Welcome to Marjay's reading blog.

To Reread?

To Reread?  

This week has been a busy one and I admit that I have used this time to reread a couple of previously enjoyed books.  It does not happen often.  Some I have read twice and some many more times.  Not surprisingly I enjoyed them the second (or more) times as much as the first time!  I sometimes reread books in a series if it has been a while before the new one comes out, but most times, once they are read – I am all done with them. 

I am sure I am not the only re-reader you know... but I might be the only re-reader with strict rules.

1. Rereading suspense is not as suspenseful – so unless there is another story line – oh well.

2. Rereading books with students – if I have read the book once, I do not need to reread it as long as I have good notes – an exception to the rule is always To Kill a Mockingbird, The Outsiders and Where the Red Fern Grows

3. Rereading historical fiction is out!  After all how many times can you read about some subjects like the wives of Henry the VIII.

4. Rereading self-help books – although the chances of me getting all the way through them the first time is pretty slim.

5. Rereading books with sad endings – not happening – cried once over the unhappiness.

If I reread a book I only want to read books with great characters and a great story. Some of them are grown up fairy tales and some are just the best of the best of the best. Most of them show up on my best of the best list, which I shared earlier, so I won’t bore you with the whole list of like.

My reread list includes:

  • Lord of the Rings (on my third set of books)
  • To Kill a Mockingbird (second copy of the book, also on kindle)
  • The Outsiders (not even sure how many times)
  • Where the Red Fern Grows (not sure how many times)
  • Motorcycle Man (a scary number of times)
  • Knight (a scary number of times)

My Super Power - Reading

I finally found my super power!!!  I have been looking for it for years.  There was a time I thought it might be floating in the water, or sitting with my toes in the sand, or keeping my hands dirty in the soil of my garden. But it turned out to be none of them. 

I began to question if I even had a super power.  I was depressed and walking around sadly holding my book, until I remembered how much I loved reading and all the different books I read.  That is when I knew – my super power had to do with books...

Mistakenly I thought it had to do with the number of books I kept.  Luckily that was discovered to be wrong before my towers of books entered a hoarding zone.  Then I thought it had to do with the number of books I cleaned out.  Until I had to buy some of them back when I moved to teaching middle and high school students. For a while, I thought it had to do with the number of reviews I wrote on various sites, but no – that turned out to be wrong.

Now I know – it is the reading itself that is my super power.  Not the numbers of books, or the number of reviews (That doesn’t mean you can stop reading this page!), but the absolute joy I find in reading and try to share with students and peers alike.  Maybe I can just pass on the names of books that made my heart sing or tore it right out of my chest, while I work on my super power. 

Some of my favs – in no particular order

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien

19 Minutes, My Sister’s Keeper and Plain Truth by Jodi Picoult

Midwives and The Double Bind by Chris Bohjalian

The Handmaiden’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Morning Glory by LaVryle Spencer

The Flame and the Flower and The Wolf and the Dove by Kathleen Woodiwiss

The Weight of Water and The Pilot’s Wife by Anita Shreve

Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah

The Guersney Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer

Don't tell the librarian, please.

Today a travesty occurred. I lost a book. {Sigh} Don’t tell the librarian! It didn’t happen in any usual way.  I had my laundry over piled in my hamper.  I had my purse, book bag with library books, and bag of laundry detergent. There was an inch of sticky snow on the deck and stairs.  I was in a hurry and had my day off all planned out without a lot of extra time...  

I did not take the time to shovel as I was rushing and the day was supposed to be warm. I dragged my laundry hamper out on the deck with my book bag, purse and everything piled on top of it and went back inside for the deposit I forgot.  I heard a thump, but paid no attention – BAD BAD CHOICE!  I turned around to go back out to find everything had fallen over and was leaning toward the stairs.  I rushed out slamming the doors behind me {not ready to let Gizelda out yet}, as I did that the library books slid out of the bag, down the snowy stairs and balanced on the edges.  Carefully – so carefully I edged down the stairs trying to get them, but one escaped – sliding behind the stairs (they are open) and down the bank and into the pit.  I can see it but there is no way to reach it and so it lies... The book is lost... by the time I got home the cover and the pages had started to curl and the bottom of the book was waterlogged.

I am sure there is a lesson in there, but I am not ready to face it...  I ordered a replacement tonight for the library and maybe if the book comes in a timely fashion, I won’t be denied access to my account...SIGH  

But I still have books to read!

Today is the last day of vacation, but I still have books to read!  I think it means I cannot go back to work. I know I can’t imagine my bosses being too happy with me over this either, but below I have prepared my list of excuses. 

  1. I can’t come back into work today, as I am sick to my stomach over the number of books I still have to read...  nah too obvious.
  2. I cannot come into work today my heart is beating out of control over the delicious books I have left to read...  nah too creepy.
  3. I won’t be in today I am having a migraine over the books I have left to read... nah too wrong.
  4. I can’t come to work today, as I am too anxious to leave my vacation books unread... nah but getting better. 
  5. I am sorry; I need one more vacation day to finish up the five books left from vacation... yeah right – only one more day. {giggle} 
  6. I am having finger spasms from holding books too long and will need more time to complete the book before I return to work... nah I can work with finger spasms.

Personally, I think 4 and 5 have some definite possibilities for success.  I am just not convinced my bosses will see this situation with a positive outcome for me. 

Maybe I can get a work accommodation plan, where every two hours I receive an hour break to read in the corner.  I am so sure my bosses will understand.  After all I teach reading - I can call it modeling of appropriate reading behaviors.  

Then again maybe no one will notice if I curl up in the corner to read...  oh yea – the students will notice eventually when I do not respond to them.  They will become noisy – outing me... 

  •  I cannot return to work at this time, I am being held captive by two hairy creatures pinning me to my couch and forcing me to read.

Yuppers – There is the excuse I need! Suppose it will work?

Over vacation I read:

Incandescent by River Savage

Affliction by River Savage

Reclaimed by River Savage

Silver Bastard (preview novel) by Joanna Wylde

Trust No One by Jayne Ann Krentz

Private: Vegas by James Patterson

Obsession with Death by J.D. Robb

A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler

And I reread 50 Shades of Grey...

 

Still to read: (all preview novels)

Rebel Queen by Michelle Moran

Lacy Eye by Jessica Treadway

Hausfrau by Jill Alexander Essbaum

V A C A T I O N

V A C A T I O N

Yes finally, it is vacation! For the next nine days, I have no schedule, except for the usual suspects:  laundry, dishes, recycling and the vacuum. (I do have some tutoring hours also.) I wonder what I will do with myself? 

I do have the ARC copy of Silver Bastards by Joanna Wylde to read...another of the motorcycle club novels I love so much.  Oh and I have three library books due soon.  The Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler is due first and then there is Jayne Ann Krentz’s new book, Trust No One.  Oh, there is a new Private book By James Patterson, Private: Vegas to read.

I can not forget about my books on Net Galley with Michelle Moran’s newest book due to come out in a couple of weeks, titled Rebel Queen. It is about Queen Lakshmi who tried to stop the British from taking over her kingdom in India.  Lacy Eye needs to be read as well it is about how a daughter’s happiness is the cause of her family destruction.  How can you not be excited to read a book like that with that blurb?

I guess I really know what I am doing this week while the sky continues to drop snow on us at every chance.  Now I just have to decide where to sit:  couch or chair and what to drink tea or coffee.  These decisions are just killing me.

Eyes on the Prize

This week I ranted briefly on Facebook about the people’s judgments based on hearsay.  A rant I do not regret because of the nature of my concerns.  I love reading romances and I often share my love of romance novels with my readers.  I read Fifty Shades of Grey and have also read other novels that highlight other life style choices.  If I run into something that is uncomfortable for me to read due to a variety of reasons, I don’t read it. (ie. Stephen King Books) If it is made into a movie, I don’t watch it.  If asked I do share my opinion, but I do not forward messages about avoiding books or movies due to their content. (Or all of you would be receiving weekly rants about terrifying movies.) Many different people like many different things and I think I am not (nor is anyone else) in a moral position to judge lifestyle choices when freely chosen.

I feel there are so many issues in this world we have to resolve.  We have women, and children being abused.  We have people starving, freezing, unable to hold a job or find a safe place to live. We have children who live in situations where there is no food security.  We have women being killed or mutilated by their families.  I am concerned by the decisions that put women and children in no win situations.

  • Around the world, at least one in every three women has been beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused during her lifetime. Most often, the abuser is a member of her own family. 
  • More than 125 million girls and women alive today have been cut in the 29 countries in Africa and Middle East where Female Genital Mutilation is concentrated.
  • In 2000, The United Nations estimated that there are 5,000 honor killings every year and that the numbers are escalating.  The victims are women – average age 23 – who are killed.  Some chilling statistics:  66% of the honor killings were done by the victim’s family and 43% of the murders were carried out by multiple perpetrators.
  • According to reports in 2013, at least 100,000 children yearly are used as prostitutes in the UNITED STATES as part of a 9.8 BILLION dollar sex trafficking industry
  • One in five children live in a food insecurity household (21%) and about 1% of the households live in households with very low food security.

However, we are spending all this time and energy on a book, a love story with elements of BDSM which is a catch all phrase describing an interest in human sexuality behavior including sadomasochism, power exchange and/or bondage.  When this behavior is between consenting adults – it is none of our business to draw moral judgment.  I think we need to keep our eyes on the important points of sexually deviant behavior – those that harm – not titillate.

Please forgive me if I have offended you.  I think taking action means more that just being horrified and telling everyone about the horror based on other people’s views.  Be well versed in your anger, learn the information and do something productive with it!

In our history we have defiled any number of groups as being bad – and things being wrong.  I think we are too quick to judgment about choices people do not understand.  We have huge numbers of truly horrid situations both in the United States and the World that need a commitment to change and help.  Let’s keep our eyes on the prize folks:  a world in which women and children are safe. 

National Readathon Day

Today was a National Readathon day. The purpose is “meant to save the bookworms and inspire reading for pleasure.”  Everyone was supposed to make time to read today between 12 and 4.  That block of time is a luxury that many people do not have.  It is a busy world with sports, jobs, and other opportunities that pull attention in every which way.  As much as I love to read and make the time to read, I know it is not as easily found for others.  

In honor of the Readathon, I took the opportunity to read today. (I know SHOCKING!)  It was a snowy day and I didn’t have anywhere that I needed to be.  I finished up the book, The Orchardist and started on The Paris Winter. Both books were interesting each in different ways.  The Orchardist was about some of the most alone people I have ever read about.  The quiet turmoil in their lives really touched me.  The Paris Winter takes place in the early 1900s.  Maud, the main character was a starving artist struggling to paint and survive, she was offered a chance for a better living arrangement, but nothing was, as it seems.

I work everyday to make reading a priority – or at the very least learning a priority.  I try to share my enthusiasm with reading and the books I find to read.  However my one-woman army sometimes feels alone.  It was nice to have an opportunity to hear other people taking on the challenge.  I hope more people take on the challenge to increase reading opportunities and readers, opening opportunities in many peoples’ world.

Some scary statistics (from Reading Is Fundamental and The National Reading Foundation)

  • About 43% of adults who read at or below “basic” levels, about 93 million people.
  • American Adults have a 14% illiteracy rate
  • Where parent involvement is low, the classroom mean average is 46 points below the national average. Where involvement is high, classrooms score 28 points above the national average—a gap of 74 points (NEA, 2009).
  • Forty-nine percent of 4th graders eligible for free and reduced-price meals finished below “Basic” on the NAEP reading test.
  • Forty percent of 8th graders eligible for free and reduced-price meals scored below “Basic” on the NAEP reading test (NCES, 2009).
  • 80% of lower-income fourth graders are not reading proficiently.

I Love My Kindle

I have traveled quite a bit this vacation and each time I have put my trusty kindle in my purse.  I am still using my original kindle – first generation.  We have been madly in love since I first opened the package.  It is the first thing I pack and I carry it daily in my purse. (I even shop for new purses with it to make sure it will fit in!)  Often I pull it out when I am waiting in line or waiting for people.  I have one thousand, one hundred fifty six items (books) on the kindle!  I find I collect them MUCH faster than I read them. 

Don’t get me wrong, I still love actual books both hard covers and paperbacks. The library is still one of my favorite places to go.  Not all is lost when I do not have a book to read - hard copy or kindle - I have my iPhone.  I can read books on my phone, although the screen is small and it is not conducive to me reading for long periods of time.  I find I read much faster on the iPhone than any other devise.

When I think of all of life’s greatest pleasures, for me reading is still very high on my list. The kindle has made me a more voracious reader than ever! Every year I make a resolution to myself that I will put fewer books on the kindle and throw books up into the cloud after I have finished them.  Did I mention I have one thousand, one hundred fifty six items – whoops – bought a couple more today – fifty eight items (books)?  I failed at the resolution last year.  Maybe I will not this year.  Meanwhile my kindle and I love to travel everywhere together.  

Types of Romances

Types of Romances

There are many types of romantic heroes in romance novels: cowboys, sports players, different nationalities, musicians, aliens, shape shifters, and servicemen of all branches.  For me this category of books was filled with bikers and billionaires.  YUP, you heard me right, bikers and billionaires.  Just to be clear the billionaires were not bikers and bikers were not billionaires: they were two separate categories.

I won’t admit to the number of romance novels that are about people in motorcycle clubs.  I am sure Jax for SOA is part of the upswing.  The books range from fanciful to down right gritty. They are not always about a typical love story, in some there is violence, blood and death so strong that they are characters within the books.  They often contain illegal activities: guns, drugs, lawlessness and very negative images of women.  Yet I cannot stop reading them.  I wonder if this is the way my very proper law abiding soul rides free.  BTW - My favorites: Kristen Ashley  and Joanna Wylde.

Billionaires in contemporary love stories are just the grown up and modern version of fairy tales.  I know that I am not going to run into one, work for one, or have them be best friends of my family and friends.  However, I still love them.  Their ability to be dashing, ordering planes and plans without thoughts of cost are not my reality They are fixing up the worlds of poorer but beautiful woman. The cool part of most of these modern fairytales is that most of the time, the women save them right back, by making them more human, likable, and realistic.  The fancy penthouse apartments in New York with the outrageous pieces of art that means nothing without love...SIGH.  (I know – I have it bad!) Of course they are worldly and know so much about how to make the woman swoon... still SIGHING.  BTW – My favorites authors:  Melody Anne, Ruth Cardello, and Katy Regnery

I live half way up a hill in a small New England town where there are no bikers or billionaires. I am older than most of the characters and live in an insular world of work, friends, family and books.  The closest I come to billionaires are if they swim in the lakes near my home from their luxurious homes while I swim from the state park.  Bikers enter my world for a weekend in Laconia. The motorcycles come from all over and party in the Weirs. I watch the bikes go by avidly when I am on the highway going to work or visiting family.  My world has no correlation to bikers or billionaires.  Perhaps that is the biggest draw – their worlds are so different from mine.  Their priorities are askew in my world.  Yet I read the fairy tales happily... often.

Favorite Series for Billionaires

Katy Regnery- English Brothers

Ruth Cardello – Legacy Collection, The Andrades

Melody Anne – Billionaire Bachelors, Baby for Billionaire

 

Favorite Series for Bikers

Kristen Ashley - Motorcycle Man and Chaos Novels

Joanna Wylde - Reapers Motorcycle Club. 

The Best of the Best

The Best of the Best this year.

This weekend while I spending time with my family, my sister Anne asked me what I thought the best book of the year was. I have read numbers of books this year and many stood out to me, but the few titles I could remember were young adult fiction. This surprised me! Today, when I had access to my Goodreads account, I realized the reason why I could only remember young adult titles was that 30 percent of my five star rated books were young adult novels. A fascinating statistic to say the least!

I wonder if the poignancy of youth is a key factor.  Young adults are so passionate about their feelings and how they see the world.  Perhaps their insistence on right and wrong and their focus on their world allow us to be drawn in and feel with them. Another factor could be that this last year I started working with young adults again and had the opportunity to indulge with them.

Three of the top rated five star books were about WWII.  There were a couple of books written by local authors.  There were some series written that I HAD to read all of them particularly I need so send a shout out to Katy Regnery (the English brothers), Jill Shalvis (Lucky Harbor) and Susan Mallery (Fool’s Gold).  Kristen Ashley also captured my heart with her new novel The Will. Certainly, I do not have room to list all my favorite books this year... but I have added a few.

 

Young Adult books

Nest (really Middle School) by Ester Ehrlick

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Willow by Julia Hoban

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Alice Bliss by Laura Harrington

We were Liars by E Lockhart

Remember Me Like This by Bret Anthony Johnston

 

WWII

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

The Wind is Not a River by Brian Payton

Night by Ellie Wiesel

 

Local Authors (after a fashion)

Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands by Chris Bohjalian

Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult

Giving Thanks on Thanksgiving

The last 72 plus hours have been interesting to say the least.  Before I even go into why, you must have a visual of my current fashion most nights:  heavy socks and slippers, long tee-shirt and flowered sleep pants, plaid flannel housecoat and a heavy sweater, and topped off with a lime green hat and variegated purple fingerless gloves.  I have been without electricity for the past 72 plus hours, starting around 7:30 Thanksgiving Eve and well - it is Sunday Afternoon around 12:30 and just got lucky - electricity (PSNH assured me today is my lucky day for four days in a row).  The results of no electricity are no furnace, water or sewer as well as all the modern conveniences of fridges.  Happily a gas stove is a major plus in my favor.  This is the result from a snowstorm that took away a lot of plans for Thanksgiving in this region. 

However, before you start to feel too sorry for me, I could get out and visited my Mom on Thanksgiving Day and her facility (for a price) allowed me to eat with her.  This weekend a local restaurant was open with good food and electricity to keep my iPhone alive. The lack of power has allowed me unfettered amounts of time to read (using a camping lantern) and a blanket.  The cats and I have been bundled up together purring and reading. Except when Oscar gets between the light and me! 

I have read romances that transcended time. Each book fit into their little niche of time and place, but could have happened anywhere and in any time.  I have been to medieval France with Abelard and Heloise and through the ages with Finbar and Branna as they fight off evil. I have been to Scotland in the 1800 with the Cynster Family yet again celebrating another holiday together with all the pomp the esteemed family brings. I have mourned with the ladies of the Union Army waiting for their husbands.  Lastly (not least) I have read several modern day love stories of various lengths from Texas to New York City.  I have loved this interlude that life has afforded me. Snugged up in a quilt, knowing that there is nothing else but the world around me that these writers have conjured up.  I laughed and I cried with the main characters and hissed a couple of nasty ones.  The holiday did not turn out as planned and it could be considered a complete blow out, except for the time – almost as if the world had stopped for me. The time to read - what a wonderful gift – and I am most thankful!  Although I really miss running water and I think another day would have killed me!

Blood Magick by Nora Roberts

The Sharp Hook of Love by Sherry Jones

By Winter’s Light by Stephanie Laurens

A Quilt for Christmas by Sandra Dallas

Personal Assets by Kelsey Browning

The Sweet Spot by Stephanie Evanovich

Billionaire Undone by JS Scott

Kind regards
martha lawton

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Aqua-girl | Reply 07.03.2015 12.05

you have been busy

marjay 07.03.2015 14.54

I have been busy...but always more to read... I guess I need to accept that I will never catch up!

jeannie | Reply 01.03.2015 19.35

Thanks for the chuckles, very clever. Made my evening. Work does get in the way of reading and other pastimes.

Nancy | Reply 11.11.2014 07.44

Martha -- you are riding the grace wave!

Love
Nancy

jeannie | Reply 19.10.2014 19.07

Pretty dicey talk. Wonder if your detractor ever read a romance novel. She might enjoy it.

Nancy | Reply 19.10.2014 18.26

The best part of this, "Bite Me!" Love you Martha -- love your blog and love that you read everything!

sue | Reply 19.10.2014 10.19

I love romances with a twist....time travel,alpha shape shifters,graphic....give me all that

Jeannie | Reply 13.10.2014 20.05

I agree. Time, in demand. The escape into other worlds through readings becomes a necessary getaway! Hope it works that way with your students, too.

Kathy | Reply 07.06.2014 21.27

Thanks for all the great recommendations! I love your blog and it was so wonderful to see you at the NH Historical Museum!

jeannie | Reply 02.06.2014 23.35

The Fault in Our Stars is coming out as a movie, I believe. Looks sweet and maybe sad. Think it is great that your students are consultants, too.

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Latest comments

07.03 | 14:54

I have been busy...but always more to read... I guess I need to accept that I will never catch up!

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07.03 | 12:05

you have been busy

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01.03 | 19:35

Thanks for the chuckles, very clever. Made my evening. Work does get in the way of reading and other pastimes.

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30.12 | 21:03

Thanks Julia! I appreciate the feedback. This is a labor of love.

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