Podcast: Right From Us – What Happened?

Season 1, Episode 8

Episode description:

What happened to 2020? It started out great, then BAM. We got the wind knocked out of us and we started looking at our neighbors with suspicion, we started isolating ourselves from humanity and we had to actively come up with a strategy to find toilet paper. We all have different stories and experiences from the nightmare commonly known as COVID – here’s our story.

Bullet Journal

Bullet Journal 2.0

I got all the way to December in my bullet journal, setting it up, making it look … I was going to say pretty but let’s be honest, my bullet journal is not pretty, it’s juvenile and basic, when I just stopped. I couldn’t go on. I sat staring at my spread and just …………… lost interest. I felt like I was going through the motions. *yawn* I was bored.

So, I took a few weeks and started watching bullet journal videos again. Where did I go wrong? Why did I lose interest? Then, it sort of hit me, my bullet journal wasn’t ME. It was fun to experiment with different spread ideas but ultimately, I wasn’t using it very much. I spent more time creating spreads I wasn’t really interested in using as opposed to actually using it.

What started my bullet journal 2.0 was calligraphy. I want to learn calligraphy. Learning calligraphy is on my goals list for this year. I researched what pens and paper to use. I already had a ton of pens that would work but I needed some paper to practice on. I didn’t want to use just normal paper because writing on normal paper with all of the scratching and grittiness made my skin crawl. I didn’t enjoy writing on the paper I had … so I bought a Rhodia notebook.

And instantly fell in love.

I used to be one of those people that scoffed and rolled my eyes at people who swore quality paper was the way to go.

“Dude. It’s PAPER. How much of a difference can it honestly make?” I would silently judge.

A lot, actually.

I’m now a hardcore Rhodia convert.

And when I discovered that Rhodia makes bullet journals??

Let’s just say that revived my interest in bullet journaling.

I bought the Turquoise one.  I don’t even know why, I don’t particularly like Turquoise, but for some reason, it spoke to me. (This is what happens when you don’t really have a social life outside of work and family – books talk to you).

Rhodia journals may not be for everyone. They only have 80 pages and they are soft covers, not hard covers. But, they have a back pocket and the SOFT PAGES – need I say more??

Writing on these pages is smooooooooth. It doesn’t scratch when you write on it or make me cringe and shudder and grit my teeth in irritation.

And I can totally see myself collecting each color and filling them with my nonsense for anyone to read (after I die – AFTER I DIE).

Okay. I have a new journal. Now, what to do with it?

Here’s what I learned from my bullet journaling so far – I really only want to record a few things and I want pages to write on. No structure, just write what I want, when I want. Write as little, or as much, as I like.

And I’m only interested in recording 1. my daily steps, 2. my daily moods, 3. my monthly reads, 4. weather and 5. writing. I don’t care about monthly logs. I don’t care about future logs. I don’t care about traditional monthly trackers.

Why aren’t I making my bullet journal about the things I care about?

And I figure it won’t take long for me to get through 80 pages, then I’ll have an excuse to buy another journal in another color which will make me excited to fill it and renew my enthusiasm.

What could go wrong? (Don’t answer that).

It’s also thin enough, and flexible enough, to easily take with me. Whereas a hardback book is, well, hard, thick and bulky. I feel like a softback journal will look cool the more you use it, as well. A well used journal is a well loved journal.

Can I get an Amen?

So, here’s what I’ve done so far:

OKAY, DON’T JUDGE ME. Yes. I did a really poor job of gluing it into the book. Yes. I agree, the calendar is DUMB. But ignore that. I really like the picture and the pretty font so I will do a better job of sticking in September’s picture and will leave off the calendar. It’s a work in progress! Sheesh.

By the way, I get my pictures from either Unsplash or Pexels.

Next up – my monthly reading log. I made a fun bookshelf in my last bullet journal but I didn’t leave enough room to write in the titles so I wanted something a bit more fun and a lot more room. I bought this fun book template from Erin Floto Designs and I used an ink blending tool, dipped it in orange ink and tapped away. Again, no idea why I chose orange, (though I suspect it’s because of the sunset on my August page and the orange book mark), but I’m sort of diggin’ it. As you can see, I’ve read three book so far this month. I can’t wait to use this template in different colors in the months ahead.

And that’s something else I’m trying to do – stick with a few sets of colors at one time. This month, black and orange. And I have BOOKS of stickers that I plan on using to coordinate with my color palette as well. I mostly have inspirational quotes and again, I would rather put a quote sticker on my journal page than try and write out a quote that will take me 30 minutes to do poorly and then another 30 minutes to be depressed about because it looks like shit.

Then I have my steps and mood tracker page. Nothing fancy, just numbers. I spent WAY too much time stenciling in cute crap to color in when really, I’m more interested in the number as opposed to whether I made it to 6,000 or 10,000 steps. And I’m digging my mood tracker better because I’m not limited to a smiley face, a sad face, an angry face, etc. I can spread my wings and record all my feels.

(By the way – see my attempt to faux calligraphy on the left page? Yeah – let’s hope I get better. And if you think I wrote the August on the right page, you have WAY too much faith in me. I did not write that August – it’s a sticker).

Next up: my sleep and weather tracker.

I’ll be honest, I’m not crazy about my sleep tracker, though it’s cute. I think I’m going to do something different next month – or not. I still can’t decide if I like it but it was fun to put together. I am, however, loving my weather tracker. It’s now all on one page and I have plenty of room to write the temperature and make cute little weather doodles. I will definitely keep this one. (Can you tell I forgot that August has 31 days? *sigh*)

Here is my writing tracker (that looks like a 2nd grader wrote – I’m experimenting with different fonts, get off me! And, I misspelled writing – AHEM) and I decided that I wanted to go ahead and put a calendar in my spreads just so I can keep track of days off, days the boys come to visit, etc. I didn’t even bother to make enough spots for each day of the month on my writing tracker because let’s be real, I’m not going to write every day of the month, but I have to admit, having something like this motivated me to publish a blog post today so I think it will help me stay accountable.

And the fancy-smancy Aug 10 on the right page – (it’s okay, we can all be honest and admit you didn’t know what it said) will be where I write my thoughts for today. (I actually ended up using half the page and divided the page in half with the same orange washi tape that you see on the left side).

And that’s it. I don’t really plan on putting anything else in my journal. I really wanted to use my bullet journal as more of a journal than a planner because let’s face it – my life is so boring I don’t have a need for a planner. I’m sure (hope) it will evolve and get better with time and again, I’m looking forward to buying more journals and building a library of journals that perhaps my children (dare I hope grandchildren??) will read one day.

At some point, I’d like to try some dutch doors in my journal but I end of up hyperventilating whenever I seriously think about doing it so I’m thinking I’m not quite ready to go down that road …… yet.

(By the way, I love her accent).

Happy Journaling!

Book Corner, TBR

August To Be Read Stack

Hello readers!

You can tell which book I’m currently reading by the Goodreads widget in the sidebar.

I’m all about Kindle e-books. I’m a hard core e-book reader. I haven’t read an actual book in quite a long time and I find that when I hold an actual book, it feels large and clunky. I much prefer my Kindle e-reader than an actual book. With that said, I get all of my books from Kindle Unlimited – I rarely, if ever, spend money on a book – it all goes into the $10 dollars a month I pay for Kindle Unlimited.

So, if you’re interested in reading lesser known authors and want to save a ton of money in books, join me!

I rarely read anything lower than a four-star review. I stopped reading for a long time simply because every book I read was stupid, or disappointing and ultimately, a waste of time. (I feel the same with movies – haven’t watched movies, or TV, in about a year). I’ve had great luck sticking to this philosophy and most of the books I read are pretty good.

You can see my book ratings on my Goodreads account.

My goal for 2020 is to read 100 books – I’m currently at 60 – I’m right on track but I like to give myself a little bit of wiggle room so I want to get at least two books ahead of schedule. Also, I reserved a bookclub on Goodreads back in 2014 and have never done anything with it – I’d like to start doing something with it. So – if you’re interested in joining the book club, read more about it here and you can join here. The books we read are adult romance, mystery/thriller and literary fiction so you must be 18+ years old to participate. I’ve never done this before but have always wanted to so please be patient with me as I stumble through the process. I’d like to try and read/discuss two books every month, meaning you have two weeks to read a book and then post your thoughts about it. We’ll try and touch on theme, character development and of course, the overall story. The rules are on the group page. I’ll start by picking the books the first few months but I’m hoping when we have enough members to ask for suggestions for books and then randomly draw from that selection.

I’m a cheapskate and I ONLY read free books, meaning, Kindle Unlimited books. So if you’re not already a Kindle Unlimited member, I would encourage you to become one. (This is not sponsored by Kindle Unlimited – however – if anyone is reading this from Kindle Unlimited …hit me up!) I read from Kindle Unlimited for two reasons: one – I’m cheap, books are expensive and I can read $80 bucks worth of books per month for only $10 bucks per month, and two – I feel like authors on Kindle Unlimited are lesser-known authors and deserve a chance to be read and quite honestly, I’m more satisfied reading these books than I am reading “best sellers” so, win-win!

Oh, and feel free to friend me on Goodreads, too. 🙂

Moving on, here is my August 2020 TBR stack:

  1. Everything You Are by Kerry Anne King
  2. Daughters of the Lake by Wendy Webb
  3. The Cruelest Stranger  by Winter Renshaw
  4. Hide Away (A Rachel Marin Thriller Book 1) by Jason Pinter
  5. Virgin River (A Virgin River Novel Book 1) by Robin Carr
  6. Blood on the Tracks (Sydney Rose Parnell Book 1) by Barbara Nickless
  7. METHOD by Kate Stewart
  8. Side Trip by Kerry Lonsdale
Don’t forget about the Dear Reader bookclub on Goodreads!
Happy reading!
Book Corner, Books Read - Podcast/Transcript

Dear Reader Book Review: The Good Daughter






Two girls are forced into the woods at gunpoint. One runs for her life. One is left behind.

Twenty-eight years ago, Charlotte and Samantha Quinn’s happy small-town family life was torn apart by a terrifying attack on their family home. It left their mother dead. It left their father—Pikeville’s notorious defense attorney—devastated. And it left the family fractured beyond repair, consumed by secrets from that terrible night.

Twenty-eight years later, Charlotte has followed in her father’s footsteps to become a lawyer herself—the ideal good daughter. But when violence comes to Pikeville again, and a shocking tragedy leaves the whole town traumatized, Charlotte is plunged into a nightmare. Not only is she the first witness on the scene, but it’s a case that unleashes the terrible memories she’s spent so long trying to suppress–because the shocking truth about the crime that destroyed her family nearly thirty years ago won’t stay buried forever. Packed with twists and turns, brimming with emotion and heart, The Good Daughter is fiction at its most thrilling.

This is a story is about a family trauma. It’s about living, and suffering, through the decisions made by your parents and how those decisions ultimately shape who you are as a person. I have read Karin Slaughter before. I remember REALLY enjoying her work and I was looking forward to reading this story. Though I wasn’t disappointed in her creative approach to a story line that has been done before, (let’s be honest, is there a premise that HASN’T been done before?), I was a bit disappointed in the way she mapped it out

What I liked: The characters were unique. The father was lovable but flighty. He was super focused on his career and often put his career ahead of his family. Though that doesn’t sound like a positive trait, it was obvious that he loved his family and constantly challenged them and their intellect through his interactions with them and I admired his compassion for people, even though I thought it was a bit idealistic and naive at times.

Mom was a genius. She could have easily worked for NASA or some super brainy place like that but she chose love over her ambitions. Though I think she was a bit bitter and disappointed by her life choices, overall, she made it work for her family. I think, sometimes, super brainy people are perceived as cold and unfeeling when I feel like the opposite is true, in most cases. I think super brainy people feel just as much as us less-than intelligent human beings do, they are just better at controlling who is allowed to see that side of them.

The oldest daughter, Samantha, is nearly as intelligent as her mother but she tends to be a bit more human than her mother. She suffered tremendous physical trauma and I liked her determination to move past it and work on getting her body back up to functioning level. She also didn’t allow her trauma to define her and she worked very hard to go on to become a very successful lawyer and even opened her heart to satisfying relationship. I didn’t, however, understand her reluctance to have a relationship with her younger sister, Charlotte, considering everything she suffered through was done to save her.

Charlotte, the youngest daughter, suffered tremendous mental (and some physical) trauma as well. However, Charlotte’s method of dealing with the trauma was to put it in a box and never open it. Her psyche catches up her and before long, she has no choice but to look in that box and deal with the ugly contents. She full of sarcasm and grit and I quite liked her though ultimately her coping mechanisms were self-destructive and nearly destroyed her life. I could understand Charlotte’s reluctance to reach out to Samantha and build that sisterly relationship with her because Charlotte felt guilty for running and not staying behind to help Samantha though she knew, logically, it wouldn’t have done any good.

I’m also on the fence on how the author approached telling this story. It opens with the trauma, then fast forwards to the sister’s future lives before circling back around to re-address the trauma from their perspective. But it wasn’t really that, either, that bothered me. It was the re-telling of the trauma as it really happened. I couldn’t quite figure out why she approached the story this way. Was it to showcase the reluctance the sisters had with remembering what really happened? It felt a little deceiving to me though I rather liked having to readjust my opinion on the characters not once, but twice, before the story ended.

What I didn’t like: The think the author did such a good job of developing the sisters as interesting characters the she couldn’t quite decide which story she wanted to tell so she told both. I don’t have a problem head hopping, if it’s done right, but the author spent just a large chunk of the story following one sister that I felt I couldn’t fully appreciate either story. I think if she flipped between the two chapter by chapter instead of sections at a time, I might have enjoyed it more. In fact, she has so much material in this story she could have easily separated this into series circling the same trauma but told from multiple points of view. And it looks like she plans on writing more about the sisters at some point as she lists the book as “book one,” so it looks she intends to follow these sisters around again but perhaps incorporating a different story.

Overall, it was a good story, I just felt like she was condensing a lot of good veins of this story into one artery and it felt a bit clogged at times. I would have given it five stars if it hadn’t been so densely packed with very good multiple story lines in one story. Honestly, that’s a good problem to have for a writer.

What were your thoughts?

If you would like to find out what I’m reading next to discuss, please visit/join my Dear Reader group on Goodreads.