Tag Archives: books



“Dear Viewer”  If you are reading this, I am dead. There is a Great War coming. You may have a few years until your planet is rubble. I estimate 163 years.”

This wasn’t even in a controversial book!

 In January and February, I finished 18 books!  However, three of the books I read were not only rereads, but were easily read in one afternoon.  AND all three of them are “banned books”.

THE LITTLE PRINCE – by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

MAUS I and II – by Art Spiegelman


My Monticello by Jocelyn Nicole Johnson –  The book opens with several short stories that culminate in the novella MY MONTICELLO. Set in possibly the all too near future the characters are fleeing violent white supremacists from Charlottesville. Led by Da’Naisha who is a young Black descendant of Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemmings. So, of course, they end up at Monticello.  This book popped up on several the best books of 2021 lists (most notably Obama’s and NPR’s). For me, once I got into the rhythm of the stories, I was hooked! 

The Violin Conspiracy by Brendon Slocumb  – I couldn’t have said it better than the review below by the Washington Post. 

“When I opened Brendan Slocumb’s debut novel, The Violin Conspiracy, I was immediately transported to a place I’d never been, surrounded by characters I’d never met. In the crowded world of fiction, that’s no small accomplishment. . . . Slocumb has orchestrated an engaging and suspenseful story about an aspiring musician and his great-great-grandfather’s violin. . . . The Violin Conspiracy is so wonderfully written, especially its descriptions of music, that at times I questioned whether I was reading or listening to a concert. “

AMERICAN  DIRT by Jeanine Cummins –  Lydia and her eight-year old son become instant migrants when a tell-all story her journalist husband writes about the head of a local drug cartel is published. When her entire family is murdered at a quinceanera, she and her son begin riding the trains that slowly make their way north to the United States joining countless people on the same journey for different reasons. Yes, there has been alot of controversy stirred up about this book, but it made for a very spirited discussion in one of my book clubs. We unanimously agreed it is a book that people should read.

THE MIDNIGHT LIBRARY by Matt Haig – I don’t want to give too much away, but I will say this book is both whimsical and magical. When Nora gives up (her cat has died, she has lost her job and more) and take some pills, she finds herself in a library at midnight. And – it’s not just any library – it’s her library. It’s a perfect pandemic read and shows the reader that the little things in life are important too, and it is important to learn to love yourself as you are.


WISH YOU WERE HERE by Jodi Picoult – If you are a fan of Jodi Picoult, this book is for you. Diana is an art associate at Sotheby’s planning a trip to the Galapagos with her boyfriend, a doctor. When the pandemic hits, Diana goes on the trip alone. Her luggage is lost, there is little internet and the hotels are shut down. Going out of her comfort zone, she connects with a local family and rediscovers her artistic side. But – there is an unexpected twist you probably won’t see coming. You may find it enchanting, or you may feel cheated. 


A SMUGGLERS GUIDE TO GOOD MANNERS: A TRUE STORY OF TERRIFYING SEAS, DOUBLE-DEALING AND LOVE ACROSS THREE OCEANS by Kenny Ranen – You see, I know Kenny and I have heard some of these stories. The book is exactly what the title says – Sailing, sharks, and smuggling, oh my!!! What more do you need? In fact, I’ve spent time on Sara (in port being refurbished), and as far-flung as some of these stories are, I can vouch they are true. 

If you want to see what else I have read, check out my GOODREADS page.  I don’t review the books, but I do rate them.

AND – I’m always happy to recommendations! Bring ’em on!









My reading has been a mixed bag – but that’s okay, I was still entertained. A total of twelve book and I added something new to recommend this month. 

NAKED ON THE BENCH – MY ADVENTURES IN PIANOLAND – by Robin Spielberg – A very engaging memoir, written in an easy to read style.  As a pianist, I could relate to many of Robin’s stories, but you don’t need to know the techniques of music to enjoy them. I laughed out loud and even shed a few tears. When she decided to pursue life at the keyboard instead of acting, she made a list of what she wanted to achieve, and achieve she did!  This included playing at Carnegie Hall, which is not as hard as we have been led to believe! (Plus – I love the cover art!)

THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN by Katherine Applegate –  When I started seeing advertisements for the new Disney movie of the same name, I was glad I kept this book. This is the story that most Atlantan’s know – Ivan, the gorilla – spent his first 27 years in a shopping mall in Washington State, was rescued and came to live at the Atlanta Zoo. This is told through his eyes, it is a story of friendship, hope and art. Oh yeah, Ivan paints (not just in the book, but prints of his paintings were sold at The Atlanta Zoo.

THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN – DRAW ME A STORY by Beth FerryI purchased this for my 16 month old grand-niece, so she would know the story of Ivan – but I couldn’t resist the urge to read it myself.  Both of us enjoyed it!

THE BOOKWOMAN OF TROUBLESOME CREEK by Kim Michele Richardson Based on a time during the Depression when women were hired to deliver books and other reading material to the people in Appalachia. I fell in love with the main character, Cussie,  one of the “blue” people of Kentucky. I consider historical fiction a success if I yearn to learn more, and learn more I did. I looked up the Bookwomen (which I’d never heard of) and I looked up the Blue People (which I had heard of – but was only vaguely aware of them).

THE FOREVER WISH OF MIDDY SWEET by Terry KayOne of my favorite authors – this did not disappoint. He spoke at my bookclub several years back and said he didn’t know if he had any stories left. Thankfully he did. The tale of young love, rekindled 50 years later, and the ever present question “What if?”.

THE ORDER by Daniel Silva This is the 20th Gabriel Allon novel, a world famous art restorer by day and an Israeli spy by night and this book involves the possible murder of the pope. What more could you ask for?

WE ARE ALL GOOD PEOPLE HERE by Susan Rebecca White – This was a book club read. Set in Atlanta beginning in 1962, it follows the friendship of two women. I found this book uneven at times, and the author spent so much time with the restaurants and the stores in Atlanta during this time, it was distracting and the timeline was often wrong!

THE MEMBER OF THE WEDDING by Carson McCullers – I found this tattered book in a Little Free Library. I had never read it and I’m glad I can add it to the list of classics I am finally getting around to! 

THE POWER OF NICE by Linda Kaplan Thaler and Robin KovalAnother find in a Little Free Library. It is a very small book, and using real life examples it proves that nice people often finish first.

HARRIET TUBMAN – ANTI-SLAVERY ACTIVIST by M.W. Taylor – Yet another Little Free Library find!  A Young Adult book with a forward by Coretta Scott King it is part of the series: BLACK AMERICANS OF ACHIEVEMENT. I wish I could find more of these books, especially if they are all this engaging. 

AMERICAN PRINCESS by Stephanie Marie Thornton – Alice Roosevelt, Teddy’s daughter was a BADDASS!!! She kept a pillow on her sofa with the quote “If you don’t have anything nice to say about someone, come sit by me”.  When asked about his daughter, Teddy responded “I can do one of two things. I can be President of the United States or I can control Alice Roosevelt. I cannot possibly do both”.  I really enjoyed this book, but it made me thirst for more non-fiction about her.  Did you know the color “Alice Blue” was her signature and became a fashion sensation. 

AMERICAN DIRT – by Jeannine Cummins – I know there has been some controversy surrounding this book, but I agree with Stephen King “I defy anyone to read the first seven pages of this book and not finish it”. I could not put it down and I was constantly surprised. It is the story of a Mexican woman and her son who find themselves leaving a comfortable life and becoming a migrant and her journey to the United States. I was so emotionally involved, I couldn’t read the last chapter for days – I was so afraid for the characters! 

MY VIDEO RECOMMENDATION THAT EVERYONE SHOULD WATCH:  In fact, it inspired me to pull another book of the shelf to reread – details to come in the next issue.

What have you been reading? Anything that sucked you in? I always like recommendations

A NEW YEAR = NEW BOOKS (and podcasts)

It’s back!!!!! I am resurrecting my monthly blog that charts my reading over the previous month.   These are NOT reviews ( writing a review would cramp my reading time!)  However, I will tell you the books I highly recommend. In January I read a total of 9 books (do I need to get a life?)

  1. CATCH AND KILL: LIES, SPIES AND A CONSPIRACY TO PROTECT PREDATORS by Ronan Farrow:,  A capitvating book,  I couldn’t put it down. 
  2. THE HOLY OR THE BROKEN: LEONARD COHEN AND JEFF BUCKLEY AND THE UNLIKELY ASCENT OF HALLELUJAH by Alan Light: If learning about the story behind songs you hear, this might be of interest to you. I learned alot about Leonard Cohen and Jeff Buckley.
  3. MURDER IN THE CHOIR by Liz Hedgecock :  I picked this book up at the library because of  storm threats. I wanted a cozy, quick book to read – in bed. It took about 3 hours to read, so it served it’s purpose.
  4. THE LIBRARY BOOK by Susan Orlean:  Orlean put in a lot of legwork investigating the fire of the Los Angeles Library in 1986 that destroyed or damaged over a million books. If you love reading and love books, you will love this book. 
  5. HOLY LANDS by Amanda Stiths:  An epistolary book, it follows a retired Jewish doctor who won’t use technology and how his family is connecting through actual letters. It starts out as a humorous tale, but as it unfolds, it ends up packing an emotional punch. It is a short read. Oh- the retired doctors has moved to Israel to raise pigs.
  6. CARNEGIE HILL by Jonathan Vatner:  I admit I checked this book out because of it’s cover about a co-op on the Upper East Side of New York.  It was entertaining while I was reading it, but once finished – poof! it is gone in my head.
  7. FALSE IMPRESSION by Jeffrey Archer: A fast paced thriller that is based on the sale of a Van Gogh self portrait.  Since part of it involved the world of art, it was a page turner for me.
  8. THE LOST GIRLS OF PARIS by Pam Jenoff:  Historical fiction based on the women of the S.O.E. before and during WWII.  I didn’t know about the women in the group, so I’m curious to know more. However, see if you can find the anachronisms in the book – better research was needed.
  9. THE ORCHID THIEF: A TRUE STORY OF BEAUTY AND OBSESSION by Susan Orlean: This is a world I never knew existed that takes place in South Florida – and I lived there for three years!!! (Note: same author as The Libra

I have included a few podcasts I discovered in the month of January:

CATCH AND KILL:   Perfect companion piece to the book (#1 above). 

DOLLY PARTON’S AMERICA:  Even though there are limited episodes, it is a breath of fresh air!

THE MOTH:  Storytelling at it’s best, with over 30,000 stories downloaded there will always be something to listen to.  I was founded by novelist George Dawes Green, who wanted to recreate the evenings in Georgia, when moths were attracted to the porch where people got together to tell tall tales.

Did you find a favorite book in January? Or did you find a favorite podcast? I’d love to know.




I am currently on a quest to read a book written by an author from each state. I have finally reached Idaho, reading two books by Idahoan authors (yes, I looked up the word Idahoan!)

First – MOUNTAIN MAN by Vardis Fisher, the book the movie Jeremiah Johnson is  based on. Sam Minard is a hunter/trapper wandering through Montana, Wyoming and Idaho.  This book isn’t for the faint of heart, beginning with Sam coming upon a horrific scene of an Indian massacre, where a lone woman is left alive after her three children are murdered and her husband is kidnapped and scalped. Sam builds her a cabin and get word out to other “mountain men” to look out for her. He takes an Indian Wife, and simplifies her name to Lotus. When it is time for him to leave in the winter to trap fur, he leaves her pregnant in the winter (in the comfort of their cabin). He returns to find his family has been slaughtered most likely by the Crowe tribe. This begins a murderous path of vengeance, vowing to kill every member of the tribe that killed his family. Again, this isn’t for the faint of heart.

Then I found another book that is probably stylistically on the other end of the spectrum! Echoes from the Hills of Idaho by Ruth Butler. This is the humorous, tragic and folksy memoir of Ruth, a girl who lived the first few years of her life on a thousand acre dry farm, which was near the Grand Teton Range of the Rocky Mountains and Yellowstone Park was only a few miles away. Surrounded by the grandeur and beauty of the area, she also lived in a loving family. Her heartfelt stories are of growing up during the twenties and thirties. Complete with pictures, it is an endearing memoir and this childhood must have ignited a sense of adventure in Ruth because  she worked as an airplane mechanic in WWII, raised a family in the Willamette Valley of Oregon and traveled America solo in her motorhome after retirement. She wrote this book in her 90’s and even though she is in now in a wheelchair and suffers from glaucoma, she writes every days, writing her third memoir!



Idaho is called the “Gem State”, because nearly every known type of gemstone has been found in Idaho. 

Idaho is one of only two places in the world where star garnets are mined in significant quantities (the other place is India).

Idaho’s state capital building is the only one in the United States that is heated by geothermal water. 

Shoshone Falls, near Twin Falls, drops 52 feet further than Niagara Falls

Known for potatoes, Idaho produces one-third of the potatoes grown in the U.S. (it also produces the most lentils).

Hells Canyon, (in the Western portion of the state) is 7,993 feet deep, making it the deepest river gorge in North America (The Grand Canyon is only about 6,000 fee deep).

The state seal of Idaho was designed by Emma Edwards Green, making this the only state seal that was designed by a woman. (The state seal is used in the flag too).

Sacagawea, the Shoshone woman who accompanied the Lewis and Clark expedition as an intrepreter was born here (and so was Sarah Palin, but we’ll forgive that).

The Salmon River is the longest free-flowing river that flows within a single state.

63% of Idaho is public land

The capital city of Boise was named when French-Canadian trappers arrived in the early 1800s and were so relieved to see the forest and river that they exclaimed “Les bois! Les bois!” (“The trees”)

In 2004, the mayor of Wallace, Idaho, a town with a population under 800 people declared the town as the Center Of The Universe, complete with a manhole cover painted to mark the site.

The Boise State University  Broncos play on the only blue football field in the world, known as The Smurf Turf!

This football field is also immortalized in Matthew (my art isn’t for everyone) Barney’s Cremaster series (and Barney grew up in Idaho too.)

There are more than 3,100 miles of rivers in Idaho, more than anywhere else in the US!

Napoleon Dynamite lived in Preston, Idaho – in fact they whole a Napoleon Dynamite festival every summer. 

If you know of other authors that are FROM Idaho, let me know!

Next, I will be traveling (by book of course) to Illinois (Ray Bradbury, Indiana (Kurt Vonnegut) and then Iowa (Bill Bryson)!



LITTLE FREE LIBRARWOW, It has been a wild ride of a year! I haven’t blogged in three months – a record for me. But now – I’m back! This is a recap of my reading in the past three months – I recorded 62 books read in the year 2015.

EVENTIDE by Kent Haruf – This is the sequel to Plainsong, a book I read as part of my quest to read a book by an author from each state (you can read about it here). The book continues the story of several characters as well as introducing new ones. There is a third book in this series that I will be reading in 2016 – need I say more? I recommend this series.

BETWEEN, GEORGIA by Joshilyn Jackson – Between is an actual town in Georgia, situated between Atlanta and Athens (where the University of Georgia is located). Being a native Georgian, I saw this book and thought it would be fun to read a story set in a town I travelled through multiple times. It is a whacky story of Nonny, who is caught between her adoptive family  with her biological family. Quick, funny read.

BIG MAGIC, CREATIVE LIVING BEYOND FEAR by Elizabeth Gilbert – In short, this book offers magical advice. She talks about how ideas manifest in you and if you don’t act on them, they might move on to someone else. The book is divided into six sections: Courage, Enchantment, Permission, Persistence, Trust and Divinity. I will refer back to this book over time.

THE LITTLE FREE LIBRARY BOOK by Margaret Aldrich – I’m getting a little free library of my own and this came with the paperwork. If you don’t know what I”m talking about, it is a “movement” that started in 2009 and has spread about the globe totaling more than 32,000! In short, The Little Free Library uses the motto “take a book, return a book”. I will have one in my front yard by early spring. I want to decorate it with miniature book covers of my ten favorite books (to be determined). Here is an over-the-top library located in Atlanta incorporating a historic movie theater.


EIGHT KEYS by Suzanne LaFleur – I just happened to pick up this little magical book at the library. It follows Elise and her best friend Franklin at age 12. Elise is living with her uncle and aunt after the death of her parents. Her father left her 8 keys that begin turning up, unlocking the doors to rooms on the second floor of the barn. It is a book about self-discovery and love. It is a lovely book, especially for young girls.

THE DAYS OF ANNA MADRIGAL by Armistead Maupin – This is the latest installment of the Tales of the City series, which was begun in 1978 as a newspaper series.. Anna is the transgender landlady of 28 Barbary Lane. I’ve loved these characters for years. But I suggest starting with the first book if you are interested. BTW, Anna Madrigal is an anagram for “a man and a girl”.

STORIES FROM SEPARATION TEXAS by john J Asher – This is a series of short stories set in West Texas, beginning in 1866 and continuing through the present day. The stories are gritty and raw. Overall, this was a good read, some of the stories much better than others.


THE GIRL WHO CHASED THE MOON by Sarah Addison Allen – A magical little book with a hint of a fairy tale. Set in Mullaby, North Carolina, it follows Emily moving in with her giant of a grandfather she never knew after her mothers dies.

“How tall is he?” she asked, her voice hushed, as if he might hear.
“Tall enough to see into tomorrow.”

Her room has wallpaper that changes with the moods, there are lights dancing in the back yard (are they ghosts), and a woman who puts hope in the cakes she bakes.  A story of love, redemption, things lost and found, and reunion.

THE DIRTY PARTS OF THE BIBLE by Sam Torode – Don’t be put of by the title of the book. It is basically a coming of age story set it the Depression era, with life riding on trains, living with hobos and finding your own truth. Check and see if it is still free on Amazon!

A WRINKLE IN TIME by Madeleine L’Engle – I can’t believe I waited so long to read this little gem of a book – which was a winner of the Newbery Medal in 1963. Meg and her bother Charles Wallace, along with Calvin (the most popular boy in school) travel through time and space to find Meg’s father. I will definitely read the rest of the books in the series 2016.

A SPOOL OF BLUE THREAD by Anne Tyler – Oh Anne, how I have missed you! This tells the three-generational story of the Whiteshank family, set in Anne Tyler’s beloved Baltimore. I enjoyed getting to know these characters and I missed them when I was finished with the book. Makes me want to revisit other books by Anne Tyler.

JUST KIDS by Patti Smith – This was a reread. I went to an “interview” of Patti Smith as she was promoting her new book M TRAIN, which we all received a copy of. I decided to go back and reread this book before reading M Train. I enjoyed it more the second time around, which I didn’t think was possible. It tells a great story and it is so well written you want to stop and reread the passages just for the beauty of the words. I can’t wait to read M Train!

For 2016, I chose MINDFULNESS to be my word of the year. How will that relate to my reading? I’m going to choose my books more carefully.  I will continue on my quest to read a book by an author from every state – I may even get through it this year! But, I’ve seen a 2016 reading challenge for 12 books to read – which I’m going to loosely follow.  They include:

  • a book published this year (2016)
  • a book I can finish in a day (i will try to limit this to only one in the year!)
  • a book I’ve been meaning to read
  • a book recommended by a librarian or a book seller
  • a book i should have read in school
  • a book chose for your by your spouse, sibling, child or bff (looking for recommendations as my husband isn’t a big reader)
  • a book published before I was born
  • a book that was banned
  • a book I put down
  • a book i have but never started
  • a book that intimidates me
  • a book i’ve already read.

Do you have any plans for reading in 2016?