A Little Morning Adventure in the Snow

front steps 2-25-16
The front steps … somewhere.

The storm caught us full force last night. I’ve no idea how much snow we got, because it came sideways with 35 – 45 mph gusts. Drifts. We have drifts. Lots and lots of them. Deep drifts.

I waded out to feed the wood stove and livestock about 7:00 this morning. Had to shovel snow away from the wood pile so I could find the logs. Negotiated a waist-high drift in front of the barn. (Nearly lost poor Murphy, all I could see was the top of his head!) After the animals were fed and watered, I dug out the front steps where the top of the drift was almost even with my shoulders.
 
Got back in the house and out of my coveralls when Josh came to plow out the drive. Less than five minutes after he arrived, I heard that sound you never want to hear when someone is plowing out your drive. Stuck. Buried. Ice under the tires. *sigh*
 

Back into the cover alls and out with a shovel. We tried to dig him free. That didn’t work. I got the tractor out (which took about 20 minutes, had to get through those waist-high drifts to where his truck was stuck)Tried pushing his plow front with the bucket of the tractor. Nothing doing.

front drive 2-25-16
Looking down the driveway.
Watching us from the road, was a line of at seven trucks, five with plows on them, waiting in the middle of Nicholson Hill Road because some mental midget in a CAR was stuck a few feet west of our driveway. Way to go, buddy. They finally broke free when a county V-plow truck showed up and pushed the car out of the way. And then they all drove on by. Not a one offered to help. Some people’s children.

I negotiated around the drifts, digging through where I needed, and worked the tractor to the front of Josh’s stuck truck. Tried pulling him out with a chain. Nope. Didn’t budge.

He asked me if my truck is 4-wheel drive. Yes. But I asked him if we were going to get them both stuck trying that. He shrugged. Why not? With him in my truck and me doing my best to keep his plow truck running and steer it (don’t laugh – it’s an old plow truck), he finally jerked his truck free. 
front of the barn 2-25-16
The tunnel I dug with the tractor to get it out of the barn.
 

All that took just under an hour. By the time I’d peeled off my coveralls, hat, both pairs of gloves, and shucked my boots, I had to sweep a dustpan full of snow off my floor. Then it was into a hot shower.

The drive? Yeah. It’s still not plowed out. Josh is coming back later. He had to go help his buddy … who had BOTH of his trucks stuck. Good thing Josh didn’t mention that before he suggested using mine!
 

At least the temps weren’t too bad, in the mid-20s, so we didn’t freeze. But I do believe that the rest of my day – until evening chores – will be spent pursuing indoor activities.

Risen

Risen: The Novelization of the Major Motion PictureRisen: The Novelization of the Major Motion Picture by Angela Elwell Hunt
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The title gives the book away – it’s about the resurrection of Jesus. Instead of the usual telling from the point of view of His followers, this story is told from the point of view of a Roman soldier.

Clavius is a Tribune, a commander of soldiers in the Roman army. He’s stationed in Judea under the leadership of Pontius Pilate. Soldier to the core, he has pledged his life to Rome. Surrounded by death on a daily basis, it has little meaning to him. Even so, the death of the one the Jews call Yeshua is anything but ordinary.

Rachel is a Jewish woman, widowed without children and left to make her own way in the world. She sells bread in the market to earn her living. Lonely and weak in her faith, she succumbs to the attentions of the handsome Roman officer.

Jerusalem is a simmering pot, ready to boil over. The tomb in which Yeshua was placed has been broken into. His followers claim He has risen from the dead. The Jewish leaders claim the followers have stolen the body and perpetrated a lie on the people. Pilate just wants them all to shut up and go home. He sends Clavius to make that happen.

Clavius finds more than he’s bargained for. His orderly world is rocked by what he discovers. Rachel and Clavius both follow the believers to Galilee. There they come face to face with the decision that will forever change their lives.

I enjoyed the book. It was a fresh look at a story I’ve grown up hearing and reading. I doubt I’ll see the movie, however, because at the end of the book, the author says that one of the main characters does not appear in the movie version. I like this book too much to watch a watered-down version.

Hannah’s Choice

Hannah's Choice (Journey to Pleasant Prairie, #1)Hannah’s Choice by Jan Drexler
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love a story that keeps me guessing – and this one does! Jan Drexler paints a very tranquil setting in 1840s Pennsylvania, with creeks and farms and orchards. What could go wrong in such a place? Human tragedy and human choices, that’s what.

Hannah Yoder’s world changed when she was only nine years old. The deaths of three younger siblings to an outbreak of diphtheria had covered her family with blanket of sadness that refused to lift. Until her father decided to move the family to the wilderness of Indiana, away from the little graves, away from the memories that haunted her mother. But Hannah didn’t want to leave the only home she’d ever known. She didn’t want to leave the banks of her beloved Conestoga Creek. Her only hope to stay would be to leave her Amish faith and marry her Mennonite neighbor Adam, her best friend since childhood. Then handsome Josef Bender arrives with his old world accent and solid Amish faith. Josef is going to Indiana too. What will Hannah do?

I loved the the characters in this story. Very real, very likable, very different from one another. These aren’t cookie-cutter Amish characters that you find in some Amish novels. “Hannah’s Choice” is the first in a series and I’m looking forward to the next book.

Where She Belongs

Where She Belongs (Misty Willow, #1)Where She Belongs by Johnnie Alexander
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What is a contemporary romance that centers on the past? An interesting story! Johnnie Alexander does a wonderful job of combining the present with the past to create a complex and heartwarming tale.

Shelby Kincaid is a young widow drawn to her past to recreate an idyllic life for her two daughters. Determined to make her dreams come true, she works out the details of buying her grandparents home from the grandson of her family’s nemisis, another Sullivan.

A.J. Sullivan may carry his grandfather’s name and bear his looks, but he couldn’t be more different than his namesake. Turning his back on the lucrative career his grandfather had planned for him, he’s content to be known as “coach” and teacher at the local high school.

When Shelby buys the old Lassiter farm, he’s more than happy to be rid of it and it’s unpleasant reminders. What he doesn’t expect, is to fall for a woman who equates his name with everything evil in her life.

But it isn’t his name that casts a shadow over Misty Willow. Truths long buried insist on coming to light decades after they’d been buried. Can Shelby and A.J. survive their resurrection?

A well-written story with likable characters, and a charming romance suitable for any age.

Merchant of Alyss

Merchant of Alyss (Legends of the Realm, #2)Merchant of Alyss by Thomas Locke
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the second book in the “Legends of the Realm” series by Thomas Locke. The first one – “The Emissary” – came out over a year ago. I wish I had re-read that book before reading this one. As is the case with all good fantasy stories, the world created by the author is distinct and special. And well defined in the first book. It took me 3 or 4 chapters to get back into that world in this book.

Hyam is back with his wife, Joelle, and many of the cast from the first book. In “Merchant of Alyss” we meet several new characters – including a dragon! – as Hyam continues his quest. Hyam is now more seasoned, slightly more comfortable in his role as hero, and wonderfully devoted to Joelle. I like the relationship between those two. No spoilers here, so you’ll have to read the book to find out what happens next. I just hope book 3 comes out sooner than another year, because the ending is … begging for answers.

Recommended for readers from teens on up. There are dangers with ensuing violence, but then, what would a quest be without that? Good moral undertones here about loyalty and service to others. Good stuff for teens to read anyway.

Thin Ice

Thin Ice (Men of Valor #2)Thin Ice by Irene Hannon

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was different than most of my reads. The underlying romance is wonderful. Just the type of hero who grabs your imagination. Just the type of heroine who grabs your sympathy. The suspense in the story is page-turning, no doubt.

Christy Reed has lost her whole family in the space of a few months. Now, out of the blue, she gets a letter – addressed in her dead sister’s handwriting – from a kidnapper. He tells her not to go to the police. She doesn’t. She goes right to the FBI. Lance McGregor is everything an former Delta Force operator should be. His first case as an FBI agent is a kidnapping that doesn’t fit any of the normal parameters. Including the person receiving the letters. A woman who changes his view on a lot of things.

The take-away from this story I found a little disturbing. It has nothing to do with the romance or the characters, those are wonderful. But the underlying issue that caused the perpetrator to hunt down the heroine and her family, goes against what you hope will be the outcome of your actions. I don’t want to give away a spoiler here, so I’ll leave it at that.

There are lots of good reasons to read this story and – who knows – maybe nobody else will be bothered by what struck me as unsettling.

A Worthy Heart

A Worthy Heart (Courage to Dream, #2)A Worthy Heart by Susan Anne Mason
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’d been anticipating this book since finishing the first in the series, Irish Meadows. Susan Anne Mason did not disappoint! She picked up where the first book left off and expanded the saga of this Irish family in early 1900s New York.

Adam O’Leary wasn’t the hero in the first book, far from it. But he’s paid his dues, done his time, and he’s back to put his life together. Maggie Montgomery and her brother, Gabe, are fresh off the boat from Ireland to visit their other brother, Rylan. Aurora Hastings is back, still hurting from Gilbert Whelan’s stunt in the first book. She’s grown through that experience and now has backbone enough to stand up to her father. While everything may seem straightforward, an element of evil lurks in the shadows.

The reader should take these stories in order. While either could be enjoyed as a stand alone, many of the nuances of the story and the characters themselves would be missed. I highly recommend these stories to anyone who enjoys history, the Irish immigration to America, and a stirring romance … or two!

Killing Reagan

Killing Reagan: The Violent Assault That Changed a PresidencyKilling Reagan: The Violent Assault That Changed a Presidency by Bill O’Reilly
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I was disappointed in this book. Perhaps because I’ve read several biographies on Ronald Reagan, or perhaps because I’d read O’Reilly’s “Killing Jesus” and thought it was an interesting and well laid out book. This one was neither. It bothered me that it jumped around in the timeline. It’s certainly not a smooth read.

The book overall had the tone/feel of a tell-all tabloid piece. It centered on the negative aspects of Reagan’s careers and leadership. O’Reilly seemed to fixate on Nancy Reagan’s faith in a fortune teller and Ronald Reagan’s Alzheimer’s. Both things are true and did happen, but were they the focal points of this man’s presidency? I don’t think so. Nor did either have anything to do with the assassination attempt, which the book does cover, but is not the focus of the book as one would assume from the title.

Some of the sections on Hinckley were new to me, but again, the timeline jumped around making it somewhat confusing to follow. Overall, I think O’Reilly was more sympathetic with Hinckley than he was with the Reagans.

If you’re a die-hard political person, you may enjoy this book. It does cover the Berlin Wall moment well, but that’s the only truly positive thing I remember reading in it. O’Reilly even fixates, it seems, on the negative aspects of Reagan’s friendship and working relationship with Margaret Thatcher. Why he’d do that when they were in accord on most things, I don’t really know. At the very end he brings out their deep friendship as shown by Thatcher’s taped eulogy at Reagan’s funeral. It felt almost a tacked on afterthought.

A Thousand Shall Fall

A Thousand Shall Fall (Shenandoah Valley Saga #1)A Thousand Shall Fall by Andrea Boeshaar
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I love a good Civil War series and the Shenandoah Valley Saga caught my eye. This is the first book, but book two is teased at the end and I’m already looking forward to reading that one.

A Thousand Shall Fall is the story of Carrie Ann Bell. Left in dire consequences when the war comes to their home in the Shenandoah Valley, Carrie Ann does her best to keep her family together. But her father is missing and her youngest sister has run off. Carrie Ann devises a desperate plan to retrieve her sister. What she finds instead is a Yankee colonel who she’s met before.

In the beginning of this story, I was sure I must have misunderstood and missed book one. There is a lot of backstory regarding the first time Carrie Ann and Peyton met. It honestly reads like the second book for a while. But stick with it, it’s worth it, and it’ll all come out in the end.

Andrea Boeshaar did a wonderful job of setting the reader into the Shenandoah Valley amidst a divided people. Virginia split into two states, Virginia and West Virginia, because of the Civil War. Loyalists and rebels lived very close to each other here. And then came the orders to burn the valley. Powerful images and insights into how these events affected those living there at the time.