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


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.


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


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.]


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.


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.


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).


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.


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



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


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


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!


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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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Top Ten Tuesday: Books I’ve Re-Read Countless Times

Like many readers I have “old friends” among my books. Volumes I pull out when I’m sad or lonely or bored or between books or on a book hangover. The book falls open to a favorite passage and I enjoy reading. I’ve reread these books entirely too many times to count. My life is comforted by the giggles Scarlett’s wedding night with Charles gives me, or Kerry’s discovery of the maid Moira in bed with Uncle H.A. or the wonderful weekend with Sam or- poor Calvin enduring his mother proselytizing on an Italian bus using the Gospel Walnut. many scenes in so many books. I also have nonfiction pieces that I have reread so many times. Helene’s wonderful letters to Frank, which led me to Pepys (I haven’t read the whole Diary even once but I make progress on it at times like this).  So many old friends.

Yes, I exceeded 10! 11 fiction and 5 nonfiction. Math was my worst subject.



I could easily add double this number. Before the internet I re-read a lot when I was bored. Now I have other distractions.


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What about you? Do you have any “old friends” you visit and re-read? Leave me a comment or link to your post.


Top Ten Tuesday: Thanksgiving Freebie


What to eat with the Macy’s Parade?

This a new tradition I’ve shared with my Mom and my kids if we manage to all get up time. These wonderful pumpkin scones.

My favorite Thanksgiving memory?

Making dressing (stuffing) with my Dad. It was the only thing he ever did in the kitchen.

My Worst Thanksgiving Memory?

My uncle and aunt’s neighbor, Mrs. Murray, constantly saying “You can take all you want, but you must eat all you take,” to those of use at the kids’ table.

My Other Worst Thanksgiving Memory?

Creepy old Grandmother Fry, who was not actually my relative (my Mom’s cousins’ “other” grandmother) but who scared the you-know-what out of me! Years later her grandson told me she did the same to him.

Thanksgiving Fact

Photo source: Campbells

I’m the only member of my family who will touch green bean casserole. It’s best made in an old aqua Pyrex casserole dish that no one remembers ever had a lid. Aunt Betty or someone brings it every year. We never had enough aunts for that and my Mom wouldn’t serve anything with Campbell’s Cream of Crap soup in it. She served us plenty of Chicken Noodle Soup and my Dad ate his weight in Bean and Bacon, but we never had Green Bean Casserole.

Favorite Thanksgiving mementos?


My daughter’s first and second grade Thanksgiving creations.

Most Fun I Ever Had on Thanksgiving

Attending the 1973 Indiana University — Purdue University Old Oaken Bucket football game.

At that time I was decked out in a fashionably long black and gold scarf to root for Purdue–my parents, aunt and uncle, and grandfather’s school. In seven years, I would enroll at I.U. due to my inability to cope with anything involving math! It was a lot of fun.

Favorite Thanksgiving T.V. Shows

The Bob Newhart: An American Family


The original Bob Newhart Show, season 3, episode 11, “An American Family” when his mother manages to insult everyone and everything. I still love this show.


Friends: Ross’s Sandwich with “the moist maker”


Ross’s Sandwich with “the moist maker”


WKRP “With God as My Witness I Thought Turkey’s Could Fly”



Garfield’s Thanksgiving with wonderful Grandma!




The Mouse on the Mayflower–cheesy? What else would a mouse dressed as a Pilgrim be? Politically incorrect? Yes! But no one was woke in my childhood.

Thanksgiving Food Item I Hated as a Kid and Still Hate

Photo credit: iStock

Marshmallows on canned Sweet Potatoes. I don’t mind the sweet potatoes, it’s the marshmallows.

Thanksgiving Food You Like Best


Photo Credit: Betty Crocker

I’m a freak! I love the giblet gravy. I don’t really like eating those giblets, but cut up in gravy they are great. Sick, I know. I put it on the potatoes and the turkey and the dressing!

Best Thanksgiving Story of All Time?


I still know nearly every word. Most years at least a few radio stations broadcast it.

Bonus: Favorite Turkey Leftovers Meal

Photo source: Spidy Southern Kitchen–their recipe is just as great! I love any version of this!

This is MY recipe. No soup.

We NEVER had this as kids. My Mom didn’t make casseroles because my Dad wouldn’t touch them! I love this. I love this elastic-waist pants love it!


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Top Ten Tuesday: Best Pet Names in Fiction, T.V. and Movies

What fun! I’m an animal nut anyway, so this week’s topic is perfect for me, even if I did tweak it to suit myself.

  1. Snoopy, of course!


2. Rosa the Duck in Louise Penny’s Chief Inspector Gamache series

3. Rex in The Queen’s Corgi [movie]


4. Garfield, the original grumpy cat! Comic strip, t.v. specials, big-time movies. [And from Muncie, Indiana!]


5. In remembrance of Geoffrey Palmer, who died last week, Dexter, the dog who adopts Lionel in As Time Goes By [T.V.], but is happily reunited with his owner.


6. Cyril the dog with a gold tooth from Alexander McCall Smith’s 44 Scotland Street series.

7. Triki Woo, the pampered Pekeniese and his pig “brother,” Nugent in the James Herriot All Creatures Great and Small books.


8. Brutus the Great Dane who thought he was a Dachshund in The Ugly Dachshund.

8. Isis, the politically incorrect Labrador of Downton Abbey‘s early seasons.

Butler Angus Hudson with the Rt. Hon. Richard Bellamy (later Lord Bellamy)

10. One of the writers of the original Upstairs, Downstairs series had labs named Hudson and Bellamy. Perfect (to the new generation, think Carson and Crawley).


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Top Ten Tuesday: Halloween Freebie: 10 newer Halloween-appropriate books I’ll likely never read


Aside from chocolate and unique costumes, there’s not much about Halloween that appeals to me–sorry. I do not like being scared, frightened, uncomfortable, creeped out or anything similar. I just do not enjoy it. If it helps, the same goes for Game of Thrones episodes, slasher movies, Jason movies, movies with killing or rape or forced sex or….. I can watch military movies but that’s it. I’m not really interested in magic beyond the Vegas style magicians performances or Harry Potter.

So, my top ten today is of books I’ve heard or read about but will likely never read.


I admit, suffragette is a word that teases me into maybe reading the sample of this one, but I doubt I’d finish it. We’ll let it seep in my brain as a maybe.

From Amazon: In 1893, there’s no such thing as witches. There used to be, in the wild, dark days before the burnings began, but now witching is nothing but tidy charms and nursery rhymes. If the modern woman wants any measure of power, she must find it at the ballot box. But when the Eastwood sisters — James Juniper, Agnes Amaranth, and Beatrice Belladonna — join the suffragists of New Salem, they begin to pursue the forgotten words and ways that might turn the women’s movement into the witch’s movement. Stalked by shadows and sickness, hunted by forces who will not suffer a witch to vote — and perhaps not even to live — the sisters will need to delve into the oldest magics, draw new alliances, and heal the bond between them if they want to survive. There’s no such thing as witches. But there will be. Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow.


A “history” is more to my liking, but not being terribly interested in witches in general, I’ll probably pass. The Witch: A History Fear From Ancient Times to the Present by Ronald Hutton.


A new witch chick-lit might hold my interest. And, this one has a talking cat. Witch with talking cat has been done before, right? I thought so. But, not with dating apps! Nascent Witch: A Novel by Melissa Bobe.


Not even with a beautiful black cat on the cover! Stephen King is someone I admire as a reader but the only one of his novels I’ve read is The Long Walk–which he wrote under a different name. If It Bleeds by Stephen King.


“Steel Magnolias meets Dracula in this ’90s-set horror novel about a women’s book club that must do battle with a mysterious newcomer to their small Southern town, perfect for murderinos and fans of Stephen King.” (Amazon) Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix.


Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia is the only book here I’ve planned to read. It came in for me at the library when I couldn’t get to it though.  “An inspired mash-up of Jane Eyre, Ann Radcliffe’s The Mysteries of Udolpho, Dracula, Rebecca and that 1958 classic sci-fi movie, The Blob . . . Inventive and smart, [Mexican Gothic is] injecting the Gothic formula with some fresh blood.”NPR’s Fresh Air


[The Book of Hidden Things] has elements of fantasy, and has been described as such, but it also veers into moments of real horror. In many ways, this book reads like a mystery or a crime thriller. It’s also a book about adulthood, or, rather, about the disappointments of adulthood or what I like to call “life’s ultimate despair.” But really, this is a book about friendship …The story is captivating and I found myself rushing towards the book’s conclusion… What’s especially thrilling is this sense of dread pervading in the every day, something hidden behind the natural.” -Chicago Review of Book. The Book of Hidden Things by Francesco Dimitri order from an Indie here.

“A young woman living in a rigid, puritanical society discovers dark powers within herself in this stunning, feminist fantasy debut.” (Amazon). The Year of the Witching: A Novel by Alexis Henderson.

How about creepy Oprah-recommended short stories? Tiny Nightmares: Very Short Stories of Horror

Probably because I won’t watch creepy movies I missed the defining moment in our culture in which clows became terrifying. I’m not big on being lost in a cornfield, either. Especially not if I have to wait till dark and pay for the privilege. Clown in a Cornfield by Adam Cesare.

For the kids who may not get to trick-or-treat this year!

This one looks totally fun! There’s a Christmas version, too! Weird but True! Halloween by Julie Beer.


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Past Halloween Top Ten Tuesday