Category Archives: Books & Reading

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

Books Read-May & June 2020

I’m publishing my lists of books read for May and June together in this post. Since summer is here and there is lots of gardening to do and keep up with, I don’t have nearly as much time to read, so the lists are shorter.

If you could only read one of these books, I would recommend A Country Year by Sue Hubbell. She was a resourceful woman and a beautiful writer. I put this book back on my shelf, because I will want to read it again one day.

Books Read May 2020

1. Molly-Colin Butcher (Non-fiction)

The pet detective dog who searches for lost cats, and occasionally dogs and other animals.

2. Morning Comes Softly-Debbie Macomber

Southern librarian Mary answers an ad for a Montana rancher seeking a wife to help raise 3 orphaned children in his custody.

3. Table For Five-Susan Wiggs

School teacher Lily ends up helping raise her best friend’s three children after a tragic accident. The children’s uncle has custody and things turn interesting.

4. The Spirit of Covington-Joan Medlicott

Made it too page 79 and stopped. Not my cup of tea.

Magazines:

  1. Country Living- May 2017

Books Read-June 2020

1. Killer Crab Cakes-Livia J. Washburn

Phyllis agrees to look after her cousin’s Texas B & B, and the murders start taking place.

2. Fool For Love-Beth Ciotta

Chloe heads to Vermont after a breakup with her cheating boyfriend. She makes a new life with her new free spirit boss and finds unexpected love.

3. A Country Year-Sue Hubbell (Non-fiction)

The author makes her own life as a beekeeper in the Missouri Ozarks. She lives in a rustic wood heated cabin with her two dogs and enjoys nature and the seasons. Beautiful insights into the natural world.

Magazines:

Country Living-2 isssues

Books Read-March 2020

I’m a little late in publishing my list for March, but here it is. And don’t worry, I’m still reading lots and will have a list ready for next month.

1. Hero Dogs-Wilma Melville (Audio Book)

Story told by the founder of the Search Dog Rescue group. Tells of working various tragedies with the dogs. Also, the story of finding the dogs for the program, as well as the story behind the dogs.

2. Wrapped Up In You-Jill Shalvis

A romance, as only Jill Shalvis can tell it. Ivy overcomes her rough childhood to establish her own business, overcoming her past and finding someone to share her new life with.

3. The Art of Racing In the Rain-Garth Stein

This is a good book, especially if you like a tearjerker with a happy ending. I found the book to be rather painful, as it deals with brain cancer and a custody fight. Definitely well written. It tells things from the dog’s point of view.

4. No Judgments-Meg Cabot

Bree escaped to a Florida island to escape a past relationship. She ends up taking care of the animals that people left behind after a Category 5 hurricane and finds a new relationship along the way. It was actually a light-hearted read.

5. The Girl Who Lived Twice-David Lagercrantz

This is a book in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo series. You must pay attention to the details. It is another intriguing story with lots of action. Definitely not a light-hearted read.

6. The Dog I Loved-Susan Wilson

Rosie trains service dogs while in prison. She and the person for her first service dog become friends. Rosie is released and we follow the two on the journey through a part of their lives.

7. The Book of Gutsy Women-Hillary & Chelsea Clinton (Non-fiction)

Kind of like a history book about brave women who have the world a better place for women, as well as the rest of humanity.

Magazines:

Yankee-January/February 2020

Yankee-March/April 2020

It’s hard for me to pick a favorite from this list. They all offer something different. If I went with my gut, I would recommend #6. It covers subject matter close to my heart- the power of dogs to change our world for the better.

Not Enough Books

One of my bookshelves

We have been isolating because of coronavirus concerns. We have a high risk issue so the disease could pose a serious problem. And we know it will get worse before it gets better. Look at poor Italy, 368 deaths due to the virus in the last 24 hours.

I feel terrible not going out and being of use and doing the things I should be doing.

The thing that I miss the most about not going out is that I didn’t get a chance to stock up on library books before this hit. I only had five left when this started. I will soon have to resort to my own stash of books. I have three shelves of books like the one pictured above. There is always on-line books too. Although I will look pretty silly sniffing my tablet trying to enjoy that new book smell.

We do take the dogs out hiking when the weather permits, so at least we do get a change of scenery.

I pray that the infections are mild and the deaths are few in our country and the rest of the world recovers quickly.