December 2020 books on my list

A few November books I missed in my list last month plus four December books!

books-on-my-list

I keep a list of all the books I might want to read and add to it as the year goes on. As each month comes along I create a list on my blog for others and for me to keep track of as the months go by.

I don’t buy all these books–since I already have way too many books to read and some of the new books are expensive. I’m trying to stick to a budget!

I hope people reading my post may find some new books to read. I also hope these people will point me toward books I might not know about! The links to the following books will take you to the book on Goodreads.

……………………

I missed several books in my November book list so I’ve added them in this one. And I’ve already purchased three of the November books: A Promised Land, Christmas Island and Take a Look at the Five and Ten.

November 17

A Promised Land

by Barack Obama

Published by Crown

Genre: Memoir

768 pages

Synopsis: A riveting, deeply personal account of history in the making—from the president who inspired us to believe in the power of democracy.

In the stirring, highly anticipated first volume of his presidential memoirs, Barack Obama tells the story of his improbable odyssey from young man searching for his identity to leader of the free world, describing in strikingly personal detail both his political education and the landmark moments of the first term of his historic presidency—a time of dramatic transformation and turmoil.

Obama takes readers on a compelling journey from his earliest political aspirations to the pivotal Iowa caucus victory that demonstrated the power of grassroots activism to the watershed night of November 4, 2008, when he was elected 44th president of the United States, becoming the first African American to hold the nation’s highest office.

Reflecting on the presidency, he offers a unique and thoughtful exploration of both the awesome reach and the limits of presidential power, as well as singular insights into the dynamics of U.S. partisan politics and international diplomacy. Obama brings readers inside the Oval Office and the White House Situation Room, and to Moscow, Cairo, Beijing, and points beyond. We are privy to his thoughts as he assembles his cabinet, wrestles with a global financial crisis, takes the measure of Vladimir Putin, overcomes seemingly insurmountable odds to secure passage of the Affordable Care Act, clashes with generals about U.S. strategy in Afghanistan, tackles Wall Street reform, responds to the devastating Deepwater Horizon blowout, and authorizes Operation Neptune’s Spear, which leads to the death of Osama bin Laden.

A Promised Land is extraordinarily intimate and introspective—the story of one man’s bet with history, the faith of a community organizer tested on the world stage. Obama is candid about the balancing act of running for office as a Black American, bearing the expectations of a generation buoyed by messages of “hope and change,” and meeting the moral challenges of high-stakes decision-making. He is frank about the forces that opposed him at home and abroad, open about how living in the White House affected his wife and daughters, and unafraid to reveal self-doubt and disappointment. Yet he never wavers from his belief that inside the great, ongoing American experiment, progress is always possible.

This beautifully written and powerful book captures Barack Obama’s conviction that democracy is not a gift from on high but something founded on empathy and common understanding and built together, day by day.

November 30

Princess Floralinda and the Forty-Flight Tower

by Tamsyn Muir

Series: Unknown

Published by Subterranean Press

Genre: Fantasy Novella

200 pages

Synopsis: When the witch built the forty-flight tower, she made very sure to do the whole thing properly. Each flight contains a dreadful monster, ranging from a diamond-scaled dragon to a pack of slavering goblins. Should a prince battle his way to the top, he will be rewarded with a golden sword—and the lovely Princess Floralinda.

But no prince has managed to conquer the first flight yet, let alone get to the fortieth.

In fact, the supply of fresh princes seems to have quite dried up.

And winter is closing in on Floralinda…

Christmas Island

by Natalie Normann

Series: Unknown

Published by One More Chapter

Genre: Romance, Christmas, Norway

340 pages

Synopsis: Cosy up in front of a fire and discover Christmas the Norwegian way…full of romance, cosy traditions and hygge!

In the bleak midwinter…
A really frosty wind is making Holly’s life absolutely miserable

After all the years of hard work it took Londoner Holly Greene to become a doctor, now it could all be taken away and she only has herself to blame. She’s retreating to her brother’s rustic home on an island off the coast of Norway to lick her wounds. Only, it’s the middle of winter and icy slush plus endless darkness isn’t exactly the cheery, festive getaway she had imagined.

Nearly stumbling off the edge of a cliff in the dark, Holly is saved by Frøy, a yellow-eyed cat of fearsome but fluffy proportions, and his owner – grouchy, bearded recluse, Tor. Tor has his own problems to face but the inexplicable desire to leave a bag of freshly baked gingerbread men on Holly’s doorstep is seriously getting in the way of his hermit routine.

Take a Look at the Five and Ten

by Connie Willis

Published by Subterranean Press

Genre: Science Fiction, Christmas, novella

120 pages

Synopsis: Ori’s holidays are an endless series of elaborately awful meals cooked by her one-time stepfather Dave’s latest bride. Attended by a loose assemblage of family, Ori particularly dreads Grandma Elving—grandmother of Dave’s fourth wife—and her rhapsodizing about the Christmas she worked at Woolworth’s in the 1950s. And, of course, she hates being condescended to by beautiful, popular Sloane and her latest handsome pre-med or pre-law bocyfriend.

But this Christmas is different. Sloane’s latest catch Lassiter is extremely interested in Grandma Elving’s boringly detailed memories of that seasonal job, seeing in them the hallmarks of a TFBM, or traumatic flashbulb memory. With Ori’s assistance, he begins to use the older woman in an experiment—one she eagerly agrees to. As Ori and Lassiter spend more time together, Ori’s feelings for him grow alongside the elusive mystery of Grandma’s past.

December 1

The Outcast Girls

by Alys Clare

Series: World’s End Bureau Victorian Mystery #2

Published by Severn House Publishers

Genre: Historical Mystery

256 pages

Synopsis: London, 1881. Lily Raynor, owner of the World’s End Investigation Bureau, is growing increasingly worried. Work is drying up, finances are tight and she cannot find enough for her sole employee, Felix Wilbraham, to do. So when schoolteacher Georgiana Long arrives, with a worrying tale of runaway pupils, it seems like the answer to her prayers. The case is an interesting one, and what could be less perilous than a trip to a girls’ boarding school, out in the Fens?

Disguised as the new Assistant Matron, Lily joins the Shardlowes School staff, while Felix – suppressing his worries about his cool, calm employer – remains behind. But there are undercurrents at Shardlowes, and the shadowy, powerful men who fund the school’s less fortunate pupils loom larger as Felix’s own investigations unfold. Felix can’t shake off his fear that Lily is in danger – and soon, his premonitions come frighteningly true . . .

Death at a Country Mansion

by Louise R. Innes

Series: Daisy Thorne Mystery #1

Published by Kensington

Genre: Mystery, Cozy

288 pages

Synopsis: No one would ever accuse famous opera star Dame Serena Levanté of lacking a flare for the dramatic. Unfortunately, it’s curtains down on the dysfunctional diva when she’s found dead at the bottom of a staircase in her elegant home. Solving an opera singer’s murder may not be the typical hairdresser’s aria of expertise. But Dame Serena was the mother of Daisy’s best friend Floria, so Daisy must do-or-dye her best to get to the roots of the case.

When a priceless Modigliani painting in the house is reported missing, the mystery gets even more tangled. Even though the gruff but handsome Detective Inspector Paul McGuinness tells the stylist to stay out of his hair, Daisy is determined to make sure the killer faces a stern makeover—behind bars.

December 29

The Mystery of Mrs. Christie

by Marie Benedict

Published by Sourcebooks Landmark

Genre: Historial Fiction, Mystery

288 pages

Synopsis: In December 1926, Agatha Christie goes missing. Investigators find her empty car on the edge of a deep, gloomy pond, the only clues some tire tracks nearby and a fur coat left in the car—strange for a frigid night. Her husband and daughter have no knowledge of her whereabouts, and England unleashes an unprecedented manhunt to find the up-and-coming mystery author. Eleven days later, she reappears, just as mysteriously as she disappeared, claiming amnesia and providing no explanations for her time away.

The puzzle of those missing eleven days has persisted. With her trademark exploration into the shadows of history, acclaimed author Marie Benedict brings us into the world of Agatha Christie, imagining why such a brilliant woman would find herself at the center of such a murky story.

Olive Bright, Pigeoneer

by Stephanie Graves

Series: Unknown

Published by Kensington

Genre: Historical Mystery, WWII England, Espionage

304 pages

Synopsis: Set in a charming British village during World War II, Stephanie Graves’ new charming historical mystery introduces Olive Bright, a spirited young pigeon fancier who finds herself at the heart of a baffling murder…

Though war rages across mainland Europe and London is strafed by German aircraft, the little village of Pipley in Hertfordshire bustles along much as it always has. Adrift since her best friend, George, joined the Royal Air Force, twenty-two-year-old Olive Bright fills her days by helping at her father’s veterinary practice and tending to her beloved racing pigeons. Desperate to do her bit, Olive hopes that the National Pigeon Service will enlist Bright Lofts’ expertise, and use their highly trained birds to deliver critical, coded messages for His Majesty’s Forces. The strangers who arrive in Pipley are not from the NPS. Instead, Jameson Aldridge and his associate are tied to a covert British intelligence organization known as Baker Street. If Olive wants her pigeons to help the war effort, she must do so in complete secrecy. Tired of living vicariously through the characters of her beloved Agatha Christie novels, Olive readily agrees. But in the midst of her subterfuge, the village of Pipley is dealing with another mystery. Local busybody Miss Husselbee is found dead outside Olive’s pigeon loft. Is the murder tied to Olive’s new assignment? Or did Miss Husselbee finally succeed in ferreting out a secret shameful enough to kill for? With the gruff, handsome Jameson as an unlikely ally, Olive intends to find out–but homing in on a murderer can be a deadly business…

What December books do you hope to read? What books have I missed?

Can’t Wait Wednesday: No Ordinary Dog by Will Chesney (with Joe Layden)

A military working dog and his Navy SEAL handler at the Bin Laden Raid and life afterward for both

Can’t-Wait Wednesday is hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings. This is a weekly meme to spotlight and discuss the books we’re excited about that we have yet to read. The books I choose aren’t released yet and usually won’t be published for at least two or three months. So I have a while to wait!

I love finding out about books set to publish in future months and I like to share my excitement about the books. I also like to find out about new books on other people’s blogs and hope they’ll sometimes find something to look forward to on my blog.

I’m excited to read . . .

No Ordinary Dog: My Partner from the SEAL Teams to the Bin Laden Raid

by Will Chesney (with Joe Layden)

Series: None

Published by St. Martin’s Press

Publishing Date: April 21

Genre: Nonfiction

Synopsis: Two dozen Navy SEALs descended on Osama bin Laden’s compound in May 2011. After the mission, only one name was made public: Cairo, a Belgian Malinois and military working dog. This is Cairo’s story, and that of his handler, Will Chesney, a member of SEAL Team Six whose life would be irrevocably tied to Cairo’s.

Starting in 2008, when Will was introduced to the DEVGRU canine program, he and Cairo worked side by side, depending on each other for survival on hundreds of critical operations in the war on terrorism. But their bond transcended their service. Then, in 2011, the call came: Pick up your dog and get back to Virginia. Now.

What followed were several weeks of training for a secret mission. It soon became clear that this was no ordinary operation. Cairo was among the first members of the U.S. military on the ground in Pakistan as part of Operation Neptune Spear, which resulted in the successful elimination of bin Laden.

As Cairo settled into a role as a reliable “spare dog,” Will went back to his job as a DEVGRU operator, until a grenade blast in 2013 left him with a brain injury and PTSD. Unable to participate in further missions, he suffered from crippling migraines, chronic pain, memory issues, and depression. Modern medicine provided only modest relief. Instead, it was up to Cairo to save Will’s life once more–and then up to Will to be there when Cairo needed him the most. 

………………………….

I’m fascinated about the many different abilities dogs have–especially military working dogs. The bond between their handlers and the dogs is wonderful to read about.

I think reading about the Bin Laden mission as well as life afterward for dog and handler will be so interesting. I also think in these days when our military is deployed around the world it’s important to remember the individuals who’ve volunteered to go to the dangerous places in the world and too often are forgotten by those of us who stay home.

My favorite books of 2019

In 2019 I read lots of books that made me happy I can read!

I’m finally getting my favorite books of the year completed. 2019 was a good reading year since I read many books I liked and many that filled me with joy. So I have lots of favorites this year!

I had set a goal for myself to read 95 books and only read 90, but that’s okay. I love to read. I think I’m reading a little slower these days. However, the important thing for me is that I’m still reading and that I enjoy most of the books I read.

I’ve added links to the books I reviewed (only three books). 😦

Mystery

Mercy Falls by William Kent Krueger, Cork O’Connor #5

This series takes place in northern Minnesota’s lake country. I love the series which features wonderful descriptions of northern Minnesota and well-written mysteries. However, I need to read them a little quicker since there are already 17 books in the series!

Burning Ridge by Margaret Mizushima, Timber Creek K-9 Mysteries #4

This is another series I love. I’m up-to-date with this series and have read these books since started being published a few years ago. I love reading about working dogs and Robo is a great example of a K-9 dog in a police department. He and Mattie are a wonderful team.

Watcher in the Woods by Kelley Armstrong, Rockton #4

This police procedural is set in one of the oddest towns I’ve read about in a mystery and there’s lots of suspense. Each book ratchets up the suspense a little more.

Fractured Truth by Susan Furlong, Bone Gap Travellers #2

Former Marines Brynn and her K-9 partner Wilco suffer from PTSD and both carry the scars from an IED explosion. Brynn tries to control the flashbacks with alcohol and pain pills–not a good combination especially since she’s now working for the McCreary County Sherrif’s Department. She’s also trying to straddle two worlds–that of the Irish Travellers (a nomadic group from Ireland who came to the U.S. during the Great Famine) and the settled townspeople (most of whom distrust the Travellers.) The mysteries are good in this series and the world of the Travellers is fascinating.

The First Eagle by Tony Hillerman, Leaphorn & Chee #13

I’ve read these mysteries since I was a teenager. My mom and I would talk about the books through the years since we both loved them. One of the best things about this series is that it’s set in the United States Southwest. For a while I stopped reading mysteries so now I’m catching up with this series. And I’m so happy that Tony Hillerman’s daughter Anne Hillerman has continued writing the series after he died.

The Beautiful Mystery by Louise Penny, Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #8

The books in this series are so well written. Sometimes they’re difficult to read since heartbreaking things happen to characters I like. Things that happen in one book may have far-reaching impact several books later and then we see how skillfully Louise Penny has intertwined so much into her books.

A Bitter Feast by Deborah Crombie, Duncan Kincaid & Gemma James #18

I was so happy to read this book since it has been several years since Deborah Crombie had written a book in the series. When I read about Duncan and Gemma and their family it’s like having a chat with old friends. And the mysteries are good, too!

The Chalk Pit by Elly Griffiths, Ruth Galloway #9

I’m always happy to return to Ruth’s world. She’s such an interesting character and I love the mysteries which always have something to do with her forensic archaeology work.

Science Fiction

Exit Strategy by Martha Wells, The Murderbot Diaries #4

I’ve loved every single one of the Murderbot books. They are original, an adventure story and also thought-provoking.

Borderline by Janet Edwards, Hive Mind #4

I like everything I’ve read by Janet Edwards. This series is one I especially love. Ms. Edwards has a great way of writing exciting stories about characters I care about. And her world building is so good. It takes place in Earth’s future.

Mantivore Dreams by S.G. Higbee, Arcadian Chronicles #1

I like the way this book slowly unfolds so that it gives readers time to try to figure things out themselves. I also like that by the end of the book there are threads for future books, but that this book is a complete story. I need to get that next book read! The world building is especially good and I like the way Kyrillia grows and changes throughout the book.

A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World by C.A. Fletcher

I chose to read this book because it was about a dog! I love the bond between Griz and the dogs. However, the book is a post apocalyptic science fiction so the book is good, but also has an overall feeling of sadness.

The Light Brigade by Kameron Hurley

I feel like a lot of science fiction really makes you think in a different way and that’s kind of what this book did for me. It’s also post apocalyptic, military science fiction and during parts of the book I wasn’t really sure what was happening! It went different directions than I thought it would.

Ascending by Meg Pechenick, The Vardeshi Saga #1

Margaret (Meg) Pechenick is a new author to me. (S.G. Higbee @ Brainfluff reviewed this book. I find out about so many good books from her.) I loved this science fiction about aliens visiting Earth and inviting a group of Earthlings to visit their part of space.

Doing Time by Jodi Taylor, The Time Police #1

This was book one of a new series–The Time Police–that came out in fall 2019. It’s a spin-off of The Chronicles of St. Mary’s series. These are both time travel series and so much fun. I’m doing a happy dance that Jodi Taylor decided to start another series which comes at the time travel idea from a slightly different angle. Can’t wait for the next book!

Urban Fantasy

These are my favorite urban fantasies (which are about the only fantasies I read these days) and I’ve read every book as they’ve been published!

Wild Country by Anne Bishop, The World of the Others #2 (The Others #7)

The world building in these books is one of the most appealing parts of this series. It very different from other urban fantasy series I read.

Storm Cursed by Patricia Briggs, Mercy Thompson #11

Mercy Thompson is such a great character. She doesn’t always do the smart thing, but she’s such a loyal friend and she tries to do what’s right for the people she’s responsible for. And I love the world Patricia Briggs has created.

Between Homes by W.R. Gingell, The City Between #5

This series is so unique and the last book has really ratcheted up the suspense. I hope another book comes soon in this world where Fae often come and go in the human world, but very few humans manage to survive a trip either Between or Behind. And most humans don’t even know they exist.

Fiction

Doggirl by Robin Brande

I loved this book! It’s young adult which I seldom like or read, but this book about a high school girl who wants to be an animal trainer for movies is just lovely. And the dogs are wonderful!

The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan

An out-of-work librarian, a bookstore on wheels and remote towns without libraries all come together in this wonderful book. There’s even some romance in it! And it’s set in Scotland!

Lost Dogs and Lonely Hearts by Lucy Dillon

I loved all the dogs in this book plus the human characters are great fun to read about.

Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes

At the end of the book I felt so happy I’d read this which is one of the reasons I love reading. It’s set in Maine which is one of my favorite places and Evvie Drake is a great character. She’s certainly not perfect, but she’s someone I’d love to talk to. Linda Holmes is also one of the hosts of the Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast which I love to listen to.

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

One of my most favorite books of 2019! So glad I read it. The language flows and the characters are so vivid–especially Kya (aka “Marsh Girl”). The book is heartbreaking at times, but ultimately a wonderful read. It’s historical fiction, almost a natural history of the North Carolina swamps and marshland and a mystery all set in swamps along the North Carolina Coast. It switches back and forth between Kya’s childhood in the 1950’s and a murder that happens in 1969. Cassandra Campbell narrated the audiobook and made my enjoyment of the book so vivid and immersive.

Memoir

Becoming by Michelle Obama

I don’t usually read memoirs or biographies, but I enjoyed this one a lot–especially since I listened to the audiobook narrated by Michelle Obama. By the end I felt like we had met! So interesting to hear about her childhood, her meeting and marriage to Barack Obama, and then her life as the First Lady in the White House. She’s such an inspirational person.

Have you read any of these books? What were some of your favorite books of the year?

Top Ten Tuesday: Bookish discoveries in 2019

Favorite new authors, genres I don’t usually read, Kindle Unlimited, WordPress.com and Libby

That Artsy Reader Girl has hosted Top Ten Tuesday since January of 2018. This is a fun meme with specific topics each week. If you like to make lists and talk about books be sure to check it out.

Today I’m talking about some of the Bookish discoveries I made In 2019.

Genres I don’t usually read

Memoir
  • I read Becoming by Michelle Obama. I don’t usually read memoirs or biographies, but I enjoyed this one a lot–especially since I listened to the audiobook which was narrated by Michelle Obama. So interesting to hear about her childhood, her meeting with and marriage to Barack Obama, and then her life as the First Lady in the White House.
Nonfiction

I don’t read very much nonfiction, but I read two that were completely different from each other, but I enjoyed them both a lot.

Soldier Dogs by Maria Goodavage was about dogs used in the military both during wartime and peacetime. I loved the talk about the bonds between the dogs and their handlers and the dogs even help soldiers that aren’t their handlers. The dogs save peoples’ lives and since they are working dogs have a strong drive and love of working.

84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff is a completely different type of book. I listened to the audiobook. It’s a series of letters between Helene Hanff and employees of the Marks and Company Bookshop over a 20 year period. They all become friends although they haven’t met face-to-face. I used to write long letters to friends, but these days not so much. This book shows why regular correspondence can be such a joy.

Middle Grade
  • Zero G by Dan Wells and Wish by Barbara O’Connor are both Audible Original books which were free in the program they began last fall for Audible members. Members get to choose two free audiobooks from about six books. I admit I’ve had problems some months choosing two books that interested me. Plus I quit Audible for several months because of the price. I recently rejoined when they offered a reduced price for three months. One of the types of books I enjoyed listening to are the middle grade books they’ve often had in the free program.

Favorite new authors

Lucy Dillon
  • I read both Lost Dogs and Lonely Hearts and Walking Back to Happiness by Lucy Dillon.
  • I loved both of these books. There are lots of dogs in the books and some romance!
Linda Holmes
  • Evvie Drake Starts Over was such a good book. At the end of the book I felt so happy which is one of the reasons I love reading.

Apps

Libby

I get as many books as I can from the library. I’m not quite sure when I downloaded the library app Libby to my phone, but it’s so much better than library apps I’ve had in the past. I use Libby to listen to the audiobooks I check out and I really like it.

Other apps I use a lot–Audible, Kindle, goodreads–are all ones I’ve used for a long time.

Websites

WordPress.com

I discovered I could move my blog from a self-published wordpress blog to wordpress.com and keep the name of my blog plus save a lot of money and not have to figure out how to do everything on my own.

Miscellaneous

Kindle Unlimited

Amazon offered Kindle Unlimited (KU) for a reduced price for three months last fall. I’d tried it once before, but didn’t find enough books at that time to continue paying for it. This time I’ve found a lot of books that interest me. Some of the books are from favorite authors, but a lot of them are from authors I haven’t read before. I love to try new authors and KU books are often independently published. And I love finding books like that, too.

Since I’m now paying full price I’m keeping track of the KU books I read each month. I figure I need to read at least two KU books a month to get my money’s worth. (Most KU books seem to cost about $4.99 without a KU membership.)

  • I read a total of nine KU books since October (when I signed up for KU). Four of the KU books are by Katherine Pathak.
  • They’re all in the DCI Dani Bevan Mystery series. I enjoy these mysteries, but I might not have found them if they weren’t KU books since Pathak was a new author to me and one I hadn’t heard of before. And I might not have read that many books so quickly.

Did you make Bookish Discoveries last year? What were they?

My favorite books of the last decade

50 Favorite books from 2010 – 2019

Tammy @ Books, Bones & Buffy did her best books of the decade post which I thought was great so I’ve created my own. It was lots of fun to look back at the last 10 years and remember books I’ve loved. I’ve kept a spreadsheet of the books I’ve read every year since 2004 so I went back through my spreadsheets and picked out these books. I didn’t give all of them an A, but these are the ones that have stuck with me.

I’ve listed anywhere from three to six favorite books a year. These books span a number of genres and some are books published that year and some are books published years and years ago. I don’t review all the books I read so if I have a review for the book on my blog I will show a link after the book covers. (I started my blog during 2013 so there are no reviews before that.)

2019

Doggirl by Robin Brande

2018

What the Dog Ate by Jackie Bouchard

Not a Sound by Heather Gudenkauf

2017

The Cold Dish by Craig Johnson

2016

Killing Trail by Margaret Mizushima

Cold in the Earth by Aline Templeton

In the Shadow of the Glacier by Vicki Delany

2015

Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear

The Lady Astronaut of Mars” by Mary Robinette Kowal

Lock In by John Scalzi

Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

The Martian by Andy Weir

2014

The Cloud Roads by Martha Wells

The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley

Nice Dragons Finish Last by Rachel Aaron

Iron Night by M.L. Brennan

Old Man’s War by John Scalzi

Earth Girl by Janet Edwards

2013

The Golden Compass by Phillip Pullman

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

Death Masks by Jim Butcher

The Touchstone Trilogy by Andrea K. Höst

2012

2011

2010

Have you read any of these books? How did you like them? Are any of them favorites of yours?

Celebrating diversity

toptentuesday2Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme I take part in when I can think up answers! It’s a great meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish blog. Every week a new topic is presented. It’s not only fun to think about my list, but to read what other people come up with!

This week I’m listing books which celebrate various kinds of diversity. I’ve noted the type of diversity found in each book. Most of the books I’ve listed I’ve read. Those I haven’t read I own and hope to read one of these days.

I’ve added 11 books–the last one a memoir–Notes of a Native Son by James Baldwin.

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Science Fiction/Fantasy

Kindred by Octavia Butler–fantasy/historical fiction

  • Dana is an African-American woman who is repeatedly pulled back in time to the antebellum south.

Midnight Riot by Ben Aaronovitch–urban fantasy

  • Peter Grant is a black police constable in London.

Lock In by John Scalzi–Science Fiction Mystery

  • The main character is Chris Shane, a FBI agent and a Haden’s Syndrome survivor. The reader doesn’t find out if Chris is male or female, black or white. There is also rising feeling against the people who are disabled by Haden’s Syndrome.

The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula LeGuin–Science Fiction

  • The human in the book is on a planet where the inhabitants can choose whether to be male or female.

The Speed of Dark by Elizabeth Moon–Science Fiction

  • Lou Arrendale has autism and is part of a lost generation. In the future genetic defects are removed at birth, but the people alive before that happened are the lost generation.

Cinder by Marissa Meyer—YA fantasy

  • Cinder is a cyborg and treated like a second class citizen. Much of the action takes place in China.

Moon Called by Patricia Brigg–urban fantasy

  • Mercy Thompson, the main character in this series is American Indian.

Mysteries

Skin Walkers by Tony Hillerman

  • American Indian police officer

Mandarin Plaid by S. J. Rozan

  • Chinese-American female private detective, much of the action in Chinatown in NYC

Historical Fiction

Lord John and the Private Matter by Diana Gabaldan

  • The book takes place in England in the mid 1700s at the beginning of the Seven Years War. Lord John Grey is the main character and a gay man in this historical fiction/mystery.

Essays/Memoir

Notes of a Native Son by James Baldwin

  • This was first published in 1955 and is a collection of essays by James Baldwin about his experiences with race.

What are the books you think of which celebrate diversity?

Review: Servants’ Hall by Margaret Powell

servants-hall

Servants’ Hall: A Real Life Upstairs, Downstairs Romance
by Margaret Powell
Narrated by Susan Lyons
Series: None
Genre: Memoir
Published by Audible Studios, 2013 (originally published 1979)
Audiobook, purchased
192 pages
7 hours, 3 minutes
Grade: B
Narrator grade: B
Synopsis: Margaret Powell’s Below Stairs, a servant’s firsthand account of life in the great houses of England, became a sensation among readers reveling in the luxury and subtle class warfare of Masterpiece Theatre’s hit television series Downton Abbey. In Servants’ Hall, another true slice of life from a time when armies of servants lived below stairs simply to support the lives of those above, Powell tells the true story of Rose, the under-parlourmaid to the Wardham Family at Redlands, who took a shocking step: She eloped with the family’s only son, Mr. Gerald.

Going from rags to riches, Rose finds herself caught up in a maelstrom of gossip, incredulity and envy among her fellow servants. The reaction from upstairs was no better: Mr. Wardham, the master of the house, disdained the match so completely that he refused ever to have contact with the young couple again. Gerald and Rose marry, leave Redlands and Powell looks on with envy, even as the marriage hits on bumpy times: “To us in the servants’ hall, it was just like a fairy tale . . . How I wished I was in her shoes.”

Once again bringing that lost world to life, Margaret Powell trains her pen and her gimlet eye on her “betters” in this next chapter from a life spent in service. Servants’ Hall is Margaret Powell at her best—a warm, funny and sometimes hilarious memoir of life at a time when wealthy families like ruled England.

In 1922 when at the age of 15 I entered domestic service after two years as a daily, servants were considered less than dusty by those who employed them; and ignorant, even positively not all there by that section of the working class–male and female alike–who wouldn’t have been seen alive or dead as a servant below stairs.

Cheers

  • I found the story fascinating. I liked reading (listening) to a memoir about a particular era and way of life.
  • The narrator was good. I have no idea how Margaret Powell may have sounded and know very little about English accents, so all I know is the narrator has an English accent and read the story well!
  • Margaret Powell is so interesting and her narrative of servants’ lives in the 1920’s and 1930’s is a great story.
  • Margaret starts as a kitchen maid and becomes a cook. The part where she works with Rose is at the beginning of the book and only a small part of the overall story.
  • Margaret doesn’t start as a very happy kitchen maid. She loves to read and wanted to continue with her schooling, but that wasn’t an option in her family. However, she continues to read and enjoys learning and ultimately goes to school and passes her O-levels and A-levels (after she was well into her 50’s), writes a number of books and becomes a TV personality. Quite an accomplishment.
  • Includes a discussion of class differences. There’s a definite pecking order among the servants just as there is “above stairs.”
  • I enjoyed the descriptions of the dances the young servants attend and the romances which sometimes occur. For many of the servants there may be a bit of romance, but never any “fairytale marriage.” Though some of the young maid’s think Rose’s elopement is like a fairytale, the older, more experienced and cynical servants insist it isn’t.
  • The story tells the poverty many servants lived through after they were too old to work.

Jeers

  • This is advertised as story about a maid who elopes with her employer’s son. Yes, it does tell that story, but it’s not really the most interesting part of the book.
  • This is mostly the story of the 1920’s and 1930’s until the last few minutes–used to wrap up everyone’s lives after WWII. That was rather abrupt.

And a few thoughts . . .

  • Apparently Margaret Powell’s books were used for creating Upstairs, Downstairs (a British TV series in the 1970’s).
  • I had never heard of her before and was happy to find this book on sale at Audible.

About the author

  • Margaret Powell (1907 – 1984) was an English writer. Her book about her experiences in domestic service, Below Stairs, became a best-seller and she went on to write other books and became a television personality. Below Stairs was an impetus for Upstairs, Downstairs and the basis of Beryl’s Lot, and is one of the inspirations of Downton Abbey. (from Wikipedia)

Have you read this book? How did you like it?

  • 2015 Goodreads Challenge
  • Audiobook Challenge–hosted by Hot Listens and The Book Nympho blogs
  • New Author Challenge–hosted by the Literary Escapism blog
  • Ultimate Reading Challenge–hosted by the Popsugar blog (A memoir)
  • COYER Winter Reading Challenge–hosted by Berls @ Fantasy is More Fun and Michelle @ Because Reading (an audiobook–$4.95)