Tag Archives: Books

My Completed Reading List: April 2021

Library Books

The books below are all ones that I checked out of our local library. Libraries Rock!

  1. Scratch the Surface-Susan Conant

Felicity Pride, cat mystery writer, finds a body in her own home and must solve the crime. She acquires two cats along the way. I love Conant’s Holly Winter character and dog mystery series. If I see a new one, I grab it off the shelf. I did not find this character as endearing, but it was still an interesting book, and it took me a while to figure out who did it.

2. Becoming-Michele Obama (Non-fiction)

This is the story of Michele’s life through her own eyes. She is a caring, hardworking lady who has made her own way in life. I had no idea of all the accomplishments that she has achieved on her own merits. She grew from a young, poor black girl living in the south side of Chicago, into the impressive lady she is today.

3. The Daughters of Erietown-Connie Schultz

The timeline of this novel starts in 1957 and continues through the early 1980’s. It focuses on the story of Ellie and Brick McGinty and their families. The tale gives a glimpse into the lives of working class families during this era. Connie Schultz teaches classes at Kent State and is an award winning author. She is also the wife of Senator Sherrod Brown.

4. The Forever Girl-Jill Shalvis

Maze, Walker, Heather, and Cat all return to Wildstone, California for Cat’s wedding. The first three were foster children with Cat’s family until life altering tragedy struck. They are together again to work out their issues and cement their relationship as a family. I never read a Jill Shalvis book I didn’t love. In my opinion she is the queen of relationship writing, and not just romantic relationships although she is great at those too. I always feel like I know the characters when reading one of her books.

5. The Lost and Found Bookshop-Susan Wiggs

After a family tragedy, Natalie goes home to take care of her grandfather and The Lost and Found Bookshop which he owns. After many struggles, both financial and emotional, she finds her way in life. The books also has glimpses of Natalie’s family through several generations in San Francisco.

6. Paws for Love-Mara Wells

Danielle runs a greyhound rescue and works as a vet tech for her father. Knox is home from the Marines because of an injury and working with his brothers’ construction company. They were high school sweethearts that went their separate ways. And now they are encountering each other again in their hometown. Dogs and romance, you can’t go wrong!

It’s hard for me to pick a favorite recommendation from this list. Going with my gut reaction, rather than weighing out which book has the most merits, I would tell you to read Paws for Love. I read through this book quickly because I was enjoying it.

Books I Read in March 2021, and a Slice of Country Life

Bloodroot seen on our hike today.
  1. A Year in Provence-Peter Mayle (Non-fiction)

The author describes how he and his wife bought a house in Provence. There are many amusing tales from his first year. He shares a real flavor of local life and you meet many people from the town. A good read. I will keep this book on my shelf and read it again in the future.

2. The Rural Diaries-Hilarie Burton Morgan (Non-fiction)

The author and her husband are both actors. They find and live their best lives in rural New York state. The author turns out to be a down to earth girl and seeing their farm and connection to the community grow is heartwarming. Definitely worth reading.

3. Dragon Teeth-Michael Crichton

This book was published posthumously, and I can still say, I haven’t read a Michael Crichton book I didn’t like. This one has science, dinosaurs, and the old West. I got sucked in and read it very quickly.

4. Bodie on the Road-Belinda Jones (Non-fiction)

The author suffers a break up and adopts a shelter dog to be her companion. After a few weeks together, they take a road from Los Angeles to Portland, Oregon, with many stops along the way. Belinda and Bodie both have a fabulous time. It is healing for both of them. Loved this book!

5. The Solace of Bay Leaves-Leslie Budewitz

This book falls into the cozy mystery category. Although I enjoyed this book, it took me a while to finish because once I put it down, I was not drawn back to it. May have been my fault and not the book’s. Pepper Reece, former lawyer, now owns a spice shop. She has a busy life between her boyfriend, friends, shop workers, and the police investigation. She still finds time to solve a murder and another attempted murder.

If you can only read one book from this list, I would read…play drumroll here!…A Year in Provence. I had a difficult time choosing between this one and Dragon Teeth, but since A Year in Provence is the book I am likely to re-read, it has to get my vote.

A Slice of Country Life

This was another month that I did not do a good job of keeping up with my reading. Too much time devoted to dogs and hiking, I guess. It is only likely to get worse, as far as me having time to read. Gardening season has begun.

Hubby did the first tilling of the vegetable garden this morning, and maintenance of the asparagus bed. Then I planted various lettuces, spinach, and a few turnips and beets. After that we raked up branches and pine cones in the front yard from the winter, and I cleaned dead leaves and debris from the little flower bed beside the house. Don’t worry, these are hauled to a pile in our woods, so any pollinator eggs and larva are still nearby.

We went for our usual hike in the afternoon. Our life is always an adventure and nothing ever goes exactly as planned. I ended up with dog poop on my shirt early on in the walk from a pick up attempt gone awry. A little farther up the trail, Zekie walked up behind a garter snake that he didn’t see until the last minute. He started high stepping in reverse to get away from it. It was quite comical.

There’s never a dull moment. And so, life is good!

Books I Read in February 2021

I liked this one!

I didn’t do much better at reading in February than I did in January. In my defense, February is a short month.

1. Beaglemania-Linda O. Johnston

Adoption manager Lauren becomes the prime murder suspect after a dog abuser and puppy mill worker dies. Lauren spends all her time taking care of her shelter charges and looking for the real killer. Keeping herself safe becomes harder and harder. The first in a new series. A worthwhile read.

2. Christmas At the Island Hotel-Jenny Colgan

This story takes place on one of the far north islands of Scotland. It has an enjoyable cast of characters who all play a part in bringing off the success of the new hotel on the island. A nice slice of life in another land.

3. Rescue You-Elysia Whisler

Sunny and her sister Constance are involved in running a dog rescue. I grew really attached to all the characters in this book as I read about them working out problems in their personal lives and for the dogs. A very enjoyable book.

4. The Lending Library-Aliza Fogelson

When the local library closes for long term repairs, the main character Dodie, feels lost. She opens a library in her home with donated books and gets to know many people in her community. She also struggles with how to handle her desire to have a child while she still has time. I found this book to be ok, not the most exciting thing I’ve ever read, but not bad.

5. Return to Virgin River-Robyn Carr

This is one of the books on which the television series is based. If the show is anything like the book, I can see why it is popular. Kaylee is dealing with the death of her mother and moves to the town of Virgin River for a few months to finish her next book. She finds lots of people in town who become like family.

If I had to pick just one book for you to read from this list I would recommend Return to Virgin River, although Rescue You is a close second. Why wonder what you’re missing? Read them both!

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.

My Top 10 Ways to Deal With Isolation During the Covid Pandemic!

Journal to record ideas
Little Journal of Ideas for Post-Covid!

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.

  1. 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

Winter Landscape
The View Along One of our Walking Routes

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.

3. Exercise

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.

5. Read

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

Fun Breadsticks
Candy Cane Shaped Breadsticks for Christmas Dinner

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 Friend or 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.

You are not alone!

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.