Welcome to Marjay's reading blog.


Some weeks it is harder than others to write about reading.  Sometimes I feel that I am speaking with myself instead of to all my students about how awesome books are. And then something happens and it repairs my faith in the universe.  

Today, an older student I am working with wanted me to guess how many chapters she has read since our last session.. (The answer - 6 chapters is much more than I thought she would.) She is reading an older Barbara Delinsky that I thought might catch her attention. It is loaded with references to New Hampshire and it is about a young woman having a heart attack.  Both subjects she knows and understands. She couldn’t wait to tell me how interesting the book is.  It was a balm to my heart.

Her excitement feeds into my determination.  The necessity of our students being able to read critically is so important.  The knowledge of what is a fair and impartial source and what isn’t. The ability to read a menu, a job application, a rule book, an employee handbook and financial documents is so necessary for people.  The ability to accomplish tasks that allow people to be independent, critical thinkers.

Her excitement fed into something else too - anger.  She didn’t think she could read.  She had been made fun of and slammed down again and again.  She could read, but not with the fluency and speed that someone expected. Her halting reading made her anxious which made her reading even more halted and stuttered.  Where is compassion and empathy?  Where was the caring, support of a learner?  Why make a child so anxious reading that they are almost paralyzed at the thought of reading to another? For shame…  

I feel hopeful for her.  She wants to learn and wants to succeed.  She found me by accident… I hope to be able to lead her to a place of confidence and to her diploma - fairly earned.  Her determination and desire to learn will help her - hopefully even - when things get hard.  

This is not the first time I have heard a similar story.  Unfortunately, I am afraid this is not the last time I will hear a similar story.  This is the tragedy…

Books I read this week:

The Alice Network by Kate Quinn - fabulous book

Murder Games by James Patterson and Howard Roughton

The Marriage Pact by Michelle Richmond

Blackthorne’s Bride by Joan Johnston

Claiming Alexis by Susan Stoker

All or Nothing at All by Jennifer Probst (not reviewed yet)


martha lawton


Reading a book is such a personal task.  You bring into the book your opinions, your background, your prejudices and tolerances.  The story and you then form a partnership almost like a dance with ideas and characters twirling around.  On a scientific level, I know it is a matter of neurons firing and sending electrical messages to the thought and mood sections of your brain.  I prefer to look at it as more colorful and messy, perhaps even like an impressionistic painting with lots of colors and patterns and swirls.

This weekend marked the first of the author visits to Warner.  The Tory Hill Author’s Series started up again with another four authors to visit, speak and share with the town’s people.  It is something quite special for our small town and many people work hard to make it look so seamless.  This week the author was Anita Diamant.  She is perhaps the most famous for her book The Red Tent, but has written three other pieces of fiction as well, The Last Days of Dogtown, Day After Night and The Boston Girl.  

The Red Tent came out 20 years ago.  The book based on an obscure character from the Bible, that Anita Diamant brought to life and helped us all enter a world unknown to us.  The story line might have faded and the characters muted, but the feelings about the book never did.  To me the main overarching theme of women, resiliency and friendship and the solidity of that friendship still resides within me.  Since then I have read her other books as they have come out.  (although for some reason Dogtown has not lasted with me, so I am going to reread it)  In each of them, I again felt the power of women and their friendships.  The potential and the effectiveness of women supporting each other, caring for one another with all the advantages of such supports.  I felt validated when Anita Diamant spoke about writing women, friendships and resilience into all of her books as a key element.

This has stayed with me today as I continued to work on various projects.  Women supporting each other through friendships, caring about others and inspiring another generation of women to take up the resiliency needed to survive in today’s world. The dance of words in my brain remind me of my part in building the resilience and strength in my friendships, especially in a world where a woman can be stoned to death without consequences.

Books read this week:

Claiming Alexis by Susan Stoker (review to be written still)

Watch Me Disappear by Janelle Brown

To Kill a Hummingbird by J.R.Ripley

See You in the Cosmos by Jack Cheng (Middle School)

You May Already Be a Winner by Ann Dee Ellis (Middle School)

Survivor’s Club by Michael Bornstein & Debbie Bornstein Halinstat (Middle School - nonfiction)

Why Read?

Why Read?

School has ended for the year and I have a few days off before summer school or in my case, tutoring begins.  I spent a bit of time gardening, cleaning my house and seeing family and friends.  However, by this point you know I also did a bit of reading!

Seeing both of my sisters was a good highlight. They both are readers, but a different type than I am.  One sister reads nonfiction primarily.  For her the author’s life, background and experiences make the book more interesting and powerful.  The other sister reads a larger amounts of genres. A quote or hearing about a book catches her attention and she will look for the book to read.  She also likes memoirs.  

This has made me relook at why I do not read nonfiction.  Why am I so dead set against reading nonfiction?  I do not like to read self help, autobiographical or even biographical, and informational books. It is a conundrum.  I love reading information on the web and find myself sucked into the web looking for information about a variety of stuff.  I look up information about people, places and ideas...perhaps even to the point of geekiness.  I even enjoy books that have important events and information and even ideas within them.  

I think it still comes down to the fact; I read to escape.  I read to dance a waltz dressed in a ball gown.  I read to solve a  murder based on facts leaked out by an author.  I read to ride a Harley or a horse, like a knight or a warrior.  I read to fall in love, lust and all points in between. I read to laugh at the shenanigans of characters and to cry when tragedy happens.  

Books I read this week:

The Confusion of Languages by Siobhan Fallon

Marry in Haste by Anne Gracie

Resilient by Gillian Archer

The Chalk Pit by Elly Griffiths

Down a Dark Road by Linda Castillo

The Lady’s Traveler’s Guide to Scoundrels and Other Gentlemen by Victoria Alexander (no review yet)

Damnable Grace by Tillie Cole (no review)


How well do we really know a person?

How well do we really know about another person?  What do we choose to share and not share? Pretty heavy questions for a Sunday Night...but it is on my mind.  I realized this week while reading a book that we make leaps of faith often about other people, but when it comes right down to it, there are always things you don’t know…

Characters in books can be so black and white, while teasing us at the edge of our consciousness that all has not be revealed.  Recently I have read a couple of books that have made me wonder about this…  Confusion of Languages, the book I am presently reading has me considering this about one of the main characters and makes me wonder if I should be thinking about the other main character in a similar way.  Don’t worry - no spoilers.  The same thing happened a couple of days ago when I read The Stars are Fire by Anita Shreve.  Before that it was Midnight at the Bright Idea Bookstore and Before We Were Yours.  In each of the examples the author allows you to form specific thought patterns about a character and then WHAM something happens to change your entire perspective.  

It is a great technique for a writer to use.  Reeling you into a story and then surprising you with a twist, a turn, a reveal and you are hooked all over again - only in a different way.  I love how writers can do that and hold your attention so well.  The part that makes me stop and think is that happens in the real world too.  How many times have we heard on the TV or read in the newspapers that no one expected the person to have done the horrible deeds they did?  

Enough reality!  I am going back to my book world to figure out what really happened the other character and then I am going to bed.

Books this week:

Home for the Summer by Holly Chamberlin

The Highland Commander by Amy Jarecki

The Stars are Fire by Anita Shreve

Booked for Murder by J.C. Eaton

The Pleasures of Passion by Sabrina Jeffries

The Confusion of Languages by Siobhan Fallon (presently reading)


How well do we really know a person?

HeartOde to my DadHeart

My dad did not have a lot of the same opportunities he afforded my sister and I and later my brother.  He grew up in a troubled economic time, where even graduation from High School was a pipe dream.  He went to work as soon as he could to help bring money into the family and was proud of his contribution.  Along the way, he enlisted in WWII and served in the Air Force flying over “The Hump”.  He came home a brash young man who had seen much.  He met Mom around at his job in Volpe’s and found a way to ask a college girl out.  They married in 1956 and had me in 1958, Anne in 1962 and later David joined us.  

Dad loved to read.  His favorite reads were Zane Grey and Charles Alden Seltzer.  He read the books again and again.  He loved to read the paper from beginning to end and loved reading to Anne and I when we were younger.  When I was around 12, I began to read all his westerns and fell in love with them.  I loved being transported to a different time and place, something both of us had in common.  

I remember Dad working hard at his job for the liquor store and needing a GED in order to move up the chain of command.  He studied, I think with help from Mom with math and was proud when he passed.  He also joined the school board for many years wanting to improve the educational opportunities for all students in our system.  Dad was able to give David and two cousins a diploma when they graduated.  Two years later, he was able to give me and two cousins our diplomas as well.  He was proud of our education.  When I graduated from college, Dad was thrilled.  He was proud of Mom and all her education, even going to all her ceremonies when they were married.  

It has been many years since he has been gone.  I continue to love reading both newspapers and books as he did.  I wonder sometimes what he would think of my love affair with my kindle.  He gave me the Zane Grey and Charles Alden Seltzer books and I cherish them because they were his. This week when I ran into Walmart to stock up on cat food, I saw in the paperback section a Zane Grey book and his love of them came back to me.  I am sure there were days he was very proud of me and days when he would have liked to shake me, but his constancy and love was always there. 

Dad gave me a lot of fine traits and characteristics as well as my love of reading.  Thank - you Dad.  Heart

Books read this week (and not a western in the bunch)

Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew Sullivan

Inked Expression by Carrie Ann Ryan

Addicted to the Duke by Bronwen Evans

Beach House for Rent by Mary Alice Monroe

The Pleasure of Passion by Sabrina Jeffries

The Director and Don Juan by Katy Regnery


TIme Eaters

Time Eaters

A famous adage is that confessions are good for the soul.  While I am a great believer in that not everyone needs to know everything, I can be a sharer.  Like now…  My reading has slowed down. Not the actual reading speed, but the time to read novels is decreasing.  

I have made some life style changes that are impacting my reading time.  Some are small annoyances that seem to eat up extra time  - like reading the newspaper online.  So much information is available that you seem to suspend time moving from story to story and trying to identify the best resources.  I have to admit - I broke down and have a couple of subscriptions to national newspapers.

Time eater problem number two is attempting to keep my house less cluttered.  A never ending battle between junk and stuff.  Personally, I think the dishes multiply when I am not looking. I know someone has been hiding all the spoons.

Problem number three - wait it is not a problem - it is a solution.  In the past, I would have come home, taken off my shoes and read.  Now I am trying to make healthier choices for food and trying to move more.  This has been successful as I have lost over 40 pounds, but it restricts reading time. This is not going to stop - so I need to accept it and move on. (get it - move on).

The last true eater of time are the gardens and baseball.  SIGH.  Finally I feel like I can work in the gardens again and since I have ignored them for two years - There is a whole lot to do and when the bugs (nasty creatures) chase me inside the Sox are playing on TV.

That is not to say that I am not reading - because I am.  Just not as quickly and as many books perhaps as in the past. I hope you will bear with me, while I explore this strange new world. 

Books this week:

The NIght The Lights Went Out by Karen White (I finished it)

Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate

Keeper of the Light by Diane Chamberlain

Protecting Keira by Susan Stoker (comes out this week)


My Favorite Season

My Favorite Season

It is my favorite season - Book Sales!  The season starts once it is warm enough to be outside or in a small shelter without heat and then there are loads of BOOKS for sale prices.  People cleaning out the detritus of the winter right into every reader’s hot hands

One of my favorite haunts opened up - the Historical Society Barn with the books located in the loft.  I did succumb to the marvelous pleasure of just reading the book shelves, looking at all the titles and authors for finds.  I was in heaven - who knew that it was second story in the sale barn.  Although to be honest I was mostly looking for the students, not me. The coolest part was I found two almost complete sets of fantasy novels that they will love - I just have to order a used copy of the missing volumes.   

Then MainStreet BookEnds, my local independent bookstore held their annual book sale. It was full of books that were donated by the public to help finance a scholarship for a local student.  In this case you could fill a bag and just pay what you could afford.  It was here in the parking lot of the book store that I scored for me…a couple of novels I wanted to read AND a whole bag of books for the students!  Such a find!  

Next come the library sales.  The one in Hopkinton is famous for its two day event, with day two books being sold by the bags.  I am always up for that one!  

Now I know most people are focused on their gardens, Mother’s Day and Memorial Day.  I agree these are all important events to celebrate.  BUT let’s face it, there is nothing like a new novel to read that you scored for next to nothing, especially if it can be read while sitting in the sun at the beach...SIGH

This week’s reads

Nancy Thayer:  Secrets of Summer

Catherine Ryan Hyde:  Allie and Bea

Jacqueline Winspear:  In This Grave Hour

Julie James:  The Thing About Love



I am in the midst of a large crochet project, so reading has taken a bit of a backseat this week.  The baby afghan needs to be done before the baby is born and my fingers are moving madly trying to get it all done.  Meanwhile I have the newest Maisie Dobbs novel to read and I am about halfway through it as well as a Lynyrd Skynyrd concert on TV.  Earlier it was a Red Sox game that kept surprising me.  Sometimes the distractions that prevent reading win out.  Granted rarely this happens to me but this week it is the case!

Being distractible always bothers me.  Mostly because it cuts into time I want for me to accomplish other tasks.  Even cleaning the house takes on a disheveled appearance because it is hard for me to stay focused on one task at a time. According to different personality tests I am a random thinker and have to work to stay sequential.  I suspect that is more accurate than I want to admit!

I did manage to complete four books this week despite my randomness. All of them were ARCs and only three are up - one comes out later this week so stay tuned. All of them were romances and were not long books, which I suspect helped me a finish them.  I also finished the reviews which is always a plus.  

I should finish the afghan by next week during the Sox games, since it is supposed to be cloudy and dreary all week.  {SIGH}

Wait - I can read now - concert is over and this is done - or very close to it!

Books finished

The Sweetheart Kiss by Cheryl Ann Smith

The Bad Luck Bride by Janna MacGregor

Alone With You by Amanda Adams

Going in Deep by Carly Phillips (review to come)

This Week in Marjay's World

It has finally hit. My place could be a superfund site.  I do not mean to be a stacker, keep everything because I might need it, and someone gave it to me person, but I am!  This week has been my first few steps to decluttering and cleaning.  It feels good, but WOW I am tired.   It has been helpful that I have had a couple of books that I am not loving, but every book is not made for every person.  That has helped me push through the reading fog I prefer to live in and stay on task.  My fitbit is so happy with the numbers that I am registering.

There have been some great books that I have read this month and you can see them all here:  http://marjay.simplesite.com/239538811.  In the next two months I only have about 8 ARC books each to read and then it is glorious summertime!  Reading at the lake - sun, sand, book - my idea of HEAVEN!

Oh, but I fell off the subject of Marjay’s World, I  also have gardens to clean out - preferably without gathering any ticks - I HATE TICKS.  I know growing up in this area that I did not get ticks on me even playing in the fields behind the house. Now I have to go out in full combat mode with enough deet to cause a population decrease.  Anyway two are done, four more to go approximately.

The leaves are beginning to bud and the daffodils and narcissi are coming up bright and cheery.  The forsythia is brilliant today against the gray of the trees and green of the field. I have about another hour of cleaning in me.  Hopefully enough to finish the bedroom as I would like to sleep there tonight after the Red Sox game.  

I sent in my summer reading list into the library and have reserved what I can.  Luckily for me my bestie made the list and I just had to adopt it for me. Now, before you think I have missed a bunch, I have - This is just the SUMMER books that are on the reading list.  I still have lists of my favorite authors of books upcoming, but those I will share another time.  

Enjoy Reading - oh and a fitting punishment for cleaning not reading - lost the fitbit - hopefully not in the garbage can!

4/11/2017  Karen White: The Night the Lights Went Out

4/16/2017  Anita Shreve: The Stars are Fire

5/9/2017  Amanda Quick:  The Girl Who Knew Too Much

5/16/2017  Dorothea Benton Frank: Same Beach, Next Year

5/16/2017  Nancy Thayer: Secrets In Summer

5/30/2017  Nan Rossiter:  Summer Dance

6/6/2017  Nora Roberts: Come Sundown

6/13/2017  Elin Hilderbrand: The Identicals

6/13/2017  Shelley Noble: The Beach at Painter's Cove

6/20/2017 Jill Shalvis:  Lost and Found Sisters

6/20/2017  Mary Alice Monroe: Beach House for Rent

6/26/2017 Holly Chamberlin:  Home for the Summer

7/11/2017  Susan Mallery: The Secrets of the Tulip Sisters

8/29/2017  Susan Mallery: You Say It First

BTW - the new book:  Come Sundown by Nora Roberts was Excellent!  Thanks Main Street Bookends!

Read What Makes You Happy

Read What Makes You Happy

In the New York Times Sunday Review, there was an opinion piece titled Why You Should Read Books You Hate.  I must admit, it caught my attention.  I try very hard to read books that I will like and not hate.  I am not sure why I would purposely read a book I do not like.  The author of the article, Pamela Paul believes “It was only by burrowing through books that I hated, books that provoked feelings of outrage and indignation, that I truly learned how to read. Defensiveness makes you a better reader, a closer, more skeptical reader: a critic…. You may find yourself developing a point of view.”   

Obviously, the author has not met my family and friends.  They have opinions of outrage and indignation without even discussing books. Politics, sports, religion and even mundane topics such as the weather can start a discussion.  We always have plenty to discuss and points of views enough for the hardiest of souls to debate.

And yes, we even speak about books.  We have readers of nonfiction, thoughtful meaningful books, best sellers and lots of fiction.  We are a family of readers and I have friends who are readers.  My besties and I share lists of our favorite authors with each other and talk about what we are reading often.  My aunt and I share authors and book titles back and forth.  One third of the people on my Facebook page are authors I love. I am surrounded by points of views daily. Never mind the feelings of outrage and indignation garnered just reading the newspaper.     

Books are my pleasure, my comfort, my sanctuary in a world gone mad.  Books bring me happiness and adventures.  I heartily disagree with the author of the opinion piece titled Why You Should Read Books You Hate.  I think life is short...read what makes you happy and if the real world doesn’t piss you off sufficiently - perhaps you are not paying attention. 


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Kirke | Reply 17.07.2017 09.13

Like you Marty, neither my heart nor my brain have ever been able to grasp why an adult would humiliate a learner. Slowness and errors are just part of learning

Barbara | Reply 02.07.2017 06.35

Hey, Marti - Found the blog about your dad. Very nice. I have to tell you that Zane Grey is one of my favorites, too. I've read Riders of the Purple Sage 2-3x

Kathy | Reply 18.06.2017 23.27

What a lovely tribute to your dad! And an excellent example of how a father's attention and a shared love of reading can positively impact a child's life.

Kathy | Reply 29.05.2017 23.45

It IS sad that so few people read, and even fewer actually finish the books they start. I read 12+ books per month and couldn't live without my library card!

Jeannie | Reply 20.02.2017 16.35

Moms are uniquely special and mold us in so many ways. We love them always.

Starry Storyteller | Reply 07.02.2017 16.41

What a nice website! I love how it's done. I love how you organized it with letters. You are a great writer. Check out my website at thewplace.simplesite.com!

Jeannie | Reply 21.11.2016 15.30

I read the sequel After You and am reading One Plus One. Can't wait to discuss the book at book club. So glad you were provoked!!!

Jeannie | Reply 10.10.2016 02.18

Gee, Marti, sounds like you need a hug! Escape this negative world and just read! We love you and would never give you a hard time, unless you merited it! LOL.

Eva Charles | Reply 05.10.2016 20.04

I love Katy Regnery's fairy tales too! All her stories are great. Congratulations on the uptick of traffic on the blog.

Eva Charles | Reply 05.09.2016 12.08

So glad you read Petite Madeleine! Thank you! I hope you enjoyed the similarities between the Blues and your beloved Sox 😉

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Latest comments

17.07 | 09:13

Like you Marty, neither my heart nor my brain have ever been able to grasp why an adult would humiliate a learner. Slowness and errors are just part of learning

02.07 | 06:35

Hey, Marti - Found the blog about your dad. Very nice. I have to tell you that Zane Grey is one of my favorites, too. I've read Riders of the Purple Sage 2-3x

18.06 | 23:27

What a lovely tribute to your dad! And an excellent example of how a father's attention and a shared love of reading can positively impact a child's life.

29.05 | 23:45

It IS sad that so few people read, and even fewer actually finish the books they start. I read 12+ books per month and couldn't live without my library card!

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