Good morning, and welcome to another Monday, in which we celebrate our reading, blogging, and life.  Mailbox Monday is hosted in October by Mailbox Monday blog;  and Book Journey brings us another edition of What Are You Reading?


This week has been quite productive .  The mailbox brought two review books from Amazon Vine and some purchases; and Sparky was gratified by a new download.

1. Sweet Tooth, by Ian McEwan (Vine)

In this stunning new novel, Ian McEwan’s first female protagonist since Atonement is about to learn that espionage is the ultimate seduction.

Cambridge student Serena Frome’s beauty and intelligence make her the ideal recruit for MI5. The year is 1972. The Cold War is far from over. England’s legendary intelligence agency is determined to manipulate the cultural conversation by funding writers whose politics align with those of the government. The operation is code named “Sweet Tooth.”

Serena, a compulsive reader of novels, is the perfect candidate to infiltrate the literary circle of a promising young writer named Tom Haley. At first, she loves his stories. Then she begins to love the man. How long can she conceal her undercover life? To answer that question, Serena must abandon the first rule of espionage: trust no one.

Once again, Ian McEwan’s mastery dazzles us in this superbly deft and witty story of betrayal and intrigue, love and the invented self.

2.  Dangerous Affairs, by Diana Miller (Vine)

When soap opera star Abby Langford leaves Los Angeles for her Minnesota hometown, she’s hoping to give her nine-year-old daughter the peaceful childhood she never knew. But instead of tranquility, Abby finds an old knife hidden behind a wall of her new house. Then the nightmares start: a blood-soaked victim and a killer’s arm slicing through the air, again and again.

Abby wonders if she’s having the nervous breakdown the tabloids claim she already had, especially when sexy, skeptical police chief Josh Kincaid questions her story. When menacing hate mail arrives, Josh’s professional concern for Abby soon evolves into an intense attraction, and the feeling is mutual. But as Abby’s visions grow more graphic and gripping, so does her fear.

Somewhere in the shadows of Abby’s memory lies the key to a very present danger. But she’ll have to stay alive long enough to find it…

3.  Afterwards, by Rosamund Lupon

From the author of the acclaimed New York Times bestseller Sister comes a compelling, thrilling story of a mother who will do anything to protect her child.The school is on fire. Her children are inside.
Grace runs toward the burning building, desperate to reach them.
In the aftermath of the devastating fire which tears her family apart, Grace embarks on a mission to find the person responsible and protect her children from further harm.  This fire was not an accident, and her daughter Jenny may still be in grave danger. Grace is the only one who can discover the culprit, and she will do whatever it takes to save her family and find out who committed the crime that rocked their lives.  While unearthing truths about her life that may help her find answers, Grace learns more about everyone around her — and finds she has courage she never knew she possessed.
Powerful and beautiful, with a riveting story and Lupton’s trademark elegant style that made Sister such a sweeping success, Afterwards explores the depths of a mother’s unswerving love.
4.  The Empty Glass, by J. I. Baker
In the early-morning hours of August 5, 1962, Los Angeles County deputy coroner Ben Fitzgerald arrives at the home of the world’s most famous movie star, now lying dead in her bedroom, naked and still clutching a telephone.  There he discovers The Book of Secrets – Marilyn Monroe’s diary – revealing a doomed love affair with a man she refers to only as “The General.”  In the following days, Ben unravels a wide-ranging cover-up and some heartbreaking truths about the fragile, luminous woman behind the celebrity.  Soon the sinister and surreal accounts in The Book of Secrets bleed into Ben’s own life, and he finds himself, like Monroe, trapped in a deepening paranoid conspiracy.  The Empty Glass is an unforgettable combination of the riveting facts and legendary theories that have dogged Monroe, the Kennedy’s, the Mafia, and even the CIA for decades.  It is an exciting debut from a remarkable new thriller writer.
5.  Blackberry Winter, by Sarah Jio
In 2011, Sarah Jio burst onto the fiction scene with two sensational novels–The Violets of March and The Bungalow. With Blackberry Winter–taking its title from a late-season, cold-weather phenomenon–Jio continues her rich exploration of the ways personal connections can transcend the boundaries of time.Seattle, 1933. Single mother Vera Ray kisses her three-year-old son, Daniel, goodnight and departs to work the night-shift at a local hotel. She emerges to discover that a May-Day snow has blanketed the city, and that her son has vanished. Outside, she finds his beloved teddy bear lying face-down on an icy street, the snow covering up any trace of his tracks, or the perpetrator’s.Seattle, 2010. Seattle Herald reporter Claire Aldridge, assigned to cover the May 1 “blackberry winter” storm and its twin, learns of the unsolved abduction and vows to unearth the truth. In the process, she finds that she and Vera may be linked in unexpected ways…

6.  Happier at Home (e-book), by Gretchen Rubin
One Sunday afternoon, as she unloaded the dishwasher, Gretchen Rubin felt hit by a wave of homesickness. Homesick—why? She was standing right in her own kitchen. She felt homesick, she realized, with love for home itself. “Of all the elements of a happy life,” she thought, “my home is the most important.” In a flash, she decided to undertake a new happiness project, and this time, to focus on home.And what did she want from her home? A place that calmed her, and energized her. A place that, by making her feel safe, would free her to take risks. Also, while Rubin wanted to be happier at home, she wanted to appreciate how much happiness was there already.So, starting in September (the new January), Rubin dedicated a school year—September through May—to making her home a place of greater simplicity, comfort, and love.

In The Happiness Project, she worked out general theories of happiness. Here she goes deeper on factors that matter for home, such as possessions, marriage, time, and parenthood. How can she control the cubicle in her pocket? How might she spotlight her family’s treasured possessions? And it really was time to replace that dud toaster.

Each month, Rubin tackles a different theme as she experiments with concrete, manageable resolutions—and this time, she coaxes her family to try some resolutions, as well.

With her signature blend of memoir, science, philosophy, and experimentation, Rubin’s passion for her subject jumps off the page, and reading just a few chapters of this book will inspire readers to find more happiness in their own lives.


Welcome to our first week in October and our special bookish event.  It is a time to share our reading, blogging, and life adventures, and a time to enjoy our community of book bloggers.

I hope you’ve all had a wonderfully productive week.

Some of us joined the Bloggiesta Party.  And some of us are getting ready for Banned Book Week.

My selection will be spotlighted at Rainy Days and Mondays on October 5.

Here’s what happened on my blogs this week:

On Monday, I shared a Potpourri of thoughts about Hobbies/Collections.

Wednesday brought a merger between two of my writing blogs.   A Merger:  When Two Writer’s Blogs Become One.

Old and New Guilty Pleasures celebrated pomegranates:  the fruit and the martini.

On Thursday, I discovered what happens When One Event Leads to a Flurry of Activities.

My Sweet Saturday Sample was followed by my Bloggiesta Starting Post; then came Bloggiesta:  Getting Personal.

Finally, my Weekend Potpourri post celebrates Blog Events, Leisure Time, & Wishing.

Reading was not so stellar: (Click Titles for reviews)

1.  A Different Kind of Normal, by Cathy Lamb

2.  Shepherd’s Prayer (e-book), by Katja Willemsen

3.  Chalk Valley (e-book), by D. L. Johnstone

What’s Up Next?  (Click Titles/Covers for More Info)

I’m feeling the need to slow down the pace…and my choices this week are longer books.  So here’s what I’ve picked:

1.  The Probable Future, by Alice Hoffman (left over from last week)

2.  Barbra:  The Way She Is, by Christopher Andersen (from Mt. TBR)

3.  More Than You Know (e-book), by Penny Vincenzi


And that’s my week.  I hope you come on by and share your own bookish plans.


  1. Patty

    OMG…you have a lot going on…really!
    Lovely lovely books…lots of blog tidying…no wonder you needed that strengthening Pom martini!

    You deserved it!

    I read Afterward…I think it was really good but I can’t remember it!


  2. Wow a jam packed week. Love your pic for Monday Memes, gorgeous!! Afterwards and Blackberry Winter are the two that caught my eye, looking forward to your thoughts. Enjoy your reads this week 🙂


    1. I love it, too, Teddyree…it’s a Pinterest image I “pinned” on a board; decided to use it as a button.

      Thanks for stopping by. I can’t wait for Afterwards and Blackberry Winter! In fact, I could dive into any one of these…but first, review books ahead of them must come next….sigh.


  3. Oh… lots going on last week! I didn’t get anywhere near as much done for Bloggiesta, but I had too much non-blog stuff happening.

    I missed the new Ian McEwan book on Vine but that’s probably a good thing. I still them a few reviews and don’t want to get too far behind. Love the cover for Happier at Home. Why yes, I love birdhouses!


  4. Kaye

    Wow, what a great week! Love your photo of the chair piled high with chunksters. The Vincenzi book is very good. Looking forward to your thoughts on Blackberry Winter. Happy reading!


  5. I missed Bloggiesta! But I think I’ll go back through people’s posts to read up on all the good ideas! You have some great sounding books lined up. I’m off to download Happier at Home right now! 🙂


  6. This is a HUGE stack of books, I’m envious! You HAVE been doing a lot of reading. I haven’t read any adult novel for quite awhile now – so it was a change for me reading John Connolly and now Ray Bradbury – pretty excited about it, actually. Most of the titles here are unfamiliar to me, so thanks for sharing. 🙂


  7. I am finally getting around to some of the Monday posts! It has been pretty crazy with the Banned Book Week festivities and hosting all the giveaways… fun but crazy. I wanted to tell you happy reading this week 🙂


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