Tag Archives: Reading

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

Books I Read in August 2021

  1. London’s Number One Dog Walking Agency-Kate MacDougall (Non-fiction)

Tales from the owner of London’s Number One Dog-Walking Agency from start-up through move to the country. You will enjoy meeting the dogs and the people too.

2. The White Garden-Stephanie Barron

This book takes place at Sissinghurst Castle during two periods of time. The castle was the home of garden designer Vita Sackville-West and her husband. The plot focuses on determining what actually happened to writer Virginia Woolf during her last days. Was it suicide or foul play? This is a work of fiction and takes liberties with what history records. A fun book, especially for gardeners.

3. Camino Winds-John Grisham

Bruce Cable, wealthy owner of bookstore Bay Books, tries to solve another murder on Camino Island, Florida. A hurricane hits the island causing death and destruction. Bruce finds that his friend was murdered during the storm. He encounters unexpected situations while trying to solve the crime.

4. The Sea Glass Cottage-RaeAnne Thayne

Olivia Harper goes home to help her mother recuperate from an accident and help out with her 15-year-old niece and the family business. She plans to return to her life in Seattle. Many untold secrets surface about Olivia’s family. The truth puts many issues to rest, and plans change.

5. The Pepper Thai Cookbook-Pepper Teigen (Non-fiction)

It turns out that Pepper is the nickname of the author. This is obviously a book of Thai recipes. Many of them look good and it provides handy tips. I will not make many of the recipes because many of them involve fish/oyster sauce and I am the only one here who likes it. I do plan to make the Pad Thai Brussels Sprouts because, hello, how can you go wrong with those two things?!

6. The Book of Hidden Things-Francesco Dimitri

Four friends have a pact to meet each year on the same day in Italy. The leader doesn’t show up this year. I gave it 30 pages and wasn’t into it, so gave up. I have a whole bag of new library books waiting or I might have kept going.

7. Everyone is Italian on Sunday-Rachel Ray (Non-fiction)

Delightful, as are all the Rachel Ray cookbooks I’ve seen. Most of the recipes in this book are ones I want to make when it’s cooler out.

8. Once Upon a Puppy-Lizzie Shane

Unpredictable Deenie Mitchell is always on the move. She stays in Pine Hollow for a while to be with her aging aunt and to help with new programs at the dog shelter. She encounters Connor who has a plan for everything. Both their worlds begin to change and who knows where it will end? This is the second book in the Pine Hollow series, and I have enjoyed them both.

I’m hard pressed to pick a favorite book from this selection. All were good but none really stood out to me. If forced to choice, I would go with The Sea Glass Cottage. Books about relationships and family dynamics always intrigue me.

Magazines: Writer’s Digest, Bird Watcher’s Digest, The Cottage Journal, Everyday Storage, Better Homes & Gardens Secrets of Getting Organized

Books Read in July 2021

I often do my reading on the patio.

I enjoyed every single one of these books! You can’t go wrong with any of them. Most are by authors that I read on a regular basis. Happy reading!

1. The Return-Nicholas Sparks

Trevor Benson is a surgeon recovering from permanent injuries that he sustained while serving in Afghanistan. He inherited his recently deceased grandfather’s home in North Carolina. While Trevor is there, he tends the bees and makes new relationships. One romantic and the other with a troubled young girl. While he is helping everyone else, he is also finding his own new path through life.

2. Love for Beginners-Jill Shalvis

Another wonderful story from Jill Shalvis. Her books are romances, but I love the relationships between all the characters in her books. Emma is recovering well from a near fatal accident. She and her physical therapist, Simon, work together regularly and develop a special relationship. The connections between Emma and her mortal frenemy, Simon’s dad, and others are all strong bonds.

3. Birds of a Feather-Jacqueline Winspear

This is the second book in the Maisie Dobbs series. This book once again points out tragedies that occurred during World War I, along with a mystery. A grocery store owner’s daughter goes missing and Maisie must find her. Of course, the case is not as straight forward as it first seemed. I like these books because they make me think, not only about the cases, but about society. They make the time during and after WWI come to life.

4. The Bone Code-Kathy Reichs

This is a book starring Temperance Brennan, a forensic anthropologist. Tempe is working on a case to identify two cases of similar crimes, as well as a historical mystery. Its fast-paced excitement keeps you on your toes. I’m also curious to see where Tempe’s life and career will end her next. I’m never disappointed.

5. Life’s too Short-Abby Jimenez

Vlogger Vanessa Price is trying to get her life together while dealing with a life wrought with family tragedies. Her next-door neighbor becomes a big part of this by helping her care for her sister’s infant daughter and her life in general. This is a book full of relationships of all types. I loved it!

Magazines: Cottage Home, Southern Lady, Eating Well, Better Homes & Gardens, Writer’s Digest, Dogster

Beat the Heat

Patio view

This is how I beat the heat after working outside.

In the morning I worked in the vegetable garden, removed Japanese beetles from my roses and fruit trees, watered hanging baskets, and hauled one of the dog crate pans outside to clean it with the hose.

After lunch, I pruned the bad grapes from our vines and went on my second round of Japanese beetle patrol of the day.

Then I decided it was too hot for any more foolishness of this nature. Ie.: Working. So I went for a dip in the pool where the water was a pleasant 79 degrees. Refreshing!

Patio view

Then I spent the rest of the afternoon on a lounge chair in the shade and read while enjoying the company of some of our dogs.

My pup

Zekie is my constant companion. He is rarely more than a few feet away from me. This is just as well. Otherwise I have to keep looking for him to see what trouble he is getting into.

Shetland Sheepdog

Claire likes to be outside. She has made it her job to keep track of all squirrels, chipmunks, and birds. She also barks at loud motorcycles and cars that she deems to be going too fast. Her true bliss seems to be keeping an eye on rodents residing in the rock pile.

Greyhound Cassius is a momma’s boy too!

Cassius likes to hang out near to wherever I happen to be. He was supposed to be my husband’s dog, but it turns out he is a momma’s boy. Wherever I go, there he is. He especially likes to lay in the middle of the kitchen floor as I attempt to work around him while preparing meals.

This is a typical summer day here at Sanctuary Acres. And once again, life is good!

Books I Read in June 2021

Mommy and Zekie

I’m afraid I didn’t do a very good job of keeping up with my reading for the month of June. Must be all that gardening and taking care of the dogs! It’s been a long time since I’ve read only four books in a month. I did better than that while I was still working. I did read a number of magazines though. Everything from Writer, 2 issues of Writer’s Digest, Dogster, Mary Jane’s Farm, Traditional Home Garden, Coastal Living, Smithsonian, and Yankee, to Country Living. Below is the summary of the books that I did read.

  1. Voracious-Cara Nicoletti (Non-fiction)

The author is a voracious reader as well as a voracious cook. She is a butcher, cook, and pastry chef in New York City. She discusses her favorite literature from various times throughout her life and cooks a food that related to her during the story. She shares the recipes. I found it to be an enjoyable book to read, but I will never make any of the recipes because they all require an ingredient or tool that I would need to go out and buy. I cook and bake quite a bit, so I do not see the average person pulling off these recipes. It was fun to read none the less.

2. Miss Benson’s Beetle-Rachel Joyce

Margery Benson is a rule abiding teacher living an unremarkable life. One day, things change, and she advertises for an assistant to go with her on a quest to look for the golden beetle of New Caledonia on the other side of the world. Her life becomes a series of life changing adventures. This starts out seeming like a simple straightforward book. The more I read, the more it made me think. I think this is really about friendship and life choices, and isn’t the goal of good books to make us think? It certainly did.

3. On a Coastal Breeze-Suzanne Woods Fisher

This is the second book in a series of the “Three Sisters Island” series. It takes place on an island near Mount Desert Island and Bar Harbor, Maine, so I’m all in on this series! Each book focuses on one sister but includes views from all the family members and sisters. In this one, Madison Grayson is a newly licensed family therapist hanging out her shingle in a basement office and the church has the offices above. Her childhood nemesis shows up as the new pastor and she has to decide what the dynamics of her relationship with him are now. I have enjoyed both books I have read in this series. I will certainly read the next one. This is an inspirational series and mentions God throughout. It does not detract from the story though if that’s not your thing.

4. In a Book Club Far Away-Tif Marcelo

Three military wives become best friends and family. They are there for each other in every way until a betrayal alters their lives. Ten years later, a medical emergency brings the three together again. And they are there for their friend. Can they overcome the past and continue on with their long ago started book club and the rest of their lives, together? A good book about relationships of all types. I enjoyed the book.

Of these four books, if you want to read a book that sucks you in and keeps calling you back, read On a Coastal Breeze. If you want to read a book that makes you think, long after you have finished it, then read Miss Benson’s Beetle. I enjoyed both, but they are different kinds of books. I enjoyed all four of these books. It just depends what you are in the mood for.

Books I Read in May 2021: And the Winner Is…

One thing that I did manage to make enough time for, in the midst of gardening season, is reading! I can’t imagine a time when I wouldn’t make time for reading. It is a form of meditation for me. Quieting my mind and bringing inner peace, at least for a bit. It takes me away to other places and on adventures. It is good for the soul. On to the books I read during the month of May…

  1. One for the Books-Jenn McKinlay

The wedding of librarian Lindsey Norris and boat captain Sully is finally here. Of course, the proceeding is beset by murder. Lindsey and Sully need to figure out who the murderer is so they can get on with their wedding without interruption. This is probably my favorite cozy mystery series and this book did not disappoint.

2. Spin-Patricia Cornwell

This was a library book and when it came due, I returned it. I was only on page 40 and doubt that I will check it out again to finish it. It didn’t keep my attention, which is very unusual for a Cornwell book.

3. The Spotted Dog-Kerry Greenwood

This book should have been right up my alley, it has a murder mystery and a bakery. After trying to read it for three days, I only made it 38 pages in and gave up. It just didn’t hold my interest.

4. Murder Likes It Hot: A Downward Dog Mystery-Tracy Weber

Kate Davidson is solving a murder case once again while trying to overcome problems in her own life. She owns a yoga studio that she must keep running while trying to conceive a baby and volunteering to boot. This is one in a series. I might not have picked this book based on the title but gave it a go based on the author’s previous works. An enjoyable book.

5. Maisie Dobbs-Jacqueline Winspear

This book was recommended to me by someone, and oh my! I am so glad I read it. This is one of the best stories I have read in a long time, and I will definitely be reading the rest of the series. Maisie, through hard work and good fortune, rises through the ranks from service to become a college educated professional. She is a private investigator, and the story opens in 1929. It goes back in time to when Maisie was a young girl and explains how she arrived at where she is today. When the story resumes in her current life, she manages to solve a very intriguing murder. I can’t recommend this book highly enough.

6. Virgin River-Robyn Carr

I love the Virgin River series of books! You get sucked into the characters’ lives and can’t wait to see what happens next. Melinda Monroe, after suffering a life altering tragedy, decides to accept a job in backwoods Virgin River, as assistant to the only local doctor.  All is not as she expected, and she plans to move on, but becomes absorbed into the intricacies of life in this small town.

7. Winning Hearts-Debbie Macomber

A compendium of two short books, Laughter in the Rain and Love by Degree. The first is a love story between Abby and Tate. I found Abby’s character to be immature and annoying, but of course boy gets girl. I enjoyed the second story more, but still found the relationship between the characters of Ellen and Reed to be shallow. I suppose you can only do so much in the span of a novella.

My winner for favorite book that I read this month is definitely Maisie Dobbs. I already went to the library and checked out the second book in the series. Someone recommended that I read them in order, so that is what I plan to do. This first book was published in 2003, so they were written by as a historical novel. If you seek it out, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

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!