My First Book Of The Year, Plus A Few Others

As you may have noticed, Joyfully Retired is having a slow start to the new year. My husband and I went to Portland for the holidays, but we extended our stay to see our eldest granddaughter’s high school dance performance. Seeing the show was worth the wait. Then when we got back on the highway heading home to California, the weather was not interested in cooperating. First Oregon gave us black ice and snow and then California pelted us with hard rain, high winds, and flooding. We are finally happy to be back home. Now it’s time to get back to blogging.

I had a good time reading while I was gone. There are always quiet times for good stories. My first book of the year was this one:

Mom & Me & Mom
by Maya Angelou.
Random House, 2013

After reading I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, I came away loving the writing style of Ms. Angelou and a tremendous admiration for her courage in surviving the early part of her life. I also ended up disliking young Maya’s mother and father. If you remember, Maya’s parents put her (when she was 3) and her brother (he was 4) – by themselves – on a train from California to their grandmother in Arkansas. Five years later, at age 13 while visiting her mother, was raped by her mother’s boyfriend. I came to this new book with a bias against Ms. Angelou’s mother.

Mom & Me & Mom focuses on Ms. Angelou’s life from age 14 when she went to Oakland, California to live with her mother. In this book I saw the mother in a different light. I can’t say I came to love her, but I did understand her as Ms. Angelou did. Vivian Baxter was small in stature, but definitely a force to be reckoned with. She was a savvy business woman and an advisor to Maya. The remainder of the book covers Maya’s career and includes her mother’s role in and out of her life.

Here are some of the other books I read in the last couple of weeks. As you can see, I was on a women-author, feel-good roll.

  1. The Quilter’s Apprentice by Jennifer Chiaverini. This is book #1 in the Elm Creek Quilt series which is now at number 20!

2.  Whiskey Beach by Nora Roberts: Part mystery, part romance set in a massive beach house above the Atlantic Ocean in Massachusetts.

3.  What I Know For Sure by Oprah Winfrey: Inspirational essays taken from the author’s monthly column in her O Magazine.


Last year I gave up on trying to review every book I read. For me it was a matter of time. Did I want to spend my time writing reviews or more time reading. Reading won. This year you will see me doing what I did above – a short reviews and a couple of “mentions” about books I’ve read.

I’ve also reached the point where I no longer finish books I don’t like. I just abandon them. Life is too short. So, you can assume that if a book makes it to this blog, I liked it. I’ll let you know if I really liked it.

*Mom & Me & Mom was borrowed from the library. It also qualifies for the What’s In A Name? challenge.

*Whiskey Beach was also borrowed from the library.

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6 Responses to My First Book Of The Year, Plus A Few Others

  1. Vicki says:

    I haven’t read any of those books, in fact the only author I’ve read is Roberts. I’ll have to check the books out.

    I used to feel like I had to finish a book whether I liked it or not. I don’t anymore. Same with writing a review for every book I read.

  2. Kay says:

    Glad you guys got to stay for more fun with family, but also glad you made it home safely. I’ve read all the Jennifer Chiaverini books in that series and I really like it. She seems to have turned to writing historical fiction now, though that was always a part of her quilting books. Have not read that Nora Roberts book as yet.

  3. It sounds like you had a fabulous visit with your family! I loved I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and can’t remember if I read Mom & Me & Mom. I’m doing the same thing right now – I’m doing a weekly roundup with a few thoughts about the books I read that week.

  4. Ti says:

    Our California weather has been really interesting this season! More rain to come, too.

    I love the “first book of the year” but when you have a blog is it the first book reviewed or the first book read? I started a book right before the year ended and then it ended up being my first review. My first read of the year never came in so then I went to the next book on my list. Sort of ruined my “first read of the year” excitement but oh well.

  5. Margot says:

    Hi Ti,

    I have a theory about the “first book” of the year with plenty of clauses. I count the first book as whatever book I finish first in the new year. I’ve been playing “first book” long before I started blogging about books. I like my first book to be something special, which can be defined in a variety of ways. Over the years I would save favorite authors, books, etc. to the end of the year just in case I didn’t finish until the new year rolled around. I know its just superstition in that first book, but to me its like an omen for the books ahead.

  6. Oh, I SO want to read the Maya Angelou book. I just read I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings 2 years ago, and was bowled over by it – so powerful. I would love to read this follow-up.

    Good for you for setting priorities & deciding to spend more time reading! I struggle with those kinds of issues constantly, and my “free” time (is there even such a thing anymore?) seems more and more limited. I need to make some tough decisions myself.

    Happy New Year!


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