Houses of Pueblo, Colorado

House 1

A couple of weeks ago I drove up to Pueblo, Colorado to visit an aunt and uncle and four cousins who live there with their families. I’ve been to Pueblo several times before, but it was only on my visit back in January that I got a chance to explore the town more intimately than on previous trips. And I fell in love with the plethora of historic houses in the center of the city! I made it a priority on my most recent trip to wander around a few of the fantastic neighborhoods that Pueblo offers to those of us who love to look at houses.

House 2

From the 1870’s to around 1920 Pueblo was a very bustling city as, due to the expanding railroad out West, there was a booming steel industry and Pueblo had several steel mills and a smelter. Many of the steel mill bigwigs built beautiful mansions in the city and small cottages and bungalows housed the employees of the mills. Lots of these unique family homes are still lived in today and their gorgeous architecture gives a distinctive look and feel to the historic neighborhoods of central Pueblo. I imagine these are the types of houses that characters from Willa Cather’s The Song of the Lark and A Lost Lady (both partly set in Colorado) lived in.

House 3

The cousin with whom I stayed on last month’s trip lives in one of Pueblo’s historic neighborhoods and one afternoon we ventured out to walk through several areas near her home. She was out for the exercise (and technically I was too), but I kept falling behind to snap photos of some of the amazing houses we passed. I felt a bit awkward stopping and gawking at people’s homes so I hope they didn’t mind — I did it out of sheer admiration and enthusiasm for their well-maintained houses.

House 4

On my next trip (probably next spring) I hope to tour even more of the historic neighborhoods filled with such lovely houses and yards. It never hurts to indulge in a little house envy from time to time and if you ever visit Colorado, Pueblo is the perfect town in which to make yourself sick with jealousy!

Pretty Landscaping


Hi, Hello, How Are You?

blog pic

Hello there! It’s been a bit over two months since I posted anything here and I just can’t believe it. I’ve never gone that long without posting and I’m not sure how the time slipped away so quickly. But it did and I’ll tell you part of the reason why I haven’t been around. On June 4 I’m giving a presentation at my library called “Sizzlin’ Summer Reads”. One of my colleagues and I have been reading galleys like mad – all books that will be published in June, July and August – so that we can do short booktalks for the patrons who attend to help them find fantastic books to read this summer. I’ve read some things that I normally wouldn’t have ( Dark Matter, All the Missing Girls) and some books that were right up my alley (The Muse, The Wicked Boy) and some things that were disappointing (I won’t mention names). But since all of the books are not currently available I’ve felt conflicted about blogging about them – so I’ve just let the blog slowly slide from my mind until today when I realized that I really miss this space and all of my blogging friends. And since I’ve now done all the reading I’m going to do for the presentation and have moved on to the process of putting my notes together I’m looking forward to returning to the blog and to reading some Persephones I’ve had waiting in line for months now. I’m also eager to visit all of your blogs to see what you’ve been up to! It’s good to be back.


Choosing Book Club Titles for 2016

Book Club Post

Hello! I’m so sorry I disappeared there in December. The holidays and my trip to Colorado seemed to come upon me sooner than I expected and I didn’t write the holiday posts that I had planned – I suppose there’s always next year – onward to 2016!

My book club is going into its 4th year of existence (our anniversary is in March) and I decided that this year we needed to find a new way to choose our books. The first year we voted every month on a list of titles that I compiled, the second year I chose all the books for the year in advance, and last year we took turns choosing titles every month. This year I wanted the process to be a bit less…contentious. Perhaps that’s not the right word – anonymous is probably better. All the members of my book club are lovely people, but there have been instances of dissatisfaction, irritation and disagreement from time to time with the books we choose and the process that we’ve used to choose them. So this year I did something a little bit different.

Back in November I used Survey Monkey to solicit 3 suggestions from each member. Since we decided to focus on classics this year all suggestions needed to be published before 1970. Once I had the suggestions I compiled them and sent out another Survey Monkey link to where everyone could vote for their top choices. Everything was completely anonymous. We only chose for the first six months because I wanted to make sure this worked and I thought trying to choose 12 books might be overwhelming for our first time with this new process. After all the votes came in I made a list of the 6 books that got the most votes and those are the titles that we’re reading from now until June. What did we choose? Here are our selections:

January – Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell

February – My Antonia by Willa Cather

March – The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte

April – Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

May – The Picnic at Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsay

June – Scaramouche by Rafael Sabatini

I think this was a successful way to choose our books and that we all enjoyed the voting process and finding out which books got the most votes. Though I administered it all I was just as surprised by the selections as anyone else was. I think we have a good variety of books and I look forward to reading all of them. This method will definitely reduce the level of indecision about what to choose and the small disagreements or resentments that happened sometimes in previous years.

Have you read any of these titles? How does your book club choose books?

Weekend Cooking: Chocolate Chip Pecan Oatmeal Cookies


Last weekend it finally dipped below 80 on Saturday evening so I gleefully switched on the oven and mixed up some cookie batter. I haven’t baked for months and months because it was just too hot (and humid for most of that time too) and having the oven on for an extended period of time would be ridiculously self-punishing. I love chocolate chip cookies, but I wanted something with a bit more oomph. In addition to pecans and oatmeal these include several spices and orange zest, which seemed a bit strange but works quite well. Here’s the recipe I used and I highly recommend it.

Unfortunately, my plans to bake this weekend went unrealized as it was back up to almost 100 degrees and I just couldn’t bear to heat up the house.

Have you baked anything lately?

Reading Re-set

Click photo for credit.

July hasn’t been a good reading month for me. I’ve only finished two books (out of dozens tried) and have not been enthused about my reading life. I can’t tell you how many books I’ve applied the ’50 page rule’ to this month and then have listlessly let fall from my limp hand after feeling utter disinterest and ennui about those 50 wasted pages. Yes, I’m being melodramatic. But it has felt like a reading tragedy.

Yesterday I realized that I need to lower my expectations, return to reading books I actually want to read and take a little break from reading galleys for a while. I deleted all my ‘Currently Reading’ books from Goodreads and decided to start over. Then I listened to my  heart and discerned that what I really feel like reading right now are Victorian novels and other classics. I love new, I love contemporary, but I think I have overdosed in the past few months and need to return to the land of old-fashioned delight that I truly enjoy.

I’m also going to keep my Goodreads ‘Currently Reading’ list to only five titles. This might seem a lot to some people –  I’ve never been the ‘one book at a time’ kind of person yet having 20 books on my currently reading list is a bit much. So, five is a good number for me.

And now I’m excited about reading again and can’t wait to share my thoughts!

Do you ever have to press the re-set button on your reading life?

My Reading Life Lately

I know I haven’t been around the blog much in the past few months and I miss it. I honestly don’t know why my posts have dwindled off, but I suspect it has something to do with my new reading habits. Back in April I decided to really devote myself to reading galleys, participating in the LibraryReads nominating process and to becoming a well-rounded readers advisory expert in my library system. This means that I’m not reading the type of books that I’ve read in the past or the authors that I normally devote myself to. Also,  I’ve been reading books about 2-3 months in advance of publication and find that many publishers, when granting access to a digital galley, ask that you not write about the book until 1 month before the book is released. As I’m not a very organized person when it comes to scheduling blog posts I completely forget all about writing about a book that I read 2 months ago when its publication date is near.

Though I love reading new books and am pleased with the difference it’s made in my approach to my job and my satisfaction in fulfilling my duties as a librarian, I don’t want to abandon this space or stop reading my true loves (all those Persephones, Viragos, and other British classics). So I just need to find a way to have better balance in my reading life and to incorporate all of my interests into the mix. I also want to write reviews for the new books I’m reading so I can not only share my opinions with you, but remember them better when I suggest them to patrons. Overall, returning to posting on the blog on a regular basis will be a good thing!

And I also hope to set aside time every week to catch up on my blog reading.

Hope you’ve had a wonderful weekend and here’s to a lovely week to come!

June Update


What is one to say about June, the time of perfect young summer, the fulfillment of the promise of the earlier months, and with as yet no sign to remind one that its fresh young beauty will ever fade.’
~Gertrude Jekyll
I’m enjoying June. The bright, shiny skies, the languid dusks, the busyness of the library. Yes, it’s hot, but it’s still the dry heat that feels like cuddling in a warm blanket just out of the dryer.
I’ve been reading lots and it feels really natural to go from book to book with no need to take a breath – isn’t that what summer reading is?
How is your June?

Great Book Suggestions for Book Clubs


Thank you so much for all of your excellent feedback and suggestions for book club books. I haven’t yet decided what I’m going to choose for our May discussion, but now I have a fantastic list to select from and also have a surplus of titles to consider for future months. I’m going to share this list with the rest of my book club members in case they need suggestions as well. It’s always easier to decide on a book when the field is already narrowed to a list of reputable titles. Below, I’ve compiled the titles into an alphabetical list and also included recommended authors – hopefully, this will help others looking for good discussion books or just a good read for themselves. Thanks again!

Specific Titles

Coral Glynn – Peter Cameron

The Cutting Season – Attica Locke

Death Comes for the Archbishop – Willa Cather

Excellent Women – Barbara Pym

Funny Girl – Nick Hornby

The Hollow Land – Jane Gardam

Jim the Boy – Tony Earley

Listening Valley – D.E. Stevenson

Little Century – Anna Keesey

A Lost Lady – Willa Cather

A Month in the Country – J.L. Carr

Murder Past Due – Miranda James

Never Let Me Go – Kazuo Ishiguro

The Penelopiad – Margaret Atwood

The Rosemary Tree – Elizabeth Goudge

The Scent of Water – Elizabeth Goudge

Secret Daughter – Shilpi Somaya Gowda

Silas Marner – George Eliot

The Solitary Summer – Elizabeth Von Arnim

Someone – Alice McDermott (Twitter suggestion)

The Soul of Kindness – Elizabeth Taylor

Station Eleven – Emily St. John Mandel

To Say Nothing of the Dog – Connie Willis

Vanessa and Her Sister  – Priya Parmar

The Young Clementina – D.E. Stevenson


Tove Jansson

Penelope Lively

Emily St. John Mandel

Edith Wharton

Dorothy Whipple

I Need Your Suggestions

random books

This year my book club decided to choose our books a different way than we have in the past. Each month a different member gets to pick the book with no arguments or vetoing. There are only two rules: it must be 400 or less pages and available at several different libraries in the area. The unspoken rules: nothing too dark, violent, sexy or sweary. The first three months of the year we read non-fiction and this month we’ll discuss Gaudy Night by Dorothy L. Sayers.

May is my month. And I am having a tough time deciding what we should read. I’ve decided on then quickly discarded about five titles now and am starting to panic. Our meeting isn’t until next week so I have a bit of time to make up my mind, but I’d really love some suggestions. Have you read anything lately that fits our criteria and would be great for a discussion group? Of course, you wouldn’t know about library availability but discounting that do you have any brilliant recommendations? I want to choose a novel and something somewhat shortish. Classic or contemporary. Male or female author. Literary or genre fiction. I just need ideas!

Thanks in advance!