Tag Archives: Reading List

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.

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Books I Read in September 2021

Bag full of magic. Library books!

Once again I have not read as many books as I had hoped because life got in the way. This month it was providing support to my husband as he works on our house. This project is part of the roof structure, soffits, and fascia on the west side of the house. I did get up on the scaffolding a few times to hold things, but believe me, my husband did the brunt of the work. There is also some gable work to be done. In fact I was called away from this post for paint chip clean up.

Oh, and I have also spent quite a bit of time and extra work transitioning our new kitten into the house! See the photo at the end of this post for a glimpse of Jasper. More on him in a future post. He fits right in with our pack because he was a foundling, of course!

And so, on to my slim list of readings for the month of September.

  1. The Kew Garden Girls-Posy Lovell

During World War I, a group of women takes on the challenge of keeping the Royal Botanic Gardens in good upkeep. The book also takes on a number of social issues of the day. After having never heard of the White Feather Campaign before, this is the second book I have read this summer that addresses it. Also discussed are the Suffrage Movement, women’s rights, and domestic violence. The characters in the book become family to each other. A good read.

2. At Lighthouse Point-Suzanne Woods Fisher

This is the third book in a series. I have enjoyed them all and become attached to the family as they go about getting their lives in order. The setting is a Maine island near Bar Harbor, so of course I would be a fan. The youngest daughter Blaine has always been impulsive. Returning from two years in Paris, she sets about figuring out the course of her life, even if it doesn’t go as planned. All the sisters are featured in this latest installment.

3. Pup Fiction-Laurien Berenson

Another gem from the Berenson dog show circuit mysteries. Melanie’s friend mysteriously becomes the owner of three show quality Dalmatians. Shortly thereafter, her friend’s ex-husband shows up, murdered nearby. How could two unlikely events be related? You’ll have to read it to find out the answer.

4. The Shell Collector-Nancy Naigle

Widow Amanda Whittier and her two children are surviving the loss of their husband and father the best they can. Amanda moves them to the beach town where she met her husband, and they start a new life. The friendships they make, and the one they renew, help them to heal as well as help those around them. Amanda makes friends like the ones we all want to have. This book was so good, it had me in tears near the end. Definitely worth the read.

Magazines:  Eating Well, Ohio Magazine, Oprah Magazine, the Cottage Journal, Cottages and Bungalows, Writer’s Digest

New kitten, Jasper!

Books Read in January

I enjoy seeing what other people are reading so thought I would start my own reading list for 2020. I will comment on what I have read at the end of each month this year. Below is my list of books and magazines read for January 2020. I will also share with you a recommendation of which book was my favorite and why.

Books Read January 2020:

1. Noel Street-Richard Paul Evans

A struggling young mother of a biracial child helps a Vietnam Veteran overcome his emotional troubles after the war.

2. Everybody Has a Book Inside of Them-Ann Marie Sabth (Non-fiction)

The author coaches you through deciding what your book is and gives inspiration and advice to write it.

3. Midnight at The Blackbird Café-Heather Webber

A young woman inherits her grandmother’s café and learns about her family, herself, and the legend of the blackbirds.

4. The Oysterville Sewing Circle-Susan Wiggs

The main character takes in her friend’s two orphaned children. This book is only peripherally about sewing. The scope covers a much larger issue.

5. The Enlightenment of Bees-Rachel Linden

The main character breaks up with her boyfriend and travels to foreign lands as a volunteer, having many adventures along the way.

6. Aussie Rules-Jill Shalvis

Love and a mystery with an Australian sidekick.

7. The Second Worst Restaurant in France-Alexander McCall Smith

The main character goes to a small town in the French countryside and has numerous unlikely adventures.

Magazines

  1. O Magazine (Oprah)- December 2019
  2. Magnolia Journal-Fall 2018
  3. National Geographic December 2019

And the winner is…The Oysterville Sewing Circle-Susan Wiggs! I found this to be a thoroughly enjoyable book. It has a social message and awareness for us all to benefit from. The characters were also realistic and I found myself rooting for them. The main theme of the book took me by surprise and was much more than I expected.

In the spirit of brevity, I did not give in depth descriptions or summaries of the books. If this is something that you would like to hear about, leave me a comment and I will offer more details in the future. Thanks for reading!