Books Read in November

The beginning of November I’d planned to read these books. As you will see, sometimes I get sidetracked and either read something else or get too busy to read all of them. This month I got side tracked.

Here are the books I did not get read:

Tough Cookie by Diane Mott Davidson – I decided to complete reading this older series because I had enjoyed it so much when I started reading it many years ago and with 2020, I needed an escape. I will get back to finishing this series in 2021.

The Thirteenth Tale – Diane Setterfield. I do want to read this book but it too will have to wait for next year.

Now for the books I did read:

Stranger Diary’s – Elly Griffiths

I’ll be Gone in the Dark – Michelle McNamara

Magic Lessons – Alice Hoffman

Light the Dark – Writers on Creativity, Inspiration, and the Artistic Process – Joe Fassler

Daily Rituals – Mason Currey

The Sun Down Motel – Simone St. James

Hope Never Dies – Andrew Shaffer

For this post I will list them only and review them individually. If you have been following my blog for the past month, you will notice that I have reviewed Stranger Diary’s, Magic Lessons, I’ll Be Gone by Dark, and The Sun Down Motel. If you want my take on these, please check out earlier posts for those reviews. Over the next few weeks, I will reviewing the rest.

Three of the books I read did fit into Non-fiction November and that was kind of fun. Will look forward to doing that again next year.

My goal each month will always be four books because depending on how busy I am, I think that is doable. This month, I surpassed that goal and that makes me happy. It always feels good to exceed a goal.

November was an enjoyable reading month. The one author I was familiar with was Alice Hoffman and it was an adventure to catch up with the Owens family saga. The rest of the authors were new to me. I hope to have another successful month of reading in December.

What are your reading goals for December? Are you planning to surround yourself with holiday books or finding time to finally read the one you’ve been waiting for the right time?

Let me know what you are reading. I am always looking for suggestions.

Until next time,


The Sun Down Motel

The night it all ended, Vivian was alone.

This was one of those books I’ve seen circulating the BookTube channels for a while. I had wanted to read it in October because of that spooky thing but found it too late to start then.

This was a quick read. It definitely was a page turner. The last night I finished it at 3:30 A.M. the next morning. I could not put it down until I knew what was going on. Luckily I am retired so didn’t have to get up and go to work.

This is a story told by two protagonists. The current day one, Claire and her aunt from November 1980, Vivian. Claire was born after her aunt had disappeared and she decided to make it her mission to find out what really happened to her mother’s sister. She luckily or depending on how you look at it, unluckily took the same night shift job at The Sun Down Motel, where her aunt Vivian had disappeared.

Claire quickly picks up that something isn’t right at the motel. The mysterious scent of cigarette smoke, room doors opening and closing by themselves, the ghost of a young boy around the abandoned swinging pool, and one ghost whose anger causes the electricity to go out giving Claire a warning that it is time to leave.

The motel rarely has many guests and apparently most of them don’t notice what is going on. I thought that was a little odd.

The other half of the story is as Vivian shows the reader what did happen leading up to her disappearance. Both women snag onto the fact that they believe there is a serial killer in the area, killing women. Claire believes that same killer is still hanging around. The two women’s stories merge into a very satisfying ending.

Can’t call this a feel good novel but if you enjoy getting a scare every once in a while. This might be a good read for you.

Survived Thanksgiving 2020 style. I am finding myself reading way more than I ever did but that is normal. Reading has always been my escape.

Hope you too had a good Thanksgiving and may you find some joy in a good book.

Until next time,


Magic Lessons

Prequel to Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman

Magic Lessons takes the reader back to the 1700’s to introduce you to Maria Owens.

This was a time when women were herbalists and they helped heal. At the time, there wasn’t good medical care and these women offered a better alternative. Granted they did offer advice for love and some used their skills for the darker side, like revenge but the smart ones knew better than to go there. This was also when women were persecuted and really had no rights.

The story starts in Essex, England during the plague. Maria escapes the witch hunters and travels to America. A failed love’s pain causes Maria to issue the famous curse that keeps the Owens women from finding love.

The strongest magic was literary and Maria knew how to read. It was a lesson she later taught her daughter. Reading opened the world for them but it also made them targets to men who were afraid of strong women.

I watched an interview with Alice Hoffman. She said she was always drawn to writing strong female characters. Her mentor was a Professor at Stanford. She suffered writer’s block after 9/11. By re-reading Farenheit 451 she was able to break through her writers block. She further pulled herself out of it by writing Young Adult fiction.

She is currently working on the fourth book in the Owen’s family series. Originally – Practical Magic was meant to be a stand alone but so many readers wanted to know more about the family so she wrote more for them.

She was surprised by the similarities in the women in the 1700’s and modern day women and some of the similar experiences they shared.

Alice Hoffman was a fanatical reader and a secret writer in the beginning. She sent a story to a magazine that needed work grammatically. The magazine responded that when she decided to take writing seriously, to send it back to them.

Her brother encouraged her to come to California to college. She applied at Stanford and got a fellowship. There she met her mentor who helped her become successful.

Her advice is to write every day and start early. She feels she has to re-learn how to do it with each new book. She does outline, lots of research. She loves Google.

Her themes are usually women in a man’s world. Maria just walked in a door whole for her, probably because she’d been in her head the previous 25 years.

I was a great fan of Practical Magic. I did read the second in the series – The Rules of Magic when it came out so I wouldn’t have missed reading Magic Lessons. If you are familiar with the earlier books or movie, you should have a good idea of what to expect with this one. Yes it is a story about a family of witches who tend to want to do good. This book is perfect for the Halloween season but I would recommend sitting in front of a fire with a cup of tea, coffee, or hot chocolate and sink into an enjoyable journey anytime this winter.

I highly recommend Alice Hoffman’s work. If you have not read this one and you enjoy women’s fiction with a little bit of magic, you need to check this one out.

What has been on your list this month? I am guessing you are making plans for Thanksgiving, if you are in America. Hoping you have a wonderful, safe holiday and maybe take some time to enjoy a piece of pumpkin pie and a good book.

Until next time,


I’ll Be Gone in the Dark

I rarely read non-fiction. If I do, it is usually a writing craft book or self-help- motivational.

I was drawn to this book more because of the author, Michelle McNamara. To be more specific, because of her husband, Patton Oswalt. Patton is an actor best known to me as Spencer on King of Queens.

After I read a little bit about the subject matter, the golden state killer, I decided to add it to my to be read (tbr) list.

There really isn’t much in the book about Patton Oswalt except how he supported his wife during the time she wrote it. Basically I discovered that they were married and had one child, a daughter. They did tell a little bit about how life was for Michelle being married to a celebrity and how they often attended big gala events that she didn’t always enjoy. I am guessing as a writer, she was more of an introvert.

I did get pulled into Michelle’s quest to help find this killer. Michelle was an investigative journalist. When she was a child a woman was killed in her neighborhood and that crime was never solved. That seed planted in her the desire to solve cold cases. She created a popular website: TrueCrimeDiary where she blogged about her investigations into cold cases. That lead to her writing this book.

Though this book is true crime, it often reads like a novel. The author has a smooth voice and it sometimes feels like she and you are sitting together with a drink in front of a fireplace on a cold night as she shares her story. Her characters feel well rounded because they are real people. She introduces them to you showing both their virtues and their flaws. She investigated the family of the victims as well as the investigators on the case. She shows how because the killer killed in several different cities, it took a while for the police to connect the dots. There struggle was enhanced because we did not have the technology we do now, in the 80’s. But when they did eventually had dna technology and this shows how they were able to use it. The tension built as they followed more clues. With each new clue, I wanted them to turn the corner and catch the madman.

I cheered on their search because she shared enough about the crimes to show how truly horrible they were without picturing an 80’s slasher movie. Her writing wasn’t graphic but it did show how the victims felt. She enabled us to feel what the victim felt at the time of the crime.

I do feel that Michelle helped solve the crime even though the police deny it. They say that she did help keep the case alive. HBO did make a documentary about this but since I don’t have HBO, I haven’t been able to watch it.

I would highly recommend this book. It is a page turner. It does make you feel good at the end because the police do catch the killer. The sad part though is that Michelle died before this happened. After this book came out, Patton Oswald was on a promotional tour for the book and woke one morning to see a news show saying that the killer had been apprehended.

Again, if you’ve never read true crime, this might be a good book to start with. My tbr list is so long, I am not sure when I will read more true crime but I haven’t eliminated this genre.

Just a heads up though. I am having issues with my laptop and have scheduled an appointment to take it in for repair today. So if I miss blogging next week, know that I will be back as soon as possible.

Would love to see your comments, let me know what you are currently reading since I am continually adding to my list. Do you read true crime? Do you have any suggestions? How are your reading goals going? What are you reading now? Do let me know that you are out there.

Until next time,


Stranger Diaries

“If you’ll permit me,’ said the Stranger, ‘I’d like to tell you a story. After all, it’s a long journey and, by the look of those skies, we’re not going to be leaving this carriage for some time. So, why not pass the hours with some story-telling? The perfect thing for a late October evening. – Stranger Diaries

Stranger Diaries is a story within a story.

Claire Cassidy, a high school English teacher who has immersed herself in the life of R. M. Holland, a fictional author in this book. He is the author of a ‘famous’ historical short story – The Stranger. The school where she teaches is R.M. Holland’s former home. It has been converted to include an addition that holds most of the classrooms. Most of his home is intact, including his personal office, kept almost like a shrine.

Claire uses The Stranger in her creative writing class while she also is writing a biography about H. M. Holland. The story is set in England where she lives with her teenaged daughter, Georgia. After a rocky divorce, the two moved from London so she could take this teaching position.

After a couple of murders, reminiscent of those in The Stranger, Claire notices that someone besides herself is making journal entries in her personal diary. She soon guesses that the killer is someone she knows even though the local police detective is starting to suspect her in the killings. During Claire’s investigation, she digs up several possible suspects.

The story is set around Halloween and includes some history about H.M. Holland’s wife committing suicide in the house by throwing herself off the second floor landing and that her spirit roams the halls. The legend is that when her spirit is seen, someone will die. There are also rumors that H.M. Holland had a daughter but no one has been able to confirm it.

I discovered this author through a YouTube channel I follow called ‘Diane in Denmark’. Her channel is actually about how she uses the FlyLady Housekeeping system but she is also an avid reader and shares some of her favorite reads.

I found a little more information about Elly Griffiths while watching another BookTube channel. Elly’s real name is Domenica De Rosa. She has written a few women’s fiction novels under that name. When she became interested in writing a mystery, her publisher suggested a new name; Elly Griffiths name belongs to her grandmother.

Elly wanted to write something scary and creepy. The story has two point of view characters, Claire and the police detective – Harbinder. Elly says that she loves telling ghost stories. Her inspiration was a place where she teaches creative writing. It is an older home owned by an art patron. It too has a spiral staircase similar to the one in this book.

When young, she used to write her own fan fiction about ‘Starsky and Hutch’. In her stories, the characters sometimes died and it made her readers cry. She wrote her first mystery novel at eleven.

She always wanted to be a writer and when on maternity leave 20 years ago for her twins, she wrote her first book.

Stranger Diaries is a stand alone but Elly is thinking about writing another one with Detective Harbinder as the protagonist.

This book reminds me of a modern Agatha Christie. I have read one of Elly’s Ruth Galloway mysteries and do like her writing style, so I will be adding Elly Griffiths to my favorite authors list.

If you decide to check this one out, let me know what you think. As always feel free to share what you are currently reading.

Will see you again soon,


November 2020 TBR

“So many books, so little time.” Frank Zappa

In the BookTube circles, November is non-fiction month for readers. Because this is news to me, I have included one non-fiction book this month but will not commit to more because my to-be-read list is so long.

Do any of you save November for non-fiction reading? If so, what are you reading this month? We want to know.

This post will be brief because I plan to review books as I read them and don’t want to be redundant in future posts.

These are the books I hope to read this month. My goal each month will be at least four per month, so as you can see, this is a lofty goal. At this point, I don’t want to know too much about the story, only enough to pull me into reading them. I want it to be a surprise.

Since this post is coming out on November 10th, I will admit that I have completed one of these books already. Later this week, I will post my book review. I will also keep you guessing as to which book that is. Let me know which one you think I chose in the comments below.

I will also admit that I am halfway through two other books on this list. That too, I will save to share later with my November wrap up.

Since there really are so many books and so little time, I will let you go for now.

May the rest of your day be peaceful and productive. Try to spend a little of that time reading.

See you soon,


Books Read in October 2020

This is so much fun to be back!

I am starting off with October and it was not as fruitful as September. I have completed two books this month compared to seven last month. I have been a little distracted this month.

I will share a little about my reading habits so that you know what to expect from me in the future. I choose books to read for the month, but I also have a few books that I read a little bit of each day.

Each morning with a cup of tea, I read ‘The Writer’s Daily Companion’. I use it like a daily devotional for writers. Each day it offers something new.

  • Monday: Writers on Writing
  • Tuesday: Motivation
  • Wednesday: Writing Class
  • Thursday: Editing
  • Friday: Biography
  • Saturday: Books Writers Should Read
  • Sunday: Writing Prompts

I also read a chapter from a book on the writing craft. Which I plan to continue doing indefinitely because of my huge collection of craft books. This month I am halfway through ‘Light the Dark – Writers on Creativity, Inspiration, and the Artistic Process. I will share more about this book once I have completed it.

Now onto what I read:

Stop Worrying; Start Writing – How to Overcome Fear, Self-Doubt and Procrastination by Sarah Painter. This book is short only 117 pages. But it is packed full of information to get you out of a slump. This was the craft book I read chapters daily for last month and it is a keeper. Each chapter gives you different methods to break through whatever blocks are keeping you from writing. I found many ideas that I have never heard before and with the number of years I have been writing, that surprised me. I think her advice is what encouraged me to take another look at my blog and start posting content again.

Sarah Painter is a bestselling author and host of the Worried Writer podcast – Her fiction includes – The Language of Spells in the Light of What we See. She lives in Scotland with her children, husband, and a grey tabby called Zelda Kitgerald. She drinks too much tea and is the proud owner of a writing shed.

On a scale of 1 to 5 stars and 5 is best, I would give this one 4. If I ever give a book less than 3 stars, it doesn’t necessarily mean it is awful, it means it didn’t resonate with me. A five I reserve for books like – To Kill a Mockingbird or Gone with the Wind. Those are classics and I rarely read new books that I feel will become true classics. They not only have to be excellent, but they need to be books I think will age well and be popular for generations to come.  So, a four from me is really an excellent rating and I would recommend reading it, if it sounds like something you would enjoy.

I planned to read more spooky stuff because of Halloween but the one book I really wanted to read and did was Halloween Party by Agatha Christie. I had picked this book up often over the years but never bought it until this year. I am a true Christie fan. I discovered her years ago when my first was a toddler and we spent a lot of time at story time at the local library. I devoured as many of her books then as I could find. Obviously, I didn’t find all of them and remember complaining to the librarian that they needed to supply more. I did get an introduction to her main characters, Poirot, Miss Marple, and Tommy and Tuppence. My favorite has always been Miss Marple but I did love Tommy  and Tuppence. I have now grown to love Poirot as well. I would also give this one a 4.

This novel introduced a new character to me as well, Ariadne Oliver, a mystery writer and friend of Poirot. In Halloween Party, Ariadne has a new friend she met on a cruise who invites her to her small village and a Halloween party. That night, a child makes a wild claim about having witnessed a murder in the past. That child is later found dead with her head in the apple bobbing tub. Ariadne contacts Poirot because something does not feel right. It was an enjoyable read. If you have never read a Christie, her characters are fairly rounded even though the sleuth does not really change during the series. The crimes are set up well and will keep you guessing. I also watched the adaptation on Britbox for this book. It is part of the Poirot series and they never disappoint. Beautiful scenery, believable cast that usually follows close to the book descriptions and story line.  I plan to continue reading Christie books often so you will see more soon.

Those were the two books I completed this month, but I did start a few that I plan to finish eventually. Those were Alice Hoffman’s Magic Lessons, Stephen King’s If it Bleeds, and The Ghost Tree by Christina Henry. I did enjoy the portion read so far but this month I was too much like the proverbial dog seeing a squirrel and was easily distracted. I will review them once I have completed reading them.

I hope this may have given you the itch to pick up a book or two. Please feel free to comment and offer suggestions of books that you love too.

 I do look forward to the cold nights ahead with a good book and a hot tea or chocolate.

Until next time, keep reading.


New Blog Adventure

Anyone who has followed my blog knows that I am an avid reader. I’ve decided to change the focus of my blog from writing to reading. I have not given up on my writing, just on the content of this blog.

Reading has always been my escape. It is the friend who never lets you down. Books are always there when you need them and this year I have needed them.

I will get more into my reading habits as we go but I hope you will join me as I share what I am reading each month. I hope you will feel comfortable to share with me as well. Each month, I will share what I plan to read, what I’ve actually read, which might be different because like a holiday dinner, I always pile on more than I can actually eat. I will share new books and books that I no longer plan to keep. As I complete books, I will post a review and will summarize at the end of each month.

I will try to get my author friends to share information about their new books – maybe what made them decide to write that particular book.

I will also share BookTubers from YouTube because well, can you really get too much information about books?

Today’s post is meant to introduce you to the changes. I plan to post something later this week summarizing my October reads.

I look forward to this new adventure and as always, keep reading.


%d bloggers like this: