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.

February 2024
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February Blog 2024
Filed under: General
Posted by: Ann @ 4:55 pm

Thunder and
lightning woke me this morning. First time ever to experience that in February!
I hope all my readers are well and thriving. I’m typing this blog as a document
since my blog site is not functioning today.

**My blog site was GONE when I tried to write my February Blog. So, I sent this blog as an email to all my subscribers. I’ve spent several hours with my blog site provider. The blogs for October, November and December-2023 have been lost, as well as January 2024. I was able to retrieve the July and August/September blogs, 2023 but they copied over in a very unsatisfactory format. If any of you have copies of the lost blogs, PLEASE send them to me. Thank you!

We spent
three weeks in Hilton Head, South Carolina since my January Blog. It was
relaxing and fun. During our travels we visited with my sister and her husband
in Columbia, Md and then they joined us for a week in Hilton Head. We had lunch
with my cousin and his son, then his son joined us for a week in HH with his
wonderful girlfriend. We had dinner on the way down and breakfast on the way home
with our granddaughter and her husband in Summerville, SC. They visited us in
HH the first Saturday and everyone had a great time. We had a three-bedroom
condo for the first week and moved to a one-bedroom for the last two weeks.
Jafar and Helga Hamidi, our dear friends spend winters there and we spent lots
of time with them, while the family was with us and then when it was just us.
It was a very relaxing and fun time.
our way south. we also had lunch with dear friends from Bradford who relocated
to Summerville, SC about a year before our granddaughter moved there.

 We arrived
home on Sun evening, Feb 18thand picked up our dog as soon as we
made enough room in the van for his crates, etc. He barely missed us, he had so
much fun with all his ‘dog cousins’, he stayed with family while we were away.
He’s much better behaved since we came home, I think it was good for him to be around
other dogs. We’ve been swamped with family activities since returning home, and
getting caught up with our life here at home.

 *I will
be the Visiting Author at Bradford Public Library on Thursday evening, March 21
at 6:30. I’d love to see as many of you who can make it come join us for a fun
evening talking about reading, writing and books.

 I’ve read
some good books this month, vacation allows me more reading time. Here are the
ones worth mentioning:

by CJ
Wray. 2024. Fiction. Publisher-HarperCollins. A British novel, full of humor
and suspense as two sisters, both WW II veterans in their late 90s, and always
looking for their next “excitement”. Their devoted great-nephew Archie, a
historian always believed his aunties had minor roles in the Women’s Royal
Naval Service and the Frist Aid Nursing Yeomanry, but that’s only half the
story. There’s a reason sweet Auntie Penny can dispatch a would-be mugger with
an umbrella. It’s a delightful entertaining quick read.

and Laura
Chritopher Andersen. 2002. Nonfiction. Biography. Publisher-HarperCollins-Doubleday.
You don’t have to be a Republican to enjoy this book. It starts with parallel
stories of George and Laura’s childhoods and how they came to meet when in
their early 30s.
 It helps the reader understand
the pressures of life in a fish bowl. Being President and First Lady has its
upside and downside as well. Both sides are covered as well as many experiences
in between. I loved the first paragraph before the Preface. “The best decision
I ever made was asking Laura to marry me. I’m not sure the best decision she
ever made was saying yes. But I’m glad she did…” George W. Bush   *Pertinent
and timely, this being an election year.

 Never by Ken Follett. 2021. Fiction. Penguin.
(We listened to this on Audio while we traveled. We’d listened to this one a
couple years ago and loved it even more the second time around.) It’s a very
complicated story and requires careful listening. There are multiple
protagonists. Two in the Sahara in Northern Africa, both intelligence officers,
one French and the one USA. Another main one in Beijing, China. And another,
the first woman President of the USA. *A retired government official said it
was too real for comfort. I highly recommend this one, it’s a thriller suspense
novel…we loved it.

 All Good
People Here
Ashley Flowers. 2022. Fiction. Suspense. Publisher- Bantam. What are your
neighbors capable of when they think no one is watching? Everyone in Wakasa,
Indiana remembers the murder of January Jacobs, a six-year-old twin. No one was
charged. The town believed her mother got away with murder. The mother believed
her six-year-old son, the other twin, killed his sister. It’s an intense
page-turner. Protagonist Margot Davies, an investigative reporter, returned to
take care of her elderly widower Uncle Luke who had helped raise her. His dementia
had worsened considerably since his wife had died a year earlier. A cliff-hanger
ending. Excellent book!

 Daylight by David Baldacci. 2022. Fiction. Thriller.
Grand Central Publishing. FBI Agent Atlee Pine’s search for her missing twin sister
clashes with military investigator Army CID’s John Puller’s parallel
investigation. Leading them both into international conspiracy from which
neither will escape unscathed. Atlee has been tormented for 30 years by her sister’s
kidnapping at age 6. She and Puller had worked on cases together in the past
and respected each other. It is a complicated, layered, page turning thriller.
A reader can’t go wrong with a Baldacci novel. Another excellent story!

also went to see four movies while on vacation. One was bad, I fell asleep
during the movie- not once but twice! And I’m not normally a napper. It was so
boring. But I won’t mention its name.

was a wonderful movie. About
a widowed mother’s dementia and her three accomplished adult children and their
dysfunctional family dynamics. Very well written and performed. This movie won
Best Feature, Best Screenplay, Best Director, Best Actor and Best Supporting
Actress for the 2024 Independent Spirit Awards. It’s expected to be nominated
for some Academy Awards this spring. Excellent movie!

an action thriller - we lost body
count within the first half hour. But then, “it was just a movie”, right? It
was a good movie in that it held our attention and almost kept us on the edge of
our seats. The plot was a bit original and the performers were excellent in
their roles.

, The Bob Marley Story,
was wonderful. Well-acted, good music and kept us interested. We were not
familiar with much of his music or his life. (His album, Exodus was
deemed the Best Album of the 20th Century by the NY Times.) It was
about his early life, his wife who was also one of his back-up singers, his relationship
with his band and managers. And then his rise to international fame. We will
definitely see this movie again. I highly recommend this movie.

also watched a couple Netflix movies that were okay but not worthy of my blog.

Till next time, please stay safe keep reading my friends.

Later, Ann

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August/September Sept. 27, 2023
Filed under: General
Posted by: Ann @ 4:24 pm
Hello my blog-reading friends. I
hope you’ve all had a good summer and transition into fall. Just when I
thought life couldn’t get any busier, it did! We’ve had several
delightful house guests over the last few weeks, as well as some
memorable events. Our granddaughter’s wedding on August 12 was
absolutely beautiful, especially the bride. It was so much fun - no one
wanted to go home! She had seven attendants, and a great DJ from
Rochester, New York. It was in a lovely rustic restored barn with
wonderful accommodations for the wedding party and guests in Frewsburg,
NY, near Jamestown. My son and his wife certainly did a great job
raising their three daughters; her two younger sisters were beautiful
co-maids-of-honor. We were so happy and proud to share that special day
with them and all the extended family and friends who attended.

The next day was our annual McCauley
Family Reunion at the McCauley Farm in Clarion County, PA. It’s such a
feeling of peace and belonging to sit under the shade trees, reminiscing
and laughing with cousins and their spouses who after all these years
feel like cousins too. We only have one elderly uncle left and two
aunties. We used to have grandparents and seven sets of aunts and
uncles… We were tired as we drove home but it was such a good weekend,
worth all the effort.

We hosted my husband’s much smaller
family reunion at our home over Labor Day weekend. It was also fun with
many trips down memory lane. Everyone helped with food preparations and
clean-up. One of our guests was from Basel, Switzerland and was keen to
learn to drive a lawn tractor and cut grass. He caught on quickly and
ended up mowing the entire lawn for us during the days of his visit. It
saved me from mowing during my birthday week. This reunion was followed
by my birthday with lots more family gatherings. These were mostly in
restaurants, with me treated like a queen for a few days.

Of course, as usual we had several doc
and dentist visits during the last few weeks. And I spend at least 6
hours a week cutting grass. Maybe that’s why I love fall so much. I’ll
be trimming back my gardens for winter soon. The perennial and annual
flowers are all
beginning to show
end of the season starkness. And I’ll only mow maybe one or at the most
two more times before winter. Woo-hoo!  The leaves are already changing
to the beautiful reds, orange and gold of fall. Plus cooler nights and
days, what’s not to like? I love the change of seasons, but fall is always my favorite.
Our granddaughter who just started her
career as a professional registered nurse, on the Intensive Care Unit
in a large hospital, had the misfortune of passing out during her twelve
hour shift last Friday night, she fell backwards and fractured her
skull, was rushed to ER and after many tests, was sent back to Intensive
Care as a patient. Not the way she planned her shift that night! The
tests cleared her of all the bad things that could have caused her to
pass out. She will see her neurologist this week for a follow-up. She
says she feels okay, except her head and neck hurt. She takes only
Tylenol for the discomfort. Thank goodness. Her eight-year-old son’s
bedtime prayer on Saturday night: “Thank you Jesus for not letting my
mom die today. Amen.”  Amen.

Life has come full circle for me in a
way. I have joined a Bible Study where I’m learning so much. Fifty seven
years ago I had my first child, a beautiful daughter. I cherished her
and raised her the best I could, which included teaching her about the
Bible and taking her to church and Sunday School regularly. Now she is the leader of the Bible Study I’m attending. She is such a good teacher and my faith is growing again.

I’ve read several books during my absent weeks from blogging. I reviewed The Sheriff’s Daughter for Story Circle, it was a fun and interesting read. I highly recommend it. Memoir. You can read my review by clicking:

Home Front by Kristin Hannah.
2012. Fiction. This was our book club choice for August. It’s a
fantastic story, one of Hannah’s best. It generated one of our best book
discussions ever. The protagonist had a very unhappy and unstable
childhood, her alcoholic mother died while she was a senior in high
school, she manged to graduate living alone the last few months of her
senior year. She joined the army and eventually became a helicopter
pilot. Later she married had two daughters and a handsome successful
husband who resented her army life - she stayed on in the National
Guard, playing soldier one weekend a month. The tension builds
with every page, the characters are well developed and believable.
Several of our members have or had sons or grandsons in the military so
it was a poignant read for us.
Pay Dirt Road by Samantha Jayne Allen. 2022. Fiction - Murder/Mystery. Pay Dirt Road
is her debut novel. It is Book One in a three-part Annie McIntyre
Mystery Series. It was awarded the Best Mystery - Thriller - Suspense
last year.  The protagonist, Annie McIntyre has a love/hate relationship
with her hometown, Garnett, Texas. She just graduated from college and
is back home waitressing. Her grandfather is a private investigator.
Annie is ambitious but has no idea how to jump-start her future. The
plot is
tricky; the characters are well developed. This is an excellent coming
of age novel, even for those of us who are already ‘of age!’

Girls Like Us by Christina
Alger. 2019. Fiction - Psychological Thriller, Mystery, Suspense. FBI
agent, Nell Flynn hasn’t been home in ten years. She and her dad,
Homicide Detective Martin Flynn never had much of a relationship. When
her father dies in a motorcycle accident, Nell returns to the house she
grew up in to scatter his ashes and close his estate. Worlds collide
when she investigates a string of grisly murders on Long Island that
raise impossible questions.
But she
doesn’t like the answers she finds and narrowly escapes with her own
life. An excellent book, I want to read more of this author’s books.
(*Based on the Gilgo Beach murders that took place in Long Island, NY in

The Lost Ticket by Freya
Sampson. 2022. Fiction.  Protagonist Libby is a brokenhearted young
woman who feels her life is in tatters; she boards a bus in London and
Frank. He tells her about the time in 1962 when he met a girl on the 88
bus, with beautiful red hair like hers.They’d made plans for a date at
the National Gallery art museum, but Frank lost the bus ticket with her
number on it. For the past 60 years he’s ridden the same bus, trying to
find her, but with no luck. Libby is inspired to help Frank find his
love just one more time, though it’s a race against time with his
dementia progressing daily. This is a beautifully written uplifting
novel about how a shared common experience among strangers can transform
lives. The quirky characters and poignant plot kept me turning the

The Weekend by Charlotte Wood. 2020. Fiction.
( Ms. Woods is an Australian author.) My sister gave me this book to
read. It certainly did not grab me early on. But she encouraged me to
stay with it. I did and it’s a book I will never forget. Three women in
their seventies reunite one last, life-changing weekend in the beach
house of their late friend. Can their friendship survive without her?
Another powerfully poignant novel.

Civil Blood by Ann McMillan.
2001. Historical Fiction. A few pages into this novel and I realized I’d
read it many years ago, but I kept reading because it was very good and
I couldn’t remember how it would end. It’s well-researched and the
characters are well-developed. A complicated detective story, full of
interesting insights into the divided loyalties and conflicting beliefs
of the times. Takes place in Richmond  in 1862, dealing with germ
warfare of a smallpox semi-epidemic.

We are currently streaming Three Pines
on Netflix. Based on Louise Penny ’s Three Pines mystery series. The
characters are almost as good as in her books. It’s light fun and almost
cozy to watch.

We watched two excellent movies this month:
First: Painkillers, a 6 part
mini series on Netflix, it’s so powerful and important that we ended up
binging on the on all six shows in one evening. It deals with the opiod
epidemic, oxycodone and Purdue Pharmaceuticals. Mathew Broderick is one
of the actors. I highly recommend it.

The second powerful movie we watched, at the local theater was Sound of Freedom.
It deals with the kidnapping and sex trafficking of young girls and
boys. It ’s a very important and disturbing film but should be seen by
all. I have always wondered why in police busts, etc. over the years for
prostitution that only the sex workers were arrested. What about all
their customers? Weren’t they as guilty of the crime as the sex
workers?  And when adult males are involved with underage sex workers…
WHO is the real law-breaker?

Well, that’s all for now. Till next time, please stay safe and keep reading, my friends. 
Later, Ann


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July Blog
Filed under: General
Posted by: Ann @ 4:16 pm
Gosh, I wish I could figure out where time
goes. All I know is - it seems to slip through my hands even faster than
money. And believe me - with the ever increasing price of gas and
groceries, these days money goes very fast… We’ve had another super busy
month, lots of appointments. And thankfully lots of visits with adult
children and grandchildren, as well as other family members and friends.
It’s hard to keep up with them all but its fun trying to.

We’ve had 25 dead ash trees cut from the field
directly above and behind our home this month. We’re hoping the tree
cutter keeps his promise to finish the job soon, there are still 5 more
to cut down. My son cut 3 trees down in front of the our house, near the
rock garden on Memorial Day. Seems there is always something
happening. I do lots of lawn mowing and weeding with all my flower
gardens. Summer days start early and end late at our home. I also sanded
and painted a cute and very heavy wooden patio table and two chairs. I
learned to use an electric sander, moving up in the wolrd!

Last week we went to a program at the Bradford Public Library featuring author David Poyer who spoke about his new book, Writing in the Age of AI. It
was very interesting and a bit frightening to consider the ways AI can
and will assist and threaten writers. I’m anxious to start this book.
I’ll keep you posted in my August Blog. It was also good to see David
again, he’s an old friend from my Creative Writing days at Wilkes

 Four books to tell you about this month: 

The best one is The Secret Book of Flora Lea by
Patti Callahan Henry. 2023. Historical Fiction. The novel is about two
sisters, Hazel, age 14 and Flora, age 5, who were part of England’s
Operation Pied Piper in 1939. Can you imagine 800,000 children evacuated
from the cities to rural England carrying only small backpacks with
identity and
contact information inside as well as a change
of clothes - within four days of the decree. Train loads of children
headed to safety to escape the German bombs. Many were taken into lovely
safe  country homes. ( Three and a half million children were moved to
safety.) The sisters landed with a kind woman and her teenage son. A few
months later, Flora was  playing near the river that flowed through the
fields near their caretaker’s home and she disappeared. Flora was
pronounced dead from drowning a few weeks later. Hazel was tormented by
guilt for twenty years, blaming herself for not watching her sister more
closely. She’s working in a cozy rare bookstore in London when she
opens a mysterious children’s book that contained long-held secrets from
her and Flora’s childhood spent in the English countryside during WWII.
I don’t want my review comments to be spoilers…I will close by sharing
with you: this was the best book I’ve read in a very long time and I
will definitely read more of P.C. Henry’s books.

Bluebird by Sharon Cameron. 2021.
Historical Fiction. I read this book a few months ago and missed sharing
it with you. The story is set in 1946 with Eva, a young German girl
crossing the Atlantic under the pretense of starting a new life.
There are flashbacks to bad times during the war. Her
purpose is to find the escaped Nazi and bring an end to Project
Bluebird. She finds a temporary room in a group home for displaced
people. She is befriended by a kind young man who volunteers at the
home. this book is exceptionally well-researched and the character
development is is extraordinary. I highly recommend this book too, its
an unforgettable story.

Identity by Nora Roberts. 2023. Fiction.
This was my book club’s choice for July, it is also the first Nora
Roberts book our group has ever chosen. Amazon lists it as one of the
best books of 2023… I dare to disagree with such platitudes for this
book. I expected more about Identity theft and less about serial
killers. I felt it was predictable and the characters could have used
more depth. But it was interesting and if you are Nora Roberts fan, this
might be something you’d enjoy. 

I also reviewed Acts of Atonement, you can read the review by clicking the following link:

I also read a memoir of a famous author, I
picked it up at a garage sale for 50 cents. I’m glad I didn’t pay any
more than that for it and only sorry I wasted several hours of my life
reading it. No, I won’t mention the title or author.

We watched two good movies on Netflix this month: The Highwaymen, starring Kevin Costner and Woody Harrelson. It’s an older movie but was well done with lots of food for thought.

The Identicals, Loosely based on what if Elvis’s
twin brother had not died at birth and instead was adopted by a
minister and his wife? Its an entertaining movie with good actors and

Till next time, please stay safe and keep reading my friends.



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