#TopTenTuesday: Most Read Authors

July 7, 2020

Top Ten Tuesday: Most-Read Authors

Top Ten Tuesday celebrating 10 years (image: a birthday cake with 10 candles)

*I’m linking up today with That Artsy Reader Girl for Top Ten Tuesday: Most-Read Authors.

If you’ve clicked over from That Artsy Reader Girl, Welcome! Please look around and enjoy your stay.

Who is your most read author? It was interesting to crunch the numbers to see which authors made the top of my list. This list is not representative of my favorite authors. Some of my newly discovered favorite authors have only written one or two books.

 *This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Listed in order of the number of books read (not in order of favorite author). I have more than ten authors in this post because #bookproblems



 

Alexander McCall Smith: 22 Books Read

I love Smith’s No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency (series of 20). I adore the kind and gracious Mma Precious Ramotswe and the cast of quirky supporting characters, and I appreciate the setting and culture of Botswana. A recent favorite is The House of Unexpected Sisters and I look forward to a new installment this fall, How to Raise an Elephant. I’ve tried his Scotland series and I read My Italian Bulldozer, but I prefer the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series to anything else. Each installment is like visiting with old friends. If you are looking for easy-reading, gentle, comfort reads with likable characters and uplifting themes, this might be a good option. They definitely fall in the category of “uplit.”



 

Louise Penny: 15 Books Read

The best part of this gentle mystery series for me is the character of Chief Inspector Armond Gamache. The setting of Three Pines is an additional draw. One of my favorites of the series is Glass Houses and I’m looking forward to a new installment in September, All the Devils Are Here.



 

Fredrik Backman: 8 Books Read

If Backman had written 100 books, I would have read them all! They are all different so it’s difficult to choose a favorite. Thus I’m listing all eight! At the moment, he is my favorite author (and will be at the top of this list when he writes more books). I devoted an entire post to Backman here.

Beartown, Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer, Deal of a Lifetime, Things My Son Needs to Know About the World, and Us Against You have been reviewed on the blog. I’m eagerly waiting for number nine due out in September, Anxious People.



A Fall of Marigolds by Susan Neissner (cover) White test on a blue background vordered on three corners with marigolds

Susan Meissner: 5 Books

Susan Meissner writes engaging historical fiction, and my favorite is A Fall of Marigolds.



 

Mitch Albom: 5 Books Read

Do you love Mitch Albom, too? I regret that I’m not yet a Mitch Albom completist. Are you? My favorites are Tuesdays With Morrie, The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto, and Finding Chika.

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#6Degrees of Separation: From What I Loved to Learning to See

July 4, 2020

Happy Birthday U.S.A.!

giphy

 #6Degrees of Separation: From What I Loved by Siri Hustved to Learning to See by Elise Hooper

#6Degrees of Separation (a collage of covers in this post)

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

ART!

#6Degrees of Separation: from What I Loved by Siri Hustved to Learning to See by Elise Hooper.

#6Degrees is a monthly link-up hosted by Kate at Books Are My Favourite and Best. I’ve seen this meme around for a while and Davida’s posts at The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog inspired me to give it a try this year! Making connections between books is challenging, creative, and fun!

Each month a book is chosen as a starting point and linked to six other books to form a chain. A book doesn’t need to be connected to all the other books on the list, only to the one next to it in the chain. The rules are:

  • Link the books together in any way you like.
  • Provide a link in your post to the meme at Books Are My Favourite and Best.
  • Share these rules in your post.
  • Paste the link to your post in the comments on Kate’s post and/or the Linky Tool on that post.
  • Invite your blog readers to join in and paste their links in the comments and/or the Linky Tool.
  • Share your post on Twitter using the #6Degrees hash tag.
  • Be nice! Visit and comment on other posts and/or retweet other #6Degrees posts.

Play Along?

This month’s prompt starts with What I Loved by Siri Hustved and is a book I have not read. I notice in the summary that an extraordinary painting is discovered, so my chain will be built around an art theme.

What I Loved by Siri Hustvedt (cover) Image: a girl in a red spaghetti stap dress sits with her back to the camera and rests her left hand on the side of her dark short hairAmazon Summary: “What I Loved begins in New York in 1975, when art historian Leo Hertzberg discovers an extraordinary painting by an unknown artist in a SoHo gallery. He buys the work; tracks down the artist, Bill Wechsler; and the two men embark on a life-long friendship. Leo’s story, which spans twenty-five years, follows the growing involvement between his family and Bill’s–an intricate constellation of attachments that includes the two men, their wives, Erica and Violet, and their sons, Matthew and Mark.

The families live in the same New York apartment building, rent a house together in the summers and keep up a lively exchange of ideas about life and art, but the bonds between them are tested, first by sudden tragedy, and then by monstrous duplicity that slowly comes to the surface. A beautifully written novel that combines the intimacy of a family saga with the suspense of a thriller, What I Loved is a deeply moving story about art, love, loss, and betrayal.”

A Piece of the World by Christina Baker Kline (cover) Image a solitary house stands on a windswept prairieFirst Degree. From the summary of What I Loved, I notice that an extraordinary piece of art is discovered. This reminds me of A Piece of the World by Christina Baker Kline inspired by Andrew Wyeth’s mysterious and iconic painting, Christina’s World..

Goodreads Summary: “A stunning and atmospheric novel of friendship, passion, and art, inspired by Andrew Wyeth’s mysterious and iconic painting Christina’s World.

“Later he told me that he’d been afraid to show me the painting. He thought I wouldn’t like the way he portrayed me: dragging myself across the field, fingers clutching dirt, my legs twisted behind. The arid moonscape of wheatgrass and timothy. That dilapidated house in the distance, looming up like a secret that won’t stay hidden.”

Christina's World painting by Andrew Wyeth (Image:) a young woman drags herself across a prairie toward a solitary house on a hill

Christina’s World by Andrew Wyeth

To Christina Olson, the entire world was her family’s remote farm in the small coastal town of Cushing, Maine. Born in the home her family had lived in for generations, and increasingly incapacitated by illness, Christina seemed destined for a small life. Instead, for more than twenty years, she was host and inspiration for the artist Andrew Wyeth and became the subject of one of the best known American paintings of the twentieth century. My Goodreads review of A Piece of the World.

Big Lies in a Small Town by Diane Chamberlain (cover)Second Degree: Another story involving art is Big Lies in a Small Town by Diane Chamberlain. Here, the story involves an imagined mural.

My Summary: “Secrets, prejudice, and making peace with the past …. Two young women living several decades apart are focused on the same mural….one is creating the mural in 1940 and the other is restoring the same mural in 2018. In alternate viewpoints and dual timelines, we hear both stories, the mystery of what happened to the original artist is uncovered, and connections between the two are revealed.” My review of Big Lies in a Small Town.

Girl With a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier (cover) Image: 17th cuntury portrait of a girl looking over her shoulder at the camera wearing a blue and gold head covering and a pearl earringThird Degree: The next book to involve art is is Girl With a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier. The subject of the painting (as depicted on the cover) by the Dutch painter, Johannes Vermeer, is anonymous.

Amazon Summary: Tracy Chevalier transports readers to a bygone time and place in this richly-imagined portrait of the young woman who inspired one of Vermeer’s most celebrated paintings.

History and fiction merge seamlessly in this luminous novel about artistic vision and sensual awakening. Girl with a Pearl Earring tells the story of sixteen-year-old Griet, whose life is transformed by her brief encounter with genius . . . even as she herself is immortalized in canvas and oil.” (***I gave this one 3.5 stars but didn’t write a review except to note that is is “an enjoyable and interesting character-driven story”).

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The Vanishing Half: [Book Review]

June 3, 2020

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett (cover)

Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, Sisters, Complicated Family Drama, Own Voices

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

The Vignes sisters are twins. They are light-skinned black girls, identical, and inseparable. They endure a childhood trauma, are forced to leave high school early and go to work, and eventually leave home (run away) together at sixteen. From that point, everything changes. The future finds them estranged. Desiree escapes an abusive marriage and returns to her small southern hometown to live with her mom and her dark child. This is difficult because the town celebrates light-skinned blacks and Desiree’s dark-skinned daughter, Jude, faces racism within the black community. Stella decides to pass as white which means that she completely cuts ties with her past and her family. The Vanishing Half begins in the 1950s and concludes in the 1990s with the next generation (Desiree’s and Stella’s daughters).

My Thoughts:

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Last Christmas in Paris [Book Review] #throwbackthursday

July 2, 2020

Last Christmas in Paris by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb
#throwbackthursday

I’m linking up today with Davida @ The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog for #throwbackthursday.

This year as part of Blog Audit Challenge 2020 I’m going back to update older review posts. On Thursdays, I’ll be re-sharing a few of these great reads, and today I’m sharing my review of Last Christmas in Paris by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb….an endearing love story with a WW1 backdrop. I must note before starting that these Throw Back Thursday posts are like visiting old, dear friends and today’s story is on my lifetime favorites list…so, it’s a special joy to introduce you to this lovely story!

War changes everything…

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Last Christmas in Paris by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb cover (image: a packet of old letters tied with a red ribbon in the foreground and a partical view of the Eifel Tower in the background)

Genre/Categories: historical fiction (WW 1), epistolary, war, romantic

My Summary:

At the beginning of WW 1 as Evie watches her brother, Will, and his best friend, Thomas, leave for the front, she (and nearly everyone) naively believes the war will be over by Christmas. To keep their spirits up, the three make plans for celebrating Christmas in Paris. The Great War, as we know from history, turned out much differently. While Thomas and Will struggle with the horrific realities of war, Evie does her part by writing to each of them. Through letters, Evie and Thomas grow fond of each other and find it easy to share their deepest hopes and fears through letters. Evie is a high-spirited, determined, and independent young woman who wants to more fully participate in the war effort. Through her interests in writing, she writes columns for a newspaper on the topic of war from a woman’s point of view. These columns become more controversial as she finds it difficult to write anything but the truth. Eventually, she travels to France to be closer to the front as she wants to contribute to the war effort in a more significant way. Will Evie and Thomas and their love survive the war? Will they ever make it to Paris to celebrate Christmas?”

Continue here for my full review of Last Christmas in Paris

QOTD: Have you read Last Christmas in Paris or is it on your TBR?

June 2020 Reading Wrap Up

June 30, 2020

June 2020 Reading Wrap Up

June Reading Wrap Up (image: a collage of book covers listed in this post)

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

What Was Your Favorite June Read?

June was a mostly great reading month with one five-star (4.5) and seven four-star reads, one three-star read, and one two-star read. I did have one DNF. I read a total of ten books (52 for the year) which puts me right on pace to meet my year-end challenge of 100 books.

Find all my June reads listed below in order of Star Rating. Keep in mind that I normally recommend five- and four-star reads on the blog; three-star reads receive mixed reviews from me for various reasons; and two-star reads are books I may or may not have finished but they were not for me. One star reads are usually shelved as DNF or perhaps quickly scanned.

Under COVID-19 conditions, I hope that you’re all doing well and staying safe!

My favorite fiction read of the month is The Last Train to Key West for its page-turning story line and interesting characters. It feels like a vacation, escapist, or summer read.

Did we read any of the same books?

Titles are Amazon affiliate links and my available reviews are linked.


 The Last Train to Key West by Chanel Cleeton

4.5 Stars. (ARC) Historical Fiction. Part women’s fiction, part histfic, part suspense. My Last Train to Key West review.


The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennet

4 Stars. Historical Fiction. Themes of passing as white, sexual identity, and family drama. Review to come.


Simon the Fiddler by Paulette Jiles

4 Stars. Historical Fiction. For fans of News of the World. My Simon the Fiddler review.


Liturgy of the Ordinary by Rish Harrison Warren

4 Stars.  Nonfiction, inspirational, Christian. Not yet reviewed.

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Blog Audit Challenge 2020: June #blogauditchallenge2020

June 29, 2020

June’s Blog Audit Challenge 2020

Blog Audit Challenge 2020 (picture of a woman's hands on the keyboard of a laptop)Blogging Friends,

This year I’m participating in Blog Audit Challenge 2020 hosted by Jo Linsdell. The plan is to work on making our blogs even better and setting our goals for the coming months. Each month will have its own challenge to work through. Join us!

 I hope that if you are reading this that you continue to be well and that your area is opening up for business and recreation with social distancing precautions.

 

June’s Challenge Focuses on Links:

Of the topics covered so far, I think I feel the best about my use of links to enhance my content and to attract visitors. At least, I feel more confidant in discussing links than I have previous topics! I can always improve, but I think I’m doing OK in this area.

There are two types of links:

1. Internal Links

  • The importance of using internal links is to keep visitors engaged with your content and spend more time on your site. Part of analyzing your blog data is tracking the “bounce rate,” i.e. the time visitors spend on your site. If a visitor only reads the page which caused them to land on your site, this contributes to a high “bounce rate.” If a follower or visitor looks at another page on your site (either through a link, a menu tab, or the search bar, etc., this helps to lower your “bounce rate.” Low “bounce rates” are optimal and increase your SEO! (see what I did here?!)
  • In my posts, you will usually notice internal links. When appropriate, I will link to related content (e.g. a book by the same author or a post with a similar topic) and I also include links to previous content in my ICYMI section. In my menu options, I have included pages with links to a great deal of blog content. In these monthly blog challenge posts, I am linking back to each previous month.
  • TIP: I have recently learned that SEO best practices suggests not using “see here” when creating links. SEO likes it when you use specific descriptive words. So instead of “see review here,” it would be better to write “see my review of Simon the Fiddler.” In my monthly wrap up posts, I have been writing “my full review here” (which you can see in my May Wrap Up post)….starting tomorrow, I vow to do better in creating internal links with more specific descriptive wording for my wrap up post!

2. External Links

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Simon the Fiddler [Book Review]

June 26, 2020

Simon the Fiddler by Paulette Jiles

Simon the Fiddler by Paulette Jiles (cover) Image: a gold toned western landscape including a river

Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, Post-Civil War Southwest, Western

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

A diverse, scrappy, hard-working, risk-taking, and loyal group of four forms a band…and Simon pursues love.

Simon is the fiddler and leader, and other members include Doroteo (guitar player), Damon (whistle player), and Patrick (bodhran and bone player). On the eve of the Confederate surrender, Simon notices a lovely Irish girl, Doris, who is an indentured servant and governess for a colonel’s daughter. Simon can’t forget Doris as his ragtag group travels Texas striving to put their lives back together at the end of the Civil War and build their reputation. He vows to find her again, rescue her from her dire situation, and propose.

an old fiddle

My Thoughts:

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Far From the Tree [Book Review] #throwbackthursday

June 25, 2020

Far From the Tree by Robin Benway
#throwbackthursday

I’m linking up today with Davida @ The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog for #throwbackthursday.

This year as part of Blog Audit Challenge 2020 I’m going back to update older review posts. On Thursdays, I’ll be re-sharing a few of these great reads, and today I’m sharing my review of Far From the Tree by Robin Benway….a compelling family story.

Are you a fan of multi-layered family drama?

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Far From the Tree by Robin Benway (cover) Image: black text on a background of pinkish purple explosion of leaves

Genre/Categories: YA Fiction, Social & Family Issues, Adoption, Siblings

My Summary:

“Far From the Tree is a contemporary YA fiction novel in which three biological siblings (placed for adoption or foster care as babies in separate families) find their way to each other as teenagers and discover a deeper meaning of family. The story is complicated because Grace, one of the three siblings, has just placed her own baby up for adoption. In addition, Joaquin, another of the siblings has experienced trauma growing up in the foster care system. The author tenderly explores each of their stories including the mistrust, feelings of aloneness, and individual hurts and disappointments. Far From the Tree won the 2017 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature.”

Continue here for my full review of Far From the Tree

QOTD: Have you read Far From the Tree or is it on your TBR?

Top Ten Tuesday: 10+ Highly Rated and Favorite WW1 and WW11 Reads

June 23, 2020

Top Ten Tuesday: 10+ Highly Rated and Favorite WW1 and WW11 Reads

10+ Favorite WW1 and WW11 Reads (Image: a tall stack of books on a painted wooden blue table)

Top Ten Tuesday celebrating 10 years (image: a birthday cake with 10 candles)

*I’m linking up today with That Artsy Reader Girl for Top Ten Tuesday’s 10th Anniversary Celebration: Update an Old Post. Today I’m updating a post that was originally published in April of 2018.

If you’ve clicked over from That Artsy Reader Girl, Welcome! Please look around and enjoy your stay.

I read a lot of histfic and one of my favorite sub-genres is WW1 and WW11 histfic. Listed below are 10 of my highest-rated and favorite histfic reads that have also received high star ratings on Goodreads. In addition, I included some honorable mention because there are more than 10 reads that are memorable to me for various reasons. Not all titles are reviewed because I read them before publishing this blog (in which case I’ve provided the Amazon link). *This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Listed in order of their Goodreads star rating (6/22/20).

The Nightingale

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

WW11

 Amazon Information Here

My Rating: 4 Stars

Goodreads Rating: 4.58 Stars



The Medallion by Cathy Gohlke (cover)

The Medallion by Cathy Gohlke

WW11

Full Review Here

My Rating: 4.5 Stars

Goodreads Rating: 4.54 Stars



The Things We Cannot Say by Kelly Rimmer (cover)

The Things We Cannot Say by Kelly Rimmer

WW11

Full Review Here

My Rating: 4.5 Stars

Goodreads Rating: 4.51 Stars



From Sand and Ash

From Sand and Ash by Amy Harmon

WW11

Full Review Here

My Rating: 5 Stars

Goodreads Rating: 4.38 Stars



we were the lucky ones

We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter

WW11

 Full Review Here

My Rating: 5 Stars

Goodreads Rating: 4.40 Stars
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Book Recommendations for Dad

June 19, 2020

Book Recs That a Dad in Your life Might Enjoy!

Text: Book Recs For Dad; Image: a father walks in the surf with a young child (backs to camera)

happy father's day

Celebrating Fathers This Weekend!

Happy Father’s Day!

 

My dad and me as a baby, my dad on a fjord in Norway, my dad and me at my graduation (masters)

My father has been in Heaven for several years now, dying on Father’s Day in 2009.

Text: Dad...Remembering you is easy, I do it every day. Missing you is the heartache that never goes away. Image: a father and young child walk hand in hand (backs to the camera)

If you are fortunate to have your dad in your life this Father’s Day, here are some great bookish ideas for Father’s Day. Titles are Amazon links (links to my reviews are included when available).

*This post contains affiliate Amazon links.

Most of the following titles come directly from my husband (Mr. Reading Ladies). Keep in mind that he was a history major and loves biographies!
First, his lifetime favorites list: 



10 Lifetime Favorites From Mr. Reading Ladies



News of the World by Paulette Jiles
(My Brief Review in this Post)

News of the World by Paulette Jiles (cover) Image: a prairie landscape under a big blue cloud filled sky

 Beartown by Fredrik Backman
(My Brief Review of Beartown in This Post)

Beartown by Fredrik Backman (cover) Image: a small town set against the mountains and kids playing hockey in the foreground

Wait Till Next Year by (Red Sox Baseball Fan) Doris Kearns Goodwin
(My Review Here)

Wait Till Next Year by Doris Kearns Goodwin (cover) Image: an old professional baseball stadium

*Regan An American Journey by Bob Spitz*

Reagan: An American Journey by Bob Spitz (cover) Image: a young Reagan leans against a fence looking ahead and to his right

Franklin and Winston: An Intimate Portrait of an Epic Friendship by Jon Meacham

Franklin and Winston by Jon Meacham (cover) Image: Franklin and Winston sit in chairs on a lawn

  John Quincy Adams by Harlow Giles Unger

John Quincy Adams by Harlow Giles Unger (cover) Image: portrait of Adams

Grant by Ron Chernow
Here’s a review of Grant by a respected reviewer.

Grant by Ron Chernow (cover) Image: portrait of Grant in uniform

Washington: A Life by Ron Chernow

Washington by Ron Chernow (cover) Image: Washington in uniform on a white horse

Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery

Amazing Grace by Eric Metaxas (cover) Image: portrait of William Wilberforce

Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin

Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin (cover) Image: Lincoln and a group of politicians at a meeting



9 Other Favorites From Mr. Reading Ladies



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