My Reading Year


“Overdue Book Calendar” auntjune’s Etsy shop.

As the New Year approaches, I have begun a review of this one. What did I accomplish, what did I fail to accomplish, what is worth remembering and what would I rather forget? I’ve had the pleasure of traveling to the San Miguel Writers Conference, attending the Carnegie Center of Lexington’s Books in Progress Conference, the Kentucky Women Writers Conference and the Appalachian Writers Workshop. I met and learned from a number of wonderful writers, including: Rosalind Brackenbury; Jacinda Townsend; Marie Manilla; Hannah Pittard; Ronni Lundy; Scott Turow; Rebecca Gayle Howell; Robert Gipe; and David Joy. Most overwhelmingly joyously, I signed with Folio Literary Management’s Senior Vice President Erin Cartwright Niumata for representation. My website is up and running,, and Erin has my novel “After the Race” out to multiple editors and publishers for sale. It’s been a busy, exciting, successful year and I am so thankful for all those who have helped and guided me.

And I’m thankful for you readers. On average, about 100 people read this blog daily. I hope you have found a book you weren’t aware of, or a recipe, or maybe a playlist. I hope it’s made you laugh, or curious, or on occasion, thoughtful.

Today, I’m providing an overview of the books read in my book club. Tomorrow, I’m going to reveal my best reads of 2015 — not necessarily published in 2015. And as always, I’d love to hear what your book club is reading, what your favorite book of 2015 was, what you’re cooking or listening to while you read.

Book Club 2015 Reads

I Am Malala, Malala Yousafzal. Published in 2013, this is the autobiography of the teenage Nobel Prize winner. Our hostess served a Mediterranean platter of hummus, tzitaki, vegetables and pita.

A Dog’s Purpose, Bruce Cameron. See my earlier post:

Delta Scarlett

A Touch of Stardust, Kate Alcott. This novel, published in 2017, is supposed to be about a young woman from Indiana who becomes involved in the lives of Clark Gable and Carole Lombard during the filming of Gone with the Wind. It was simplistic, a bit silly, and our book club was not impressed.

The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins. This book was a success with everyone. See my earlier post:

Life after Life, Kate Atkinson. Also a big success. I’ve posted about Life After Life and Atkinson’s follow-up A God In Ruins

Saint Monkey, Jacinda Townsend. Whenever we can find a novel that has a Saint Monkey covertie to our locale, we certainly try to read it. Townsend’s Kentucky to New York odyssey had us in thrall. See my earlier post:

We Were Liars, E. Lockhart. A Kennedy-esque mystery of sorts.

archie ap comicUnbecoming, Rebecca Scherm. Another guessing game involving a triplet of would-be thieves with literary undertones and one of our favorites. I need to blog about this. Author Rebecca Scherm, as I understand, went to the same high school as I did.

Black Chalk, Christopher J. Yates. Another twisty page-turner that I can’t believe I haven’t blogged about! Look forward to that one.

Under the Wide and Starry Sky, Nancy Horan. The author of Loving Frank, which we all loved, followed up with this novel about Robert Louis Stevenson and his wife, which we did not love. See my earlier post:

Logo_-_MameMame, Patrick Dennis. Who doesn’t love Auntie Mame with her outrageous clothing, behavior, match-making and travels? It was a perfect, classic to end the year.


So there’s our year of book club reads. Tomorrow, my favorite reads of 2015.

Happy Reading!



Becoming George Sand by Rosalind Brackenbury

George Sand genealogy Frederic Chopin  When Scottish professor Maria embarks on a literary biography of George Sand, she finds herself drawn as much into her literary heroine’s way of life as she is her work:  Maria simultaneously engages in a lusty, extra-marital affair with a younger man, a la Sand, and a la Sand, must suffer the consequences.  Thus begins the novel Becoming George Sand, a theme for both the exploration of Sand’s romances and Maria’s life as explored in Rosalind Brackenbury’s gorgeous, plummy novel.

Unfortunately, I have never read a George Sand novel.  I saw the movie Impromptu with a very young, and moody, Hugh Grant as Chopin, a thousand years ago ( and that’s about all I ever knew of George Sand, the French novelist who wrote numerous novels, plays, political essays, travel books and kept her correspondence with the greatest minds of her day (1804-76), in addition to having famous lovers Frederich Chopin and Alfred de Musset, among others.

I did however, have the opportunity to meet Rosalind Brackenbury, author of Becoming George Sand, at the San Miguel de Allende Writers Workshop recently.  She offered a workshop on Writing About Historical Figures.  I approached the tented classroom and saw a striking, thin woman, who reminded me of Vanessa Redgrave.  We got on quite well in the workshop and I scheduled an hour consult with her on a novel in progress which she reviewed and offered some helpful comments on.

Entranced as I was by her, made it a priority to read her novel.  I’m so glad I did.

Becoming George Sand opens with a sex scene.  I mention this because Ms. Brackenbury taught a workshop in San Allende and mentioned that said sex scene caught the eye of Margaret Atwood and ultimately Margaret Atwood helped Ms. Brackenbury’s novel find it’s way into publication.  (Such are the vicissitudes of fate and may they fall such upon my willing head!)  The scene between Maria and her also-married lover Sean at Maria’s home while her husband Edward is at work is an attention-getter.

They do not undress each other, and she rather regrets this, as it always has erotic potential for her.  Their undressing is almost businesslike in its swiftness and self-absorption, it’s about getting naked rather than the performance of turning each other on.  . . . He glances at her, grins.  She’s undoing her bra– and she wants him watching now, and he does, as her breasts fall forwards and the bra drops to the floor — a new bra, but white, not the black she prefers, as she has picked up that he likes a virginal look, or at least a practical one, in underwear.  He sees her, and she sees him, just enough now, as his underpants slide off, and so do the rather prim white knickers she has on today, and both are kicked to one side; and then they are together, touching all the way down the length of their naked bodies, that first contact she loves, cool flesh warming fast, nipples rising to the chill air in the room — why does central heating never really warm these tall rooms? — and the weight of his cock rising adjacent her, its thickening and lengthening as she holds it adjacent her stomach.

Ahem.  You will have to buy the book to continue this lovely scene.  41DO7zqOS+L

And you should.  Because not only is Becoming George Sand an intelligent, literary examination of modern lives and modern marriages, it is also an overview of, introduction to and explication of the life and loves of George Sand and a meditation upon how her views may have led to, or at the very least heavily, contributed to the modern views of women, sex, sexuality, feminism, femininity and relationships.

Inevitably, as one supposes these things must do, the Maria’s affairs ends with regret on both sides and the modern day insistence on closure results in a final meeting between Maria and Sean.

So, she’s been fitted in before the dentist, and presumably, after lunch.  She imagines him staring into a bathroom mirror as he cleans his teeth, bares them to make sure there’s no lunch on them, and satisfied, leaves the house.  She knows his house, she’s seen it from the outside.  She has no idea about the bathroom.  He knows a lot more about her than she does about him; she wonders briefly is this is always true between men and women.

. . .[T]hen he opens his coat to her and draws her inside, as if into a tent, and holds her against him, her head tucked in under her chin, his familiar peppery scent, the roughness of his sweater and scarf, his hand in the middle of her back, pulling her in to him, hard.  They stay there for a moment, at the edge of the water, in that stony, icy time and place, and for that moment, a little warmth is conjured back, as she feels beneath her cheek the slow strong steady thud of his heart.  She thinks, it isn’t about sex, not now; it’s about knowing somebody in the bone-deep way you know yourself, and to give it up is heartbreak.

Heartbreak for Maria, Edward, and George, over and over.  But not for you dear reader, enjoy!


Toast — make toast and have the smell of bread wafting through the house as your book club arrives.  It will remind them and you of Maria at home waiting for her family after Sean has left.

Gnocchi — the meal Emily has at her friend’s home

Majorcan Soup  — Recipe courtesy of http://www.Spain.Info


Ingredients for 4 people: 3 chopped fresh onions 2 cloves of peeled and finely-chopped garlic 2 chopped leeks (only the white part) 4 large cabbage leaves, cleaned and chopped 80 g of shelled peas 100 g of spinach, washed and chopped 100 g of green beans 100 g of farmhouse brown bread with no salt cut into very fine slices 150 ml of olive oil ½ tsp of paprika Salt


Gently fry the garlic, onion and leeks in a casserole dish, without letting them brown. Add the tomatoes and the paprika. Stir continuously with a wooden spoon, then add the cabbage and pour on a little water. Cook for 15 minutes along with the green beans and the peas. Add the spinach and a tbsp more water, add a little salt, cover and cook for a further 10 minutes. Then drain and put the broth to one side. Prepare an earthenware dish with half of the bread and drizzle with a splash of oil; cover with a layer of well-drained vegetables and place more bread on top, pouring on more oil. Add the rest of the vegetables and dip them with the broth put to one side; Drain excess broth.


They should be served well dry. Drizzle once again with oil and leave to dry a few minutes before serving.

Large Glasses of Red Wine


CHOPIN!  Too easy.


Maria — Kate Winslet

Edward — Joseph Fiennes

Sean — Aidan Turner

George Sand — Emmaneulle Seigner

Happy Reading & Eating!