Category Archives: Books & Reading

Books I Have Read-January 2021

Books and Reading
Coffee and Books!
  1. Paris Is Always a Good Idea-Jenn McKinlay

Chelsea Martin tries to relive her year traveling through Europe. She went to Ireland, France, and Italy on her gap year between college and career. She decides she wants to find the girl she was, so recreates the trip with many unexpected results. A fun read.

2. The Bone Collection-Kathy

Four novellas about Dr. Temperance Brennan. We are given information about her background and how she came to be a forensic investigator. Intriguing as all works of Kathy Reich are.

3. Murder, She Barked-Krista Davis

Holly Miller returns unexpectedly to the pet-centered town where her grandmother lives. Murders and confusion seem to be everywhere. An enjoyable read.

4 .A Good Year for the Roses-Gil McNeil

Right after Molly gets divorced, she inherits a manor house from her Aunt. She and her three boys move from London to the Devon coast and begin a whole new way of life. Molly’s journey is one of growth and humor.

5.The Hundred-Year House-Rebecca Makkai

I nearly gave up on this book. It is written in 3 major sections, going backward in time. It could be a little hard to follow as each section began. By the end of each section, I was invested enough in the characters to keep going. The large house in question goes from artists’ colony to stately home to artists’ colony. It may be that the author is just too clever for me.

Of these five books, I would have to say my favorite was #1, Paris Is Always a Good Idea. I love Jen McKinlay, and this book did not disappoint. If you’re not into romance novels, The Bone Collection by Kathy Reichs is also a very good choice.

I didn’t read as much this past month and I’m not quite sure why. I’ll try to do better for February. Keep in mind the quote (I can’t remember who said it), “Those who can read and don’t, are no better off than those who can’t.

Read on!

With Positivity, You Can Change the World!

Book of Positive Quotes
A Wonderful Book of Positivity

In these difficult times, we can all use more positivity in our lives. I came across this gem a number of years ago when a family member posted a page from it on Facebook. Thanks Jim Z! Once I read the page, I knew I needed a copy of the book. I was able to get a copy on Amazon Used Books for 12 cents! Plus the $3.99 shipping, of course. I checked and you can still get a used copy for under $1.00. It is the type of book with a one page entry for each calendar day.

I used to keep my copy at work and read each day’s selection in the morning so that I could reflect on it and start my day in a positive way. On Monday’s I would read the weekend’s pages along with the one for the current day. It served me well and got me in a good frame of mind for the workday. Sometimes, after I had the book for a  while, I would take a year off of the daily readings and just read a random page when the mood struck me. I always benefited from my reading.

With the upheaval we are experiencing in our daily lives due to the coronavirus, as well as political unrest, I thought this would be a good year to spend reading the entries in this book on a daily basis once again. It was a wise decision for multiple reasons. The entries are helping me to get a perspective on our current times and not feel so sorry for myself.

This is also the first time that I have read through the book as a retiree. It makes me look at many of the entries in a different light. I have time to go back and read the quote at the top of the page more than once during the morning and refocus and give more thought to the meaning and how it may or may not apply to my own life. I recommend this practice for anyone. If you are feeling down, or like your life could be better, spending time thinking about positive quotes would be a helpful activity.

And if you are in a good place in your life, then spending time focusing on positive thoughts is an investment in keeping your life on track and staying in that good place. Life has its ups and downs and working at staying on the up side is time well spent.

Although this book is a good starting place, it is not the only way to go about it. You can find lists of many positive quotes on the internet. There are lists of quotes by many wise people. One of my favorites is Ghandi’s Top 10 Fundamentals for Changing the World. Don’t you want to change the world? I know, I do. And each and every one of us has that ability. So, go out and get busy changing the world!

Books Read December 2020 (The Blessing of Books in a Pandemic World)

The blessing of books in a pandemic world.
The Blessing of Books in a Pandemic World

Getting library books turned into more of a challenge this month due to the increased number of Covid cases in this pandemic world. My local library has once again had to shut its doors to the public, but I persevered. I was still able to get books by doing searches, placing the books on hold, and picking them up at the library’s drive thru window. And so I was able to get a new supply of books. That feeling of driving home with a new bag of books on the seat beside me never gets old. My reads for the month follow.

1. From Alaska With Love-Ally James

Sara develops a relationship writing to a soldier stationed overseas. Will things work out when he comes state side, or will the reality be too much? A fun read.

2. The Summer Deal-Jill Shalvis

Brynn strives to make a new life for herself after surviving a breakup. She moves back to her hometown and rekindles relationships with family and friends. I love anything written by Shalvis.

3. Miss Cecily’s Recipes for Exceptional Ladies-Vicky Zimmerman

Kate Parker’s nearly 40 year old life is going down the tubes. She begins volunteering at a home for old ladies. The friendship she makes with one of them changes her life.

4. Sealed Off-Barbara Ross

A murder mystery that takes place on an island in Maine. The Snowden family business is to put on clambakes. Relations between two of the employees go bad, or do they? A hidden room is also involved.

5. The Jane Austen Society-Natalie Jenner

This is a book about a group of people who become friends through their love for Jane Austen and her works. There was a lot of groundwork to lay so it took me a while to get into the book. It was well worth reading to get to the surprise ending.

6. One Thousand Gifts-Ann Voskamp (Non-fiction)

I only read a chapter and a half of this book. The writer talks about life struggles and described them so well that they were quite painful and stuck in your mind. Making you feel is the sign of a good writer and I’m thinking she over comes her problems given the title of the book. It is not the kind of book that I want to read right now with a pandemic going on. I may return to it sometime in the future.

Of this group of books, the one that is going to stick with me is #3) Miss Cecily’s Recipe for Exceptional Ladies. It shows the beauty of new and unexpected friendships and how they can improve our lives.

Happy New Year, fellow readers. Hoping your 2021 is a wonderful year and that your blessings exceed your expectations.

Good Things in a Pandemic World

Good Things in a Pandemic Word. New Mug, Coffee, and a Good Book!
Good Things in a Pandemic World. New Mug, Coffee, and a Good Book!

As 2021 approaches, I am spending some time looking back over 2020.

For the most part, I have considered 2020 as a year of putting my life on hold. I understand that for so many others, it was a year of illness, death, and financial hardship. I have fared better than many.

As the year comes to a close, I am more easily able to look back and see the big picture. A reason why so many start the New Year off with resolutions to change and make improvements. If I see 2020 as a year of my life being on hold, that is my choice. That means I can also make the choice to see it differently.

What if this year was a gift of solitude and introspection? If times were usual I no doubt would have kept on working in areas that I was familiar with after my retirement last year. It is easier to continue on with what you know than to make decisions and strike out on a new path. I would have kept searching for jobs in the water treatment industry. That was my career, and I was good at it. But I suspect that I can be good at many things. Do I want to stay on that path and wonder about the road not taken? Only time will tell.

There are many things I enjoy. Mostly, dogs, books, gardening, and writing. And I enjoy sharing them with others. I am free to pursue any or all of these. I have always thought that I am an “odd bird” because I have a technical, scientific mind, which was how I earned my living for many years. I also enjoy many right-brained pursuits. I am not just a left-brain or right brain kind of girl. Both sides of my brain fight it out for expression. (That may be why I sometimes get into trouble because of a busy mind!)The year of 2020 provided me an opportunity to look at my life as whole and make decisions about what I want to do with it.

I have also reflected on the fact that I have always been somewhat of a loner. The social meme “It’s too peopley out there” is one I understand. A year of isolation and separation forced by a pandemic, makes me rethink this too. It’s true that I enjoy my alone time and always will. But I now have more appreciation for social gatherings and hanging out with friends and acquaintances. (I never doubted my love and need to hang out with family.) I miss my friends with their smiles and hugs and conversations. Friends can also give us new insights and cause us to realize there are other opinions and reactions to situations. Friends make us think outside of ourselves. They help us to be whole, better rounded individuals.

Staying isolated is hard. But if we look at this over the span of an entire lifetime, it is a brief snapshot of time. How we will see this time when we look back on this period in our lives, will certainly be different that how we feel about it right now. And we get to choose how we will reflect on this time, when the years have passed.

Many have lost loved ones to this coronavirus and I am deeply sorry for them. What a terrible thing. Those losses will mark this as a dark time in history. That does not mean we cannot find a light in the darkness and use it to guide our way.

May peace be with you.

Magical Gems

Library Books
Books from the Library

There is a winter storm headed our way. It should hit sometime tomorrow and last through Christmas. I am all set. I placed holds on several books at the library and picked them up at the drive thru window. Fulfilling my need for library books while staying safe.

Books, and libraries, are magical things. They offer us the opportunity to experience other places and times from where we are.

Even if you aren’t able to enjoy the feel and smell of real books, there are always electronic options available. They aren’t quite the same experience but can still offer you an adventure!

Books Read November 2020

Zekie Dog and me
Hanging out with Zekie, which I often do while reading.

1. Game of Dog Bones-Laurien Berenson

Melanie Travis solves a murder with her canine friends. This time at the Westminster Dog Show while Aunt Peg judges at Madison Square Garden. This was a fun one.

2. Snowball’s Christmas-Kristen McKanagah

Tiny kitten Snowball plays her part in trying to bring Lukas and Emily together for a future at Weber Haus, a Victorian family bed and breakfast.

3. The Twelve Dogs of Christmas-Lizzie Shane

Ally Gilmore moves home to Pine Hollow to help her grandparents run the dog shelter. As she struggles to find homes for the dogs, things go awry.

4. The Finders-Jeffrey B. Burton

Mason Reid has 4 cadaver dogs that specialize in finding human remains. The youngest, Vira, turns out to have extra special abilities.

5. A Dog’s Perfect Christmas-W. Bruce Cameron

The Goss Family works their way through an emergency and trying times, accompanied by their puppy and senior wolfhound. A happy ending.

6. 500 Miles From You-Jenny Colgan

Lissa is a nurse in London and Cormac is a nurse in the Scottish countryside. Lissa needs quiet to recover from witnessing a crime and Cormac wants a training opportunity. They switch places and come to rely on each other for advice.

7. Pumpkin Spice Peril-Jenn McKinlay

From the cupcake shop murder mystery series. Melanie helps solve a crime to discover who killed her artist friend.

8. The Secret Ingredient-KD Fisher

I got a bit of a surprise with this book. It is a book about two chefs and their restaurants and lives. The surprise came when it was apparent that the main characters are homosexual. Not necessarily a bad thing but I did not pick that up from reading the back cover. I read the book because it was a good story and I wanted some insight into friends and others who live this lifestyle.

My favorite of these was The Finders. It was an excellent book. Beyond that, you really can’t go wrong with any of these books. I enjoyed them all. The Twelve Dogs of Christmas is an enjoyable holiday read.

Books Read-October 2020

1. A Conspiracy of Bones-Kathy Reichs

Forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan works on solving another case while dealing with her own personal issues.

2.Sisters by Choice-Susan Mallery

Sophie, Kristine, and Heather are cousins. They look out for each other in their changing lives, offering courage and support.

3.Sea Wife-Amity Gaige

Juliet, her husband Michael and their two children buy a sailboat and live on it for a year. This book did not hold my interest and I stopped reading after about 40 pages.

4.The Giver of Stars-JoJo Moyes

A tale about four Kentucky librarians under Eleanor Roosevelt’s traveling library. The friendships that develop between the girls is heartwarming.

5.No Fixed Line-Dana Stabenow

A Kate Shugak crime mystery that takes place in Alaska. Kate solves a case involving drug and child trafficking. A good read.

6.The Haunting of Hill House-Shirley Jackson

A classic about a haunted house and the people who show up to study it.

Of this list, my favorite was Giver of Stars. The relationships between the characters is heartwarming. I kept picking up this book because I couldn’t wait to see what was going to happen.

Book Recommendation!

I normally post the books I have read for the month in one post, but this one is so good I just had to share now-The Finders by Jeffrey B. Burton.

Mason Reid is a dog trainer. His four dogs, a German Shepherd, two smooth collies, and a golden retriever, are all cadaver search dogs. The youngest, Vira the golden, turns out to be a superdog with with stellar abilities. I won’t give more away.

Their work on cases is gripping. I couldn’t put the book down. It is a crime book so be prepared for that. I highly recommend giving it a try!

Books Read-September 2020

One of My Library Shelves

1. Who Rescued Who-Victoria Schade

Elizabeth loses her high-powered job but discovers family and gains a dog and a new career and life in the English countryside.

2. The Big Finish-Brooke Fossey

Duffy Sinclair lives in an assisted living facility. Life is predictable. Until his roommate’s granddaughter crawls in through their bedroom window one night and everyone’s lives change.

3. Separation Anxiety-Laura Zigman

A once successful author learns to deal with her own feelings and her dysfunctional family. This book was listed as funny, but I only found it to be sad and painful. I finished it but wish I had stopped when I thought about it.

4. The Banty House-Carolyn Brown

Three senior ladies living in Rooster, Texas take in a teen expecting a baby. They develop friendships and become a family.

5. Howloween Murder-Laurien Berenson

Melanie Travis and her standard poodle Faith search for who has poisoned the Halloween treats, causing the murder to look like it was committed by their friend.

6. A Walk Along the Beach-Debbie Macomber

A book about the Lakey sisters, their family, and love interests. A bit heart wrenching for a Debbie Macomber novel, but a good read.

7. The Geometry of Holding Hands-Alexander McCall Smith

Read about 100 pages and decided to give it up. Found myself wondering what I would read next every time I picked it up. Just not in the mood for it.

Magazines:

Yankee

Several of these books were excellent but if I had to pick a favorite, it would be Who Rescued Who. It made me wish that I lived in the English countryside.

Five Books-August 2020

Claire asks “Why read when you can pet me?”

Books Read-August 2020

  1. Mrs. Whaley and Her Charleston Garden-Emily Whaley (Non-fiction)
    This book is about more than gardening. It is a memoir of southern living. At first it put me off with some of its outdated views. It made up for it with charming insights into certain facets of life.
  2. The Ark’s Anniversary-Gerald Durrell (Non-fiction)
    Gerry tells humorous tales about some of the zoos animals as well their captive breeding efforts and releases. A funny read. The author is the youngest child from the television series “The Durrell’s of Corfu”.
  3. Dear John-Nicholas Sparks
    John and Savannah have a true love. Sometimes, you never expect what true love is. Sparks is always a good read.
  4. Death by Chocolate Frosted Donut-Sarah Graves
    Paints a nice picture of northern coastal Maine along with an explosive murder mystery. Enjoyable.
  5. My Italian Bulldozer-Alexander McCall Smith
    Although I was not a fan of the author’s No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency books, I do enjoy the Paul Stuart novels, of which this is one. They are a nice taste of the Italian village and provide food for thought on daily life.

I don’t have a number one pick from this month’s books because they are all so different. It just depends what you are in the mood for. I find that as the weather cools and my gardening chores taper off, I am reading more. I am already on my fifth book for September with nearly two weeks to go!

Magazines:

  1. Yankee Magazine