On caregivers, faith, family, and writing…

Archive for February, 2018

Old(er) men and their dreams | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on February 27, 2018:

DavidSunday was David’s birthday, and he finally joined me in the 70s. Although I’ve been there since April and have tried to reassure him that it doesn’t hurt when the age-o-meter rolls over, he didn’t seem to look forward to this birthday the way he usually does. However, when I came home from Brookshire’s and waved a package of German’s Sweet Chocolate and another of coconut, he broke into a smile, knowing his birthday cake was on the way.

We don’t make a big deal of birthdays – at least not any more. The first year I celebrated his birthday with him, I took him out to dinner, and he gave me an engagement ring. It was hard to top that, but I sometimes tried to at least come close. One year I gave him an I-Pod, and another year I presented him with a bicycle, but we’ve reached the point in our lives where we have all the electronics we need and there’s no space to store larger toys. So most years I send him an e-card, and if I’m feeling extravagant, I give him a printed one, too. We go out for catfish or Mexican food, or sometimes I make a roast and a big pot of beans at home. And I usually make a German Chocolate Cake. (more…)

Packing – it’s a family tradition | by Linda Brendle

Published in The Rains County Leader on February 20, 2018:

RVNewer readers may not be aware that several years ago I wrote a memoir about Alzheimer’s caregiving. It was structured around a seven-week, sixteen state motor home trip we took with my parents, both of who suffered from some kind of dementia. In one of the early chapters, I shared the difficulties of getting ready for the trip. Following is a paragraph about getting Mom and Dad’s clothes ready to go: (more…)

Book Review: A Slim Chance by Elizabeth Harrison

Cover

About the book:

 Four women meet at a Manchester university party in 1975 and become close friends. Over the following thirty years, their lives are shaped by their childhoods, their relationships with men, and the backdrop of rapid changes in society for women.

When one of the four, Linda Hammond, is found dead, suspicion falls on her use of Svelta, a widely prescribed slimming drug linked to numerous deaths. Also in the frame of suspicion is an eminent cardiologist who arranged an illegal abortion for Linda when he was a medical student, the knowledge of which could finish his career.

Concerns about the high number of deaths amongst Svelta users are picked up by two investigative journalists. They uncover the manipulation of the clinical trial data on which the drug was licensed and the readiness of Sipher Pharmaceutical to rebut any concern over the drug’s safety.

Linda’s death dramatically changes all the women’s lives, laying bare deceit, a lack of personal integrity and corporate greed.

My review – 3.5 of 5 stars:

 A Slim Chance by Elizabeth Harrison was an enjoyable story, but it was too much – too many main characters, too many story lines, too many social issues. After the opening scene in which one of the main characters dies, the story flashes back thirty years to when four young women meet. For the next several chapters, the women get to know each other and form lifelong friendships. This part of the story was well done. I had difficulty finding a place to stop and looked forward to returning to my Kindle. As the women left college and entered the real world, however, their lives diverged and so did their stories.

The author dealt with many important women’s issues like abortion, abuse of several kinds, self esteem and body image, and drug addiction to name a few. They also dealt with corporate misconduct, especially in the drug industry. While all of these issues need to be exposed, I felt that since so many were covered in one story, none of them was handled as effectively as they might have been if only one or two had been the focus. There were also several passages, especially those related to the corporate misconduct, where the author’s voice switched from story-telling to lecturing.

I would recommend this book to readers who can focus on the story rather than the short-comings in the telling of it. A strong developmental editor could do a lot to pull A Slim Chance up to a four-star or even a five-star rating.

 About the author:

 HeadShotLiz Buxton and Dee Harrison (Elizabeth Harrison) have been friends since the age of five. From a shared background of school, marriage, children, and then divorce, they have gone on to pursue quite different careers and lifestyles, but have always kept in touch.
Dee has worked in IT and built two successful software companies. Liz has had a freelance career as a Furniture Designer to the manufacturing industry as well as training as a Yachtmaster and living on a sailing boat for five years.

This is their first novel together.

 Buy the book at Amazon 

Book Review: Peete and Repeat (A Frannie Shoemaker Campground Mystery) by Karen Musser Nortman

Cover Peete and Repeat

About the book:

A biking and camping trip to southeastern Minnesota turns into double trouble for Frannie Shoemaker and her friends as she deals with a canoeing mishap and a couple of bodies. Strange happenings in the campground, the nearby nature learning center, and an old power plant complicate the suspect pool and Frannie tries to stay out of it–really–but what can she do? After all, she is only curious, but sometimes it isn’t just cats who have trouble with that!

My review:

This may be my favorite Frannie Shoemaker Campground Mystery so far. It’s hard to decide because they are all entertaining while being very different. In Peete and Repeat, the Shoemakers and friends meet identical twins and unintentionally, as usual, become involved in a love/hate triangle and a double homicide. To complicate matters, Frannie injures herself and somehow manages to become the target of a rather inept ring of drug traffickers.

As usual, Karen Musser Nortman manages to create the relaxed atmosphere of a camping vacation while still building the tension of whatever crime in progress Frannie has stumbled into. Each book introduces new characters, whether it’s grandchildren or more of the Shoemakers’ camping friends – and all of them, even the annoying ones, are multi-faceted and likeable.

Peete and Repeat is the last in the Camping Can Be Murder Boxed Set. I need to check and see what predicaments Frannie gets herself into next.

About the author:

Head Shot Karen Musser NortmanKaren Musser Nortman, after previous incarnations as a secondary social studies teacher (22 years) and a test developer (18 years), returned to her childhood dream of writing a novel. Bats and Bones, a cozy mystery, came out of numerous ’round the campfire’ discussions, making up answers to questions raised by the peephole glimpses one gets into the lives of fellow campers. Where did those people disappear to for the last two days? What kinds of bones are in this fire pit? Why is that woman wearing heels to the shower house?

Karen and her husband Butch originally tent camped when their children were young and switched to a travel trailer when sleeping on the ground lost its romantic adventure. They take frequent weekend jaunts with friends to parks in Iowa and surrounding states, plus occasional longer trips. Entertainment on these trips has ranged from geocaching and hiking/biking to barbecue contests, balloon fests, and buck skinners’ rendezvous. Frannie and Larry will no doubt check out some of these options on their future adventures.

Karen has three children and eight grandchildren. She also loves reading, gardening, and knitting, and can recite the 99 counties of Iowa in alphabetical order.

Visit her website at www.karenmussernortman.com
Buy the book on Amazon 

Or buy it with two other Frannie Shoemaker Campground Mysteries in the Camping Can Be Murder Boxed Set HERE 

Blessings,

Linda

Book Review: The Blue Coyote (A Frannie Shoemaker Campground Mystery) by Karen Musser Nortman

Cover The Blue Coyote

About the book:

Frannie and Larry Shoemaker love taking their grandchildren, Sabet and Joe, camping with them. But at Bluffs State Park, Frannie finds herself worrying more than usual about their safety, and when another young girl disappears from the campground in broad daylight, her fears increase. The fun of a bike ride, a flea market, marshmallow guns, and a storyteller are quickly overshadowed. Accusations against Larry and her add to the cloud over their heads. Frannie begins to puzzle out the mystery: Are the itinerant road workers as much of a threat as Frannie thinks? What about the lone woman camper who also disappears? Or is the girl’s deadbeat dad behind it all?

My review:

After reading The Blue Coyote, another Frannie Shoemaker Campground Mystery and the second in the Camping Can Be Murder Boxed Set, I feel like I know the Shoemakers, their grandchildren, and their friends personally. That’s why I was so incensed when Larry became the prime suspect in a campground kidnapping. Frannie was even more infuriated, though, as the authorities seemed to focus on her husband while the missing child and her own grandchildren remained in danger and the real culprit remained at large. In spite of many warnings to stay out of it, she put on her amateur sleuth hat and went to work.

Even for the reader who is not a regular cozy mystery fan, Frannie’s adventures are lively and exciting enough for an enjoyable weekend in the recliner or maybe even in a camp chair around the fire pit. Karen Nortman’s descriptions of the camping experience and the surrounding countryside are realistic enough to make the reader want to pack the RV and hit the open road – as long as there are no villains waiting at the campground. An added bonus is the vivid description of the sumptuous meals she and her friends share around the campfire and the recipes and camping tips at the end of each book. As for me, two Frannie Shoemaker stories were enough to make me a fan, and I can’t wait to begin reading the next one.

About the author:

Head Shot Karen Musser NortmanKaren Musser Nortman, after previous incarnations as a secondary social studies teacher (22 years) and a test developer (18 years), returned to her childhood dream of writing a novel. Bats and Bones, a cozy mystery, came out of numerous ’round the campfire’ discussions, making up answers to questions raised by the peephole glimpses one gets into the lives of fellow campers. Where did those people disappear to for the last two days? What kinds of bones are in this fire pit? Why is that woman wearing heels to the shower house?

Karen and her husband Butch originally tent camped when their children were young and switched to a travel trailer when sleeping on the ground lost its romantic adventure. They take frequent weekend jaunts with friends to parks in Iowa and surrounding states, plus occasional longer trips. Entertainment on these trips has ranged from geocaching and hiking/biking to barbecue contests, balloon fests, and buck skinners’ rendezvous. Frannie and Larry will no doubt check out some of these options on their future adventures.

Karen has three children and eight grandchildren. She also loves reading, gardening, and knitting, and can recite the 99 counties of Iowa in alphabetical order.

Visit her website at www.karenmussernortman.com
Buy the book on Amazon 

Or buy it with two other Frannie Shoemaker Campground Mysteries in the Camping Can Be Murder Boxed Set HERE 

Blessings,

Linda

Book Review: Bats and Bones (A Frannie Shoemaker Campground Mystery) by Karen Musser Nortman

Cover Bats and Bones

About the book:

Camping can be murder. Oh, sure, on the one hand there’s the stunning scenery, socializing with old friends and new acquaintances, amazing food cooked outside, and so on. But what if a dead body turns up on one of your hikes-for-fun-and fitness?

Frannie and Larry Shoemaker, retired baby boomers, are looking forward to a relaxing Fourth of July weekend with friends in beautiful Bat Cave State Park. They begin the weekend with a wonderful meal and some laughs over the antics of nearby novice campers. But when someone kills the campground host and Frannie’s group discovers the body, their favorite getaway becomes a quasi-prison, and the eccentricities often seen in a campground are viewed as suspicious behavior. A severe weather threat and the possibility that the murderer could be either a campground resident or an intruder from the outside compounds the danger. Frannie, while naturally curious, is warned off by her retired-cop husband, but still stumbles on information making her a target of the killer. At the same time, Frannie is working through the recent loss of her mother and an uncomfortable relationship with one of her own camping group.

My review:

I have been a mystery lover since I first discovered Agatha Christie in the Weekly Reader Book Club at school. After finishing the exploits of Mrs. Marple and Hercule Poirot, I moved on to tougher detectives like Parker’s Jesse Stone, Patterson’s Alex Cross, or Baldacci’s team of King and Maxwell. But after reading Bats and Bones by Karen Musser Nortman, I may become a cozy mystery fan all over again.

The first book in the Frannie Shoemaker Campground Mysteries Series immediately drew me in. My husband and I fell in love with the RV lifestyle shortly after we retired, and we have met many campers like the Shoemakers and their friends who are easy-going, fun-loving, gregarious, and all around nice people. The scenarios in Bats and Bones were reminiscent of many of our camping trips – minus the dead bodies, of course.

Karen Nortman’s writing style captures the laid back atmosphere of the campground while still building the tension as the plot thickens and Frannie becomes involved in spite of her best efforts to heed the warnings of her husband Larry and local law enforcement. Nortman’s characters are well developed and likeable – except for the bad guys. She offers a reading experience that’s fun, engaging, and flinch free, and I look forward to reading the rest of the series.

About the author:

Head Shot Karen Musser NortmanKaren Musser Nortman, after previous incarnations as a secondary social studies teacher (22 years) and a test developer (18 years), returned to her childhood dream of writing a novel. Bats and Bones, a cozy mystery, came out of numerous ’round the campfire’ discussions, making up answers to questions raised by the peephole glimpses one gets into the lives of fellow campers. Where did those people disappear to for the last two days? What kinds of bones are in this fire pit? Why is that woman wearing heels to the shower house?

Karen and her husband Butch originally tent camped when their children were young and switched to a travel trailer when sleeping on the ground lost its romantic adventure. They take frequent weekend jaunts with friends to parks in Iowa and surrounding states, plus occasional longer trips. Entertainment on these trips has ranged from geocaching and hiking/biking to barbecue contests, balloon fests, and buck skinners’ rendezvous. Frannie and Larry will no doubt check out some of these options on their future adventures.

Karen has three children and eight grandchildren. She also loves reading, gardening, and knitting, and can recite the 99 counties of Iowa in alphabetical order.

Visit her website at www.karenmussernortman.com
Buy the Bats and Bones HERE 

Or buy it with two other Frannie Shoemaker Campground Mysteries in the Camping Can Be Murder Boxed Set HERE 

Blessings,

Linda

Redneck Tupperware | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on February 13, 2018:

Redneck Tupperware 2The first time I remember hearing the term Redneck Tupperware was at Home Group. Every Friday night a group from our church meets for dinner, fellowship, and Bible study. Everyone brings a dish or two, and there’s usually quite a bit leftover which we share with anyone who wants to take some home. Most of us don’t have the foresight to bring our own to-go containers, but our hostess is very generous. The night I first heard the term, she pointed to a cabinet under the island where we serve the food and said, “There’s lots of Redneck Tupperware in there. Help yourself.” I smiled when I saw a large collection of empty plastic tubs that had once held whipped topping, butter spread, lunch meat, and other foods stacked in a fabric cube storage bin. (more…)

Here is my interview with Linda Brendle

Thank you to Fiona Mcvie for inviting me to her website for a chat. Check it out. She asked some very interesting questions, and you might learn some things about me you didn’t know.
Blessings,
Linda

authorsinterviews

Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.

 

Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?

Hi, Fiona. Thank you so much for inviting me to talk with you and your readers today. My name is Linda Brendle, and I’m 70 years old.

Fiona: Where are you from?

I was born in a tiny West Texas town called Merkel. Many years later my husband and I retired to another tiny town in East Texas. In between, I lived in the Dallas and Tampa Bay areas.

Fiona: A little about yourself (ie, your education, family life, etc.).

The primary thing that defines me is my Christian faith. Beyond that, I attended the University of North Texas and Dallas Baptist University over a period of 30 years and finally earned my BAS in management and psychology in 1998…

View original post 1,737 more words

Recent reviews of A Long and Winding Road

WindingRoadFinal

Free on KU!

The July re-release of A Long and Winding Road: A Caregiver’s Tale of Life, Love, and Chaos has stirred up new interest in my story of the chaos that happens when four people, two of whom have Alzheimer’s, spend fifty-three days in a 400-square-foot box on wheels. Following are two recent reviews:

5.0 out of 5 stars heartfelt

Byjaneon January 2, 2018

Format: Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase

Caregiver for her parents, Linda Brendle takes her Mom who has Alzheimer’s and Dad with vascular dementia on a seven-week road trip in their RV. Together with Linda’s husband David, they travel a 16-state circuit in an eight-year old forty-foot American Eagle motor home, stopping to visit with David’s mom Betty and his sister Sharon, Linda’s son Christian and his wife Amy, grandson Mattias Christian Piatt, Grandma Suzie, Aunt Fay and her family, Linda’s brother Jim, his wife Jo Lynn, and other family and friends.

Ms. Brendle writes “…there are nice people everywhere. You just have to keep your eyes and your heart open.” “Life on the road and caregiving are both full of surprises.” A Long and Winding Road takes you along on a heartfelt journey in a caregiver’s tale of love.

Donna L. Young

5.0 out of 5 stars God’s greatest gifts can often be found on a Long and Winding Road.

January 28, 2018

A Long and Winding Road by Linda Brendle was a pleasure to read! From the very first chapter, I was hooked. I often found myself giggling my way through the many similarities that drew me in. Much like the author, I married a Navy Man, road on the back of my husband’s motorcycle, lived in an RV and for the past year worked with seniors with Alzheimer’s Disease & Dementia. With so much in common between myself and the author, including our Faith in Jesus Christ, at one point I began to wonder what God was doing when He created the two of us.

I wasn’t able to read the book cover to cover. Yet, each time I picked the book back up, I was immediately lost in another familiar story and left smiling. All of my favorite moments involved an honest interaction between the author and a family member. My favorite moment was an early morning feeding session when author heard her baby boy, Christian crying. While rocking and feeding him, she says, “I love watching his blues smile back at me as I talked or sang to him, and laughed when he stuck his fingers up my nose or mouth.”

Blessings,

Linda

Observations from the sick bed | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on February 6, 2018:

sick_coldTo be accurate, the title should read “Observations from the sick chair” because every time I lie down, I cough so much that no one in the house, human or animal, can sleep. I’ve spent most of the last several days and nights in a recliner trying to find the perfect angle of recline that allows me to rest without hacking up a vital organ. However, regardless of the state of my health, deadlines come around on a regular basis, so in this week’s column, I’m sharing a few things I’ve observed during my illness.

  1. One of the little known symptoms of the common cold is writer’s block. I may haveBlank notepad and pencil mentioned that when a blogger or columnist experiences a lack of creative inspiration, she often resorts to a list.

(more…)

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