My Greatest Hits From The 2010’s

A decade has come and in a few short days will be gone here at Stacy’s Books and I thought I’d take a look at my all-time most popular posts from the decade (in pure clicks, not engagement).

  1. 2012 – Book vs. Movie – Under the Tuscan Sun
  2. 2012 – Book vs. Movie – The Secret Life of Bees
  3. 2010 – Baby-To-Be Update
  4. 2010 – Baby Movie Quiz
  5. 2017 – Book vs. Movie – And Then There Were None
  6. 2010 – The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls
  7. 2011 – Monday Movie Meme – Bring on the Heat
  8. 2015 – Book vs. Movie – The Hound of the Baskervilles
  9. 2016- Book vs. Movie – The Blind Side 
  10. 2012- Graphic Novels Quiz

I’m glad to see a few of my weekly quizzes made the cut.  I loved doing them, but am just not in a place to do it right now.  I’m also glad to see that a Monday Movie Meme made the list.  I miss seeing my friend Molly blog (she was also my partner in crime reading War and Peace).  It was fun to read the update on Gage before we knew he wouldn’t be a Tara or Lily.  Only one book review in the bunch, but a worthy one.  And then domination by my continued book vs. movie series.  I need to get busy – I only posted one of those in 2019 and apparently they are in demand, lol.

I’m looking forward to seeing what the new decade will bring!

2019 Book Favorites and Stats

I read 86 books this year.

17 were published in 2019 and 17 in 2018.

64 were fiction, 22 were non-fiction.

Of those fiction 27 were authors new to me.

48 women authors, 36 men and 1 both.

33 were audio books. (I think that’s a record!)

Favorite Cover The Bungalow by Sarah Jio

I continued with 11 series (Lucas Davenport #28 & #29, Mrs. Pollifax #11 & #12, Kinsey Millhone F & G, Agatha Christie’s Tommy & Tuppence # 2 & #3, Blue Heron #5, Inspector Rebus #2, #3 & #4, Ravenels #4 & #5, Lincoln Rhyme #13 & #14, Cormoran Strike #4, Robert Langdon #5, Me Before You #3)

I tried 9 new series books (not sure what I’ll continue with at this point).

I read 9 books for the Classics Club (Alice’s Adventure’s in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, I Had Seen Castles by Cynthia Rylant, Sarah, Plain and Tallby Patricia MacLachlan, The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon,The Giver by Lois Lowry, Animal Farm by George Orwell, Washington Square by Henry James, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L Frank Baum,The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Expury)

I read two books first published in the 1800’s – Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland in 1865 and Washington Square in 1880

Shortest book – Sound Bites by Aaron Broadstreet, 44 pages

Longest book – Lethal White by Robert Galbaith, 656 pages

Most read authors with 3 each, Ian Rankin and Maria Shriver.

My 5 Favorite Books

Title: Becoming, Author: Michelle Obama Becoming by Michelle Obama. “Michelle Obama was a normal, yet accomplished young woman with a lucrative career and two Ivy League degrees when she was introduced to a hot shot intern who would change her life forever.  She is real and warm and selfless in so many ways.  I always respected her strength as first lady and was happily surprised to have her exceed any expectation I placed on her.”

Title: A Ladder to the Sky, Author: John Boyne A Ladder to the Sky by John Boyne. “This is one of those novels with a main character so horribly delicious that it makes you want to look away.  It may even force you to shut the book and put it down for awhile, but you keep glancing at it and eventually you pick it back up and steel yourself for some ugly happenings.  Okay, maybe that was just me.  The storytelling for this book was just so good.  Love or hate the main character of Maurice, you have to revel in the way his story unfolds, first through the voices of those he had wronged and then through his.”

Title: The Flatshare, Author: Beth O'Leary  The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary.   “Tiffy was a ray of sunshine, but was healing from a breakup, hoping it wasn’t permanent.  Leon had a girlfriend who took it upon herself to screen the girl that would be sharing his flat, but couldn’t muster sympathy for his imprisoned brother.  The two, never in the apartment at the same time, communicated by post-it note.”

Title: Winter Garden: A Novel, Author: Kristin Hannah The Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah.  “The story starts with bickering sisters Meredith and Nina, nothing too different than other stories I’ve read, but then their father takes ill and it’s important they’re all together.  This is also when we start hearing about the cold mom, Anya, who seemed to dislike both girls growing up.  As the three women must help each other, the story of Anya’s life in Russia takes center stage.  Her story drew me in and kept me turning the pages as fast as I could.  It was that good.  The sisters faded into the background for me as I read in horror the things that Anya faced.”

Peace Is Every Step by Thich Nhat Hanh Peace is Every Step by Thich Nhat Hanh. “He is a Vietnam monk who coined the phrase ‘engaged Buddhism’.  Engaged Buddhism refers to Buddhists who are seeking ways to apply the insights from meditation practice and dharma teachings to situations of social, political, environmental and economic suffering and injustice. (wikipedia)  Because of his peaceful protest belief he influenced Martin Luther King Jr. during the Vietnam War and was actually nominated by King for the Nobel Peace Prize that year.”

 

 

Merry Christmas!

It’s been a merry Christmas here with a day we all stayed in our jammies.  We introduced Gage to Home Alone for the first time 🙂  I hope you all had a great day, and that you all received at least one gift that you loved as much as Sammi loved her new green mouse.  For Gage it was the microscope Santa brought him.  He spent hours making slides.

IMG_3090 (2)

 

I read a book that I had given my mother at Thanksgiving and she gave back to me yesterday saying that she loved it.  Today was a perfect time for the short read The Purpose of Christmas The Purpose of Christmas by Rick Warren.  At only 127 pages it was a quick read about the reason we celebrate Christmas and all of the ways that Jesus Christ has changed the world and how we can accept him and do the same.  He wrote it for believers and non-believers alike.

The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

Title: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (Oz Series #1), Author: L. Frank Baum The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Finished audio 9-1-19, 3.5/5 stars. classic, pub. 1900

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is the classic story of fantasy that has delighted readers young and old for decades. Dorothy finds herself transplanted to the magical land of Oz when her house is sucked up by a tornado. To get back home she must follow the yellow brick road to the Emerald City to ask the Wizard to help her get back to Kansas. Along the way she meets several interesting characters, including the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, and the Cowardly Lion, who join her on her travels to ask the Wizard for help of their own.  from Goodreads

As I was updating Goodreads with my book reviews of 2019 I realized that I had somehow neglected this one.  It’s been a while, but I remember being struck with how different it was from the movie.  Yes, there is still Dorothy and her dog, her three companions, some witches and flying monkeys, but it was darker than the movie.  There are no ruby slippers and the backstory was nonexistent.

It opens with the cyclone and Dorothy being swept off to a place that was inexplicable.  She meets the tin man, lion and scarecrow and they do go off on adventures, but there is imprisonment and evil too.  But as with the movie, everyone needs friends such as these, willing to go the distance with you and for you.

I liked it even though it felt (at least listening to the audio) different than the iconic movie, which is okay since I have no great love for the flick.  It’s a story that you recognize but don’t really know and that somehow makes it work.

This is   my 33rd selection for the Classics Club challenge.  I have until January 1, 2020 to get to 50 (lol).

 

The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary

Title: The Flatshare, Author: Beth O'Leary The Flatshare. Finished 12-18-19-19, 4.5/5 stars, fiction, pub. 2019

Unabridged audio read by Carrie Hope Fletcher and Kwaku Fortune and these two completely sold it.  They were fantastic and I looked forward to getting in the car everyday to spend more time with them!  8 CDs.

Tiffy Moore needs a cheap flat, and fast. Leon Twomey works nights and needs cash. Their friends think they’re crazy, but it’s the perfect solution: Leon occupies the one-bed flat while Tiffy’s at work in the day, and she has the run of the place the rest of the time.

But with obsessive ex-boyfriends, demanding clients at work, wrongly imprisoned brothers and, of course, the fact that they still haven’t met yet, they’re about to discover that if you want the perfect home you need to throw the rulebook out the window…    from Goodreads

This was the perfect time for this!  I was perusing the library shelves when I saw this and recognized it from around the blogosphere.  It was light, but with some heavy issues that figured prominently into the storyline.  Tiffy was a ray of sunshine, but was healing from a breakup, hoping it wasn’t permanent.  Leon had a girlfriend who took it upon herself to screen the girl that would be sharing his flat, but couldn’t muster sympathy for his imprisoned brother.

The two, never in the apartment at the same time, communicated by post-it note.  How weird would it be to come in one day and someone has moved in all of their stuff and you share a bed (different sides of course), but you don’t meet them?  Bizarre.  I loved the months and months of post-it notes that built this relationship into something that both needed.  It was Tiffy who found a reason to finally meet him through their jobs, only Leon bailed and the notes continued.

I loved the romance and the issues.  Tiffy’s boyfriend was emotionally abusive, Leon’s brother was wrongfully imprisoned, and a search for a long lost love brings them both together for a common cause.  This was fun with just enough heft to give it legs.  I do think the audio may have enhanced my enjoyment.  This was a Goodreads finalist for best romance and I would have voted for it if I’d read it in time.

The Clergyman’s Wife by Molly Greeley

Title: The Clergyman's Wife: A Pride & Prejudice Novel, Author: Molly Greeley Clergyman’s Wife.  Finished 12-17-19, 4/5 stars, Pride and Prejudice story, pub. 2019

Charlotte Collins, nee Lucas, is the respectable wife of Hunsford’s vicar, and sees to her duties by rote: keeping house, caring for their adorable daughter, visiting parishioners, and patiently tolerating the lectures of her awkward husband and his condescending patroness, Lady Catherine de Bourgh. Intelligent, pragmatic, and anxious to escape the shame of spinsterhood, Charlotte chose this life, an inevitable one so socially acceptable that its quietness threatens to overwhelm her. Then she makes the acquaintance of Mr. Travis, a local farmer and tenant of Lady Catherine..

In Mr. Travis’ company, Charlotte feels appreciated, heard, and seen. For the first time in her life, Charlotte begins to understand emotional intimacy and its effect on the heart—and how breakable that heart can be. With her sensible nature confronted, and her own future about to take a turn, Charlotte must now question the role of love and passion in a woman’s life, and whether they truly matter for a clergyman’s wife.   from Goodreads

I feel like I know the characters from Pride and Prejudice fairly well and I was so happy that this continuation felt like Charlotte.  This was beautifully written and Greeley  got the story and tone exactly right for the practical Charlotte.  The other returning players, especially Mr. Collins and Lady Catherine, were well within character.  We caught a few glimpses of the late parents of Mr. Collins, but for the most part his absurdity remained intact.

Charlotte knew she was choosing a life as the wife of a vicar because it was the best she could hope for at the age of 27, but as the years went on she never felt particularly suited for it.  She lost a child at childbirth and now had a young daughter, Louisa, who took up her time.  Then she strikes a friendship with Mr. Travis, an emotionally charged friendship and she comes into her own under his warm eyes.

This was a nice, sweet read.  I’m so glad that I got to know Charlotte a bit better and look forward to reading more from Greeley since this was her first novel.  Well done.

I want to thank TLC Book Tours for getting this book in my hands.  I’ll leave  you with a passage I enjoyed,

“Though I am nowhere near as intrepid a walker as my friend Elizabeth, I feel pulled outside on days such as this, when I wake to the stifling closeness of the parsonage walls; to William’s snores and his heavy arm pinning me in place against the mattress.  In my own home, and at Rosings Park, I often feel diminished.  Out here, though, I also feel small, it is in the best sense of the word.  I am part of the world here, humbled and expanded all at once.”  Chapter 4

Since Nobody’s Perfect…How Good is Good Enough? by Andy Stanley

Since Nobody's Perfect, How Good is Good Enough?  Since Nobody’s Perfect…How Good is Good Enough?  Finished 11-8-19, Christianity, 94 pages, pub. 2003

Surely there’s more than one way to get to heaven? Bestselling author Andy Stanley addresses this popular belief held even among Christians. But believing that all good people go to heaven raises major problems, Stanley reveals. Is goodness not rewarded, then? Is Christianity not fair? Maybe not, he says. Readers will find out why Jesus taught that goodness is not even a requirement to enter heaven – and why Christianity is beyond fair. Andy Stanley leads believers and skeptics alike to a grateful awareness of God’s enormous grace and mercy.  from Amazon

Since I’ve added morning devotional reading this year I have been able to read a variety of books, spanning different religions and beliefs.  This one felt the closest to the church I grew up in.  I’ve seen Andy on tv late at night after talk shows go dark and I always find him  engaging, much like I felt for most of this small book (it’s one of six but I only read the one).  I liked the way he talked so politely of people who believe differently.  Yes, by the end he took a more dramatic tone, but I never felt disrespect.  He believes he is right about the way he sees Christianity and that’s fine by me.  He made some great points and made me think.  Good things for a morning devotional.

If you like him on tv, you’ll like this and probably his other books of this set.

The Dalai Lama: His Essential Wisdom edited by Carol Kelly-Gangi

Title: The Dalai Lama: His Essential Wisdom, Author: Carol Kelly-Gangi The Dalai Lama. Finished 9-30-19, 4/5 stars, 122 pages, pub. 2007

The Dalai Lama: His Essential Wisdom is a collection of hundreds of inspiring quotations from His Holiness. The selections are drawn largely from his writings, teachings, interviews, speeches, and other statements made during the course of his more than forty-eight years as the exiled spiritual leader of the Tibetan people.

In these excerpts, the Dalai Lama reflects with wisdom that is both profound and down to earth upon the need for compassion and kindness, the search for happiness, the way to peace, the meaning of pain and suffering, the role of religion, the power of meditation, and the challenges of life in the modern world. In other selections, His Holiness recalls his singular childhood and the turmoil surrounding the Communist takeover of Tibet.

Brimming with warmth, humor, and practical advice, the selections gathered here powerfully illuminate why His Holiness the Dalai Lama is beloved the world over for his timeless wisdom for all humanity.   from Goodreads

The book starts with a four page introduction, which introduced the the contextual history of this, the 14th Dalai Lama.  The last few pages are the chronology of the man through 2006, when the book went to print.  The bulk of the book are chapters (compassion, love, kindness & friendship, happiness, environment…) full of his own words taken from his speeches or writings.  The first few chapters are about the teachings of Buddhism and his own path to being the leader.  Many places in the book he talks about the responsibility he feels for Tibet, his home that he cannot return to because of the Chinese government.  There is a lot of wisdom here and I enjoyed it very much.  If only enlightenment could be found in a book we’d all be better off, but this is the next best thing.  I look forward to picking it up again in the future.  Highly recommended.

 

F is for Fugitive and G is for Gumshoe by Sue Grafton

Title: F Is for Fugitive (Kinsey Millhone Series #6), Author: Sue Grafton F Is For Fugitive. Finished 6-13-19, mystery, pub. 1989

Kinsey Millhone series 1-A is for Alibi, 2-B is for Burglar, 3- C is for Corpse, 4- D is for Deadbeat  5-E is for Evidence

Floral Beach wasn’t much of a town: six streets long and three deep, its only notable feature a strip of sand fronting the Pacific. It was on that sandy beach seventeen years ago that the strangled body of Jean Timberlake had been found.

And then, by sheer fluke, the cops stumbled on Bailey Fowler. And a case seventeen years dead came murderously to life again.

For Royce Fowler, old and sick with not much time left, his son’s reappearance was the chance to heal an old wound. For Kinsey Millhone, the case was a long shot, but she agreed to take it on. She couldn’t know then it would lead her to probe the passions buried just below the surface of family relations, where old wounds fester and the most cherished emotions become warped until they fuse into deadly, soul-destroying time bombs.    from Goodreads

A cold, cold case and private eye Kinsey Millhone on the case?  Makes for some fun reading.  This one had a very ominous feel with the super creepy family that Kinsey was hired by and living with and the way the town viewed the dead girl with a bit of fear.  Floral Beach is not somewhere I’m adding to my travel list!


Title: G Is for Gumshoe (Kinsey Millhone Series #7), Author: Sue Grafton G Is For Gumshoe. Finished 9-29-19, mystery, pub. 1990

Kinsey Millhone series 1-A is for Alibi, 2-B is for Burglar, 3- C is for Corpse, 4- D is for Deadbeat  5-E is for Evidence

Good and bad things seem to be coming in threes for Kinsey Millhone: on her thirty-third birthday she moves back into her renovated apartment, gets hired to find an elderly lady supposedly living in the Mojave Desert by herself, and makes the top of ex-con Tyrone Patty’s hit list. It’s the last that convinces Kinsey even she can’t handle whoever’s been hired to whack her, and she gets herself a bodyguard: Robert Dietz, a Porsche-driving P.I. who takes guarding Kinsey’s body very seriously. With Dietz watching her for the merest sign of her usual recklessness, Kinsey plunges into her case. And before it’s over, she’ll unearth the gruesome truth about a long-buried betrayal and, in the process, come fact-to-face with her own mortality. . .    from Goodreads 

I’m enjoying this series the further along I get.  Kinsey moves back into her newly remodeled apartment just in time for a death threat and a need to hire a bodyguard.  She also takes a case that gets her out of town for a bit, but that doesn’t stop the attempt on her life.  There’s a mystery spanning a generation and a bit of romance with a solid (and single!) guy.  Can’t wait to continue on with more Kinsey adventures.

The Time is Now: A Call To Uncommon Courage by Joan Chittister

Title: The Time Is Now: A Call to Uncommon Courage, Author: Joan Chittister The Time is Now. Finished 12-3-19, 4.5/5, inspirational, 136 pages, pub. 2019

Beloved nun and social activist Joan Chittister, who appeared on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday, offers a soul-stirring and inspiring guide that speaks to all who feel disillusioned and dissatisfied with the power-hungry institutions and systems of this world.

Joan Chittister has been a passionate voice for women’s rights for over 50 years. Called “one of the most well-known and trusted contemporary spiritual authors” by Publishers Weekly, this rabble-rousing force of nature for social justice and fervent proponent of personal faith and spiritual fulfillment draws on the wisdom of prophets–both ancient and modern–to help us confront the societal forces that oppress and silence the sacred voices among us.

Pairing scriptural insights with stirring narratives of the truth-tellers that came before us, Sister Joan offers a compelling vision for readers to combat complacency and to propel ourselves toward creating a world of justice, freedom, peace, and empowerment.     from Goodreads

My thoughts after I finished last week…

Unless and until we accept the prophet’s call, we may be great caretakers, great scholars, sincere seekers, fine people, but we will never be fully “spiritual.”We will be liked, admired, respected, and – safe.  But truly spiritual?  Not completely.

The question is, Whose respect would we risk to have?  Would we want to be found on the side of the peacemakers, the single women, the discriminated against, the immigrants, the thinkers and the changers of a society whose corporate CEOs get richer every day while the middle class disappears and  the poor get more destitute by the hour?  Chapter 18

I finished The Time is Now: A Call to Uncommon Courage bu Joan Chittister this morning and loved how her last chapter really brought the rest of the book into sharper focus by spurring us all into action.  I have been reading this as my morning devotional and the chapters have been longer and packed with so much to think about.  Here is a nun who is calling us all to greatness, to be modern day prophets.  Prophets for climate change, gun control, immigrants, peace and all the disenfranchised.  Pick a cause and get loud. Here are her closing thoughts,

What does a prophet do?  A prophet cries out, cries out, cries out.  Without fear.  Without care for cost.  Without end.  Dear Prophet, for the sake of the children, for the sake of the world, for the sake of the gospel, Cry out.

“Be not a whisper that is lost in the wind’ be a voice that is heard above the storms of life.”  Maimonides

I’m so glad that I read this.  It gives me hope.