Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Book Review: Sworn to Silence


Author: Linda Castillo
Publisher: Minotaur/St Martins, 2009
354 pages
Genre: Fiction, criminal investigation

Most of the time, it's true that a book is always better than the movie version. In this case, I watched a movie on Netflix called "An Amish Murder.'' Overall, the movie was an enjoyable watch, but just a bit too over-dramatized and melodramatic. It was a Lifetime Channel made-for-TV movie, and that's just their usual fare. I saw in the credits that it was based on a book. The mix of police investigation and Amish/English relations was interesting and different enough to make me want to read the book.

I'm glad I did. 

Sworn to Silence is the first book in a series of crime thrillers by Linda Castillo. There are 8 books in the series so far. The main character, Kate Burkholder, grew up Amish and left the faith after being raped as a teenager. She returns to her Ohio hometown years later, after becoming a police officer, to serve as police chief. 

Burkholder harbors secrets about her past. A series of murders threaten to reveal the truth about the incident that made her leave the Amish way of life. Burkholder has to deal with her past, deal with the strained relationship with her Amish family, and investigate a series of gruesome killings. 

The book is well written, and the story enjoyable. I definitely want to read the rest of the series. The crime genre can become formula with many authors writing books pretty much along the same lines. But, Castillo found a different niche here, setting her crime procedurals in the heart of Amish country, with a main character who is under the bann for leaving the Amish faith. Great character development and a good plot make this an enjoyable read! 

My rating:  7/10
Some gruesome descriptions of murder victims, but not over-done. 
Recommended for 16+ due to violence & sexual situations
A couple steamy sex scenes, but not overly descriptive. 

Can't wait to read the next book!! 

Friday, October 9, 2015

Adulting vs blogging

Alas, my poor blog has been sadly neglected for months while I did vigorous adulting. Not that blogging is not an adult endeavor. It is. The problem has been that the amount of time needed in other important areas of my life left my writing on the back burner. My novel is languishing on my hard-drive and my blog stopped at just a few sporadic posts.

I can say that the last few months have been busy ones. Lots of changes in our lives. My online business is chugging along. It still needs a lot of work, but things are moving in the right direction. My son has returned to public school after several years of homeschooling. He needed time with other children, and the stability of a schedule. It took the entire summer to get him ready for the switch, and then more time to get him into the routine. I am happy to say that he is enjoying 4th grade, making friends, doing his homework and learning life lessons along the way.  While he is in class, I work from home. It's a bit of the best of both worlds....I am working and earning money to help our finances, but am still at home to handle the household and to be here when my son gets home from school in the afternoon. It's working well so far.

I have also been working hard to rein in the chaos. We closed our retail business in 2014 and all of the retail product came home to our house. I literally had floor-to-ceiling stacks of boxes filling my living room and dining room. It took me months to go through everything, finding ways to ingeniously store and package retail product for sale online, to avoid stacks of stuff completely filling our house. I repainted my bedroom just before we closed the shop. So, I installed product shelves along the walls, with my bed in the middle. It makes me feel like I'm sleeping at Walmart sometimes, but it does keep the product from overtaking our whole house.  I'm in the process of sorting through our business records and creating a file system. I am a constant victim of procrastination, and this sudden surge of filing is not merely to contain the chaos of my former filing method (bank statement? Ok. *tosses in box with other business paperwork*), but because I am up against a tax deadline. I swear, as God is my witness, I will never do this again! 2015 is getting filed by April!!  (I say this every year.....and every year I get an extension and file in October). But........this year it is getting done on time! (I actually mean it this year) lol There are still boxes to sort. I didn't realize how much stuff we had in the shop until I had to move it all to my house. It has been a learning experience. I've had to become more organized, scheduled and methodical to get through this. Reform is never easy...and I'm still getting bit in the butt due to procrastination and disorganization. Change is not instant for me.....Every day I move a little further in the right direction. Progress, always progress.

Now that I have made good strides towards improving our lives, I need to add some creative endeavors back into my daily routine. I need that creative outlet or I can get cranky. Too much work and no play makes Juli a real bitch. So each day I am going to set aside some me-time to read, write on the blog or my book, or sew, knit/crochet toys, paint miniatures, do DIY projects.....whatever I want to do. Work has to come first (I refuse to call writing on my novel work because then it becomes a chore and not just a joyful creative outlet), but as a creative mind, I need self-expression in my day as well to stay balanced. Need to find that balance. Less chaos. More balance. I will never be chaos free....such is the nature of my beast. But I can keep it better contained.