Talbots for Spring

New Styles from Tuckernuck

Friday, January 6, 2023

My Favorite Reader... Mary

TGIF!  I hope all is well with you in your corner of the world.  Boy, am I ever happy that this week is over.  I spent most of my spare time checking my phone to see what day of the week it was. 

I have a treat for you today.  If you are a frequent reader, you know that I started a new series last year focusing on my dear friends who are voracious readers.  I am always curious about people's reading habits and their latest favorite books.

Today, my dear friend, Mary, is up to bat.  We had lived in Massachusetts for about a year when I received a cute note from Mary.  She told me she was a faithful blog reader who lived on the North Shore.  I asked her to lunch, and the rest is history.  We hit it off right away. 

Mary is a woman of great style and taste.  She invited me to her neighborhood lunch held at her gorgeous home.  I got to meet all of her sweet peeps.  This is a pic from that lovely day. 

I have great memories of our time together.  We attended several House Tours, Garden Walks and enjoyed fabulous lunches.  This photo was taken at one of the Beacon Hill Garden Tours we attended.  Incidentally, on the left stands my buddy, Annie, the first honoree of My Favorite Reader series.

It is with great pleasure that I turn this post over to Mary.

Hello All!

I am delighted to share my favorite book reads with my dear friend Katie and her blog followers.  I always enjoy reading Katie's posts, especially the book recommendations segment.  I akin the recommendations to a "golden book" moment when I  discover new book reads and authors.

 A bit about myself….

 I  had a long and full-filling career as a medical /surgical   ICU  nurse at a major pediatric hospital in Boston, MA.  I retired pre-covid…..talk about timing!  I refer to this new point in my life not as retirement but rather as "re-calibrating," which makes my days full of joy and discovery.  I have such respect for my medical colleagues who weathered the onset of the Covid crisis and continue to provide exemplary care in these still challenging healthcare times.

Some of my favorite pastimes include gardening, walking, and of course, a love of reading.  My favorite summertime reading spot is the screened porch.  I strategically place my wicker chair to a view that includes my garden and warm sunshine.  My winter spot location… near the fireplace!  I reside in a charming town outside of Boston, MA, with my husband and daughter.  We are currently empty nesters!  The community offers a friendly –small-town vibe with a mix of open fields, gardens, sidewalks, and a vibrant public library.  JOY!

I work part-time in a nearby women's clothing boutique – Sara Campbell.  Working in the store affords me the opportunity to be out and about, socialize and wear stylish clothes!  Book recommendations often come up during conversations with lovely customers, which is a welcome bonus!

Btw... this photo was taken on the day we attended the Beacon Hill Garden tour.  It was taken in the Sara Cambell store.  The lovely lady in the middle is one of Sara's star employees.  On the right is Annie, a big fan of the Sara Campbell brand, who is almost as big of a fan of SC as me.  I said almost.

Who knew I would be working for Sara Campbell a few years later.   

My love of reading started in kindergarten!  YES!
My beloved mother recognized the value of reading as a lifelong gift to possess and cherish.  It was a busy household growing up.  I am the youngest of 6 children.  Yet somehow, my mother and I would sit together every night in an oversized rocking chair to read.  The "magic" of reading opened new worlds and places and introduced me to "new friends." We called it "read and rock time." My reading started with simple books -  Dr. Seuss….. the Flicka Dicka and Ricka series (anyone familiar?), golden books, etc.  My foundation for reading was set!

Upon becoming an independent reader – I met Nancy Drew!  She impressed me by owning her very own shiny roadster car.  Wow!  River City was a hotbed of mystery, mayhem, and adventures.  With friends Bess and George, Nancy was a formidable trio of sleuths who could solve the most mysterious of mysteries.  My form of transportation consisted of walking or riding my new Schwinn bike decked out with streamers on the handlebars and a back fender double-sided basket.  I happily navigated it to my hometown library.  

Epic Reads

My favorite reading genre has always been and continues to be  – mysteries, mysteries, and more mysteries!  My interests have expanded to include historical fiction, time travel (usually with a mystery component), and espionage, which blend fiction- history, and biographies.

I enjoy genres set during the American Gilded Age centering around Newport, RI /New York City.  I also have a penchant for backgrounds set "across the pond" – England.  Story plots that feature quaint English villages with a "Downtown Abby" setting of verdant gardens, local personalities, and tea time are a happy read for me.  
Books encompassing the Great War - pre - during, and post - leading into the 1930s make it to my reading list.  The aftermath of that war led to changes across all segments of society- in terms of social values-economic wealth – political platforms.  
As a prolific reader who opts for a "hard book with a binder," it seems to be my first choice.  But gosh- I have embraced "new technology" and utilize e-books via my laptop and audiobooks via my  I-phone.  I find both sources to be fabulous modes to enjoy a good story

As mentioned earlier, I am an avid walker- so audiobooks are my go-to mode for a "walk and read." Listening to a good book puts pep in my step!  OH, oh, oh… I can't begin to express how wonderful it is to be outside - sun- rain – sleet, or snow while listening to a great book!

 Caveat- the narrator's voice can greatly impact the storyline and hence audio enjoyment.  Frequently I listen to an audiobook while doing housework/outdoor yard work. 

Earbuds in place, and I am ready to go!  

E-books-  this version is fabulous as well!  Benefits include adjustable font size, the option for an immediate dictionary to define unfamiliar words, ability to highlight certain passages and phrases that are quote-worthy and resonate for later reflection.  The e-book also keeps my page in place.

My wonderful local library has an APP called  LIBBY.    Some readers may already be familiar with this tool.  It is easy to download to an iPhone or laptop.  It gives me access to countless e-books and audiobooks with a simple tap of my finger.  I can request books – place books on hold, renew books... all from the ease of my home.  And it is free!  Check out your local library…or the App "LIBBY." The app also keeps track of books and authors that I have read- which is soooo helpful as I get 'older and wiser.' 

Listed below are some of my recent favorite reads and authors. 
I also include the mode in which I read them.

This novel delves into her courtship and relationship with Astor, who lost his life on the Titanic.  The narrator speaks in the voice of Madeleine, who incidentally met Jack when she was 17 years old. 

This book has been out for some time.  I missed the boat on that release but have caught up!  The protagonist features Caroline Ferriday, a socialite who becomes a real-life WW II heroine.  This novel blends fiction and fact during those tumultuous times of WW2– set in NYC.  I discovered that Lilac Girls is part of a book series that backtracks Caroline's family history of strong women who immersed themselves in pivotal world events….WW1 and Civil War.  The two books below complete the trio in the series.

Set in WW1.  Oh…poignant, tear-jerker, many topics relatable to the political climate today.

Set during Civil War.  Rich in its symbolisms/metaphors.  The author has a way of making the personalities come alive through her writing style. 

This is #10 in a series featuring Maggie Hope – works for MIA during WW2 and post-war.  I highly recommend starting with #1, Mr. Churchill's Secretary, and then #2, Princess Elizabeth's Spy.  ( yes – Maggie Hope becomes involved with Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret).   Some reads are better than others in the series.  However, a nice blend of historical fiction, mystery, and intrigue.

Set in 1941- Eastern Europe.  A young girl abducted from a German family - grows up in the eastern European wilderness.  She learns survival and the lay of the land thru the woman who abducted her.  This woman has "auras" of things to come in the future.  The girl becomes immersed in WW2 - assisting Jewish refugees to escape Nazi capture.  Well done - insightful into human nature, building community, and bonding.

Furst is well known for his spy/espionage genres.  Set in  France during WWII.  Deals with Paris occupied France and a network of everyday citizens, spies, and informers who attempted to stem the tide of Nazi power in Paris.


These are the first three books in a delightful series featuring incorrigible, brilliant, intrepid 11-year-old Miss Flavia de Luce of Bishop's Lacey.  This is a small town in England set in the 1950s.  Flavia is an exceptionally astute young girl living in a family mansion that has seen better times.  She has 2 older sisters that tease and dismiss her because of her quirky personality.  Her mother passed away when Flavia was quite young, and her father never quite recovered from the loss of his beloved wife.  Flavia loves all things science and chemistry-related - poisons in particular.   She has a knack for falling into "murder and crime scenes." She has an acumen for solving mysteries with the help of her long-time family butler and mentor.  
I enjoyed the deductions she used to solve the crimes.- her love of chemistry and astute observation skills make her a sharp sleuth.  There are 11 books in this series.  I recommend starting at the beginning to set the scene and tone and become acquainted with the personalities and local setting. 

This is the first in a series featuring Mary Russell, who befriends Sherlock Holmes.  Mary becomes Sherlock's apprentice in beekeeping and in detection.  She is smart, observant, and able to quickly turn and pivot as needed in tight situations.   
Set during WW1 England.  This series evolves into further adventures featuring Holmes and Mary Russell.  Timeline 1920-1930s.  Blends mystery and history with a sprinkle of real people living at the time.  The narrator is good, although found the voice of Holmes a bit heavy.
 A few books in the series…

I enjoyed this one!

Inside the House of Windsor… truth and turmoil.    Boy - I finished this in July.   Things have certainly changed a bit since then.

And the best for last…just discovered this author and her series earlier in the month… God Save The Queen ….May She Rest in Peace…Well.  Done.  Mam.

Delightful new series featured HRH Queen Elizabeth solving mysteries related to the Palace and the Royal Household.  It is absolutely charming and humorous with a tongue and cheek whit regarding palace life, decorum, and workings of behind-the-scenes life at Buckingham Palace.

The second in the series featuring HRH Queen Elizabeth and her trusted first assistant solving another "murder" extraordinaire at the Palace.  It involves spies, intrigue, and a Russian influence.  Very clever plot lines.

Check out this author's web page and subscribe to her email-  wonder what direction her books will take now…

Series debut featuring modern-day homicide detective. Mallory Atkinson.  She finds herself traveling thru time to Victorian Scotland.   She "lands" in the home of an upper-class family but takes on the physical attributes and voice of the household maid.  She retains her own sense of self with a  keen brain and detective skills colliding with  Victorian Scotland mores and "state of the art" police work.  This is a good time travel read!  Historical fact blended with fiction.

Other Authors I enjoy~

So ... I could go on and on sharing my recent reads!  Seems like I am doing more audiobooks these days.   Although hard copies and ebooks continue to make it on my reading radar.  Reading is such a wonderful gateway and getaway – minimum effort and maximum gain to make my day!

Thank you, Katie, for allowing me to share my book finds!  I can't wait to see what your reader recommendations have in store to expand my reading lists.   

 Read.  Relax.  Repeat

Thank you so much, dear Mary, for adding sunshine to our day!
BTW... I just downloaded The Palace Papers.

Linking up with:


Preppy Empty Nester
Preppy Empty Nester

Thanks for stopping by my blog. Feel free to contact me through comments and email. I love to hear from my readers!


  1. Wow! Awesome post Mary! Thank you for all your recommendations!

  2. Thank you, Katie! Really enjoyed Mary’s post and recommendations!

  3. Great post! Lots of my faves here and a few new ones I'll be requesting from my local library.

  4. Annie G here. I echo the fact that Mary is a woman of great style and taste. She is also so much fun with great taste in books. Katie, please come back to Massachusetts. We can get the band back together! xoxoxo. Is Chow the next featured reader? Millie might still be in the book chewing stage.

    1. You got that right, Annie, she is still in the chewing stage. Miss you!!

  5. Oh fun! I see quite a few of my favorite books on here and many new ones I hadn't heard of that I can't wait to check out!

  6. I love "re-calibrate" and that Mary has found a new great place to work. I am also re-calibrating after a career in the College Bookstore business. I recently was offered a job as a sub at my local library - which will help to keep my brain ticking and I will also be meeting people. We are too young to be "retired"!

  7. Really enjoyed this contribution - thank you Mary!

  8. Wonderful post and great recommendations! Love this series, Katie.

  9. How nice to meet Mary in this post! We have similar reading taste, and I found some new titles in her recommendations. Have wonderful weekend.

  10. Thank you Mary for all of these recommendations. Katie never disappoints in her posts...even when she turns them over to someone who specializes! Thank you Katie! KTG

  11. thank you for this winter reading list. Can’t wait to get started

  12. Great post. I too love Libby no more late fees and it picks up where I left off on renewals.

  13. What a delightful lady! Great reading list too!

  14. I love book recommendations. I open my libby app and just at them to my queue! I agree I enjoy the audible version more than I thought I would. Friends ask if I get distracted and the truth is if I do then it's usually the book choice! Great idea for a guest post! xo laura

  15. Thank you Katie, I so enjoy your posts. Will be downloading on my Libby a lot of those books! Thanks for sharing!

  16. Greetings, Mary, it's Dell. Wow! "Voracious Reader" does not begin to describe you! Your recommendations are going straight to my "Must Read" list! Thanks to you and Katie for this segment on Preppy Empty Nester!

    1. Happy new year DellšŸ„°

    2. Dell... Your niece, the incomparable Marie Benedict, author of The Mitford Affair is mentioned in my next post! Hope you are doing well, Dell, and you are keeping warm in NH!!xx

  17. How delightful to have so many books to add to TBR list.
    m in HI

  18. Thank you for sharing Mary with your blog friends, Katie. I can tell just from the photos that she has great style and gardening skills! I also enjoy mysteries, historical fiction and espionage books - and I intend to make time to read a couple of Mary's suggestions.

  19. Your friend's list of books is great. I've copied some of the authors to begin the new year with a little mystery reading. Thank you for introducing Mary to your fans.
    Karen B.

    1. Thank you for your sweet comments, Karen. Have a great Sunday.


J. Crew

Recent Posts