Tuesday, December 31, 2019

2019 Book Facts

As I've written other years, I can't imagine anyone but me really caring about these facts, but I enjoy looking back at them, and (geek alert) even enjoy putting them together. This year I read way more books by women, mostly because I read SO much of H.Y. Hanna! And also because I didn't read nearly as many older mysteries, which are mostly by men. I also read ten more books than last year which were published between 2011 and 2019.

In 2019, I read 65 books.

15 Fiction
4 Graphic Nonfiction
43 Mystery
3 Nonfiction

54 Kindle
11 Print

15 by men 
50 by women 

2 - 1920s
5 - 1940s
1 - 1950s
1 - 1960s
1 - 1970s
4 - 1980s
4 - 1990s
2 - 2000-2010
45 - 2011-2019

11 - Rereads

6 - Library books, all on the Kindle. I rarely borrow print books because I have so many of my own that I haven't read yet. 

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Six in the Second Six - 2019

I did a post in July called Six in Six - 2019. I've been looking at the blog where the idea came from to see if she did a similar post for the second half of the year, but I can't seem to find one.

Anyhow, I thought I would write about July through December, using the same questions she asked for the original Six in Six. As in the first post, some books, series, and/or authors are mentioned in more than one category.

1. Six Authors Who Are New to Me

H.Y. Hanna
I finished her Oxford Tea Room series, now up to 10 books! I read book one in the English Cottage Garden series. And I read the three books in the Tender series. These were quite different from the other two series. The books were set in Singapore. They were more suspenseful and I did like them, but they were a bit darker than I usually care for. I don't know how she can write so many books! I'll read them as fast as she writes them.

Susan Branch
Although I've bought her cookbooks, birthday books, address books, stickers, etc. for years and years, and I read her blog and follow her on Instagram, I have never read a book by her. I read all three of her memoirs, filled with her wonderful drawings - The Fairy Tale Girl, Martha's Vineyard Isle of Dreams, and A Fine Romance  Falling in Love with the English Countryside. She actually wrote the last one first, and then went back to her beginnings in life, and her move to the Vineyard. I read them all in September and was a happy, happy reader. I loved them so much.

Kathi Daley
I read more of her Holiday Bay series books, and have bought three more. I do enjoy the people and the Maine setting.

Elizabeth Spann Craig
I read the first in her new Village Library series. I really liked it, and look forward to more.

Laurie Frankel
I read This is How it Always Is about a family whose son feels like he is a girl from a very young age. The author's own child experienced this so she knows what she's writing about. This is a very important book about a subject no one really knew about a short time ago. It was an excellent book. We get to know the family, their reactions, their strategies, their strengths and weaknesses. The love is so evident among these people. There is a cool corresponding tale the father tells the children at night. I loved this book.

T.E. Kinsey
I am wild about his Lady Hardcastle series. I'm on the 6th, and last so far. The woman and her maid move to the country, and murder finds them. We get hints of their past adventures. The maid and the Lady are really strong friends, though the former still does "maid-ly" type things for her. Set in the early 1900s. The sixth book is in 1910. I hope this series goes on and on. There is humor and warmth, and the mysteries are good ones.

2. Six Authors I Have Read Before

Stewart O'Nan
I read his latest, Henry Himself and then went back to read Emily, Alone. I love these books.

Karen McInerney
I love her Gray Whale Inn mysteries, and read them as soon as they are published. There are nine so far, with more coming next year!

Terry Shames
I've read a few of her Samuel Craddock mysteries, and really liked them. But then I didn't. I read one that was very difficult, and then the next one didn't appeal to me, so sadly I am finished with the series. I think I am a bit more fragile in my reactions to upsetting books just now, and I am a firm believer in reading just what I want to, what pleases me. I can't always figure out why I like something, but not something else, and really I don't even try. Reading is perhaps the only thing in one's life that is strictly our own choice!

Agatha Christie
I read a couple I hadn't read before, and as always, I was so impressed. She was an incredible writer, and one of those rare cases where the hype is true. She should be popular because she is so very good!

Susan Hill
I had read her two books, Howards End is On the Landing, and Jacob's Room is Full of Books, but had never read The Magic Apple Tree, which I just loved. I'm not interested in her mysteries or ghost stories, but I do love her nonfiction.

Fannie Flagg
I went on a four book spree in November. I had read Standing in the Rainbow in 2003, but it was the second in her Elmwood Springs series, and I decided to read them all in order, including Rainbow again. Well, I couldn't have been a happier reader. She is such a good writer. And this series is tremendous. 1998, 2000, 2006, and 2016 is when she wrote the books. I don't want to give away anything so you can experience the magic yourselves. Really special and unique. I just loved these books.

3. Six Authors I Read Last Year But Not So Far This Year.

In the January through June Six in Six, I mentioned Radha Vatsal, but I did read her second book in the Kitty Weeks series in November and liked it so much.

Jessica Ellicott - her Beryl and Edwina mystery series. I read the first one from my state's downloadable books site. I just checked at Fantastic Fiction and she has written two more, which the state isn't carrying so I guess I shall buy them, and soon. Loved the first one.

Cleo Coyle - I have loved her Coffeehouse mysteries, and got the latest two in the series. I had to quit one part way through because I just couldn't stand the subject matter - internet dating. It was just unbearable to read of people swiping through other people on their screens like choosing paint. I will go on to read the latest in the series.

Jacqueline Winspear - I haven't read the latest Maisie Dobbs yet. I'm balking at paying 12 dollars for a Kindle book. Part of me wants to really splurge and buy the whole series in paperback. I think of doing that with Alexander McCall Smith's Mma Ramotswe series as well. I probably never will but I love thinking of a whole section of my shelves with these books there! I just checked and the state library has it so I put my name on the holds list.

I haven't read any of the old English mysteries authors I read last year - George Bellairs, E.R. Punshon, or Cecil Freeman Gregg.  I'm not sure why. I seem to be on a modern, cozy roll this year, and a newly written historical cozy roll.

4. Six Books From the Past That Led Me Back There

Other than Agatha, my books have been new this second half of the year.

5. Six Series of Books Read or Started

The ones not mentioned in the first six months -

Elmwood Springs by Fannie Flagg
Lady Hardcastle by T.E. Kinsey
Village Library by Elizabeth Spann Craig
English Cottage Garden by H.Y. Hanna
Tender series by H.Y. Hanna
And I suppose one could count Susan Branch's memoirs as a series about her life!

6. Six Favorite Places to Read

Exactly the same as in the earlier Six in Six post except I did bring a second chair into the kitchen which has become my reading place of choice!

This has taken a while to put together, but I wanted to have some kind of chronicle of my reading this year. One of my New Year's resolutions is to really try and write more about what I'm reading. The little ones are all in school now, and I would like to get back to this. It has been a long time.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

A Quote du jour for Christmas Eve

Backward, turn backward, O Time in thy flight;
Make me a child again just for tonight.

Elizabeth Akers Allen

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

The Charlie Brown Christmas tree in its full glory

As I ride around town these December evenings, I see from the decorated houses that Tom and I are throwbacks. No one has the old-fashioned lights inside or outside of their houses, but I will have them as long as they are sold. I love them. The colors are the essence of my Christmas.

Friday, December 13, 2019

Today's Christmas song - All I Want for Christmas is You/Vince Vance & the Valiants

I bet when you saw the title you thought of Mariah Carey or the young girl in Love, Actually, but this is a different song, an older song. I have a copy of Eddie Fisher singing it in 1952! I love, love, love this Vince Vance and the Valiants version! I wish I could remember where I first heard it. I've recently begun jotting down what made me buy a certain song or album but wasn't doing it when I bought this Christmas album.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Today's Christmas song - Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)

Occasionally, I look back at my blog and see that some of the old videos have disappeared. I'm going to make a little attempt to put them up again when I find them gone. This one is from Darlene Love's last Christmas appearance on Letterman with her classic Christmas song. If you don't know this woman, you may read more here. You may also remember her as Danny Glover's wife in the Lethal Weapon movies!

I originally posted this on December 20, 2014. I think YouTube has come a long way since then, and videos stay up longer now.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Today's Christmas song - All Those Christmas Clichés

This may be my new favorite song of Christmas. It isn't new, but it is new to me. I heard it on the same show that I linked to in the post featuring Memphis in June here. The station plays songs from the American Songbook all the time, but on Saturdays and Sundays from noon to three, there is a show hosted by Jonathan Schwartz. He is the most passionate, most knowledgeable person around when it comes to the American Songbook. He has been one of the four or five important teachers in my life.

Schwartz is a big fan of the late Nancy LaMott who died too young. He played this song the other day, and I was stopped in my tracks. The line about "Johnny Mathis". I still have my mother's Johnny Mathis Christmas Album.

With the date she got it in her handwriting. Means the world to me.

And I got this text from Margaret the other day, which warmed my heart.
Making cupcakes using your chocolate cake recipe for Hazel's birthday at school tomorrow, listening to Johnny Mathis - doesn't get any better!!
So, as they say, without further ado

Sunday, December 8, 2019

A Litany of Cat Names; and an announcement!

When I wrote about the death of our last cat, Raya, I meant to do another posting of just the names of all the cats we had between 1969 and 2019. I don't know why - just that I wanted to list their names.

Beauchamp (from a character in Faulkner, an author Tom and I loved)
Sage (after Jim Morrison's dog. Morrison died just before our Sage was born)
Little Man
Grey Baby (my mother's cat that we inherited after she died)
Blackie (a neighbor's cat who came and stayed, with the okay of the neighbor)
Tigger (the only cat who ever appeared at Windy Poplars as a stray)
Soot (named by Margaret)
Tiger (named by Michael)
Raya (named by Margaret's friend, Ana)
Hallie (we got her around Hallowe'en and she was the 13th pet on our account at the vet's)

I have had quite a hard time since Raya died nine months ago. I dearly love my Labrador, Lucy but I missed a cat. Also, I had a few odd experiences. In the evening sometimes, I would be sitting in the living room and hear a little thud above me from the room where Raya ate. I thought I heard her bombing down the stairs the way she always did, and I even thought I saw something out of the corner of my eye. I bet there were eight occasions like these. Was Raya trying to tell me I should get a cat? Weird, I know. Unexplainable, that's true.

Margaret, Matthew, and Hazel decided to get a second cat. They got their Pepsi from a local animal rescue place (it says animal, but I think it is mostly (only?) cats. The other day she texted me a picture of the one they got, and I melted. She told me there were two kittens left in the litter of five. Tom and I talked and he said he just couldn't keep seeing me so sad, so we agreed to get the two! I filled out an online application, and the woman called to say I was approved. I went to visit. The kittens are only about four weeks old so they don't suggest patting, etc. yet. Well, one of mine came right up to the bars on the cage and looked right at me with those baby kitten blue eyes. I swear she was saying hello.

The other one was harder to capture. She was either snuggled with another, or nursing. They will be ready to come home next month. I am beyond happy! I'm calling them Gemma and Maisy.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Quote du jour/Linus

"I never thought it was such a bad little tree. It's not bad at all, really. Maybe it just needs a little love."

This December we went back to getting the Christmas tree off our land. It was growing alone, so it actually has quite a good shape, not withstanding big gaps in the branches. For quite a while now we've bought from a local tree farm, which gave us perfect trees, but this year we decided to just walk out the door and cut one down.