Monday, June 27, 2016

Greetings from Utopia Park by Claire Hoffman - #review

In this engrossing memoir, Claire Hoffman recounts the remarkable years she spent growing up in an increasingly isolated meditation community in the American heartland.

When Claire Hoffman’s alcoholic father abandons his family, his struggling wife, Liz, tells five-year-old Claire and her seven-year-old brother, Stacey, that they are going to heaven—Iowa—to live in Maharishi’s national headquarters for Heaven on Earth. For Claire’s mother, Transcendental Meditation—Maharishi’s method of meditation and his approach to living the fullest possible life—promises world peace and Enlightenment just as their family is falling apart.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Friday Bookish Post - June 23, 2016


Thanks to Freda from "Freda's Voice" and Gilion at "Rose City Reader" for hosting these bookish link-ups!  Click one of the buttons to go to the link-up page.

Book 'Synopsis':

Shame is everywhere.

Whether related to relationships, body image, work, or a secret sin, we all experience shame. While shame manifests itself in fear, broken relationships, and regret, it ultimately points us to our fundamental need as fallen human beings: redemption.

Shame never disappears in solitude, and Heather Davis Nelson invites us to not only be healed of our own shame but also be a part of healing for others. She shines the life-giving light of the gospel on the things that leave us feeling worthless and rejected, giving us courage us to walk out of shame's shadows and offering hope for our bondage to brokenness. Through the gospel, we discover the only real and lasting antidote to shame: exchanging our shame for the righteousness of Christ alongside others on this same journey.


This is from the book's Introduction (on page 17).  It's also a departure for me to use a non-fiction book for these link-ups.  Cover is linked to GoodReads.

"I have always been terrified of public speaking.  I can trace it back to eighth-grade graduation, when I froze on stage in front of my classmates and an audience of hundreds."


I picked a random page (123) and came up with this quote:

"It would be easy to go through the questions listed above and identify the ways in which your husband or wife needs to change so there is less shame in your marriage.  When I wrote this list, I have to admit that my first impulse was to tell my husband, Seth, all the things "we" needed to work on for us to grow in shame-resisting intimacy in our marriage."


Book Blogger Hop   

Thanks to Billy B at the "Coffee Addicted Writer" for hosting this link-up!  Click on the buttons above to go to his blog.

This week's question comes from Elizabeth at Elizabeth's Reviews:

Do you have your picture in your profile?

I have my picture in several of my profiles (social media, etc), but not all.  And the picture is 13 years old, taken around the time our daughter was born.  In the picture with me are our two sons, now 18 and 19 years old.  My hair is shorter and grayer than it was in that picture.  One of these days I will update it.


Also sharing with:


Thanks to Ramona at Create With Joy, Janice at Mostly Blogging, and Tina at Mommynificent for these fun link-ups!  Click on the button to visit the sites to join in!  The more the merrier...really! :O)

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Niche Sites - Brainstorming - Part 1 (of 10)

A day or so ago, I got an email from Doug at the Niche Site Project.  He espouses a 7-step process to get your website from bare (if any) bones to the transition from niche to authority site.

First off, you need a sufficient number of ideas for possible niche sites to make sure at least one of them is commercially viable.  I got this idea to do a "list of 100 possible niche site topics" - a journaling technique for brainstorming.  Once my list was finished, I went back through and put all the 1's (1, 11, 21, 31, etc....) together, all the 2's and so on.  Hopefully this would make sure that each list would not have markedly similar topics.

Having one post in this series for each of 10 weeks may hold up the whole getting-from-idea-to-money-making niche site process too much, so I might jump horses mid-stream and change to analyzing 25 ideas a week, to shorten the completion time to 4 weeks (4 x 25 ideas/week) from 10 (10 x 10 ideas/week).  If I have enough time over the weekend, I could even do it over the next 10 'business days' (Monday - Friday).  But I chose the number 10 arbitrarily, because at the time it seemed like having material for 10 posts was a pretty cool thing!

In any case, I'm planning on putting crazy links to other parts of the series so people can navigate from one to the other with relative ease.

Each week I will eliminate the ideas that are too far out there (and there are a number of them, as always happens when making a list of 100).  Funny thing is, there are also a few great ideas that weren't even on my radar when I started the process.  Put that subconscious mind to work!


This 'niche' is too broad.  Why would people come to my site vs simply going to their favorite online bookseller?  Luckily, I have several more book-related entries on my list in future installments of this series that may give me more viable results.

11.  PETS
Pets (in general) is also too broad a topic.  No sense starting out trying to be everything to everybody.  Again, there are smaller divisions of this topic later in the list.  Stay tuned.

This idea has at least some possibilities.  Even a site that is supposed to be making the site-owner money can benefit from the occasional 'freebie' to give away.  Just ask my Kindle. ;)

As I live in Kentucky, a lot of my ideas (including at least two in this post) have to do with my home state.  The danger here, of course, is that the site would have to be exceptionally popular within the state.  Just for giggles, I searched for "wives of Kentucky Governors" and went to the images section.  There I found one picture of a gubernatorial candidate's wife, several photos of Kentucky governors themselves, pictures of random celebrities (especially those from those 'real housewives' shows), several pictures of that county clerk who refused to give marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples, as well as a picture of a box of Viagra and the three witches from the movie Hocus Pocus - not together, though.

Sorry, I had to get that out, because I was laughing so hard.  It seems as more of a historial or educational site, as opposed to a commercial site possibility, though.

I'm not talking here about a gambling site.  (Eeek!)  The idea of the red tape necessary for that one makes my head spin.  I was thinking more like a history past and present site, and maybe souvenirs from some of the more famous races (Kentucky Derby, anyone?)

A definite possibility in the historic/vacation niche, but more difficult to develop (read time-consuming) , I think, than several others on the list.

I'm not talking only the home-brewing of alcoholic beverages, although a fair amount of that takes place already in Kentucky, of both the legal and not legal varieties.  There is one commercial brewery and one home brewing supplies company listed in a search, both in or near Lexington, but a quick additional search lead to their website where a pop-up announced, "Our store is closed."  This one could be a possibility, perhaps as a topic on a more comprehensive site.

A little too broad and/or vague.  Would need a narrower niche and a serious think about commercial potential for a site about other people's businesses.

This topic came to my mind, of course, from the fact that for the first time, it appears that a woman will get the nomination of a major political party to be their candidate for the office of President of the US.  How are the mechanics of entering into a campaign and running a (successful) campaign different for a woman (as opposed to a man).

Wow.  I would love to be able to take pictures (on site, of course) for a site like this.  I am, of course, obsessed with all things Scottish, which is why this general topic came up several times in my list of 100.  Weighing of the viabilities of various niches would need to be taken into account, and/or including information on Highland games in connection with information on the various Renaissance Faires that go on in the same area.


At first blush, looking back over the list and the details of each item, I think #21 (inexpensive dates) would be the one that has closer-to-my-heart-and-abilities and commercially viable in the best proportion.  There are several that are distinct possibilities, but would take more work (not that that is a bad thing)  The only topics I really have ruled out already are the categories that are just to general (like #1, #11 and possibly #71).

So, are you or have you been thinking about setting up a niche site?  Does this list give you any ideas for your own website, blog, or other creative endeavor?  I'd love to hear about it in the comments!

Future home of links to other parts of the series!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Come, Bitter Poison by Monica Knightley - #review #giveaway

Sexy film star. Long-held secrets. Murder by poison.

When international stage and film star Miles Elliot comes to Stratford Upon Avondale to play Macbeth, Maggie O’Flynn is thrilled. He’s been her actor crush for years. But when Miles ends up at the center of a murder investigation Maggie finds herself slipping back into the role of amateur sleuth. Before long many of her friends become suspects in not just one murder, but two. Maggie must discover who’s poisoning people associated with the Shakespeare Festival before one of her friends gets slapped with a murder charge. And she must do so while dodging paparazzi that are stalking her due to a supposed love affair she’s having with Miles Elliot.

With a bit of Shakespeare, copious amounts of tea, and a faux-English setting to rival anything the real England has to offer, COME, BITTER POISON is the second book in THE STRATFORD UPON AVONDALE mystery series. Though part of a series, COME, BITTER POISON can be read and enjoyed as a standalone. Lovers of cozy mysteries will find a cozy home in Stratford Upon Avondale.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Oliver Twisted by Cindy Brown - #review #giveaway

Orphans. Thieves. Murder. And an All-You-Can-Eat Buffet!

When Ivy Meadows lands a gig with the book-themed cruise line Get Lit!, she thinks she’s died and gone to Broadway. Not only has she snagged a starring role in a musical production of Oliver Twist, she’s making bank helping her PI uncle investigate a string of onboard thefts, all while sailing to Hawaii on the S.S. David Copperfield.

But Ivy is cruising for disaster. Her acting contract somehow skipped the part about aerial dancing forty feet above the stage, her uncle Bob is seriously sidetracked by a suspicious blonde, and—oh yeah—there’s a corpse in her closet.

Forget catching crooks. Ivy’s going to have a Dickens of a time just surviving.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Maggie Dove by Susan Breen - #review

When Sunday School teacher Maggie Dove finds her hateful next-door neighbor Marcus Bender lying dead under her beloved oak tree—the one he demanded she cut down—she figures the man dropped dead of a mean heart. But Marcus was murdered, and the prime suspect is a young man Maggie loves like a son. Peter Nelson was the worst of Maggie’s Sunday School students; he was also her late daughter’s fiancé, and he’s been a devoted friend to Maggie in the years since her daughter’s death.

Maggie can’t lose Peter, too. So she sets out to find the real murderer. To do that, she must move past the grief that has immobilized her all these years. She must probe the hidden corners of her little village on the Hudson River. And, when another death strikes even closer to home, Maggie must find the courage to defend the people and the town she loves—even if it kills her.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Onyx Webb, Book 1 and 2 by Andrea Waltz and Richard Fenton - #review

Onyx Webb is a multi-genre mash-up that combines supernatural suspense, crime, horror, romance, and more. So the story... Onyx Webb is a ghost. Billionaire playboy Koda Mulvaney becomes obsessed with a girl he sees inside a mirror. Juniper Cole is on her way to the prom and... well, we don't want to spoil anything - we've probably told you too much already. How all these events are related is part of the mystery that is, Onyx Webb.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

The Girl from the Savoy by Hazel Gaynor - #review

London, 1923: Welcome to The Savoy hotel, a glittering jewel in London’s social scene, where the lives of the rich, the famous, and the infamous intertwine.

Here, amid the cocktails and the jazz, two women with very different pasts try to forget the devastation of the Great War and forge a new life in a city where those who dare to dream can have it all.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Fixin' to Die by Tonya Kappes - #review #interview

Sheriff Kenni Lowry likes to think the zero crime rate in her small town in Kentucky is due to her being sheriff, but quickly discovers her grandfather’s ghost, who happened to be the town’s retired sheriff, has been scaring off any would be crime. Poppa has come back from the great beyond to be Kenni’s deputy after the beloved town doctor is found murdered.

Ghost or no ghost, time is of the essence. After all, re-election isn’t far away and Kenni doesn’t want to look for a new job anytime soon.

The Calamity Cafe by Gayle Leeson - #review #giveaway

Aspiring chef and small-town Virginia native Amy Flowers is ready to open her own café offering old-fashioned Southern food. But her dream may go up in smoke when someone kills the competition…

Tired of waiting tables at Lou’s Joint, Amy Flowers doesn’t just quit—she offers to buy the place from her bully of a boss, so she can finally open the café of her dreams. Amy can’t wait to serve the kind of Southern, down-home treats and dishes that her grandmother always loved to the kooky cast of regulars at the restaurant. She knows her comfort food will be the talk of the sweet, small town of Winter Garden, Virginia.

At first Lou Lou refuses to sell, but when she seems ready to make a deal, she tells Amy to come see her.  Showing up at the eatery ready to negotiate, Amy is shocked to find her former employer murdered. As the prime suspect, Amy will have to clear her name by serving up the real killer—and with Lou Lou’s stack of enemies, that’s a tall order.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Tea Cups and Carnage by Lynn Cahoon - #review #giveaway

The kettle’s about to boil over . . .

The quaint coastal town of South Cove, California, is all abuzz about the opening of a new specialty shop, Tea Hee. But as Coffee, Books, and More owner Jill Gardner is about to find out, there’s nothing cozy about murder . . .

Shop owner Kathi Corbin says she came to South Cove to get away from her estranged family. But is she telling the truth? And did a sinister someone from her past follow her to South Cove? When a woman claiming to be Kathi’s sister starts making waves and a dead body is found in a local motel, Jill must step in to clear Kathi’s name—without getting herself in hot water.

Keep You Close by Lucie Whitehouse - #review

Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA (May 3, 2016)

When the artist Marianne Glass falls to her death, everyone insists it was a tragic accident. Yet Rowan Winter, once her closest friend, suspects there is more to the story. Ever since she was young, Marianne had paralyzing vertigo. She would never have gone so close to the roof’s edge.

Marianne–and the whole Glass family–once meant everything to Rowan. For a teenage girl, motherless with a much-absent father, this lively, intellectual household represented a world of glamour and opportunity.

But since their estrangement, Rowan knows only what the papers reported about Marianne’s life: her swift ascent in the London art world, her much-scrutinized romance with her gallerist. If she wants to discover the truth about her death, Rowan needs to know more. Was Marianne in distress? In danger? And so she begins to seek clues–in Marianne’s latest work, her closest relationships, and her new friendship with an iconoclastic fellow artist.

But the deeper Rowan goes, the more sinister everything seems. And a secret in the past only she knows makes her worry about her own fate . . .

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Rogues and Rascals in Goose Pimple Junction by Amy Metz - #review #giveaway

Like any good Southern belle, Caledonia Culpepper was raised by her mama to be gracious, charming, witty, and above all, a devoted mother and loving wife, so she’s baffled when her marriage falls apart.

Wynona Baxter is a master of disguise but is often a ditzy airhead. A hit woman wannabe, when she’s hired for her first job in Goose Pimple Junction and things don’t go as planned, she’s forced to resort to Plan B. She’ll also need Plan C and D.

Crooked lawyers, restless husbands, a teenaged hoodlum – it seems there are rogues and rascals everywhere you look in Goose Pimple Junction.

When Caledonia and Wynona’s paths cross, they prove there isn’t a rogue or a rascal who can keep a good woman down. Mama always said there would be days like this . . .

Thursday, June 9, 2016

2016 Semi-Charmed Summer Book Challenge Sign-up

From the host site:
It's time for the next installment of the Semi-Charmed Book Challenge series! Whether you are a newcomer to the challenge or a repeat reader, I am excited to have you here today. If you are a veteran, I've changed around some things with this challenge to make is less work and more fun for everyone (I hope!), so be sure to continue reading after the jump for the summer challenge rules and categories:

Mrs. Odboddy Hometown Patriot by Elaine Faber - #review #giveaway

Since the onset of WWII, Agnes Agatha Odboddy, hometown patriot and self-appointed scourge of the underworld, suspects conspiracies around every corner…stolen ration books, German spies running amuck, and a possible Japanese invasion off the California coast. This seventy-year-old, model citizen would set the world aright if she could get Chief Waddlemucker to pay attention to the town’s nefarious deeds on any given Meatless Monday.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

A Golden Cage by Shelley Freydont - #review #giveaway


The author of A Gilded Grave returns to Newport, Rhode Island, at the close of the nineteenth century, where headstrong heiress Deanna Randolph must solve another murder among the social elite.

With her mother in Europe, Deanna is staying with the Ballard family, who agree to chaperone her through the summer season and guide her toward an advantageous marriage proposal—or so her mother hopes. Relishing her new freedom, Deanna is more interested in buying one of the fashionable new bathing costumes, joining a ladies’ bicycling club, and befriending an actress named Amabelle Deeks, all of which would scandalize her mother.

Monday, June 6, 2016

It's OK to Laugh by Nora McInerny Purmort - #review

Twenty-seven-year-old Nora McInerny Purmort bounced from boyfriend to dopey “boyfriend” until she met Aaron—a charismatic art director and comic-book nerd who once made Nora laugh so hard she pulled a muscle. When Aaron was diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer, they refused to let it limit their love. They got engaged on Aaron’s hospital bed and had a baby boy while he was on chemo. In the period that followed, Nora and Aaron packed fifty years of marriage into the three they got, spending their time on what really matters: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, each other, and Beyoncé. A few months later, Aaron died in Nora’s arms. The obituary they wrote during Aaron’s hospice care revealing his true identity as Spider-Man touched the nation. With It’s Okay to Laugh, Nora puts a young, fresh twist on the subjects of mortality and resilience. What does it actually mean to live your “one wild and precious life” to the fullest? How can a joyful marriage contain more sickness than health? How do you keep going when life kicks you in the junk? In this deeply felt and deeply funny memoir, Nora gives her readers a true gift—permission to struggle, permission to laugh, permission to tell the truth and know that everything will be okay. It’s Okay to Laugh is a love letter to life, in all its messy glory; it reads like a conversation with a close friend, and leaves a trail of glitter in its wake.

This book is for people who have been through some shit.

This is for people who aren’t sure if they’re saying or doing the right thing (you’re not, but nobody is). This is for people who had their life turned upside down and just learned to live that way. For people who have laughed at a funeral or cried in a grocery store. This is for everyone who wondered what exactly they’re supposed to be doing with their one wild and precious life. I don’t actually have the answer, but if you find out, will you text me?

Saturday, June 4, 2016

The Cursed Canoe by Frankie Bow - #review #giveaway

Professor Molly Barda investigates a mysterious paddling accident, and realizes it isn’t just business majors who cheat to get what they want. Whether it’s moving up in the college rankings, getting a seat in the big canoe race, or just looking out for themselves, some people will do whatever it takes-including murder.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Thursday This 'N That - 2 June 2016

My daughter made this on her drawing program (she has a thing for clocks):

Thanks to Ramona at Create With Joy for hosting this Wordless Wednesday.  Click on the WW button to go to the link-up!


Thanks to L. Diane Wolfe, Murees Dupe, Alexia Chamberlynn, Chemist Ken and Heather Gardner for being this month's co-hosts!

This was supposed to have been up yesterday, but the day kind of got away from me.  So here I am.

I wrote 33 posts in May, which was down from my high in April of 54 ... but there's something that happens in April each year that seems to up my total of blog posts for the month.  Hmmm.. ;)

My concern is that I still haven't set aside a regular time to write, and specifically not set aside time for non-blog-related writing.  And how am I supposed to strengthen my writing chops when I don't have a regular time to work?  Y'know how they say the road to h-e-double-toothpicks is paved with good intentions?  Well, I must be on that's a steep downward grade and my brakes are out.  That is what it feels like. Ugh.



  • go to the dentist (I've been putting this off because I have dentistophobia big time.)  UGH.  I totally blew this one. :/
  • celebrate our 19th anniversary on the 9th! HUZZAH!
  • trim the number of furry family members by at least 5.  FOUND FOREVER HOMES FOR 3.
  • choose one of the nearby churches to attend  LINCOLN COUNTY MENNONITES about 1/2 to 1 mile down the road from us.
  • learn to start a virtual book tour company/site.  I HAVE BRAINSTORMED ABOUT THINGS TO DO.
  • dedicate some time to writing each day and stick to it at least 4 days out of every 7.  NEAR EPIC FAIL.
Wow...not nearly as good as I had hoped, but not nearly as bad as it could have been either.  For a first month, I'll take it.



  • make an appointment with the dentist.
  • Have a date with my husband.
  • Have one non-computer based family get-together per week (she says while typing this on the computer).
  • Contact one virtual book tour company each week to compare notes.
  • Write 500 words/day, at a 'usual time' would be nice but I'm concentrating on a certain volume of writing rather than a schedule this time around.