Top Five Wednesday: Author’s you can’t wait to read


This week the Goodreads.com Top Five Wednesday group is posting about:

Authors You Are Waiting on Another Book From


Blanche Wiesen Cook’s biography of Eleanor Roosevelt Volume III



Word must finally have reached the author that we loyal readers of this biography were becoming afraid that she would die without finishing it. I pre-ordered it the day that became possible. Eleanor Roosevelt: The War Years And After by Blanche Wiesen Cook




Dinah Jeferies The Tea Planter’s Wife



I will be reviewing this very soon. It has EVERYTHING! The time period I love. The Colonial Brits that I love. And, best of all, a May-December Romance! [See the tag cloud to read some of my own  cross-generational romance profiles.] The Tea Planter’s Wife by Dinah Jeferies.




Alexander McCall Smith’s No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series



I can’t get enough of this series—especially when it is read by the incomparable Lisette Lecat–she simply IS the voice of this series. I love listening to these. Precious and Grace (No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency 17) by Alexander McCall Smith.





Gayle Foreman’s adult debut



I loved If I Stay and Where She Went so I am so am just a teensy bit anxious about this one. I’m hoping it’s just as great as her Y.A. books though. Leave Me: A Novel by Gayle Foreman.





Still waiting on this one, even though it is out now



With apologies to the author, but some books must be read from the library. Most popular fiction falls in this category for me. I also prefer much of it on audio for my long daily commute. I loved the Husband’s Secret, so I’m anxious to get my hands on this one as well. Truly, Madly, Guilty by Liane Moriarty.





What books are you waiting on? Leave me a comment!



Gal-Pal Beach Day!



Pebbles and Bam-Bam are back at school. Fred and Barney are at the gravel pit. Now it’s time for Wilma and Betty to hit the beach and celebrate! Yes, celebrate! They survived another summer at home with the kids, another family car trip vacation and they’re pretty pumped! Why? Cause when they asked the most important question, “But did you die???” The answer is a resounding NO!  Today I’m taking all you gal-pals to the beach. Of course, where I live that means walking or being truly American and driving the two miles or so to the beach at the Lake in my neighborhood. It’s still sand, ok??? Let’s pack the beach bag, shall we?


Wear one, or wear shorts and a tank top or….wear whatever fits, is paid for, and you aren’t ashamed to be seen out in public wearing. This is southern Ohio, not the South of France! We value tattoos that are spelled correctly, but all y’all is grammatically correct so that leaves a lot of latitude for the dress code.


I imagine open container laws apply, but that doesn’t stop the drunks driving away from the bar so why not have a little tipple if you are so inclined! And, if not, we’ll make some flavored water with lots of great faux-promises of instant cellulite reduction. Or open a Diet Dr Pepper–whatever works for you.



I can’t promise Orlando Bloom waving his…er….paddle …but there’s probably some hot young rednecks with sagging trunks, sleeve tattoos and a Marlborough on their lips (hopefully its a Marlborough….we’ll just call it one). That tan, those abs, those groin creases, that sun-bleached hair…..Ok, ok, he’s as young as your son. So what? He’s not your son! Be sure to pack extra batteries for the misting fans. Now to do in that good-for-nothing little trollop trying to get him out of view!


Salted Carmel Gelato? Birthday Cake Muddy-Buddies? Chex Mix? Guac and chips? Homemade salsa. Hot dogs at the snack shack–sure, why not. You’ve just spent the whole summer telling the kids how horrible those things are, but sure–have one. Load it down with relish and mustard and onions. Oh go on! That cute guy is so not going to come kiss you and gag on the onions. Look–he’s …. um, don’t look…. You’ll cry, but dam the little trollop is sure having a happiness project of her own! Film on Youtube at 11 I bet. Geesh, get a Love Shack already, why don’t ya?





Ok, now that we have skipped that little fantasy island, lets’ get real. Here are some great books for gal-pals at the beach. Share ear buds, buy two copies, take turns reading aloud–what ever. Just enjoy!


Beach Books


For All Gal-Pals



Lisa Scottoline and daughter Francesca Serritella  have a new collection of essays out and they are GREAT! I’m listening to them on my commute. Like I always say about their Mother-Daughter gabfests, it’s like going on a road trip with your best friends. Chocolate, pet-love, living a New and Improved Life (i.e. getting older) this dynamic duo is required reading for Gal-Pals and Gal-Pal book clubs!! Don’t blame me if you start hoping Bradley Cooper takes up paddling…..

I’ve Got Sand in All the Wrong Places.





I laughed so hard reading these that I suffered the embarrassment of … leakage [i.e., laughed till I peed]. And what Gal-Pal day hasn’t been improved by leakage? Especially leakage that becomes mutual due to laughter? These texts cover a large variety of classic literature–not just Jane Eyre. The humor is ranges from sublime to down right, almost raunchy. In short this book is a blast!

Texts from Jane Eyre.






For the Mommy-Years Gal Pals



Yes, your child WILL eat rocket salad (I think that’s arugula). Read this book and learn how. Or laugh till you pee at the very idea of ANY of this taking hold in suburbia. Where’s the soccer league?  Where’s the paint by wine classes? Hilarious to read though. Just imagine little Jacque-son having to put away that word-search puzzle of back-to-school words and do French homework. Why yes, we did bring a second bottle of wine…..

Bringing Up Bebe




Since no one has written Duchess Kate’s Guide to Fabulous Parenting (probably coming out after Pippa’s honeymoon), I’m adding this one to the list. Because no one, No. One. wants to micromanage a suburban childhood these days, if they’re honest. It’s too much work. But, they can’t stand the shaming that would go with quitting! You can read this and play “remember when?” As in, “remember when we swore we’d only breast feed…” and your Gal-Pal says back, “Worst 8 minutes of my life…..” Things like that. Now, if your Gal-Pal is a Kate-worshipper who has an entire Pinterest board of her own ORIGINAL play-date themes, well….you might just skip this one so you don’t have to keep saying “Yes, really….” to her.  Slacker Mom Handbook.




This one should generate the snot rockets red glare out the nose! Honestly, is there anything worse than married sex with kids in the house? Now, if your Gal-Pal is a Kate-wanna be, just skip this one. If you Gal-Pal is normal though, follow it up by re-watching the  FRIENDS episode with “girth” mentioned. Or search for the uncensored Orlando Bloom photos and try to picture you and hubs doing that? I know right…. No, I wouldn’t want to help with the Calamine lotion, either, thank you! But what are Gal-Pals for, but to laugh and cry with?

Mars and Venus in the Bedroom





For the Empty Nest and Retirement Years Gal-Pals




He’s home. He’s underfoot. He’s in your space. He wants  lunch but after 37 years in the same house he can’t find the lunch meat. Annoying? You bet!  But you  pledged till death do us part! Make him into a lamp? Maybe not. Compare notes with your Gal-Pal on just how horrible retirement is some days.


101 Things to do with Your Retired Man



The Slacker Granny Book

I couldn’t find a good Slacker Granny book, but if I do, I’ll re-post this. Surely there’s a book out there that teaches you how to escape being your grandchild’s day care or how to get out of those ghastly overnights so the parents can make naughty alone at bedtime. After all, your kids survived a weekly dose of Benadryl, so can your grandkids, right?  And what to do with that in-law from hell who won’t eat anything you serve? How to help your  daughter leave the son-in-law who turned out as badly as you knew he would, but not get stuck with your kid, their kids and their pets living in your house. That kind of book. Any publishers reading this? I’m available to write it!


The Midlife Gals

Not only will you laugh till you leak, they’ll talk about laughing till you leak… and middle aged s%x and caring for the aged one and….they’re great. And they also review movies. Too fun! KK and Sal-Gal are a hoot! Required viewing from the first moment of Peri-menupase.



Have another must-read or must-watch item for this list? Leave me a comment.



by Carol Carmichael



Top Ten or should that be THREE Tuesday: Minor Characters, favorite couples deserving a sequel and a rewind post




I couldn’t decide which previous topic to use this week. Since I’m a new participant there weren’t many I’d already done. I was torn between Minor Characters and Favorite Couples, so I sort of combined the two! And, I’ve linked to a previous post that happens to be in the list of possibilities as well.


Robert Bathurst in Downton Abbey

All-time favorite minor fictional character… do you have to ask? Sir Anthony Strallen!

Now for the real list.

  1. I’ve asked author Hilary McKay (in a Tweet) to do a grown-ups version of the Casson Family. The marriage of Bill and Eve Casson is so, well, fascinating (no spoilers). I’ll call Bill Casson one of my minor characters–he is one in the books after all as they are focused on the children who simply take their parents rather odd arrangement as normal. I also hope there’ll eventually be a nice boxed set of these or that they are rebound in one beautiful volume.
  2. Carey Ashburn, a soldier half-hardheartedly courting Scarlett O’Hara while she was a widow in Atlanta and flirting with Rhett when he was in town. She felt sad that she couldn’t get a lock of his hair after he died–he’d been too far down in a cart of wounded to save. Odd that Scarlett felt something for someone, so he must have been a) a real man, b) a bit fun. I’d love to read his memoirs. Gone With the Wind.
  3. Grandfather Lawrence in  Little Women–was he a robber baron? I always think of him as Averell Harriman’s father. Weird, right? I know.
  4. Someone [I know which minor character but if I tell it’ll be a spoiler] from the wrong side of the tracks to retell And the Ladies of the Club as the “other half” saw it.
  5. Seryozha Karenin–Anna Karenina‘s son. Did he grow up to be a White Russian emigre? Or turn traitor to his class and become a revolutionary?
  6. Mrs. Molly Weasley from Harry Potter. I adore her and I adore Laurie Walters who plays her.
  7. Minister of Magic Cornelius Fudge from Harry Potter. Probably this is because Robert Hardy plays him and, in addition to portraying the wonderful Siegfried Farnon in the James Harriot All Creatures Great and Small series he has done a masterful job of playing Winston Churchill
  8.  Not really “minor” since they are the main characters, but they deserve their own book: Wesley and Victoire from Jessica Brockmole’s short story in Fall of Poppies. Read more here.
  9.  I want a sequel to Lynn Austin’s  Fire by Night in  the series Refiner’s Fire. I MUST find out what happens to Julia and James! Read more here.
  10.  Here, too, is a link to my previous post on the books I call my Childhood Favorites


Join the Top Ten Tuesday Fun over at Broke and Bookish


 Robert Bathurst as Sir Anthony Strallen in Downton Abbey



Top Ten Books I’d Buy Right Now….if money wasn’t a problem


I’m a book lover and a book collector. I don’t buy much fiction though. I collect seriously on the British Royal Family, the Churchill and the Roosevelt families. I also collect two cookbook series from the 1960s. I decided today to just grab ten books, in no order, from my very large Amazon wish list.


Love Book Lists? I sure do! Join the fun over at The Broke and the Bookish each Top Ten Tuesday.


Top Ten Tuesday: Books That Made Me Want to DO or LEARN



Top Ten Things Books Have Made Me Want To Do or Learn About After Reading Them



1. Made me want the best–Rhett Butler.


Who doesn’t want to marry a tall, dark handsome rogue who is also funny, occasionally, sweet and very, very successful? But, like Darcy for others, he set the bar a bit high. Didn’t help that my honorary older brother is a near clone. Hmmm… maybe the Victorians had a point about girls reading too many romance novels? Nah…. It’s all good.

Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

2. Sail Around the World and be the Kind of Parent Who Would Allow It

Ok–this one isn’t going to happen unless I find a VERY Rhett Butler-sih hubby late in life! And our safety-obsessed society would have put me in jail if I’d let my kids do this in the 21st Century–big loss for adolescent independence, not that I could have paid for it.

Boy Who Sailed Around the World Alone and Dove  [Same book–“Boy” is a young person’s edition]

3. Write down the spoof diaries I was imagining, like my ‘Milla’s Diary



I have no idea about the new PM’s husband, Philip May, but I hope someone else does and re-writes this for him! What a hoot! If Hil gets elected, someone should write this about Bill.

Probably he is “not wanted on voyage” either (as this book’s “Denis Thatcher” would say).

Dear Bill: The Collected Letters of Denis Thatcher

You can read my royal ‘Milla’s Diary here.


 4. Go Back Out to An Underdeveloped Country and Help Women



Who knows? Maybe I’ll join Peace Corps again when I retire. This book is so inspiring, it made me want to do MORE. A Path Appears





5. To Live Well Within My Means and Stop Buying Stuff



This book, bought for 25 cents at a garage sale, helped me change. It got me to Dave Ramsey. It got me to up my 401(K) contribution till it hurt. It made me she the shackles hiding in debt. Most of all it made me admit, though I’d always known it, that my Grandmother was right and I was wrong. My ONLY regret in life is that I didn’t listen to her about money. I recommend this book, and Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace, to everyone.   Millionaire Next Door.



6. To Get In Shape and Run



Made me want to lose weight and RUN–and I did. The kid who couldn’t take gym class was a runner at age 40 and owned a pair of pant in a size 6. Now, at age 54, I’m working again to get weight off. I cannot run now without tremendous knee pain, so I’m doing things a different way. I’m not a big Oprah fan, but this book–and her show’s walking push that year–got me off the couch, out of depression and into shape.

Make the Connection



7. To homestead or nearly homestead


In the early 1930s a couple from New York gave up on city life and moved to place where they could achieve near self-sufficiency. They became, in time, icons of the utopian back-to-the-land fantasies at the liberal end of the spectrum. This book dovetailed neatly with the life my artist Uncle Edwin Fulwider and his artist wife, Katryn, lived in Northern Idaho for many years. A life nearly destroyed by the radical Nazi’s who invaded the area later on. I loved every minute I spent there–even the hard physical work of getting the place ready for a very isolated winter. Its still my ideal way to live even today. Rather isolated, to have a lot that must be done (I’m not a do-er by nature so it is good for me) and lots of space, peace, quiet and nature.The Good Life by Scott and Helen Neering.


8. Redefined #7 as a vegan homestead



Homesteading was always going to be tough for me because I don’t cope with dead animals. I don’t cope with gory birthing of animals, either. “Livestock” to me would mean cats and dogs and wild birds and other wild things. This book showed me it could work. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver




9. Want to homeschool my kids



Remember the family that raised goats and sent their kids to Harvard? This is their book. It spoke to me–I LOATHED school and missed every day my Mom would let me. What a waste of time! This book combined never going to a school with homesteading!  But, I knew I couldn’t do THIS level of it–clearing the ground, digging the well, etc.  Plus half their kids are adopted. I’d known since age 4 or 5 that I wanted to adopt, so this was a nice, tidy, dream package for me. Homeschooling For Excellence by David and Micki Colfax.



10.  Made me want to keep going



This book was like therapy for me. So much was going wrong in my life at the time it came out and it soothed me, let me work thru some of the bad things. Ironically, I only planned the pages in my mind–I never made them. Some day I really think I will make them though. It was too raw at the time. I love the way creating helps in times of trouble. People knock scrapbooking, but for me it was very healing. It sustained me at one of the worst time of my life. I recommend this book still to anyone going thru really bad stuff. Imperfect Lives by Tara Governo


Have any books affected your life this way? Leave me a comment. Join the fun at Top Ten Tuesday over at The Broke and The Bookish!

Reading Around the World

Top Ten Tuesday: Books Set Outside the USA

I do not make any money from this blog. Links to click on are provided for your convenience only.


Over at the great blog The Broke and The Bookish, they hold a fun link party called Top Ten Tuesday.  (Yes, I KNOW it is Wednesday–I found it late, ok?) This is my first time participating, but I know it won’t be my last! This week it’s 10 Favorite Books Set Outside the USA.  In my bullet journal post last week, I showed how I track books read by geography. Naturally, as I write this list, I do not have that journal at hand! Typical me. Happily, I do have my Goodreads lists of books read by year.

I also decided to make it more difficult. I do love travel books and live-abroad books, but those are nonfiction. These needed to be novels, set in current day (or very close…well in MY lifetime at least) and not be about Americans abroad if possible ( I gave in and put one in since it was Malawi and Paul Theroux). I read tons of British fiction so I only chose one set in the UK and one featuring Brits abroad. I also chose books that were reasonably current in terms of publication date.

So, here are ten favorites–in no particular order.



Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson

Britt Marie Was Here by Fredrikh Backman

No, 1 Ladies Detective Agency (series) by Alexander McCall Smith

White Woman on the Green Bicycle by Monique Roffey

Yellow Eyes of Crocodiles by Katherine Pancol

Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa

Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty

Rooftops of Tehran by Mahbod Seraji

Lower River by Paul Theroux

Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Siji


Do you like books set abroad? Want to geographically expand your reading? Head over to The Broke and the Bookish for Top Ten Tuesday where you’ll find a tremendous selection of books set in foreign places!








Six in Six for 2016

Cleopatra Loves Books  introduced me to a great idea today–Six in Six for 2016 to sum up the first six months of reading this year. She found the idea at BooksPlease and that blogger credits The Book Jotter! Whew! All three are great blogs–take time and visit them! Here are my categories and books. The Book Jotter’s post give other categories you can use. I selected some from there as well as some that Cleo used.


Six Books I Really, Really Loved


Six Historical Novels I enjoyed




Six Books From A Series




Six Books from the Non-Fiction Shelf


Six books I must mention that don’t fit nicely into any category


Six books I was disappointed with


Why not do this list and link your post in a comment? Don’t blog? No problem–copy and paste your list of titles into a comment.


What the Class of 2020 is Reading This Summer

just mercy

As I said in yesterday’s post, I like to see what the assigned summer book is for in-coming college Freshmen. Some schools give a list to choose from, some assign a single book. For some students it is optional, for others required. Many colleges simply don’t bother with this. I like to see what it is though because often it sparks interest in the book for a wider audience. My methodology in compiling this is first to check and see if anyone else has done this–very likely, but I did not find one in my not-very-exhaustive Google searches! I’m sure some diligent librarian out there has done a libguide of it, but maybe I didn’t search hard enough? No matter. This year the book above–Just Mercy–is assigned in at least three colleges. I’ll likely read it just to see why.

Continue reading “What the Class of 2020 is Reading This Summer”


Competitive Reading: Wrapping up 2015’sReading Challenges and Announcing 2016’s Challenge


I often say my favorite sport is competitive reading (oh that it was competitive proof-reading!). I love pouring over book lists to see how many I’ve read. I enjoy Reading Challenges like the two above (the one of the left is from a marvelous blog, Modern Mrs. Darcy–please visit her when you are done reading here). Earlier this year I posted a two-year personal Reading Challenge based, in part, on the awesome Ambleside Online homeschool curriculum (No, I am not paid to tell you that, but here’s another link showing their conference).




(Sorry about the image quality–if I figure out how to save this properly I’ll re-insert it.)


Leave me a comment with any challenges your’ve done or are planning to do in 2016. You can also leave me your email and which category you’d like suggestions on and I’ll send you some appropriate book titles (links).






Fiction and Nonfiction on Modern Muslim life

This is not a political blog or a religious one. Go elsewhere if you want to argue politics or religion. If you want to talk upping librarian salaries, that’s fine–stick around.

Today I’m presenting some of the books I’ve enjoyed and learned from that cover modern Muslim life. There are so many misconceptions, so many assumptions and generalities about that faith.


First a look at the top 1% of income in the Muslim Middle East–Royalty.Noor

Lisa Halaby, an American Muslin, entered into a cross-generational marriage with the late King Hussein of Jordan. This is a surprising book in so many ways. In America we don’t often think of love and respect in a Muslim marriage–particularly not with a man much older and previously married. She was not child bridge–she’s a Princeton grad who has worked tirelessly for the women and children of Jordan. Leap of Faith by Queen Noor of Jordan.


KingdomI read the earlier, 1982, edition and was mesmerized. This was a ground-breaking book, like Hedrick Smith’s the Russian’s was for the Soviet Union. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a fascinating country. Sharia law, enormous income disparity, power in the hands of one family–it just simply fascinates me. This book dissects the kingdom, breaks it down into smaller, intelligible components. There’s the absurdities Americans cannot fathom like arranged marriages and grown women having to take their 7 year old son along to go out in public. There’s the trememndous economic growth the country has undergown in the last century. And, of course, there is the strategic position of the country sitting atop the oil the entire developed world relies upon. Inside the Kingdom by Robert Lacey.

Princess Jean

This is actually the first of the author’s 4 or 5 book series. Sultana’s life is totally controlled by the men in her family and their religion.  Put another way, if you subtract the possible polygamy, you have life as the Duggars would have it be lived in America, albeit with more money than can ever be imagined. Women are on Earth for ONE purpose–to satisfy men’s lust. That’s that. Enjoy. The way the women cope is often ingenious. Creativity often thrives in oppressive societies. The women let almost nothing stop them doing what they want–they just figure out creative ways to get what they want while abiding with the letter of the law, if not the spirit of it. I have read the first three books multiple times. I’m positive the men’s version would be quite different. Princess by Jean Sasson.

Now a list of novels and other books. I won’t annotate them all–there are too many. But I’ve enjoyed them all, though all are not happy or positive. Click the links to view the Amazon review–I do not make any money off your clicks.

Girls of Riyadh  girls


Thousand Splendid Suns


Perfect Gentleman [non-fiction]


Bookseller of Kabul [non-fiction]


In the Land of Invisible Women [non-fiction]


Dressmaker of Khair Khana [non-fiction]


The Good Daughter [non-fiction]


Reluctant Fundamentalist


Kabul Beauty School [non-fiction]



Do you have others for this list? Feel free to leave me a comment about books on this topic that you’ve enjoyed.