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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Top Ten Tuesday: Books I’ve Added to my TBR and Forgotten Why


I’m one of those who does not care how many books are on my TBR. Goodreads has revolutionized my reading!  (Well, that and the internet that lets me know about way more books than I’ll ever have time to read). I occasionally go through my TBR on Goodreads and purge titles and apparently I’ve done too good a job at it, because this was hard!



This one sounds perfect for today! Social Distancers would be the update to the title, obviously. The Distancers: An American Memoir by Lee Sandlin.



I suppose I added this since it is a college-friends story, but it sounds darker for such stories than I would normally pick. What Happened to Sophie Wilder: A Novel by Christopher R. Beha.



Do editors know any other words for “economically disadvantaged” lives (ala being “poor”) than “hardscrabble?”. It crops up yet again in the description of this novel because all of Appalachia is “hardscrabble” according to anyone in Manhattan. Not sure why I liked the sound of this one now. The Funeral Dress: A Novel by Susan Gregg Gilmore.


1963 Mississippi? Country music dream? Maybe the Segregation storyline was what grabbed me? Hmmmmm. Whistling Past the Graveyard by Susan Crandall.



Reading Around the World? Otherwise, not a clue why this one is on my TBR. My Name is Red by Oram Pamuk.



I might have put this one on my TBR to be my annual summer professional book. Not sure. Winning Without Losing by Martin Bjergegaard.




Truly no idea why this one caught my eye. Maybe it was in some book club or magazine? The kind of magazine you read at the dentist (well, USED TO READ at the dentist). The Daylight Marriage: A Novel by Heidi Pitlor.



Another one I might have read about at the dentist. What We Saw by Aaron Hartlzer.




Maybe Book #2 was free on Kindle and I thought I’d actually read it and would want to read book #1? Occasionally I do like a sweet romance, but…. The Preacher’s Lady by Lori Copeland.


Maybe a blog I like reviewed it? This was from before I started putting where I find a book in the “Review” field on Goodreads. I like dogs, but I’m not sure why I would single Rin Tin Tin out for a spot on my TBR. Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend by Susan Orlean.


Have you read or reviewed any of these books? Leave me a comment or a link to your review.




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Top Ten Tuesday: Books That Give Off Summer Vibes


Here in Southeast Ohio, we’ve had a very cold May. It’s finally beginning to get to normal late Spring temperatures. The pool opened on schedule in spite of COVID-19. The beach at the Lake is open, too. People are desperate for Summer! I’m being careful. I’ll settle for books with a summer vibe for now.

These are not ranking in any order.


The title makes me think this book is set in July! Campaigning features in it too and that always seems like a summer thing (though it isn’t only a summer thing).

Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston



Here’s my review from my old blog, October 28, 2014:

I missed the part of the review that said this was for Middle School or early High School, but no matter–it is excellent. It captures the mood of hope that infused the Freedom Summer volunteers as well as the creepy fear that engulfed the state of Mississippi and the entire old south in general in the early 1960s. This is the type book that would get a class of disdainful history students to sit up and take notice. I cannot say enough to recommend this book to its age group–or to adults who don’t know where to start in understanding this frightening time in our history. The Freedom Summer Murders by Don Mitchell. (Nonfiction)




This place was in the news recently as the spot where you are most likely to catch COVID-19 iirc. I’ve always liked Bill Geist’s pieces on CBS. This one is ok. Not great, but OK. Lake of the Ozarks by Bill Geist.



I suppose its the mention of Grand Isle–a resort, that makes me think this book is set in the summer. To be honest, I no longer remember what time of year it was set in–or if that is even mentioned! I read it in the Fall of 1980. The Awakening by Kate Chopin.




Most Americans of my age or older know that the battle of Gettysburg was fought in the Civil War over July 1 to July 3, 1863. I don’t think they teach the Civil War anymore. My children go everything from the ancient Egyptians thru 9/11 in ONE school year. Trust me–these are the dates. The movie, Gettysburg with Martin Sheen, is almost as fabulous as this book. But they show them all in those heavy wool frock coat-uniforms or the enlisted men in blue wool (my family fought for the north). I just think how hellishly hot that was! And the smoke, the heat, the stench–ugh. Gettysburg is a summer word to me. The Killer Angels by Michael Sahara.



Barefoot at the Lake by Bruce Fogle, is one of the best summer books ever.  As wonderful a childhood memoir as you could hope to find. You can read my review here.




A hot summer in a small town is enlivened for a young girl when the chain gang comes to town. Her descriptions of the hot days–make sure you have a cold drink handy, ok? As Hot As It Was You Ought To Thank Me by Nanci Kincaid.



A nonfiction choice is Alex Kotlowitz’s American Summer: Love and Death in Chicago which is, sadly, already appropriate reading for this summer. (Note: I hate the new paperback cover. It is far too generic). Koltowitz is the author of the classic look at urban life There Are No Children Here which Oprah Winfrey turned into a movie. Read my review here.



The Dry Grass of August by Mary Jean Mayhew

The story of a family’s trip in the South with their “colored” maid in 1954. You can read my full review here.



Hermie–who wouldn’t love him, right? The war is on, he’s a bit too young, his Dad wants his stupid Time magazine–and then…THERE SHE IS! Cue the music! (If you’re my age you know that music.  One of the tenderest coming of age books ever. A dear friend cites this as one of her favorite books. I remember it as the movie of the summer (at least in my mind it was in the summer) one year when I was in Middle School. The book is better than the movie, of course, but both are worth it.  The Summer of 42 by Herman Raucher. (No, I don’t like movie tie-in covers. I make an exception here because this was the cover of my copy all those years ago).


Bonus Book




When I think of summer, this is THE summer book to end all summer books. I was taken to the beach in Chicago on Lake Michigan when I was the perfect age for this book. The memory of the beach trip is gone–except for the smell of the dead fish that washed up on the beach. But, I’ve never stopped loving Harry! My kids and I read all his books often.

Harry By The Sea by Gene Zion, pictures by Margaret Blay Graham



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Bring your children to the laptop and let them listen to Harry By the Sea!


Top Ten Tuesday: Opening Lines*



This week’s topic is Opening Lines *(Best, favorite, funny, unique, shocking, gripping, lines that grabbed you immediately, etc.).

The first three ARE in order #1 favorite, #2, and #3. The others are not.

#2–#10 are from some of my very favorite books and I’m not apologizing for using them yet again.



“It was as it had been at the same hour of morning, three years ago; behind the roofs and angles of the factory the sea foamed like boiling milk in the flashing sunlight.”

The most memorable, and possibly one of the worst, lines from anything I had to read in college.




“Last night I dreamed I went to Manderley again.”

Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier



“Scarlett O’Hara was not beautiful, but men seldom realized it when caught by her charms like the Tarleton twins were.”

Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell


“Well, we never thought it could happen, but here we are living with Gran at East Haddock (Mass.).”

The Joyous Season by Patrick Dennis




“The formation of the Waynesboro Woman’s Club was first proposed in the summer of 1868.”

…and Ladies of the Club: A Novel by Helen Hooven Santmyer



“It was Edwin who wanted to build a new house.”

Loving Frank: A Novel by Nancy Horan



“On December 8th, 1915 Meggie Cleary had her fourth birthday.”

The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough




“Commander Victor Henry rode a taxicab home from the Navy Building on Constitution Avenue, in a gusty gray  March rainstorm that matched his mood.”

The Winds of War by  Herman Wouk




“For the first fifteen years of our lives, Danny and I lived within five blocks of each other and neither of us knew of the other’s existence.”

The Chosen: A Novel by Chaim Potok

(I’m not happy with this new cover, but it is not horrible).



“They didn’t say anything about this in the books, I thought as the snow blew in through the gaping doorway and settled on my naked back.”

All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriott

(I could NOT use the newest cover–it is hideous! It looks like a bad cover for Old Yeller.)



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Top Ten Tuesday: Reasons Why I Love Historical Fiction


This week’s topic is hard! Historical fiction is a vast genre–there are fictional biographical novels, fictional novels, fictional stories with real people made into fictional characters! Where to start!



1. When the author captures my version of a real person. When they sound like they do in my head or act the way they move or behave in my mind.


2. When a book takes me to the mood of the times as expressed in its music.



3. When I can feel, and smell, and almost taste the surroundings.


4. When reading about a romance makes me feel in love!



5. When it makes me hear the people–not only the words they chose but the cadence of their days and the lilt,  rhythm, and rhythm of their lives as well as of their speech.




6. When I feel as swept up in the events unfolding or overtaking the characters as they do.


7.  When I worry about a character as though he or she was real or still alive after I’ve read the book.


8. When it makes me imagine my own life in that time.



9. When it makes me wish I knew a character in real life.



10.  When you experience something in real life and it calls up a character’s response to a similar situation, whether good or bad.



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Top Ten Tuesday: The Last 10 Books I Abandoned


I do not waste time on books I do not like. Like leaving dishes in the sink at night, it does not bother me at all!


1. A Net Galley of a forth-coming royal novel. Too many silly mistakes, including one on the explanation of royal names page. If you are not a fanatic on stuff like this, you’ll likely enjoy it so I’m not giving the title. Hint: This is the author’s second such novel.


2. The Green Road by Anne Enright. “With language so vibrant it practically has a pulse, Enright makes an exquisitely drawn case for the possibility of growth, love and transformation at any age.” People  From my review: “My snarky side says this one all that praise for mentioning masochistic homosexual sex. That follows most of a chapter trying to wax eloquent about butchering a chicken, more on disagreeable fictional people’s sex lives than I ever wanted to know.”


3. My Coney Island Baby: A Novel by Billy O’Callaghan. “Radiant with beauty, longing, and desire, and deeply touching,….” should have been enough warning. I liked the idea–a middle-aged couple, meeting for sex and a re-connect, but it just wasn’t to be. In my review I mentioned, “I got so sick of hearing ‘the tip of her pink tongue.'”


4. Lillian Boxfish Takes A Walk by Kathleen Rooney Maybe it was the reader? I don’t know. The story had tremendous promise, but Lillian just seemed obnoxious.


5. Sorry I’m Late, I Didn’t Want to Come... by Jessica Pan. I did not finish this audiobook, not out of any dislike of the story, but because an American reader reading British English is cognitive dissonance. It does not work. ‘I’ll meet you at the lifts’ is pretentious out of an American voice.”


6. Normal People by Sally Rooney. “Can I cum in your mouth” is not great, award-winning literature.


7.  The Wedding Gift by Marlen Suyapa Bodden. “You is….” slave-speak? Oh please! And forced slave-sex? No thanks. Threw this mess back.


8. Compass by Mathias Enard. Sadly, this book just didn’t catch and keep my attention no matter how many times I tried. I tried to read this for the Fitzcarraldo Editions Challenge.

Some others that I just did not like:



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Top Ten Tuesday: Things I’d Have at My Bookish Party



  1. Some Favorite Authors!
  2. Some Favorite Characters!
  3. Some Food Enjoyed in Various Books
  4. Some Games Played in Books
  5. Some Cocktails Enjoyed in Books
  6. Some Goodie Bags of Bookish Stuff
  7. Some Gift Boxes of Specially Chose Books For Each Guest
  8. Some Virtual Library Tours & Librarian Interviews
  9. Some Movies: Inkheart, Desk Set, National Treasure, etc
  10. Some Bookish Wearables For Each Guest



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Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Wish I Had Read As a Child


I loved listening to my Mom read aloud to me! So did my older brother. Mom read aloud to us even in high school if we wanted her to. I loved that. I became a reader a little late–I read, but having the joy of Mom reading big books made the ones I could manage seem insignificant. In Middle School, after meeting a local author and with the encouragement of a teacher who saw my interests and didn’t just shove “good” books at me, but tailored the selections to my interests, I became a reader. Then I discovered the Civil War, Bruce Catton and GWTW. The rest is history (pun intended). Harry Potter? If Mom had read it aloud to my big brother I’d have loved it–otherwise probably not. I’d have needed his “approval.”

In this post, I covered my favorite childhood books.

Having raised my kids and followed books avidly, I have easily identified over the years a variety of titles I know I would have loved. Like many an other parent, I picked tons of books for my kids that I would have loved as a child.

I’ve enjoyed reading these even as an adult! They were MADE for me! Dear American and My Name is America. Yes, I’d have loved the Royal Diaries series, too.



Dolls involved with history might have got my attention! I did play Barbies with friends tons so don’t worry. I also played with a friend’s Little People “world”–we spent whole Saturdays living in Little People land. lol. But these books, regardless of the dolls, would have held my attention. I don’t know about the newer ones though.


I well-remember the debut of Garfield in the comics—he was from my hometown! Grumpy Cat would have also been beloved by my childhood self. I would also have been crazy about LOL Cats, too.


This book would have been beloved! It is an amazing book for ALL ages. Anastasia’s Album.


This whole series would have kept me quiet for years. DK Eyewitness Books



We had horses until I was seven. I’d have imagined myself as the rider in this book.



I have posted these books SO. MANY. TIMES. but I love them. I think I’d have loved them as a kid too! My Mom understood most British things from her own reading so she’d have helped with anything I didn’t understand. The Casson Family series by Hilary McKay.


These two series I’ve also posted to death. I wish I’d known of Elizabeth Enright’s books back then–they were certainly around. I also wish there’d been a late 60s/70s version of The Penderwicks.


Where WAS this when I was about 11?? I wore out my brother’s Beatles sheet music book. I even learned to transpose so I could play the songs on a clarinet or bass clarinet. I played them for hours. This would have been PERFECT!  Lennon McCartney Lyrics Coloring Book.



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Top Ten Tuesday: Titles That Would Make Good Band Names


First–what a fun and brilliant topic this week! Band names! Yes!

Second–I haven’t necessarily read these.

Third–these are not in any “ranked” order.




Magnolia Table--an all Sorority Girl Southern Rock Band. They wear Lily Pulitzer Pink and Green and Doc Martin’s.  They each have a magnolia tattoo-ed somewhere that shouldn’t show–but does!



Euphoria: A techno-influenced band who are dressed exclusively by Bridge & Burn known more for their signature coffee (Euphoria Ethiopian) and the do-good things they pursue with the profits it brings in.



Gibbsville, PA: Swing band with an old-style crooner. Big in martini bars. Crooner Emmanuel Rhodes and his “girl” singer, brassy, bold, Charaime Rivabianchi have brought Crooner music back.



The Splendid and the Vile: Old-school Grunge Band from Eton, known for their posh voices and mannerisms until the “light up” on stage. They rip their lovely lounge suits off on stage to reveal grunge gear among other set pieces.



Waves of Mercy: Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) band with a 13-year-old girl lead singer. Her “Granny” is their manager. Got flack for their song “Modest Really Is Hottest,” but followed it up with a song and teen Bible Study that broke sales records.



Midnight in Chernobyl: Ukrainian blues/jazz ensemble with notes of R&B who use the balalaika in their ensemble and sing about icons, saints, candles, alcoholism, radiation, and the lack of redemption in their blues songs.


51OR2lf5-aL._SY346_ Cantaloupe Smoothie: A Mamas/Papas meets the Beach Boys sound. Recorded the official “anthem” of U.S. Beach Volleyball. Known for retro-80s pastel clothing and their line of beach and swim attire.



The Art of Cuphead: [Known generally as just Cuphead] Zydeco band with a Haitian lead singer and an 80-year-old Cajun fiddler and his 75-year-old brother on accordion. Caused outrage when they posed for their latest photo shot wearing Dashikis made out of the Louisiana flag.



Tarragon Hair:  International band of technies–from India, Nigeria, Cameroon, Singapore and Beloit, Wisconsin whose sound is not quite country, not quite rock. They use instruments as varied as an electric Sitar and an old country saw to make their ethnic-fusion sounds. All claim the name “Pradeep” in honor of the computer science T.A. in whose class they met during college. They have songs about cricket, Irish hurling, discrimination, call centers, deer season, and all sorts of other quirky things. An NPR favorite.



Jellico Road: [Often mistakenly called Jericho Road]. A big-time country band whose name comes from the street in a suburban Macon, Georgia subdivision where the three principal performers grew up. Maddy Clarkson–wrote 125 for her old address. It was a debut smash. They followed it up with 419 (Jeremiah Downy) and 311 (Kirby Matthews). Maddy’s dog, Jellico, is as well known as the band. She’s a blue tick hound.



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