Top 5 Wednesday Rewind: Authors You Want to Read More From



This week is the last “re-wind” week here at Top 5 Wednesday. All of May we’ve done topics we missed in past years. Next week it’s back to new topics.

Do you ever find an author and then read all/any prior book’s of theirs? Their “backlist” that’s called. I love to find authors whose writing compellsme to do this.


#1 Jojo Moyles

So far I’ve read:


# 2 Fredrik Backman

So far I’ve read:

I did have to give up on My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry though. It just wasn’t for me.


#3 Joanna Trollope

So far I’ve read:

Yes, the “Queen of the Aga Saga.” And an early nonfiction book by her that I read in the Peace Corps years ago.


#4 Elizabeth Buchan

So far I’ve read:

#5 Helen Rappaport [non-fiction]

So far I’ve read:



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Top 5 Wednesday Rewind: Books That Feature Traveling (any genre)


This month Top 5 Wednesday is on re-wind–using topics you’ve missed or that occurred before you started posting. Today I’ve chosen April 22, 2015’s topic–travel stories. I’ve chosen to go with nonfiction travel books.


The Most Harrowing Trip

Either version–Roosevelt’s telling or Candice Millard’s splendid re-telling, this is a trip never-to-be-forgotten.


My First Travel Books

My Mom found Peter Jenkins books when they came out years ago. I still love the first one, The Walk Across America, that was about Peter’s journey with his beautiful Alaskan Malamute, Cooper. The second book–the Walk West, was with his new wife and I didn’t like it as well. The China book came later. I’ve read nearly all of his books and have re-read several.


The Ones That Got Me Hook, Line, and Sinker

Paul Theroux is a legend in Malawi–the bad boy of all Peace Corps bad boys. I got to Malawi in the years soon after Peace Corps was allowed back in. His time there got it thrown out. His travel writing is superb, but these are my favorites.  I thought of The Great Railway Bazar when I watched the miniseries Lord Mountbatten: The Last Viceroy and the train comes in with the victims of the massacre–horrifying, yet having read this book it was even more so. I had heard the sounds, smelled the smells, felt the jumble and chaos of the trains thanks to Paul Theroux.


The Ones I Loved Watching


I admit it, I love travel tv. I loved The Great Chefs series that showed the food in other places. I loved Naked Planet. I even love dorky Rick Steves, though I never needed to know about his sunburn, thank you very much. But the ones I love watching the most feature Michael Palin of Monty Python fame. His shows include:

New Europe / Around the World in 80 Days / Sahara / Hemingway Adventure / Great Railway Journeys / Himalaya / Pole to Pole / Full Circle


The Book I’d Like to Have

This sounds fascinating. Hopefully, soon I’ll have a chance to get it and read it.

Travelers in the Third Reich by Julia Boyd.


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Top 5 Wednesday: New Book Covers That Caught My Eye



Top  5 Wednesday is a great way to connect with all things book-loving! Topics are posted in the group on Posts are either on blogs or videos. Why not join in next week?

I can’t say yet if I’ll be reading any of these, but their covers certainly caught my eye.

My Choices



For Every One by Jason Reynolds

My Ex-Life: A Novel  by Stephen McCauley

Speak No Evil: A Novel by  Uzodinma Iweala

Only Child: A Novel by Rhiannon Navin

The Friend: A Novel by Sigrid Nunez


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Top 5 “Rewind” Wednesday: Favorite Sidekicks



This month Top 5 Wednesday is having everyone choose a topic they missed or that was used before they started posting. I looked thru the archives of the group’s topics and found top 5 Favorite Sidekicks.


Number #5


The “traditionally built” Mma Precious Ramotswe, Botswana’s first and only lady detective,  is assisted by her one-time secretary Mma Grace Makutsi, proud earner of 97% on her final exams at the Botswana Secretarial College and arch enemy of fellow BSC alum, Violet Sephotho.

While I thought too many liberties were taken in “American-izing” the short-lived t.v. show of this series, the casting of MmaRamotwe and Mma Makutsi was spot on.

Number #4



Smoker of Woodbines, leader of bell ringer’s outings, lover of naps behind newspapers, finder of  joy in any boozy knees up, Tristan Farnon played unfortgettable pranks, failed parisitology too many times to count, but was always there when James and Siegfriend needed him. The All Creatures Great and Small books and fabulous 1970s/1980s tv show.


Number #3



Melanie Hamilton WilkesGone With the Wind. If a lady must kill a Yankee, then do it with panache. Melanie rose from her near-deathbed to avenge the family honor and protect Ellen O’Hara’s earbobs with her dead brother’s sword! And, she gave the last whole nightie in the house to clean up the mess! Melanie took what life gave her, but never once drank tea from a mug!



Number # 2 and NUMBER ONE!



# 2 Funeral parlor wrecking-ball, pistol packing, sassy-talking, cookie-stealing, Grandma Mazur! Seldom does a series have ONE good sidekick, let alone two. Grandma is the coolest!

#1 Unequeled in the annals of Sidekickdom, I give you…


Anyone who wears lime spandex on and eats chicken by the bucket and talks unapologetically about how she used to earn a living on the street–well, Lula is just CLASS. I love her!

Sorry, but I hated the movie. Worst casting ever of nearly every character.


Why not join in next week? Topics are posted in the group on Goodreads! Just join and participate. You can do a blog post of a video!

Top 5 Wednesday: Favorite Fandom Items



“Fandom” to me brings up YA/NA books. I’m just not that big on those genres. So, sorry, I don’t know which Hogwarts house I’m in. Couldn’t tell you the house colors, though I can name the houses. Instead here are a few of the  “fan,” if not “fandom,” items I own.

The Beatles




These are my two newest fandom items! I found the Yellow Submarine first, then this week, I found the car. I cannot remember not knowing and loving the Beatles!


Sir Winston Churchill



My parents gave me this silver WSC bookmark. (This is someone else’s photo of theirs). Mine lives in his daughter’s biography of Mrs. Churchill.





Royal Family


An English expatriate neighbor got my plate for me on a visit home. It was a Christmas gift the year of the wedding.

The solar waving queen–sans hat so it must have been an investiture! was found in a box of auction stuff, still in the original packaging, and given to me by a high school friend. I love her! She’s on my home desk.


Gone With the Wind



These Avon figurines were another Christmas gift. I know many people love to make fun of “kitch” but I genuinely like these two–all the hours of fun those two characters have given me deserve recognition!

I have a collector’s plate that was a gift from a friend–I really love it. And, I have all kinds of little stuff- like refrigerator magnets on GWTW as well as several books on the making of the movie.

Currently, none of these are on display anyhere in my houses, but someday they will be in my home office.

I used to have a fabulous Clark Gable poster of this still from the movie, too.


The VW Bus




Two years ago, I devoted a blog post to my love of the old VWMicrobus. I really, really want one of the new ones to drive if they are ever available! This one, though, is just a desk toy. It’s bigger than a Matchbox or Hot Wheels, but not as big as an old-time Tonka truck. Perfect for my home desk. I love these so much, I have a Pinterest board devoted to them!


Any Fandom or merely Fan items in your home? Leave me a comment!







Top 5 Wednesday: Mash-ups



This week’s topic is Mash-ups. “You know those comp titles they list in synopses that read something like “perfect for fans of Harry Potter and Game of Thrones”! What would be some of your favorite mash ups, that would make you pick up a book? “A mix of ________ and ___________.” Remember, you can also incorporate games, tv, movies, etc. Get creative! ”


1. For Fans of Harry Potter who love to be immersed in the world of the books they read.


I’ve only read [well, listened to] book one (this one) but if this is any indication the series will be wonderful, too. My daughter and I listened to the excellent audio version recorded by Lynn Redgrave. We couldn’t continue with book 2 when we found out it had a different narrator. It’s hard! The voice of the narrator easily becomes the voice of a series. Check out this post on the topic. Inkheart by Cornelia Funke.


2. For Fans of Agatha Christie and Downton Abbey and all things British mystery



Josephine Tey’s murder mysteries were written in the late1920s to mid 1950s. A new series now has the author herself solving crimes. You can read more about that series in this post.


3. For Fans of John Mellencamp who dream of small towns



Can you really go back? Can high school romance last? Read my full review here. Shotgun Lovesongs by Nicholas Butler.


4. For those just discovering vinyl is cool and who are fans of of book shop literature


The Music Shop: A Novel by Rachel Joyce. You can read my full review here. I love a book with a playlist.


5.  The upcoming one for all those Moms who loved Bridget Jones, thought they’d be perfect Yummy Mummys,  but now go to a book club with wine to whine.




I’ve included the first book, I Don’t Know How She Does It, in case you somehow missed it while pumping breast milk in a janitor’s closet or driving to soccer or were trying to recover from your children in general. I am so anxious for How Hard Can It Be? that I have an alert set for publication day! 50-something with kids and parents both needing help IS SERIOUSLY HARD. Like 3 toddlers hard but without a nap. This I know first-hand. And, I just plain loved the first book.


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Top 5 Wednesday: Favorite Humorous Novels


This week’s topic is: Favorite Jokesters Humorous Novels
“In honor of April Fools (a bit late but hey, I don’t control when Wednesdays fall), talk about your favorite jokesters, pranksters, and funny characters.” 

Or, in my case, my favorite humorous novels.

Auntie Mame and the Joyous Season


To say that Patrick Dennis was a comedy genius is probably a bit much. Probably. His comedies are of manners, not slapstick stunts. Auntie Mame is the best of his work, followed by my favorite, The Joyous Season. I’ve included both here as one entry since they are the same author. There is also a sequel to Auntie Mame–Around the World With Auntie Mame which I didn’t find as funny. All three are citizens of their time–the late 1950s and early 1960s. There is some dated humor, but happily most if it stands the test of time.


Changing Places



Lodge is a very funny writer and this send-up of academic manners, academic communities and academic life in general is very funny. Most fun I’ve had reading a book recommended by a professor (in 1983 and re-read since).  Changing Places by David Lodge


The Queen and I and Queen Camilla


Sue Townsend is brilliant! Her books of the exhiled Windsor family–sent to a sink estate/exclusion zone for undesireables are comedy at its best. Imagine the Queen Mother needing a 50p coin for the gas meter! Or the Queen queing at the dole office to get money for dog food. So much hilarity. I’ve again counted two as one since they are by the same author. All of her books are fun reads. Sue Townsend books.


The Calvin Becker Trilogy



Frank Schaeffer did well to follow the advice given to all would-be writers: “Write What You Know.” And did he…. His real-life parents, Evangelical Christian Mega-Stars Fran and Edith Schaeffer are hilariously skewered in this less than reverential trilogy told by their youngest child, renamed Calvin. Say the words “gospel walnut” and I still nearly pee my pants laughing. Yes, I read these and remained a Christian.  The  Calvin Becker triology is a triumph of comedy.


Number Five

The fifth writer/book, I just couldn’t pick: Bridget Jones? P.G. Wodehouse? Pickwick Papers? (Well, the funny parts at least),  Cold Comfort FarmLucky Jim? There were so many great writers to choose from! I’ve left out so many.

Please note: I detested Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy and may be they only person alive who will admit it. It didn’t help that Stephen Frye read the audio version I listened to. I even forced myself to finish it. Not very funny.  And, another that pops up on every list of Comedy Classics is Evelyn Waugh’s Vile Bodies. It’s vile–as in I didn’t really find it’s humor stood the test of time.


Want to join the Top 5 Wednesday Fun? You’ll find the topics in the Goodreads group. Then write your post or make a video for youtube and you’re off!

Top 5 Wednesday: Top Teachers or Mentors



There was a special plea to skip Harry Potter! Top 5 Wednesday tends to get HP as a response on just about every topic, which is ok by me, even if I’m not such a huge fan. To each her own!

These are not in any special order.

Favorite Fictional Teachers


David Powlett-Jones

To Serve Them All My Days

I love this book, I adored the somewhat revised/edited tv version from the 80s or 90s, too.  I loathe the new cover which has absolutely nothing what-so-ever to do with the story, so I’m using the cover I love! Coal miners son-turned Grammar School boy-turned schoolmaster David Powlett-Jones comes home from World War I to recover from Shell Shock at Bamfylde–a second or third tier British Public [i.e. private prep school like Groton] School and stays. Along the way he meets life and love head on. There is so much in this rich novel! R.F. Delderfield remains one of my very favorite authors of all time, though today each of his tremendous books would be chopped up into a series. To Serve Them All My Days.

Upper-class muscular Christianity at it’s best in that opening song from school chapel!

Jean Brodie



Muriel Spark was a master of the very short novel. Not a novella, a full novel, just told on few pages. Jean Brodie–the role in which Maggie Smith honed her McGonagall brogue (in the movie version) is masterpiece of spinsterly schoolmistriss priggishness.  I loved every word. So what if she was dead wrong on Mussolini–many were in that day. We must remember, she was in the PRIME of LIFE! The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.

[Another note on the t.v. version. Before Jim Carter made “Carson” the catchword for butlers, Gordon Jackson, aka Gordon Lowther in Miss Brodie] had made “Hudson” mean the same in the original (and ONLY) Upstairs, Downstairs in the 1970s.]

There was also an excellent t.v. version.

Maggie Smith in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

Favorite Real Life Teachers in Books and Movies

This was a very hard list to narrow down! I’ve read so many inspiring, true teacher stories. Jaime Escalante of the movie “Stand and Deliver,” Marva Collins, so many, many excellent choices.  I’ve read about Kurt Hahn, about masters at Eton and about teachers from Teach (formerly Teach for America) and in the Peace Corps that finding just a few was rough. So there are not necessarily my “very, very favorite” just the three that first came to mind.


Water is Wide



Author Pat Conroy spent a year teaching on a small, deeply impoverished island off South Carolina in the late 1960s. This is the fictionalized account. Few people outside the area knew such a Third World existence happened in America before this book.

Note: Angelia Jolie’s Dad, John Voight, played the fictious teacher in the movie which was renamed “Conrack.”


Freedom Writers Diary



I put this one in because my kids made me watch the movie and I’m glad I did. I’m even happier that the book, read in class, and the movie (watched after) so resonated with my kids. A powerful testament to what CAN happen in school when it is allowed. Today our schools are mired in culture war, haves vs have nots war, the testing warand so much more, that almost nothing inspiring can happen. Moments like this are essential and must be treasured. Freedom Writers Diary.


Savage Inequalities



This book is not about one teacher, but I’ve included it because everything in it, all these years later (it was published in ’88), is still present in our schools. This is for the teachers who daily face the battle or doing the impossible for those least prepared to learn with the least support of anyone in power and with the least amount of money. Yes, the author is a well-known bleeding heart. Tough. He hit the nail on the head with this one. Savage Inequalities by Jonathan Kozol.




Dame Maggie Smith as Minerva McGoinigal in Harry Potter


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Top 5 Wednesday: Children’s Books to Read as an Adult


I’ve posted before about some of my own and my kids’ favorite children’s books. Today I’m posting on children’s books that adults should read. SHOULD. Now. As in “just do it”–you won’t be sorry.  I won’t explain why these books are on here, but they relate very well to our world today. Leave me a comment if you know the reason.


The Emperor’s New Clothes This version looks helpful. Maybe people will get it? Very timely.


Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type was such an instant classic I bought copies for each member of my family the year it came out. It and it’s two of its sequels–Giggle, Giggle, Quack and Duck For President all belong on this list.

butter battle

Dr. Seuss, on the outs right now due to a new story dredging up his early work in anti-Japanese propaganda in war and some images in his earliest books–none of which sell many copies today. In spite of producing what today we clearly see is racist, and offensive images–rich up there with a book about a boy called Sam-bo and words against a group of people [we were at war back then] Seuss got many, many other things right. This book is one of them. The Butter Battle Book. People today may be shocked to learn he was a liberal.


I’m counting these as one book. No, I’m not advocating a return to white gloves. Nor hats for women. That’s not the point here. While these are out of print (there is a more modern version of Stand Up….] both are widely available used. It should be obvious why these are on the list.


If I Ran the Circus, yes another by  Dr. Seuss. Because if wishes were horses, right, Dr. Seuss?

Top 5 Wednesday Freebie: Five New Royal Books


This week’s Top 5 Wednesday is a Freebie week–choose your own topic. So, with a two royal weddings and a new royal baby all coming up I chose five new(er) royal books!

UK cover



Victoria and Christian IX of Denmark are like the trees of royal life.  You can read my review here. Or see the book here  Queen Victoria’s Royal Matchmaking: The Royal Marriages That Shaped Europe by Deborah Cadbury.






If you’ve enjoyed watching Netflix’s The Crown, you might be interested to know how much was fact and how much was fiction. Hugo Vickers has written the definitive guide, The Crown Truth & Fiction. [I have not read this yet]. You may also be interested in the The Crown: The Official Companion Volume 1.







This novel tells what it’s like to be Prince Harry circa 2007 or so when he was in Afghanistan. [I have not read this yet]. Prince Harry Boy to Man: A Novel by William Kuhn.








A new biography of Prince Charles doesn’t offer too much new, but there are a few things mentioned that get fleshed out more than in the past. We learn more about his life after Diana’s death. Gossip, off-the record interviews, and some dubious sources are also involved. Prince Charles by Sally Bedell Smith. I read, but did not review this book.





Coming this summer



Rarely has a king made such a horrific miscacluation than George V made in refusing to allow his look-a-like first cousin, Tzar Nicholas II and his wife (also a first cousin) Alexandra to find refuge in Britain in 1918. George could not know that Nicholas, Alexandra and their five children would all be shot point blank one night. He feared the rising tide of communism/socialism and worker discontent could spread to Britain and threaten his own throne.  This book will tell the whole story. The Race to Save the Romanovs by Helen Rappaport.



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