny in the least. In fact, they were quite vexed. Lyon “introduces” himself by barging into Adeline’s home. She had just received a box by mistake. Piqued by curiosity, she tries on the sexy red stays over her gown and twirls around. Enter Earl stage left, angry and lathered, accusing Adeline of running a brothel. Talk about getting off on the wrong foot! But this sets the tone for their future encounters.

Lyon is a man who likes quiet and order to his world. He is the only son of the marquess. His father has been pestering him to marry and produce an heir for almost a decade. Lyon refuses to marry unless he falls in love. It has yet to happen. There are no women that pique his interest in a spend-a-lifetime-with kind of way. Until Adeline, who has vowed to never remarry after her terrible and abusive marriage. When Adeline opens her school, there are young girls laughing and making noise almost constantly right in his backyard.

Lyon quickly realizes he wants Adeline in his life, but she does not want to marry. He won’t accept that, so Adeline boldly proposes they become lovers. There is attraction and heat between the two and Lyon is determined to make Adeline see his side of things.

Review: Once Upon a Bad Boy

ABOUT THE BOOK

Title: Once Upon a Bad Boy
Author: Melonie Johnson
Publisher: St. Martin’s Pres
Release Date: June 2019
Length: 377 pages
Series?: Sometimes in Love #3
Genre: Contemporary, Romance

NEVER SAY NEVER
Sadie Gold is ready to take her career to the next level with the role of a lifetime. Finally, she can shake her reputation as a pretty face with more wealth and connections than talent. But Sadie is not prepared for the wild turn her own life is about to take. The man in charge of training Sadie for her most demanding role yet is none other than her first real boyfriend—the one who took her heart and ran away.

WHEN IT COMES TO LOVE
Bo Ibarra is as good-looking and irresistible as ever. Maybe even more so, now that everything once worked against them—Sadie’s pampered and privileged upbringing and Bo’s childhood in a family struggling to make ends meet—is in the past. But the future is still unwritten…and getting there, together, means coming clean about painful secrets and slashing through nasty tabloid rumors while trying to control the attraction that crackles between them. Maybe it’s finally time for them to walk off into the sunset and into a true and lasting love?

Find the book: Goodreads | Amazon

my review

Sadie Gold has a tumultuous past with Bo Ibarra. She was head over heels in love with him as a teen. His break-up on prom night – with no explanation – stung. And now for the role of her life she must work with him under his direction as stunt coordinator.

Over the course of filming, Sadie and Bo spend a lot of time together. It is the opportunity to dig into what happened all those years ago while seeing one another in a new light. It is the perfect situation for a second chance romance and features the classic rich-poor relationship.

Bo has the appearance of a rough-and-tough bad boy, but he never really was. He is a man with heart who loves his family. He grew up with so little but has become an established presence in the film industry, largely in part to his hard work. Throughout the book, Bo worked through some of his own issues just like Sadie does.

There is a topic that comes up from Sadie’s post-break up life. It is sensitive and characters react in ways I found to be a big turn-off. This plot point should have been flushed out a little bit more, but it made my heart break for Sadie and Bo, then and now.

The secondary characters add flair and fun to Sadie and Bo’s story. Bo’s nephew is the cutest thing ever! And then there are the female friendships! The girls are sweet and supportive – a great group of ladies.

Review: Christmas Angels

Title: Christmas Angels
Author: Nancy Naigle
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Release Date: October 2019
Length: 352 pages
Series?: no
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Holiday, Christmas

Growing up, Liz Westmoreland dreamed of taking over her grandparents inn located in the small mountain town of Angels Creek only for it to be sold before she ever got the chance. While browsing the internet, she stumbles upon a listing for what looks to be the picturesque inn and it’s set to go to auction. Liz places a bid, and by a miracle, wins the auction. But when she gets there she finds the property in significant disrepair.

When Matt Hardy narrowly lost the inn and property that butted his land, he just hoped it wasn’t another city slicker coming to make matters worse after the previous owners gutted the place for an art gallery. But the minute he recognized the sweet, freckle-faced girl from his childhood and heard her plans to reopen the inn, he jumps at the chance to help his childhood crush restore a place where he made so many fond memories.

While working on repairs, Liz and Matt discover her grandmother’s collection of angels in one of the cabins. When the angels start mysteriously showing up all over the inn, she begins to look at them as reassurance—that restoring the inn is what she’s meant to do. But when an accident leaves Liz feeling like she made a mistake, will Matt—and the residents of Angels Creek—be able to show Liz that she’s found a home? And possibly true love as well?

Find the book: Goodreads | Amazon

my review

This book sounds like the script for a Hallmark Christmas movie!

Liz Westmoreland spent time growing up at her grandparent’s inn in quaint Angel Creek. It’s her dream to open one of her own just like it. One night she stumbles across what she thinks was their inn on a listing site and puts in a bid – sight unseen. She has the winning bid. What could go wrong? It’s her dream!

When Liz does arrive at the inn, she realized she should have come to Angel Creek for a visit before blindly placing her bid. Luck is in her favor, though, when she hires Matt Hardy as her contractor to renovate the inn. Except Matt has a secret about the inn: he also put in a bid! Matt’s best childhood memories were at the inn with the Westmoreland family. Matt is dedicated to helping Liz restore the inn to glory and will bend over backwards for Liz.

While the very dilapidated inn is undergoing some drastic changes, Liz tries not to stick out like a sore thumb in the small town. With Matt’s help here too, Liz begins integrating within the community and building relationships that will last – for herself and for the inn.

Even though Matt and Liz have a business relationship, Matt also has some feels for Liz. And he has some romantic competition in town!

This is a heartwarming story all around with Christmas cheer added in. And the ending gives a glimmer of who might be matched up next in this small town.

Baby A

Baby A is perfect and healthy. At the ultrasound yesterday, Brother 2 and SIL 2 were able to see the baby moving around. I never have any clue what I am looking at when friends share sonograms, but SIL 2 said the head is on the left facing up. The due date has been moved and is a solid February 13, only nine days before my birthday. Best present ever.

Where in the World is Girl of 1000 Wonders?

Hey guys! It’s been … a while.

The last time I posted was November 2019. I tried coming back in February 2020, but it didn’t even make it to a monthly chit chat post.

Life work became too much to handle my actual life. I am still teaching middle school, language arts and yearbook, as well as in charge of UIL. There were endless hours of digital “documentation” and other red-tape justifications required that I

a) wasn’t leaving school until until 7pm or later daily

b) didn’t have the spoons left to even take care of myself once I did get home

c) was so unhappy and {mentally} unhealthy

d) was manifesting my anxiety and depression in purchases.

If I was going to continue to look at a screen when I got home, it was most often to continue working, and if it by chance wasn’t, it was to lose myself mindlessly in social media to numb myself to the reality of my life.

I stopped reading. I think I read 1 book last summer? I have read about a dozen books this year, mostly during the Texas week of snow shut-down in February. I think I have wasted a lot of time numbly? mindlessly? on my phone. I’m hoping to bring reading back into my life.

I stopped buying things for others. That was one one of my three ways I spent money. Sometimes the urge is so hard when I see something that so-and-so would love. Except I never think they actually did.

The other two categories I was numbly? mindlessly? recklessly? spending money on were clothes and eating out. I did legitimately need new clothing because I lost 45 lbs. in a very short time span [whole other story] and my clothes were literally falling off me. Any kid could have easily pantsed me at school with the slightest of tugs. And the eating out was in response to not having the spoons left over to care for myself. Planning meals – and then cooking them – takes a lot of planning. I did all of that for hours at work! Oh. And the moves. And vet bills (I stopped counting at 3K in March 2020). And all of my new medical bills and medications added to my mounting list of debt. How could I forget all of that?!

I accumulated a lot of debt, but somehow it always worked out. Until it didn’t. I had two choices: file for bankruptcy or undergo debt resolution. Did you know it costs you money to file for bankruptcy?? Lordt. I went the other route to resolve my debt. I hate what it is doing to my credit score, but it will eventually bounce back.

There is another thing that only those who are extremely close to me know about. I’ve been battling with this for over 4 years now. I’ve thought many times about the root cause – the “why” – and can’t really decide which it is. I have Trichotillomania – mental disorder that involves recurrent, irresistible urges to pull out hair. It started the last summer I was with R when I was applying to all the teaching jobs around and principals wanted to hire me but didn’t want to even call my current school district to talk about my contract. I was terrified of spending another year living like I was – renting a room in a house with two guys, driving an hour to school in the mornings, and driving almost 2 hours every weekend to be with my SO. And it never stopped.

My hair was so pitiful I could only make a tiny little nub of a ponytail high on my head. I’ve also thought a lot about financial contributing to this behavior because R and that whole situation are no longer in my life and it is still happening. I thought it was getting better, but the trich combined with my thyroid just shutting down last year were a perfect storm in hair loss to the point that I had my mother shave my head into a mowhawk early in the spring – and she didn’t have to do much shaving. I started using MONAT hair wash and conditioner to help my hair growth, and I am trying to force myself to be conscientious about pulling. I haven’t had an “episode” in a while.

Along with my thyroid choosing to chunk a deuce last year for some mysteriously unknown reason, I also finally received some other health answers. At 26 I was diagnosed as Type 2 diabetic. My A1C went from 6.7 to 14.1 in a calendar year while I was eating the healthiest I probably ever had. I argued with my PCP for 2 years that there was something else – and my numbers kept showing it. And then I magically lost those 45 pounds in only 4.5 months. I was finally referred to an endocrinologist who listened to me, so he knew all the right tests to run. Last year when the U.S. shut down, I was diagnosed as Type 1 Diabetic. As well as Type 2. Just like my cousin. I am doing really well on my medications and am thankful for my endocrinologist, who is also just an overall GREAT supporter.

I have felt the past few years that teaching is my identify and I don’t know how to combat that, separate myself into work and personal life. I think returning to two of my passions – reading and blogging – might help me feel more complete. Not hollow. Or lost. Or whatever it is I’ve felt.

I guess this also is my official “I’m coming back!!” post…now that we’ve gone through all that. I’m going to be doing some refreshes here and writing reviews. I am going to be taking it reeeeeeaaaally slow so I don’t experience burn out….teacher burn out (if that even not happen), reading burn out, blogging burn out, life burn out.

And … maybe the biggest news of all. For my birthday in February, my (middle) brother and his wife are giving me the best birthday present EVER.

I’m going to be an aunt!