Ann's Blog
Ann McCauley is a Pennsylvania women's literature author, who wrote the books Runaway Grandma and Mother Love, both available for sale at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

October 2019
« Sep    
Hello Fall
Filed under: General
Posted by: Ann @ 2:02 pm
 I love this time of the year! I am so happy to see the leaves changing, the cooler temperatures and every thing about this season. There are high school football and soccer games, lots of cheering on the grandchildren in their various sports. Also as the days get shorter, somehow it just feels cozier. 
I have not read as many books as usual this month because I committed16 hours to watching the Ken Burn’s History of Country Music special on PBS. My husband’s background was loving classical music and he’s gently taught me to appreciate it too. I grew up listening and singing along to country music. He’s learned to like some of my country music. BUT after watching this Ken Burns special he became a bonafide country music fan! I ordered the sound track from the show from Amazon. He’s ordered several individual cds of the early country performers! (And he must not be the only one because Amazon put him on a wait list until they receive more cds.) I realized after watching all those segments that my life has been like a country song. Good grief.
We’ve also seen three good movies. At the theater: Fallen Angel, an action movie was quite good.
Downton Abbey, loved it! And we hope there will be at least one more. All the sub-plots were delicious.
From Netflix: Bombshell -The Heddy Lamar Story. Very good, much intrigue. The lady was much more than a pretty face, a math genius with a patent for airwave variance, etc. that could have left her and her family multi-billionaires but didn’t.  Interestingly, this was a documentary and used old recorded interviews, photographs and old movie clips to tell her compelling story. 

I have read a couple books won’t mention and one I will. Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry.  Fiction. I received it as birthday gift. I’ve never read anything like it, and it left me feeling happy to have read it. Written in 2000 by a prolific author. Though I’d neve read any of his books before. I recommend
Jayber Crow. The prose is almost poetic. The story is soft and almost sweet at times, but full of meat to think about for a long time after reading the last page.

The winners of the BookSweeps Giveaway were Esther in California and Diane in Rhode Island. They have already received their free Kindle copies of Mother Love, Willow Lane, Book 2. 

I now have 214 followers on BookBub, it’s a fantastic online site to follow your favorite authors and get some GREAT deals on good books, old and new. Please check it out at More followers are always welcome! 

I also have more than a thousand subscribers from all around the world for my Willow Lane Newsletter. And yes, I’m working on my next novel.

Till next time, keep reading my friends!

comments (0)
Good-Bye Summer!
Filed under: General
Posted by: Ann @ 2:16 pm
The nights are cooler, and there is a briskness to the morning air. Lovely weather indeed! Autumn has long been my favorite season. I realize it is not officially fall until September 23, but Labor Day is when the season changes for me.  I’ve decorated our home for fall already, never did it quite so early but I am glad it is done!
This morning my step-daughter and I went to see my son’s daughter play a soccer game. It was fun and the weather was perfect. Her team lost but put up a good effort they were out-played by the other team. I wore sandals and a bee got stuck between my toes and couldn’t get out of my sandal. Ouch!! he stung me at least once, and boy did that hurt! A piece of ice inside a napkin, helped relieve the discomfort. 
During August we celebrated family birthdays with picnics and cake. Ninety-five of us celebrated our 50th annual McCauley Family Reunion on the farm in southern Clarion County where my mother and her six siblings were born. Of her generation, only her youngest brother survives. Everyone agreed it was truly a wonderful day of re-connecting with family, thanks to the gracious hospitality of our cousin Jerry and his wife Sherry who open their home to us a each year.  The hayride is always a welcome treat, especially with those who travel from cities and are not familiar with good old fashioned fun. And did I mention the food? Everyone brings a dish or two to share, allow me to say that it is NOT a good day to diet!  
We cooked for two days and hosted a dinner party on August 23rd, for several friends, it was such a fun evening for all of us. Though, I slept till11 A.M. the next day. Hate to admit that party preparation is not as easy as it used to be.
The BOOKSWEEPS Read and Reflect: Literary, Historical and Women’s Fiction Contest ended August 14th, Two winners, May in Iowa and Pam in Georgia will receive their free e-books of Mother Love, Willow Lane, Book Two this afternoon. Thank you to the hundreds of you who signed up, there will be another BOOKSWEEPS contest starting soon.  I will certainly let you know when you can sign up for another chance to win a free e-book.
I’ve read a few good books this month: 
The Moment of Lift by Melinda Gates. Nonfiction. Reading this is a life-attitude changing experience. Melinda is NOT your typical rich man’s wife. It made me respect Bill Gates more than I ever did before simply because he married this incredible woman. She, like her husband has a solid middle-class background. Her empathy for fellow human beings, regardless of race, creed or culture is amazing. Instead of being overwhelmed with problems facing our planet today, she embraces this motto: “If you want to lift a society up, you need to stop keeping women down.” I highly recommend this book.
Pretty Baby by Mary Kubica. Fiction, suspense. An entirely different type of book from the aforementioned one. A definite page turner, well written with layer upon layer of plot surprises, well developed characters. I really liked this novel. It was our book club choice for August.
The Beneficiary by Janny Scott. Nonfiction. Memoir/autobiographic of the author’s family history. This is a story of one family tree of a Main Line, Philadelphia from late the1800s through early 2000s. It provides an incisive look at the weight of inheritance, the power of buried secrets, alcoholism, entitlement and self-absorption. A great contrast in values to the book by Melinda Gates. A worthwhile read.
Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, Fiction. We watched and enjoyed the movie, Rebel in the Rye, the movie was very informative and entertaining. We both loved it, and I decided to read the novel. It is a small novel and I read it quickly, with only one question on my mind. WHY? It was such a privileged whiney story. I couldn’t figure out why/how it had ever been such a huge success. There was no story arc, it just rambled on and on and then stopped with no resolutions.
As mentioned above we watched and enjoyed Rebel In The Rye, the story of J.D.Salinger and really liked it.
I am looking forward to some good movies. Racing In The Rain is playing this week and having read the book some time ago, can’t wait to see it!
We enjoyed The Mule, starring, directed and produced by Clint Eastwood. It was a sweet at times movie and we loved the closing song, “Don’t Let The Old Man In.” 
Till next time, keep reading my friends.
Later, Ann
comments (0)
July Blog
Filed under: General
Posted by: Ann @ 3:46 pm
The hot muggy summer days continue to slip away. I enjoy being out in the sunshine and even appreciate rainy days. My morning rituals are watering plants, weeding the garden, and walking the dog. Mowing the lawn takes up at least one day of each week. This month we’ve lived under a cloud of grief due to a favorite cousin’s accidental death in a head-on horrific motor accident on July 3. It is assumed the other driver fell asleep and drifted across the road…regardless two drivers were killed on their way to work the morning of July 3. A terrible tragedy for two families. My cousin was the kind of guy who could take over a room just by walking in, always with a smirk, and slowly look around. Everyone would know he was there and the fun would soon begin!

My newest book is in a BOOKSWEEPS giveaway this week

Have you
read Ann McCauley’s Mother Love, Willow Lane, Book 2? For a limited
time, you can enter for a chance to win the e-book plus 30 fantastic Literary, Historical,
and Women’s Fiction e-books from an amazing collection of authors, AND a new e-Reader
- along with a collection of FREE reads just for entering!

Enter the
contest by clicking:

 *When you’re
done, please leave a comment to let me know you’ve entered!

 Good books I’ve read this month:

Lily Campbell’s SECRET by Jennifer Bryce. Historical Fiction. (WW1 era) Debut novel by this Australian author. I hope it won’t be her last! It was an enlightening, gripping story with well developed characters and shocking unexpected plot twists.

I read four Hank books by Henry Winkler. Fiction. (Winkler grew up with Dyslexia, and perhaps Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity.) Hank,the main character, manages with all three disorders and lots of humor. The books are targeted to elementary age children. I read them with our 8 year old great grandson, sort of tag team reading, we couldn’t stop before the end of a book because we always wanted to know what was going to happen next. When I grew tired of reading aloud, he took his turn. It was actually quite fun! There are 12 books in the series so far, very inexpensive and totally engaging for 8 year old boys.

Redemption by David Baldacci. Fiction. Thriller/Mystery. it started out a bit slow but once I got into it, I could hardly put it down. Page turning with a complicated plot. It was a follow-up to Memory Man that I read last month. 

My Name Is Mary Sutter by Robin Oliveira. Historical Fiction. (Civil War era) Debut novel, extremely well researched with authentic period details; deals with struggle for woman’s rights, medicine, politics, war, familial interpersonal conflicts and the heroine’s relentless quest to be a surgeon.

*I’ve read a couple other books but decline to mention books I don’t recommend. Each book I mention I also highly recommend!

We have watched three good movies

The Mountain Between Us from Netflix. A very powerful movie about two strangers who charter a small plane to get them ahead of a snow-storm to get a connection to their destinations, but end up crashing in the high Rockies. High drama. *Don’t watch it just before flying!

Yesterday in movie theater. A sweet movie, especially for Beatles music fans, I personally thought the young actor/singer who sang the Beatles songs sang them better than the original group did, certainly with more gusto and passion! And the lovely British actress Lily James was a co-star. Can’t go wrong when she is in a movie!

The Lion King at movie theater. Very much like the original movie, a new song or two, beautiful music. The talking animals freaked me out a little but it was a great story. Probably wouldn’t have gone if our great grandson was not here, though. 

Till next time, keep reading my friends.
Later, Ann
comments (0)
Roll out those lazy hazy days of summer…
Filed under: General
Posted by: Ann @ 11:43 am
We arrived home from a week at Bethany Beach, Delaware last night. We rented a large house a couple miles from the beach and filled it with 20 family members, four under five! It was a wonderful time. We enjoyed perfect beach weather and they were all careful about sunscreen, no one got a bad sunburn. It took some cajoling to get our teens into the sunscreen habit, but after their first day at the beach, when they returned to the house pink and bit sore to touch, they decided we may be right! Closer home than the Carolina beaches and everyone appreciates the less drive time. 
I managed to read two good books last week. I read the seventh Bay Tanner Mystery, Sanctuary Hill by  Kathryn R. Wall. I am really going to miss Bay Tanner when I finish the next seven in the series! Publisher Weekly stated, “Wall once again delivers credible characters, a gripping plot and pitch-perfect local color.” The LowCountry Weekly stated” Curling up with a Bay Tanner book feels just as it should - like settling in for tea with an interesting old friend, always familiar, yet  always surprising.” I couldn’t agree more!
My second book was Educated, A Memoir by Tara Westover. It was shockingly raw at times but always a page-turner. I would loved to have been able to discuss it with other readers…maybe I’ll be able to talk my book club into it. She was denied an education and suffered what most would describe as an abusive childhood. The Newsday review stated,  “Westover is able to see the mix of  good and evil, of  pride and hurt, in all these people, including herself. Rather than demonize, she wishes to understand. A brilliant mind so long constricted proves elastic and inventive… Westover writes with uncommon intelligence and grace…”  I highly recommend this memoir.
I also read a few other books  earlier in the month. They were okay but not really worth mentioning and I am under tight time restraints today.
We watched one outstanding movie, Bohemian Rhapsody. It is a powerful movie with great music, from Netflicks.
On the evening of June 20th, I spoke about writing and my books, at the cozy Marionville Library to a group of book lovers from Marionville and Tionesta. It was a wonderful interactive group, and I think we all had a good time. If your group would be interested in having me visit, please contact me through my blog. 
Till next month, keep reading my friends. 
comments (0)
My Amazon Giveaway
Filed under: General
Posted by: Ann @ 2:06 pm
We are having our first HOT day of summer in n/w Pennsylvania and we are loving it, especially after so many rainy- soggy-wet spring days! There have been so many celebrations in our family this month, hardly know where to start. 

First about my Amazon Giveaway. During the last two months, I tried to set up a promotion for my new book with BookBub, and then Goodreads… without luck. Finally one of my friends suggested I try an Amazon Giveaway. It works! Here is the link:      I am giving away Mother Love, Willow Lane, Book Two, e-books to ten lucky winners. Amazon is taking care of the details. Hurrah for that. (I am still a major klutz with all things computers.) The contest closes on May 26th, so don’t delay.

We celebrated my husband’s 90th birthday for a week. We had family with us from England, Canada and Switzerland plus many from around the USA. On Saturday thirty five family members helped us celebrate with cake and the works. He was almost bowled over with surprise visits from the English great nephews. The next day fifteen of us attended the Southern Tier Symphony at UPB. After intermission, the orchestra serenaded him with Happy Birthday, and the entire audience sang to him. It brought him to tears! Two days later our good friends hosted a surprise birthday party for him at Penn Hills Country Club with his physician colleagues. He also received more than 150 beautiful birthday cards. A large box of his memoirs, The Man From Baghdad, arrived in time for him to give autographed copies to family and friends. It was grand fun, though a bit exhausting too. 

Grandson Ethan, serving in the Air Force is home on leave with his lovely wife, Ana, who is also serving in the Air Force. We’ve been spending as much time with him as possible since he will be heading to Nigers, Arica after his visit home.

This week my daughter will celebrate her 53rd birthday, and her God-daughter, (our granddaughter), Emma, will celebrate her 17th birthday. Then Emma’s mom celebrates her birthday next week a few days after thier oldest daughter, Hayley graduates form Stony Brook U. with a bachelors in Mechanical Engineering. Whew!

I’ve read another Bay Tanner mystery this month, Resurrection Road by Kathryn R. Wall. Loved it as I have all her others. 
I am also re-reading Where the Crawdad’s Sing by Delia Owens. The second reading is even more amazing than the first!! I have to be prepared to lead book discussion at book club next week. It’s especially interesting because these two books are set in about the same area of the Carolina coast, BUT oh such different stories!
We have watched a few movies this month: 
1. A Private War, starring Rosamond Pike. True story with very violent war scenes. Excellent movie. (From Netflicks.)
2. Hostiles, starring Christian Bales and Rosamond Pike. Historical fiction of the Indian/pioneer struggles.  Excellent movie, though much violence. (From Netflicks.)
3. What They Had, with Hillary Swank and Blythe Danner. A realistic story of one family’s struggle 
when dementia takes over their physically healthy mother in her 70s. An excellent movie. (Free from local video store.)
4. The Long Shot with Charlize Theron. Entertaining fiction but not nearly as good as reviews and movie trailer’s led us to expect. (At local movie theater.)
5. Marshall, an excellent movie! The story of the first African American to serve on the Supreme Court. He was so much more qualified than any of the recent appointees. He argued 32 cases before the Supreme Court before his appointment. Great movie! (From Netflicks.)

Till next month, keep reading my friends.
comments (0)
Another Rainy Night in Pennsylvania
Filed under: General
Posted by: Ann @ 8:04 pm
Everything has burst into green and the daffodils are blooming - what more could we want?  Maybe warmer weather and less rain! But everything comes in its own time, not ours. They say patience is a virtue, maybe that’s why so few people actually have it. I used to pray for patience but it seemed I only received more troubles. Then my minister told me our patience grows from our trials and tribulations. I immediately stopped praying for more patience!

We had a lovely Easter with lots of family, friends and plenty of good food. The great grands enjoyed the indoor Easter egg hunt. It seems like only a couple years ago we were hiding eggs for the grandchildren and now its their children. In retrospect, how time flies.  

I had a book signing, meet and greet at On the Side Books last Saturday afternoon for my new novel. It was fun and my loyal supporters came out in force. Bless them all.

My husband’s memoir was released last week. The Man From Baghdad, it turned out to be a wonderfully packaged book, reviews and early reader reports have been very enthusiastic. It’s available on Amazon. If you search for the title it comes right up. 
Back Cover Memoir Blurb: The Man From Baghdad offers readers a glimpse into his early life in Iraq. The Middle East is so often misrepresented in today’s media, people often forget that Babylon was the cradle of civilization. But these poignant, timely and historic recollections of an Iraqi American physician will stay with readers long after reading his memoir.
These stories were told to family and friends over the years, and with much urging, he documented  these tales to share with a wider audience — his vivid descriptions of Bedouin life, guffas, as well as tribal savagery, and family ties told through the eyes of one who experienced it firsthand, and much more. His stories will likely change your views of what you thought you knew about Iraq. 
Follow the author ’s journey from Baghdad to Bradford, with his initial immigrant experience and through the many detours and roundabouts, he compares his past in Iraq to his future in America.
I have read several books this month, three more of Kathryn R. Wall’s Bay Tanner mysteries. And not a Penny More, Perdition House, and Judas Island. Fiction. I love her characters, the plots are intriguing since I’m somewhat familiar with the area from our many short vacation trips to Hilton Head. I highly recommend these books to fans of murder mystery series.  

All the Tears in China by Sulari Gentill. Fiction. A popular and prolific Australian author. My friend in 
Melbourne sent the book to me. I really enjoyed it. It is part of her award winning Rowland Sinclair Mysteries series. The quirky characters are likable and the plot twisted in many unexpected ways. It is a refreshing and different story, enjoyable and engrossing.  

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. Fiction. WOW! This was the most powerful novel I have read in many years. One I will never forget and want to read again. I absolutely loved it! The NY Times Book Review stated: “Painfully beautiful… At once a murder mystery, a coming of age narrative and a celebration of nature.” All true and yet there is so much more to this novel. I read one negative review online; it was obvious after reading the novel that the disgruntled reviewer had not even read the book!

We watched one exceptional movie from Netflicks: On the Basis of Sex, the Ruth Bader Ginsberg story. 
It was inspiring and well done. I highly recommend it. 

Busy getting ready for lots of guests from three different countries plus the USA to celebrate my husband’s 90th birthday…more about that next month. 
Till then, keep reading my friends.

comments (0)
Hello Spring!
Filed under: General
Posted by: Ann @ 5:26 pm
Wow, what a month, just when I thought we were about as busy as we could be, life became even more hectic. But it has been mostly good busy. I can’t help feeling light and free as we’ve watched the snow melt away and the grass, begin to turn green after another long winter.
We’ve had wonderful family visits, mostly short and sweet, but we take what we can get from our grandchildren who  seem to be growing up way too fast. They’re all healthy and involved with their own pursuits to obtain their individual educational and vocational goals. I am so glad we have the great grandchildren, they are all adorable, fun, and did I mention active?!
We binge-watched the first season of Jack Ryan. It wasn’t ‘24‘, but after the first couple episodes we were hooked. We are looking forward to watching the new season.  We are learning to stream our shows, (I know if any young folks are reading this, you are thinking, ‘what’s to learn?’ Trust me, for those of us who grew up without the internet and all this technology, there is!  We also watched Hope and Glory, from Netflicks. It was a good, older movie, nominated for academy awards in 1987. A WW2 movie, told through the eyes of a 9 year old British boy. A really sweet movie, despite the bombings and the devastation of war.
I have read even more than usual this month, but the list is not long: In For a Penny, by Kathryn Wall, Fiction/murder mystery. I read this novel several years ago and had forgotten much of it, I love her writing, plots and characters, always takes place in Beaufort/Hilton Head areas of SC. I have her next one already started for next month. Good books!
The 50 State Border Crisis, How the Mexican Border Fuels the Drug Epidemic Across America, by Howard G Buffett. (Yes, he’s a son of Warren Buffett), Nonfiction. It is an eye-opening, myth-busting new perspective on the crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border. Buffett takes readers to the rugged terrain of the Arizona and Texas border country, where the daily heartbreak of the drug smuggling and illegal migrant crossings sets in motion the impact of a complicated situation with no easy answers. I believe all Americans should read this book…including, or maybe most of all our politicians of every rank and party affiliation
 I have spent countless hours reading my husband’s impressive and wonderful memoir this week, The Man From Baghdad. I finally returned it to the editor this week, He selected the photos to be included, and we are on the home stretch now. I hope we can move through the last steps of the process and have it printed before the end of April. 
And earlier in the month I was deeply involved with multi-read throughs of my new novel: Mother Love, Willow Lane, Book Two. My editor did a wonderful job. I must say I’m a fan of the writer of this book, I’m very happy with the results of all my efforts! 
Brief Synopsis: 
By age 52, Barbara Malone had endured bad marriage, raised four children and then lost her husband to a sudden heart attack. She shocks her family, friends and neighbors on Willow Lane with her decision to join the Peace Corps. This sets in motion an intense story of family ties that are threatened by distance, doubt and antagonism. 
It is a parallel story of her family back home in Lewiston. Pa. and her new unpredictable one in Central America. Honduras proves to be a challenging adventure as she balances drug-running rebels, corrupt military officers and the peace-loving villagers caught in the middle. Her life in the mountain village, where phone service is sporadic and electricity a rare luxury, proves to be exciting though exhausting. Barbara grows to love her work with the Hondurans and a dash of romance helps her feel more alive than she has felt in years. But after a short visit stateside, she realizes Willow Lane no longer feels like home and she o wonders where she really belongs.
It is available at the other online sites:

 It has been a busy time indeed!
Till next time, keep reading my friends…
Later, Ann 
comments (0)
And the rest of the February blog…
Filed under: General
Posted by: Ann @ 3:07 pm
Frustration! That’s the name of my game these days. A friend recently told me she admired my tenacity, that a normal person would have given up this writing business long ago. Not that there haven’t been days where thoughts of quitting have floated through my mind… But on the other hand, I am committed and truly enjoy the art of creating sentences and  paragraphs that build my stories. It’s the publishing and promoting part that wears me down!
We are still in a deep freeze mode in northwest Pennsylvania. Yesterday a delivery truck was stuck in our driveway, it always drifts badly with the wind, and we had snow flurries all day with lots of cold wind. That’s why I always use winter tires.
Some good books I have read recently are: 
Beach Music by Pat Conroy, Fiction, 1994. Excellent novel. He was a master storyteller. It was our book club’s choice for last month. (Great book discussion!) I read it more than twenty years ago; I got so much more out of it this time than I did my first reading.
My Exaggerated Life, Pat Conroy, by Katherine Clark. Biography, 2018. Mandatory reading for all Pat Conroy fans, his only authorized biography. It reads like a wonderful novel. You won’t be sorry to read this one, and you may be sorry if you don’t!   

The Tilted World by Tom Franklin and Beth Ann Fennelly. Historical Fiction. 2013. The first collaboration from a very talented husband-wife writing team. It is our book club choice for March, also Bradford’s community read for this year. Author Beth will be at our  university in March to read from their novel. It started a bit slow, but soon became a page-turner with unforgettable characters and a chillingly suspenseful plot. Dealt with the greatest national disaster in the history of the USA, the 1927 floods of the Mississippi River. I highly recommend this one!
A Force of Nature by Jane Harper. Fiction. 2017. Another great suspenseful novel from Australia with well developed characters and a that plot keeps the reader guessing until the end. It is another mystery with Federal Agent Aaron Falk investigating the disappearance of a colleague. I also highly recommend this book.

Jordan Point and St John’s Folly by Kathryn R. Wall, the last two novels in the Bay Tanner series. Library Journal stated: “Sue Grafton, Sara Paretsky, and Marcia Muller come to mind as the quintessential writers of the modern female private eye novel. Wall, in her quiet and unassuming way, has produced a body of work of equal quality. Highly recommended.”  Kathryn Wall has stopped writing. I bought the entire set of her novels and proudly displayed them on my book case. I hope to meet her on a future trip to Hilton Head. BUT you don’t have to be familiar with Hilton Head to enjoy her books. She is a masterful story teller.

 Movies we enjoyed: 
Iron Jawed Angels staring Hilary Swank, 2014. My book club watched this movie after discussing Sisters, the Lives of America’s Suffragists by Jean H. Baker, (Nonficiton.), at the January meeting. We were in Hilton Head and I missed the  meeting, but watched the movie twice after we came home. It was an excellent supplement for Sisters.We’ve all heard of Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. But there were so many others  who were equally committed to getting the votes for women, such as Lucy Stone, Frances Willard and Alice Paul. This movie followed the life and sacrifice of Alice Paul. Great book and great movie!

Florence Nightingale, starring Jacqueline Smith. A wonderful depiction of the sacrifice and suffering Miss Nightingale suffered in her commitment to bringing nursing care into the realm of respect and good medicine. Another great movie. 
That’s all for now. Till next time, keep reading my friends.
comments (0)
My New Book is Finally Here!
Filed under: General
Posted by: Ann @ 10:34 pm
A short February Blog to let my readers know Willow Lane, Book Two is finally available in e-book. Paperback print will be available within the next two weeks. This is a revision of my first novel, Mother Love, same basic story, revised to fit in the Willow Lane series. IF you are anything like me, I get so much more out of a book the second time I read it. Please click below to see the new cover on Amazon:
I hope you are all well and warm enough, winter has been hanging on tight in N/W Pennsylvania. I will write a longer blog in a few days, I have been swamped lately and this is all I have time for a right now! 

 Till next time, keep reading my friends. 
comments (0)
10 Below and Still Smiling
Filed under: General
Posted by: Ann @ 8:33 pm
This kind of weather certainly puts me in a count my blessings state of mind! We have family, friends, food and we’re warm, safe and happy. I am thankful I was born in the USA, rather than south of the border. The Groundhog’s shadow will be announced Saturday morning and we Pennsylvanians expect another six weeks of winter, though likely no more of this record breaking cold after tomorrow. 
My husband is completely retired as of January 1, 2019. What change for both of us! I have to admit it’s great having home all the time, I think he’s enjoying it too. 
All the Christmas decorations have been packed away for another year, and I downsized by one less large box of decorations to save for next year. It is a start in our much needed downsizing goals for the coming year!
We returned January 27th from a ten day trip south to Hilton Head, S.C. We met my two sisters and their husbands at the condo we shared. We had a wonderful time and the days slipped through our hands like water. Wearing a guilted vest was all we needed most days. We had several invigorating walks on the beach, Seafood diners and one dine-in extravaganza when Sallie Ann Robinson, the Gullah Cooking Queen, came to the condo and prepared a feast for us. Our friends who winter in Hilton Head also came for dinner. Everyone had a roaring good time! We met Sallie Ann last year when we toured Daufuskie Island with Sallie Ann’s Tours. She still lives on the island and was one of Pat Conroy’s students when he taught school there. Sallie Ann is also an accomplished author and remained a close friend of Conroy’s throughout his life. (She wrote his tribute obituary for Life magazine the year he died.) She sang Gospel songs for us after dinner, we all clapped our hands to the rhythm and sang along. Such fun!!
We went to two good movies while there:
 The Upside, we loved it, one of the most fun movies we’ve seen in a long time. Also gave us plenty to think and talk about after the show. So good that the audience spontaneously started to applaud when it ended. Based on a true story.
Vice was not fun. Another true story. But it was an exceptionally well done movie, a bit more political than we prefer, I love Christian Bales acting, he amazes us the way he becomes the person he plays. I can’t help but wonder what that does to a person’s psychological well being…
Little Women from Netflix, the one with Susan Dey, Greer Carson, Dorothy Maguire, and young William Shatner. It was our book for Book Club and since I’d miss book club due to our vacation,  I watched the movie rather than reading the book again. I loved it!

We listened to three audio books during the drive to and from Hilton Head:
Texas Ranger by James Patterson. Fiction. Fabulous writing, I could understand why he’s so phenomenally successful. It was a great book to listen to on a long drive. I didn’t see the surprise ending coming! 
Innocent by David Baldacci. Fiction. An exciting  gripping story as all his books prove to be. Another great story by a master writer.
Jurer #3 by James Patterson with Nancy Allen. Fiction. The reader for this book was perfect and made a great story even better.
Loved it and my hats off to these writers - wow! Didn’t see that ending coming either.
I read: 
70 Things to Do When You Turn 70, and found it quite interesting. It is an anthology of 70 essays by a diverse group of people. Some were exceptional and some so-so. My favorite was by May Sarton. She begins: “If someone else had lived so long and could remember things sixty years ago with great clarity, she would seem very old to me. But I do not feel old at all…  I look forward with joy to the years ahead and especially to the surprises that each day may bring.” 
The Mercy Oak by Kathryn R. Wall. Fiction. Another in her Bay Tanner Mystery series. Loved it. I encourage anyone who hasn’t read her books to check them out. There are 14 books in the series.  Highly recommended!
My review of The Heir by Fran Hawthorne was posted on Story    It would be especially interesting to Jews of Polish ancestry. 
Till next month, keep reading my friends. 
Later, Ann
comments (0)
Happy New Year.
Filed under: General
Posted by: Ann @ 7:53 pm
I know you are probably thinking, what a way to spend New Years Eve! I will keep it short and then relax in front of a roaring fireplace on this cold rainy December 31st.
We had a lovely Christmas season with family and friends. Christmas Eve we settled around the tree with our advent candles glowing, and the lights out, singing Christmas Carols, which somehow always includes Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer. It is lots of fun and even though we have a few grumblers, I think they all enjoy that tradition as much as I do. The we start the gift exchange. With great grandchildren ages three, four and five… it was an exciting time! It’s wonderful to see the generations interacting and enjoying their time together, making memories to last a lifetime. We had twenty-four for Christmas Eve dinner, from ages four months to eighty-nine. 

I read a few good books this month
My favorite was The Children’s Christmas Carol by Johanna Spyri. Fiction. It was a small, out of print book, written by the author of the classic, Heidi. It was an unforgettable WONDERFUL story. Also takes place in the Swiss Alps.
The Bird’s Christmas Carol by Kate Douglas Wiggins. A beautiful Christmas story. (*Bird was the family name; Carol was their daughter’s name.)
Year One by Nora Roberts. Fiction. End-times saga about a virus that changes the world as we know it in just a few weeks. A gripping haunting story.

An Unsuitable Match by Joanna Trollope. Fiction. A master story teller at her best. Great characters and many twists and turns. Received this novel from my best friend for Christmas and after taking a peek at the first two chapters, it stayed on the top of my stack of books to read.

Sisters, The Lives of America’s Suffragists by Jean H. Baker. Nonfiction, biography. It was not an easy read but such a thoroughly interesting and informative book. It was our book club read for December, the book discussion was intense  and detailed. Everyone agreed it was a worthwhile and important book to read.
 On Audible, we listened to Fallen by David Baldacci. Fiction. But it was almost like listening to the evening news, set in Northwest PA. and dealing with the opioid epidemic. Many twists and turns and quite different from his usual novels. Another worthwhile story given the state of affairs around the country. 
We watched a few fun Christmas movies, but probably nothing most of you haven’t seen several times yourselves.

I continue to work at my writing and have a detailed plan of action for the coming year. My first Willow Lane Newsletter was finally published in early December. You can subscribe to the Newsletter at  So far I have over one thousand subscribers.  

I am also becoming more active on BookBub, if you want to buy current e-books by your favorite authors, check out this site, they have great bargains that change daily. My first BookBub book review was posted last week:  
Till next time, keep reading and stay warm!
comments (0)
Have a Merry little Christmas…
Filed under: General
Posted by: Ann @ 9:26 pm

About this time I trust you all are likely as tired of turkey as I am. We had a wonderful Thanksgiving, lots of laughter, food and family love abounded. There were twenty of us around the table this year.  November has flown by at sonic speed. I spent a weekend In Columbia, Md. with my sisters. We attended the annual Johns Hopkins Women’s Journey Conference. It was great as always and we enjoyed the sister/friend time of being together. I also earned nursing CEUs at the conference, a girl just never knows…

We’ve had winter weather for the past few weeks, looking out the windows to see the trees layered with fresh snow is lovely, especially the evergreens. It never fails to make me feel like Christmas! We put our tree up the day after Thanksgiving and slowly decorated our home, inside and out over the next few days. So far we are on point in our Christmas marathon. One of my best friends fell on black ice last week and has a badly broken ankle with screws and a plate, she was always a Mrs. Christmas like me. I can’t imagine how tough this December is going to be for her. I am taking her some good books to read next week, a person can only watch Hallmark Christmas movies so long!

I had two reviews posted on this month:

A Quiet Fear by Thia Keen is a powerful novel based on her own experiences of child sexual abuse.  It is a story that stays with the reader long after the last page. Definitely a worthwhile read.

The Last Whippoorwill by Mary Bryan Stafford is historical fiction about one family’s pioneer move to Texas with a Conestoga wagon that carried a heavy piano across rivers, through muddy trails and finally to their new homestead in Texas. It is another powerful well written story derived from the author’s imagination and family folklore. A great read!

I listened to The Reckoning, on audio, by John Grisham, fiction. This  man is a master of suspense and keeping the reader interested. His characters are likable and the plot kept me guessing. Though I was a bit disappointed with the ending.

Christmas in Evergreen by Nancy Naigle, fiction. It was a sweet but kept me guessing novel. I like to read one like this every holiday season. (I actually picked it up because it had an old red pickup on the cover.) And it’s already been made into a Hallmark movie, though I think they changed the title. I saw the previews and recognized the story, but the actors are all wrong for the characters in the book!

Every Breath by Nickolas Sparks, fiction. A sweet and powerful novel about a nurse in North Carolina and a safari guide form Zimbabwe. Characters are well developed and the plot throws surprising curves. It’s an emotional read, and the most romantic Sparks book I’ve read. It is interesting to compare the difference between his romance writing and that of the more prevalent female romance writers. 

November’s Book Club book was The Dry by Jane Harper. Everyone loved the book and the discussion was great,  always interesting to hear the variety of perceptions of other readers regarding the same events in the books we read. One member liked it so much that she’s already read Harper’s next novel! (I didn’t even know there was a next novel until she told us about it.)

We have seen several good movies this month:

A Star is Born with Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper. It was magnificent, we both loved it. The music was outstanding. Who knew Cooper could sing and Gaga could act!?

Breathe, starring Claire Foy and Andrew Garfield, with Andy Serkis making his directorial debut. Amazing true story about a young couple’s resilience after he is struck down with polio at age 28. The invention of the iron lung and the full life they lead despite his disability. Beautiful story and should be a serious Oscar contender. Available on Netflicks.

Book of Henry starring Naomi Watts. It is a sweet movie with surprising twists. I recommend it. Starts a bit slow but worthwhile. Available on Netflicks.

The Wife starring Glenn Close. Excellent movie about a marriage between two writers and so much more.

Searching with John Chu and Debra Messing. An excellent thriller that kept us on the edges of our seats! Didn’t see the end coming.

And, of course, we are still binging on 24. We finished Season 6 in November.

Till next time, keep reading my friends…and maybe watch a few good movies too. 

Later, Ann

comments (0)
Happy Halloween
Filed under: General
Posted by: Ann @ 3:40 pm

I’ve always felt Halloween is the silliest of all holidays, though I celebrate to satisfy the child in me, as well as the child in our friends and the rest of the family. None of the great-grandchildren live close enough to come to our home trick or treating and the neighbor children have all grown up. So Halloween is not much fun anymore. After tonight, we can forget about it until next year. I have a big dish of candy waiting by the door just in case. If no one comes, then all the candy will go in the freezer and wait for my sons for their hunting camp adventures after Thanksgiving.

It’s another cold rainy day. But it’s been a productive day for me. My daughter stopped by this morning for a visit which is always extra nice for us. I’ve been making double fleece blankets for all the grandchildren for Christmas gifts, and for aunts and an uncle, a couple fund raiser auctions and friends. It seems every time I think I’ve almost finished, I think of two or three more I should make! Good grief.

We hosted a dinner party last Friday evening for several of my husband’s colleagues and their spouses, by now, all are our good friends. We’ve been using up the leftovers since then. A good bonus for all the work last week!.

Books I read this month:

I am currently reading Them by Senator Ben Sasse. Nonfiction. It is not a fast read, but well written, well researched, informative and NECCESARY reading for all thinking citizens of Planet Earth! I’m sure I will mention it again in November’s blog.

A Quiet Fear by Thia Keen, fiction based on the writer’s life. It is an excellent book, though difficult reading at times. It deals with child sexual, physical and emotional abuse.

The Rooster Bar by John Grisham. Fiction. Typical Grisham, he takes on the student loan fiasco that has so many young people under water before they ever get started with their lives.

Amy and Isabel by Elizabeth Strout. This is one of her early books. A coming of age mother/daughter story set in New England as most of her stories are. The writing is superior with her flair for literary details even then. It is definitely worth reading, I found it in our used book store.

Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine by Scottish writer, Gail Honeyman’s debut novel. Fiction. It was a Reese Witherspoon book club selection. It had wonderful reviews. It was supposed to be hysterically funny, it was compared to A Man Called Ove, but was not even close. It is a well written novel, but more sadly pathetic than funny.

You can read my Story Circle review of the memoir, The Trail to Tincup by clicking this link:    It was an  interesting story. 

We had an excellent Book Club discussion about the The Great Alone by Kristen Hannah. Everyone loved the novel and it was reported that it will be made into a movie. Good choice by Hollywood. I hope they don’t ruin it.

I hosted Book club this month, so I could introduce the books to consider for next month. The club chose the Australian ‘book of the year’, Jane Harper’s debut novel, The Dry. They are all in for a treat!


We are still watching 24. We will begin Season 6 later this week, and we know that will mean more late night 24 marathons!  (Did I mention we are totally binging on this series and it is very addictive?)

We went to the theater to see  A Star is Born. It was wonderful! Bradley Cooper can sing, also direct, produce and act. AND then there is Lady Gaga. I’d never paid any attention to her, thought she was silly with all those crazy costumes. BUT what a talent. Together they were amazing.

Victoria and Abdul, we rented the DVD, it was a beautifully done. Judi Dench played Victoria. Another excellent movie. 

 Dr. Thorne, we rented this 4 part mini series - on one DVD,  set in the English country side in the 1800s, based on novel, Dr. Thorne, by Anthony Trollope with screenplay adaptation by Jullian Fellowes. Wonderful! if you liked Downton Abbey,  you will love Dr. Thorne! 

Still working on my upcoming book, and getting closer.

Till next time, keep reading my friends.



comments (0)
September Blog
Filed under: General
Posted by: Ann @ 5:34 pm

 On this the rainiest day we’ve had in a long time, I am finally writing my blog for September. And it is only two days into October. At least not as tardy as last month’s blog! I have attended several soccer games, our 16 year old granddaughter is an awesome player. She made two goals at yesterday’s game and almost two more except the girls on the other team prevented the ball from going into the net. My son always reminds me that’s what the other team is supposed to do. Can’t help it, still upsets me every time they block her would-be goals!

Two weeks ago we took two other granddaughters, one was a great granddaughter, to Buffalo for dinner and the touring Broadway musical, Charley and the Chocolate Factory at Shea’s Theater in Buffalo. They loved it and we all had a great time, didn’t arrive home until 12:30 A.M.. The next day I had to drive them home early. (Had a sub for my Sunday school class.) Then I drove the 11 year old to Brookville, PA for her soccer game. We arrived early and went for a drive past the family farm where my siblings and I grew up. When we settled my dad’s estate a few years ago we sold it to a wonderful Mennonite family, and they are taking wonderful care of it. Made me feel ambivalent seeing it again, and miss those days gone by… We went back to the soccer fields and I watched another soccer game; I even took the younger great-grands for a short walk and watched a 4-H Horse Show near the game. And again on the same day, memories took me back many years, to when I was young and rode in horse shows. After the games I met my sister and her husband for a nice long visit at a local restaurant. It was a good day and I was home before dark and fixed dinner for us, even though I wasn’t really hungry after eating most of the deep fried Mozzarella sticks I’d shared with my family! I missed lunch that day and they’d already eaten lunch.

Most of my reading this month has been continuing education credits preparations to renew my PA state nursing license. I worked very hard to get my license and plan to keep it as long as I can. A person just never knows when they just might have to go back to work! 

My review of A Dying Note, has been posted on Story Circle:

I did read a couple novels that were not worthy of recommending to anyone. I read one book that was quite remarkable, A Quiet Fear by Thia Keen and I loved it… Well, as much as you can love a book about the horrors of sexual child abuse by her manipulating godfather/uncle. It was fiction based on her own childhood trauma in hopes to teach and inspire awareness in others. This book was sent to me by Story Circle for review.

We went to Michele Bell and Catherine Matejka’s concert/recital at St Bonaventure U. in Allegany, N.Y. last Friday evening. Phenomenal music! He was a versatile performer, had been part of the 5th Dimension singing group back in the 1960s and 70s. Cynthia was the best piano player I’ve ever heard! The were sponsored by St. Bonaventure’s Friends of Good Music.

We have finally finished Season 3 of 24. What s show! Can’t help wondering sometimes, what would Jack do? Just kidding!

Some of you might be wondering what is happening with my new book and the newsletter. Well, sadly my author assistant has had to close her business. I have taken over my own project. I truly hope by next moth at this time, I will have some concrete news about the completion.

Till next time, keep reading my friends.

Later, Ann

comments (0)
LATE August Blog
Filed under: General
Posted by: Ann @ 12:45 pm

I hope you agree that late is better than not at all! It seems the last few weeks have slipped through my hands like water. I’ve been diligently working on the almost ready to launch second book in the Willow Lane series. And those of you who signed up for the Newsletter, it is still coming and will be launched with the new book. I will keep you posted, I never expected it to take this long!

Life has been super busy, a beautiful new great granddaughter joined our growing family on August 17th. Her happy and proud parents named her after my mother and the mother’s grandmother. A beautiful old fashioned name for an extraordinarily beautiful baby girl, if I do say so myself!

My family reunion was the second Sunday in August as always on the family farm in Clarion County. It was a wonderful day of laughter, catching up and reflecting on the memories of those no longer with us. My generation is almost exclusively the oldest generation now, only one uncle is still with us of the seven original siblings of my mother’s generation. Next year will mark our 50th Family Reunion. I was expecting my first son at that one…  and now he is a grandfather! How time flies.

My husband and I attended an entire weekend wedding celebration for the son of our Indian/American friends in Buffalo. It was a fabulous cultural experience, the groom arrived at the first wedding ceremony on a white horse, the state police had to close one lane of traffic to accommodate all the well wishers in the procession surrounding the groom and horse! Later in the afternoon, he arrived at the second wedding ceremony in a flower covered rick-a-shaw with throngs of well-wishers. All the women wore bright colored saris for both services. It was a WOW experience! The dancing at the reception on Saturday night was like something out of the movies. And several of us decided to join the fun by imitating their dance moves. One celebration after another made the weekend fly by!

We hosted my husbands much smaller family for the Labor Day weekend. There were ten of us and we had fun, the predicted rain held off for most of the weekend. Our city cousins could sit on the patio and watch the stars at night, something they can’t do in Toronto - too many city lights efface the stars.

My birthday always follows Labor Day and I am treated like a queen for a day many times over, during my birthday week. Sometimes it makes me wish I could have several birthdays in one year… Wait a minute not really, then I’d be ancient by now!

 I’ve read several books, here is a list of most of them:

Here’s the link to my review posted on Story Circle from last month’s review book, Trouble The Water:

The Dry, EXCELLENT book! It’s a debut novel by Australian author, Jane Harper. Suspense, Mystery, Fiction. She rec’d the 2017 Australian Indie Book of the year, 2017 Australian and  U.K. Victorian Premier Literary Award for an Unpublished Manuscript, as well as winning the CWA Gold Dagger. (It was a surprise gift form my Australian friend.) Who really killed the Hadler family? This question keeps the reader turning the pages. The pace never lets up, tensions are palpable in the small farming town. It hadn’t rained in Kiewarra for two years. It is a story about heroism, the sins of the past, and the struggle to atone, a beautifully told Australian tale.

A Dying Note, by Ann Parker. Historical Fiction. It is part of the Silver Rush Mystery series and was a very good read. (It reminded me a bit of Isabelle Allende’s Daughter of Fortune, it is about San Francisco in the late 19th century.) This novel begins in Leadville, Colorado as the co-owner of the saloon moves to San Francisco to establish herself as a respectable business woman. She is raising a street urchin she acquired in Colorado, as her niece. Their courage and resourcefulness keeps the reader turning the pages! *This novel was sent to me by Story Circle for review.

The Trail to TINCUP, by Joyce Lynnette Hocker. Memoir. This is a very detailed family memoir written by a PHD psychologist. Her story will likely cause readers to reflect more on their own lives, as memoirs so often do. Her resiliency and excellent writing ability makes her childhood and early life come to life on the pages. If you are a memoir enthusiast, this would be a great choice to add to your list. *This book was sent to me by Story Circle for review.

The Handmaids Tale, by Margaret Atwood. Futuristic Fiction. This was our book club’s choice for August. It was a disturbing book about a group of post nuclear war survivor. Few of the members liked this novel, while we all felt it was a worthwhile read. Atwood is an excellent writer, of course. The underlying anti-religious and political tones of the novel and the treatment of women made for difficult reading.  

Messenger of Truth by Jacqueline Winspear.  Historical Fiction, Mystery. The latest in the Maisie Dobbs series. The author is British but lives in California. Her novels are set in England; the author has won the Agatha Award and been nominated for the Edgar Award. This was a another well written, page turning, suspense filled novel. The murder of an rising star artist the night before his big exhibition in London, sets in motion one unexpected event after another. Extraordinary character development and plot twists made for a great read. One of my cousins at the family reunion told me about this writer, his wife’s favorite. After reading one, I have to say she has great taste in books!

Fidelity, by Wendell Berry. (Anthology of five stories.) Fiction. Rec’d this book from my best friend as a birthday gift; it’s the first I’ve heard of this multi-award winning author. But I will certainly remember him. His stories of rural life are simple yet deeply layered, a real literary genius. Each story in the collection reveals the true connectedness of the farmers and their families to one another.

The only good movie we have seen this month was a Netflix movie, The Guernsey Island Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, starring Lilly James and an accomplished cast of British actors. (If you watched Downton Abbey, you will remember many of these actors.) We read this book in book club several years ago, it has long been on of my favorite stories. A new member of our book club actually visited the Guernsey Islands after reading the book!

Till next time, keep reading my friends. Maybe you could even send me a message at and share your favorite books with me.

comments (0)
July Blog
Filed under: General
Posted by: Ann @ 3:13 pm

Where to begin? This has been a month of running as fast as I can… and still falling behind.  I am not complaining nor am I bragging, it is just my crazy life! We spent a week at Ocean City, MD. July 8-15. It  is our new favorite beach destination, the boardwalk is awesome, beaches beautiful and the proximity to western PA sure beats driving I-95 in the quest for the Carolina beaches. There were fifteen family members in our group, seven of them under age eleven. The week went by so quickly and what a lively fun time we had. Perfect weather and no bad sunburns, thanks to diligent use of sunscreen. It was the first trip to the ocean for two of the children. One little guy got angry with the ocean when the tides came in and destroyed his beautiful sand castle, but he soon learned and accepted that sand castles had to be re-built each day.

Two weeks ago I burnt my arm while ironing, just a little too close the iron when reaching for the next shirt to iron. After two days It seemed to be healing okay, but in the early morning hours of the third day,  it was incredibly itchy and I scratched it while half awake. I woke immediately and hurried to do first aid on the open burn, cleaned it with cold running a water, then peroxide, patted it dry with sterile pad. Then applied a band-aid and antibiotic ointment. A day later, it was throbbing and so itchy I could hardly stand it but I resisted scratching it. The burn area turned bright red and I could almost see my arm swelling. I called my doctor, he fit me in. Since I had done everything right in the wound care…well, except for scratching it in the first place, he asked me if my antibiotic ointment was out of date, old antibiotic ointments can develop a fungus infection which is VERY BAD for wound care. I am an RN and did not even know that antibiotic ointments went out of date! He gave me a script for Keflex for a week. I also bought a new tube of antibiotic ointment. I had to use a magnifying glass when I came home to check my old antibiotic tubes when I came home. One had expired in 2012 and the other in 2014. The dates are stamped on the end of the tube. White on white, very small print, not easy to see at all! I share this with my readers so you might check the dates in your first aid kits.

We’ve attended graduation parties, anniversary parties and weddings this summer. We’ve hosted four sets of overnight visits from long distance family members. All have been great fun!

We attended three concerts this summer, two at Chatauqua Institute: Allison Krauss with the Union Station Band and Straight No Chaser. One Tuesday Night Tribute, in Bradford, Buddy Holly’s Greatest Hits. Each one was fabulous!

I reviewed Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls for WPSU BookMarks On our way to the beach. It is always fun  to stop by WPSU at Innovation Park in State College. It is absolutely great to work with Emily Reddy. To listen to my review, click:…25811.31100..33340…0.0…92.1971.25……0….1..gws-wiz-img.YvDm3APSdtE#imgrc=BaHrgPZLNJot8M:

If you are interested in reviewing a good book, please check out the The Great America Reads List on WPSU, and contact the station. I’ve read most on the list and agreed with the merits of most of the books.

I’ve read these books this month:

The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson. Historical Fiction, Rye, England- 1914.  Wonderful story. Excellent research and plot and character development. A small town loses its idyllic culture as it goes to war and life is never the same again.  I loved this novel!

Trouble the Water by Jacqueline Friedland. Historical Fiction, Charleston, SC -1840s. Another well researched and written story. Characters and plot are well developed. This was an ARC copy sent to me for review and I just now realized I read it and forgot to write the review, (I know what I will be doing tomorrow!) It was a very good book, kept me turning the pages.

Clock Dance by Anne Tyler. Contemporary fiction. A typical Tyler novel, wit and underlying tensions that make the reader hope the characters will make needed choices. Sometime they do and sometimes they don’t. A very good read! Anne Tyler is one of my most favorite authors.

Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate. Historical Fiction, Tennessee - Mid1900s. The story of an impoverished family in crisis,  the father takes the mother to the hospital for a problem delivery. She has twins, is told they are stillborn, but they were healthy and sold by the Children’s Home for adoption. All five of the children left at home were also taken to the orphanage and adopted out for money. A well researched and written, characters and plot are well developed. A sad, because it is based on real events. and important book. It was my book club read for this month. Excellent discussion!

Yeah! Finally we’ve seen four good movies:

Mama Mia, Here We Go Again, LOVED it!! Want to buy the soundtrack. Uplifting and fun.

MI-Fallout, a very exciting movie! They say it will be the last MI for Tom Cruise. Maybe, time will tell.

Oceans 8, A fun and entertaining movie, not realistic BUT then what movies are? And sometimes it is just nice to be entertained! Sandra bullock and Anne Hathaway were great as wee all of the actresses.

The Leisure Seeker, A very good and surprising movie. Won a free movie through our local video store - stars Donald Sutherland and Helen Mirren.

Till next time, keep reading my friends!

Later, Ann

comments (0)
June Has Come and Gone…
Filed under: General
Posted by: Ann @ 5:07 pm

Happy summer everyone! It is 92 degrees, but the humidity is low, this makes the heat more bearable. We mow a very large lawn that claims several hours of my time each week. I finished putting the grub poison around my plants — hostas and the ones normally grub-attacked by the middle of the summer. I have my fingers crossed it will work this year. Dead heading my geraniums and keeping all the flowers fertilized and watered, are summer rituals I enjoy.

Today we visited the Ice Mine in Coudersport, PA. It is a fascinating place and on a hot day, the perfect outing!

My review of Sweet Hollow Women by Holly Tierney-Bedord can be read on at this link:

*We are getting closer to the new book launch, SO, if you haven’t signed up for the Willow Lane Newsletter…you still have time. The first issue will be sent when the launch is ready. Just send your name and email address to me to confirm you want to be added to the mailing list.

I have read several interesting books this month:

Book Friends club read was The Woman in the Window, debut novel by A.J. Finn. 2018. Fiction, psychological thriller. It was a page turner, generated a good discussion at book club. Dealt with agoraphobia, personality disorder, delusions, and the list goes on. A good book, perhaps over-rated a bit.

The Devil Amongst The Lawyers by Sharon McCrumb, 2010. Historical fiction, a Ballad Novel. I always enjoy reading her books, she’s definitely a master story teller. And she knows her Appalachian mountain people well. Set in 1935, when a beautiful young school teacher is charged with murdering her father in a remote Virginia mountain community. The deception of the famous national press writers vs. the entry level local reporter was like a night and day battle for truth. His editor screamed at him, “…You’re paid to report the facts. Nobody cares what you think!” Family values, sensationalized news reporting and PTSD were all significant factors.  Excellent book. (I couldn’t help thinking, IF ONLY the news media today would report the facts and keep their opinions to themselves!)

Faith by Jimmy Carter. Memoir, 2018. Quote from inside book jacket: “The issue of faith arises in almost every area of human existence, so it is important to understand its multiple meanings. In this book my primary goal is to explore the broader meaning of faith, its far reaching effect on our lives, and its relationship to past, present and future events in America and around the world.” A memorable and interesting book, I highly recommend it. President Carter is one of America’s most respected and admired citizens. He still teaches Sunday School about once a month, the clock is ticking if you ever thought about attending that class, better to go sooner than later!(We had the honor of attending his Sunday School class in Plains, GA about five years ago. it was one of the highlights of our lives. Our photo with him and Roslyn is proudly displayed on our fireplace mantle!)

Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls. Historical fiction. 1961. A coming of age young adult novel especially for boys. I read this one with my oldest son many years ago and re-read it now as part of the PBS 100 Books to read, in order to write a review. It was a wonderful book and evoked many warm memories from my first read. I highly recommend it. 

Every Note Played by Lisa Genova. Fiction. 2018. Another BIG winner from Ms. Genova, who has become the reader’s favorite guide on neurological disorders. What could be worse for a famous concert pianist than ALS? Two flawed characters learn to forgive and reach out to each other as the future opens up for one and life slips away from the other. And excellent book, I highly recommend it!

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng. Fiction. 2018. Powerful, nothing is as it seems as the writer takes us inside the lives of her characters. She explores a microcosm of American society. A story that can easily shake the reader’s attitudes about life. A very good book.

The Perfect Horse by Elizabeth Letts. Historical Nonfiction. 2017. This book was about the daring mission to rescue the priceless stallions kidnapped by the Nazis; very detailed and thoroughly researched, BUT such a worthwhile book. I loved it. It gave me new respect for our brave soldiers during WW2…and I already had a way above average respect. Also renewed my respect for excellent research writers. Letts is definitely one of the best! Disclaimer: I am a horse lover. If you love horses and history, this could be a perfect book for you.

The Bookie’s Daughter, A Memoir of Growing Up in a Crazy, Crime-Ridden Family, by Heather Abraham. Memoir. 2013. The author states, “I was a child of crime not by choice but by birthright.” It was a dark comedic family saga, a wild ride through a childhood dominated by Big Al, the author’s larger than life bookie father and Bonnie, her trigger happy alcoholic mother. She and her sister’s childhood norms were gambling, police raids, trials public scorn, hitmen, IRA gunrunners, pedophiles, bodyguards and midnight runs for illegal goods. I enjoyed the author’s wit and openness as I gasped and laughed out loud as I read about her life, so very different from my sheltered childhood on the farm.

We are still watching 24, season 2. It is so exciting! We also watched Olive Kitteridge, but I was a bit disappointed by the screen play. NOT the way I remembered the novel. We watched two good movies, both were based on real life stories.: Molly’s Game and All the Money in the World. Both excellent thought provoking movies.

Till next month, keep reading my friends and enjoy the lazy hazy days of July.

Later, Ann

comments (0)
May Blog
Filed under: General
Posted by: Ann @ 3:10 pm

I started this day out earlier than I usually do, I was invited to speak to a group of gifted 14 year olds at the middle school this morning for 30 minutes at 8 A.M. They had all written books as their final project. I talked to them about the writing process. Five of them indicated they wanted to be writers and would keep writing even if they received more than one hundred rejections - they would keep on writing. I congratulated them because that’s the dedication needed to be a real writer!

 We went from winter to summer with only a few days of spring this year. I love the change of seasons but I never experienced a season as short as our spring was this year! I finally finished my flower planting today, and the predicted rain poured as I stubbornly stayed on task to finish. I was totally soaked to the skin, but the rain is so good for the plants.

We’ve had a super busy May with family and friends. Our fourth granddaughter graduated last Sunday afternoon and we celebrated her and her best friend’s transition with a lovely garden party, hosted by her parents and lots of help from her friend’s parents. The rain held off except for about an hour late in the afternoon … and most of us welcomed the rain since it had been such a hot humid day. A huge tent in the back yard helped. Her college sister was home for a week and helped with all the preparations. Wonderful to see the girls grow up to be such awesome young people. Two more years until the youngest sister graduates. It’s almost enough to make me feel old!

My book club, Book Friends, meets tonight. It should be a good discussion, The Alice Network was such a well written and exciting novel.   

My review of Twilight Empress by Faith L. Justice is posted on Story Circle at:

Good books I have read this month: Maine by  J. Courtney Sullivan. 2011. Historical/contemporary fiction. Started out a bit slow for me, but picked up soon enough to keep my interest. Wonderful story of how three generations of the women in an Irish Catholic family deal with guilt, obstinacy, alcoholism a, sibling rivalry and irrational love. I ‘ve read many of her books and find her climbing closer to the top of my list of favorite writers!

Sweet Hollow Women by Holly Tierney-Bedord. 2017. Fiction. This book was sent to me by Story Circle for review. The review will be posted next week. It is a southern novel, and the characters are well developed. The plot is full of twists and turns. I felt sad while reading, it deals with poverty, child neglect, and alcohol abuse. But the ending is more uplifting and hopeful.  

The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith, a.k.a. J.K. Rowlings. 2013. Crime fiction. I read this book out of curiosity.It crime fiction is not my favorite genre. It was a satisfactory read, very detailed as one would expect form this author, if you’ve a ever read a Harry Potter book, you know what I mean. The characters were well developed with surprise plot twists. The ending pleasantly surprised me.

The Great Alone by Kristen Hannah. 2018. Fiction. A remarkable novel. I love this writer’s books. It is an unforgettable story of human frailty and resilience. Her flawed and human characters make choices time and time again that you want to shout at them NOT to make! Moving to Alaska as homesteaders in early fall with no preparations for winter is a recipe for disaster. Domestic abuse, alcoholism and loneliness are the back drop as the well developed characters fight for survival in the beautiful and bitter Alaska wilderness. A real page-turner! Loved it.

Born A Crime by Trevor Noah. 2016. Memoir. “This is the story of a mischievous young boy who grows into a restless young man as he struggles to find himself in a world where he was never supposed to exist.” — per jacket of Born A Crime. It is enlightening to the customs of South Africa where he was born and grew up. He was an exceptionally bright child; he shared a deep confidence and hope for his future with his mother. He is now a successful comedian in the USA, as well as internationally. At times this is a laugh out-loud kind of story, often followed with gut-wrenching sadness. Well worth reading.

We are still struggling and enjoying 24.

Till next time, please keep reading my friends.

Later, Ann

comments (0)
Wishing Spring Was Really Here!
Filed under: General
Posted by: Ann @ 6:59 pm

I do not remember experiencing such a cold April as this one has been. Pennsylvanians love the change of seasons, and we are desperately waiting for real spring weather. Two weeks ago on a snowy windy day, we lost a couple shingles from our roof. Luckily we live in a small tight community and within an hour of our desperate phone call, our contractor friend was on our roof with extra shingles from the shed, and a couple hours later, the roof was as good as new. Double lucky because the icy rain started a few hours later. Last week we finally put our snow shovels away. I spent much of this day outside in the wind and sunshine. I hung our sheets on the clothes line to dry, nothing beats bed sheets smelling of sunshine and wind.

We had a wedding this month, even thought we didn’t attend, our thoughts were with them on April 7. Our Air Force grandson married his beautiful fiancé, she’s also in the Air Force. The wedding was in England. We plan to have a BIG celebration when they come back to the states. The wedding photos were gorgeous, he wore a tux and she had a lovely wedding gown, I so wish now that we had made the trip!     

We’ve also been busy with Track Meets, (brrrr…they have mostly been cold this year), our granddaughter is a senior in high school and she’s a champion pole vaulter. She already has a track scholarship to Mansfield University. Her younger sister is having a great year this year in track also, winning in long jumps and relay races. Some times I can’t help wondering if I’d have been any good at some of these events way back when. But in those days there were no options for girl sports. I’m very glad things have changed. Another granddaughter was awesome in her dance recital.    

And  it seems it is always someone’s birthday in a family as big as ours! We have a small group of friends who gather at our home very other Wednesday evening, we’ve been doing this for years. The open discussions are stimulating and sometimes tempers almost flair. Most importantly at the end of each session, we’re still friends.      

Yesterday we went to the Strattanville American Legion for a banner reception to honor all veterans of the area.  One hundred fifty four banner flags were on display inside the Legion, including one for my father. Fifteen family members gathered for pictures and reminiscing: it was a wonderful afternoon. Dad received a purple heart and three gold stars for combat missions - he rarely talked about WW2 and refused to ever watch any war movies. Five of my high school classmates were among the honored flags for Vietnam era service, two deceased. The flags will be hung for public display from before Memorial Day until just after Veterans Day.

We are now losing sleep watching 24 through Netflix - not staying up late binging, but our adrenalin is revved up with the tension of the show, fantastic script writing!

I read Hidden Tapestry by Debra Dean. Biography. *It was like no other book I ever read - unforgettable.  Please read my review by clicking this Story Circle link:

I read Faith  by Jimmy Carter. Christian memoir. It was a gift and I loved it, so inspiring. I have read almost all of his books and admire him very much. We attended his Sunday School class in Plains GA several years ago, it was one of the best experiences of our lives. We still have a photo of us with Rosalyn and Jimmy on our fireplace mantel.

I read The Great Alone by Kristen Hannah. Fiction. WOW! This author is amazing. It deals with PTSD, domestic abuse, coming of age, moving to Alaska’s frontier with no preparations for surviving the winter and so much more. The characters are well developed and the plot is wickedly smart and unpredictable. Loved it!

I read Twilight Empress by Faith L. Justice. Historical fiction about Roman aristocracy between 410 and 461 A.D.
It is well researched, with twisted plot developments and great characters. Especially the protagonist, Roman Empress and Gothic Queen Placidia, she suffered loss, love and betrayal. Palace intrigue was almost like a secondary character. (This book was also sent to me for review by Story Circle. My review has not been submitted yet.)

It is unbelievable how long my next project is taking. Should be ready to launch within the next few days. I will keep you posted! Until next time, keep reading my friends.

Later, Ann


comments (0)
Belated Easter Greetings
Filed under: General
Posted by: Ann @ 4:30 pm

 According to the our calendar, spring is here, but obviously Mother Nature hasn’t received that message yet. I do have an appointment to have my snow tires removed and my summer tires installed this Thursday… and I am hoping it is not too early! This seems to have been a winter for the record books, a winter that just keeps hanging on. Of course, things could be much worse, we have plenty of warm clothes and a cozy home. And we have had a few sunny, though chilly days.

We had a lovely Easter with adult children, grandchildren and great -grandchildren too. Being April 1, it was also a day of jesting April Fools jokes on most of us by the trickier family members. I didn’t hoodwink anyone, though I tried! Our Easter egg hunt had to be in our basement this year. The weather was cold and wet.

We have been binging on Homeland season 6 and loving it. Can’t wait for the next disc to arrive from Netflix!  We also saw the movie Red Sparrow. It was pertinent with all the news stories floating around about USA/Russian relations. The ruthless training of their secret agents, and layers of deceit made for a very exciting movie.

We also watched Lady Bird, it was a good movie though not particularly memorable to me. We went because it had been nominated for an academy award.

We also watched Darkest Hour, totally amazing movie. It didn’t feel like we were watching actors, it was great.  We plan to watch it at least one more time.

We went to see Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri again. I noticed so many more details that I’d missed the first time we watched it. Wonderful movie even though much of the dialogue is profane.

This month I read Grant by Ron Chernow, the Pulitzer Prize winning biographer. His biography of Grant was well researched and well written.  He maintained that Grant was our most misunderstood, underappreciated and one of our finest presidents. He was Lincoln’s most trusted general, Grant proved to be the genius military strategist of the Civil War. He knew all the other generals on both sides, their foibles and strengths, since they were all educated at West Point. Grant kept the North and South together during the tremulous reconstruction period after the war. Political intrigue seemed even worse during that period than today.

Hidden Tapestry by Debra Dean. Historical Biography. Subtitle: Jan Yoors, his two wives and the war that made them one. I loved Dean’s The Madonnas of Leningrad, so much that I jumped at the chance to review her new book. Of course, it was well-written; and definitely a surprise to me to read about such a different lifestyle choice. This artist left a legacy and his two wives exhibited more devotion, forgiveness and tolerance of Mr. Yoors than most men ever get from only one wife! This book was sent to me by for review.

Last Dance, Last Chance by Ann Rule. A true crime book. Well written and well researched. Very disturbing story about a bad doctor in Buffalo NY in the 1990s. This was our book club choice for March.

A Chance In The World by Steve Pemberton. Memoir. Another disturbing story, but one that weaves its way through so much heartache and turmoil to give a hopeful ending. I highly recommend it, especially during Child Abuse Awareness month.

I also read Love and Other Consolation Prizes by Jamie Ford. Historical fiction. Well researched with intriguing characters and surprising plot twists. Fascinating insights into lives we would never otherwise encounter, and the difficulties some had to endure to create the world as we know it today. This is our book club choice for April.

I reviewed Nothing Forgotten by Jessica Levine. Historical fiction. Well written and well researched novel with memorable characters and unexpected plot twists. You can read my review at:

My debut Willow Lane Newsletter is very close, the newsletter is free but only sent to those who request it. IF you want to receive one you can send an email and request to be added to the list. Quite a few of you have already signed up and you are probably wondering what happened. It has taken more time than I ever dreamed would be necessary. But I think it will be worth the wait!

Till next time, keep reading my friends.

Later, Ann

comments (0)