Welcome to Marjay's reading blog.

Memorial Day 2020

It is a long weekend, Memorial Day 2020, and the living are still practicing social distancing with some phased openings. I don’t think many people could imagine what would happen when the first people became ill.  I am lucky living up here in the woods on the side of a hill.  There are not many cases around here and I think it makes everything a bit unreal.  I watch the news with the numbers in the hot spots.  I have seen the protesters with people feeling their rights are being abridged.  I am constantly surprised by people and their lack of knowledge and their feelings of self righteousness.  But perhaps I am the one who is wrong about how our society is dealing with this.  

Meanwhile, my cousin lent me a couple of puzzles that I am loving working on.  I have great books to read.  I have some flowers and gardens (that need weeding).  I am surrounded by friends and nature.  I sometimes  think I live in heaven, then I see a big black bear meandering down the driveway and I am reminded that there is much majesty in the world. 

This week, I read five books (yes I know only four have their reviews written - did I mention puzzles?).  The novel Broken was definitely a thriller.  There is nothing like a psychopath that is not easily found and has the propensity for blowing up things to keep the reading interesting.  The novel, The Seaside Cafe was a romance, but moreover it was a reflection on how classic novels are still relevant because the themes transcend time.  Debbie Mason’s novel called Summer on Honeysuckle Ridge was a light read that gave the reader the gift of laughter and hope.  Two elements in short supply.  Never Conspire with a Sinful Baron and A Duke Will Never Do are both historical romances.  Both novels seemed to show how some people’s guilt they carry from the past can prevent them from taking a chance for the future.  

Elise Cooper has sent in a book review on the book Black Flag (eerie), and an interview with Melinda Leigh about her book, Cross Her Heart.  She also sent in an essay about an organization called Children of Fallen Patriots who help children (of soldiers who died) afford college.  She has shared the information about that cause if you are interested.  

Meanwhile,  Thank you to all of our fallen soldiers who we remember this weekend.  Thank you for allowing us to live in freedom.  Stay safe everyone!

Books Read this Week:

Broken by Rebecca Zanetti

The Seaside Cafe by Rochelle Alers

Summer on Honeysuckle Ridge by Debbie Mason

Never Conspire with a Sinful Baron by Renee Ann Miller

A Duke Will Never Do by Darcy Burke

 

 

Avoiding Black Flies

 

It is black fly season.  That means the air is filled with these little black biting bugs.  The bugs love to get in impossible places like ears and eyes.  They love the spots you can’t quite reach, Every year I am sure I get extra protein by either inhaling or accidentally swallowing them. They love anything that smells:  soap, shampoo, hand lotion, and perfume.  They are nasty creatures, but important for our environment, so we deal - mostly with lots of bug spray. Of course the bugs are out now, while we are working on getting our garden’s ready.  It is really too early to put out a lot of annual plants, but I have more work to do in the gardens. The worst part for me is thatI don’t want to spend the whole day smelling like bug spray, so I can’t just putter at it, but have to devote large amounts of time toward it.   

 

As I am avoiding the bugs, I was able to read a bunch of books!  There is nothing like a thriller to make you want to avoid any dark spaces.  The Third to Die had a serial killer - OH MY.  What a read.  Masquerade at Middlecrest Abbey was a gothic romantic thriller - It was creepy and twisted.  The Pact by Linda Castillo was a novella about two boys in the woods. They are lost and maybe not safe, but Kate Burkholder is on the job.  

 

The other three books were all about romance.  Say Yes to the Duke was by one of my favorite authors, Eloise James.  The book brought together two people you might not have expected.  For the Twin’s Sake brought two people back together and helped them find each other.  Lastly, The Dress of the Season was a lovely novella that helped two people find each other over a mistake that could only be fate stepping in.  

 

Elise Cooper sent in an interview with Maisey Yates about her newest book, Secrets from a Happy Marriage.  This is an author that both Elise and I like a lot. I have already reviewed this book, but now you can read the interview with Maisey Yates. 

 

I hope everyone is taking care of themselves and others.  Stay well. Thanks for reading.  

 

Books Reviewed this week

 

The Pact by Linda Castillo  (novella)

 

The Dress of the Season by Kate Noble (novella)

 

The Third to Die by Allison Brennan

 

Masquerade at Middlecrest Abbey by Abigail Wilson

 

Say Yes to the Duke by Eloise James

 

 

 

It is Book O'Clock Somewhere

I think we are at two months of physical distancing.  I am finding days are melting into each other.  According to the meteorologist we are in the midst of a polar vortex, which means it is cold.  The fact that we had SNOW on May 9th isn’t particularly a positive omen for summer.  

I have put off doing some important work so I will be very busy this week, but I will have plenty of time to accomplish it. It is not like I can go anywhere!  However, while cleaning,  I accidently sent documents away and lost an important document  - just to make everything more interesting.     

I have been a bit eclectic in my reading this week.  There is a romantic thread that does tie them together, but that is it.  We start with wicked sweet Wyoming Special Delivery, where Daisy and Harrison’s first meeting is over a baby’s birth. They both beleive they legally own the land and the house, which makes for a prickly relationship.  When You Wish Upon a Rogue is a more traditional historical novel where Sophie and Henry meet when Henry is unable to sleep and Sophie helps him sleep.  Sophie is supposed to marry another man, but realizes that there is no love possible, even if his finances will save her family.  A Week at the Shore brings Mallory back into Jack’s orbit.  They were in love, but a lot has changed in twenty years.  Mallory has a daughter, Joy.  They came to visit her father for a week only to discover the old mystery has never been solved and her father is failing.  Starting a Riot was the most gritty of all the stories.  Jackie and Volt are HOT together, but nothing is quite that simple especially with a Motorcycle Club book.  

Elise also has been busy this week as well.  She sent in an interview with Melissa Senate (author of Wyoming Special Delivery) and a book review for Fortitude by Dan Crenshaw.  BOth of which I think you will find interesting.  I did.  

Stay safe and healthy, my friends.

 

Books Read this week

Starting a Riot by Karen Renee

Wyoming Special Delivery by Melissa Senate

A Week at the Shore by Barbara Delinsky

When You Wish Upon a Rogue by Anna Bennett

All Booked Up

 

The sheer beauty of a New England day in the spring is without comparison.  Of course I am prejudiced as I love my home, but today was one of those days.  I went to the greenhouse and bought a couple of plants - coleus for the shady part of the yard - low maintenance pretties.  I can hear the next door neighbors having a heated game of corn hole and my downstairs neighbor is pulling out all the pots for the veggies she plants.  We have raked out 6 of the 10 garden patches filled with perennials and soon will be cleaning out some invasive bushes to set up a new area to plant.   Within all this beauty is the heavy concern of what our new reality is going to look like; it is a dark cloud over our heads.  

In the sunlight we can ignore it, but in the dark it rears its ugly head, so I have been reading.  

Quite frankly, simple romances, or beach reads work the best for me.  I am able to concentrate and enjoy the lightheartedness of the subjects.  Anything deeper and I struggle to maintain my concentration.  My friends who have all those initials after their names (psychologists, social workers) tell me that this is a common reaction to this new unknown time.  Good to know, but it doesn’t make it go away. 

 

Reading has always been a passion, an escape and one of my first loves.  Libraries and bookstores are always places to explore.  I so miss the library.  However, it is not like I am ever going to run out of books to read with two kindles chocked full and a house full of books. My to read list on goodreads resembles a library on its own. Om my computer I have a program called sticky notes…  I have sticky notes on books to find, books to borrow, books from net galley and books from New Hampshire Downloadable Books.  I think I can safely say I am “all booked up”.  Bad Joke, I know!  

 

This week, I read the first three books in a series by Nicole Helm (Elise Cooper interviewed the author a couple of weeks ago http://marjay.simplesite.com/239538810 ).  I was totally into the series and want to read the rest of the Badland Cop series.  I also read two lovely beach reads by Mary Kay Andrews and Mary Alice Monroe.  Both authors write beautiful novels about families, figuring out relationships, and romance.  The last book was about Katheryn Howard, a woman who was always a mystery to me, but has been vilified through literature and history.  I am not sold that she was as awful as history portrayed her, but more young, vivacious and clueless about her mortality.  Next up on my reading list is Barbara Delinsky’s novel, A Week at the Shore.

 

Elise Cooper interviewed another favorite author this week, Kristin Hannah.  The interview is about her book, The Nightingale (a fabulous read) and is quite interesting.  I have read the majority of Kristin Hannah’s books and given seven of her books five stars on Goodreads.  (I am stingy with five stars ratings.) 

 

Books read this week 

 

South Dakota Showdown

 

Covert Complication 

 

Backcountry Escape by Erica Helm

 

Hello Summer by Mary Kay Andrews 

 

On Ocean Boulevard by Mary Alice Monroe

 

Katheryn Howard, the Scandalous Queen by Alison Weir

 

 

 

Reading and Puzzles

 

Another week in our new normal has passed and I find myself getting tired of my own company and wanting to be somewhere, anywhere with laughter and friends.  Oh well…  that is not in the cards, right now. The cats and I are muddling along, even with Oscar’s newest desire to trip me at every opportunity.  I continue to force myself to watch the news briefings, no matter how yucky, to stay on top with the facts.  I might have a little celebrity crush on Andrew Cuomo and am so grateful for Dr Fauci.   

 

I have been in mourning since Dorothea Benton Frank died.  Her voice with stories of strong determined women in the south always uplifted me while slowing down my reading rate because I did not want to miss a thing.  I am not sure anyone can fill her shoes, but I really enjoyed Kristy Woodson Harvey’s book.  Her theme of forgiving the past to move forward, strong woman relationships with friends, and friends as family really resonated with me.  She will be added to my “read more of her books” list. 

 

This next week is vacation week and my school decided to stay on vacation all week despite our learning remotely.  We have discovered it is quite exhausting to maintain the level of consistency and positivity that is needed to keep positive learning happening.  As much as I need the break, I am going to miss the interaction with people.  

 

Along with reading good books this week, I have been playing a lot of Scrabble and doing puzzles.  Luckily my old iPad mini allows me lots of puzzles to play with.  I also have found a new show, When Calls the Heart on Netflix to binge on.  There is something about a Mountie in his uniform!   

 

This week, Elise Cooper has sent us an interview with Linda Howard and Linda Jones.  Their newest book called After Sundown is about a catastrophic solar storm and the aftermath. 

 

I wish you all good health!

 

 

 

Books Read this week:

 

Feels Like Falling by Kristy Woodson Harvey

 

The Perfect Daughter by Joseph Souza

 

Secrets from a Happy Marriage by Maisey Yates

 

 

Binge Reading Week

Another week into our new normal and the weather here has almost been its own headline. Luckily, we have not had the same level of destruction that many places in the south had, but we did vacillate between spring and winter with snow showers one day and temperatures into the high 50s low 60s another day. I have set up the deck with the comfy chairs and other necessary items.  It looks like the cats are quite happy with the arrangement of being able to lie in the sun on warm days. .  

 

This new normal has made it important to get up at crack o’dawn for groceries, but my specially provided exercise program from the cats is working well.  The door games (in, no out, no in, no out - I know sit in the doorway.) My right arm is getting lots of repetitions. In the past I have left the door cracked open when I was too lazy to wait on them, but I paid the price when I ended up with a chipmunk as a new roommate for a few days. (Yes, I did manage to help it leave the premises alive, but it was touch and go a couple of times - for both of us.)

 

This week I binged - totally binged - on an author my aunt introduced me to earlier this month.  Thanks to her I found Melanie Moreland and a great series called Vested Interest. I read one after another after another.  It was lovely. Hot romantic thrillers about quirky people who evidenced lots of trouble with relationships. There were some funny scenes, scary scenes, tender scenes and there were definitely really hot scenes.  They were all HEA stories, although a couple of times I was concerned if someone was going to step up. What a great find, luckily she has more books to read, but they will have to wait next month.  

 

Elise Cooper has interviewed a new author (at least to me) Nicole Helm. Elise shared with me that if I like Maisey Yates I will like Erica Helm.  As always the interview is interesting reading!

 

Stay Safe…

 

Books read this week in series order by Melanie Moreland

Bentley

Aiden

Maddox

Reid

Van

Halton

 

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Facing the Sun

 

Another week into our new normal and the weather here has almost been its own headline. Luckily, we have not had the same level of destruction that many places in the south had, but we did vacillate between spring and winter with snow showers one day and temperatures into the high 50s low 60s another day. I have set up the deck with the comfy chairs and other necessary items.  It looks like the cats are quite happy with the arrangement of being able to lie in the sun on warm days. .  

 

This new normal has made it important to get up at crack o’dawn for groceries, but my specially provided exercise program from the cats is working well.  The door games (in, no out, no in, no out - I know sit in the doorway.) My right arm is getting lots of repetitions. In the past I have left the door cracked open when I was too lazy to wait on them, but I paid the price when I ended up with a chipmunk as a new roommate for a few days. (Yes, I did manage to help it leave the premises alive, but it was touch and go a couple of times - for both of us.)

 

This week I binged - totally binged - on an author my aunt introduced me to earlier this month.  Thanks to her I found Melanie Moreland and a great series called Vested Interest. I read one after another after another.  It was lovely. Hot romantic thrillers about quirky people who evidenced lots of trouble with relationships. There were some funny scenes, scary scenes, tender scenes and there were definitely really hot scenes.  They were all HEA stories, although a couple of times I was concerned if someone was going to step up. What a great find, luckily she has more books to read, but they will have to wait next month.  

 

Elise Cooper has interviewed a new author (at least to me) Nicole Helm. Elise shared with me that if I like Maisey Yates I will like Erica Helm.  As always the interview is interesting reading!

 

Stay Safe…

 

 

 

Books read this week in series order by Melanie Moreland

 

Bentley

 

Aiden

 

Maddox

 

Reid

 

Van

 

Halton

 

 

Random Thoughts Working From Home

 

I thought working from home would be easy peasy.  I was wrong. I have broken my desk chair and had to replace it.  I now have an easel-like paper pad on my closet door for a chalkboard, but it is hard to write on. I have scads of scrap paper to use for notes, when I can find them.  

 

It is hard to work on assignments with so many distractions and having constant access to food nearby and that is just me.  Just imagine how hard it is for busy middle schoolers. I have started to structure my classroom differently by starting out giving directions and then checking in with the students one by one.  That way everyone gets attention and I can speak and check in with each one. Of course, even online they cut each other off and interrupt each other. 

 

Life is surely interesting.  

 

What I have discovered about the students:

 

They either don’t want to speak or they speak all at once.

 

They think you don’t know they are playing a game on their phone and not listening

 

They struggle to show up on time. 

 

They like to eat loud food - chips, goldfish or other crunchy food, which should be banned.

 

 

 

However, the most interesting impediment to my day are the cats.  While they are such good furballs and I adore them, I have discovered that:

 

The cat is always on the wrong side of the door during a meeting.

 

The cat will give a butt shot whenever possible.

 

If one cat is near the computer, the other one will need to “help”.

 

If they can not be on or next to the computer, lying unseen near the chair is also good.  

 

They will lie on all notes and hide the pencils under them.  
They will bite you when you go to move them to find your pencil.  

 

The cat knows that you are trapped and therefore they can do things they never do, because you can not do a thing about it.  

 

 

 

My biggest surprise is that I have preferred to work on puzzles on my iPad then read. 

 

 

 

Books read this week:

 

Highland Sword by May McGoldrick

 

The Contract by Melanie Moreland

 

The Baby Clause by Melanie Moreland

 

The Amendment by Melanie Moreland

 

 

 

 

We are the good

 

We have survived another week of physical distancing.  The isolation is not getting to me badly yet, but I have had to accomplish something outside where I could see and speak with people at a distance.  Even then, my TV has been on too long and too often. I have been listening to the news nonstop. I have been immersed in the virus, but now it is time to step out the funk of the virus.

 

 

 

I have started to listen to music and found some more creative ideas for the students.  I have actually cooked meals and done dishes. I was feeling badly for being immersed, but then I remembered that with the bad - was also good.  The doctors and nurses who go in day after day are the good. The first responders that run toward, not away from problems are the good. The neighbors who have checked in on people are the good. The glory of the sun on Friday and the thunder of tonight are the good.  I realized that all of us just need to reach out more, take care of each other more, be in the moment with the opportunity this is giving us.  

 

 

 

For me, it has given me introspection, reflection and joy of the moment.  I realize I have found hope for the future and hope that I have the grace to help us move forward, so I am going forward with positiveness that this too shall pass.  I am going to use this moment to learn new things, think about things differently and decide which path is going to move me forward. Having said all this, I hope I have the strength to do the work that this will require.  

 

 

 

I wish you all the hope and grace and strength we all need now.

 

 

 

Books this week:

 

Calytrix by Chris Keniston

 

The Honey-Don’t List by Christina Lauren

 

The Duke of Diamonds by Emily Windsor

 

Sweet Jane by Joanne Kukanza Easley

 

 

 

 

In a World Gone Mad

 You would think that having to stay home and read would be my idea of the best time EVER… The problem is I am not reading.  I am poking around my house, working on various projects and struggling to concentrate on anything including reading. I have actually been organizing and cleaning too.  Which is even scarier to my mind!  

 

In speaking with friends and colleagues - many of whom have initials after their name, I have found some wisdom.  

 

It is alright to want to pick up and clean.  This is now my office, my classroom, my living space and my backdrop to everything I need to do online.  Having things picked up and neater, helps your brain be more organized. (That statement alone hurts my brain.) It allows me to find what I need and helps give a sense of peace, security and control in a world gone mad.  I am not sure that is the whole reason, but for right now - I am going to go with it.

 

My concentration has been disrupted.  Normally, I could read and ponder for hours on end.  My family has stories about how they have had full on conversations with me, but because I am reading, I have no memory of it.  The joke has always been as long as her pages do not flutter, she won’t notice a thing. HA. So not true right now! It is hard to concentrate when our world seems to be self imploding.  Worries about jobs, money, bills, daily living and oh yea in this area of the world, toilet paper (Why do people need so much?) all build up in your mind and you have less space for other things - like reading.  All those worries weigh you down and interrupt your normal.  

 

So I am forgiving myself for not reading enough.  I am enjoying the cleaner house and finding some things easier.  I am soon going to have a clear table to work from. I am practicing breathing and being calm.  It is clearly a world gone mad… especially as I suddenly have the urge to vacuum. (shuddering)

 

New This week:  

 

Elise Cooper’s Interview with Charles Todd

 

 

 

Books Read this week: 

 

Golden in Death by JD Robb 

 

The Most Eligible Lord in England by Ella Quinn

 

Spring Ahead

 

Spring Ahead.  

 

Well the clocks have changed and we sprung forward.  I know the historical reasons behind it starting with the wars and the economic reason with saving energy and having more natural light at night when people are off work.  Every morning these last couple of weeks, I have loved watching the sunrise and seeing all the light. Now, all I know is that I am now going to work while it is dark again.  I am not a fan in the spring of moving the clock ahead, but I love having the extra hour to sleep in the fall. So, I guess I have to take the bad with the good. Of course, it does mean we are getting closer to being able to read outside in the sun.

 

This week, the reading was awesome!  I was able to read some fun romantic thrillers.  I love Barbara Freethy’s series Off the Grid: FBI and read the fifth book in the series: Ruthless Cross. There is one more book to read before I am caught up with the series.  You know me - love those twists and turns!  

 

I also read Phoenix by Amanda McKinney.  The book is a spin off from the Steele Security Series.   It focused on the oldest brother who had a head injury. He needs to seek help with his anger and impulse issues before he can regain his life. Only to meet Dr Floris, who is her own badass.  It is like a collision when they meet and the story goes from there. We have stalkers, electrocuted ex boyfriends and series storms to round out the story. WOW

 

The Earl Not Taken by AS Fenichel was the start of a new series about 4 women who felt they were wallflowers and not wanting to depend on marriage.  The story’s main characters go on a quest to find answers for another and end up finding each other.  

 

I enjoyed all the books I read, but the best book I read this week was My Valdez Valentine by Katy Regnery.  It was a romance, but there were layers of finding your way, dealing with loss, and starting over that brought the book to a new level.  The love story was great too.  

 

I hope everyone sprung forward successfully.  

 

Ruthless Cross by Barbara Freethy

 

Phoenix by Amanda McKinney

 

The Earl Not Taken By AS Fenichel

 

My Valdez Valentine by Katy Regnery

 

 

One Week Later

 

What a difference a week makes!

 

It seems like last week was so full of everyday life.  Then in one one week all our realities changed and we have a new reality. Today, I found out all the schools in New Hampshire have closed this week. I'm still struggling with the idea that an entire state can shut down all their schools. We have one week, according to the governor, to come up with a system of remote learning for our students.This new reality starts tomorrow and we will not be in school until April 3rd.

 

I think the idea of remote learning, as they're calling it it's quite interesting. I have friends that teach this way,  so I know it is possible. I just hope I don't hang up on somebody accidentally or forget to upload something that they need. I will miss the back and forth of all the students though and the energy that comes from working with students. I guess I need to find that creativity and energy in other ways.

 

Meanwhile the other issue is just surviving this time, while keeping my social distance from people.  I think I'm going to find that the hardest part - not. The opportunity to have an absolutely fantastic excuse to not have to go out and talk to people but to stay home and read is  heavenly. I mean I'm really sorry people are sick. I'm really sorry that some people may die from this. I'm really sorry there's no toilet paper in the store. And I'd really like to have spaghetti and meatballs this week.  

 

Elise Cooper has an interview this week with Stephanie Marie Thornton about her book about the Kennedys. It sounds fascinating. There are also some interesting reviews this week. I wish you all good health and a chance to read to your heart's content. Know that we're all in this together.

 

Books read this week:

 

Heartbreaker by B.J. Daniels

 

The Sea Glass Cottage By RaeAnne Thayne

 

Wind River Undercover by Lindsay McKenna

 

 

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Kirke | Reply 18.05.2020 09.26

If you want a REAL macabre horror story do some research on how black flies actually "bite you." Just a hint it involves saws and tongues, stay inside and read!

Jeannie | Reply 30.03.2020 13.05

Nice thoughts, yes, hope and grace. I am appropriately reading Gentleman in Moscow who is confined at the Metropol Hotel. Eery coincidence!
Be safe and well.

Kirke | Reply 23.03.2020 10.13

Kurt Vonnegut I think? In an insane world a sane person will appear insane....

Jeannie | Reply 16.03.2020 11.36

LOL, serious , but a run on toilet paper?
Guess we missed Bojhalian.
Be well! Happy reading!

Kirke | Reply 25.11.2019 11.05

Much media suggest teachers teach only subjects, but really: "... our job as teachers to help her learn to read, understand and think critically on her own."

Kirke | Reply 10.06.2019 12.03

The news Jacquelyn Winespear is on my summer reading list.
Looking forward to another Maise Dobbs

KATHY | Reply 24.12.2018 00.28

Always look forward to your weekly blog, Marti ... safe travels this week. Merry Christmas!

Jeannie | Reply 01.10.2018 16.20

Happy Birthday! I remember when book club started when you turned 50. OMG! 100% agree with political status. So disappointing. Happy Foliage!

Jeannie | Reply 27.05.2018 23.23

Outraged, too! It is just getting coverage. This government is shameful under this leadership.

Jeannie | Reply 26.03.2018 16.01

At first I thought it said spa season. Either way it is a sign of rejuvenation! On a Kristin Hannah kick, loved Winter Garden. Happy reading!

See all comments

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Latest comments

18.05 | 09:26

If you want a REAL macabre horror story do some research on how black flies actually "bite you." Just a hint it involves saws and tongues, stay inside and read!

...
30.03 | 13:05

Nice thoughts, yes, hope and grace. I am appropriately reading Gentleman in Moscow who is confined at the Metropol Hotel. Eery coincidence!
Be safe and well.

...
23.03 | 10:13

Kurt Vonnegut I think? In an insane world a sane person will appear insane....

...
16.03 | 11:36

LOL, serious , but a run on toilet paper?
Guess we missed Bojhalian.
Be well! Happy reading!

...
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