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.

June 2023
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February Blog
Filed under: General
Posted by: Ann @ 3:05 pm
What a month of winter weather we’ve had! The ice and show are finally starting to melt, and none too soon, even for a snow-lover like me. I love the change of seasons and after this month, I admit that I’m ready for spring! I trust you’ve all survived the worst of this winter, too. Our tribulations with cold weather have been minimal compared with that of Texans this past couple weeks. I have two brothers and their families who live near Dallas,Texas. They had temps of minus 14 degrees. And they had as much snow as we did, though we still have lots of snow, and their snow has melted. We’ve not had any temps below zero this winter, just steady cold - in the low digits, teens and 20s day after day after day. We’re prepared for it and expect cold weather. Those Texas folks are definitely not accustomed to such extreme cold weather and heavy snow. It was a real hardship for so many of them.

I am hopeful spring will be the start of new beginnings for all of us. In January and February my husband had both his Covid vaccinations. I had my first Covid vaccine early February and will get my second one March 3. By St Patrick’s Day, we will feel safer re-establishing a more normal lifestyle. A new normal that will still include mandatory masks and continued social distancing.

A dear friend sent me a newspaper report on Watershed Book Store last week. A few days later I traveled to Brookville, PA  and visited this charming book store. I joined The Watershed Journal Literacy Group and look forward to interacting with this group of regional writers. I encourage anyone who is in the area to visit this wonderful book store.You can check out the book store’s hours at THEWRITERSHEDJOURNAL.ORG or THEWATERSHEDJOURNAl@GMAIL.COM. (If you cut and paste these to the internet, they pop right up.)

I’ve read several books this month, as usual an eclectic mix:  

Greenlight by Mathew McConaughy. 2020. Memoir. Crown Publishing.  I’m mostly not a fan of memoirs, but this one caught my eye. And no, I’m not a rabid Mathew McConaughy fan. I liked him before I read this memoir and after reading it, I still do.  Greenlight is a love letter to life. It’s also a guide to catching more greenlights - but he reminds us that yellow and reds eventually turn green too. McConaughy is a born story teller and has journaled since he was a boy.His straightforward rowdy stories, and hard-earned wisdom make for a very interesting and thought-provoking read. His writing often takes a lyrical style, as in, “…getting wet while trying to dance between the raindrops.”  He values family and faith, as many of us do. I highly recommend this memoir.

The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara 1974, Historical fiction. Winner of the 1975 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. A friend shared this novel with me, I’d never read it before and I was totally absorbed in the story. It’s an exceptional novel, one of the best I’ve ever read. I watched the movie several months ago. The novel is soo much more. It takes the reader into the minds of the Gettysburg generals on both sides of the battle. The meticulous research this author did to write this book is apparent from the first page. I highly recommend this historical novel.

On Traigh Lar Beach by Dianne Ebertt Beeaf. 2020. Fiction. She Writes Press. You can read my review of this novel at Story by clicking:  I gave it a five star rating. The first half of On Traigh Lar Beach (Traigh,
pronounced ‘try”, is Gaelic for sandy, and Lar means floor),is about a Scottish writer who travels with her husband to their favorite beach for a week’s vacation to celebrate her winning the prestigious British Comstock Writing Contest. Erica’s elation is short lived as self-doubts and feelings of inadequacy overwhelm her. Her husband refuses to accept her pessimism. She can’t imagine what to write about next until the last day when they come across a tangle of seaweed and flotsam on the beach, she creates a unique story about each of the thirteen different items in the debris. But then, how could she not with her husband telling her every day, “You can do this Erica.” 
   The second half is a novella, Fan Girls.This is a well-developed engrossing plot involving four women of similar ages from totally different backgrounds who are obsessed with the lead singer in an 80s rock band.     On Traigh Lar Beach is a fun engrossing anthology.The pacing keeps readers turning the pages and these characters will stay with readers long after the last page. It will appeal to anyone whose ever been a super-fan, as well as those who like to read a variety of genres, this book combines fourteen excellently crafted stories.

       The American Spirit by David McCullough. 2017. Anthology: historical speeches. If you have not read any of David McCullough’s books, I encourage you to start as soon as possible. He makes history come alive on the pages of his books. And learning about the sacrifices our forefathers made to create the USA is necessary to truly appreciate the great country we live in today. Mr. McCullough has won two Pulitzer Prizes and was nominated for a third. This was his eleventh book. I’ve read seven, with plans to read the others in the near future. His books are unforgettable treasures. After finishing The American Spirit, it became obvious to me that we’re all transient in this life, just passing through. I see in my grandchildren the same invincibility that I felt as a young person. As the years have quickly slipped away, I’ve joined ranks with the elderly. I solemnly realize now that every generation has likely had their youthful fantasy of invincibility that metamorphoses into a resolute acceptance of our transient existence in this world.

    Finding Mrs. Ford  by Deborah Goodrich Royce. 2019. The reader is immediately absorbed in the flashbacks between the steamy summer of 1979 in suburban Detroit with warring gangsters.Thirty-five years later in the upscale snooty world of Watch Hill, R.I., a wealthy widow ’s world is turned upside down. Plot twists, excellent pacing, and good character development make this debut novel a great read. It will certainly take your mind off the political conflicts of the day. I enjoyed reading this novel.

The Last Romantics by Tara Conklin. 2019. Harper Collins. The Last Romantics is a one-of-a-kind novel, one of the best I’ve read in recent years. It begins in 2079, narrated by the wise 102 year-old Fiona Skinner. The story moves flawlessly from past to present and back again. Fiona is four when her dentist father suddenly dies. Her life as well as her two older sisters and her older brother were turned upside down.They lose their comfortable middle-class home and are forced to live in a small shabby rental house many blocks away. Their mother falls into and untreated deep depression, referred to as a ‘two-year Pause’  through-out the novel. The oldest sister was 11 ad did her best but there were still nights they went to bed hungry. The Skinner children were on their own. The pace of The Last Romantics is perfect as it examines the many dimensions of love. The relationships of the siblings throughout their lives are full of convoluted ins and outs with plenty of give and take that are necessary for families to work. he wonderful character development and carefully created multifaceted plot will evoke and reform your understanding of family. Beautiful conclusion. I loved this book!

We watched The Little Things, starring Denzel Washington at our local Movie Theater a couple weeks ago. It was another edge of your seat thriller. The kind of movie that our young grandson, Ethan used to remind me, “Nana, its just a movie!” And now Ethan is daddy to a handsome baby boy who looks just like he did as a baby. (What did I say about time marching on?)

We’ve been streaming some interesting and entertaining television shows. We watched two seasons of Jack Ryan for the second time and got much more out of it than the first viewing. We regret there are only two seasons. We’re on the second season of a Canadian series, Heartland, about a family horse farm. I love it. Perhaps since I grew up on a farm with lots of animals, including plenty of riding horses, this show is like a comfort blanket to me. My daughter told me its a very long series, fourteen seasons completed already.

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

Later, Ann


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