Library Lady’s Favorite Books of 2018

I’ve been doing a lot of travel writing lately but feel it’s time to get back to my roots and write  some book reviews!  I’m lucky enough to be a book-lover who works at a library, so have plenty of opportunities to learn about great reads. As many of you ask me for book recommendations, here’s some of my favorites for 2018.

Fiction Books

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Dear Mrs. Bird – A.J. Pearce

Set in London during WWII this book is about an adventurous young woman who takes a job as a war correspondent, or so she thinks, but when the dust settles, she finds herself working as an advice columnist for a women’s magazine. Emmaline can’t resist answering letters that her boss has deemed unfit, and so the fun begins.  Warm and funny, an eye opening look at life during the bombing of England.

indigoIndigo Girl – Natasha Boyd

Set in the 1700’s, this is the story of Eliza Lucas Pinckney, a young Southern woman who must run her father’s plantation when he is called away.  To save the family from ruin, Eliza decides to grow Indigo, an unheard-of crop for that area.  With help from the plantation workers she attempts this risky endeavor, but not everyone is on her side. Based on a true story. “Reader’s Choice” winner for Salt Lake County Libraries.

 

   Sprig Muslin, The Reluctant Widow, and Beauvallet – Georgette Heyer

I love almost anything by Georgette Heyer. Her stories are humorous, full of charming characters and fun plots. Her books, 56 historical fiction and mystery novels, along with several short stories and essays, were written during the early 1900’s. Georgette has a huge fan base which is ever growing and after reading one of her books you’ll understand why. Pictured are three of my favorites. Are you a Regency fan? You’ll love these.

newsNews of the World – Paulette Giles

In the wake of the Civil War, Captain Jefferson Kidd is responsible for returning a young white girl, recently rescued from the Indians, back to her family. Captain Kidd is an elderly widow and while he and his charge are a mismatched duo at first, they soon form a delightful bond which changes the course of their lives.

 

gentlemanA Gentleman in Moscow – Amor Towles

The Author takes us to Russia in 1922, where the aristocratic Count Alexander Rostov, has been condemned to death by a Bolshevik tribunal. Thanks to his popularity and social prominence his life is spared, but the count is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol Hotel for the rest of his life. As he adjusts to his new circumstances, we get to know this witty and elegant gentleman and the profound effect  he has on those around him. (One of my favorites!)

black rabBlack Rabbit Hall

A mystery about two women who, though separated by time are linked by the secrets of black Rabbit Hall. Lorna is determined to be married within the ivy-covered walls of her family’s summer home, but the more she learns about Black Rabbit Hall the stranger it seems.

chilburyThe Chilbury Ladies Choir

This book, set in England during the second World War, is the story of a choir who refuses to disband after all the men are called to battle. While the local vicar tries to shut them down, the choir ladies rally their village around them and stand fast.  Chilbury is about the lives and loves of a population affected by war. A must read – great for book clubs.

Non Fiction Books

call the nurseCall the Nurse – Mary J. Macleod

Looking for a change from the hustle and bustle of London, Mary J. Macleod and her husband relocate to a remote island in the Scottish Hebrides where her nursing skills catapult her into unfamiliar territory. The subtitle – True Stories of a Country Nurse on a Scottish Isle – pretty much sums it up.  Did you like James Herriot?  This is a people version.

fine romanceA Fine Romance – Susan Branch

Now I want to go to England! This delightful book – part diary, part travel guide will tempt even the most stubborn couch potato to see the world.  Susan Branch, a talented artist, illustrates her books with whimsical watercolors. That and the hand-written font make this a captivating read.

grandmaGrandma Gatewood’s Walk, the Inspiring Story of the Woman Who Saved the Appalachian Trail – Ben Montgomery
Grandma Gatewood is a tough cookie.  After enduring years of abuse at the hands of a cruel husband, she decides to take a walk. – a long walk – and proceeds to hike the entire 2,050 miles of the Appalachian Trail.  This inspiring book tells about her adventures and why at the age of 67 she decided to hit the road.

nestingThe Nesting Place: It Doesn’t Have to be Perfect to be Beautiful – Myquillyn Smith

I’m not usually into decorating books, but this author dished out a lot of wisdom along with her excellent décor tips. (Her own home has been featured in several magazines) For years she lived in rental homes and felt she couldn’t embrace her space because it wasn’t really what she wanted. This book tells of her attitude change, and inspires readers to love their homes wherever they may be.

rudyRudy’s Rules for Travel – Mary K. Jensen

Rudy was a traveler extraordinaire.  This is his wife’s hilarious account of their frugal but extensive travels – and how she survived. Humorous and informative.  You can tell they were a match made in heaven, even though their travel styles were miles apart.

 

great halifax goodThe Great Halifax Explosion – John U. Bacon

A shocking yet riveting true story, this was one I couldn’t put down.  The collision of two ships in the Halifax harbor in 1917, caused the biggest man-made explosion prior to the atomic bomb.  Unfortunately, the harbor was surrounded on three sides by bustling communities, all rocked both physically and emotionally by this unimaginable catastrophe. Inspiring      heroes and an epic recovery.

reasonsReason’s My Kid is Crying – Greg Pembroke

Sure to make you laugh out loud.  Anyone who’s spent time around toddlers will relate. The author started out posting a few pics of his child having major meltdowns over minor things and his blog went viral.  Other parents joined in the fun and the result is a book that will crack you up.

life changThe Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up Marie Kondo

Well, it changed my life.  This author inspires readers to get rid of their junk.  Can’t part with something because you paid too much for it? Read this book for Marie’s solution. Her breezy style and to the point tips on decluttering are the result of a lifetime of simple living. It’ll make you want to clean your closet!


Junior Fiction Books

 

The Penderwicks – Jeanne Birdsall

This delightful story of four sisters and their well-meaning but distracted father, will make you smile.  Children of all ages should read this book to learn how to have fun with their siblings. An uplifting and heartfelt tale. I loved this and will read more of the Penderwicks in the future.

I Will Always Write Back  – Martin Ganda and Caitlin Alifirenka

Thanks to a class assignment, Martin from Zimbabwe, and Caitlin from Pennsylvania become pen pals.  Their letters link two lives, each saving the other in their own way. Teen and Young adult fiction. A true story and a New York times best seller.

Listen Slowly – Thanhha Lai

Mai, a California girl of Vietnamese descent is looking forward to spending the summer on the beach with her friends. Plans change when her grandmother requires a travelling companion to return to the land of their heritage. This book tells a great story about family, life in a foreign country and how people who may seem very different are all basically the same. Recommended for fifth grade and up.

For more Library Lady book recommends click here!

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Rosie Bear Retires

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Rosie Bear

As many of you know, this blog originated in 2013 as “The Library Lady and Rosie Bear”.  While I wrote adult book reviews and web content, my lifelong friend and teddy bear Rosie, focused on children’s book reviews  and acted as adviser on all things blog related.

At this time, I am sad to announce Rosie’s  retirement. At the age of 61, she feels it is time to explore her options.  I can’t wait to see what fun plans this adventurous brown bear has in mind. Rosie’s parting words? “Read till your eye falls off.” Excellent advice for all.

As for the blog, it will  continue without her (bearly) and in the future will  be known as The Library Lady Writes.  For a humorous look at the world in general, travel tips and whatever else crosses my mind, please continue to read and follow.  I’m grateful for those who have been with me all these years, and hope to continue our acquaintance. Best to all!

Don’t Do This!

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMy mother and I recently enjoyed a long-awaited tour of  Ireland. All in all it was a delightful trip, as long as you don’t count the part where I was held hostage in the Shannon airport. I have no one to blame for this international incident but myself . . . well actually, I could blame my mother.  She’s the one who put one name on my birth certificate then called me something entirely different for the rest of my life.  As a result, I don’t think in terms of my given name, unless I’m applying for something official like a driver’s license.

This was my first mistake – putting my Christian name on my driver’s license. It seemed like the thing to do at the time but has caused me untold amounts of trouble over the years since the name on my license never matches anything else.  My second mistake was in putting my nickname on my airline tickets. Continue reading

One Hundred Thousand Welcomes!

By Geanie Roake

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATraveling from Chicago’s O’Hare airport to its miniature equivalent in Shannon Ireland is like stepping into another dimension. While the two airports are polar opposites – finely tuned chaos compared to small-town bustle – it’s the shift in scenery that takes your breath away. Chicago, a major metropolis of towering concrete, percolates with honking horns and harried people. Ireland on the other hand, embodies peace and lush green beauty.

County Clare 

Our ten-day bus tour of Southern Ireland began in the rural area of County Clare, where the countryside is dotted with traditional cottages, lush valleys, and ancient stone buildings. There are over 300 hundred castles, or the remains of such, in County Clare alone. It’s not unusual to see a country farmhouse sitting a stone’s throw from a crumbling 12th century cathedral, the farmer’s cows grazing peacefully among the
ruins.  Continue reading

Escape from O’Hare – or the Long Layover

 

1199px-O'Hare_airport_Terminal_1_Concourse_CChicago’s O’Hare airport is an interesting place, but not for seven hours.  My mother and I came to this conclusion ten minutes into our long layover there.  We were en-route to Shannon Ireland, and while not excited about our down time, we were also uneasy about leaving the airport. What if we got lost or mugged, and didn’t make it back in time to catch our flight?   But the alternative of playing solitaire and wandering aimlessly for seven hours was unthinkable.  We decided to throw caution to the wind and set out for the City of Chicago.

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Millennium Park

Our first stop was the tourist information booth at the airport.  We asked the attendant what she would do in our situation and without hesitation she said, “Go to Millennium Park”.  It sounded good to us, and best of all, it was easy.  We got on the blue line and stayed put until we reached Forest Park, (a 35 to 40-minute ride).

Continue reading

Promoting Your Freelance Writing Business Face to Face

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Tell Them What You Do!

Well, that was embarrassing.  I shake my head as I contemplate my failed attempt at describing my writing business. I had just bumped into a long-lost friend at the mall and she asked what I what I was doing these days.

“I’m a freelance writer,” I replied with confidence.
“Really, so what do you write?”
Here’s where I dropped the ball.  “I um, write articles . . . and blog posts.”
“Oh,” she said. “What’s a blog?” (I know; my friend needs to get out more.)

Don’t Miss Opportunities

Luckily, in this case, my lackluster response wasn’t a big deal, but it could have been. What if my acquaintance had been a potential employer, or the friend of someone who was looking for a freelancer. I’d have missed the boat. Here’s the thing about being a writer – word of mouth is important. And that day, my mouth wasn’t working.

So why did I stumble over my job description? Because I usually rely on my resume – that perfectly choreographed depiction of my best writing self.  Ideally, I don’t have to describe what I do, I simply link potential clients to my website, and shining examples of my craft pop up on the screen.

Unfortunately, we can’t always rely on a remote interaction, or a written version of our abilities. Occasionally, even in this high-tech world, we need to talk to real people and promote ourselves face to face. Fortunately, this is not as frightening as it sounds if you give it some thought ahead of time. Continue reading

Night of the Tarantula or, The Spider Transport Theory


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My son believes all creatures have the right to a long and happy life, and that even spiders who have wandered into the house should be gently transported back to the yard or garden from whence they came.

While I don’t always agree with this theory, I’m not entirely hard-hearted either. Largely due to repeated readings of Charlotte’s Web as a child, I’m willing to do my part to for the insect world and am happy to alert my son if a spider needs rescuing. I don’t intentionally step on ants, and I’ve been known to hold the door open and shoe flying things outside rather than resorting to more violent methods of dispatch. But even I have my limits, and these were sorely tested on the night of the tarantula.

It was late, and in a pleasantly dozey state I ambled upstairs in anticipation of a good nights sleep.  I flipped on the light switch and was jolted awake by the sight of a spider hanging on the wall just inches from my fingertips.  It was huge and black, with creepy jointed legs, obviously a man-eater.

Now, at times like this my sense of fair play evaporates and instinct kicks in; I whipped off my shoe and slammed it against the wall, entirely missing the spider in my haste.  The spider, offended by my assassination attempt leapt from the wall and flung itself at me. (There are two schools of thought concerning this sequence of events.  Some would say that the force of my shoe hitting the wall actually bounced the spider from it’s perch, and that it was not in fact attacking me, but it sure looked that way.) My husband, knight in shining armor that he is, came running at the sound of the bloodcurdling shriek that echoed through the house.

“What’s wrong,” he gasped, out of breath from sprinting up two flights of stairs.

“There’s a Tarantula in here,” I said pointing to the spider, which was scurrying up the opposite wall.

He spotted it, not hard to do considering its size.

“It’s just a garden spider,” he said, “but it’s sure a big one. Don’t worry. I’ll take care of it.”

He picked up a magazine, strode across the room and swatted at the spider, which sailed gracefully through the air and landed smack in the middle of my underwear drawer. When will I learn to close my drawers?

Mute with horror, I stared at my husband.

“Oops,” was all he could say and . . . wait a minute, was there a hint of laughter in his voice?

“It’s not funny!” I said, verging on hysteria. Even as we spoke a giant arachnid was lurking in my lingerie. “What do we do now?”

“Well,” he tapped his finger on his chin, “we could dump out the drawer.”

“And watch the spider run under the bed?”

“Right.  O.K. What if we leave  the drawer in the backyard, and let the spider crawl out on its own.”

“Maybe, but what about all the other stuff that will crawl in?”

We finally decided to take the drawer out side and shake everything piece by piece until the spider fell out.  It never did. Apparently it wasn’t in there anymore.  Somehow it must have crawled back into the dresser while we were jiggling the drawer loose.  We slept in the guest room that night.

When I walked into our room the next morning, the spider, seemingly none the worse for its adventure, was happily sunning itself by the window. If it had a tail it would have wagged it like a friendly puppy waiting to greet me at the door. This time I took a deep breath and called the transporter.  My son carefully placed a fruit jar over the spider, and slid a piece of paper under the opening.  Then I supervised as he carried it to the farthest corner of the yard, and dumped it in the grass.

In retrospect, I’ve decided there’s some merit to the Spider Transport Theory.  Namely, the Charlottes of the world get to go on living, and Spider phobics like myself, enjoy the peace of mind, which comes from knowing that a spider is no longer in the bedroom.  In fact, at last sighting, our spider was merrily skittering off in the direction of my neighbor’s house.

 

Cutting Cable

 

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We recently cancelled our cable T.V. subscription, and now get a wide variety of local stations with our rabbit ears antenna. Our favorite, “Grit”, features old westerns and lots of infomercials. We love the westerns, the infomercials not so much, but have found them to be exceedingly funny.

“Hurry!” my husband called from down the hall. “They’re selling a flashlight that works even when it’s frozen in a block of ice. I bought two!”

Thankfully he was kidding, about the purchase, but not the product.

Remember Al Borland form the 90’s sitcom Tool Time? He’s hawking a hose that magically rewinds itself when not in use. Not only that but it won’t break, even when stretched between two large pickups pulling in the opposite direction!

There’s a cooler that folds down into a compact, easily portable form. In fact it’s so  lightweight that Grandma is shown dancing with one of these in each hand. Trucks are also featured here. This cooler won’t break even when RUN OVER by a large pickup.

Then there’s a handy-dandy egg cooker which makes the perfect hard-boiled egg. So easy, “Just Crack, Boil and Pop”. I was actually kind of tempted by this one, until I realized that I can already make the perfect hard-boiled egg with a pot of boiling water, which is free.

Don’t forget the copper thing you  lay on your barbecue to keep your grill from getting dirty. It also comes with a handy Flip and Grip spatula which is free except for a separate shipping fee. Watch out for those shipping fees.

PENTAX ImageYou can also purchase this amazingly awesome glue, which will patch the giant hole you cut in the bottom of your boat.  There’s an atomic lighter,  dancing Tiki lights and the same sunglasses used by fighter pilots and super heroes.

 

Trumpy Bear?

But my personal favorite, the funniest, the craziest of them all, is Trumpy Bear! Honestly, I’m not  even sure  I can do this one justice.  Trumpy  is a cute little teddy bear with a patriotic tie and a wild thatch of bleach blond hair. Not only that, but when you unzip the secret compartment in his back you find an American flag style blanket.

As we watched with increasing alarm, several tough looking customers – a construction worker, an ex-marine biker, and  variety of first responders appeared on the screen, each bearing testimony that they would never go anywhere without their Trumpy bear. (The ex-marine is shown gravely attaching Trumpy to the windshield of his motorcycle.)

We thought Trumpy was a joke at first, but two payments of $19.99 plus shipping and handling charges are no laughing matter. Honestly, did we really need this product? I know I didn’t, but I told my son about it and now he’s getting me one for Christmas. Ha-ha. Very funny.

In the meantime,  my husband and I  will continue to watch old westerns and save money on our cable T.V. bill. And I will keep you posted on the latest and the greatest of  the infomercial world.  By the way, I was out in the garden this morning trying to water my plants with a tangled hose. If you’re still there Tool-Time-Al, I think I’ll order two.

 

 

 

Gardener’s Remorse

 

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There’s a term for people who buy things then wish they hadn’t. It’s called buyer’s remorse. I believe there is a similar phenomenon associated with gardening. For want of a better term we’ll call it Gardener’s Remorse. This is the direct result of spending too many winter evenings drooling over sumptuous gardening books and technicolor seed catalogs.

The most basic manifestation of this malady is complete and utter loss of self-control upon entering a gardening store. All those frost-fueled dreams of picture perfect gardens rise up and rob you of common sense. Before you know it your arms are full of impulse-buy exotics, which while breathtaking in the South Pacific, instantly perish in their new home of say – Utah.

Alas, this is but one of the many symptoms of Gardener’s Remorse. Read on for cautionary tales which may prevent you from falling victim to:

1. Vegetable Remorse

Have you ever brought home a six pack of tomatoes and planted them ALL because you knew that most would die. Then you plant a few more just to insure you have at least a few tomatoes when most of them die . . . but ALL of them survive? You end up eating and canning tomatoes from dawn till dusk, until your family rebels and refuses to touch anything that even resembles a tomato.

This is easily accomplished with Zucchini plants as well. In the blink of an eye your Zucchini have taken over the yard, and neighbors run away screaming when they see you trundling loads of Zucchini – and possibly tomatoes – to their front door. Admittedly, most people are wise enough not to plant too many zucchini, but you never know – what if none of them survive?

2. Shrubbery Remorse

It is not uncommon for bushes to become so huge they are no longer shrubs but small Redwoods. I have a “Rose of Sharon” which began its life as a 2-inch start from my neighbor’s yard. Now it’s so tall I can’t reach the top – even on a ladder. As a result I have a bush that is neatly trimmed and rounded except for a dozen tall branches sticking up in the middle. It looks like something out of a Dr. Suess book.

3. Placement Remorse

I planted a cute little willow tree in our flower bed when we first moved to this house. Sixteen years later its trunk is 10 inches around and it’s crammed up against the house with its weepy branches filling the rain gutters and scraping off shingles. We know we need to cut it down, but we’re afraid. What if it takes out the house in revenge for our attempted murder? (Wait, did Stephen King already write this story?)

In closing, plants are glorious and gardening is fun, as long as you don’t succumb to the spring fever known as Gardener’s Remorse. Hopefully this peek into the life of a sometimes remorseful planter will guide you when you’re bitten by the gardening bug.

Have a great summer and a happy garden!

 

 

 

 

YouTube University

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I’ve been playing around with a new photo editing  system and have discovered you can teach an old dog new tricks. (I’m referring to myself, my dog Lucy would be offended if I alluded to her age). This first picture is an ad I created for a writing business I’ve lately been involved in.  I’ve also been making similir  promos for other people, and am having a lot of fun with it.PENTAX Image

Dr Mike 3

Now, the reason for this post is that I’ve recently discovered the wonders of youtube.  As I mentioned, I downloaded a photo editing system and  was really excited about what it could do, unfortunately I had no idea how to make it do those things. There was an instruction manual with the program but it was hopelessly complicated and over my head.  What to do?  Someone suggested you tube.

Hellooo, that was a very good suggestion.  As it turns out many people have created how-to videos about every detail of this photo program.  I love it!  I’m terrible with written instructions but when someone shows me how to do something it usually clicks.  Also, with a video you can hit replay a hundred times until you finally get it – without annoying the instructor.

After a little experimenting I’ve discovered I can find how-to video’s on just about anything anyone would ever want to do.  Want to know how to knit a scarf, change a car headlight bulb, or dance the tango?  Check out youtube – it’s amazing and no, I’m really not on their PR staff – I’m just a new convert, and you know how those people are.  Anyway, now I can do all kinds of fun photo editing things, and for now am focusing on helping people promote their websites, products and blogs. New tricks? This old dog is still learning.