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 .AGood 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.
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!
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.
I think all of us have reached the point where we are thoroughly tired of Covid 19 and its effect on our lives. I know many have it worse than me, those who have suffered losses of loved ones, personal illnesses, and financial woes. But that doesn’t mean the rest of us don’t have valid feelings of sadness and emotional distress as we struggle to make it to the post-pandemic world. So I am sharing with you, some of my coping mechanisms.
Keep a Journal
Mine is a journal of things that I want to do, but can’t right now for some reason as a result of the coronavirus. Here is a link to what is in my journal. Ways To Deal With a Pandemic That way I won’t miss out on things I wanted to do but couldn’t at the time. You could also keep a journal of your thoughts and feelings during isolation. Whatever suits you.
2. Get Outside and Enjoy Nature
Nature has a way of healing us that defies explanation, but it is proven to make you feel better. Surrounding yourself with plants, trees, and wildlife can bring a sense of peace. I find something magical about knowing that the greater world around me goes on, no matter what is happening in my life.
Exercise can help relieve stress at any time so it’s no surprise that it will work during a pandemic too. I combine my exercise with #2 above and hike or walk in nature. We attempt to take our dogs for a hike at least five days a week. If we are running late, the dogs let us know that it is time. They look forward to the outings too. People may be missing their gym workouts these days, but you can always walk. Just find a secluded area and keep your mask handy.
4. Train Your Dog (or cat if you’re ambitious!)
These may be trying times for us but our four legged friends are enjoying that extra time we spend around the house. Give them some extra attention and brush up on their obedience skills or teach them a trick. It will strengthen your relationship and the two of you will come out of this closer than before.
If you know me, you knew this was going to be on my list! Reading can take you away to other places and teach you something in the process. You can read non-fiction and learn about new things or places in our world. Or you can read fiction and get sucked into a good story. Either way, reading occupies your mind so that you escape for a bit from your current reality which can be a real treat in these trying times.
6. Take a Nap (Get extra Sleep)
The act of sleep rests your body and mind so that you are better able to deal with whatever comes your way. Also, if you are stuck on the “worry train” and distressing what ifs, or actual bad times, keep playing through your thoughts, sleep can break that cycle and reset your brain.
7. Work on a Hobby
Hobbies, especially artistic ones, occupy us so that it is hard to think about anything besides what you are currently doing. One of my hobbies is cooking. I especially like to bake and kneading bread dough is soothing to me. Working and shaping the dough is fun. I was working on breadsticks for Christmas. They got too long to fit on the baking sheet and as I was turning the end to make it fit, I thought that reminds me of a candy cane. So I made all the breadsticks in the shape of candy canes just to be festive.
8. Watch a Movie (especially comedy)
How often does anyone encourage you to spend more time watching television? In this case I think it is warranted. Letting yourself become absorbed into someone else’s life, especially in a positive scenario, may provide you with some mental benefits as you escape this Covid riddled world for a while.
9. Make a Phone Call to a Friendor Family Member
We can all feel a little lonely in these times of social isolation. Even me, and I don’t generally mind being by myself and am not a phone call kind of girl. I usually avoid the telephone and am often happy to spend time by myself. (For me, by myself means with dogs.) I have been making an attempt to keep in touch by phone with family members. And I make more effort to text and message friends. You may be helping other people when you reach out, because we are all in this together.
10. Don’t Give Yourself a Hard Time
We are all doing the best we can. You may find yourself being a little short tempered or down in the dumps, and not doing as well as you normally do. Cut yourself some slack. These are not normal times.
And in closing, be aware that there is light at the end of the tunnel! We still need to socially distance and wear our masks for a while longer. But the end is in sight. People are being vaccinated right this very minute. You have been strong enough to make it this far so you are up to the task of surviving what we need to do for the rest of this ride.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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”.
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.
Death by Chocolate Frosted Donut-Sarah Graves Paints a nice picture of northern coastal Maine along with an explosive murder mystery. Enjoyable.
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!