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.

August 2021
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August Blog
Filed under: General
Posted by: Ann @ 3:31 pm
The lazy hazy crazy days of summer are rolling by with record speed. I’ve put many hours into my flower gardens and keeping our very large lawn mowed this summer. (Psst… please don’t tell anyone but I LOVE driving our lawn tractor!) The frequent rains have kept everything growing with minimal efforts needed to water plants. Yeah! Northwest Pennsylvania is a beautiful lush green panorama. We celebrated our annual family reunion this August 8th,, it was wonderful to see so many family members again, many for the first time in two years due to last years ’shut down’. We’ve had a few visits from friends who returned to the area after moving far away, they’ve all been impressed with the beautiful array greens in our corner of the world. Always good to keep up with old friends.

My husband has been discharged from VNA physical therapy and continues to work hard at his assigned exercises. His recovery has been nothing short of amazing. He even helped mow the lawn last week on the back-up riding mower. What a guy!

I will be part of a panel discussion on Sunday afternoon, September 5th, 2-4, at the Watershed Book Store in Brookville, PA. We will be discussing building a writing platform, publishing and marketing. I’m looking forward to it and my two multi-published award winning author-friends, ’sisters from different mothers’ are going with me. We will have a fun day.

I’ve read several books this month:
Corduroy Mansions by Alexander McCall Smith. Fiction. 2009. Polygon, British Publisher. This is another entertaining novel packed with lots of McCall Smith’s typical quirky characters. It is light reading with a some deep messages, delivered by the most unexpected sources. The plot is simple and fresh. The characters, once you get them all sorted out are mostly likable. The title is the nickname given to a genteelly crumbling mansion block in London’s vibrant Pimlico district. The author’s trademark wit, charm and lightness of touch make this another fun read.

Alternate Side by Anna Quindlen. Fiction. 2018. Random House. A simple yet layered story about a middle-aged woman and her empty nest marriage, their family and a tight knit NYC neighborhood. It provides us country folks with a peak at every day life in NYC. The author creates a situation that could happen anywhere and shows that people are basically the same wherever they live in this modern world.
The characters are likable and believable. The plot unfolds surprises that will stay with the reader long after reading the last page.

Murder at the Bus Depot - #4 in Blue Plate Mystery series by Judy Alter. Fiction/Mystery. 2018. Alter Ego Press. If you enjoy fast paced mysteries full of quirky likable characters, this is the book for you. Murder at the Bus Depot has tension between the big city developer who sees the potential for big profits in a small town and the residents who want to preserve their history as well as their low key lifestyle. A 30 year old unsolved murder, and a new murder thickens the plot. Recurring Blue Plate series characters Kate Chandler and her beau David lead the action. Yet this novel can easily be read as a stand alone, though I suspect you will likely want to read other novels about these characters once you get started. Definitely a fun read!

Forget Russia by L. Bordetsky-Williams. Fiction. 2020.Tailwind Press. This is a deeply serious book that will expand your understanding of Russia and that of an immigrant’s psyche. In1980, Anna, a naive American college student is about to leave for Moscow for her senior year of college when her mother tells her, “Your problem is you have a Russian soul.” Anna is a second generation American/Russian Jew; she has a secret agenda to find out what happened to her great grandmother, Zlata, in Revolutionary Russia in 1918. The plot moves smoothly from one time period to another throughout the novel. The characters are well developed and the pacing keeps the reader turning the pages as layers of deception unfold. This is a worthwhile and important book to help us understand WHY so many oppressed people have wanted to come to America in the past - including all our ancestors. And why the oppressed still try to come here… the USA is their last great hope. There is simply nowhere else like America.

Two Sisters - A Father and Their Journey Into the Syrian Jihad by Asne Severstad. Nonfiction. 2016. Farrar, Strous & Giroux.(Translated from Norwegian by Sean Kinsella.)
This a disturbing BUT very important book for anyone is who is shocked at the daily news of what is happening in Afghanistan. It is not about Afghanistan but much of the book is about ISIS. The mentality of radical Islamic thinking is beyond the imaginations of most Americans. (I had bad dreams for several nights while reading this book.) This is a true story about an immigrant Somali family, who became Norwegian citizens. Two Muslim teenage sisters transform from being ‘typical western teens’ to radical Islamic teachings in a matter of months. Their mother and a group of other Somali mothers worried about their children’s lack of cultural and religious influence.They hire a charismatic young Islamic scholar to teach their children. Unbeknownst to them he is a devious Islamic radical. The two sisters drop their western attitudes and start wearing full cover hijabs. At ages 16 and19, they carefully plan and travel to Syria during the height of the Al Qaida, ISIS uprising.
Their father begged and borrowed to make many trips to Syria to bring his daughters home. They both marry Islamic terrorists and start families. The father is obsessed with rescuing his daughters who do not want to be rescued. It tears their family apart. Mom returns with their two young sons to Somalia. Generous Norwegian welfare money keeps them going for awhile, until their situation is discovered by the Norwegian authorities. Neither parent works. The teenage son is left behind in Norway on his own. This is a well researched work by an award winning Norwegian journalist who has covered war zones for many years. The author covers the sisters and their family from every possible angle. This book is layered, perceptive and places the problem of radicalization in human terms. Pacing and plot make it read like a thriller. I highly recommend this book.
We’ve enjoyed watching all three seasons of The Kominsky Method, starring Michael Douglas who gave up trying to look young for this role. It was recommended to us by my sister and her husband, and to be honest, we didn’t like it much for the first couple of episodes. And then we were hooked. It was a fun show to watch.

Now we’re watching Grace and Frankie, (or is it Frankie and Grace?), starring Lilly Tomlin and Jane Fonda. It is downright funny in a bit of a sick way. I have avoided Jane Fonda movies for years, because of her actions during the Vietnam War… and I feel a bit guilty watching this show because of that. BUT it’s really funny and we’re enjoying it. My sister recommended this  one too.

Until next time, please keep reading my friends. And stay safe in these troubled times.
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