Howdy, folks!

In this edition of Away We Go, I‘ll chat about our stay in Kerrville, TX. Nestled in the rolling hills of South Texas, about an hour from San Antonio, this quaint town has a population of around 22,000. Friendly faces, HEB #1, beautiful parks, a charming downtown, and delightful eateries, made our stay more than enjoyable.



While getting our RV feet wet at the dealership in Boerne, an older couple told us about their next destination, Buckhorn RV Resort. Considering we had never pulled a 15,000lb RV behind our truck, we figured a quick forty minute cruise down I-10 would be the perfect maiden voyage. And it would have been, had the construction on the frontage road not whitened Justin’s knuckles and sent me into labored breathing.


“You’ll be fine,” said the service manager at Ancira RV. “Just take it real wide when you pull out of the dealership.”

Easier said than done, my friends. Thankfully, the kind men at Ancira stopped traffic for the newbies with the 42’ rig.


After a tense five miles of bracing ourselves for unavoidable pot holes, stop and go traffic, audible gasp from yours truly, and silent prayers, we finally merged onto I-10. What a relief! The truck handled like a dream, pulling the RV with ease. My job as co-pilot entailed hushing Emerson, randomly blurting, “Car merging, car merging!”and more labored breathing. Justin handled the job like a champ. He said the time he spent flying ROVs offshore helped ease his stress.


“It’s like during operations,” he told me. “It might look like I’m about to hit something but I’m not.”

I wish you could have seen my face when he said that. No, Justin. That didn’t make me feel any better. We were pulling our home, not flying an ROV underwater.


Well, we made it safely to Buckhorn, a beautiful RV Resort in the hill country. Justin backed our portable home into the site without issues, and an hour later, we were officially temporary residents of Kerrville.

Now, let me give you a little RVer advice. Always find the nearest hospital in case of an emergency. My mother had reminded me of this valuable information, but I failed to do my research. Fast forward a few days into our stay and BAM. Emerson started running a high fever… a 105 degrees, and it wouldn’t come down so I texted a friend, asking for an ER recommendation. She delivered, but Apple maps did not. After driving nine miles down I-10, Siri instructed us to make a U-turn and drive nine miles in the other direction. I expressed my sentiments with colorful words, calling the AI all sorts of nasty little names.


After going twenty-five minutes out of the way, we finally arrived at the hospital and Emerson received excellent care from the friendly staff. Note to self: Locate hospital and veterinary clinic once you arrive at RV resort. And remember, Mom always knows best.


Now, moving onto the highlights of our stay in Kerrville. Attention HEB shoppers. You may think your HEB is epic, but you haven’t seen a store like the #1 HEB in Kerrville. I literally got excited to grocery shop.


The BBQ restaurant inside was delightful. Emerson loved the ribs.



The weather in Kerrville during the summer is hot but not nearly as humid as Austin. There is always a breeze and the mosquitos are virtually non-existent. Emerson and I had a blast riding bikes around the resort. We’re mildly obsessed with winning our virtual races, but our favorite place to ride was the Louise Hayes park.


The trail goes for miles, winding through gorgeous cypress trees that line the Guadalupe River. We swam, enjoyed a visit to the splash pad, and biked while Justin rollerbladed.


For those of you who don’t know, old people are awesome. Their life experience and knowledge are invaluable. We made great acquaintances at Buckhorn. Everyone was friendly, helpful, and always willing to share a good laugh.




Emerson wasn’t super impressed with Stonehenge II, the concrete replica of the original. I thought it was pretty cool minus the quarter sized fire ants.




During Labor Day weekend, we met a wonderful family visiting from Odessa. Emerson made instant friends with their daughter and her friend. We roasted hot dogs and s’mores at night, then told stories around the fire. While the adults chatted, the kiddos played flashlight tag, braved the darkened tennis courts, caught frogs and bugs, fished, and went on adventures together during the day.







One of our favorite stops was Cafe at the Ridge. The food was fantastic; the scenery was picturesque, and the nursery was drool worthy. Other eateries we loved were The Carrot Patch, Billy Genes, Rails A Cafe at the Depot, Mamacitas (the best Mexican food I’ve ever eaten), and Pint & Plow. Thanks to the manager for give us a private tour of the brewery and for giving Emerson a little souvenir.









A few months on the road had my boys looking like homeless people. After much convincing, Emerson agreed to a haircut. And boy, oh boy, what an experience! I found this little barber shop called Lucky’s of Texas. It was like stepping back in time. The gentleman was so kind and caring, and the ducktail he gave Emerson had me calling my son James Dean for the rest of the day.





Speaking of hair, I went blonde…really blonde. Luckily, I found an amazing stylist at Pop Hair Art. Ladies, this salon is worth the drive!


Life was pretty chill in Kerville. We forgot about COVID, masks were always optional, and everyone just went about their own business. I was in a good mental state, distancing myself from the drama I had faced on social media, appreciating the beauty of life, enjoying time with my family, and crushing home school, but then life threw me a curve ball.


One morning, I spun around on the RV stairs, while trying to put on my shoes. A heartbeat later I fell, arms pinwheeling, dignity dissolving. My body slammed onto the ground and the loud crack that followed signaled my brain to go night-night for a few seconds. I wish I could say the fall hurt my pride more than the injury, but not this time. I had broken my foot. The fifth metatarsal, to be exact. Short minutes later, I woke up on the ground with the dog staring at me. Justin was at work, Emerson was sound asleep inside the RV, and Gunner was no Lassie.

“Get help,” I begged him. He sniffed the grass in response, then stole the scrunchie from my flattened pony tail, and proceeded to “kill” it before sauntering off. Feeling helpless, I army crawled up the RV stairs and yelled for Emerson, who then ran to our neighbors while rubbing the sleep from his eyes.



An ambulance ride later had me visiting the same hospital Siri struggled to find a few weeks earlier.

“Eight weeks in a boot,” said the doctor. “Stay off of it for 72 hours and keep it iced.”

Um. Easier said than done when you’re playing single parent to a young child inside an RV that isn’t wide enough for crutches.


Thankfully, my mother and stepfather were coming into town for Emerson’s birthday, days after the break, so my sweet mama drove down early. She took great care of me until Justin made it home from work. Did we rent a wheelchair so I could attend Emerson’s birthday celebration in San Antonio? Yes, we did. Did my mom push me around like a bat out of hell? Yes, she did. Did I insist my stepfather take over? Absolutely. The ride was much smoother thereafter. Regardless, we had a great time celebrating Emerson’s big day.





Sporting a stylish boot, I attended a book signing that EntertainMART hosted for me. Meeting new readers is always exciting. I even had the pleasure of chatting with a supporter and follower from Instagram.




So what did we learn from our time in Kerrville, TX? Old people are fun to hang out with, know where to seek medical attention, introduce yourself to strangers, you never know when you could meet a new friend, appreciate nature, don’t try putting your shoes on backwards, when life gives you a literal break, make the best out of it, and don’t be afraid to laugh at yourself. Life’s too short to worry about the things you can’t control.


So where are we off to next? You’ll have to wait and see. But here’s a hint…our journey has only just begun!


Much love and God bless,

J.M. Buckler



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Title: Kagen the Damned

Author: Jonathan Maberry

Publisher: St. Martins Griffin

Synopsis:

Sworn by Oath Kagen Vale is the trusted and feared captain of the place guard, charged with protection the royal children of the Silver Empire. But one night, Kagen is drugged and the entire imperial family is killed, leaving the empire in ruins. Abandoned by the Gods Haunted and broken, Kagen is abandoned by his gods and damned forever. He becomes a wanderer, trying to take down as many of his enemies as possible while plotting to assassinate the usurper–the deadly Witch-king of Hakkia. While all around him magic–long banished from the world―returns in strange and terrifying ways. Fueled by Rage To find the royal children and exact his vengeance, Kagen must venture into strange lands, battle bizarre and terrifying creatures, and gather allies for a suicide mission into the heart of the Witch-king’s empire. Kings and gods will fear him. Kagen the Damned


Review: This is a review for an ARC I received from the publisher.


Plot: What a ride! Kagen the Damned deserves high marks for an epic adult fantasy. I couldn’t put it down. The engaging plot and unpredictable twists kept me turning the pages. Author Maberry, a well-seasoned author, knows how to weave a colorful tale of vengeance and betrayal. Kagen’s story is brutal, graphic, heartbreaking, and devastating. The vivid descriptions will make you cringe and detest the Witch King as much as the captain of the palace guard does. Each chapter, each character’s point of view, added so much depth to the story. The pacing was fantastic. At times, I found the world building a bit confusing. Modern day terms and references slipped into the dialogue and plot. Perhaps the answer will reveal itself in the next installment.


Characters: The Witch King is definitely the most vicious being I have ever crossed in literature. His cruel actions knotted my stomach, and his sorceress, who dabbles in necromancy, scared the heck out of me. Kagen is the morally grey character you constantly cheer for and Tuke is the friend we all need in our lives.


Writing: Author Mayberry has perfected the ability to reel the reader into a new world. From chapter one, I was hooked. No, the text was not without its faults, but the non-stop drama helped me overlook little speed bumps I encountered here and there. Epic fantasy usually intimidates me. Luckily, Kagen the Damned eases the reader into a complex world.


Final Thoughts: I really enjoyed this book and can’t wait for the sequel. Book one leaves you on a huge cliffhanger. I need book two…now. This is an excellent starter for those who are looking to branch out into epic adult fantasy.


Triggers/Warnings: graphic violence, adult language, adult content,

Plot: 4/5

Pacing: 5/5

Escapism Factor: 4/5

Emotional Connection: 4/5

Character Development: 4/5


Star Rating:⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


Completed Read: November 2021

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Title: The Inheritance Games

Author: Jennifer Lyn Barnes

Publisher: Little Brown Books


Synopsis:

Avery Grambs has a plan for a better future: survive high school, win a scholarship, and get out. But her fortunes change in an instant when billionaire Tobias Hawthorne dies and leaves Avery virtually his entire fortune. The catch? Avery has no idea why -- or even who Tobias Hawthorne is. To receive her inheritance, Avery must move into sprawling, secret passage-filled Hawthorne House, where every room bears the old man’s touch -- and his love of puzzles, riddles, and codes. Unfortunately for Avery, Hawthorne House is also occupied by the family that Tobias Hawthorne just dispossessed. This includes the four Hawthorne grandsons: dangerous, magnetic, brilliant boys who grew up with every expectation that one day, they would inherit billions. Heir apparent Grayson Hawthorne is convinced that Avery must be a conwoman, and he’s determined to take her down. His brother, Jameson, views her as their grandfather’s last hurrah: a twisted riddle, a puzzle to be solved. Caught in a world of wealth and privilege, with danger around every turn, Avery will have to play the game herself just to survive. Review: This is a review for The Inheritance Games audiobook.


Plot: The first few chapters of this young adult novel really drew me into the story, but once Avery arrived at Hawthorne House, the plot stalled. I love a good puzzle and enjoy shuffling the pieces with fictional characters. Unfortunately, The Inheritance Games bored the heck out of me. One of the two “big” reveals felt rather silly. Tobias Hawthorne’s little game lacked maturity and intrigue for such a distinguished entrepreneur. I kept saying “Really? Really Tobias? That’s the reason for the game?” The final and biggest reveal was incredibly predictable and left me unsatisfied.


Characters: The Hawthorne boys never held my attention. I’m not sure if it was the narrator’s annoying southern drawl she used for Grayson, Jameson, Nash, and Alexander or their mannerisms, but in my humble opinion, they all fell flat. As for Avery, the protagonist, she hit every mark for the unremarkable teenage girl in young adult fiction who gets thrown into a new environment, struggles to fit in, gets a glow up, then attracts the attention of multiple boys. The side characters piqued my interest, but not enough to make up for the slow paced plot.


Writing: Author Jennifer Lynn Barnes created a casual mystery for young readers. Technically, I found nothing wrong with her writing. My only complaint is the story itself or the lack thereof. Her descriptions painted a simple picture of the characters and setting. Hawthorne House got the most attention, which I found entertaining, but as a fellow Texan, I struggled to identify the exact location in the Lone Star state. One minute the characters were in a vast forest, the next they’re near the ocean. The dialogue between characters flowed naturally, and only a few overused words snagged my attention.


Final Thoughts: Because my reader taste has matured, I doubt I will continue this trilogy. I need more grit and intensity from both the plot and characters. I would recommend this book to young readers who enjoy contemporary YA novels.


Triggers/Warnings: none


Plot: 3/5

Pacing: 4/5

Escapism Factor: 3/5

Emotional Connection: 2/5

Character Development: 3/5


Star Rating:⭐️⭐️⭐️


Completed Read: November 2021

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