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Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Top Ten Tuesday: Help a Girl Out?

Good Tuesday morning!  How is everyone?  How's the apocalypse going for you all?  My family and I are still doing just fine.  We've got plenty of t.p., food, and medicine, so we're just hunkering down.  The weather here yesterday was absolutely beautiful, so we did venture out to a neighborhood park.  It was full of people walking their dogs, doing yoga, riding bikes, etc.  We ate our lunch in an empty ramada, fully intending to socially distance ourselves, but the first people my 11-year-old daughter saw were two of her really good friends.  The kids all squealed and jumped around, so excited to see each other!  It broke my heart, actually, that these little pals have been forced to isolate themselves when they enjoy playing together so much.  They did get to run around together for a couple of hours, happy as proverbial clams.  Since my daughter's friends are boys, there wasn't any touching involved (cooties, doncha know), but she—and they—got some much-needed time to exercise, bask in the sunshine, and hang out with buddies.  It certainly boosted her spirits and ours.  At any rate, I hope you and yours are healthy and safe during these crazy times.

Speaking of boosting spirits, it's time for Top Ten Tuesday.  Yay!  It's easy to join in the TTT fun—just hop on over to That Artsy Reader Girl, read a few instructions, build your own list, then spend some happy hours checking out other people's posts.  It's a fun way to discover new blogs, check in on old favorites, and rake in the reading recommendations.  What could be more fun, especially when you're stuck at home in need of a distraction?  Today's topic is a good one, too—Genre Freebie (pick a genre and build a list around it! i.e., best/worst romances, non-fiction for travelers, memoirs for foodies, classics that feel timeless, romance novel kisses, science fiction that feels too real for comfort, women’s fiction for newbies, etc.)

Freebies always throw me for a little bit of a loop and this one is no exception.  I racked my brain for a unique, creative way to spin the topic and nothing came to mind.  So, I'm going to take the lazy woman's way out today and ask for reading recommendations instead of giving them out.  Here's the deal:  I'm a positive, happy person who gravitates toward mystery/thrillers/apocalyptic fiction, even in the End of Days, apparently.  I've read so many that right now my soul is seriously craving books that will lift my heart, make me laugh, and provide the kind of light, fun entertainment that's been lacking in my reading choices of late.  Help a girl out?  I like most genres, although I tend to steer away from high fantasy, poetry, serious sci-fi, and anything too dense/technical/boring.  Erotica and the like is absolutely off the table.  What have you got for me?  Here's a quick Top Ten list that will give you an idea of what I like and am looking for more of:

  • Light, entertaining stories that still have substance.  Any genre.  Bonus points if they're clean and well-written.
  • Inspiring biographies/memoirs
  • Easy, breezy romcoms
  • Family sagas (think Kate Morton and Karen White)
  • Action/adventure/survival stories where endurance/determination wins out in the end and/or where there's more going on than meets the eye (think LOST)
  • Women's fiction that's heartwarming without being cheesy or sappy
  • Mysteries that are engrossing, but won't give me nightmares (think cozies and Mary Higgins Clark-ish)
  • Humor (fiction or non-fiction, just something that is funny without being too crude or suggestive)
  • Sweet/small-town romance (think Robyn Carr without the R-rated bits)
  • Haunted house/ghost stories that are shivery and engaging, but not terrifying 
Okay, what do you have for me?  I'd seriously love any recommendations you can come up with.  Leave a comment on this post and I will gladly return the favor on yours.

Happy TTT!  


  1. I hope you get lots of suggestions! My post this week was all about ghost stories, so some of them might appeal to your love of the paranormal.

    My TTT .

    1. Awesome! I love a good ghost story. Like I commented on your blog, I don't usually read short stories, but this may be the perfect time to try something new.

      Thanks for coming by, Lydia!

  2. I am all about the light and breezy. I love sap and cheese. Romcoms and small town romances also do well by me. Glad you all are safe and doing well. I am staying indoors as much as possible. I had to go out twice for medication for my parents, but that's it!

    1. Except for bi-weekly physical therapy appointments and picking up medicine at the pharmacy's drive-thru, I've barely left the house for the last two weeks. I did go to the post office yesterday to pick up a package for my husband and it was HOPPING. Totally surprised me. I'm not sure what all the snowbirds were doing there, but there were a lot of them there and they were not practicing social distancing AT ALL. Yikes. Good thing you're looking out for your parents :)

      Thanks for coming by, Sam!

  3. Here are some books that I think are fun, heartwarming, humorous and entertaining: My Mrs. Brown, Lost in Austen: Create Your Own Jane Austen Adventure, Miss Buncle's book, Ellie Jordan, Ghost Trapper, Sixteen Brides, and Married with Zombies (which is more about the couple's relationship than the zombies and totally made me laugh.) Hope you find something good to read! :)

    1. I haven't read any of these, so I'll definitely look them all up. I knew I could count on you for some great suggestions, Lark :)

      Thanks, as always, for stopping by and commenting!

  4. Okay. I'm simply going off the top of my head here:

    - Jenny Lawson's books may be something for you. They're hilarious at times, but also serious-ish since it tackled her mental illnesses as well. I only read Furiously Happy but it made me laugh and tear up [like, simultaneously and separately].

    As for ghost stories.. I don't know how old your kids are, but Victoria Schwab's MG horror books were an amazing read to me - and might be for your kids and yourself as well? Maybe a fun activity to do together even. Tunnel of Bones is the first book in the series - the second one is out as well.

    Uhmuhm.. *checking my shelves*

    Sophie Kinsella has some fluffy books that aren't too heavy and without the smut - as far as I remember. It's been a while.

    Aaand Circe by Madeline Miller. Historical Fiction but it's amazingly feminist and beautifully written too.

    Hope it helps you out a bit, haha.

    1. Yes, this list definitely helps! I haven't read any of Schwab's books, so I'll have to check them out. My 11yo is looking for something good to read - maybe they would work for both of us? I'm going to check them out and all these others. Thanks, Kathy!

  5. Some that I think fit the bill:
    The Lost Causes of Bleak Creek (mystery/thriller with some humor)
    On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness (I suppose it could be classified as high fantasy, but it's written for kids, is infused with humor, and really meets #5 on your list)
    The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Harcastle (it is a little dark, but brilliant in how the mystery all works out)
    The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (fits #s 1 & 6 at the very least)

    I tried to find some to recommend that weren't already on my list for the week, but darn it, they're all on the list for a reason.

    My TTT

    1. Somebody else mentioned EVELYN HARDCASTLE. It definitely sounds like one I need to read. I'm going to check out these others as well. Thanks a bunch, Kristi!

    2. I just realized that YOU were the one talking about EVELYN HARDCASTLE. LOL. I think I've been cooped up for too long!

  6. I like a wide range of genre's too.

    1. It's good to have a variety of stuff to read. That way you never get bored!

      Thanks for stopping by!

  7. The Tea Chest by Josephine Moon. Fits "Light, entertaining stories that still have substance" and "Women's fiction that's heartwarming without being cheesy or sappy." Chick-lit isn't usually my cup of tea (pun intended!), but the promised aesthetic of a tea shop drew me in, and the feminism kept me there. This book is a lovely comfort read and absolutely delivered on the tea vibe. I loved how the women dealt with their own issues but also built a safety net among themselves over the course of the story. There was more depth and complexity than I expected, and Moon did a great job of promoting healthy relationships and demonstrating what they do and don't look like.

    The Eight by Katherine Neville. Fits "Action/adventure." With FEMALE protagonists, who have agency and get things done. (Don't bother with the sequel.)

    1. These sound great! I haven't read any of them, so I'll definitely check them out.

      Thanks for coming by, Sam!

  8. For en engrossing mystery I'd always recommend an Agatha Christie. I've only read a few so far but have really enjoyed them. I don't read memoirs/autbiographies much but I did like A Street Cat Named Bob (though I'm biased because I love cats!).

    1. I've only read two Agatha Christie novels - AND THEN THERE WERE NONE and MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS. Which should I read next? A STREET CAT NAMED BOB sounds fun as well. I'll see if I can find it. Thanks, M.T.!

    2. Tommy and Tuppence, The Big Four, They Came to Baghdad, Murder on the Nile

  9. I recently enjoyed Ayesha at Last and For Darkness Shows the Stars, two quite different Austen retellings. Deathless Divide was eerily appropriate to the current situation. The Light in Hidden Places hits a bit close to home, too, but it's supposed to end with hope. We'll see.

    1. AYESHA AT LAST and FOR DARKNESS SHOWS THE STARS are both on my TBR list. I haven't heard of DEATHLESS DIVIDE, so I'll check that one out. I actually read THE LIGHT IN HIDDEN PLACES last week. It's good and it does end on a hopeful note, but in the middle it's pretty heavy and sad.

      Thanks for coming by!

  10. Well, I was going to suggest Vivien Chien's Noodle Shop Mysteries, but I see you're already reading those! :D On the rom-com side of things, I really enjoyed Ashley Poston's Geekerella, though I'm not sure if you've read that one yet or not.

    1. Ha ha. Yes, I love the Chien series! It's one of my favorite cozies. I haven't read GEEKERELLA - I'll definitely check it out.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  11. RaeAnne Thayne is always a safe bet - especially her Haven Point series. As for cozies have you tried anything by Ellie Alexander? I love her! Also Jennifer Ashley has a great historical mystery series. And anything by Agatha Christie or Patricia Wentworth (except Grey Mask - it's only meh) And I can't remember if you've read any Jenny Colgan or Hazel Gaynor. Both are fabulous. Good luck and I can't wait to see what you end up reading.

    1. Yes! I love Ellie Alexander's books. I've read all the Leavenworth ones. I need to keep reading her Bakeshop Mysteries series. Great suggestion! I've read all the Jennifer Ashley books - love that mystery series as well. I do like Jenny Colgan and I'm sure I'll like Hazel Gaynor, but I haven't read anything by her yet. I've never heard of Wentworth - I'll have to look her up.

      Thanks for coming by, Katherine!

  12. I want to recommend one of my favorite books "that nobody has ever heard of and I don't know why." It's a Pete Dexter book called "Spooner" that was published in 2009.

    I fell in love with the book's first paragraph:

    "Spooner was born a few minutes previous to daybreak in the historic , honeysuckled little town of Milledgeville, Georgia, in a makeshift delivery room put together in the waiting area of the medical offices of Dr. Emil Woods, across the street from and approximately in the crosshairs of a cluster of Confederate artillery pieces guarding the dog-spotted front lawn of the Greene Street Sons of the Confederacy Retirement Home. It was the first Saturday of December 1956, and the old folks' home was on fire."

    It's a weirdly, funny, tragic book. Get a load of the opening sentence of the second chapter:

    "Due to problems of tone and syntax, not to mention good taste (how, after all are you supposed to fit a regular baby and a dead one into the same paragraph without ruining it for them both?), Spooner's birth was left out of society editor Dixie Ander's regular weekly account of local comings and goings in the Miledgeville World Telegraph, and the birth certificate itself was subsequently tossed by Miss Ander's unmarried first cousin, Charlotte Memms, who at this point in her career had worked without oversight or supervision for thirty-six years in the Baldwin County Office of Registrations and Certificates, filing and discarding documents as she saw fit."

    This one is not for everyone, but I think Pete Dexter is a genius and that this proves it.

    Here's the author blurb Dexter wrote for the book cover:

    "Pete Dexter began his working life in a U.S. post office in New Orleans, Louisiana. He wasn't very good at handling mail and quit, then caught on as a newspaper reporter in Florida, which he was also not very good at. He got married, and was not very good at that either. In Philadelphia he became a newspaper columnist, which he was pretty good at, and got divorced, which you would have to say he was good at because it cost only three hundred dollars. Dexter remarried, won the National Book Award, and built a house in the desert so remote that it has no postal service. He's out there six months a year, pecking away at the typewriter, living proof of the adage 'What goes around comes around' - that is, you quit the post office, pal, and the post office quits you."

    Pete is now 76 years old, and he is one of my very favorite authors.

    1. That's some great writing right there! I'll have to look up SPOONER. Thanks for the rec :)

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Sam!

  13. I will always suggest Becoming when it comes to memoirs. Love that book!

    As for light and fun, the first two that popped into my head were two graphic novels: Pumpkinheads and The Tea Dragon Society. They were both so cute and fun and touching!

    1. I bought my daughter a copy of BECOMING because she's a huge Michelle Obama fan and she loved it. I haven't read it, though. Ditto for PUMPKINHEADS (although I've heard lots of good things). I haven't heard of THE TEA DRAGON SOCIETY, so I'll for sure look that one up.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  14. Anne Tyler is one of my all-time favorite women's fiction authors. Have you read her? I especially love her book Accidental Tourist.

    1. I actually haven't read anything by Anne Tyler. I'll have to give her a go. Thanks for the suggestion, Deb!

  15. Glad to hear you guys were able to get out for a bit! It's been storming or raining every day here, so being stuck inside is a little extra depressing lol.

    Oh oh oh, I've got the perfect one! The House in the Cerulean Sea, if you haven't read it yet. It's fantasy, but on the lighter end. M/M background romance. Mostly comedy with an older protagonist, some kids you will absolutely fall in love with, and a positive and inspiring message! I read an ARC and plan on buying myself a copy because I loved it so much. I definitely recommend it as a "pick up your spirits" sort of read. :3

    1. It's been gorgeous here and I can't say that very often about the weather in Arizona! Lots of people are out taking walks, riding bikes, etc. It's nice to see some life out there :)

      I've been curious about THE HOUSE IN THE CERULEAN SEA. It's got an amazing cover. I'm definitely going to check it out. Thanks, Sammie!

  16. Ok...this is fun!!! (I’m having difficulty commenting...if this is a duplicate please delete)

    Light, entertaining stories that still have substance:

    Inspiring biographies/memoirs
    * (Fun but probably not inspiring) Talking As Fast as I can by Lauren Graham (if you are a fan of GG or Parenthood)
    * (mostly light) Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb
    * 84 Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff

    Easy, breezy romcoms
    * (this is all I got!) What You Wish For by Katherine Center

    Family sagas
    * Eden by Jeanne Blasberg
    * Hard Cider by Barbara Nemon
    * A Place For Us by Fatima Mirza
    * Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman

    Action/adventure/survival stories
    * The River by Peter Heller

    Women's fiction that's heartwarming
    * Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Schafer
    * Meet Me in Monaco by Hazel Gaynor/Heather Webb
    * Hurricane Season by Lauren Denton
    * Looking For Me by Beth Hoffman
    * This Won’t End Well by Camille Pagán
    * The Printed Letter Bookshop by Katherine Reay
    * Meet Me at the Museum by Anne Youngson

    Cozy Mysteries
    * Inspector Gamache series by Louise Penny

    * Things MY Son Needs to Know About the World by Fredrik Backman

    Sweet/small-town romance
    * How to Find Love in a Bookshop by Veronica Henry
    * Glory Road by Lauren Denton
    * Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center
    * The Storied Life of AJ Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
    * Late Bloomer’s Club by Louise Miller
    * Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf

    Haunted house/ghost stories
    * (gentle ghost) The Beautiful Strangers by Camille Di Miao

    Overall feel good, cozy, gentle reads:
    No 1 Ladies: Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith

    1. Wow, thanks for this list, Carol! I love the Inspector Gamache series and the two books I've read by Katherine Center. I've read GUERNSEY, which I thought was okay. Other than that, I haven't read any of these. I'm super excited to explore all your suggestions. Thanks again!

  17. I'm currently reading Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin, and it's so funny! There is a more serious side to it. It's loosely based on the Monica Lewinsky scandal, and I've heard it gets a bit deeper toward the end.

    1. I've enjoyed a couple of Zevin's books, but I haven't read YOUNG JANE YOUNG yet. I'll definitely check it out. Thanks!

  18. I can't remember if you've read Royal Holiday, which was fun and light.

    1. I haven't read it yet, no. I've heard lots of good things about it, though. I'll have to see if I can get an e-copy from the library.

      Thanks, Helen!

  19. A couple that spring to mind for me are The Shark Club

    as well as Eight Hundred Grapes.

    I love both of them.

    1. Awesome! I haven't heard of either of these, so I'll check them out.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  20. For small town romance on the lighter side, I would recommend Annie Rains. Her Sweetwater Springs series sounds right up your alley.

    1. I've heard of Rains, but never read her books. I'll check her out for sure. Thanks, Tanya!

  21. Have you read The Flatshare? Family Sagas--I know lots of good older ones from the 1950s tto 1980s--Taylor Caldwell or Herman Wouk or RF Delderfeild. I'm not fully awake yet (working at home) but I review all the books I like on my blog.

    1. I have not read THE FLATSHARE, but I've heard good things about it. Old family sagas are great - I'll look into these authors and I'll take a closer look at the books you've reviewed on your blog. Thanks, Lisa!

  22. If you're looking for a cute fluffy romance, I highly suggest Tweet Cute by Emma Lord! It's a fun and light romance about two teens who run the social media accounts for rivaling burger chains, and eventually fall in love

    1. I loved TWEET CUTE! Too bad it's a debut or I would be rushing to read Lord's backlist. I can't wait to see what she does next!

      Thanks for stopping by, Emelie!

  23. Look at how many suggestions you received! You'll be reading for a long time on these. Comforts reads on my blog today. And I started a new book on my Kindle - yay! It's going well.

    1. I know! Book people are the best people :)

      Glad you've got some good books going. As per Kristi's suggestion (above), I just started THE 7 1/2 DEATHS OF EVELYN HARDCASTLE. I had totally forgotten I had an e-ARC of it on my Kindle. Happy surprise!

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, my friend!

  24. Easy, breezy romcoms--those are SO my speed! I've been reading a lot of those lately!

    1. I need to read more of them. Or at least alternate heavier reads with lighter ones.

      Thanks for coming by, Christine!

  25. I am glad you all got a chance to enjoy the nice weather and that friend time ended up being part of it. My girls were more eager to go places at the beginning, but now that this is dragging on and the numbers are rising, I they like to stick close to home. It is such a scary thing right now, but keeping God front and center and leaning on Him to get us through.

    Thanks for visiting my blog. I am glad you found some uplifting and inspiring reads there. I love Karen White's books. I have two here I still need to read.

    Praying you all stay safe and healthy.

    1. We've been self-isolating as much as we can, but it's super tough for my 11yo. She's a social butterfly and misses seeing her friends in person. A little outside/friend time made a huge difference in her emotional state. We try to get the kids outside at least a little bit each day, even if it's just in the backyard!

      I absolutely agree that God is at the helm. I'm not panicking - I know He's got this :)

      Prayers for you and yours as well, Cheryl. Thanks for coming by!

  26. Hallo, Hallo Susan,

    It has been such a long while since I've been able to visit with the book bloggers I enjoy reading and sharing my bookish life with - I definitely agree with you about Erotica; especially as sometimes I find Contemporary Romance authors are pushing the limits on the mainstream side of it and trying to be a bit more "e" if you know what I mean? I mention this on my blog as I prefer traditional Romance (Contemporary, Historical, time slip/travel, etc) as much as I love INSPY Romance, too.

    I'll have to give a good think about your choices in genres as I generally have quite a few I can share to recommend. My mind/heart hasn't been on blogging or visiting lately.. we're the family w/o the means to stock up on supplies so each week we can budget in our shopping we're having to call round the stores to see who has the toilet paper deliveries and who doesn't; plus the food shortages are making for interesting scavanger hunts!

    Mind, my parents were both in the ER this March as we had some medical emergencies (not related to the current crisis) - in a nutshell, I've felt overwhelmed. I have some lovely comments I need to respond to on my blog this week, too. However, I saw someone came from your blog to mine today - just wanted to say if it was you, *thank you!* for visiting with me.

    I look forward to reading through your current posts and offering a better comment than this one tonight. I just wanted to reach out and say "Hallo" - appreciated the top anchour of this TTT and look forward to resuming mine in April as I just dropped the ball to be honest.

    Glad you and yours are doing well. Here's to things getting better all the way round for us all. Without prayer I'd be lost -- sending a bit of friendship and positive thoughts in this note.

    1. Jorie! I'm so happy to hear from you, but so sorry to hear that you and your family are having an especially hard time. I know firsthand about health problems and the ridiculous costs involved :( It's crazy.

      I don't blame you for not feeling in the mood to blog. I totally get that. Hang in there. If you come up with recommendations or just want to chat, you know where to find me. Until then, I'll keep you and yours in my prayers. Stay safe and healthy, my friend!

  27. Glad you and yours are doing well Susan. I am checking out many of these recommendations as well. If you want something light, I enjoyed Bruce Cameron's Dog's Way series. There are three I think.

  28. Insights From a Prophet’s Life, Conviction, The Beantown Girls, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, Marina,The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, anything by Elizabeth Peters!


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