Category: Reading

Do you change your Goodreads ratings?

Do you change your Goodreads ratings? Confession. I change mine. ALL. THE.TIME.

Do you spend a lot of time thinking about how you rate a book on Goodreads?

If any of you don’t know what Goodreads is or don’t use it, it’s a wonderful website and app where you can loose lots of time!  You can store the books you’ve read, the books you want to read, and you can rate, review, and discuss them with other book lovers.  It’s one of my favorite apps. ever.  I LOVE it!  I want all my friends to use it.  It helps me figure out what to read next and what to pick for book club (since my book club makes me pick most of the books we read).

And did I mention you can make lists?  And vote for books on the lists  – Best Books Ever, Books That Everyone Should Read At Least Once, Best Historical Fiction, Best Books of the 20th Century, Best Book Boyfriends, Best Dystopian and Post-Apocalyptic Fiction and many many many more!

I don’t always agree with the rankings – The Hunger Games is definitely not the best book ever.  But it’s fun!

My Daddy likes books where things blow up.  I did a search for that and unfortunately only came up with  Fictional Books About Nuclear War, The Blitz, Best Bloke Books (seriously), and Must Read Books Before the World Blows Up.

So back to the book ratings on Goodreads. Do you ever change your ratings? Friends – more than one – have made fun of me for flip-flopping.  I think it’s funny they notice! And this was before I started blogging and posting them online with bright pink stars! They call me fickle.  And maybe I am a little. Sweet T, the fickle pickle.  I might have a product there???

I’ve changed a rating then changed it back.

(more than once)

Do you do it, too? Why?
I mean, what is our problem? Why do we care?

Sometimes a book stays with me and I keep thinking more about it so it has a bigger impact than I first thought.  I changed my rating for These Is My Words from 4 to 5 because I loved it.  It wasn’t the most life-changing book in the world and I think that’s why I held back at first but I loved it and that’s enough!

I changed my rating for Wild, by Cheryl Strayed, several times.  I was really mad at her for being so dumb but it was such a powerful book, especially the more I thought about it.  And it was one of the best book club discussions ever.

Sometimes I change it because I like a book less.  I loved Big Stone Gap when I first read it years ago.  When we reread it for book club, it just didn’t resonate the same.  Sure I was influenced by other’s opinions but it just didn’t sing to me like it had before.  I still liked it but I wasn’t in love with it.  It’s not you, it’s me.  Can we just be friends?

Sometimes I change it based on other books. One 4 just doesn’t compare to another.  That’s probably not a good reason but it is. I rate the majority of the books I read as 3 stars. It’s easy.  It feels comfortable.  I don’t feel as much pressure to convince others they should like it.(Hmmmm, that says a lot about me, doesn’t it.  Psychology folks, analyze that!) There is a lot of wiggle room, a wide variety of likability in the 3 area!

Timing is SOOOOOO influential to how well I like a book.  What I’ve read before – not just what I’ve read in the past but the book I read immediately before.  ONe friend read The Help recently.  She didn’t like the book we read for book club. SURPRISE!  There are very few books that would hold up to that book depression. I just Googled post reading book depression and there were a lot of hits!!!  The struggle is real, y’all!

If I had read The Alchemist in my 20’s, I would have probably rated it a 5 but since I didn’t read it until I was in my 40’s, I had read other books that taught the same lesson and had so many more experiences that made it feel small and trite. I just noticed I rated it a 2.  I kindof want to change that to a 3 right now…


Audiobooks for You! Audiobooks for Me! Free Audiobooks at the Library!

The library is an amazing place!  (DUH!) (Does anyone still say duh anymore or is that just us kids who grew up in the ’80s?).  Our local Harford County Public Library system is really great.  Besides just having physical books, they have all kinds of digital resources.  You can download books, audiobooks, movies and music to your Kindle, phone or tablet for free.  It’s awesome!  If you don’t live in beautiful Harford County, Maryland, I’m sure your local library has many if not all of these resources, too.  Check them out!

Just outside of Baltimore, Boordy Vineyards is a fantastic stop along Maryland's wine trails featuring award-winning wines.

I’ve had a fairly long commute for many years but it doesn’t bother me because most of it is through peaceful farmland with cows, sheep, horses, goats and two wineries. That’s my time to listen to audiobooks. Since I am not rich and I read a lot, I rely on the library for my audiobooks. In addition to downloads on my phone (more on that later), there are, of course books on tape and books on CDs but I just discovered these awesome Playaway devices last week!  I’ve seen them for years.  I passed by the display and thought, nah, too big.

They aren’t big at all!  They’re about the size of a cell phone!  You can plug your headphones in and go. It’s an all-in-one plug-and-play book player, no phone or app needed.  No download.  No data used.  No storage space on your phone. Pretty cool!  You can also hook them up to listen in your car with an inexpensive  3.5-millimeter auxiliary cable (also called a “mini-stereo” or “headphone” cable).  It looks like a cable with a headphone plug at both ends.


Now for the good stuff, the free digital audiobooks you can download to your phone FOR FREE!!!

I’ve been using several apps for years!  You can search the main library card catalog for titles and it will tell you the app that has your title. You can also search within the apps themselves if you like one app.  Some definitely have better selection than others.

Here are some of the ones I use most!


Overdrive is my favorite app.

It’s easy to use, easy to search, has a large selection of books.  It has apps for Android and iPhone and for tablets.  Some books are available to download immediately and sometimes you have to place a hold and wait for someone else to finish first – especially more current best sellers. Most of the time, it’s not a long wait.

You can create a wish list and see all the books on your list or just those available now.  It also gives you recommendations based on the books you’ve read and what’s popular with other readers.

You can adjust the playback speed and bookmark locations.  You can share on social media and email what you’re reading directly from the app.You can stream it or download, though I always download so I can listen anywhere without using data. It lists all the book’s chapters and chapter titles.

There is a sleep timer feature that you can customize though the two times I’ve used it I’ve fallen asleep before 3 minutes passed so it’s not a feature I use.

You can stream or download your book, though I always download so I can listen anywhere without using data. It lists all the book’s chapters and information about the book, which is a feature many don’t include.

hooplaI have a love/hate relationship with Hoopla.

I love it because you can instantly download any of the available books.  It has a decent selection.  BUT, sometimes it goes a little crazy, not restarting where you stopped or stopping because of some digital flicker and not restarting in the same page. It makes me paranoid. There have been a few books where I bookmarked every few minutes just in case.

You can adjust playback speed, save favorites and get recommendations just like Overdrive.  And it has a nice selection of movies and tv shows.

Axis 360 Logo

Axis360 has many of the features of the other apps.

I have to admit I haven’t used it as much.  I hear they continue to improve it based on user feedback.  One difference is you can’t download ebooks to your Kindle, you have to use the Axis Reader app.  I’ve listened to a couple of books on it.

Image result for one click digital

OneClick Digital is definitely the least powerful

There have been a few books only available on this app.

Harford County Public Library has many resources for digital ebooks, magazines, movies, and music. There are even tutorials that show you how to use them.

I’m not a children’s book expert but there are great digital resources for kids, too!

Here’s a list of non-library resources for free ebooks.

And here are 15 more websites from Digital Trends, though I haven’t tried them all.

And I subscribe to (it’s an Amazon company) because there were older books or books I’ve needed for class or some I really wanted to read that weren’t available in any other place. You can get a free book just for trying Audible.  And if you threaten to cancel, you can get a few more months for a lower price.  And by then, if you’re like me, you’re hooked and you pay full price.

If you have questions or want to know more, please ask.  I have a lot more opinions!  Please take the opportunity to enjoy these resources.

Happy Listening!!



2016 Book Riot Read Harder Challenge

Who doesn’t love a little book challenge?  I have to admit I didn’t really choose my books this year based on this challenge but it’s cool to see how many of the books I read fit into the challenge categories.  I have a few more days left in the year to finish up those last few I missed.

Want to see how you fared in 2016?  Here’s the list


Here are my results.

Read a Horror Book

Read a nonfiction book about science

Read a middle grade novel

Read a biography (not a memoir or autobiography)


Listen to an audiobook that has won an Audie award

Read a book over 500 pages long


Read a book under 100 pages

Read a book by or about a person that identifies as transgender

Read a book that is set in the Middle East

Read a book that is by an author from Southeast Asia

Read a book of historical fiction set before 1900


Read the first book in a series by a person of color7099273
Read a book that was adapted into a movie, then watch the movie. Debate which is better
The book was better, DUH!!!  It was a good adaptation, it just left out a lot of things.


Read a book about feminism or dealing with feminist themes


Read a book about religion (fiction or nonfiction)

Read a book about politics in your country or another (fiction or nonfiction)

Read a food memoirchild

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to complete all the items on the list.  Here are the ones I didn’t get to.

Read a book out loud to someone else
Read a play
Read a book with a main character that has a mental illness
Read a non-superhero comic that debuted in the last three years
Read a dystopian or post-apocolyptic novel
Read a book originally published in the decade you were born

Join me and hundreds of others in the 2017 challenge!

Book Riot’s 2017 Read Harder Challenge

You can see all the books I read in 2016 on Goodreads.




Friday 5: Stealing, Double Fannie, Bicycle Glasses and…

Friday 5: Stealing, Double Fannie, Bicycle Glasses and…


Blog Borrowing. I’m swiping this Friday 5 format from 7 Quick Takes from my dear colleague and friend Rita Buettner who, in addition to working with me at Loyola University Maryland, writes about “family fun and faith” in her funny and sweet blog Open Window about her life with her husband and her two amazing adopted sons. Named because, “When the Lord closes a door, somewhere he opens a window.” I asked her how she juggles everything and she said she really doesn’t sleep much. That’s not going to work for me. I’ll have to  I have to have my sleep.  This is my jam!


t-shirt baseball swag party like black and white grey baseball jersey printed t-shirt cozy lazy day funny sweater swimwear shirt cute shirt by party i mean take naps baseball shirt found on facebook sweater


I’m double Fannied right now I’m currently reading A Redbird Christmas and The Whole Town’s Talking both by Fannie Flagg!
She’s also the author of Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe, if you haven’t read the book, read it now or at the very least see the movie.  It’s one of my absolute all-time favorites…southern, girlpower, amazing writing,a funny and a gripping story about friendship and our ability to overcome.

I finished The Whole Town’s Talking and gave it 3 stars.  It was a sweet wholesome, funny, old-fashioned book.


Aren’t these bicycle glasses beautiful?  My sweet friend Sherry, hostess of our December bookclub gave them to me.  They were made by her daughter’s friend.

You can check out her Facebook page here:



Stephen and Henry and I enjoyed an awseome day today in the woods. Stephen rode his mountain bike. Henry and I walked in the woods, then we all met up and Henry ran beside for Stephen for a couple of miles up hills and down.  A boy and a dog!  So sweet!!!



We went to Barnes and Noble today and I added several new books to my TBR list!  I’m looking forward to being able to listen to audiobooks on my commute AND read books now that I’m finished with classes for my master’s degree.  I’ve missed actually reading books through the year. I  feel like my attention span muscles have really weakened and I need to exercise them!  Do you feel that way?  Has your attention span gotten shorter because of our sound bite oriented culture?

Here are some of the beautiful shelves from the book store today!


How do you choose the next book?

I always have a hard time choosing the next book to read. Even though I have 181 books on my Goodreads To Read list,  a stack of unread books on my shelf and wish lists in my multitude of audio book apps.

Sometimes it’s because there are so many choices. Sometimes it’s because I just finished an amazing book and my mind and heart just don’t have enough room for anything else. Especially something cute or chickish or deep or heavy or historical. A new narrator feels like I’m cheating on the old one.

It takes me way too long to move on to the next book. I could probably read at least one more book every year in the time it takes to choose.

Today went something like this… I finished listening to The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie while getting ready for work. I needed something to listen to on my commute so I checked my audiobook apps to see if I already had anything checked out. No luck. I checked my wish list to see if there was anything available that I wanted to read. Not really. On some whim a few months ago I added a lot of classic literature to my wish lists and on another day I added several strange non-fiction things (Killing Lincoln, Killing Reagan, Killing Kennedy….). Neither of those genres sounded particularly appetizing. No killing today, thank you.

I didn’t want anything too heavy because well, the election results and the gloating and mourning on social media and strangeness and heartbreak of my friends and the country in general is too much right now. For the same reason I didn’t want anything too frivolous. Humor is wonderful, I could use some levity but there are a lot of different definitions of funny. I don’t have enough antacids to stomach satire or sarcasm today.

I almost chose All The Stars in the Heavens by Adriana Trigiani. I love her warm characters and humor and big Italian familes but the subject – a fictionalization of Clark Gable’s romance with Loretta Young – and reviews made me think it may be a mediocre story.

I ended up choosing Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane. You know why? Because it’s short. Only 5 hours. So much for nothing heavy. I’m pretty sure it’s going to be heavy. I’ve never read anything by Neil Gaiman before but always wanted to. And hey, it’s short! (And I’m behind on my goal of reading 60 books this year! I need to read 15 (short)(er) books by December 31!  That means I can’t read the next Outlander (#4) until next year because it’s 880 pages! That’s ok, I like staying only one step ahead of the Starz series.


It also takes me a while to choose books for book club. I take suggestions from our members, though they keep telling me they prefer that I choose the books (even when it’s Frankenstein or The Jane Austen Book Club! Bleh!) There are a lot of ideas on Pinterest and other book bloggers and book clubs that really help with this. I would copy almost everything Delicious Reads does if it wasn’t, well, copying.

I’m apparently not the only one who has this problem! All the apps have recommendations and the librarians have recommendations. Here are some interesting sites to answer the question.

My favorite site is Goodreads. It has a feature called Listopia with a TON of lists to choose from voted on by members. These are really great. (Don’t you love how I mentioned Outlander earlier and an advertisement magically appears! Magically.


Your Next Read gives lots of lists and favorites. The team behind the list went for more strange and interesting books that they had never heard of before but loved


What Should I Read Next lets you type in the title or author and it suggests titles based on other readers’ favorite books.


Whichbook is fun and it’s different than Witchbook. It lets you move a set of sliders to choose how much of something you’re in the mood for like happiness, humor, safeness, and even the amount of sex. It has lists of suggestions and allows you to create your own to share.


Of course there’s always the NY Times Bestseller lists and Amazon’s best sellers list. Remember when Oprah’s book club would take a book from number 576 to top 10 in six minutes flat?

Do you have the secret?  Help me! How do you pick your next book?

Let’s get this party started!

But how do I start? I’ve got this a brand new shiny blank blog page here waiting for some words.







Words are the small beings who inhabit books. They come to life inside our heads and live there in villages becoming part of us forever. They change our perceptions as we see life through another point of view that we didn’t consider or even know about before. They shape who we are and who we become.

You can tell a lot about a person by what they read. I read just about anything. I go through phases where I read more of one type of book for a while, then something else then another. Right now it seems like I’m having a year of old men, France and WWII. Stay tuned for more about these in a later post.

Our book club started in September of 2014. I literally invited 200 of my closest Facebook friends to come to my house (which doesn’t seat 200 people) (it wouldn’t fit them standing either, now that I think about it). What can I say, fortunately, they didn’t all come. Twenty amazing women showed up. Women who ride bikes with me and run with me, women I work with and used to work with, some of whom I’ve known for a long time and some for only a short time but all amazing because that’s a requirement for book club, you must be amazing. And you must read the book! (or at least make a serious attempt to because we have lots of other fun non-book-discussing activities). I’m so grateful to have them to share book thoughts and magic.

Are you part of a book club? I’m sure many of the folks reading this first post are part of MY book club because I’m starting somewhere, right? I’m hoping this web site will also be a resource for readers and for other book clubs to share ideas. I’m always stealing from other great groups I find online, it’s time for me to contribute to the mix.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll share thoughts and ideas and books from our first year of reading 2014-2015 as well as some of the books I’m reading right now and some of the other amazing things in life.

Please follow me on social media and check back often. Let me know what you think of my blog and my sweet logo. And tell me what you want me to talk about bookwise or otherwise. Hope ta see y’all soon!