Tag Archives: books

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?