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Top Ten Tuesday: Books That Made Me Laugh Out Loud

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Once again, I’ve challenged myself not to go back to the old favorites. So, no Patrick Dennis (Auntie Mame and The Joyous Season are my two favorite funny books). Not Changing Places by David Lodge–another old favorite. Only “newer” funny books. No Bailey White. I so hate leaving out the gospel walnut, but no Calvin Becker trilogy.And not A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian, either.You can read about some of those HERE.

Here are some of my newer favorites

(Not in any ranked order)

Helen Ellis, of “What I Do All Day”-fame on Twitter, is a bright light in the last gloomy year for me. Her stuff is just plain funny. Southern Lady Code and American Housewife. Her new essay collection comes out in July. I can’t wait.

These three delightful British ladies from the late twenties to the post-war years have become firm friends of mine. Whether it’s poor Miss Pettigrew getting sucked into the world of society, or Mrs. Tim making due on an Army officer’s between-the-wars-pittance of a paycheck , or the dear Provincial Lady with her husband falling asleep behind the Times–I love all three.

Diary of a Provincial Lady by E.M. Delafield and The Provincial Lady Goes Further by E.M. Delafield. Mrs. Tim of the Regiment by D.E. Stevenson and Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson.

This epistolary novel (i.e. told in letters or emails, etc.) is hilarious if you are familiar with academic life. If you’ve ever worked, at any level, in a college or university you will laugh out loud at this. Dear Committee Members: A Novel by Julie Schumacher.

Mother and daughter duo Lisa Scottoline and Francesca Serritella are like old friends–that’s how many of their collections of essays/columns/blogposts I’ve listened to. I love these, though I’d advise skipping the election ones from when Trump ran the first time–no one needs to re-live that year or last year. (Though there humor is not offensive). These are just fun.

I see Life Through Rose-Colored Glasses (contains links to past review, too).

Need more? Here’s 100 Funny Books from NPR

Why not join the fun next week? You can read the rules here.

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Top Ten Tuesday: Purple, Yellow, and/or Green Book Covers in honor of Mardis Gras, which is today!

 

 

First, A Few Books Set In New Orleans

My review of Dollbaby was lost in a crash of my old blog, but on Goodreads I gave it 4 stars and still remember the story so that’s a great recommendation! My reviews of  The Yellow House and of Five Days at Memorial,

 

New Orleans Public Library’s Carnival Collection

Click here to view the Carnival Collection

 

A Few Children’s Madi Gras Books

 

Nancy Drew Even Loved Madi Gras

Some Grown-Up Madi Gras Books

 

 

Now the Book Covers In Green, Yellow, and Purple

 

 

 

Do you or your family celebrate during Madi Gras? Have you read any good books set in New Orleans or set during carnival and Mardi Gras? Do you bake a King Cake? Leave me a comment or a link to your post.

Quick King Cake from Betty Crocker recipe

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Top Ten Tuesday: Valentine’s Day/Love Freebie OLDER Couple Romances

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Inspiration for my topic came from Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Books With Couples Who Met After Age 30. The books listed here are all ones I’ve read. And, the couples are beyond 40 years old or more.

Our Souls At Night by Kent Haruf

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This novel is almost perfect. It is a classic. Two lonely people, in a lonely small Colorado town, Addie and Louis, are drawn together to stare down the dark of night, find love.  Our Souls At Night by Kent Haruf.

Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson

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There is just too much to love about Major Pettigrew and Mrs. Ali! From the pitch-perfect dialogue, to the very real emotions discussed, to the love that they find. This is one of my favorite novels of this century.Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand: A Novel by Helen Simonson (link is to my review).

The Old Girls’ Network by Judy Leigh

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Judy Leigh makes being “older” fun! This lively novel involves two sisters and some good old romance. Old Girls Network by Judy Leigh (link is to my review).

The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler.

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This great Anne Tyler novel has two older romances going. While the one might feature a woman on the shy-side of 40 all of the other 3 are over 40. Macon, finds new love, and his henpecked sister finds first and lasting love. The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler.

The Switch by Beth O’Leary

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This one has a romance at both ends of the age spectrum! Grandma and Granddaughter find love in this fun story. The Switch by Beth O’Leary (link is to my review).

Meet Me at the Museum by Anne Youngson

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This gentle love story, told through letters, is a new favorite of mine. Tina Hopgood is an ignored farm wife while widower Anders Larsen is a curator at a museum in Denmark. A single letter of inquiry by Tina starts the ball rolling. Meet Me at the Museum by Anne Youngson (link is to my review).

The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series by Alexander McCall Smith

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Precious Ramotswe, the Botswana’s first lady detective, finds love with Mr. J.LB. Matekoni, owner of Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors. These books are annual treat for me. No 1 Ladies Detective Agency is the first book.

Jan Karon’s Mitford series

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Father Tim (he’s an Episcopal priest, not Catholic) and his author-illustrator-neighbor Cynthia fall in love, marry, and live a wonderful life in the fictitious Mitford, North Carolina. Two series of books, a super cookbook, and more comprise this huge series. The cast of characters surrounding Father Tim and Cynthia is large, colorful, and unforgettable. I’ve loved every minute spent read these books. The first book is At Home in Mitford by Jan Karon.

The Cherry Cola Book Club series by Ashton Lee

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Miss Voncille Nettles lost her fiance in Vietnam and has stayed single, still in love with him. Locke Linwood had a happy marriage until his wife died. The two come together aided by the Cherry Cola Book Club at the public library in Cherico, Mississippi. This series is wonderful. A feisty young librarian, a dastardly politician, and all kinds of local Southern charm. And food. Oh the food! Oh my! The first book is: The Cherry Cola Book Club by Ashton Lee.

Waltzing at the Piggly-Wiggly series by Robert Dalby

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Dance instructor Powell Hampton and widow Laurie Lepanto waltz their way to love in Second Creek, Mississippi, where there is a Miss Delta Floozy Contest with it’s own theme song, “She’s a Doozy, she’s a floozy….” The dancing is in aid of the local independent grocery story run by Mr. Choppy. A merry group of widows calling themselves the “Nitwits” organize everything in the town including the fun. This is a small series, book one is Waltzing at the Piggly-Wiggly by Robert Dalby

Why not join the fun next week? You can read the rules here.

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Top Ten Tuesday: Books I’ve Loved That Were Written Before I Was Born

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I’ve tweaked this week’s topic. I made it books I’ve enjoyed that were written before JFK was president. (I was born in 1962). I also tried to NOT use the same old books I always use. And, I stuck to fiction only.

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Dick Francis published Dead Cert in 1962, so Alan York and I arrived on the world scene the same year. This is the first of his racing murder mystery novels.

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Barbara Pym’s Excellent Women was an absolute treat to read. Published in 1952, the year of Queen Elizabeth’s long ago ascension to the throne, it is still a fun read.

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All of the Miss Read books are wonderful, but this is the very first one. It is utterly charming. How I wish children could enjoy such a school today. Village School by Miss Read was published in 1955.

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Passing by Nella Larsen was published in 1929, but is enjoying a resurgence of interest among readers today. The ideas of what is race and what is culture are consuming us all right now. It is a short, but good, read and does generate a lot of ideas.

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Published in 1928, World War I poet, Siegfried Sasson’s wonderful fictionalized autobiography (or should that be autobiographical novel?) Memoirs of a Fox Hunting Man is a delight. The Edwardian life of a young man without great means, but with good-enough lineage.

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Lady Audley’s Secret still holds its allure, in spite of turning 100 the year of my birth.

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Published in 1957, A House in the Country features a group of friends who go together to take a country manor house on.

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Naturalist and write Gene (short for Geneva) Stratton Porter was one of the best selling authors of the early 20th century. A Girl of the Limberlost is one of several of her books I’ve enjoyed reading in the last several years. It concerns a young woman desperate for an education.  In 2015 a friend and I visited one of her two homes in Indiana. You can read about that visit HERE.

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A teenage boy who freaks out when a girl tries to sit on his lap because he is wearing his father’s old suit? A delightful, if somewhat dotty, mother who adores father and their 4  boys is just one of the reasons this book from 1935 (but set in 1890’s fashionable New York). The movie is good, too. Life With Father by Clarence Day, Jr.

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Oh the poor Vicar! He and his family were really in it, weren’t they? Published 10 years before the signing of the Declaration of Independence, this was a surprisingly lively read. The Vicar of Wakefield by Oliver Goldsmith.

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Top Ten Tuesday: New-to-Me Authors I Read in 2020

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The first four of my new-to-me authors got me to try things I would rarely read or that might have put me off at antohter time.

  1. Anna Burns–I loved her creative way of naming her characters.
  2. Susanna Clarke–got me to read a sort-of fantasy novel.
  3. Matt Haig–got me to read another sort-of fantasy novel, albeit about a library.
  4. Edwindge Danticat–got me to enjoy short stories.

The other authors wrote the type stories I normally enjoy, though Denis Johnsson’s book was darker than I normally read. I realize when it comes to fiction I tend to stick to female authors. It was good to read more male fiction writers this year–as you can see several in this list are men. I value their perspectives.

  1. Lucy Foley
  2. E.M. Forester
  3. Denis Johnson
  4. Antoine Laurain
  5. Judy Leigh
  6. Colm Toibin

I went with authors who have already published a second or subsequent book.

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Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Meant to Read In 2020 but Didn’t Get To

Of these, I have made good progress reading only two: Shadow King and The Makioka Sisters. I got distracted from the first book and put the second aside to finish this year during the Japanese Literature Challenge. After starting my classes this week, I do not think it will happen this year in time for the challenge, but I may finish it at some point. It is an excellent story and I did not set it aside from lack of interest. I make progress on Shadow King-it is incredible, but I must be in the right mood for it.

Miss Benson’s Beetle and How The Penguins Saved Veronica [UK title:Away With the Penguins] were both Net Galley selections, so I feel bad about not getting them read. Both are enjoying good success though without my review! I am not touching Net Galley again until my coursework is done in August.

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Top Ten Tuesday: Most Anticipated Releases for the First Half of 2021

Non-Fiction

Am I wrong to think there is something unethical in the publishing world about all these oh-so-coincidentally timed dueling books? I see this over and over again. It must be very irritating to the authors.

The Doctors Blackwell by Janice P. Nimura

The Excellent Doctor Blackwell by Julia Boyd author of Travelers in the Third Reich

[I’m counting this pair as ONE book.]

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Troubled: The Failed Promise of America’s Behavioral Treatment Programs by Kenneth R. Rosen. This one appeals to me as one of my own had a very troubled adolescence. Had I been able to afford Outward Bound, let alone one of these programs I am still not sure what my decision would have been (for Outward Bound–a resounding yes, for the others, I’m not sure). A couple of former bosses sent sons to these programs. It seems to have only caused lasting resentment, but we’ll see what the book says.

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The Barbizon: The Hotel That Set Women Free by Paulina Bren. This is my mother’s era–she would have loved living there and going to a fashion design school. Plus, Grace Kelly lived there. This one arrives in March.

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Hot, Hot Chicken: A Nashville Story by Rachel Louise Martin. I first heard of Hot Chicken when friends in Australia tried it in Melborne (as in Victoria, Australia–not Florida). That tells you how backward the place is where I live! Last year my son and I fell in love with these Nashville Hot Chicken Burgers from Mason Woodruff of Kinda Healthy Recipes. Make sure you have an exhaust fan, and, no matter how cold or hot it is out, open a window. It’s so worth it! I’m giving the mixture as a belated Christmas gift to a few people this month (with the Kinda Healthy Recipes and Mason Woodruff acknowledged).

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The Personal Librarian by Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray. The Morgan Library is on my bucket list and I joke with friends that I am their personal librarian.

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Windsor Diaries, 1940-45 by Alathea Fitzalan Howard is now available for pre-order in the USA. It arrives on May 4th.

Fiction

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There’s No Such Thing As An Easy Job by Kikuko Tsumura is due out in late March.

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Nick: A Novel by Michael Farris Smith is a take on Gatsby. It is out today.

The Children’s Blizzard by Melanie Benjamin and

The Children’s Train by Viola Ardone (author) and Clarissa Botsford (Translator)

show another pet peeve of mine with publishing industry: Thinking we are all so stupid we’ll buy the wrong book if the covers are similar. The colors, the boy in the cap–come on, we aren’t so dumb we fall for this- are we? Yet this lazy marketing trick is everywhere today.

[I’m counting this pair as ONE book.]

Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba by Chanel Cleeton. I can’t get enough of her books! Chanel Cleeton and Elizabeth Acevedo are two rock stars of the decade for me! This one arrives early in May.

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Top Ten Tuesday: Holiday/Seasonal Freebie

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My freebie are winter-y or Christmas-y or holiday-y books on my TBR. I have no idea if they’ll get read this year or not! Stay tuned!

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I started this one when it came out in 2017, but ran out of Christmas break. I picked it up again last night.It sounds so fun. Covenant Garden as your “office”! Wow!  Covenant Garden in the Snow by Jules Wake.

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The last Downton Abbey cookbook I received had too many current day recipes for my taste. I wanted the real deal. I imagine this one is cooked up in the same pot, don’t you? Still, I’m hoping for old-time recipes. The Official Downton Abbey Christmas Cookbook by Regula Ysewijn. A reviewer noted that it is great if you shot a lot. [Americans: hunt]. Game birds and similar are featured throughout.

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Do I need to read the earlier books? My Mom loved it. Let me know, if you’ve read it–are the earlier books crucial? Royal Holiday by Jasmie Guillory.

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Short stories and essays are where I usually fail in Reading Challenges. This one is a book of essays. It’s hitting the right notes with a lot of people–but will my ear hear the same notes? I wonder. I’ll give it a try none-the-less. Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times by Katherine May.

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I love older English and Scottish books, don’t you? The author of dear Mrs. Tim of the Regiment has the perfect book for snuggling with cats and hot tea under warm blankets. The problem is there are other novels with some of these characters. I’ll probably just dive in and hope for the best. Who wouldn’t want to read about Rhoda and James and Mamie and Jock? Am I right? Winter and Rough Weather by D.E. Stevenson.

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I bought this in hardcover for myself for the Christmas season in 2018, but only got to sample it. I need to read it all. I love the Edwardian period so much. A Country House Christmas by Phyllis Elinor Sandeman.

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I saw this on someone’s blog and loved the cover. I hope it’s sweet and wonderful but not cloying and silly. I have a hard time with Christmas fiction because I can’t always turn off my brain and just enjoy the ride. I’ll try hard not to think of the Island of Misfit Toys! Christmas Island by Natlie Normann.

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This nonfiction title looks at Christmas traditions before Queen Victoria and after her in the British Royal Family. It sounds wonderful. A Royal Christmas by Louise Cooling.

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I’ve added and deleted this one to/from my Amazon wish list so many times! It has a minor royal connection–the Duke of Kent’s daughter, Lady Helen Taylor wrote the introduction for some reason. It just looks fun. Beautiful Christmas Cards by Alexandra Adami.

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As Christmas gift for the lovely lady who hosts this meme each week, I’m featuring one of her reviews today. A McMillan Christmas: A Novella. Personally, I’ve sworn off Scottish time travel romances since nearly killing an innocent Orkin man by swerving in shock listening to the HUGE Scottish time travel book with all the sex on my commute several years ago. How, had this been about Uncle Harold and Dorothy or even a tie-in to the wonderful old t.v. show McMillan and Wife, I’d grab it. But number seven in a series probably does require reading a few of the previous books. Who knows though? I might just download it to my Kindle and read it! Thanks, That Artsy Reader Girl for all your work in giving us a fun Tuesday!

Photo credits: Almay; Daily Mail, and TV Guide

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