Desert Islands by Walter de la Mare

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ If any of you would like to read an interesting book (which I’m sure you do), please try Walter de la Mare’s Desert Islands. I have a rule to buy any work of Walter de la Mare’s that I don’t already have; I like him a lot.

Desert Islands is sort of a collection of essays (that’s what I would call it because no two chapters seem to flow together) that not only examine themes of isolation in stories like Treasure Island and Robinson Crusoe, but also Mare documents accounts of isolation in stages of Morphine-induced hallucinations from famous writers and letters written by scholars on the subject. It was a wonderful discovery. Every page was like a candle lit in some dark corner of a history forgotten. I can’t imagine there is another book quite like it out there.

This hard cover copy is a 1930 illustrated edition set against an old 1909 postcard and some shells and sand from California.

Adam Bede by George Elliot

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️Today, if an agent were presented a query letter and the manuscript of Adam Bede, they would have rejected it over and over again and society would have lost a fabulous story. But I doubt that many people today would have the patience for this book. It took 100+ pages for me to get into it where I didn’t want to put it down. It was like a really innocent pastoral soup opera. Every sentence is delicious and every character is well developed to the point that you are sad when your journey with them is over. .



Pictured is a 1909 edition set against a 1972 sketch of a cobbler. This print was originally hanging in the shoe department in the old Hudson’s in Downtown Detroit, which has since been demolished.




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The Voyage Out by Virginia Woolf

⭐️⭐️⭐️ Finally finished this! Took me two months!! 🙄 Mostly because every time I picked it up I fell asleep. It didn’t help that I had Ennio Morricone film scores circling in my mind, as I’ve been listening to his arrangements with Yo-Yo Ma on repeat for two weeks. So that music perpetually in my head coupled with excessive imagery and a lack of stimuli completely relaxed me to dozing off in the middle of every chapter. I LOVE Virginia Woolf but this, being her first novel, just wasn’t as compelling as her other work though there were hints of her brilliant style throughout. .


Pictured is the 1975 London Edition from Hogarth Press—her husband’s press that he owned until 1946. .


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The Dewey Decimal Files

No book review today, but I wanted to share with you an old relic… remnants of the Dewey decimal filing system!! 💕 An archaic method of finding book call numbers before computers. A system which almost turned me off books forever! I remember I was in second or third grade when the librarians showed us how to use it, and I thought, if this is what I’ll have to do when I become a grown-up then find me Peter Pan pronto, because I never want to grow up. 😘 .



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New Look, New Book…

Introducing a new look to!

As of March 25th, 2018 we have changed our site to Vintage House Publications due to the publishing of my first novel Proper Mourning: A Legend’s Tale.   It is my debut novel and until June 21st it will only be sold on  I’m looking to get some more reviews of my work on either or Amazon.  So please consider downloading it.  It’s free for kindle unlimited users!!  Or $1.99 for everyone else and $11.95 for paperback.  Here’s a chapter teaser for you…

“Lily, you must remember Robert Pickett?” Dr. Dunoway asked, ironically.

Lily blushed.  Robert brought her hand to his lips.  Those lips which once kissed her cheek, that had traveled many miles away for many years, seemed farther away now than they had ever been.  She immediately felt how estranged they were.

All eyes were on them and although she looked quite composed on the outside; inside, her heart was pounding uncontrollably, and she had a sudden fear it could be heard by every ear in the room.

“Robert,” she greeted him, looking him over.

He towered above her, much taller now.  His auburn hair, wavy and a little disheveled from his hat, was worn in a short neat cut. He wore his blue suit well, and it made the shade of his hair and his big brown eyes wonderfully prominent.  Indeed, he had grown into a beautiful man.

“My goodness, you’ve gotten tall!”  It was all she could think to say, a repetition of Aggie’s earlier comment.  She must have unknowingly filed it away for her own ready-made greeting, knowing full well she was too nervous to invent something of her own.

He seemed so sophisticated in his suit, and his manner was evidence of his high society breeding.  She was certain city life had transformed him into a stranger.  She had the urge to leave the room to check her reflection again and compose herself, but her feet remained plastered on the pinewood floor.

Danny stood there simply observing this reunion.  Lily could usually read him, but his expression was blank.  He was busy with thoughts of his own affair.  An observing look was stretched on his face, though his eyes were dazed as if he were looking through her.

Aggie had fried the fish and served cold potatoes with fresh baked bread and wine. They drank and talked.  Mr. Pickett discussed the city and why they had come back, explaining it had to do with a business deal he was working on.  To his luck, no one asked him to elaborate on this discussion because Mrs. Pickett had derailed the party’s attention by asking for another glass of wine.   She had sat silently by her husband’s side, sipping her glass empty.  She looked content enough, but when Mr. Pickett spoke, Lily observed a certain look of disgust and exhaustion on the woman’s face.

Although his father seemed quite irritable and his mother quite unhappy, Lily had always remembered Robert having a natural light about him, like an internal happiness and joy his parents did not possess.  He carried with him an enjoyment of life and a jolly look in his eye.  She remembered him that way: happy, self-aware, and observant.

However, Lily didn’t understand the way he looked at her now, like he was about to tease her any moment.  With a smug, pinched face, he looked to be mocking her.  Perhaps she was misreading him?  Too much time had passed.  She had lost sight of him, and their past closeness had become misconstrued by distance and change.  He seemed unfamiliar to her now.

Robert stared at Lily during dinner much of the time.  She tried her best not to look in his direction, but there was a moment he caught her eye.  She felt the flip-flopping feeling in her gut once more as his look hinted of a longing, of a deeper knowledge of the human condition – of her condition.  He looked as though he had many secrets he needed to tell her and keep from her all at once.  A thousand words could have been used to translate the thoughts roaming in both their minds, but for Lily, all thought was overshadowed as she counted the miles between them.



Proper Mourning is a literary examination of grief, love, slavery, and freedom. Set during the American Civil War, horseback riding, trouser-wearing country girl, Lily Dunoway, is strong-willed and eccentric with her best friend, Robert Pickett, by her side. The two have a happy childhood together, riding horses and playing at their spot by the Stony River. When Robert suddenly moves away, Lily fears she will never recover from the loss, but then she meets Danny, an orphan from Scotland. He and Lily soon develop a deep friendship and as they grow up together, eventually love. It seems Lily has forgotten Robert, but when he returns, hoping to win her heart again, Lily finds herself making compromises which are both painful and triumphant amidst the raging egos of men.






Morning Glory: A Warning

Meanwhile we surround a huge black Chinese jar with the blue Oxypetalum and the blue plumbago all through the summer, and drop a pot full of morning glory, Heavenly Blue, into the Chinese jar, to pour downwards into a symphony of different blues.

-Vita Sackville-West
A Joy of Gardening; 1958


I missed writing a post last week because I was tirelessly working on my second book.   It’s almost finished but I just need to “paint” a few more layers to make it solid.   Sometimes I think I should start a writing process blog so I can vent my troubles to the world instead of my incredibly patient husband.  I ask him, “Did I run into this kind of trouble on my last book?  Did I want to give up and throw it in the garbage?”  “Yes,” he replies.  “Keep at it, you’ll eventually find what you’re looking for.”  Like some magical oracle he says this and I believe him because he seems to be always right.   So for a week I toiled and mulled over the hole I was almost falling in until I found a little bridge to take me across.  The story is so much better now.  All I needed to do was spend a little more time with the characters (I’m going on a year with this one) and they eventually showed me the way.

Much like the garden and the flowers we have planted.  The more time you spend with them the more you get to know them.  Take for instance the morning glory as it is our subject this week.   How excited I was to buy these seeds, the seeds of the Heavenly Blue which Vita talks about endlessly.   I believe she called it the perfect shade of blue.  I have written a post on morning glory called From Muddy Waters to Finding the Perfect Shade of Blue, but I wrote that post before I spent any time with the flower.  I will say now that I would have planted them elsewhere.

What I didn’t realize was these vines, once they get going, won’t stop.  Surely they will take over your other plants if not put in a place all their own where they can’t reap havoc.   Their little arms reach out grabbing for whatever they can and they pull, twist and coax everything  into their leafy embrace.  They uprooted one of my large zinnias and shielded my beloved rose bushes from the sun. They are wild.  As a result, I am currently treating all my roses for black spot.


So the other day on a surprisingly warm October afternoon, I looked at my garden and I got angry.  Once coveted and prized for their beautiful blue flowers I now gazed at them with loathing.  They had turned out to be completely impolite and gluttonous with the space they were given.  I realized I had made a grave mistake.  Planting the morning glory in my garden was like bringing a wild animal into my house.  Once it grew to four inches it went wild all over the place, too quickly for me to stop it.   I was finished with this little shop of horrors menace so I got a little rough and I pushed all the vines to one side of the fence and I took my shears and freed my rose bushes and zinnias from their grasp.

They are beautiful, yes, and I would highly recommend them if you have the room.  But choose a space that will be entirely theirs,  keep them away from all other plants.  If you do you’ll be happy and you’ll enjoy them thoroughly.  They are very beautiful and deserve full attention away from the garden where the “domestic” plants live.