Welcome to Marjay's reading blog.

Deja Vu

Deja Vu is a feeling of familiarity, a feeling of recollection.  For some it is a unexplained feeling of something from before.  Scientists have been working on what deja vu is and how it could happen for years.  Some have linked it to a gene that has to do with mild epilepsy. Others believe that our memories are reconstructions and not a repository of fixed factors, so that parts of things can and will crop up and attach itself to a similar situation.  Whatever it is….it has happened in the last month with three different books with three different authors.

I do not often have the time to reread books - which is a darn shame sometimes - because books bring new things to the forefront every time you read them.  I have however recognized a certain style or character or even expression that one author uses that may show up across their books. This time, I have the distinct impression that I have read these book previously - the storyline, the description of the setting - something has set off that memory strongly.  For one book, I was able to ascertain the author had previously published a novella of the story. For her novel, she rewrote and “augmented” parts to make the story longer and more intricate. Once I found that out, I felt so much better - like I wasn’t losing my mind! But the other two, I have researched and have not found a common thread to pull, so I am trying to put it out of my mind, but it isn’t going well.  I am dealing with it and hoping someone else will say something…

Meanwhile, it has been either hot and humid or rainy this last week and I have been working on various projects, not all associated with reading.  This next week will be my last one of tutoring only, before I need to report back to school and my reading time slowly eeks away for the fall. SIGH.  I hate that I countdown the days….. I still hope for a day when people will pay me for reading books, but with money not just more books!

Books read this week

Crime Scene by Jonathan and Jesse Kellerman

Brave New Earl by Jane Ashford

Abandoned by Allison Brennan

Rancher’s Dreams by B. J. Daniels (see Elise’s interview with the author)


Currently reading

Diamond in the Rough by Jane Goodger



I have a confession to make.  I stayed up way too late and got up way too early reading a book and now I am totally bummed.  The book is over… now what do I do? I mean there is one more book in the series, but it doesn’t come out soon.  I guess I could reread all the books in the series, but that will just be too painful. The book is over and now I need to do other things, laundry, dishes, cleaning - the Red Sox are playing the Yankees tonight - take out the trash, make some ice tea…  I am bereft. It doesn’t help that I realized there is only one more book in the series.

I love reading authors and their series. I like feeling like I know the characters in the book, the town they live in and the constants in their lives. When a series ends or you know it is going to end, there is a certain poignacy to the story.  People have become like friends when you have such an intimate picture in their lives. Sometimes I even feel myself wanting to use their language and speech patterns… 

Books anchor us in a world with so many unknowns.  We don’t always know what is happening next. Many studies talk about people not knowing which bills that they can or cannot pay. Many people keep the heat down to conserve fuel.  Many people are unsure about the longevity of their job. And then there is the news about - well about everything else! Books help us escape and dream and sometimes just survive.  

Books read this week

Lost and Found Sisters by Jill Shalvis

Room Service by Rochelle Alers

More or Less a Countess by Anna Bradley

Wild Like the Wind by Kristen Ashley

When We Found Home by Susan Mallery

Shattered Silence by Marta Perry


Currently Reading

Crime Scene by Jonathan and Jesse Kellerman


martha lawton

Understanding What We Read

This summer has been a rush of time with reading - both with me and my students. I have been teaching reading in some fashion for over 30 years.  Reading is, as many of you know, a passion for me. For me the passion is not just for me, but to share with friends and students. I try to have them see my excitement for reading to help foster their skills.  This summer I have students that need help with decoding skills (sounding out words and learning sight words) and help with comprehension strategies. I noted that having background knowledge and world knowledge is imperative to understanding many reading passages.  I find I spend time sharing information that helps a student show comprehension of a subject.

I remember once I went to a conference about how difficult our world is for people with hearing impairments.  Knowing what the subject people are speaking on is the first obstacle for many. For people with hearing impairments do not know the subject or having some background knowledge, means they lack the context needed to comprehend.  I feel that many students are in the same situation when they are asked to read some books. Too often they do not have the background information needed to understand the book and they (in some cases) do not know what they do not know.  Case in point: one of my students couldn’t understand why someone would go to a spring everyday. She saw a spring - like in a pen - not a source of water. What was most distressing to me is that she didn’t stop to ask questions or to try to figure out why something did not make sense.  It was an assignment and her goal was finishing it quickly.

This week looking up information on a different area of reading, I ran across an article by The Atlantic from April  2018 on why students are not growing in reading according to the Nation’s Report Card. I stopped and read the article (yes, I know totally reading geek) only to have my hypotheses about reading articulated in the article.  I am going to redouble my effort to have student learn to question something and look up answers. I am going to redouble my efforts to give the students things to read in a variety of subjects to expose them to the world and common knowledge.

Meanwhile, this week in the reviews there are some great romances and the newest knockout book by Jonathan and Jesse Kellerman.  A whole new series that is very interesting with the main character being a County Coroner's Deputy.  The book’s main character was dogged in his following clues, even when others thought the case was solved.  

Also this week a NEW category:  An interview with Kate Burkholder, the main character of the series of murder mysteries written by Linda Castillo.  The interview is a compelling read by Elise Cooper. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.


Books read this week:

Measure of Darkness by Jonathan and Jesse Kellerman

Half Empty by Catherine Bybee

What Ales the Earl by Sally MacKenzie

Against the Claw by Shari Randall

Night Furies by CC Wiley


Currently Reading

Lost and Found Sisters by Jill Shalvis


Unremitting Fathers

Some weeks I read books and just enjoy them.  Other weeks I read books and find myself finding a common thread that keeps reappearing.  This week I found myself wondering why some family members are so unmoving and unwelding. In a couple of books this week, it seem that the father/grandfather figure seemed to always be the arbitrator of right and wrong and in some cases, they themselves were wrong.  I realize in many societies, the head male figure makes all major decisions and expects his wife and children to follow those dictates. I also realize that not all people are caring and forgiving of others when they make mistakes, but I was surprised by the vitriol in a couple of cases.  

Perhaps, this read so openly to me as the last couple of weeks would have been my parents birthdays.  Dad would have been 96 and Mom would have been 85. I am not saying my folks didn’t have strong opinions and I am not saying they had no problem with telling us what they thought, but I never felt I would have been mistreated or banned based on a decision good or bad.  I knew I would have to face the consequences of my decision, but my family still loved me and I knew would not abandon me.

I knew the novels I read were fiction and therefore the acts in the book were not real, but there are families who are treated this way.  There are women and men who are forced by family dictate to act a certain way or marry a certain person. It bothers me greatly that one person can so strongly dictate another’s action especially when it is based on a moral, biblical or societal obligation.

I am grateful for the freedom I was given to make choices: good, bad or indifferent. I made the choices.  I can only hope, push and vote for a world where our choices are based on our wants, desires and hopes and not another persons.


Books read this week:

Between You and Me by Susan Wiggs

Merry Christmas, My Viscount by Emily Windsor

Tempting the Laird by Julia London

Flirting with Paradise by Chris Keniston

The Billionaire Bull Rider by Kate Pearce

Wedding the Widow by Jenna Jaxon

Currently reading:
Against the Claw by Shari Randall

Technology Scares Me

Technology scares me…I mean really scares me.  I find myself asking questions again and again and thinking people are speaking to me in another language.  It certainly has helped me understand and be more compassionate about learning: how difficult reading must for some of my students who struggle and how brave it is for people to come here when English is not a language they speak.  This week, when I read James Patterson’s newest thriller, I realized how connected, even when we don’t want to be, we all are, all the time. The fact that I am on a search for a new iPhone and plan has also helped solidify my status as a dinosaur.  

Luckily when reading books, I suddenly am less of a dinosaur.  At times, my kindle drives me crazy, but I can always read a book and turn pages without an electronic device helping me. More and more I see books from the library in an eformat and even with lines of people waiting for their turn.  I think it would be too easy to prevent some books reaching certain populations when everything is electronic. I think Amazon, Walmart and Target have too much power when choosing the books to highlight and sell. I think publishers can determine how much publicity and splash a book gets, again blocking the ease of getting books into certain areas or populations.  I am not sure when I became so cynical about books and media in general with how they allow information to be shared, but I am concerned.

Meanwhile, it is summer and the living is - well not easy - like the song, but slower with more time for reading. I love sitting out on the deck with the kitties at this time of night and reading. There are flowers blooming and birds singing and the occasional dead chipmunk offered with such pride. Tomorrow is coming quickly and I do have things to do before I go to work, but for now - the living is easier…


Books read this week:

The President is Missing by Bill Clinton and James Patterson

Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan (Middle School)

An Earl in Wolf’s Clothing by Emily Windsor

I am Still Alive by Kate Alice Marshall (YA)

How to Train Your Baron by Diana Lloyd

Double Blind by Iris and Roy Johansen


Presently Reading:

Merry Christmas, My Viscount by Emily Windsor


Cool Facts about Reading

Reading brings me many pleasurable hours.  There are many facts about how important reading is. I have gathered some of the facts below for everyone to enjoy.  I was quite pleased to read some of them. Who knew there were so many physical benefits from reading?

Reading for six minutes of can reduce stress by 68%.

Reading for 30 minutes burns 50% more calories than watching TV.

Readers who read regularly are 2.5 times as less likely to develop Alzheimer's Disease.

Readers are 10% more likely to report good self-esteem than non-readers.

More than 40% of readers ages 6 to 10 were read aloud to at home by their parents.

Reading fiction improves empathy.

Reading enhances your memory.

Reading expands your vocabulary.

Reading books for at least 30 minutes a day can increase one’s lifespan.

Reading literary fiction can reduce your need for 'cognitive closure,' making you better equipped to deal with uncertain situations.

Readers say that they read 58% of the time to let them escape the real world.


While I was researching the increase physical benefits to reading, I found these cool facts and decided to share the fun.

According to a 2016 survey, 73% of Americans have read a book in any format within the last year.  65% of those people have read a physical, print book.

There are 129 million books in existence.

On average across the world, people spend 6.5 hours a week reading.

Half of all books sold today are to people over the age of 45.

Iceland has more writers, more books published and more books read, per head, than anywhere else in the world.

Women buy 68% of all books sold.

The first book ever published was the Gutenberg Bible in 1453. (There is a first edition in the Library of Congress.

Mark Twain’s Life on the Mississippi (1882) is considered by historians to be the first fully typewritten manuscript sent to a publisher.


I again wish to thank my readers for all the great notes that are sent in and the positive feedback. This week there are a number of book reviews and a great interview by Elise Cooper about an FBI thriller.  


Books read this week:

Rainy Day Friends by Jill Shalvis

The Perfect Couple by Elin Hilderbrand

Rough Ride by Gillian Archer

Duke of My Heart by Kelly Bowen

A Duke to Remember by Kelly Bowen

Cottage By the Sea by Debbie Macomber

By Invitation by Dorothea Benton Frank

A Gathering of Secrets by Linda Castillo

Whiskey Reveals by Carrie Ann Ryan




HOT! HOT! HOT Vacation!

Yup it is HOT!  And not a romance hot vacation. I did not plan any trips or visits. My sister came out to visit for a few days over the weekend.  I have a stack of books to read. I was stoked. OH and best of all Yankees vs Red Sox baseball this weekend!

The week started out beautifully.  Low 80s, breezes and much cooler nights made for a wonderful week and then the weekend happened and it became HOT!  High 90s and humid. Obviously, I have spent the last couple of days slathered with lotion, under an umbrella or in the lake.  Today, the water was so crowded because everyone spent the most of the day in the water! The day got hotter and the breeze died toward the afternoon, even the lake water seemed too warm at the end. According to the weather - it will continue to be HOT until Saturday! Five more days!

What do you do in the heat, but try to stay cool and read - my goal for the rest of the week.  I was able to read some great ARCs this last week. I enjoyed all the novels I read with some romance, some thrills, some curiosities and lots of heat.  

As for this week... My house is clean. My sister is still here for a couple more days.  The lake is nearby and I have lots of sunscreen!  Oh and a stack of library books that will be due next week. I guess I will hope for cold winter scenes or maybe rainy weather in the books to help me stay cool.  Hope things are cool where you are.

One for the Rogue by Manda Collins

When You Knew by Jamie Beck

Inked Nights by Carrie Ann Ryan (novella)

The Summer Nanny by Holly Chamberlin

The House at Saltwater Point by Colleen Coble

Small Town Rumors by Carolyn Brown


Gifts of Love

Books continue to remind me of the love in the world. Even with all the changing and moving that we as a people do, love remains constant.  It continues to cause so much of suffering and satisfaction in our lives. This week’s readings caused me to tear up more than once. The beauty of our environment, the difficulty of life, and as Karen White stated the messiness of love is what makes up our world. Love is messy, inconvenient and necessary.

Unfortunately or fortunately (depending on how you feel about rodents and chipmunks), my cats have taken this description of love to a new level.  Daily, they have brought me various moles, mice and chipmunks to shower me with their love. After all, I am their poor ineffectual hunter of a human. Their person who spend time each day letting them in and then out and then in and then out with treats, pats and scratches involved.  Their person who shares the couch, lawn furniture and bed with them (and sometimes the blankets). Their gifts of food might not be my choice of good eats, but it is what they do. One of my neighbors the other day, asked me to send up the cats since she feels she is overrun with chipmunks…too bad they do not lend out well.  

I have spent time this week attempting to wrangle the books on my kindle into some semblance of organization.  You would not believe the job I have in front of me! According to Amazon, I have purchased over 2000 books since I started to read on my kindles.  I don't even know what I have and what I have purchased - thankfully Amazon does give me a message if I attempt to buy a book more than one. So far, I have started and have organized the first 300 or so books.  Now granted I am only organizing the books I have not read. The books I have read, I am ignoring. I am amazed how many books I have in some categories (mc romances, historical romances, cozy mysteries). I am thinking I need to add another column that organizes them into categories.  OH - and - series. You do not want to know how many series I have parts of but not all! I am hoping the library will be able to fill in many of the missing pieces.

Last week, Elise Cooper had a great interview with Karen White, while I read her newest book this week.  This week Elise has another great interview, this time with Jennifer Hillier, who wrote Jar of Hearts, a book from last week.  Check out the reviews and interviews. They are so interesting!


Books this week:

Captain Superlative by JS Puller

Dreams of Falling by Karen White

Driftwood Creek by Roxanne Snopek

Sandpiper Shore by Debbie Mason

A Piece of the World by Christina Baker Kline


Reflections on Father's Day

Reflections on Father’s Day

Today, being Father’s Day, makes me wonder what my relationship would be with my father had he lived longer.  I wonder if as he got older (and I did) if our politics would align more. I wonder if he would still love living in a small town where he grew up. I wonder many things about him and wish I had more time with him.  I know he would be loving the Red Sox and his grandchildren !

The last two days I have spent the majority of my time at the lake.  We sat near the spot we always like to sit. It is in the shade for most of the morning and near the picnic tables and water (Well. it is hard not to be by both.)  Above our heads in the nearest tree was a hole with two newly hatched flickers. The parents came back often to feed them and their cries were quite raucous for something so little.  After the first day, I went home and looked up flickers to learn more. What I read suggested that both males and females work at feeding the hatchlings. Today I watched the flickers again, only to realize that it was the father who kept coming back and feeding the babies. I never saw the female.  Now of course, I could have simply missed seeing her, or she came when I was in the water. How appropo, that on Father’s Day, the male flicker was feeding his hungry babies so often.

Today as I watch the Red Sox and remember the flickers, I am glad I had the time I did with Dad.  I am sure it is the wish of many children for them to have more time with their father. It is mine too.  He was a good man, who wanted his children to have a better life than he did. He wanted us to have jobs we liked, people to count on and to be happy.  

Thanks for all your love, Dad.

This week Elise Cooper’s interview was with Karen White, one of my favorite authors.  The book they speak about is on my couch arm to read - Dreams of Falling! After reading the review - it is moving up my to read list!


Books Read this week:

Heaven Adjacent by Catherine Ryan Hyde

Devil of a Duke by Madeline Hunter

The Art of Escaping by Erin Callahan

Feared by Lisa Scottoline

King’s Wrath by Nina Levine (no review)

Kings Reign by Nina Levine (no review)


A Perfect June Day

It is a perfect June day.  The sun is shining. There is a slight breeze.  It is not too hot nor too cool. Days like this are perfect and I have absolutely used the day as a perfect day.  I went out to breakfast this morning, ran a load of recycling to the transfer station and while I was out picked up something for dinner.  The rest of the day has included writing book reviews and reading (while the baseball game was on, of course). Perfect days are few and far between in life.  We have perfect parts of a day or imagine perfect days or mostly I think hope for perfect days. I never expect them, so when a day is slow, quiet and sunny, it is perfect.

For the past two weeks I have read some fabulous books.  Little Do We Know by Tamara Ireland Stone with its intertwining of Our Town by Thornton Wilder still has not left me.  The author twisted the stories together reminding us to live everyday as every moment is precious is how the book continues to resound with me.  Shelter in Place are the words that every teacher does not ever want to hear - even in a drill - so to have a book named that caught my attention.  The fact it was written by Nora Roberts didn’t hurt. The story of a serial killer in Shelter in Place and in the Jar of Hearts do not seem to be in the same league as Little Do We Know, but they were every bit as riveting as the others.  The tension that is built up with the suspense that grows with each chapter was fascinating. Barbara Delinsky’s newest book, while be a little too dramatic in places was a perfect counterpoint. In this case there were some real issues to be resolved including some recent issues with hacking and the overkill of the media when tracking a story.  (Which the more I think about it - It is like the game of telephone we used to play. Where the story you start with is not the story you end with.) I can only hope the next set of books to be read are as interesting.

It is bike week here in New Hampshire, with motorcyclist coming in from all over to hang out in Laconia and Weir’s Beach for the next week or so.  I am celebrating it by reading the next part of Nina Levine’s Sydney Storm MC series with the books King’s Wrath and King’s Reign. They are down and dirty books about a leader of an MC in Australia, who will hurt, maim or kill anyone who gets in his way.  Interesting characters and storylines abound, but I am still grateful this is not a part of my life.

I wish for you all a day of peaceful, joyous perfect - or at least a darn good day.


Read this week:

Jar of Hearts by Jennifer Hillier

Before and Again by Barbara Delinsky

Shelter in Place by Nora Roberts

The Risk of Rogues by Sabrina Jeffries


Presently Reading:

King’s Wrath and King’s Reign by Nina Levine


Our Town

Our Town

This week I read Tamara Ireland Stone’s newest book, Little Do We Know and was reminded all over again about living and appreciating the everyday.  Her book was a great read that really brought home the importance of family, love, friends and faith. The book highlighted the main points of Our Town (play by Thornton Wilder) as one of the main characters Emory played Emily in the play.  While the play was not the main point of the book, the questions of life and death were a part of the book and really were highlighted well by Our Town.

One summer, Mom had the opportunity to participate in live theater up at the Lincoln Playhouse in Lincoln NH. She played several roles, but the one that has always stood out to me - and not just because I have a picture of it (which I do) is the role she played in Our Town.  As I remember she didn’t do much but cry during the wedding of George and Emily and then again at the funeral of Emily. I also remembered when Emily had a chance to revisit her life on an unremarkable day and realised that people do not recognize the importance and the value of everyday life and events.  The older I become, the more I know the truth of those words, but do not always take the time to ‘walk the talk’. The dead townspeople in the last act emphasize how the living should be enjoying the time they have on Earth.

Today I sat outside on the deck, enjoying the leaves blowing in the wind and the symphony of the birds.  I know I will not spend every moment as I did those - but I took the time to appreciate the beauty of the day and enjoyed the time I have. Perhaps Thornton Wilder’s point did resonant more than I thought.

Take the time to enjoy living and the important people in your world. 

Books Read this week:

The Summer I Met Jack by Michelle Gable

Little Do We Know by Tamara Ireland Stone

The Princess by Elizabeth Elliot

The Legends of Nimway Hall 1750: Jacqueline by Stephanie Laurens


Currently Reading

Before and Again by Barbara Delinsky


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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.

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!

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Latest comments

29.07 | 21:13

Great interview and the story sounds great

23.06 | 23:24

Great interview!

27.05 | 23:23

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

26.03 | 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!

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