Welcome to Marjay's reading blog.

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



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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Nancy | Reply 11.11.2014 07.44

Martha -- you are riding the grace wave!


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.

Jeannie | Reply 23.03.2014 22.15

Loved The Hunger Games series. The HandMaiden's Tale made me mad as did Lois Lowry's The Giver, but raised all the ethical questions associated with "control."

Dawn | Reply 15.03.2014 12.45

Your blog is spot on today...we get what we allow ourselves to have. I hope today you will allow yourself joy, even if it is just for a few moments.

Jon St. Cyr | Reply 27.02.2014 14.12

You probably know this, but Angelina Jolie is bringing Unbroken to the big screen this Christmas. I haven't read the book, but I can't wait to see the movie.

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Latest comments

30.12 | 21:03

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

30.12 | 20:39

hi I just love everything

25.11 | 15:26

yes, we all need more time for reading, our escape from own realities, good or not-so-good and into fictional frolic.

22.11 | 21:53

Comment section is TOO short-LOL! I agree re: Winter Street; on the fence re: Leaving Time. Love your blog;happy you're doing something you so thoroughly enjoy!

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