Tag Archives: Recommendations

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 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 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