Top Ten Tuesday: Most Anticipated Books of the Second Half of 2019


This week’s topic is supposed to be “Most Anticipated Releases of the Second Half of 2019,” but I tend to read some of this and some of that, so no promises I’ll only be reading new releases.

I’m always reluctant to do this type of post because I’m a reader who doesn’t care if I finish a book or not. DNF is fine with me. I either like it or I don’t finish it. I’ve already thrown back a few new titles this season, which is typical for me. I usually have a few books going at the same time and generally its a mix of old and new, fiction and non-fiction, fluff and missed classics. It’s good for the mind, I believe, to do this. I’m done trying fantasy or sci-fi and as I’ve said before, I’ve given up on Dickens. I’ve been enjoying Hemingway and even though East of Eden gave me real-world nightmares, Steinbeck has been holding my attention, too, so either of those two could make the eventual summer list when it’s all done.

I also don’t plan my reading very seriously. I do request everything from the library since I need audiobooks constantly for my commute. Walking in and grabbing something, either on CDs or e-audio, just doesn’t work. Periodically, I also pick up something on my shelves that I haven’t read or that Mom says I must read or that’s been languishing unread on my Kindle. That makes the variety even greater. If I were to say “These are THE books I’m reading this summer,” they would become homework and I’d avoid them like the plague. When I do reading challenges (which I like) I do them after a lot of reading–match it all up when I’m done for a season or a year. I also use them to fill in gaps or when I can’t get into anything or if nothing I want at the library is in yet. Very hand tool.

How about you? Do you pick books and stick to the list? Do you prefer to browse bookstore or library shelves? Have you ever picked up a book at a local Little Free Library? Leave me a comment.


Check out the rules at That Artsy Reader Girl and join in next week!

Top Ten [five]Tuesday: Royal Books That I all but Refuse to Let Anyone Touch



I have a confession to make: I do not loan print books except to my college best friend and my Mom. That’s it. Sorry. I was burned too many times when young. I will loan Kindle books that are able to be loaned. There. Got that off my chest.

Do Not Touch

I own a few books that I’d rather no one touch. Oh, I will let you. But if you drag page corners to turn pages or something horrible like that, I’ll throw myself on the book to save it.

Once again, I’ve failed to come up with ten. This week I’ve got only the Top Five. But, today’s release of the Downton Abbey movie trailer will make a few people take an interest in these–The Duke of Windsor and his sister and brothers are contemporaries of Ladies Mary, Edith, and Sybil Crawley. Queen Mary and George V are of Robert and Cora’s generation, and their grandchildren Sybie, George and Marigold are the agemates of Queen Elizabeth! In the movie, George V and Queen Mary are visiting Downton Abbey.

The Books


This book isn’t “rare” it’s merely rare–as in it was mass produced but not in enormous quantities.  It is Hugo Vicker’s most beautiful book and shows the completely over-the-top homelife of the ex-King Edward VIII and “the woman he loved,” Wallis Simpson, at their Paris home which was later taken over by Dodi Fayad’s father.  The Private World of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.


I hope I live long enough that Queen Mary’s diaries will be available online. She is perhaps the most fascinating of royals. Fiance of two heirs to the throne, wife of a King, mother of two other sovereigns, she saw it for what it was: the best career going for a woman of her time and class. She saw all sorts of changes in the royal world in addition to the world at large. She was an odd bird, but interesting. These are all pages from her personal photo albums. Family photos are the most interesting and tell so much of the story. These were taken by her or by others in the family or the “suite” (ladies in waiting, equerries, etc.). All are annotated in her own hand. Queen Mary’s Photo Albums.


Louisa served the first royal Gan-gan, Queen Victoria, and then served her daughter-in-law Queen Alexandra–who was mother-in-law to Queen Mary. This is a fascinating book with pages of photos, scrapbook memories and other images.  Louisa, lady in waiting : the personal diaries and albums of Louisa, Lady in Waiting to Queen Victoria and Queen Alexandra.

While his mother, Queen Mary, was one of the most interesting royals, Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester, was one of the most boring. He did collect sporting prints and antique sporrans, but that’s about as exciting as it gets. The treasure is finding out that the used copy of his equally dull authorized biography I bought online was signed by his widow. The now later Dowager Duchess of Gloucester is the only wife officially allowed to call herself Princess. In widowhood she was known as Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester. Prince Henry by Nobel Frankland.

Alice lived so long she produced two memoirs. Both are enjoyable, but the Ninety Years volume has a scrapbook feel and features her watercolors and photographs–one of which won a major award back in the day. Her brother was a big shot in Colonial Kenya–of the Happy Valley set and she, like her future royal husband, spent a lot of time in that beautiful country (or colony as it was then). She and her “Harry,” were both keen horse people–they hunted (fox hunting) throughout the season. They sadly lost their eldest son, Prince William, in an air crash–he was a daredevil and raced planes.  Memories of Princess Alices, Duchess of Gloucester.


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Top Ten Tuesday: Page to Screen Freebie


I just learned that Kristen Scott Thomas is to star as the dreaded Mrs. Danvers in a remake of Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca! I think she’ll be awesome in the part, even though I am very partial to the original movie version staring Laurence Olivier as Maxim De Winter.

I don’t know about you, but I love to “cast” the movie as I read the book. Here are a few examples of my chocices from past blog post. Once again I have failed to come up with the full ten.


Books to Movie Casting Choices



My Italian Bulldozer by Alexander McCall Smith

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This stand-alone first novel in a new series from multi-series write McCall Smith is a perfect set-up for an older audience rom-com to star Huge Bonneville and his Downtown Abbey “wife,” Elizabeth McGovern. You can read my review of the book here.



News of The World by Paulette Jiles

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This story just demands Sam Elliott as the Colonel! That voice, the face, the emotions–Sam! You can read my review of the book here.



Dear Mrs. Bird by AJ Pierce

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Jessica Brown Findlay would shine in the role of Emmeline Lake. You can read my review of the book here.



The Heirs: A Novel by Susan Reiger

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Wealthy Manhattan attorney Rupert Falkes dies and leaves a mess of secrets for his family to discover. As I listened to this novel, Nigel Havers face came to mind every time Rupert was “on.” I’ve loved this guy since he was Lindsay in Chariots of Fire. You can read my review of the book here.




The Music Shop: A Novel by Rachel Joyce

Us: A Novel by David Nichols


The Music Shop: I pick Bill for Frank, Julie as Maude and Lily as the stranger. You can read my review of the book hereUs: I pick two of them again! I just think Bill and Julie play such diverent types that they’d make a great ‘opposites attract‘ couple.



The Trophy Child: A Novel by Paula Daly

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Laura Carmichael would be the best choice for obsessive mother Karen. And, could Robert Bathurst have a cameo as the Headmaster, please? You all know I love these two! You can read my review of the book here.



Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl--here’s a link to the rules. Why not join in the fun next week?

Top SIX Tuesday: Characters that remind me of myself, etc.



This week’s theme is: Characters That Remind Me of Myself. There aren’t many of those so, I’ve added “etc” to cover “or otherwise resonated with me, made me wish I could have X part of their life or whatever.”


Characters That Remind Me of Myself of That I Related To:

1. Katherine McConnell in The Confederate General Rides North by Amanda C. Gable.


I was a child Civil War freak like Katherine. To read the full story, scroll down to “When a Book Validates Your Experience,” a post from my old blog that is part memoir, part review of the book.  The Confederate General Rides North: A Novel by Amanda C. Gable [is that last name a coincidence? Clark G-A-B-L-E aka Rhett Butler?]


2. Marjorie Morningstar in Herman Wouk’s book of the same name


Marjorie was so appealing to me! As a teen I thought I’d live in New York or London-hahahah. I liked the whole city life idea. Add in writing and theater–I was hooked.  Herman Wouk is still on on of my favorite authors. Sad to think, today his books would all be published as series. No more 600–1000 page books. This is also where I came across the beautiful name “Marjorie”.


3. Diary of a Frantic Kid Sister by Hilda Colman


My memories of reading this book can be found here.


4. Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chobsky


You can read my experience with this book for the first time at age 54 here.


Books showing how I HOPE I’d react in the circumstances:





The Confederate General Rides North:

When a book validates your own experience


Growing up in the late 60s and 70s, in a home dominated by my father’s crippling depression I realized quickly that I was never going to “fit in” at school. Like in the musical “Chorus Line”–I was “different” which is “nice” but it “sure isn’t pretty–and pretty is what it’s about.” [And, I too “never met anyone who was different who couldn’t figure it out!”] I couldn’t care less about much of what other kids found exciting or fun. Don’t get me wrong–I loved to play baseball [we did this in an empty lot–there were no sports leagues] and watch reruns after school, but most of my life was lived in Walter Mitty-ish style inside my own imagination. I had a whole world–my doll house [built by my Grandfather] with it’s very odd little family, my Breyer horses and horse books, my basketball goal in the driveway, my clarinet and my 10 speed bike that took me so far from home that were it happening today the police would be summoned.

In her amazing debut novel, The Confederate General Rides North, Amanda Gable has recreated a part of my lost world–a girl in love with the Civil War! For several years I was a Gone With the Wind fanatic. I read nearly every word Bruce Catton ever wrote and was ecstatic to receive a subscription to a Civil War history magazine. I treasured [and still have] and fading and worn copy of the Ford Times [the company magazine of Ford Motor Company] that featured my great-uncle’s commissioned art work of a map of ALL the battles of the Civil War. I treasured the letters from my Uncle telling me about that project. Had there been re-enactments in East-Central Indiana at that time, I’d have been there! This book touched me in such a deep and validating way. Here is one passage that just leaped out at me–I totally share Katherine McConnell’s joy in this discovery:

In the next few rows of shoe boxes are football cards, which don’t interest me, but at the end of a sideboard, the boxes contain Civil War trading cards. I look at each one carefully. I have never seen this kind of card before, and for the first time I think that maybe there are other kids as interested in Civil War history as I am. (p. 65)

Had I ever discovered such a thing I might have needed sedation! The cards alone would have been overwhelming, but to make the connection that I wasn’t “the freak” or “the only one” who cared more about the long-ago Army of Northern Virginia than what high school boy would be Indiana’s Mr. Basketball would have given me lasting comfort and a much better sense of self-worth. The Confederate Flag hanging in my bedroom [to the acute embarrasment of my very liberal parents] would be something other kids could actually ENVY and not mock.

Had I been taken on Katherine McConnell’s “Ride North” I would happily have died and gone to heaven–or even have tried to learn math! Katherine finds some kindred spirits (all adults) on her ride, who validate HER experience:

I walk out of the relic shop [where the owner has shown her a Civil War soldier’s diary and an album of Civil War sketches] toward the gate to the Gettysburg cemetery. I like the way Darrell [shop owner] talked to me and showed me things, not because I could buy them but because I would appreciate them. It was the way Miss Jameson [an antique dealer who also shared Civil War treasures with her] acted toward me, as though we shared something significant—a love of stories about our families and the Civil War. (p. 243)

I remember reading with JOY about my Great Uncle’s collection of first day covers of Civil War related postage stamps. I remember my Mother introducing me to “real” history with a book on Lincoln’s funeral published soon after the event. Like Katherine, I was seeped in family history by older realtives who expected to hold sway at family dinners. Captain McKinney and Great-Great Grandfather Watson made the Union Army very real to me as my Mom’s Grandfather made the Spanish American War real and her cousin brought Vietnam home. My own Grandfather’s “Ike” jacket with the various campaign ribbon and Sergent’s stripes was one of my most treasured possessions–as is the picture of 6 year old me receiving it as a gift. History was, and is, very real to me.

This book is also a testament to children who grow up with mentally ill parents. My Dad’s depression, which was finally “managed” with Valium rocked our family. My mother, who had married to spite her parents at 18, had to cope with her husband’s illness, me a sickly kid who barely survived a very premature birth and the challenges of raising my brother who was pretty much a normal 60s kid. She clung to her sanity like Katherine McConnell’s mother–by painting and also by sewing us beautiful, perfectly fitting clothes. As life began to spin out of control she tried to keep sane through the other love she shared with Katherine’s mom–swimming. Like Katherine, I swam like a rock. My brother brought home the swim meet ribbons in our family. He inherited her artistic talent. Sadly, we both received the family tendency toward depression and bi-polar illness.

Thank you, Amanda C. Gable, for such a theraputic book!


Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl--here’s a link to the rules. Why not join in the fun next week?


Top Ten Tuesday: Things That Make Me Pick Up a Book



The Top Ten Things That Make Me Pick Up a Book

If I have NOT read a review:

1. Believable jacket blurb or the story

2. Enticing cover that doesn’t mimic the cover of a current or recent bestseller.

3. Written by an author I like/love.

4. Historical fiction is from an era or about a person I enjoy/admire/want to know more about.

5. Just sounds fun/worth it/interesting.

6. I like a bookstagram of it–I MAY try it.


If I HAVE read a review:

7. I trust the reviewer/blogger.

8. I trust the source–Guardian, NPR or other publication.

9. If non-fiction, adds to what is known or breaks new ground.

10. A friend I trust says, “I know this isn’t your usual, but….” I MAY try it.



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Top Ten Tuesday: Audio Freebie: Dream Narrators, Men Only Version


Sorry, I fell short of the full ten this week. Better luck next time.

Some of these performers have recorded audio books, but not ones I have listened. Others are just my dream narrators.

Jeremy Irons

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Jeremy Irons–my all-time favorite male voice! He has recorded Brideshead Revisited and, of course, Lolita. I know Brideshead too well to bother listening to it and Lolita is not interesting to me. Maybe though he’ll do a new audiobook before too long, but given his reputation for playing sickos, I imagine any book would be disturbing. What a waste of a superb voice! He should be the lord of the manor–and not an evil one.

Sam Elliott

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Perfect for westerns, or cowboy romances.

Sean Connery

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Sadly, it’s too late in the day I imagine, to expect a new audiobook from Sean Connery. But, oh that voice! Perfect for kilted romances.

David Cameron

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A man can be disliked and still have an interesting voice. A chinless wonder of the highest order to read a high society book or a tale of wrong-doing in Parliament or a slippery adviser to a Monarch would all be great audio stories for him.


Paul McCartney

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Paul would be wonderful narrating any number of fun books. A family vacation story, a hapless love affair book with a good ending–anything fun.

Bruce Springsteen

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The Boss would have been perfect for Shot Gun Love Songs, but any down-on-your luck, guy books or road trip away from bad luck book would be his thing.

Hugh Grant

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I’d love Hugh to read the male lead in a multi-performer romcom or chicklit.

Robbie Coltrane


Robbie, in his Hagrid voice, would be perfect to read a children’s fantasy series–not HP but some other new adventure.


Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl--here’s a link to the rules. Why not join in the fun next week?

Top 5 Wednesday & Top Ten Tuesday: Fiction On My Spring 2019 TBR




I’ve a whole lot of historical fiction coming up! I am funny about fictionalized stories of real people. I get put-off by silly historical errors, modern figures of speech or modern use of profanity and modern day opinions put on historical figures where there is no documentation to show they believed it. ther things that puts me off are stilted conversations in which it is explained who everyone is and why things are done this way and “filling” up space with newspaper headlines. If you read historical fiction you should understand history! Why can’t they put a “Cast of Characters” and some family trees and things like books used to do?

I get irritated, too,  at how often rival publishers seem to come up with competing “versions” of books. Two recent biographies of Rosemary Kennedy or the two biographies of Kick Kennedy–that sort of thing.  Recently  A Well Behaved Woman and now American Duchess, both look at the Vanderbilts. I gave up on the audio of A Well Behaved Woman for one of my pet peeves (not saying which one).

From the ten books above, The Editor is the one that intrigues me the most because Jackie O was of my lifetime. She became a cultural icon the year before I was born.



Top 5 Wednesday is a group you can join on Each week participants write a blog post or make a Yutube video post to share their take on the week’s topic. Why not join in?



Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl--here’s a link to the rules. Why not join in the fun next week?

Top 10 Tues/Top 5 Wed: Places Mentioned In Books That I’d Like to Visit Or Take a Date To



This week’s topics are so much alike that I’m doing a single post for both! Forgive me!




Fictional Places I’d Like To Visit:







the house in Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca


The Bookmobile

in The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett

(might run into you-know-who)



Marks & Cohen bookshop

in 84 Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff





In Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh

[or even the Castle Howard, the house that played it in the 80s tv version]



Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

by Deborah Moggach



The Casson Family‘s House

in Hilary McKay’s series


The Penderwicks House on Gardham Street or the NY Apartment of the Melendy Family



The Geisha’s training house

in Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden




The Professor’s study in his old house

(I know I’d be instantly “at home” there)

in The Professor’s House by Willa Cather

Read my review here




Skeldale House

In James Herriot’s All Creatures books



Bonus: The May of Teck Club

in Girls of Slender Means by Muriel Spark

Read my review here


Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl--here’s a link to the rules. Why not join in the fun next week?



Top 5 Wednesday is a group you can join on Each week participants write a blog post or make a Yutube video post to share their take on the week’s topic. Why not join in?

Places I’d Like to Take a Date To:


1. The B/B & Bistro in Three Pines owned by Gabri and Olivier in the Chief Inspector Gamache series by Louise Penny.



2. Any club where Tony and Chichi were singingTony’s Wife by Adriana Trigiani



3. The Music Shop [book of same title] to find the VINYL records I stupidly gave away



4. That amazing dinner in Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal


Read my review here


5. The Miss Delta Floozy Contest in Waltzing at the Piggly Wiggly


Review, from my old blog: What’s not to like about a small Southern town with a “Miss Delta Floozy” contest? Or, for that matter, what’s not to love about a 50-something widow finding love for the second time with a handsome man who used to own a ballroom dance studio? Second Creek, Mississippi, is a town you’d want to call your own. Full of loveable wackos–most of whom are faithful friends and helpful neighbors. Laurie Lapanto and her “Nit Wits”–a group of widows who support and care for each other have a large presence in this small town. And, when their beloved Mr. Choppy’s IGA store is threatened with closure they come up with a fabulous plan to save the story. An old rumor adds spice to the mix. Waltzing at the Piggly-Wiggly by Robert Dalby.




Top Ten Tuesday: Books I loved with Fewer than 2,000 Ratings on Goodreads


What an interesting topic this week! It required some research to compile this list, to be sure. Fortunately, I log my reading in and have a “shelf” for each year’s books. So, I looked at the likely suspects to see how many reviews each had. I was surprised to find a few real favorites of mine were in this category.

The Ice Cream Makers by Ernest van der Kwast


Read my review here.

The General’s Women and Loving Eleanor by Susan Wittig Albert

General’s Women review here. Loving Eleanor review here.

Barefoot at the Lake by Bruce Fogle


Read my review here.

Mrs. Engles: A Novel by Gavin McCrea


Read my review here.

Five Brides by Eva Marie Everson


Read my review here.

No I Don’t Want to Join a Bookclub by Virginia Ironside


Read my review here.

The Outside World by Tova Mirvis


Read my review here.

Gonzales and Daughter Trucking Company by María Amparo Escandón


Read my review here.

Bar Harbor Retierment Home for Famous Writers by Terri Lynne Defino


Read my review here.

Why not participate in Top Ten Tuesday? Just go to That Artsy Reader Girl and click on the link to the rules/topics at the top of her blog. Super easy, super fun!


Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl--here’s a link to the rules. Why not join in the fun next week?


Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Couples In Books


Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl--here’s a link to the rules. Why not join in the fun next week?

Last week Top 5 Wednesday had couples we “ship” (i.e. love). Happily I peaked to see what was ahead for Top Ten Tuesday since I do  both. So, you can read HERE about five couples I love from Movie and T.V.

Here are some of my favorite couples in books.

Numbers 1 to 5

Scarlett and Rhett


Scarlett and Rhett–the couple who began it all for me. (Yes, they are in the movie list, too.) I read this book for the first time in 1975 and have read it 30 or so times since then. They’re better in the book–trust me. Yes, even better. No I do NOT like the way the slaves were deipcted. No, he doesn’t rape her. But, Scarlett and Rhett are THE American couple for me. Gone With the Wind.

Honor and Richard


Honor Harris and Richard Grenville–swoon!! Yes, the book gets long if you aren’t into military history–just skim that part, ok? It’s Daphne Du Maurier so do yourself a favor and don’t read any moder synopsis–they all have a major spoiler. I loved this. I cried, shouted, turned the lights back on and refused to sleep. Sigh.  The King’s General.

My review from my old blog: “Honor Harris and Richard Grenville, the King’s General in the West, are caught up in the English Civil war. Richard, a rapscallion of the highest order, is the love of Honor’s life. A man’s man to the core, Richard bears his own version of true allegiance to his lady. The rough times of the war, the rough and ready personality of Richard, the unconditional love Honor holds for him, all create one of the most memorable love stories ever. Daphne Du Maurier, author of Rebecca, and wife of World War II General “Boy” Browning, weaves a web of almost fatal love and attraction that is not to be missed. I seldom buy fiction, but I ordered bought this one and will be re-reading it for years to come.”

Major Pettigrew and Mrs. Ali


Major Pettigrew and Mrs. Ali–what a great couple!! What’s not to love about a widower who cleans while wearing his late wife’s housecoat over his clothes and a woman who puts on her late husband’s jacket for comfort? I love these two. Best of all, the show us again and again, the regardless of culture or language, families can annoy anyone, but no one more so than those in love, especially over the age of 30. Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand: A Novel.

My review from my old blog:This book is a modern treasure! Subtly highlighting the “gauche-ities” of 21st Century life, the book deals with the cross-cultural “mature” romance of uptight/upright Empire-Loving Brit, Ernest Pettigrew and the village shopkeeper, Mrs. Ali. The absurdities of life that cause them to catch each other’s eye and to vent ever-so-politiely to each other are truly heartwarming. Love the way their families are.. . well …normally insane? Believable? Loved? All of the above? Yes.”

Louisa and Will


Working class girl Louisa Clark and posh public school boy Will Traynor end up with a love that is the “stuff of fairytales.” Only it isn’t. It’s better than that. So much to love about these two! Me Before You–I also loved the movie version, which is rare for me. My review.

Addie and Louis


Addie Moore and Louis Waters brought the romance back to Colorado! Piercing the lonlieness of sleepless nights they brought in relationship in the best sense of the word. Even the movie version was good! Our Souls at Night. My review.

Numbers 6–10


Numbers 6–10 are in my Top Ten Tuesday Post located HERE.

For more romance, see the Tag Cloud in the right sidebar for “Cross-Generational Romance” featuring real life and fictional older man, younger woman couples. Including a president, a prime minister, a real-life princess, and many others!