Santa Looked a Lot Like a Cowboy ~ Jenny Hammerle

Santa Looked A Lot Like A CowboySanta Looked A Lot Like A Cowboy by Jenny Hammerle
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Cassie meets Gunner at a Christmas party; he’s Santa to her elf. While both have baggage to overcome, they find that they can’t stay apart. It is a sweet little romance that happens within the span of two and a half months. Guy meets girl, guy likes girl, guy rescues girl. Perfect recipe for a quick novella.

I liked the characters in this book and got into the story quickly. It only takes a few hours to read and nothing is confusing about the characters or the storyline. In fact, the only negative I have (and it is minor) is that it could use a little editing though it is more finished than the majority of eBooks that I see. I would certainly read more from this author.

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Identity, by Ted Dekker

I made a goal to read 60 books this year, in addition to the books I read aloud for home school and Bible study books. I am not even sure I should count this one.

Identity (Eyes Wide Open, #1)Identity by Ted Dekker
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It says in the description that this book can be read three ways, this is the way that drew me in “1. As an episodic story. Read Eyes Wide Open as four shorter sequential “episodes” much like your favorite TV show. The ride starts with IDENTITY which is FREE in ebooks. Think of it as the pilot, offered free. If you like the story, continue with MIRRORS, UNSEEN and the grand finale, SEER. Begin the story for FREE now. Or…” Here is the rub, a TV episode has a beginning, middle, and resolution, this book barely counts. It is little more than an introduction to two characters and what to expect from the next three installments that you must buy. I have read series books before, I do tend to really enjoy them, this one just does not cut it.

It is well-written which is typical of Dekker books, even a typo about the locket being from either Walmart or Target, mentioned in other reviews at Amazon is potentially a way to make those who read his books think that the reality of the beginning of the book isn’t necessarily the reality of the entirety of the story (or it could just be a typo, if I ever buy the rest of the series I will know). Also typical of Dekker books is that moment in the book when you must decide if you will continue to read this, because you know it is going to scare you in a psychological way. You know, if you have read any of his other books, that every story gets to a point that addresses common psychological fears, and forces you to deal with those fears. That is what makes him an excellent writer.

One small point of contention though, beyond the Walmart/Target locket, is in the end he makes a point of telling you how Christy’s hair is done up, then just a few paragraphs later, talks about running her hands through her hair, that should have been caught in editing.

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If you are reading this, and would like a review of your book, are in need of a freelance editor, or beta reader, feel free to contact me through my editing email at

I managed to finish…barely

My Christmas knitting was rather rushed this year. I had 3 pairs of socks, one hat, one scarf, one purse, three neck gaiters in two patterns, a calorimetry, a headband, and a pair of fingerless mitts to make. I cast my first item around the 20th of October. I still managed to home school and keep up with the house, or at least in my imagination I did. Since this is a blog and it therefore lends itself to being somewhat braggish, I am going to post a few pictures of my FO’s (Finished Objects, for those not in-the-know).


This was one of my favorite items to knit, it turned out really well. I used this pattern, I love how it looks like stockinette stitch on both sides and does not curl up. The one drawback was all the ends to weave in.


This is a pair of socks I knit for my mother-in-law, it is the Nutkin pattern with the exception that I did not do the cuff as stated. I was worried that if the cuff twisted, I would not have time to tear it out and do it over, so I did a k2,p2 cuff instead. If you don’t have a ravelry account, you won’t be able to follow that link, just google nutkin sock and it will take you to a download of the pattern.


I can’t post the link to this pair, it is from 2-at-a-Time Socks , if you have the book, the pattern is called mixed berries. I love the color on these, they were for my mom who loves both reds and purples.

This year, I will be smarter and start my Christmas gifts in June or earlier. I felt really rushed this whole season, I missed reading and knitting for pleasure. Crafting for a gift should be fun, I waited way too long and it became work. I hope that all the crafters on my reader list made better choices about starting their projects this season and I hope everyone had a blessed and Merry Christmas.

Links to some of my other gifts are, calorimetry, I can’t find the purse pattern I used, but I will update with a link once I do, the other patterns for the cowl, fingerless mits, and socks were taken (sort of) out of One Skein Wonders.

The second almost never-ending sweater

About a week ago, after ripping it out 13 hours into it, I finished my second almost never-ending sweater.  You can see my first sweater here.  I might just have to think of a new name for these accursed things.  I finally found my gauge mojo with this one and it almost, sort-of fits my little Randa, it is much smaller and more fitted than the first monstrosity.  I used needles two sizes smaller than my first go-round (ha, ha) and made it in one smaller size, because Randa is two years younger, and smaller, and did not want a robe.  The only thing I will add after this publication is a fastener of some sort to the front, she would like it to stay closed.  I did not put a button hole in it, so I am thinking a pin or shawl stick would be our best bet.  This was knit with Knitpicks sport weight acrylic (I know, don’t judge), called Brava.  It was the first acrylic that I have used that did not squeak as I was knitting and drive me insane…er.  Miranda picked the colors, she loves the patriotic blue and red, they must be bold and bright, just like her.

Both my girls have decided they would love circle sweaters for their 18″ dolls.  I want to poke my eyes out with my needles.  If I do devise a circle sweater pattern for dolls, that I don’t completely hate, I will post it here, maybe.  I am not sure that I want to be known for these travesties of body shape.

Now for pics, because, pics or didn’t happen, right More

Jade’s Peace

Jade's Peace (A WMC Novel)Jade’s Peace by Melissa Stevens
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was a beta reader for this book and it was given to me free, it in no way guarantees a positive review.

This story is full of little discoveries. If you have read the short story that comes before Jade’s Peace, Escape, then you have met a few of the characters, though I had not read the prequel and it did not leave me feeling like I missed part of the story.

Jade is in search of truth, and perhaps a mate, but truth for sure. She comes in search of someone she has not seen in a decade to find out if she was too young then to feel what she was sure she did. Jade also has a big, deep, dark secret that could threaten her chance of ever completing her truth-finding mission.

This is a kitsune book, but is not part of the Change, Hunt, Fight series, cougars as opposed to wolves. I enjoyed this book and found the characters to be more developed in this story, the conversations flowed even better than in past books, I liked this book and found it to be a fun read.

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From Amazon: Steve left his hometown to avoid doing something he knew he would regret. Now, ten years later, the girl he left to avoid has come looking for him, but she’s not a child anymore. Jade has spent the last six years haunted by memories and nightmares. At a turning point in her life, she’s tired of waiting for something to change. She tracks down the only person she’s ever been drawn to, a man she hasn’t seen in more than ten years. But can she convince him that their differences don’t matter, that together they can both find peace?
This book is part of the White Mountain Chanat (WMC) series which starts with Escape and follows with Jade’s Peace and I can assume that more will be coming.

And of course a teaser, courtesy of Melissa Stevens:

JV’s eyes snapped open.
Something woke her. What?
She glanced around and it came back to her. She was in the guest bedroom at Nick and Rebecca’s, alone in the house because Rebecca had an appointment and Nick and Bobby had taken her to town. They’d offered to let her tag along, but she suspected it was personal, so she’d plead exhaustion. After they’d gone, she lay on her borrowed bed, hoping to get a little sleep.
She looked at the alarm clock on the nightstand, 3:37. She’d slept less than half an hour. Looking around the room, she wondered again what had woken her.
The floor outside her door creaked.
Someone was in the house.
There hadn’t been enough time for the others to make the appointment and be back. Panic raced through her, turning her body hot, then cold. She slid one hand silently under the spare pillow and pulled her pistol from the holster she’d hidden there.
Rolling onto her back, she aimed at the bedroom door. It wasn’t an ideal position to shoot from, but she could make it work.
The rapid thump of her heart was the only sound in the room as the knob turned and the door swung slowly inward.
“Jade?” Steve’s voice was soft.
Recognizing his voice, Jade let out the breath she’d been holding and lifted the barrel of her .38 until it pointed at the ceiling, “Yeah?”
The door swung open and revealed Steve standing in the hallway. She saw a look of concern on his face for an instant, then it darkened as he marched to the side of the bed and took the .38 from her loosened grip “What are you doing in my Khan’s house with a gun?.” He scented the air. “How did you get it in here without anyone smelling it?”
“I’m a woman who’s lived and traveled alone for a number of years. I learned some time ago being armed isn’t a bad idea.”
She rolled away and off the opposite side of the bed, landing so she stood facing him. “As for no one scenting it, I’ve had a problem with shifters trying to tell me I don’t need it, or trying to take it away. I figured out how to mask the scent so that’s no longer an issue.”
“What if it had been Rebecca at your door?” he scowled.
“Rebecca had an appointment in town. Nick and Bobby went with her. They left a little over an hour ago. They said they’d be gone for two to three hours. I was alone, sleeping. The sound of someone else in the house woke me. It couldn’t have been Rebecca, but I didn’t know it was you. All I knew was that I wasn’t alone and I should have been.”
Steve faltered. He looked down at the weapon, it looked small in his large hand, then back at her. “All right, I’ll grant you that one. But I can’t have anyone other than my Khan having a gun in his house.” He held one hand up, stopping her from protesting. “I know you have no intention of hurting them, but I can’t allow anyone, not even you, Jade, to have a gun in the house.”
She took a deep breath and let it out in a rush. She wanted to argue. She wanted to insist she wasn’t giving up her gun, but she knew it would only give Steve a reason to run her off. “I can lock it in my truck. Will that be good?”
He was silent for several heartbeats, his eyes never leaving her. “I’ll accept that. Do you have any other weapons? Knives? Anything?”
JV rolled her eyes, “No. What need do I have for knives? I have claws.”
His brows lifted, “You’re carrying a gun, but no knives. Are you worried about anything specific? Are you being followed?”
“No other weapons and I’m not being followed.” she ignored the part about what she was worried about.
“Do you know how to use this thing?” Steve looked at the revolver again. He thumbed the release and flipped the cylinder open. He pulled one round out and looked at it a moment, laying one finger against the tip of the bullet before putting it back in the chamber and, with a quick twist of his wrist, flipping the cylinder closed. He looked up at her, waiting for her to answer.
“Of course I know how to use it. My father taught me how to handle a pistol years ago. As for that particular one, I’ve put a lot of rounds through it. I’m comfortable with it.”
“All right, whatever you’re worried about isn’t one of us, or this would have silver rounds.” He held the pistol in her direction. “Keep it in your truck.”
She flipped the pillow closest to her and picked up the holster, then rounded the bed, took the pistol and holstered it.
“Unless someone is on your tail and followed you here, you should be safe in the house. We haven’t had much trouble in the last couple of years, other than usual clan crap, and that’s no danger to you.”
JV looked away, trying not to let him see how badly the thought of being unarmed bothered her. She poked the holstered weapon in the top of her purse so she could take out on her next trip. “Did you need something?” she looked back at him, expectant.
“I came in to see if you needed anything, but you didn’t answer when I called out and I got worried.”
“I was asleep.”
“I realized that when I found you on the bed.”

Jade’s Peace can be purchased through the Goodreads link above or from Amazon here: Jade’s Peace

If you are reading this and would like a review of your book or are in need of a freelance editor, feel free to contact me through my editing email at


She either ate a football or…

Right before we left for Thanksgiving our cat Cami slipped outside and would not come back in. This had also happened a few weeks before that so we should have been prepared, but we weren’t. To be fair, the story really starts a year before, on November 1st, 2012. It was particularly cold that night and we had been feeding an outdoor cat that our oldest daughter had been begging to bring in the house. I told my husband that I would not mind, but the choice to bring her in or not was his. He chose to bring her in.  I was not concerned about getting her fixed because I had been told by persons whom I trust that calicoes could not have kittens. I was also told that there was no such thing as a male calico, turns out that is wrong too.

When she got out the first time, I worried a bit. I kept telling myself that she couldn’t get preggers, they told me that calicoes can’t have kittens. I refused to look online after she got out, afraid that I would be proven wrong and have to worry. When she came back in after her second soiree outside, I decided to keep a close eye on her. Sure enough, about a week before Christmas we noticed her crescive waistline. I finally looked online to determine when her due date might be, the first due date came and went, however with her current size I can’t imagine her making it to the second possible EDD, 65 days following her second escape.

Even though I am less than pleased about the idea of having kittens in the house, we have been babying the pre-queen as much as possible the last few weeks. We have made her a birthing throne, given her meat, and generally left her be when she wants, and attention when she wants. My house, however, is full to the brim (read: I am way too close to crazy cat lady as it is) with cats, so these littles are NOT staying. Here’s to hoping we find them good homes as soon as they are ready.

And here is the pre-queen, Cami. Course it could just be a Nerf football…


Knitting in the tree

We finally put up the Christmas tree in our small living room.  It was an involved affair with moving book shelves, mountains of books, a huge rug, and other furniture.  Placement had to be a certain distance from the wood stove, and still not be in the way of life.  What it did manage to do was take away my table, the table I used to keep my knitting away from little fingers whilst I am not knitting.  As any knitter with small children can tell you it is no fun to follow a trail of yarn through your house, finding needles along the way, finally meeting up with the crime scene of your wasted project wrapped in a yarn barf of epic proportions.  If the project is large or quite detailed this can lead to you using “tones” perhaps un-befitting of a lady.  

Since my table is now unavailable, I have had to make use of other hiding places.  I have begun to hide my projects in the tree.  My toddler has yet to find them, and they are rather funny, sitting there in the tree.  My husband laughs every time he sees them.  Just so we are clear, this will not make me want to keep the tree up any longer, but it does make me enjoy the tree in a new way.

Two projects hidden in my tree.

Two projects hidden in my tree.

During the day, they are easier to see.

During the day, they are easier to see.

A Blue Frog Occasion ~ Robert D. Rose

Bluefrog The story dawns on the death of a young woman, a death that rattles a very old community. Her father wants to know what happened, and why, so he requests help from the one man who can find him answers, the wizard, Vorin. Vorin has only until the burial to figure out what happened to this lovely young lady and what he finds could tear the community apart.

And that is only one part of the plot from this amazingly rich novel of magic, deception, valor, life, and vows too old for time. This story is labyrinthine and complex, the imagery stunning, the characters wonderfully portrayed. A good writer can make you feel like the fantastical realm they put you in is real, Robert does this with ease. The magical battle scenes are prodigious, the personal scenes quiet and intricate. Robert has a way of transmitting emotion that is simply expert. This was a really fun read, and I can’t wait to read more.

Excerpt from “A Blue Frog Occasion”

Deep breath. Vorin dove into the water.
No magic here! Just the experience from those early years at Wahl’s Pond, back before bathing costumes. Hard kicks and powerful breast strokes, muscles screaming. Water almost like ink now only vague shapes between the curvatures of Tanks 4 and 5…. There! The dark shape at the staircase base the man who’d already been dead when this water began rising here, the man with no water in his lungs.
A final kick and stroke. Vorin’s fingers brushed wet leather—Deena’s body-tunic. The wizard yanked at the chestpiece and felt it rip away the weight of Deena’s knives and death stars pulling it away from his body. Vorin wrestled him out of the tunic, lightening him, then gripped Deena’s belt and braced his feet against a stone step. Vorin kicked upward in this blue gloom, lungs and pulse screaming, rising toward the brightening water above.
He was dizzy when they broke surface, all but swooning as he got himself and Deena’s body onto the staircase. This water was now only five manlengths below the piping still pouring in from the Pool of Learning’s refill lines.
No time to think—just act. These Treekell would not take long to scent him and resume their deadly chase. Vorin dragged Deena’s body up these steps to a higher cluster of east-west pipes. Gasping from the effort, he levered the corpse up off the pipes, onto his shoulders, testing his balance.
Don’t think, just do it—forget these screaming muscles and three full days without sleep. One hundred quick steps, the length of this stem in the chamber. Ignore the lack of safety handrails beside him or the Treekell now swimming along below him, only two manlengths of space now beneath him. Don’t stop to rest! Forget the pain and the dread from this water or the horror of these worms. Just do this thing, keep moving and pray to Leur or anyone else just like Him for the balance he needed and the water he didn’t, water dripping out of Deena’s clothing and falling beneath his bare feet as they came the length of this pipe.
He stopped next to the dropshaft pole and gently lowered Deena’s body onto the walkway beside it. Below him, the Treekell finished chewing Vorin’s robe and turned back toward the concourse area. The water killed the vapor-lamps on the lower tier of lights, shrouding the staircase’s bottom half in darkness.
At this rate it would reach this walkway in less than two minutes, and the second tier of lights only moments after that. Then he’d be alone, without magic, and at least one Treekell that he knew of here with him in the dark.

Meet the Author, Robert D. Rose

Robert Rose is former Navy and a recovering civilian journalist who has been writing since he was ten, possibly before. He resides in Michigan with his lovely wife. Most of his time is spent writing, but he also indulges in travel, photography, and graphic editing.

Robert was recently asked who he enjoyed reading and perhaps who he may have been influenced by;

I read everything from Shakespeare to Chaucer to Orwell, Huxley, and scores more before I ever got through 10th grade. Popular fiction included a lot of the old Gold Medal Books from Fawcett, or the various New American Library thrillers going out at that time.

No one series influenced me more than others, since I got different things from different writers. Donald E. Westlake (under the pen name of Richard Stark) wrote a brilliant crime series about the ultimate amoral criminal, Parker. Three movies have already been made from “The Hunter,” the first in that series. Also under the Stark name was a spin-off series about one of Parker’s frequent partners, part-time actor Alan Grofeld. Under the Westlake name he penned so many other smash hit novels that I can safely say he was a model for sheer output and manuscript organization.

Another series involved contract CIA agent Joe Gall, by the hilariously pen-named Philip Atlee (a play on real-life CIA agent Atlee Phillips). Gall was popular at the same time as the Bond series, only far more realistic. Espionage writers of note included Eric Ambler, Graham Greene, John le Carre, Len Deighton, and a ton of espionage nonfiction at both the popular and university-library research level.

More recently, Michigan writers Elmore Leonard (TV’s “Justified”) and Loren D. Estelman (“Whiskey River” trilogy, particularly, and the fine Amos Walker mysteries). Or John Dunning’s excellent antiquarian book mysteries with Cliff Janeway. (I’ve met both Estelman and Dunning). Dutch Leonard died in 2013.

Aside from that I’m drawing a blank. I mean, I read two or more books a day as a kid, tapering off recently for obvious reasons. Mixed in there were the Bronte sisters, Thackeray, Shelley and Stoker, and the usual run of Chaucer, Swinburne and other doom-‘n’-gloom poets of the 1800s. (Teenaged angst, I have no doubt.)

A Blue Frog Occasion can be purchased from Amazon here

Gallant Ditch Cougar

On my doorstep sits a large orange and white feral mutt-of-a-cat. He is muscled and lean, mean in his countenance and off-putting in demeanor. I step outside with a cup full of cat food and he instantly changes to into a loving lump of purring docility. That is our Captain Cook, Captain for short. He roams during the winter and summer, but spring and fall he is ours. He shows up and is terrified of us, seeming to have forgotten us in his absence, but within a week we are the best of friends again.
He has roamed here for almost 5 years, which is beyond the normal lifespan of an outdoor cat. We watch expectantly for his return while he is away. He returned about three weeks ago and we expect him to disappear again soon. He is unique in that he seems to understand that tiny humans are different than the big ones. Adults cannot pick up the Captain, however he seems to care not one whit when my little four year old hoists him up in the air by his arm pits, hugs him close, and carries him around practically dragging his hind legs on the ground. He follows the children around outside like he wants to play right along, and then when he is bored, wanders off for a nap.
He only acts like your average ditch cougar when another male cat is around. For a female cat, he will back away from the food dish and wait until they are done, the consummate gentleman. If Dante, our little Captain look-alike, tries to eat out of the dish when Captain is around, much smack talk ensues. Don’t worry about Dante though; he gets his fill out of the food dish, no matter if Captain is there or not.
I did not name these cats, my daughters did. Mikayla prefers literary/historical names. She has named Captain Cook (for the explorer), Dante, and Hair-mione. Miranda likes more common cat names; Stripe, Mitty, and Little. I don’t have pictures right now of our four little interlopers; Dante, Mitty, Hair-mione, and Little, but I will share a tale with you at a later date about cats and robbers, in the meantime, here is my gallant Cook.

Captain Cook

Happy Birthday to you

Four years ago, we were getting settled in with my father, in preparation to work on the house we now live in. My fathers birthday is in November and it is not something he enjoys celebrating though he does not want it ignored, either. Miranda was 3 years old, and quite the little pixie. She is too smart for her own good, and back then she was just learning how to temper it…a bit.

We had done school the earlier part of the day, which for Randa was just drawing lines, tracing, pointing out colors, and singing. She was more-than-ready to celebrate grandpa’s birthday. Grandpa was laid off at that time, but was gone for most of the day. When Matt got home, we sat down to dinner and Randa could barely contain herself. She kept asking if it was time for cake, she wanted that cake!

We made it through dinner and I brought out a cake for dad. We do not normally sing “Happy Birthday”, so when Randa started singing the “Happy Birthday” song, we all thought it was cute, it turned from cute to surprising very quickly. Here is what she sang;

Happy Birthday to you!
Your cats smell like………love,
Happy Birthday dear Grandpa openyourpresents
We love you!

I am pretty sure I know what she was going to say in place of love. This song has now been sung at every birthday since, and I am sure it will continue in a few weeks for grandpa’s birthday again.

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