Category Archives: Books & Reading

Books I Read in October 2022

Home Library

Hello Readers! The typical fall flurry of activity has been keeping me busy. This is a transition season. Lots of clean-up chores from summer, that must be completed before winter hits. I dug up three paper grocery bags worth of gladioli bulbs. The bags are covered with bulbs one layer deep across the bottom. This is to prevent crowding and allow for proper air flow. If there are too many bulbs in one bag, they will rot from the moisture retention. I still have to dig up the begonia and dahlia corms. They were still blooming, so I let them go. It snowed the past two days, so I will dig them up during the next warm spell we get.

Most of our outdoor time the past few weeks has been spent raking and hauling leaves. Some of the leaves went into our new compost bin. My husband built us a large compost bin from lumber and chicken wire. We are composting leaves, grass clippings, and kitchen scraps. Our first batch should be ready to add to the garden next year. I’ll let you know.

I was here by myself for a week in October while my husband and daughter went on a trip to New York and Massachusetts. I took a trip to the library the day they left, so I would have lots of reading material. I stayed home with the dogs and managed to have another foster dog by the time they returned from their vacation. Foster Puppy! Bodhi, Part I We had a fine time here at home! So, here are the books I read…

  1. The Wind Through the Keyhole-Stephen King

This book is one from King’s gunslinger novels. It is the prequel to the original series. It is a tale that seems like a cross of a past land and a futuristic fantasy world. I am not a Stephen King fanatic, but I do like to read an occasional one of his works. I found myself becoming invested in the main characters and rooting for them. An enjoyable read.

2. Write for Your Life-Anna Quindlen (Non-fiction)

A book about the importance of seemingly common writing to our everyday lives, and to the world. Sometimes, common makes all the difference, and proves not to be common after all. Well worth the read.

3. Maggie Moves On-Lucy Score

House flipper & You Tuber Maggie Nichols takes on her next project in Kinship, Idaho. She discovers a landscaper with lots to offer and discovers that you can build a family with something besides blood bonds. The house they are working on has a history involving a stagecoach robbery and lost treasure. A fun read.

4. Growing Wonder, a Flower Farmer’s Guide to Roses-Felicia Alvarez (Non-fiction)

Good information on choosing, growing, and harvesting roses. There is always more information to be gleaned and I appreciated the info on pruning. Alvarez is a third-generation farmer and has a degree in agricultural science. Good information to be had. Living life on a beautiful flower and vegetable farm in California sounds like an idyllic life until I think about the amount of work involved.

5. English Country-Julie Fowler (Non-fiction)

An interior decorating book in the style of the English countryside. I enjoyed perusing the page and got a few ideas. Sit down with a good cup of tea while you read it.

6. Sugar and Salt-Susan Wiggs

Margot Salton started life as Margie Salinas. She made the change after suffering a rough start in life. She becomes a successful chef and has a new life, complete with a budding romance with Jerome Sugar who works in the bakery next door. Margot must deal with her past as it comes back to haunt her in her new life. Susan Wiggs books are always enjoyable.

7. The Secret Supper-Javier Sierra

The write up promises a historical thriller involving Leonardo da Vinci and the Catholic Church. After reading 125 pages, I decided to return this book to the library. It has too many details and little action, being told as a narrative by a friar years later. I cannot bring myself to contine reading.

8. Where Women Create-Jo Packham (Non-fiction)

I’ve had this book out of the library before and I love it! Has pictures of various women artists’ studios and creative spaces. I find it to be inspiring. I’m not sure how these artists pull off the creative, cluttered look and make it so appealing. My own area looks like someone just dumped a bunch of stuff and ran for it.

9. Hill House Living-Paula Sutton (Non-fiction)

This is a decorating and life style book. Hill House is in England. There are nice photographs and some cute ideas within.

Magazines-Cottages and Bungalows(2), Tuscan Home & Living, Forks Over Knives (2)

Books I Read in August 2022

Patio Garden Photo
Patio Garden

I sometimes read on the patio. In the spring and fall, I go there in the afternoons. During the heat of summer, I spend my time there in the mornings when there is shade. I don’t sit here every day, but I do make it two or three days a week.

I spent a fair amount of time in August picking vegetables-green beans, okra, tomatoes, zucchini, snow peas, and beets, etc. Then I started preparing them for the freezer. The tomatoes so far have been in the form of sauce. I plan to make a big pot of chili this afternoon with some of the tomatoes left.

The only fruit we had enough of to put up were a few blueberries which are in the freezer and some American plums that I boiled down into jam. I discovered this type of plum is naturally high in pectin, so you don’t have to add any for it to gel. I have six jars in the refrigerator. Three of them are plain plum jam and the other three are plum ginger. I grated some ginger root from the freezer into the second batch of jam for extra flavor complexity.

In between all this, I did a pretty good job on my reading list for August, so here is what I have for you.

  1. A Christmas by the Sea-Melody Carlson

Wendy Harper inherits a cottage in Seaside, Maine from her grandfather. She needs to sell it to pay off medical bills from her late husband and other bills. So, she and her son Jackson head to the cottage to get it ready to sell. Except Jackson thinks they are moving there. He loves everything about the place and Wendy does too, including a stray dog and a local bachelor. I thought the ending was rather sudden and unrealistic, but I enjoyed the book, nonetheless.

2. N’ice Cream-Mikkonen & Tallion (Cookbook)

These recipes are complex but may be worth the effort. I saved the one for vanilla ice cream to get me started. I can always add things to it to change the flavor. The recipe I saved has cashews. This will be my first time with a cashew-based ice cream, so it should be interesting!

3.The Blue Zones Kitchen, 100 Recipes to Live to 100-Dan Buettner (Cookbook)

I love the whole Blue Zones movement of studying cultures of the longest lived people! My favorite recipe is for the sweet potato and black bean burger. It is relatively easy and delicious. It holds together well when cooking unlike many other veggie burgers I have made. I make extra and put them in the freezer. I highly recommend this book!

4. Artisan Ice Cream-Van Leeuwen (Cookbook)

 Most of the recipes in this book are a little too fancy/ unusual for me, but very fun to peruse.

5. The Keepers-Jeffrey A. Burton

Mace Reid makes his living with his family. His family happens to be a pack of scent sniffing dogs. They specialize in cadaver searches. One of his dogs, Vira, has special abilities. She is able to identify the scent of the killer from the corpse and identify the murderer when she encounters him. Burton’s books are awesome. They combine two of my favorite subjects, dogs and mysteries.

6. The Midnight Library-Matthew Haig

Nora Seed decides she doesn’t want to live any more. Shortly thereafter she finds herself at the Midnight Library. This is a place that houses books of every version of Nora’s life. She just selects each one she wants to experience until she finds the one, she wants to stay in. This novel is a book that makes you think. I’ve had it on my reading list for some time but hadn’t run across it. Turns out it’s in the science fiction section. Not sure I agree with that but regardless it is an enjoyable book.

7. The Best Is Yet to Come-Debbie Macomber

Hope Goodwin is learning to navigate life without her twin brother after his death. Cade Lincoln Jr is learning to live his life even though his best friends lost theirs’ in Afghanistan. They both volunteer at the local animal shelter where Hope rehabilitates Shadow, a large dog who everyone else thought was a lost cause. Hope deals with trouble at her job as a high school counselor while Cade has his own conflicts to handle. Can they maintain a relationship through all these problems? You’ll enjoy finding out.

8. The Magnolia Bakery Handbook (Cookbook)

This is a gorgeous cookbook. The recipes aren’t overly difficult. They start with a base recipe and move on to other flavor variations. The best part of this book was all the handy tips including the how and why of how to employ them. With a little practice you too can make some of the famous Magnolia Bakery treats.

9. Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home-Jenn Britton Bauer (Cookbook)

I have yet to try Jeni’s ice cream, but I will now. She’s from my home state-Ohio! I gained a lot of knowledge of the science of ice cream from this book. I’m not going to try these recipes right now because I’m focusing on dairy free ice creams for the time being. I will return to this book at some point. I am happy with the information I gained here about the process of ice cream making. Reading Jeni’s story was also fun.

10. Salad Freak-Jess Damuck (Cookbook)

I don’t know that I need the actual directions for the recipes, but the ideas for some of the combinations are quite different. Some novel and fun ideas. Check this book out for some unique meal or side ideas.

11. Kingdom of Bones-James Rollins

This is a high adventure book of the Indiana Jones type. Three different groups of people work together to try to find a cure for a natural giant virus and stop the bad guys while caring for those afflicted by disease. The story switches back and forth from the medical personnel to those trying to stop the bad guy in his fortress, to another party out in the jungle looking for a cure. There is even an impressive military canine involved. A fast paced and engaging read.

12. Vegan a la Mode-Hannah Kaminsky (Cookbook)

The ice cream flavors are unusual and require ingredients I don’t have on hand even after stocking up to make nondairy ice creams.

Magazines-Victoria Classics Tea Pleasures, Vintage Cottage Style, Better Homes & Gardens Flower Gardening, Mingle

Books I Read in July 2022

Patio view
I often read here!

You may notice lots of ice cream “cookbooks” this month and next month too. I bought an electric ice cream maker and am trying to perfect the art of dairy free ice cream. I can eat dairy products with no problem and the regular ice cream recipes I have tried turned out pretty well. Not everyone in my family is so lucky, so I am seeing if I can conquer the lactose or dairy free versions. I tried making the regular versions just substituting almond milk and coconut milk. It just didn’t work. The product had good flavor but was so hard, it was basically a block of ice milk. Back to the drawing board.

I did make time to read some other books in July too. Some days it was hot enough that I refused to go outside in the afternoons. Reading is always a better option when it’s more than 90 degrees outside!

  1. From Strength to Strength-Arthur C. Brooks (Non-Fiction)

I picked this book up because on the cover it says, “Finding success, happiness, and deep purpose in the second half of life”. Sounds perfect for someone (me) who retired a couple years ago, right? I am sorry I spent my time reading this book. The book spent a major portion of it telling me how people suffer a professional decline and lessening abilities as they age. Then it cited numerous examples of such. By the end, I was feeling pretty incompetent. The last couple of chapters do offer some good advice, but I did not find it to be worth the effort.

2. One Italian Summer-Rebecca Serle

I enjoyed this book. After the death of Katy’s mother, she takes the trip to Italy that they had planned to take together. Katy’s mother was her best friend, and she is lost without her. While she is there Katy becomes friends with…her mother who is 30 years younger. Katy gains insights into her mother’s life and actions that she never expected. She also learns a lot about herself. Normally, I don’t like books that bring fantasy into real life experiences, but I did enjoy this one. I do like books in the fantasy genre that occur in different worlds. Just my quirk.

3. The Heron’s Cry-Ann Cleeves

British Inspector Matthew Venn and his detectives have their hands full trying to solve this case before there are more murders. The book requires close attention to detail to keep up with the plot but is well worth it. Artist Eve keeps discovering bodies that have been killed with broken pieces of her glasswork. The first body is that of her father. They are also a few suicides that make us wonder just what is going on here. I couldn’t figure out who did it until very near the end.

4. Icebox Pies-Lauren Chatman (Cookbook)

Many delicious looking recipes but I am unlikely to make any of them. Most involve heavy cream or other sources of dairy and we have multiple lactose intolerant people in our family as noted above.

5. Vice Cream-Jeff Rogers (Cookbook)

This is a book of vegan ice cream recipes. I am not likely to make these. Nearly all use maple syrup or honey dates as a sweetener and I think they overpower the other flavors. Also, the fruit based recipes call for a juicer which I do not have.

6. The Year of Magical Thinking-Joan Didion (Non-Fiction)

Joan Didion and her husband John Dunne were successful writers. They were married for 40 years before John’s sudden death from a heart attack. Both worked from home so they were near constant features of each other’s lives. Their only child went into a 2 month coma 5 days before John’s death and then suffered from ongoing health problems.

7. The Heirloom Garden-Viola Shipman

Iris Maynard has been alone since her husband died in World War II and her daughter died from illness a few years later. After another traumatic event Iris walled in her yard hasn’t left for years. A troubled family rents the house that Iris owns next door to her own. The stipulation is they are to have no contact with Iris. Children have minds of their own, so this ends up being impossible. Iris is a retired botanist and the family loves flowers and gardening. A story of how we are better together than alone. A moving and enjoyable book with a bit of science thrown in.

8. The Southern Vegetarian-Burks & Lawrence (Cookbook)

Many of these recipes look delicious but they are more work than I am willing to put in and I am not a lazy cook. I did get some ideas for meals that I will put my own spin on to make them easier.

9. Melt, Ice Cream Sensations to Make at Home-Claire Kelsey (Cookbook)

The recipes in this book are complex and most use unusual ingredients. I am never likely to make them. That being said, check this book out! It is fun and the pictures are beautiful. I also enjoyed reading about how the author’s food truck that sells ice cream came into being.

10. The Friendship Pact-Jill Shalvis

Tae Holmes and her mother tell each other everything except for one very big secret her mother has kept hidden. The secret has the potential to change everything. Tae is also distracted by the sudden appearance of Riggs, her first fling way back in high school. Riggs turns out to have her back. Always.

Sorry for some less than positive reviews this time, but hey, you can’t like them all.

My recommendation from this list is The Friendship Pact if you want a good beach read type of book. You can never go wrong with Jill Shalvis. If I see her name on a book, I will pick it up. If you are looking for a book to make you think, go for The Heron’s Cry.

Books I Read in June 2022

Our patio

Hello Readers,

I hope you are enjoying your summer. Mercifully, the area I live in, northeast Ohio, has been spared many of the storms and wildfires that have been taking place in the rest of the country. Our weather has had some hot spells, but nothing like in the south and southwest. It has been dry, dry, dry though! We spend an hour and a half watering every other day. This includes the vegetable garden, various shrubs and flowers, hanging baskets, wall planters, and all the raised sandstone flowerbeds in our patio garden. Even with the various gardening chores and other commitments, I have made time to read. Mostly because I refuse to go outside when it is over 90 degrees! So, read on to see what my selections for June were.

  1. More Mediterranean-America’s Test Kitchen (Non-Fiction)

A cookbook to inspire eating for wellness. Many of the recipes look delicious. I finally decided I was never likely to prepare any of them because most require an ingredient or spice that I am never likely to have. Things like Za’atar, fenugreek, and fresh fennel. If you’re looking for a healthy challenge though, this may well be the book for you.

2. Death by Chocolate Chip Cupcake-Sarah Graves

Jake and Ellie are back in this series featuring a chocolate themed bakery located in Eastport, Maine. The murders they solve this time are based on an old theme, who can get out of the haunted mansion alive, when the pair caters the desserts for a dinner for the new owner, a fading movie star. Jake manages to survive more mishaps and wounds than you would think possible. This series has Maine, the ocean, chocolate, and good friends. How can you go wrong? I think this is my favorite book in this series so far. It is enjoyable and amusing.

3. Rule Your Day-Joel Osteen (Non-fiction)

This is an inspirational book from the pastor of Lakewood Church, America’s largest church. The author tells us how to be successful in our lives, citing Bible stories and applying them to current times. Oddly enough, many of the suggestions are things I’ve read from business articles. Such goodies as, don’t hang around with people who pull you down. Although I am a Christian and familiar with the Biblical references, I think this book would be beneficial for everyone. It provides useful advice that can be applied to your own life.

4. Our Country Friends-Gary Shteyngart

A group of friends gathers at a country house and its surrounding cottages in upstate New York to ride out the pandemic. They learn a lot about each other as they try to stay safe. They learn things about each other that they never expected. A group of three life long friends, an adopted Asian child, an arrogant actor, and others make up the cast who isolate to stay safe from the Covid pandemic. This book was not my cup of tea. I am ready to move on to a more cheerful read. I may have appreciated it more if the pandemic was a thing of the past.

5. With Love from London-Sarah Jio

Valentina Baker is jilted by her boyfriend and then learns that her estranged mother has died and left her a bookshop in London. She hasn’t seen her mother since she left when Valentina was 12 years old. The book tells Valentina’s story as well as her mother’s. Things are not always as they seem. This is a book of friendship that explores roads not taken. This is a fun, feel-good book and I highly recommend it.

Magazines: Country Living, Yankee

Books I Read in May 2022

This is where I like to read in the summer.

My list of books read last month covers a gamut of styles. I had a lot of non-fiction books. I like to keep two books going at once when I do that, one fiction and one non-fiction. What I read varies depending on my mood and level of concentration. If I want to escape and relax, I pick up the fiction book and read that. If I am hanging out with someone else or watching television, I have a non-fiction book that I peruse and read sections of between conversations or during commercials. Here are my selections from last month.

  1. Fox Crossing-Melinda Metz

Fox Crossing is the stepping off point before the 100 Mile Wilderness portion of the Appalachian Trail. It leads to Mount Katahdin. Annie runs her family’s outfitting store and gives advice, often unsolicited, to hikers. Many of them, like Nick, don’t take the advice. Annie has performed emergency rescues of 27 hikers. Nick makes it 28. Nick is popular with Annie’s friends and moves to Fox Crossing to start a school to teach other hikers by hiring local experts. Will he get Annie to teach as well, considering the flames between them?

2. Sunrise by the Sea-Jenny Colgan

Marisa was born and raised in England but comes from an Italian family. After her grandfather dies, she develops such anxiety that she can’t leave her apartment or maintain contact with the outside world. Through distressing circumstances, she finds herself living in Cornwall. Her first outreach is to Skype with her crotchety grandmother. This becomes a regular thing. She has unavoidable contact with the man in the flat next door. Between her grandmother, her therapist, and the man next door, she grows strong enough to venture out briefly. She meets Polly and begins working at Polly’s bakery. Disasters strike and Marisa learns that she is strong enough to take life on after all.

3. Funny Farm-Laurie Zaleski (Non-Fiction)

The author tells her story by interspersing a narrative of her life with the animals she has encountered and rescued along the way. We meet all kinds of animals from typical pets to farm animals. I get the feeling that if I met Laurie, we would become fast friends.

4. The Handmade Market Place-Kari Chapin (Non-Fiction)

A book detailing how to sell your crafts. Covers things you need to know, from choosing your brand to becoming part of the craft community to marketing and sales electronically as well as in person.

5. The Sweet Life-Suzanne Woods Fisher

Marnie and Dawn Dixon, mother and daughter, vacation on Cape Cod. It was supposed to be Dawn’s honeymoon, but her fiancé backed out. She and her mother went on the trip anyway to relax. Marnie is recently widowed and looking for a change and new purpose for her life. Always spontaneous, Marnie buys an ice cream shop in need of repairs. Dawn, always cautious agrees to help for the summer, figuring they can sell at the end of the summer. Sometimes the relationships we make as life happens give us new family. Dawn and her deceased father spent many hours making ice cream. It had been his dream to open an ice cream shop after retirement. Now they are doing it without him. Can you live your dream rather than do what is expected?

6. Lavender, 50 Self-Care Recipes and Projects for Natural Wellness-Bonnie Louise Gillis (Non-Fiction)

This book contains everything you need to know about lavender. And things I didn’t even know that I needed to know! Tips on growing, harvesting, and using the different types of lavender and which is best for each purpose. I think I will be growing more lavender.

7. Half Baked Harvest Every Day-Tieghan Gerard (Non-Fiction)

This cookbook has lots of yummy looking recipes. I am unlikely to prepare any of them because most require an ingredient that I don’t have or need more prep work than I am willing to do.

8. Fat Girls Hiking-Summer Michaud-Skog (Non-fiction)

Not what I expected. I read it anyway. Sometimes I like to read books to see how other people think. This is not a weight loss or self improvement book. It is about self acceptance. There is no body shaming. Many members are fat, lesbian people. Those with physical disabilities are also encouraged to hike. One quarter of hikes are to be on ADA (Americans with Disabilities Association) accessible trails.

Magazines-Country Living, Yankee

I don’t really have a strong favorite from this list to recommend to you. If forced to pick, I would probably go with The Sweet Life. Mostly because I really like ice cream and have thought about trying to make it myself with a home ice cream maker. What fun it would be to come up with your own flavor combinations! And I know a few people who are lactose intolerant. I could also make lots of almond milk-based ice creams. The flavor selections on non-dairy ice creams are limited and I could provide endless options.

Thanks for reading! Sign up for emails to follow along and read my future posts.

Books I Read in March 2022

I am perfectly capable of petting animals while I read!
  1. An Irish Country Yuletide-Patrick Taylor

Dr. Barry Laverty comes back to Ballybucklebo for the holidays. You’ll enjoy this tale of 1960’s era doctors in a small Irish village. Rather like James Herriot books but with people instead of animals as the patients.

2. The Blue Zones Challenge (Non-fiction)-Dan Buettner

The blue zones are areas around the world where populations live longer than average and maintain good health. This book shares the things these groups have in common, and how you can implement them into your own life. Fascinating.

3.The Good Girl’s Guide to Getting Lost (Non-fiction)-Rachel Friedman

Rachel travels during a college summer. After graduating college, she continues traveling on two more continents. I learned a bit about travel, hostels, and adapting to other cultures.

4. Fodor’s Travel Maine, Vermont, and New Hampshire (Non-fiction)

Fun to peruse remembering places I have been as well as places I still want to see or revisit.

5. A Virgin River Christmas-Robyn Carr

Marcie Sullivan wants to find the fellow marine who saved her late husband’s life when he was stationed overseas. Ian disappeared once the unit returned stateside. She finally tracks him down and finds an emotionally wounded man who is not happy to see her. Can it be a peaceful Christmas for them? I enjoyed this book as I have all the Robyn Carr books, I’ve read.

6. Killer Research-Jenn McKinley

Lindsey must find a way to clear Miss Cole of murder suspicion as Miss Cole makes a bid for the position of town mayor. Another delightful installment with our friends from Briar Creek.

7. This Must Be the Place-Rachael Ray

Although this book has plenty of recipes, it is so much more than a cookbook. Rachael talks about her life and lessons learned during Covid. She had quite a few serious challenges that I was not aware of. She weathered them well.

Magazines:  Food Network Magazine, the Cottage Journal, Cottages and Bungalows, Martha Stewart Living, Better Homes and Gardens Cozy Cabins and Retreats

From this month’s list of books read, I must recommend The Blue Zones Challenge as the one with the most potential to improve your life. If you make even one or two of the changes presented in the book, you are likely to be a healthier person.

If you are looking for a book to take you away and immerse your mind elsewhere, read A Virgin River Christmas. Don’t feel it has to be Christmas time to enjoy this book. It is more about people and relationships than it is about the holiday.

I did manage to get a few more books read in March than I have been averaging. My husband went on a road trip with his mother while I stayed home with the animals. I got a big stack of books from the library the first day and the cats and dogs are perfectly content if I read while I pet them, so we were all set!

Books Read in February 2022 and Why I Didn’t Read One, or Maintaining Peace

One of the books from my home library.

My reading list is rather scant again this month. I expect next month’s list to be longer as I will be on my own for the next few days and intend to do lots of reading. The first thing on my list? A trip to the library! Hope I don’t hurt myself getting all those books and magazines to the car. My daughter is coming over on Saturday and we are going to look at books and magazines and have pumpkin chocolate chip pancakes. The Kent Free Library always has lots of fun specialty magazines. So, below is last month’s list, slim as it may be.

  1. My Love Affair with the State of Maine-Scotty Mackenzie with Ruth Goode: (Non/fiction) Scotty and her friend Dorothy vacation in Maine. They end up buying a store and becoming part of the community. A dream shared by many of us. A nice snapshot of 1950’s coastal Maine. This one is a keeper from my home library.
  2. A Rant of Ravens-Christine Goff: Rachel Stanhope goes to her aunt’s ranch for a long visit. The ranch is also a bird sanctuary. Aunt Miriam is scheduled for a trip to the Middle East, but a murder throws a monkey wrench in the plans. Aunt Miriam soon disappears, and it is up to Rachel to figure it out and set things right.
  3. RFD Vermont-Marguerite Hurrey Wolf: (Non-fiction) The author shares insights about her daily life in Vermont and her writing is magical. The style is reminiscent of Gladys Taber. I picked this little gem up at a library book sale. I will be keeping it to read again.
  4. The Nightingale-Kristen Hannah: A good book that I could not finish right now. I will pick it up again later.

Magazines-Country Living (2), Yankee Magazine, Smithsonian, Real Simple (2), Best Friends

You might wonder why I could not finish reading The Nightingale if it is a good book. I made it 180 pages before I stopped. It is a long book, over 500 pages. The reason I stopped reading it, is because of the war in Ukraine. There are so many parallels. The Nightingale takes place during World War II when France surrenders and the Nazi occupation occurs. Shortly after the book opens, one of the main characters flees Paris to join her sister in the French countryside. She is one of many escaping the city. She becomes hungry and battered and bruised.

When I watched the news, I saw many being interviewed as they fled from the Ukraine, looking for safety. I saw the bombed-out buildings and the bodies and the hungry, hiding underground. I see the Russian troops moving forward under direction from a dictator, moving towards occupation.

A similar thing to what was happening as I read the book, was unfolding before my eyes on my television screen. It became too much. The book and the reality were too similar. It made me feel surrounded by war. And so, I returned the book to the shelf for another day.

One of the reasons I read, is for down time. It has a meditative quality for me. I may be too sensitive on this, but hey, we all need to do what is necessary for our wellbeing. I moved on to the book about Vermont. It did the trick, and I perceived my life to have balance once again. And so, in these trying times…

Peace be with you, my friends.

Books I Read in January 2022

  1. Love at First Bark-Debbie Burns


Mia and her son are adjusting to their new lives after her husband dies. She has to deal with the fact that he was unfaithful, and her son now has a half-brother. Her husband’s friend, who is also her son’s godfather, has always been there for them, and it turns out he still is. In fact, he has been in love with Mia from the beginning. Mia volunteers at the local animal shelter and they are all caught up in helping out when a dozen border collies are dumped at a local park. Romance and dogs, of course I enjoyed this one.

2. A Season for Second Chances-Jenny Bayliss

The Nook is a home and one-time business on the English shore. It doesn’t take long before Annie fits in with everyone except the homeowner’s nephew. Annie opens up a coffee shop and adds café services. Soon, she can’t imagine ever leaving. Loved this book! I love British humor. Where else do you hear such great lines as “I wanted to slap her in the face with a wet cod.”?

3. Piglet-Melissa Shapiro, DVM

This book is actually about a tiny blind deaf pink puppy and not a baby pig. Piglet is a doxie-chihuahua mix of double dapple heritage. This double dapple genetics often results in birth defects. This also happens in other breeds when two merles are bred. Dr. Shapiro takes Piglet in to foster him. You can imagine how that goes. The family adopts him. He got his name because he was pink just like a baby pig when he arrived. This story tells the tale of dealing with a blind and deaf puppy and teaching him how to communicate with his world.

Magazines: Country Living (3), Best Friends (2)

If you are wondering how I read multiple issues of the same magazine in one month, it is because I have a backlog of issues to catch up on. I fell behind while working and am trying to catch up. Yes, I have an issue with throwing away publications without having read them first. Don’t judge me!

Books I Read in December 2021

1. Once Upon a Wardrobe-Patti Callahan

Megs Devonshire’s gift lies with mathematics. And with bringing her dying brother’s love of Narnia and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe to life. Megs loves her brother more than anything. In trying to fulfill her brother’s dreams she meets the two Mr. Lewis’, C.S. and his brother, and has life changing experiences. It is a magical story about the forms of love.

2. I Heart Cheese, a Cookbook-Mihaela Metaxa-Albu (Non-fiction)

Wonderful pictures and creative recipes. It got me to try some cheeses that I had heard of but hadn’t tried such as Halloumi.

3. The Book of Hope- Jane Goodall and Douglas Abrams (Non-fiction)

All of Jane’s books strike a chord in me and this one is no exception. Jane is able to see all of us in herself while making us see a bit of Jane in ourselves. She is truly a master of communication and hope for this world.

4. West With Giraffes-Lynda Rutledge

Woodrow Wilson Nickel, age 105, reminisces about a journey he made across the country with two giraffes after the east coast hurricane of 1938. The plot premise sounded adventurous, but the story did not hold my interest. I stopped reading after 59 pages.

5. Sleigh Bells Ring-RaeAnne Thayne

Annie is watching her six year twin niece and nephew while their father serves a one month jail sentence. He is dealing with the death of his wife and unborn child. Annie is also the ranch manager for Angel’s View Ranch owned by the Sheridan clan. The clan comes to the ranch unannounced for a memorial for the patriarch of the family. Annie must handle accommodations for the entire clan plus take care of her niece and nephew and the volunteer projects she has committed to for Christmas. She must also deal with growing feelings for the grandson of the family. A nice holiday story.

6. The Speckled Beauty-Rick Bragg (Non-fiction)

Speck was a dog running at large and the author took him in. Speck is a farm dog in Alabama and quite a handful. The book gives a bit of a look into rural life in the south.

7. The Christmas Promise-Richard Paul Evans

Growing up, Michelle and Richelle are close, as only identical twins can be. They are identical in appearance but not personalities. As young adults a lone event comes between them forever. As years pass Richelle is alone and living her life as best she can, letting her career absorb time. Meeting and coming to love a stranger changes her life in ways she never expected.

Magazines-Good Housekeeping, Yankee, Country Living (2 issues), Writers Digest, Farmhouse Living, American Favorite Pumpkin Recipes, Best Friends (2 issues), Better Homes and Gardens Christmas Ideas, Country Living Christmas-UK edition, Oprah Magazine-the Gratitude Issue, the Cottage Journal Holiday Home, Southern Living Christmas at Home, Better Homes and Gardens Farmhouse Christmas

It is hard for me to pick one book to recommend as my favorite because this is such a varied list. I think I would have to go with Once Upon a Wardrobe. It is a little different from my usual read, but the story got in my mind and made me think. Happy reading!

Books I Read in October 2021

Better late than never. I can’t believe it’s mid-November and I’m just getting around to sharing the books I read in October. Insulating and dry walling the upstairs of our workshop seems to be taking up all of our time. Between that and raking leaves, I haven’t even had time to dig up my gladioli bulbs yet. I did manage to dig up the dahlias. I don’t have as many of them.

Without further ado, here is my list of books from last month.

  1. 101 Best Businesses for Pet Lovers-Nigro and Nigro

This book covers some new ideas I hadn’t thought of, as well as the old standbys. Gives a bit of very general information on how to get started. It was fun to browse for new ideas.

2. The Darkest Evening-Ann Cleeves

British Policewoman Vera Stanhope is on another murder investigation. The case may involve her wealthy and estranged family. A young mother is murdered. Vera finds the mother’s young son stranded and alone in a car during a blizzard. I loved this book and will definitely read the others in this series. I was not familiar with the author, but apparently these books are the basis for the television series Vera. I will also be searching out the show to stream and see how I like it. I have high hopes after reading this book.

3. The Hill We Climb-Amanda Gorman

This is the inaugural poem read on January 20, 2021. Everyone should hear or read it. In fact, if you have, read it again. It is a work of beauty.

4. Death by Chocolate Snickerdoodle-Sarah Graves

Another saga in the Jake Tiptree series that is centered around her bakery The Chocolate Moose in Eastport, Maine. This one kept me guessing who the murderer was until the end and is filled with lots of references to life in an oceanside town. The murder victim was despised by all and there are lots of suspects.

5. The Italian Slow Cooker-Michele Scicolone

I didn’t find any recipes here that I wanted to try. I felt that most of these would be better, and nearly as easily, cooked by traditional methods. That’s just me.

6. The Best of Us-Robyn Carr

I got this book because I have become a fan of the author, who writes the Virgin River series. This book takes place in Sullivan’s Crossing. Dr. Leigh Culver has moved to the area and is figuring out her life as settles in and forges relationships with the locals. I enjoyed it.

7. Fix It and Forget It Slow Cooker Comfort Foods-Hope Comerford

This is a cookbook for the beginning cook. Most of the recipes are, put all ingredients in crockpot and turn it on. This book also has meat in most recipes, so didn’t suit me.

8. Platters and Boards-Shelly Westerhausen

This book discusses all aspects of charcuterie boards. There are some recipes, but mostly it suggests types of boards (dessert, breakfast, teatime, etc.) and things to put on them. It was fun to look at.

9. The Ultimate Guide to Hiking-Len McDougall

I checked this book out of the library, thinking it would have generic info that everyone already knew but I would give it a read. What a wealth of information. Most of it applies to longer hikes than the 1-2 hours that we usually take, but you just never know when a bit of info might help you out on the trail. The most important and simple thing I learned is to have a compass with you at all times. I have had occasion to use the one on my phone, but as the book points out, phones fail, especially in cold weather when is especially crucial not to get lost. I ordered a carabiner style compass/thermometer duo today!

10. Christmas at Holiday House-RaeAnne Thayne

Nurse Abby Powell agrees to go to Silver Bells, Colorado with her young son to care for her friend’s grandmother who has had a fall. They end up decorating the huge house for a large Christmas event. Of course, they fall in love with the town and the people in it. The story was predictable but still fun.

From this list, I would have to pick the Ann Cleeves book as my favorite. Now that I have discovered the Vera Stanhope series, I will definitely be reading more of it.

Magazines:  Akron Life, Cottages and Bungalows, Southern Lady, Ohio Magazine, Real Simple, Farmhouse Style