Top Ten Tuesday: Books On My Fall 2020

I was going to skip this week. I won’t be getting much reading done for this year–until late August at least. I’m doing a graduate certificate so that takes up nearly all of my reading time right now. But, I do listen when I’m tired or out in the car. I commute one day a week now to my office. At some point that will go back to five days though I wish I could work at home forever! So, here are some of the new fall books that have caught my eye.


511IMep1soL._SX332_BO1,204,203,200_ You can probably read most of this one in the Daily Mail excerpts. I did not yet find an American release date so I may have to pay to get it from the U.K.  The Windsor Diaries, 1940 -45 by Alathea Fitzalan Howard. (Link is to Amazon U.K. You can click on the Daily Mail link to read the excerpts.)  [Why is Princess Margaret holding her poor little dog down with what appears to be a gardening fork???]


I’ve enjoyed a few of Jane Harper’s books recently, so I’m sure I will get around to listening to this one, too.  Amazon says February 2021, but Goodreads says September 22, 2020.  The Survivors by Jane Harper.


I’ve read most of Anne Perry’s William Monk series and two books in her World War I series. This one sounds really good, but I need to start with book one, which has been out for a while. Death in Focus is book one, A Question of Betrayal: An Elana Standish Novel is book two in the series by Anne Perry.


How to Raise an Elephant will be part of my celebration of finishing my first semester! It comes out in November when my COVID-scheduled classes are over until January. I only listen to Alexander McCall Smith’s series. The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency is the one I love most. After that is 44 Scotland Street. I’ve only read the first of the Isabel Dalhousie series. I’ve also enjoyed a few of his stand-alone novels.


I love Fannie Flagg’s books. I still haven’t read Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe though. So, maybe I’ll read it first and then the new Wonder Boy of the Whistle Stop.



I really liked Love & Gelato–a sweet story for any age reader. I have high hopes for this one. Love & Olives by Jenna Evans Welch.


I love the sound of this story so much! A gal-pal road trip of sorts. Miss Benson’s Beetle by Rachel Joyce. Having loved her Music Shop and The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, I’m sure I’ll love this one too!


I’m hoping this will be my Christmas break reading. I get the days from Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day off as part of our benefits. It does not impact my vacation time. It is extra. I can’t think of a better than to do than read about royalty! Empress Alexandra by Melanie Clegg.


Ingrid Seward is editor of Majesty Magazine and the widow of Prince Charles’ Gordonstoun classmate, reporter and royal biographer Ross Benson. His book on Charles is one of the best. Her books are not usually very hard-hitting. This book, as excerpted in the Daily Mail recently dredgs up the 70 year old question of whether Prince Philip did or did not sleep with his many beautiful lady friends. His lame excuse is always that he had a detective with him. So did Charles, Anne, Andrew and other royals. Philip is one of my favorites, though, so I will buy and read it. Prince Philip Revealed by Ingrid Seward.  First Excerpt in the Daily Mail, Second Excerpt,  Last Excerpt.



This is an interesting idea. Churchill’s daughter Sarah, Anna Roosevelt and Kathleen Harriman, daughter of Averell Harriman each accompanied her father to the Yalta Conference (Averell was by then having an affair, with Churchill’s blessing, with his son Randolph Churchill’s wife. In their later years the two would marry and Bill Clinton appointed Pamela Harriman Ambassador to France). Anna Roosevelt had to help with her nearly dead father, FDR, and his lapses of memory and his times of “spacing out” as we’d now say. He was nearly on his death bed at that conference and it showed. This should be an interesting read. Sarah Churchill had made an “unfortunate” marriage to an older, Jewish comedian and actor. She was by then over the marriage and serving in the women’s branch of the RAF. I will be buying it for my Roosevelt and Churchill collections. The Daughters of Yalta by Catherine Grace Katz.

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Top Ten Tuesday: Books for My Younger Self

What a fun topic–am I right?? Who doesn’t love looking at, reading, enjoying books for young people! Here are some of the one’s I’ve found that I’d have loved at a younger age. Some are familiar to readers of this blog, hopefully a few will be surprises.


Toddler/Preschool me

Grumpy Cat


The Elementary School Years me


The Casson Family series by Hilary McKay


The Calpurnia Tate books


The Penderwicks series


The Traveling Cat Chronicles--My Mom would definitely have read this aloud to us


High School Me


I was a royal freak even then, so this would have been a good one.


ANYTHING by Julie Murphy, but especially Dumplin’


College and 20-Something me

I was a Kennedy-freak, too, thanks to my paternal grandmother’s Kennedy library.

I was a political science major.

And studied Russian and East European Studies

And was a political junkie.



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If  you are interested, here are previous posts on my favorite childhood books:

Top 10 Tuesday: My Favorite Childhood Books

Childhood Memories: The Horse Years Updated



Top Ten Tuesday: Books that Make Me Hungry

I’m cheating a bit this week–I’m using a post I’ve used before. At 58 I’m back in school and this is my first week. So…. I’m sorry the formatting is wonky, but I haven’t taken the necessary time to learn to use Blocks in WordPress. This is a an old post and though I told it it was “Classic” it did what it wanted. So be it. The books are still wonderful!



1. A Boat, a Whales & a Walrus: Menus and Stories by Renee Erickson &Jess Thomson. My review.

2. My Berlin Kitchen: Adventures in Love and Life by Luisa Weiss. My review.

3. On Rue Tatin: Living and Cooking in a French Town by Susan Hermann Loomis. My review.

4. Julie & Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen by Julia Powell and My Life in France by Julia Child [I’m counting these as one since both are Julia]. The movie Julie & Julia is one of the few movies I’ve ever enjoyed as much or more (yes, More!) than the book!

5. Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain.

6. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. This gets a tad precious in places, but is still excellent.

Foodie Life for Normal People:

5.  Dinner a Love Story by Jenny Rosenstrach. My review.

6. Bread and Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table With Recipes by Shauna Neiquist. You can read my thoughts on this book in this post.


7. Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stadal. My review.

For those who enjoy a little touch of fantasy or paranormal (neither of these are my thing, but I LOVED these books.)

8. Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen

9. Chocolat by Joanne Harris

10. Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel

Join the Top 5 Wednesday group at Goodreads.com and then do your own Top 5 post of video! It’s fun!

Other Foodie Posts:

Top Ten Yummy Foods Mentioned in Books


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Top Ten Tuesday: Books I was unable to finish because I could not come to terms with them


This week’s topic is Books I Loved but Never Reviewed, but I’ve reviewed books on my blogs since blogging began. I’ve lost a lot of that content when Bloglines died and I’d never backed up, but I did review them. I’ve mentioned most of my lifelong favorites on this blog too many times. So, I decided on a different title. Books I was unable to finish because I could not come to terms with them. This does not mean I did not like them! I just couldn’t get my arms around them enough to stay in the book. They were to “out-there” or too strange or too complex or __________.



I KNOW I’d love this story. I studied Iran and the end of the Shah in college–in fact, the end came at the end of my high school years so you could say we were the “Iran Generation” in America. Walter Cronkite’s daily count of how long the hostages had been held was part of our evening. Those same hostages being released only after Ronald Reagan was sworn in as president was such a vindictive moment in history–especially in light of the humanitarian Jimmy Carter is now at nearly 100 years old. But this was my first attempt at a graphic novel. I couldn’t make sense of it in the same way I do with traditional books–whether reading or listening to them. I wasn’t a big comic book fan as a kid, either. I’m glad this book is so successful though. It is a great device for storytelling for so many reasons. My brain just opt-out. Persopolis by Marjane Satrapi.



I have written about this book before her on this blog. Cathy Ames gave me real-life nightmares. I couldn’t get that ‘voice” out of my head as she suggested the bad things. I had to just toss the books back. As I’ve said before, that is a true testament to the incredible writing talent of Steinbeck. I think I may have seen parts of this movie as a kid on the old summer Afternoon Movie–there is something so haunting about the whole book that makes me think I may have seen it before my mind could understand it well enough. East of Eden by John Steinbeck.



At a time when the Islamic world was just coming to the attention of the American news media–that is after the Iranian hostage crisis, Salman Rushdie was put on a real-world hit list by the reigning Ayatollah Khomeini who issued a fatwa ordering his death. I tried desperately to get through this book. I failed. I beat myself up for years for being too weak. The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie.



Although I’d just spent two years in a country south of Somalia, and in spite of non-stop news coverage of American troops in Somalia, I gave up on this book. Today it might seem an easy read to me. Then, I lacked the cultural knowledge necessary to digest it. So, of course, I bought the entire trilogy sight unseen in those long-ago pre-internet, pre-Amazon days. Sweet and Sour Milk by Nuruddin Farah.


Probably anything Tea Obrecht writes is beyond my ken. Her books sound amazing, but then they just escape my comprehension. My friend reviewed Inland–she explains it all pretty well.


Sorry, for once I couldn’t come up with the full ten books.


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Top Ten Tuesday: Books with Colors In the Titles


My favorite color is RED! Some people mistakenly say that my alma mater’s colors are Red and White. That is incorrect. Indiana University’s colors are forever Cream and Crimson! So, I’m really fond of Crimson as well. Since I’ve tracked my reading for years, I decided to go all out and do 10 colors instead of 10 books.

#1: Red, Crimson, Scarlet



#2 Pink,  Peach, Rose




#3: Blue



#4 Yellow, Lemon, Gold. Saffron


#5: Green



#6 Orange, Chestnut, Copper


#7 Black



#8 Lilac, Lavender, Plum



#9 White




#10 Gray, Silver, Pearl


And a Multi-Color Bonus!!


My review




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Top Ten Tuesday: Festivals, Fetes, Fairs in books



Today’s topic was supposed to be “Book Events/Festivals I’d Love to Go to Someday (Real or Fictional.)” I just couldn’t think of anything, so I’m substituting fictional non-book events.



The Miss Clover City Beauty Pageant



Willowdean becomes the most unlikely beauty contest entry in the South. This pageant is her mother’s lifeblood. Can a girl with a figure curvey enough for high double-digit sizes be taken seriously as a contestant? Does she really get the guy? I’d want to be there for all of it. Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy.



Any High School Poetry Slam With Xiomara



I’d love to sit back and watch as high school kids, high on words, perform! The Poet X was such a fabulous book–it would be even better to experience it in real life!


The Welly Wang


The Welly Wang at Winsleigh Green in the book I reviewed yesterday’s The Old Girls’ Network. Who Wouldn’t want to toss a heavy green, rubber boot for charity?


The Festival That Needs to Start in the Next Book!

The Mitford Livermush Festival


I’m positive Mitford needs to have a Livermush Festival! Puney could sell her cornbread. There’d be a sale on slices of Esther’s OMC, and someone else could sell my favorite delicious vanilla cupcakes from the Mitford cookbook! Oh, it would be great–wouldn’t it?  Cynthia could read stories,  Dooley and Lace could hold a pet adoption clinic. It would be fun. The Mitford books by Jan Karon. The latest is To Be Where You Are.


The Miss Delta Floozy Contest


“She’s a doozy, she’s a floozy!” Waltzing at the Piggly Wiggly and Kissing Babies at the Piggly Wiggly feature this fabulous (and I do mean FAB-U-Lus!) contest with that great song!


The W.I.’s Cake Competition


Any sort of fair with a cake judging. “They don’t give the May Wilkinson out lightly!” Calendar Girl Chris said after winning the so-named trophy after submitting a cake made by British retailer Marks & Spencer! Calendar Girls.


The judging of the Dowagers’ Roses: Mrs. Miniver and Downton Abbey



You can read a nice blog post about the two identical events here at World of the Written Word from several years ago. Mrs. Miniver, the superb film of the early years of World War II in England, shows Mrs. Minver subtly enticing the grand Lady B to let the humble gardener win the award this year. The same exact thing happens in Downton Abbey–The Dowager Lady Grantham always wins for the best rose. Sheis persuaded to be generous and let the gardener win for once. Downton creator Julian Fellowes played fast and loose with a few storylines from the 1970’s Upstairs, Downstairs series, too, such as the love affair for cook Mrs. Patmore which was all but identical to the story of Mrs. Bridges in Upstairs, Downstairs.


Win a Harmonica with Sophia Loren


Picture: Houseboat with Sophia Loren

Sophia Loren cheats to get little Robert his harmonic from a Carny game, saying “Your father, the Cheif of Police…” to cover her theft. Houseboat.


Whatever it Was That Was Going On in Nice



I’d have loved to have been the fly on the wall, observing Noah and great-nephew Michael as they came to terms with being stuck with each other. There was an event going on in Nice in the story that made things a bit more challenging. I’d like to have been at that event. Akin by Emma Donoghue.


The One That Has People On Edge Today

The Bazaar for the Confederacy


“One hundred and fifty dollars–in GOLD, for Mrs. Charles Hamilton,” Rhett barked. Dr. Meade refused on Scarlett’s behalf saying “She won’t consider it.” But Scarlett’s voice rings out true, “Oh yes I will!!”  Even though my ancestors fought for the North, I’d like to time travel and be there for this! Gone With the Wind.

For the record: I do NOT support any racist organizations and I do admit GWTW is unbelievably racist in its portrayal of the slaves.  It was written by a southern woman in the 1930s, not by a scholar today though. In spite of its obvious flaws, it is still regarded as one of the greatest of all American novels, so I will continue to use it in posts on that basis. The movie garnered the first Oscar for a Black Actress–the great Hattie McDaniel who played a slave. The movie also altered a scene so that Scarlett’s attacker was white in the movie instead of an ex-slave as in the book.



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Top Ten Tuesday: Books That Make Me Smile


WordPress is being VERY difficult this week. I cannot edit one post at all. I have tried all the suggested stuff I’ve found online, changed theme, and contacted them. Since this is a free blog, I doubt I’ll ever get help till I pay for a more advanced one. GRRRRRRR

The One I Thought of First



The women pulled together. No cliches, no bitchiness. Just pulled together. Did I mention most were over 50? Even nicer. I suppose this one came to mind because there are lots of changes at work right now–probably for everyone, everywhere!


A Bunch of Books


Sweet Bean Paste–sweet is the word, but never cloying or precious! delightful.

Unmarriageable. So fun! I loved it!

Meet Me in Monaco. Swoony!

Traveling Cat Chronicles. A bit of a tear-jerker, but in the sweetest way.

The Flatshare. Oh My!! Love, love, loved this couple!!

Our Souls At Night. Who wouldn’t want this relationship–at any age! My “Must Read Book of 2016”

The Stationery Shop. Young love in that brief period of Westernized Iran. Sweet.

And, two more!


A fond memory



My Mom spent a fortune to send me this book when I was in Peace Corps. It was just what I needed–sweet, light and romantic. I never knock a romance novel. They are fabulous medicine. Morning Glory by LaVyrle Spencer.

The One I Got My Never-Reads Cousin to Read


…and that we discussed for over 90 minutes by phone! All the feels, indeed, Baby!


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Top Ten Tuesday: Authors I’ve Read the Most Books By


Warning! Math isn’t my best subject! I got a little carried away this week.


Alexander McCall Smith

I love two of his series–No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency and 44 Scotland Street. I’m up-to-date on the first, and nearly on the other. I’ve also read a volume or two of of another of his series and a couple of stand-alones. That’s at least 35 to 40 titles!

Janet Evanovich

I kept up with Stephanie Plum, Joe, Ranger and Bob the Dog for a long time. Somewhere around #21 I realized that Stephanie, in real-time would be my age. Menopause, friends with grandchildren, and I just let go of the series. But I do miss Ranger.



Ian Fleming

I had a group of James Bond-obsessed wanna-be filmmaker friends in high school, so I read them all in the 1970s. Also, my grandfather had read them all so that seemed cool. I also read his stand-alone, The Diamond Smugglers. So, I’ve read 14? 16? Whatever.



Dick Francis

These were my gateway audios–I listened on the long drive to my cousin’s house each holiday for a few years. I still like them all these years later.  I’ve listened to 12 or 13 of these.

francis b


Louise Penny

Chief Inspector Gamache and friends are another annual visit I love. I’ve listened to all of them as well. 15 of these!


Anne Perry

William Monk, Hester Latterly, and Sir Oliver Rathbone are old friends of mine now. However, I’ve only read these! Which might explain why I’ve fallen behind. I’ve read the first 16 books, plus two from her WWI series. 18.



Lucy Maud Montgomery

9 by Miss Lucy Maud Montgomery–Rilla of Ingleside being my favorite. I’ve written here how disappointed I was that Anne’s romance with an older man in the t.v. version was created for the show! I listened to all of these in one year of commuting as an adult. I never read them as a child or teen.

L. M. Montgomery  Anne 0f Green Gables Series image 0



Laura Ingalls Wilder

Except for the first book, which I read in the Reader’s Digest when the t.v. show started, I read all of these as an adult. They did not appeal to me as a child for some reason. Probably my older brother sneered at them. I was a slave to his taste! Well, I was, until I tried to read The Hobbit. No thanks.

Little House Books (9 vol. boxed set) | HarperCollins | 9780064400404


Patrick Taylor

I loved this series until it got popular and he or his publisher decided to milk it. Then it became filled with my pet peeves–newspaper headlines and silly, stilted dialogue. A shame because it was a superb series until then. I loved listening to these books until…. ugh. 9 total.




Non-series Authors

Maeve Binchy

I don’t have an exact count on these, but my best figure is at least 14


Anne Tyler

11 is my current count. I love her books–I’m still working on the backlist, those I missed in graduate school or Peace Corps long ago. I think The Accidental Tourist is my favorite. The movie was even good.



RF Delderfield

I devoured Delderfield’s books in high school! My Mom read them, too. So many great memories. I read at least 8. God is an Englishman became a 3 part series, but his series are only 2-3 books long,  so I’ve not included him with the huge series above.


JoJo Moyes

I’m skipping Giver of Stars, but otherwise, I’ve enjoyed her books. I’ve been reading her backlist hoping to get them all read eventually. 6 total so far.




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Top Ten Tuesday: Most Anticipated Releases for the Second Half of 2020


This week’s Top Ten Tuesday looks at the new books coming in late summer.



My top pick

I’ve pre-ordered this one! I never do that. I hope it lives up to my expectations. July 7, 2020.



Royal fiction is always a draw for me, but too often I can’t enjoy it due to the silly mistakes. I’ve already DNF-ed one new royal novel I got from Net Galley this summer. We’ll see how this goes with a wider cast of characters. The Women Before Wallis: A Novel… by Bryn Turnbull. July 21. 2020.



All The Devils Are Here by Louise Penny is book #16 in the Cheif Inspector Gamache series. Coming September 1, 2020. I listen to this series, I’ve never read one in print or on Kindle.



How to Raise an Elephant by Alexander McCall Smith. No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency book # 21. I also only listen to this series. Lisette Lecat is the superb narrator.



Perestroika in Paris by Jane Smiley comes out December 1, 2020.



Daughters of Yalta by Catherine Grace Katz is expected out on September 28, 2020. I will likely buy this one.



Anxious People: A Novel by Fredrik Backman, comes out on September 8, 2020. He is a must-read for me these days. I’ve only tossed back his book, My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry. I’ve loved the others.



Empress Alexandra

Empress Alexandra: The Special Relationship Between Russia’s Last Tsarina and Queen Victoria by Melanie Clegg. Net Galley says September 30, but Amazon says January 2, 202. This is nonfiction, not a royal novel.



Miss Benson’s Beetle by Rachel Joyce arrives on November 24. I loved The Music Shop and the Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Frye (but not it’s “other half”–The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy so I’m looking forward to this one very much.



I’ve read about a Black inner-city polo team, so when I saw this book I knew I’d want to read it. A Most Beautiful Thing by Arshay Cooper is available TODAY.



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Top Ten Tuesday: Books on My Summer 2020 TBR



I’m also participating in the 20 Books of Summer Challenge. Click here to see my list. I didn’t do a list of ten this week–I did groups of “maybe” titles. FYI, yes one is on a major bookclub’s TBR for this month. I do not officially belong to ANY book club, but I look at their choices to find books that interest me.


The Big Three–the ones I’m most anxious to read!


The Ones Not On My 20 Books Challenge That I’m Interested In Reading


The Ones I’ve Been Meaning To Read For Too Long–at least one of these



Something Lost on My Kindle



Something Lost on a Shelf in My Home Library




Something Toward My Reading Around the World




Another Award Winner

Another Persephone Title

More of…..Hemingway, Barbara Pym, Muriel Spark, or…?



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