HEADING HOME, NYC trip final day

Sunday morning, sleeping late, and ordering a light breakfast from room services is a great way to start the day. While some of my friends go shopping, I’m going to meet author, Fiona Davis at an authentic NYC Coffee Shop. Bringing her news of her mom and her mom’s home town (Dyllis and I were in a book club together.), I can hardly wait to ask her about her next novel. Her first one, Dollhouse, was a Third Tuesday Book Club selection, and we were able to Skype with Fiona and meet this lovely lady.

Her debut novel–a great story

After coffee, I plan to stroll to Broadway, and meet my friends at Stomp.

Lights, lights, lights
The Great White Way

Here’s the play we’re going to see. We all agreed it should be a musical.

We naively wanted to see Hamilton, but the tickets were over two hundred dollars. This was more our

I know nothing about this musical, but it is sure to be loud! I packed earplugs for today’s performance.

After the performance, we will hurry back to the hotel, grab our already packed bags, and let our already booked taxi know we are ready to head to La Guardia.

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Saturday morning TV programming was reserved for kids’ cartoons back in the 50s and 60s.

Not one, but two recommendations today–both aimed at tweens and early teens.

Being the new girl is always hard, but Ruby has it harder than most.

Raised in rural Kansas, Ruby felt right at home in her red, Converse sneakers. When her grandmother falls sick and needs Ruby’s mom to come to Florida as her caregiver, Ruby’s life is uprooted. Three women in the house, Nana Dottie, Ruby’s mom, and Ruby herself provide plenty of drama, miscommunication, and short fuses resulting in harsh words and hurt feelings. “Will Ruby find a way to fit into a new life that she never asked for…Or will she find herself clicking the heels of the old red sneakers hoping for a chance to go home to Curly Creek [Kansas]?”

Another shoe-themed book, Superstar by Mandy Davis is another kid’s book I read this past week.

Son of a fictional astronaut, Lester and his mom adjust to life on their own after a tragic explosion of Lester’s dad’s pace capsule.

Lester loves flight, space, and everything connected with it, but he has to “give it all up” because it reminds his mom of what happened to his dad and makes her sad. Lester is bothered by loud noise, bright light, and when his routine is interrupted. Because he reacts strangely, sometimes “childishly,” it makes him the perfect target for bullies. Up until now, when he turned ten, his mom homeschooled him, but now she must work to support them, and Lester must go to a nearby elementary school.

His misadventures at school and his efforts to adjust make readers feel compassion and some confusion towards Lester. A pair of Superstar sneakers and a passion for science experiments come in to play. Will Lester always be the “weird kid, or will he become a Super Star in his own right?

Both of these books were fun to read, contained great life lessons and were a “darned good read.”

NYC, Day 3

When I was seven years old getting ready for school (first grade) involved watching, and listening as I dressed, to the Today Show. Mother and daddy would turn it on promptly at 7:00 p.m. while they enjoyed their morning coffee, then wake my brother and me to get ready for school at 7:30, when daddy would leave to “go to the base.” At the time, the anchor/host of the Today Show was Dave Garroway, who was sometimes joined by co-anchor, J. Fred Muggs, a live chimpanzee. It was always puzzling to me that a monkey would be doing a person’s job, and my brother and I would dissolve into fits of giggles that the monkey was wearing a diaper–we knew why!

Here in New York, I awakened early to arrive at the Today Plaza, to wave at the co-anchors through the windows.

Rockefeller Plaza ,site of the Today Show

Let me make it clear that I will NOT be carrying a sign or filling out a card for a chance to be interviewed on the Plaza; just being there and knowing I was there is plenty.

Back to the hotel, and ready to hop onto our 10:00 a.m. two hour bus trip around New York, catching glimpses of The Statue of Liberty,

Times Square,

Broadway, 5th Avenue, fabulous stores, etc. as we ride along. Looking out the window is plenty for us. Some of our group went “shopping” yesterday evening, while I chose to stay in the luxurious hotel curled up with a good book.

The West Overlook provides the first full view of the site of the Museum, into Foundation Hall. The Last Column is at center, the Slurry Wall at left.

Later in the afternoon, we have tickets to the 9/11 site, visiting the museum, then taking an evening tea/light supper near the Memorial Glade

Some of us have plans for a later supper at a really nice restaurant; others will call it an evening early to store up energy for our foray into Broadway and a matinee tomorrow and for the return flight back to Houston at 4 p.m. I plan to meet a blogging friend at an authentic New York Coffee Shop before the matinee.

2021 Non-Fiction Reading Challenge, Update and Alteration

Making some changes to original goals

This challenge was offered by Bookout, a blog I often enjoy. I joined in on the challenge last December. Originally, I decided to go for the “Nibbler” category, where one read six non-fiction books from any category, but I was hoping to read one book from each of the six categories offered.

Although I am enjoying non-fiction far more than I had anticipated, I need to simply read from any of the non-fiction categories, rather than limit my choices. That said, here’s the non-fiction I’ve read so far this year:

The Joy of Teaching

The Happiness Project

Bonjour Happiness

Cowgirl Smarts

Q’s Legacy

Think Again

Oh my! I’ve read six books! CHALLENGE COMPLETED!

READ AN E-BOOK WEEK, March 2nd through 8th

In honor of Read an E-Book week, I bought and read this E-book:

I enjoy Ebooks a great deal.

Queenie Malone is a flamboyant character, and her hotel and its occupants are as outrageous as she is. Reminding me of the line from the movie AI, “I see dead people,” we meet Tilly, the daughter, and explore her relationship with her mother (who in real time has recently died). Chapters vary from those told by Tilly, the child, then Tilda, the adult. As the book opens, Tilda comes “home” to deal with her mother’s estate. She meets well-drawn interesting characters, but also can see characters that others in the real-time story cannot. She also has a disturbing habit of lighting matches which grew out of a childhood obsession of playing with fire. The story is tinged with the supernatural, and family mysteries appear and are resolved as well.

The themes of mothers and daughters, “choosing” one’s family, and the “disappearance” of fathers round out a riveting narrative. As in Hogan’s other novel, The Keeper of Lost Things, the reader learns that, “It’s never too late to write your own happy ending.”

The surprise at the end is less of a revelation than a gradual, “Oh, that explains so many things” as the reader nears the finish line. Queenie is an exceptionally well written book, and I highly recommend it.



Elizabeth Gilbert is an author whose books I have always found pleasing. After reading her non-fiction offerings, I was intrigued as to what her novel would be like.

City of Girls, which deals with life in New York City over several decades, held a special spot in my heart at this time because my  girlfriends’ trip to New York, scheduled for March 19th through 23rd, was cancelled thanks to COVID-19. Sighing as I read about landmarks and all things New York that I wouldn’t be seeing any time soon, I was soon caught up in the story of Vivian who tell of the “one true love of her life.”

To me, characterization is more important than plot, resolution of conflict, or anything else. To read of the personal growth of a character and the resulting actions (which of course have consequences) that character takes, makes for a fascinating read. Using questions suggested by a fellow blogger many years ago, I’d like to write this review in terms of characterization.

  1. Who was your favorite character? Definitely Aunt Peg, Vivian’s eccentric aunt who owns and runs the Lily Theater, and who has a hit on her hands, along with drama queens and complex social and sexual situations of her off-Broadway “family.”
  2. Who was your second favorite character? The primary character, Vivian is my second favorite character. Surely no one was ever so innocent or has ever undergone such change (and gained in knowledge) as this character was. She reminds me of myself and several other people who “just don’t think.”
  3. Would you want to follow these characters in future books? Because Vivian is an old woman as she begins to tell her story, a sequel would be unlikely, and Aunt Peg would be long deceased if a sequel were to occur, my answer would be no.
  4. What about the relationships between the characters in the book? That is exactly what made this novel a page-turner and a delight. The author never had her characters act out of character or in a way that wasn’t believable based on what the reader had been told about that character’s backstory.  

During the story, Vivian’s loss of innocence but lack of maturity cause her to “make a personal mistake that results in a professional scandal.” As a critic for The New Yorker wrote, this novel is “by turns flinty, funny, and incandescent.”What Vivian learned about life, in general, was “You don’t have to be a good girl to be a good person.”                                               


One cannot take a trip to NYC without buying some new clothes. Although two of my traveling girlfriends planned to do some serious shopping while in NYC, shopping was not on my agenda. I had already purchased clothes for the trip.

black tights or leggings “finish” this outfit.

How can a girl attend a Broadway show without a new dress? I found this one on sale.

And, of course, new earrings are a necessity for a new dress.

Found at the Tractor Supply store here in lil’ ole’ Alvin. At $24, it was a steal!

My most valuable purchase for the trip, for reasons I could never have imagined, was this Tote, all-weather coat with fake-fur-lined hood. I never actually got to NY, so I never thought I’d have occasion to wear it, but recently, in our BIG FREEZE, when the temperature dipped to the high thirties INSIDE our all-electric home, this coat was my daytime “housecoat.” LOL


I used this book for my Celebration of Color Challenge. It was my “White book.”

This book is predominately white. The actual building in NYC, The NY Public Library is made of white marble.

I chose this book because it is the latest by my favorite author, Fiona Davis. Like all her other novels, this one features and explores an iconic NYC building. Did you know there was once an apartment in the “innards” of the NY Public library where the superintendent and his family could live? Davis moves between 1913 and 1993, describing the building and telling the story of the “apartment” while creating a mystery with twists and turns.

One critic describes this 2020 publication as a “love letter to literature, the NY Public Library, and the strength of women.” Davis introduces us to two women, decades apart: Laura Lyons, wife of the superintendent of the library, mother of two, and a writer herself, and Sadie, modern curator of the NY library who is Laura’s descendent, and determined to be given her due respect. Both women are trying to solve the mystery of a series of rare book thefts, then and now, and suffer the consequences of “poking their noses into business best left to men.”

Laura back in 1913 becomes one of the first female students at the Columbia Journalism school, writing about the famous/infamous Heteradoxy Club in Greenwich Village during its days of Bohemia and nurturing of an all-female, radical group. Sadie must prove in 1993 that she herself did not steal the rare books and is not a “hysterical female,” whose job and responsibilities have become too much for her.

This historical novel is Davis’ best yet, and that’s really saying something! I highly recommend this fascinating read and assign it 5 out of 5 stars.

Author: Rae Longest

This year (2019) finds me with 50 years of teaching “under my belt.” I have taught all levels from pre-K “(library lady” or “book lady”–volunteer) to juniors, seniors, and graduate students enrolled in my Advanced Writing class at the university where I have just completed 30 years. My first paying teaching job was junior high, and I spent 13 years with ages 12-13, the “difficult years.” I had some of the “funnest” experiences with this age group. When I was no longer the “young, fun teacher,” I taught in an elementary school setting before sixth graders went on to junior high, teaching language arts blocs, an assignment that was a “dream-fit” for me. After completing graduate school in my 40s, I went on to community college, then university teaching. Just as teaching is “in my blood,” so is a passion for reading, writing, libraries, and everything bookish. This blog will be open to anyone who loves books, promotes literacy and wants to “come out and play.

It’s starting to snow. I’m glad I packed the all-weather coat I bought just for this trip! (LOL)


I received this invitation in my email this morning (truth!) from Jay Cudney, blogger of This is My Truth Now, and author extraordinare,

“You must stop by the NYPL and check out the Rose Room. I’ll meet you by the lions and buy you some tea in Bryant Park next door.” Jay is a long-time New Yorker, and my plans for the morning have been set. (LOL)

The New York Public Library
Jay says to check out this lovely room.

This lovely Rose Room, designed for reading, will be my first stop on taking a tour of the New York Public Library. I’m glad I brought my current read, Writers and Lovers along.

Since the Strand Bookstore is no longer open, this opportunity to do something really “bookish” in NYC is a treat!

Thank you, Jay!