Welcome to Marjay's reading blog.

Oh My Aching Feet

Once in a while, I help out a friend in her business.  The things I have learned...

Let it go - the rudeness, weirdness, and craziness.

Good shoes are a necessity.

Patience for indecision is important.

A strong short term memory is really helpful.

Sometimes it is easier for the customer to be right.


Tonight, as I sit here with my aching feet up (and resting), I am very grateful for people who help others from food preparation and serving, customer service to people centric workers (nursing etc). It is a surprise to me that not all people recognize other people’s efforts. I think that too often people are overlooked as they help the rest of us.  I hope everyone takes some time this week to thank others.


This week reading was done in short pieces.  As the holiday season explodes with so many things to accomplish, my reading time shortens considerably. (As it does for many people).  I hope that as you stand in lines, have a bite to eat, or accomplish a myriad of other tasks, you can appreciate everyone’s hard work to make the season happen.  


Elise has sent along two wonderful pieces - a book review (Into The Night by Sarah Bailey) and an author interview (Premeditated Peppermint by Amanda Flower).


My Reviews this week

Hale (Lord of Carnage #8) by Daphne Loveling

A Secret Christmas (Chase Family #8) by Lauren Royal

Oscar, Gizzie and the Holiday Lights

Happy Hanukkah to friends!  Happy Holiday Season to all.  

I love the lights and glitter of this season. Perhaps the greatest gift we receive during these dark days where we go to work in the dark and come home in the dark are those lights.  They light up the dark and dreary days and help me find my way forward. It is the holiday season and to many a time of stress and more. It is hard to maintain a positive attitude when so many of life’s struggles seem to find their voice in the dark.  So let the bright lights and glitter allow us to see the gloriousness of the world while the earth is so shadowed. And hopefully read some great stories.

I was able to read a number of books this week, but did not have a chance to write them all up.  It has been busy for me and the writing of review fell behind. We have had some bad weather - like most of the US and reading is a wonderful way to pass the time - between shoveling.  The cats are staying in more often and Gizzie has actually allowed herself to cuddle with Oscar and I. They are so quick to jump away when I wiggle, but purr so loudly when they are all situated!  

Elise has an excellent review this week by  Karna Small Bodman with her new book, Trust But Verify.  A book that bring political intrigue and suspense to the White House.  I know after reading the review, many of you might wish to read the book. The title alone catches attention!

I read the next book in the Wind River Valley series and once again found Lindsay McKenna’s portrayal of our service people who return with PTSD poignant.  She seems to understand only too well the daily struggle of many coming back into the US while living with flashbacks, nightmares and the permanent horror of war.  To me, each story reminds me how much our men and women in uniform do for us and how little we do for them.


Books read this week:

To Woo a Wicked Widow by Jenna Jaxon

The Girl with the Make Believe Husband by Julia Quinn (review to come)

Home to Wind River by Lindsay McKenna

Count all Her Bones by April Henry (review to come)


And currently reading:

A Secret Christmas (Chase Family #8) by Lauren Royal


It Gets Dark Too Early

This is not my favorite season, when it gets dark so early and the weather starts to get cold and nasty.  Luckily, Thanksgiving helps break it up and it was a wonderful way to end the week. I love having time to spend with my sister and my nephews.  I don’t even mind the drive as much as I used to, perhaps because I know the road so well at this point. My sister and I were able to binge watched part of season one of Designated Survivor and my nephews taught us new games from Jackbox. Oh and the food was delicious!

I am on a HEA (happily ever after books) reading jag right now!  I read romances with HEA when I need escapism. I didn’t consciously realize I needed it until I realized I was searching out more of them to read.  I do not like the dark coming early. I feel closed in and a bit trapped. I miss going out and sitting in the sun on the deck. I use reading HEA as a way to make to the dark more palatable.  

This year, another way I am trying to get through the dark season is feeding the birds at school.  The students and I have six feeders that we are using just outside one of our windows. We are learning the names of the various birds and recognize so many.  We also have some fine fat squirrels (We are hoping one of the Red Tail Hawks comes by for the dinner.). My favorite are the woodpeckers especially the male Red Bellied Woodpecker.

This morning the weather was slippery and nasty, so I stayed on the couch with the two furballs. Having some extra time to just relax and enjoy the quiet was also special.  I hope all of you had special times as well.

This week, Elise Cooper sent in a review on War Animals. I added a new page called holiday books with two books added to the page already. I will be looking for others to add.  I think it is fun to read books about Christmas during the Christmas season.

I hope each of you finds the beauty, love and hope of the season. Wishing you an excellent week.  


Books Read this week:

The Good, the Bad, and the Duke by Janna MacGregor

The Other Miss Bridgerton by Julia Quinn

Lady Osbaldestone and the Missing Christmas Carol by Stephanie Laurens

Whiskey Undone by Carrie Ann Ryan

What a Widow Wants by Jenna Jaxon


Currently Reading:

To Woo a Wicked Widow by Jenna Jaxon

Count All Her Bones by April Henry


martha lawton


It is the season for thankfulness. Some of my friends have started their 30 days of thankfulness on Facebook.  Others have put images with thankful messages up on line. I have many things to be grateful for. Not the least is the thanks I need to send out to all of you!   Readers and supporters have helped make my dream of a blog about books come true! I am in awe of the sheer numbers that visit each month and am ever so grateful for your visits and words of support.

I have always used reading to regulate my life.  I read when I am happy, bored, sad, anxious, depressed and overwhelmed.  I read when I have extra time or can’t sleep. I read when I have any time and especially now with the kindle, I can read everywhere.   I would prefer to read, to almost any other activity.

I have found some wonderful authors and new series thanks to Net Galley and am alway glad to share the reviews of books with you.  I try to never subject you to books that I did not like! I have written back to publishers and explained my misgivings. However this week, I am breaking one of my own rules and have included a book that I normally would not have included.  I am hoping others find it more interesting than I did.

I am thankful for Elise Cooper. I feel her contribution to the blog has helped it grow and become better.   Every week she shares with us a new interview with a current author. This week she has surprised us with a wonderful interview with Louisa Cannon, a nanny and amatuer slueth from the writings of Jessica Fellowes as well an interview with Jessica Fellowes.  I am sure you will enjoy it as I did.

I wish you and yours a wonderful Thanksgiving and a day of love and joy.  


Books read this week:

Ancient Nine by Ian K Smith

More or Less A Temptress by Anna Bradley

Ice on Fire:  Knights of Silence by Amy Cecil

Wish Upon A Duke by Erica Ridley

Private Princess by James Patterson and Rees Jones


Special Features:

An Interview with Jessica Fellowes by Elise Cooper

A Character Interview with Louisa Cannon by Elise Cooper


Veteran's Day and other thoughts


Tomorrow is the day we honor veterans with Veteran’s Day.  Thank you to all who have served and are serving. Your willingness to help defend our country and go in danger’s way is much appreciated by many.

It has gotten colder here.  I have started to pull out all the hats, mittens and other warm weather supplies.  It is always a surprise how quickly it seems to go from the beautiful reds and oranges of fall to the greys and browns of late fall.  Luck has been with us as we have only had flurries, especially since I need new tires before snow flies.

With no baseball, I have had plenty of time to read, while still staying on top of my school work.  The books this week have been a mixed bag: a thriller, a MC romance, a cowboy romance and a popular fiction author.  Face Off by Brenda Novak was a suspense thriller with a serial murder in the woods of Alaska. Ice and Hannah were both love stories, one with MC and one with cowboys.  Spark of Light by Jodi Picoult was a piece of fiction that addressed the controversial subject of abortion. All the books were good in their own way, but the Jodi Picoult book has not left my mind since I finished. I liked the different way Jodi Picoult wrote her book with the story line going backward.  She starts at the climax and works her way backward through the story hour by hour. The number of characters stories also made the book fascinating. I left the book with more questions than answers. Sometimes that is good - to look at a controversial subject from many points of view.

For those of who read Julia London, Elise has a great interview for you and her book Seduced by a Scot.   

Books this week:


Spark of Light by Jodi Picoult

Ice: Knights of Silence #1 by Amy Cecil 

Hannah by Chris Keniston

Face Off by Brenda Novak


Currently reading

The Ancient Nine by Ian K Smith




and please vote

Last night the clock “fell’ back an hour and I was gifted with an extra hour of sleep.  It was a luxurious morning to get up and read for a while, meet a dear friend for brunch and then do some chores before reading some more! I love days like this and am so relaxed after spending such a day.  It didn’t hurt that the howling wind made the day look much more blustery than what it really was even though the sun was shining. I did have a blanket to snuggle in and the two cats deigned to join me. How delightful a day.


I have read a lot of romance this week and found it soothing. My apologies to those who want to like other genres better. Elise has put together an excellent interview with T.M. Logan and his debut thriller, Lies.  I loved reading this book and Elise’s interview with the author reminds me how good the book was!!! I look forward to reading his next book. I am presently reading Jodi Picoult’s newest book, Spark of Light and find myself immersed in the story line and the interesting parallels between the main characters.   As always, her storyline while compelling is controversial and timely. Next week, the review will be up. There is also a wonderful YA read Girl, Stolen by April Henry that will hold you right on the edge of your seat and remind you what true courage looks like.


I am looking forward to my phone being quiet after Tuesday.  I will be glad to not hear political ads with their negativity and noise.  I urge everyone to vote (if you haven’t already). Tuesday night, I will be doing my civic duty of voting and then hanging around to count the votes.  In my small town, we vote with paper ballots and then after the election in a time honored tradition, count the ballots by hand. It is done with people counting and checking both watching the others to keep everything above board.  I always bring my own number 2 Ticonderoga pencils nicely sharpened to help tally. It is a powerful reminder that every vote matters and counts.


Books this week

Girl, Stolen by April Henry

My One and Only Duke by Grace Burrowes

Kiss of a Duke by Erica Ridley

Rescuing Emily by Susan Stoker

Loose Ends by Kristen Ashley


Presently reading

Spark of Light by Kristen Ashley


Light in Darkness

It is with a sad heart that I write this blog today.  All week, I have heard incident after incident about violence against people.  I have heard people say how much the other person has caused it - without taking their ownership of their own part.  I am heartsick by the escalating violence perpetuated by the hatred in the our society. I work hard to teach students to listen to each other and accept other people’s perspectives, but it is that same something that is missing in our society.  My sympathies are with the people of the Pittsburgh and the people of the Tree of Life Synagogue.


This week I, as well as a lot of New England, have been focused on the Red Sox.  I am pretty sure the World Series has taken on a life of its own. As you know I have been gifted with the writing of Elise Cooper.  She adds weekly to the blog with guest reviews and author interviews. I am glad of her work on the blog and I am honored that I can call her a friend. She is backing the Dodgers.  I have enjoyed our repartee back and forth about the games. I am sorry however, she cheers for the Dodgers. Elise and I might live two very disparate lives, yet we can bond over our mutual love of books and sharing them with people!  Together we are stronger with our goals then we are apart. To me, it is relationships with various people that allow us to grow, adapt, understand and celebrate life. Thank you Elise.


This week between innings and before games I have been reading like crazy.  I must admit most of the books fall into my preferred genre of romance with or without the thriller addition.  I hope that you all have a chance to check out the reviews, Elise’s author interview and guest review….


Books read this week:

Home to Honeymoon Harbor by JoAnn Ross

Herons Landing by JoAnn Ross

Kiss Me at Christmas by Valerie Bowman

Stroke of Luck by PJ Daniels

When You Find Me by PJ Vernon


Currently Reading:  

Stuck in Manistique by Dennis Cuesta



What a week!  The Red Sox have won the pennant of the American League!  Without baseball being a constant companion, I found I had more time to read!  Amazing isn’t it!

Luckily, the Sox ended the series early with the Astros.  Next comes the World Series between the LA Dodgers (Elise is cheering for them) and the Red Sox(my favorite of all times)!  It will be interesting how this goes… There may be another week of few books, but then books can then again be more easily consumed!

This week, romance ruled the reads.  There were two historical and two modern romance stories. Winter Cottage was a love story as well, but there were other story lines as well to follow, like old mysteries and unknown parentage.  Secrets are almost always part of stories. I find it fascinating that so many stories are all about secrets. I guess secrets are a big part of being a person.  We hold some parts of us back, so we do not feel so exposed. Sometimes, it could be because we are embarrassed or other times we are ashamed. In stories, of course the hero or heroine eventually forgive the other for keeping the secret.  At times, the when the secret eeks out, the significant other does not understand why it has become such a huge concern for the other. I find those secrets much more interesting, because we sometimes build things up so much that they overwhelm us and leave us frozen, unable to move forward or trust again.  

I wish for you lots of great reading this week.  Next week perhaps the World Series will be over… Sorry Elise..  GO SOX


Books read this week:

A Ladies Escape by AS Fenichel

Winter Cottage by Mary Ellen Taylor

Alaskan Holiday by Debbie Macomber

The Rancher by Kate Pearce

Once Upon a Duke by Erica Ridley


Currently Reading:

When You Find Me by PJ Vernon


The Eyes Have It

I have thought a lot about vision the last few weeks.  I work with students who struggle to read and often tell me the letters look different to them.  I grew up in a family where glaucoma and macular degeneration have occurred with the older generations.  Even my younger sister has had a battle with her eyes. Except for my glasses, my eyes have been fine.

I am not sure when it happened, but suddenly I am in the “older generation”. Just as suddenly, I am now in a whole new world, I have an appointment with a specialist next month as a diagnosis of narrow angle glaucoma.  It is not a happy diagnosis for various reasons, but it is entirely curable with today’s technology. It has made me rethink how important my eyes are to me and how much I depend on them on a daily basis. I love reading books and watching my Sox.  I drive daily to work, love to create art with various pieces of old china and patterns and teach others to read. I love to watch the birds at my feeders and enjoy the various wildlife I see. What a different world I would live in without sight.

I think about how hard it was for my relatives with their diagnosis.  They struggled with so much of life especially with how hard it was for them to depend on others for help.  Knowing your family genetics with eyes is one thing, but now knowing that you are going to start a similar struggle is another issue.  My hope and strength is my younger sister. She had the same diagnosis and underwent treatment and has not has a struggle since then. I am holding on to that string right now with both hands.  

Thanks again to Elise Cooper for covering for me last week!!!!  I really appreciated her guest blog, so I could focus on the Warner Fall Foliage Festival.


Books read this week

A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park

Hot Winter Nights by Jill Shalvis

Why Not Tonight by Susan Mallery

Just This Once by Mira Lyn Kelly


Currently reading:

Winter Cottage by Mary Ellen Taylor


Guest Blog by Elise Cooper

The Ancient Nine by Ian Smith is based on his time as a Harvard student in the 1980s.  Readers might think of a fraternity, where male students rush to join, in this case it is called “punched.” As with fraternities there is hazing, sexism, and underage drinking. But these “final clubs” are not fraternities but are really secret societies that have been in existence since the 1700s, with many of the rules of its members very archaic.


Harvard University conjures up images of a very prestigious and exclusive school whose acceptance rate is only 5.2% of its applicants. Within the surrounding million dollar mansions are privileged all male clubs.  Smith told how pressure is put on these clubs to integrate.  They have allowed token blacks, Jews, and Hispanics, but not women. Because these groups are not associated with the University it claims its hands are tied.  What they have done is to prohibit any student who has participated in these clubs from holding leadership positions in student government, refusing them any recommendations for scholarships, and not permitting them to be a captain on any varsity team. Unfortunately, the faculty and alumni are pushing back saying it is a violation of free association rights.


The character Spenser Collins is actually the fictional personality of Smith, while his friend Dalton Winthrop is a compilation of people that he knew at Harvard. As in the book, he recounts how he received an invitation while a sophomore that was slipped under his door.  Only ten to twenty students are chosen out of an original invitation to 250 students. Founded in the nineteenth the Delphic Club has had titans of industry, Hollywood legends, heads of state, and power brokers among its members. It is a who’s who with members from the Rockefellers, Vanderbilts, Roosevelts, and Kennedys. 

Smith explained, “Spenser is me.  I was raised by a single mom, from a working-class family, pre-med, and played basketball.  I never heard of the Delphic Club, but found out that it was more of a microcosm of a country club.  Members are able to have lifelong interactions and engagements. Members get access to some of the most powerful people in this country, are a part of the inner circle, and are able to network.”


The fictional part comes into play after Spenser in researching the club’s past, learns that a Harvard student, Erasmus Abbott, vanished in 1927 after attempting to break into the Delphic Club. Spenser decides to investigate, and the path to the truth, of course, proves perilous. A club within a club is the Ancient Nine. It is even more secretive, this shadowy group of alums whose identities are unknown and whose power is absolute. The more the friends investigate, the more questions they unearth, tangling the story of the club, the disappearance, and the Ancient Nine, until they realize their own lives are in danger.


Considering that the book details graphic scenes of what should be considered sexual abuse it is a surprise that someone has not come out against these men who appear to have had a MeToo Movement moment.  A scene in the book, at the end of an offsite ritual, pledgers are presented with a group of beautiful women, wearing nothing but high heels, who stand waiting to “entertain” them. Smith noted, “I think the MeToo Movement focused on guys who used their power to suppress and manipulate women.  They abused their power and harassed women.  They should be taken down.  But what happened in the Clubs are just bad relationships and guys doing some bad things, which has happened for 1000’s of years.  I would not shut the door on a woman coming out and saying ‘I was at this party and this happened to me.’”


Harvard and Cambridge are characters in the book.  “I wanted to write how the location plays an important role.  Harvard has its own brand and own assumptions people make about it.  There are images, visions, and beliefs.  I had the characters interact with the campus and its surroundings.  I purposely sprinkled some history of the University as readers get to know this character, Harvard.”


What Smith wants readers to get out of it, “These are independent clubs with their own land, own mansions, and is not part of the University. The problem is the University does not own these clubs so there is no official link with it.  I hope people think about what goes on behind closed doors.  The time has come for these clubs to be open and the exclusion should be eradicated.”

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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!

Jeannie | Reply 19.03.2018 14.10

Cities are fun but exhausting. Like you the quiet is needed.

Kirke | Reply 28.08.2017 06.12

August snow days! What a fantastic idea! I've been reading Martin Walker's Bruno series set in rural France full or recipes. Yum

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.

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Latest comments

23.10 | 11:23

Awesome interview! B.J. Daniels books are just GREAT!! Always anticipating the next one! Appreciate her talent, and bringing us wonderful hours of reading!

22.10 | 18:12

For one, I’m glad you can come up with ideas and that the characters talk to you. Keep them talking and thank you and your characters.

22.10 | 17:30

I adore B J Daniels’ books. She grabs me from the first sentence and doesn’t let go until the last sentence. I loved this interview.

01.10 | 16:20

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

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