Wednesday, December 30, 2020

In which I'm not unhappy about waving bye-bye to 2020...


Hello book friends!  Well, Christmas has come and gone and our daughter gave us the ornament pictured above as part of our Christmas goodies.  I love it, but wonder whether I'll want to display it after 2020.  We shall see.  Our Christmas Day itself was very nice.  We did the 'porch drops' and visited with area family in the outdoors.  Happily, the weather cooperated and we had a good time visiting for a few minutes with each household.  We went to our daughter and son-in-law's house last and enjoyed some fun time with their two dogs.  Both Cody and Max (the pups) came and sat with their heads on my knee and just rested there for a while.  We hadn't seen the grand-dogs for a long time.  And, yes, we also enjoyed visiting with our kids.

Another happy thing is that our daughter just texted and said she got her first dose of the vaccine this morning at her hospital.  I'm very relieved about that and am hopeful that we all will be able to get the shots in upcoming months. 

So, reading in 2020 and stats.  I have them, but honestly, I read so many books that were not 'new-to-me' - aka 're-reads', I'm not going to do a 'Top 10' list.  I will say that I think my favorite book this year was Louise Penny's newest, All The Devils Are Here.  I also enjoyed reading Kelley Armstrong's Rockton series, David Baldacci's Memory Man books, and Sherry Thomas' Lady Sherlock series.  I read 130 books in 2020 and that's about normal for me.  What it doesn't reflect is the number of books that I began and then set aside.  I have no idea how many of those there were.  Lots.

As for reading goals and other goals for 2021 - I think I'm going to just 'go with the flow' in that regard.  Read what I want and that might be new books and it might be 're-reads'.  I do want to get back to sharing at least a short paragraph about my thoughts for books that are new-to-me reads.  And who knows?  I might even share a bit about older books that I'm revisiting.  

I'm not going to pick a focus word for this year either.  I've done that in the past, but again, this new year will be as stress-free as I can manage.  I'm planning on more yoga, especially in the breathing and meditation area.  Continuing my walking.  Better choices in my eating because those have not been very helpful in 2020.  Just healthy in mind, body, and soul 2021 - that sounds good to me.  

I feel like I've had way too much 'news' in 2020 and am going to attempt to create my peaceful place here while I'm visiting with all you about books and good stuff.  Take care and wishing everyone a safe New Year's.  Let's bring on 2021!!         

Friday, December 18, 2020

The Xmas elves have been here and the 'porch bags' are ready...


Our 'porch bags' are ready to share with family and friends.  We just need to make a few tasty goodies to include and set the delivery times.  Goodie-making will commence next week.  We had a good time coming up with a few fun items for our loved ones - not big things, but useful things and funny things.  A few got a book from me and the dog lovers got a bag of treats for their pups.  There were funny socks and bookmarks and hand cream and little soaps.  Some little flashlights for the guys and some puzzle books - you get the idea.  

I'll be making Strawberry Nut Bread (small loaves) and Gingerbread Cookies and my husband has some kind of candy thing he's going to try.  

Some had asked about my Christmas playlist.  It includes Christmas albums from Pentatonix, Amy Grant, A Very Special Christmas - Vol. 1 & 2, Faith Hill, Vanessa Williams, and Michael Buble'.  Maybe my two favorite songs that are not 'traditional' holiday tunes - Amy Grant singing 'My Grown-up Christmas List' and Faith Hill singing 'A Baby Changes Everything'.  

Hope all have a safe, peaceful weekend.  I am still trying to 'Be of good cheer...'.  Grateful my daughter will be getting the vaccine in the next few days at her hospital.  

And if I don't get back around until after Christmas Day, I wish you all much joy and peace and love - and some tasty goodies!

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Another funny thought...for 2020, the oddest year ever...


I promised if I found another funny thing, I'd share it.  I found this made me laugh and nod my head.  I got my hair cut this morning and my stylist (who has a single-woman hair studio) had things decorated for the holidays.  It was very pretty and cheerful.  Plus, she had this 'sign'.  Ha!  I asked about it and she said it made her think of some of the difficulties of understanding people with their masks on.  Very appropriate, right?  Yes, the masks do make things a bit garbled now and then.  I do back away when people decide that if they need to repeat, they also need to pull the mask below their chin.  Um....no.  Ha!

As this is now cedar pollen season in our area (I hate cedar pollen and it hates me!), I've had to move my walking regimen back into the rec center.  Which is fine as they are very careful with a reservation system and lots of rules.  However, I don't get to see the Christmas decorations or wildlife.  I decided that with my quest of 'Be of good cheer...', I'd create a holiday music playlist.  I've done that and my walking has been very cheerful the last few days.  Now my goal is to not forget where I am and start humming or singing under my breath.  Ha!  I mean, who doesn't want to sing along?

Hope you all have a nice weekend.  Our shopping is done.  Now to get organized and get all the little treats put in bags and wrapped up in tissue for our 'porch deliveries'.  I'll do a post next week giving a peek at what I've found to share with people this year.  It's just little things...and maybe some gingerbread cookies...

Monday, December 7, 2020

Because this is the year for an 'unusual' Christmas tree....2020, right?


I know I said I wouldn't be back around until the end of the month, but this just made me laugh.  'Be of good cheer' - you might wake up and when you turn on the lights for your Christmas tree....this happens.  Ha!  What an appropriate tree for 2020!  Unusual and not quite right....LOL!  Of course, it's a prelighted tree and so it's not as simple as buying a new strand and replacing it.  I think we'll keep it just like this.  And it looks like we'll be watching for the after-holiday sales for a new tree.

Perhaps I'll look for other ways to make you smile this month.  I'll see what I can find and share.  Have a good day!  

Friday, December 4, 2020

Ho, Ho, Ho,...and it's December...


Hello book friends!  How are all of you?  It's December!  And I'm coming back around to say 'Greetings!' and, as it says on my mantel decoration...'Be of good cheer...'!  Or maybe try to be of good cheer.  I'm choosing to try to do that and my husband and I have been figuring out what these December holidays will look like at our house.  Not the 'usual', but we're choosing not to have a 'Grinch-y' Christmas either.  We're working on plans to 'porch deliver' some bags of treats to family and friends here.  And maybe have a small visit outside with them.  We might even sing a carol or two - at a distance.  You never know.

I can't help remembering that three years ago in December, my husband had an unexpected heart attack and then had triple bypass surgery.  It was a very scary time and an unusual Christmas, but we got through it.  We'll all get through this year as well.  The holidays and Christmas are for me a time of joy, peace, and thinking of those I love and have loved.  And also a time of reaching out and trying to bring some joy to others through whatever means I can.  I encourage you to do that as well.

As to my reading life, it goes on, happily.  I'm not going to share much about it here, but I plan to be back maybe the last week of this year to do some 'Best of...' posts and update at that time.  Until then, I'm going to leave you with several pictures of holiday decorations around my house.  My wish is that all will have a joyful, peaceful, holiday season full of love and good cheer.  Merry Christmas!  Thank you all for being my friends!!



Monday, November 2, 2020

Happy November and still on a break...


Hello book friends!  Can you believe that it's November?  I can't and yet this year has seemed like a decade long.  It's odd for sure.  I'm going to be continuing my fall break, but I just wanted to check in and say 'hello' and share that we are still doing well.  We're being sensible and have decided that the holidays will be different this year.  Even though we have family in the area.  We're trying to be thoughtful about our relatives that are older, immune-compromised or are in jobs that mean they are exposed to a lot of humanity (teachers and medical people).  Thank goodness we still have phones and the ability to talk with people face-to-face in various ways, even if it is virtual.  I'm grateful for that every day.  It would have been different 30 years ago.

In any case, we'll be here being thankful for many, many things.  Me, I'm definitely thankful for books and the ability to enjoy them.  I've been reading a lot in print and listening to a bunch as well.  Our mystery group will be discussing The Long Call by Ann Cleeves this Wednesday evening.  I'm going to be leading a discussion of Gail Honeyman's Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine with our afternoon book group in a couple of weeks.  Both virtually and that's OK too.  Not perfect, but OK enough.

Oh, I also wanted to say that I read or reread all of Sherry Thomas' Lady Sherlock books in the last few weeks.  There are five of them now and Murder On Cold Street is the latest, published in October.  I had a great time visiting with Charlotte Holmes (aka Sherlock), Mrs. Watson, and all the other characters that this series has introduced us to.  It's great in print and also on audio.  Kate Reading is the narrator and she's a good one. Highly recommended.  

That's about all have.  Enjoy your November!  Take care and stay safe.  Wear your masks.  Be sensible.  And, please, my wish is that you have a wonderful Thanksgiving - even if it's a little different that usual.  Virtual hugs to all!

Friday, October 9, 2020

Happy October and maybe a little break...


Hello book friends and Happy October!  Above is a picture that I've shared before - from a trip my daughter and I took to Disneyworld about 8 or 9 years ago.  They do fall and Halloween decorating to the max.  Lots of fun to see, but not this year.  

A look at the beautiful leaves in full fall glory from a trip to New Mexico a couple of years ago.  Again, lots of fun to see, but not for a while to come.

And here's a look at an early morning spider in it's web - taken with the backdrop of my husband truck.  Seems very appropriate for October.  Many of our neighbors have their yards decorated with pumpkins and skeletons and graveyards and ghosts.  Not sure if trick-or-treating will happen, but people are decorating like crazy.  

I think I'm going to take a little break from posting, not that I've been posting much.  I have been reading a lot and will share a list of books below that I've completed since my last post.  I will still be commenting on your blogs, but I'm just not in the mood to do reviews.  I'll probably be back around in a few weeks.  

Here's what I've read:

The Widows by Jess Montgomery
Girl Waits With Gun by Amy Stewart

Both the above were selections for our mystery group.  We had a nice discussion about them on Wednesday evening at our virtual meeting.  

Year One by Nora Roberts
Of Blood And Bone by Nora Roberts
The Rise Of Magicks by Nora Roberts

The above three books make up Nora Roberts' Chronicles of The One trilogy - fantasy and really quite a bit different from anything I've read by her.  Some didn't care of it.  I liked it enough to read all three.  Really out of her usual wheelhouse I'd say.

Die For Love by Elizabeth Peters
She's Not There by Joy Fielding
Strangers At The Gate by Catriona McPherson

These three were all re-reads that I thoroughly enjoyed again.

That's all I've got for now.  As I said, I'll probably not be posting for a few weeks, but I'll be around to say hello on your blogs.  Take care and wear your masks!  And Happy October and Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

What I've been reading in September...

***Blogger and I are still learning to get along these days.  I accidentally 'published' this post, but it obviously wasn't ready for that.  Let's try this again...with more content.  Ha!


Hello book friends!  How have you been?  Hope all are well and staying buried in books and reading.  That's what I've been doing mostly and I've read some good books.  Several good books actually.  Let me share about them.

I got caught up on Kelley Armstrong's Rockton series, which has 5 books right now and will have #6 in February.  I read #3 This Fallen Prey, #4 Watcher in the Woods, and #5 Alone in the Wild.  I really like this series which is set in the wilds of Canada, off the grid, and features Casey Duncan, her significant other Eric Dalton, and others.  The reader learns more and more about Rockton and the people who live there and in the area.  Crazy stuff.

My next read was One By One, Ruth Ware's new book set in the French Alps.  Our mystery book group had read her previous book, The Turn of the Key, for September (which was about 50-50 thumbs up by our group).  I was excited to start this one because I suspected that her inspiration was Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None.  The answer to that question was 'yes-ish'.  I did like this book.  It held my interest and made feel quite cold.  Set at a ski chalet in winter, a group from a start-up tech company comes for a work retreat and lots of things happen.  Scary things.  Dire things.  I won't tell too much, but I will say that I guessed how it might play out early on.  There were a few surprises, but not as many as I might have liked.  As I said, I liked it, but I think that Ware's first book, In a Dark, Dark Wood, remains my favorite. 

On to the new Louise Penny book, #16 in her mystery series, and one I was really anticipating (I'm always anticipating Louise's new books!).  Oh my word!  I loved this book.  I really did.  I can say that about all this author's writing, but some books are special favorites and I think All the Devils Are Here will qualify for that with me.  It is set almost entirely in Paris with the characters mostly being from Gamache's own family.  That is not a bad thing for me, but I know that some of this author's fans mostly prefer for the setting to remain in Canada and Three Pines.  However, in my opinion, it's good for Louise to take her characters out of the small village occasionally and some of my favorites are set in other spots.  I mentioned that I attended an event virtually where Penny spoke about her work and she said that when she's outside of Three Pines, she is able to reveal more about Gamache and whoever is with him because she doesn't have to update so much about the many characters that reside in Three Pines - or not update as much.  I can see that here.  

For me, this was a book about family - the Gamache family.  Many things are revealed that we might have guessed or that the author had hinted in the past.  Reine-Marie Gamache has a big role in this book as does Jean Guy.  Armand's growing-up years are mentioned and sorted through a bit.  His godfather appears.  And Daniel, the Gamache's son, is finally front and center, which he has not been through the whole series.  We learn a lot.  This story is about family and love and betrayal and lies and trust and discovering still more aspects of our protagonist, Chief Inspector Armand Gamache.  Highly recommended by me. 

The last book I'll talk about today is #5 in the Cormoran Strike series by Robert Galbraith (aka J.K. Rowling), Troubled Blood.  I had been highly anticipating this book as I've really enjoyed the whole Strike series.  And I wasn't disappointed, though the reader might need to know that this book came in at 944 pages.  I didn't mind and actually did a read/listen and loved it.  Cormoran and Robin, his partner in the private detective firm, are asked to investigate a cold case disappearance of a woman by her daughter.  The woman, Dr. Margo Bamborough, has been missing for 40 years, so quite a 'cold' case.  Cormoran has never taken a cold case, but he and Robin and their other colleagues give it their best.  There are other cases as well, of course, and also a lot of family situations for both Robin and Cormoran.  We get to know their colleagues better and our protagonists better.  As I said, I really loved the book.  It wasn't particularly fast-paced for the most part, but I was OK with that.  Another highly recommended series.  

That's about all I have today.  I'm currently listening to The Widows by Jess Montgomery for our October mystery book group discussion.  I'm reading the first book in Nora Roberts' Chronicles of the One trilogy, Year One.  I'll share my thoughts about both of those in couple of weeks, along with whatever else has crossed my path.  Take care.  Wear your mask.  Enjoy your reading! 

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

In which I discuss my love of re-reading...yes, this is a rerun (mostly) but I'm curious about your thoughts here...

This is a post that I shared several years ago.  I'm still a re-reader and I'm curious about your habits in this regard, especially during this most unusual year.  Thanks for indulging me and commenting - ha!


As I begin this little discussion about my habit of re-reading books, I'm going to first share three quotes:

"Tell me what you read and I'll tell you who you are" is true enough, but I'd know you better if you told me what you reread.   ~~Francois Mauriac~~

When you reread a classic, you do not see more in the book than you did before; you see more in you than was there before.     ~~Clifton Fadiman~~

To acquire the habit of reading is to construct for yourself a refuge from almost all the miseries of life.     ~~W. Somerset Maugham~~

I want to talk a little bit about re-reading books.  Do you have this practice?  Do you go back to the books you read when you were younger and see if they hold up well?  Or do you finish a great book and turn back to the first page and begin again?  Or maybe you've enjoyed a book in print form and then later, you try it in audio format.

I will confess that I am a re-reader from way back.  I think I've shared that my parents did not indulge my wish to physically own books when I was growing up.  I had a few, a very few.  However, money was tight and they felt that the library could provide any books I might need or want.  Which was fine until we'd go and spend 2 weeks at my grandmother's house.  I'd take armloads of books that were checked out from the library, but I'd finish them - so, I'd start over and read them again.

In my teens, I'd read sweet love stories and scary ghost stories and pretty much anything that wasn't "assigned" by my English teacher - well, I did read my assignments but never twice.  In my 20's, I discovered that I loved going back to well-loved books from my teens and taking another look.  And I've continued that practice off and on up until now.

Why, you might ask?  Well, I know that I'll never get to read all the books that I want to read in my lifetime.  I know this.  However, sometimes I just need a story that I'm familiar with for the comfort value.  It's like a warm blanket or a cup of hot chocolate or a hug from my mother.  At tough times in my life, I find myself picking up books that I remember so well and also remembering how they made me feel.  Safe, secure, a refuge as Mr. Maugham states in the quote above.

I also use re-reading as a technique to bump myself out of a reading slump and have done this for years.  My favorite go-to books are varied.  Authors might include:  Agatha Christie, J.K. Rowling, Phyllis A. Whitney, Mary Stewart, Louise Penny, Debbie Macomber, Elizabeth Peters, Barbara Michaels, Nora Roberts or so many that I've talked about as favorites.

OK, now I want to hear your thoughts.  Do you read books for a second or third or endless amount of times?  Or are you a 'been there, done that' kind of reader?  I'd love to know and I'd also love to know a few of the books that you consider your favorites to visit again.  Who knows?  I might have forgotten one that I'd like to go back to for the second time.  And thanks for sharing!

Thursday, September 3, 2020

It's September and is it fall? Maybe fall-ish at some point and some reading...

Hello book friends!  I don't have a nice picture to share here this time.  Forgot to take one, but never fear.  I'll have one the next time.  Ha!  Actually, I tried to take a couple of the full moon early this morning, but they didn't please me.  So, it's September of this year of 2020.  Sometimes it feels that time is passing quickly, but mostly it just feel like a 'never-ending' year to me.  Ah well.  No complaining.  My new motto, along with 'avoid most of the news'.  Let's talk about what I've been reading.

First I'll share a little about our mystery book group's discussion of Ruth Ware's The Turn of the Key.  We met last night virtually and the opinions were about 50% (or maybe a little less) liked it well enough.  Probably 50% didn't care for it.  I will say that this book is creepy with the 'smart house' theme.  Also, not too many likable characters or maybe no likable characters.  And the ending is a more than a little ambiguous.  This group had read Ware's first book, In a Dark Dark Wood, a few years ago and that book remains my favorite of hers.  It seemed that she did take inspiration from Henry James and his The Turn of the Screw, but diverged from that story some.  Not sure too many in the group will seek out Ruth Ware's next book (to be published this next week), One By One, but because the inspiration seems to be Agatha Christie, I'll be checking it out.

As to other reading, I've read 4 more Memory Man books by David Baldacci.  Really liked all of them and will be watching for the next entry into that series.  The newest, #6, was published this spring, Walk the Wire.  I like Amos Decker, the main protagonist, and also his partner, Alex Jamison.  Walk the Wire takes place in North Dakota in a fracking town.  That's not all that is there and another Baldacci character makes an appearance.  I won't say which one it is because that might be too big of a spoiler.  I will say that I'm looking forward to his new Atlee Pine book, Daylight, which will be out in November.  I've noticed that since I've not read many books by this author, I have several series to sample if I so choose.  I love that! 

After I was caught up with the Memory Man, I decided to follow one of my usual summer reading 'rules' - read cold books in summer.  I had read Kelley Armstrong's first Rockton book, City of the Lost, a while back and enjoyed it.  I decided to reread that one and then continue with the books currently out in that series.  I'm now on #2, A Darkness Absolute, and loving the cold and the characters and the remote Canadian wilderness location.  In case you don't know about this series, Rockton is a small town where people who need to disappear apply to come.  Casey Duncan is a homicide detective who has that need and she arrives to become part of Rockton's very small law enforcement group.  Some of the people in Rockton are nice and some are not.  And then there is the wilderness location and the off-the-grid theme.  I'm finding these books hold my interest quite well.

I also attended a virtual event yesterday that featured Louise Penny talking about her new book, All the Devils Are Here.  The event was hosted by Murder By the Book, an independent mystery bookstore in Houston.  Store owner, McKenna Jordan, did a great job chatting with Louise and I thoroughly enjoyed hearing about her writing process for this book and also how her life has been in the last few months.  Louise herself was in London and, having just arrived a few days ago, quaratined for now.  It was great that we could all 'attend' the event virtually.  One nice thing to come from this whole year - lots of author events that we can watch.  My copy of All the Devils Are Here is on my way from Murder By the Book and I will be reading it before long.  

That's about all I have.  Our weather here has been mega-humid and, though the rain chances are welcome, a promised cool front can't get here soon enough.  Maybe next week I'll be able to say that I've walked outside and not sweated a bucket - I hope so.  Take care and talk to you guys soon!   

Thursday, August 20, 2020

An anniversary and what I've been reading...


Hello everyone!  Hope you've all had a nice week or nice enough anyway.  We've been doing well here and managing through some awfully hot weather.  It's August though and that is not at all unexpected.  It was amazingly wonderful to step out early this morning for my walk and find the temps a bit below 70 degrees.  Wow!  We had a 'cool' front and I suspect this will be the only day with that lovely treat.  However, I'll take what I can get.  

My husband and I had our wedding anniversary earlier this week and we can't believe it's been 40 years.  Gosh, I'm old.  Ha!  The plan had been for a very nice trip, but that has been put off until next year and we'll hope to be able to enjoy it then.  We had a tasty meal and considered it a good enough celebration.  Otherwise, I've done all my regular things, had a couple of virtual meetings and read some good books.

I finished Sycamore Row by John Grisham and noted last week that it had been a really long while since I read any of his books.  Back long ago, I think my first book by this author was The Firm.  It was such a big seller.  I also read his debut book, A Time To Kill and liked it very much.  It was interesting that Grisham waited over 20 years to write again about Jake Brigance, his famous fictional defense attorney.  Sycamore Row was published in 2013, so it's not a new book.  The 3rd book featuring Jake Brigance, A Time For Mercy, is scheduled to be published in October.  

I attended our afternoon book group's virtual discussion of Sycamore Row and enjoyed hearing the thoughts of everyone that was able to attend.  This book features a man, Seth Hubbard, who is dying of lung cancer and who hangs himself after having left a new hand-written will.  In this will, he leaves almost all his estate to his maid, who is black.  His children are left nothing.  Jake Brigance is asked in a letter, also written by Hubbard, to be the attorney for the estate.  Lots of thought-provoking themes here and everyone seemed to like the book.  Many had read at least one book by the author, but there were a few who were new to his writing.  It was a good discussion.

I also read Memory Man by David Baldacci and the next book in the same series, The Last Mile.  Our mystery book group had read and discussed Memory Man last year, but I wasn't able to attend that meeting and put off reading it.  It was a good one to follow up the Grisham book and held my interest.  The 'Memory Man' is Amos Decker, a former NFL football player who gets injured severely in the first game (in fact, the first play) of his pro career.  His head injury causes him to have some curious brain changes - hyperthymesia and synesthesia.  The first condition means he can never forget anything, ever.  The second is that his senses experience life in a very specific way, especially with colors and numbers.  After Amos' injury and recovery, he becomes a police detective.  In the first book, Decker discovers his family has been murdered.  His life implodes for a long time, but eventually someone confesses to the crime and Decker is brought back in to assist in the investigation.  He comes to the attention of the FBI during this time and he's asked to be part of a special task force.

In the second book, The Last Mile, Decker and other members of the FBI task force unravel what happened when Melvin Mars' parents were killed.  Mars himself has been in prison for 20 years for the crime and is scheduled for execution. He's granted a reprieve and Decker and colleagues start at the beginning and gradually open up all kinds of secrets that someone doesn't want known.  Someone very powerful.  I really enjoyed both of these books and look forward to moving on in the series to #3, The Fix.

My latest book completed is Ruth Ware's The Turn of the Key.  My word, what a creepy book.  I'll wait and talk more about it in a couple of weeks.  It's the September selection for our mystery book group.  I do have thoughts about it and just want to say, I never want to live in a 'Smart House'.  Ever.  

Until next week, stay safe, wear your masks, enjoy your reading, and take care!      

Thursday, August 13, 2020

New doggy friends and a bit about reading...

 Hello book friends!  So nice to be here again this week with a few pictures and things to talk about.  Hope you are all well and safe and content (as much as you can be).  For those who have kids where school looms or has started, hope all goes well in that regard - whether it's in the school, at home with remote learning, or homeschooling.  Also, those who have had some extra challenges lately, know that I'm still thinking of you and keeping you in my prayers.  

My pictures this week are of two neighbors that I've met over the weeks and months that I've been out walking in the early mornings.  Actually, I've met or greeted or waved to a number of neighbors that I only vaguely knew.  These two though - they are dogs and such fun to see each morning.  Oh, and also their 'Dad' who walks them faithfully.


This is Snoopy and he is a very well behaved neighbor.  He sits or explores a bit when I am greeting his 'Dad' and 'Sister'.  Snoopy doesn't bark or jump, but he sometimes looks like he's thinking 'I thought we were walking...aren't we walking?' - ha!


This doggy neighbor is the active, jumping, greeting, straining-at-the-leash because she's so friendly and needs to know everyone - Eukie.  She's 7-months-old and is in training to learn to sit and behave when it's appropriate.  I wasn't able to get a picture of her face because she is constantly wriggling and wagging her tail and looking for the next sight to see.  You can tell from the blur of her head and tail what's going on.  She doesn't bark though.  

I've enjoyed getting to know these new-to-me neighbors and their 'Dad'.  After Eukie straining and straining morning after morning, he asked if I'd like to 'meet' her.  He and I were distanced, but Eukie and I were not - ha!  So now, every morning, we meet all over again.  I'm not much of a dog person, but Eukie reminds me of one of our granddogs, Cody.  I can just imagine what antics she and Cody could get up to.  


As to other stuff, like reading, I finished Sycamore Row by John Grisham.  I'll report next week on our afternoon book group's discussion of the book and what others thought of it.  It was longer than I expected.  I did a read/listen and the audio was over 20 hours long.  

Next, I started David Baldacci's Memory Man.  Our mystery group read and discussed this book a while back, but I was out of town and didn't read the book at that time.  I'm enjoying it now and will report on it next week as well.  Another long one.  I've been listening to Final Girls, a reread for me, and Riley Sager's first book.  I had commented to someone that I thought it was my favorite up to now of the Sager books I've read.  Decided I would listen to them all again.  Why not, right?

Not much else to tell.  Again, hope everyone is doing well.  See you next week!

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Early morning skies and more new reading...

Good morning book friends!  I've got two early morning sky pictures to share with you today.  I'm really enjoying my early walks and trying to find beautiful things to capture on my phone.  These shots are what I have for this week.  I will say that I am still adjusting to Blogger's new way of composing posts.  It seems every time I work on one, something new has changed.  This week it was the placement of the pictures.  I know several of you have been frustrated with that.  Oh well.  I'll try to not let it bug me too much.  All is well at our house.  We got a little rain, which was much needed.  However, it is summer and we're moving into a drier period I'm afraid.  

My reading has been good and I managed a couple of books this week.  As I think I've shared, my audiobook listening has been books that I've already read in print.  I'm enjoying them, but am not feeling inclined to talk about them here.  The first book I finished this last week was Kate White's Have You Seen Me? - a standalone thriller.  I've read other books by Kate White and liked them.  This one was another that I liked, but didn't love.  I'm not sure what it is about her stories.  I do like them, but I probably wouldn't put them on any of my 'favorites' lists.  In this book, Ally Linden finds herself dripping wet at the door of her office and the company where she works - or so she thinks.  It turns out that Ally has not worked there for five years and she can't remember anything about the last couple of days.  Ally's quest to discover what's going on in her life now and what happened to cause her memory loss is the main focus.  Dissociative disorder plays a part, which I found very interesting.  There were lots of twists and turns, but it was a book that I finished and thought - well, that's done, what's next?

I also finished Jane Casey's newest Maeve Kerrigan book and I loved this one.  Well, I think I've loved all the books in this series.  The Cutting Place is the 9th book and we are again solving crimes with DS Maeve Kerrigan and DI Josh Derwent, plus other assorted characters that we've come to love or loathe.
Maeve finds herself investigating a gentlemen's club after a body is found in the river and the story is very timely in many ways.  Women and choices, men and choices, immigrants and choices, domestic violence and choices, friendship, family, ruthless behavior, kindness and love.  All these appear.  Did I say that I loved this book and I love this series?  If you've not ever tried Jane Casey's books, the first one is The Burning.  A highly recommended series.

Our mystery group had our August virtual meeting last night and we talked about David Baldacci's Long Road To Mercy.  Everyone seemed to like the book and several had gone ahead and read the second book in the series.  The third book will come out in November and I'll be watching for it.  We also shared news of upcoming books by authors that we've loved and shared favorite mystery authors with a couple of newer members that requested that.  Each of us was happy to 'help' them out and add to their TBR list.  Ha!   

I'm currently reading Sycamore Row by John Grisham for my afternoon book club's August meeting in a couple of weeks.  It's has been years and years since I read anything by Grisham.  Not sure why he fell off my 'must read' list, but he did.  This book is the second featuring Jake Brigance, the lawyer that's a main character in A Time To Kill.  I'm liking it so far.  And I'll be curious what others in this afternoon group think of the book.  They mostly like to read more issue-focused, literary, sort of 'depressing-all-the-time' types of books.  I don't say that to be negative, but what is a good match for a lot of the members isn't necessarily a good match for me.  We'll see how it goes.  

Take care everyone and have a good week!  Wear your masks!  Be sensible!  I'll see you soon!    

Thursday, July 30, 2020

New shoes and new reading...

Good morning book friends!  Hope you are all well and safe and wearing your masks.  I didn't really have a new picture to show this morning that included nature or cute creatures, so I decided to show my new walking shoes.  What do you think?  Ha!  I had walked until my previous pair was not as supportive as it could be and so I ordered new ones.  You may ask 'do they glow in the dark?' - it's possible!  I haven't tested that as yet, but they are certainly bright.  What I'm happy about is that they are comfortable and support my 'old' feet as I walk and walk and walk.  It's been quite warm, but I seem to be adjusting to early morning temps and humidity.  I sweat, yes, but I've decided that isn't a bad thing.

My reading has been going along well.  I've been listening to books that I've read before mostly, but that's been working in case I get distracted or have to take a picture of a fun creature.  Right now, I'm listening to Peter May's The Blackhouse, which I have loved in the past and am completely enjoying again.

I finished reading David Baldacci's second Atlee Pine book, A Minute To Midnight, and enjoyed it a lot.  Atlee and her assistant, Carol, go to her hometown to do further research on what exactly happened to Mercy, Atlee's twin sister.  When both girls were six, Mercy was taken, and no one knows the end of that story as yet.  While in Georgia, Atlee and Carol end up assisting the FBI and local law enforcement with identification and apprehension of a potential serial killer in the area.  The third book in the series,  Daylight, is scheduled to be published in November.  I'll be watching for it.

My next book was Michael Connelly's most recent Ballard/Bosch pairing, The Night Fire.  My husband and I had listened to about half of that book on our recent trip and will finish it on audio when we travel next.  However, who knows when that will be?  I couldn't wait, so I read the rest of it in print form.  I've only been reading Connelly's books since he created Renee Ballard (this is #3 of those), but I've watched all the Bosch seasons on TV, so I feel like I'm OK with knowing at least something about him.  The Night Fire begins with Bosch attending a funeral of one of his mentors at the LAPD, John Jack Thompson.  He finds that Thompson had taken a murder book home with him when he retired and the widow says that Thompson wanted Harry to have it.  Bosch asks Ballard to help him figure out some things and the two work together to solve not only this cold case, but a couple of other cases that might relate. 

The last book I finished this week was Katherine Center's new one, What You Wish For.  I read another book by this author last year, How To Walk Away.  I liked it quite a bit and decided to try this new one.  Center's books are full of 'heart' I think I would say.  They are funny and poignant and deal with some tough situations, but will make you laugh out loud at times too.  They have romance, but they also have sorrow and show a lot about how one might deal with adversity.  In this book, the theme is to 'choose joy, even in difficult times'.  I love that.  And it doesn't hurt that it's set on Galveston Island of Texas, includes a bit of history about Galveston, and features a school librarian as the main protagonist.  I thought this book was very good.  And I want to go back and read this author's backlist.

I'm glad that my reading has moved in a more positive direction.  Not necessarily with the themes being 'happy all the time', but just immersive and keeping my interest.  This morning I started Kate White's new book, Have You Seen Me?.  I'll talk about that one next week, hopefully.  Take care and I'll see you soon!            

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Early morning walks, some mystery reading, and virtual book groups...

Hello book friends!  Hope you are all well and safe and content and I feel like I say the same thing with every post - ha!  Oh, I should say that I hope you are reading just the right amount for you.  Not too much and not too little - just right.  All is good at our house.  And not much is different.  The picture above is one I took on a walk early in the morning - two does and their two fawns.  They stood still for me, but the minute I snapped the picture, all four took off into the woods.  Guess I was lucky.  Spring and summer include lots of fawns in our area and those cute little creatures are fun to look at, but one has to be careful driving as they tend to run out into the road just like little humans. 

I'm happy to say that my reading has been good in the last few days.  I finished Outsider by Linda Castillo.  This is the 12th book in her Kate Burkholder mystery series, set in the Amish country of Ohio.  I always enjoy a visit with Kate and her special someone, John Tomasetti.  This particular book gave the reader more insights into what happened to Kate when she left home in her late teens and eventually became a cop.  Kate is now the Chief of Police in Painters Mill, Ohio, her old hometown, but an old friend/colleague shows up and things get very dicey.  Both Kate and Tomasetti have some tough ethical decisions to make in Outsider.  Now to wait for the next book.  Sigh.

I also finished Long Road To Mercy by David Baldacci, which is our mystery group's discussion book for August.  It's the first book in his Atlee Pine series, which has the second already out and the third to be published this fall.  Atlee Pine is a FBI agent and she's 'watches over' The Grand Canyon from her single-agent office in Shattered Rock, Arizona.  Atlee is quite an interesting person and I also found this initial book quite interesting with lots of Grand Canyon info, among other things.  I did notice that reviews were mixed about some of the story line.  I liked it well enough to pick up the second book in the series, A Minute To Midnight, and start reading it next.  Agent Pine is a twin and when she and her identical twin, Mercy, were six years old, Mercy was kidnapped and Atlee was left without her 'other half'.  That particular story line is part of this book and also part of the second.  We'll see if it concludes in #2 or if it continues to #3. 

Otherwise, our mystery group met virtually a couple of weeks ago to talk about 'Award Winning and Nominated Mysteries for 2020'.  It was a good meeting and we seem to be managing well enough with this method.  Unfortunately, not all of our regulars are able to be with us but it's what we have for right now and at least the rest of this year.  We'll meet again in a couple of weeks to talk about the Baldacci book.  I also have attended the virtual meeting of my afternoon book group, though I decided not to read the assigned book right now.  It was The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai.  The discussion was very good though and I enjoyed listening to what other members experienced in their particular reading journey and what memories of life in the '70's and '80's and the initial time of the AIDS crisis it brought to mind.  Several told stories that included quite poignant times.  We all agreed that book groups do OK virtually, but we miss sitting in a circle in the same room and chatting.  One day, perhaps in 2021 - who knows?

That's about all I have for today.  Always enjoy hearing about what all of you have been doing, experiencing, reading, and thinking.  What would we do without our blogging friends?  Take care and I'll be around again soon.   

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

A Mystery Book Grab-bag...from the library of course...

Hey everyone!  Hope you are all well and coping and masking and being sensible and all those things!  I will admit that some days are easier than others, right?  Anyway, my topic today is the 'Grab-bag' that I requested from a local library.  It's not the Austin Public Library, but it's another where I normally volunteer to help with their new materials processing.  That's not possible right now, of course - the volunteering.  Anyway, I was conversing by email with one of the librarians and she thought I might like to try out their new 'Grab-bag' service.  Said that she knew I didn't need others picking books for me, but it might be fun.  And it was.

First of all, a patron needs to fill out a request document that has several queries.  Type of material (book, large-type, audio, video, etc.).  There's a 'wildcard' option to let the staff pick 5 things for you.  Otherwise, you tell them the genre where your interest lies - mystery, romance, non-fiction, cookbooks, sci-fi, fantasy, graphic novels - you get the idea.  There's also a question regarding what might disappoint you - a specific author or genre or books that are too long or too short or have profanity, etc.  Next is to let them know what you love by telling of specific authors or titles that you've already read and enjoyed.  And last, how many - 3-5, 5-7, 8-10.

I thought it did sound fun and decided to try it.  The questions did take a little thought, but I didn't want my answers, especially what I had enjoyed and already read, to take forever.  I also thought that I would love to be the person selecting the materials for a patron, based on their answers.  Wonder if they'd let me volunteer to do that?  Ha!  I sent in my form and a couple of days later was notified the books above were ready for pickup.  The staff only selects from materials currently available on the shelf.

As you can see, I got the books listed below:

Murder On the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
Aunti Poldi and the Sicilian Lions by Mario Giordano
Aunti Poldi and the Vineyards of Etna by Mario Giordano
No One Knows by J.T. Ellison
An Instance of the Fingerpost by Iain Pears
All Is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker
The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

They actually did pretty well.  I've only read the first one and the last one listed.  I told them I had read all of Louise Penny, Deborah Crombie, and liked historical mysteries and psychological thrillers.  I asked for no military-style thrillers and no cozies.  Forgot to say I'd read all of Agatha Christie.

Have you taken advantage of a 'Grab-bag' situation at your library?  Is your library doing something like this?  Have you read any of the books and loved them?  Do you think it would be fun to select books for a 'Grab-bag'?  I think I'll let my librarian friend know that whoever picked for me did a great job.

Take care and I'll be back around soon...

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

It's July! And my picture today is....masks!

Hello book friends!  No, I didn't disappear on you.  I'm back around to say 'Hi!' and also to share what we've been up to.  Don't get too excited - it's not much.  Ha!

We actually spent a week out in Ruidoso, New Mexico, taking care of some things and getting a bit of mountain air.  Not that life was much different for us there than it is here in Central Texas.  My husband wasn't working, but was on vacation, which was nice for him.  Lots of golf in the cool mornings.  While he was golfing, I was walking up and down the hills around and also enjoying the nice temperatures.  So different from home, though the altitude makes you work a bit harder when you are walking up a steep slope.  It was lovely though and I saw some nice mountain creatures on my walks - elk, deer, and bunnies.  I also saw two snakes and the black flies were annoying and biting.  I came home with itchy spots, but they will go away before long. 

I didn't take any pictures, but I'm sharing my mask collection with you above.  Cute, huh?  I actually have one more that's in my car - it has pine cones on the fabric.  So, while we were out of town and on the road, we were sensible and smart to wear our masks if we went into any store or restaurant.  We got take-out mostly and did all our other sensible things like hand washing and social distancing.  Actually, for the most part, life was the same as here at home.  It was really good for my husband though and he had a very relaxing time. 

Now we are at home and he's back to work here at home (and will be working from home for months to come).  This morning the temp was 80 degrees with 84% humidity at 6:30 a.m.  Kind of like being outside with a damp cloth on your face.  Needless to say, I went back to the rec center to walk on the track there - yes, I love air conditioning.  I will say that I am beginning to get used to a mask more than I was at first.  I think I'm better at adjusting it to work with my glasses (I hate when they fog up).  If I feel even slightly annoyed about it, I think of my daughter and her co-workers at the hospital and I know that my discomfort is not a big thing at all. 

I don't have much to talk about book wise, but I'm hoping to do a few reviews as I begin to read more books that are new to me.  I've been doing a lot of rereads in the past months and just haven't felt compelled to share, but today I started Linda Castillo's latest Kate Burkholder mystery, Outsider.  I love the series and have been waiting for this one.  I've got a few others that I'm excited to read and so, look for some book thoughts in upcoming days and weeks.  I've been reading your posts, but my commenting has been nil.  Hope to change that a bit in the future. 

Take care, please!  I know some of you have been dealing with some stressful situations in your lives and know that if that is the case, I've been thinking of you.  We will get through this - one day at a time.  One book at a time.  Big hugs to all!