Readers’ Reviews of Favorite Books

I updated the blog “Oh, It’s All About The Books, ‘Bout The Books, ‘Bout the Books” to include favorite reads that have come in the last few days.

Here are comments that were included with the books listed, carrots to get thee to the library, the Kindle, the independent bookstore.

Any murder mystery by Anne Perry including The Thomas Pitt series:  You never know who dunnit until last 5 or 4 pages, then you have to go back and re-read them just to make sure. Informative about life in England mid 1800s on. You don’t necessarily have to read them in order.

Being Mortal by Atul Gawande : Nonfiction; medical / end-of-life issues. Best book I’ve ever read on this subject!

Evidence of Things Unseen by Marianne Wiggins: Fascinating and beautiful novel set partly in Knoxville/ Oak Ridge. This is a book I’d never want to miss; best novel I’ve read this year; superb writing. She breaks the rules but does it expertly.

Barefoot to Avalon by David Payne: This memoir is exceptional–the best memoir I’ve read this year, along with Amy Tan’s The Opposite of Fate. But of the two, if you have to choose, don’t miss this one. Incredibly honest and engaging from Page 1 to the end.

Hellhole by Gina Damico:. Max accidentally opens a hole to hell from which a Demon named Burg crawls out. Listening to this story REALLY makes it even more awesome.

Not My Father’s Son by Alan Cumming: If you don’t know Cumming, figure it out. He’s a fabulous actor. The best part, you don’t need to know who he is to enjoy his memoir. (and I’m not usually a fan of the genre)

Fairest by Marissa Meyer: This is a sort of prequel to the Lunar Chronicles where we learn about the early life of ultimate bad guy Queen Levana (truly, read the other 3 books first). You know how sometimes, you feel empathetic to the bad guy because of how she/he grew up? You think you might find that with Levana…. Meyer’s series contains such an artistic web of storylines.

The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman: Gorgeous writing and story and completely heartbreaking.

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr: Masterful storytelling and beautiful writing and story.

Trampoline by Robert Gipe: Hilarious, lyrical, and heartbreaking all at once. Tennessee boy (now in Harlan) done good.

A Cup of Light  by Nicole Mones: An expert appraiser of fine Chinese porcelain, with an encyclopedic knowledge of her topic and a fascinating technique for remembering facts, is sent to Beijing to authenticate a large collection of rare pieces. As she works to evaluate each fragile pot, she begins to realize that no matter how perfect some seem, the possibility exists that they are forgeries. A mystery with an interesting historical/factual back story,

Aqua Alta by Donna Leon: (So far Bill and I have inhaled at least twenty of Leon’s Brunetti mysteries – she has undoubtedly created one of the most intelligent, engaging characters ever)

As Venice braces for a winter storm and rising water, Commissario Guido Brunetti finds out that an old friend has been savagely beaten at the palazzo home of her lover, the reigning diva Flavia Petrelli. (This one also involves the forgery of rare Chinese porcelain).

Brunetti’s Cookbook by Roberta Pianaro: Among their many pleasures, Donna Leon’s Commissario Guido Brunetti novels have long been celebrated for their mouth-watering descriptions of food. Multicourse lunches at home with Paola and the children, and then there’s the coffee, the pastries, the wine, and the grappa…

In Brunetti’s Cookbook, Donna Leon’s best friend and favorite cook brings to life these fabulous Venetian meals. The recipes are joined by excerpts from the novels, four-color illustrations, and six original essays by Donna Leon on food and life in Venice.

Mary Coin by Marisa Silver:  This is a novel based on the Dorothea Lange’s photo, “Migrant Mother.”

The Girls of Atomic City by Denise Kiernan:  History of several women who worked at Oak Ridge/ Secret City from 1942-1945. I suggest this read for everyone who lives in Knoxville. Lot of history.

The Given Day by Dennis Lehane: This is a story of three individuals from across the states. A baseball player, factory worker and a police officer. How their paths cross. Some history mixed with fiction. Good read.

The Brass Verdict by Mitch Connelly Thriller about how an attorney catches the bad guys using private investigators and police.

Oh, It’s All About the Books, ‘Bout the Books, ‘Bout the Books

October 19: I updated this page, adding some late arrivals.

I asked about 45 people if they would let me know 3 of their favorite reads of the year and 31 responded to my request.  Some cheated and tried to add more than three–those will be mentioned in another blog.

There were 3 repeats of titles, All The Light We Cannot See (4 readers), The Invention of Wings (2 readers), and Boys in the Boat (2 readers); those I listed only one time. 26 females and 5 males responded. Ages ranged from 15 to 70s.

Comments that came with books will be in another blog. If you didn’t respond yet and would like to, you can add your choices as a comment. 

1. The Last Wish, by Andrzej Sapkowski
2. The Martian by Andy Weir
3. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
4. Summer Queen, Elizabeth Chadwick
5. Death On Blackheath by Anne Perry
6. A Call to Action-Women,Religion,Violence and Power by Jimmy Carter
7.One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
8.Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
9.The Infinity Gauntlet by Jim Starlin
10.The Liars Club by Mary Karr
11. Viper Rum by Mary Karr
12. The Lady in the Lake by Raymond Chandler
13. Atchafalaya Houseboat: My Years in the Louisiana Swamp by Gwen Roland
14. The Winter Vault by Anne Michaels
15. In Praise of Shadows by Junichiro Tanizaki
16. Being Mortal by Atul Gawande
17. Evidence of Things Unseen by Marianne Wiggins
18. Barefoot to Avalon by David Payne
19. The Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon
20. An Overland Journey From New York to San Francisco in The Summer of 1859 by Horace Greeley
21. Valley Forge by Newt Gingrich and William Forstchen
22. Innocents Abroad by Mark Twain
23.Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult
24. Pastrix by Nadia Bolz-Weber
25. Zealot by Reza Aslan
26. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
27. Boys in the Boat by Daniel Brown
28. The Paris Architect by Charles Belfoure
29. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
30. The World Made Straight by Ron Rash
31. Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
32. Snakes! Guillotines! Electric Chairs!: My Adventures in the Alice Cooper Group by Dennis Dunaway
33. Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman
34. Proof of Heaven by Dr. Eben Alexander
35. The Longest Ride by Nicholas Sparks
36. The Man Who Moved a Mountain by Richard C. Davids
37. Hellhole by Gina Damico
38. Not My Father’s Son by Alan Cumming
39. Fairest by Marissa Meyer
40. A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
41. Fire Shut up in My Soul by Charles Blow
42. Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood
43. The Devil Wins by Robert Parker
44. Death in Paradise by Robert Parker
45. The Cat Who Read Shakespeare by Lilian Jackson Braun
46. Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf
47. A Cup of Light by Nicole Mones
48. Orphan Train by Christina Kline
49. Aqua Alta by Donna Leon
50. Brunetti’s Cookbook by Roberta Pianaro
51. Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
52. Pope Joan by Donna Woolfolk Cross
53. Mudbound by Hillary Jordan
54. Necessary Lies by Diane Cumberland
55. Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
56. The Wisdom Way of Knowing by Cynthia Bourgeault
57. Dorie by Florence Cope Bush
58. Tao Te Ching by Stephen Mitchell
59. The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman
60. Trampoline by Robert Gipe
61. Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
62. The Girls of Atomic City by Denise Kiernan.
63. The Given Day by Dennis Lehane
64. The Brass Verdict  by Mitch Connelly
65. Dark Dark Wood by Ruth Ware
66. Circling the Sun by Paula McLain
67. Come Set a Watchman by Harper Lee
68. Mary Coin by Marisa Silver
69. Beyond the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo
70. Bloodroot by Amy Greene
71. Black Dog Summer by Miranda Sherry
72. What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty
73. Lullaby by Chuck Palahniuk
74. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
75. In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume
76. Gray Mountain by John Grisham
77. The Invention of Wings by Sue Kidd Monk
78. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
79. It’s All Over but the Shoutin’ by Rick Bragg
80. Yellow Crocus by Laila Ibrahim


When I moved into the house on Emerald Avenue over three years ago, I really did not like the tall tree stump in the front yard. Centered near the front porch at that point it was bare and the only “tree” in the yard. Because I do love our front porch, I found myself staring at the stump often.

As the yard became more personal with shrubs, flowers and a bird bath, the stump took on an aurora of its own. IMG_9431I filled it with dirt and planted sweet-william and phlox and ground cover. Around the base potted ferns sat, later replaced by flower seeds and even snow pea plants.

I added my black bear (model for the painted bears of downtown some years ago).

423 E Emerald Ave 017

He has stayed his post through all kinds of  weather.


Now he is sinking fast for the stump is in decay. The back side has broken off. IMG_9433The dirt and plants inside are in danger of losing their grip.

What I first thought was ugly and an eye sore I now treasure.  The patterns in the wood are detailed and full of character. It is soothing to study the IMG_9444swirls, cracks and textures.

Time and awareness sometimes change first impressions. I hate to think of the front yard without the stump.