Ann's Blog
Ann McCauley is a Pennsylvania women's literature author, who wrote the books Runaway Grandma and Mother Love, both available for sale at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
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January 2021
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01/30/21
January 2021 Blog
Filed under: General
Posted by: Ann @ 5:03 pm
Good-Bye and Good Riddance 2020! I’ve never felt like this about another year, but 2020 has been so full of angst with the social isolation, ominous clouds of Covid-19 concerns, masks, — not to mention the political unrest and divisions within our beautiful USA. Of course, there were good things that happened in 2020. Most people have learned how to Zoom, though I find it a poor substitute for in-person interaction. And many more people learned to ’stream’ movies and television series. We’ve all had much more time to spend with our housemates, read books and stream shows to watch on television.

It’s been bitter cold with plenty of snow in our area for the last couple weeks… after what my dad always called that the January thaw, the first two weeks were unseasonably warm weather. We kept our Christmas tree and lights up longer than we ever have before, I guess we needed the bright lights to remember to count our blessings during these long dark days of winter. For the last ten years we’ve gone to coastal S.C. for a winter break. We missed that getaway this year.

We had exciting HAPPY news on January 5th, our grandson and his wife, both active duty Air Force, had their first baby, a beautiful healthy almost 6 lb baby boy. He looks so much like his daddy did when he was born. We can’t wait to meet him and hold him. His name is Levi Samuel, the middle name is after his grandpa, our son, Sam. They are in Rapid City, S.D. Maybe after we both get our Covid vaccines we will be able to manage a trip to S.D. I sure hope so. He is our 8th great grandchild; we are blessed.

I’ve had time to read several books this month.

I read Flying Free by Cecelia Aragon. Memoir. 2020. Blackstone Publishing. It’s a fascinating and poignant story. I rated it 5 stars. My review is posted on Story Circle.org @ https://www.storycircle.org/book_review/flying-free/

I also read How to Make a Life by Florence Reiss Kraut. Historical fiction. 2020. She Write Press. It’s a layered story about a Jewish family with many threads woven through this intense story of four generations, starting in Ktovka, Ukraine in 1905 and ends in NYC in 2012. I rated it 5 stars. You can read my review on Story Circle.org @ https://www.storycircle.org/book_review/how-to-make-a-life/

The Towers of Trebizond by Rose Macaulay. Memoir. 1956. Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, New York. This book was called a Masterpiece in its day, written in different style than today’s writers use. It is a much appreciated Christmas gift. It truly was… “funny and sad lighthearted and deep, flippant and profound…for it contains passages that show a thorough understanding of both love and faith, and of what happens when they come into conflict.”…Peter Parker, The NY Times (1956)  Another reviewer from the Atlantic Monthly called it: “… a tour de force of sustained comedy.” It did make me laugh out-loud many times while reading. And laughing out-loud is a refreshing experience during these dark days!

The Darling Dahlias and the Voodoo Lily by Susan Wittig Albert. Historical Fiction. 2020. Persevero Press. Albert is a prolific author who has penned many good books, among them three series. This novel is part of a series but can be read alone without any difficulty. Set in a depression-era southern small town, USA. I really enjoyed the layered plot, well-developed characters, the colloquial dialogue suspense and wit.

We Gather Together by Denise Kiernan. Historical Nonfiction. 2021. Dutton. (From inside the book’s jacket: “This is a biography of an idea: gratitude, as a compelling human instinct, and a global concept, more than a mere holiday… It is anchored amid the strife of the Civil War, and driven by the fascinating story of Sara Josepha Hale, a widowed mother with no formal schooling…who campaigned for decades to make a real annual national holiday of thanks.” There’s a whole lot more to the establishment of Thanksgiving Day than the Indians and early Pilgrims sharing a feast together. An important book to read. Another much appreciated Christmas gift.

The Promise of Ankles, A 44 Scotland St. Novel by Alexander McCall Smith. Fiction. 2020. Anchor Books.
This book is part of a series but can easily be read as a stand-alone novel. the plot and and characters are well developed. (Spoiler: there are a lot of characters to keep straight, requires more than average concentration or perhaps a notepad to list them would help, wish I’d thought of that when I was reading it…) But the story is very entertaining, he’s a wonderful writer, there are layers of depth to his characters and I laughed out-loud several times, his wit is such fun. He includes poetry that he gives his characters credit for writing — better poetry than I’ve read in some contemporary poetry books.

The Dutch House by Ann Patchett. Fiction. 2020. This was an engrossing literary novel. The characters were wonderfully developed, pacing was perfect and the plot had just the right amount of twists and turns to keep me wanting more. It was on of those novels I hated to see end, it was like I’d made new friends and wanted to see what would happen next in their lives. I highly recommend this novel.

Anxious People by Fredrik Blackman. Fiction. 2020. This book was a typical Blackman laugh-out-loud novel with well-developed characters who find themselves in the most unlikely predicament: being held hostage at a real estate apartment open house. Yet Blackman still manages to develop characters with depth as the Stockholm Syndrome takes hold making readers care what will happen to each one of them. Another great book! 
The Mystery of Mrs.Christie by Marie Benedict. 2021. Historical Nonfiction. This book was thoroughly researched by the author, dealing with Agatha Christie’s first marriage to her unfaithful husband Archie Christie. Specifically with her eleven day disappearance in December 1926. All over England newspaper headlines speculated were that Mrs. Christie had been murdered or had committed suicide. Meanwhile she’d been nestled away in a swank spa under the name of her husband’s mistress. She’d planned and plotted her disappearance as carefully as she’d written her books. (*Agatha Christie wrote 82 detective novels, two main series: Hercules Poirot and Miss Marple, 6 romance novels,19 plays and 14 short story collections. Her books have been translated into more than 100 languages, only the Bible and Shakespeare have been translated into more languages. She was born 1890, died 1975.)

The Turn of the Key by Ruth Wares. Fiction-Suspense. 2019. This is our book club book for this month. And I almost forgot to read it!  Rarely do I read suspense that I do not figure out way before getting to the end of the novel. This one surprised me and for that I was grateful. The characters are well developed. The plot is fast moving and twisted. They suggest Ruth Ware is the Agatha Christie of her generation. Those are big shoes to fill, time will tell but she may well be on her way if she can continue to write books as spell-bounding as this novel.

We went to one movie this month, The Marksman, starring Liam Neeson. It was a very good action movie with well developed characters. We had a private showing since we were the only ones in the theater. It is SAFE to go to movies in our town. They have the theater taped off so no one would be close to anyone else even if all the allowed seats are taken. I am happy our theater is open and we try to go as often as we can to watch movies that interest us. They meticulously clean after each viewing. We’re also enjoying reruns of Victoria on PBS and  found two new series that we enjoy, both on PBS: All Creatures Great and Small and Miss Scarlet and the Duke.

I’m finally back to a writing routine and love working on my novel again. More about that as it slowly grows into a completed manuscript.
Till next time, keep reading my friends. Please stay safe and well.

Later,  Ann
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