Category Archives: Books

Pick-Up Sticks

For whatever reason, spring clean-up has not been too bad this year.  I think it’s because we had fewer wind storms to blow branches down. There is one big exception to this, but more on that later.

Last week, I went around the yard and collected all the sticks and small branches that came down over the winter. I filled the wheelbarrow twice, and the sticks, which will be used in the fire pit, have been tucked into a big garbage can.

As the picture above indicates, the patio is no longer empty and lonely. Clif brought up the blue chairs, and we are ready for warmish weather when we can sit on the patio and enjoy the backyard.

The raised beds, where I plant a few herbs and vegetables, need a bit of tidying. But to my winter-weary eyes, they are a sign of good things to come.

Clif straightened the clothesline, but the ground is still too soft for me to hang my laundry on it. Soon, soon. Like my mother, I am dedicated to hanging laundry on the line. Good for the planet, and good for the budget. Plus, you can’t beat the smell of laundry hung outside.

Now, here is the exception to our easy spring clean-up.

During a high wind a week or so ago, we heard a  mighty roar, and when we looked at out the kitchen window we saw what had caused it—a tree had blown over in the backyard. Fortunately, absolutely nothing was damaged. Next week, Clif will be getting a new chain for his chainsaw and begin cutting up the tree. The wood will probably be used for the fire pit on some chilly spring night when with mugs of tea, we sit around the fire. Always so cozy and relaxing to look at the night sky and hear the night noises in the woods.


Writing update for my novel Of Time and Magic: For various reasons, I fell short of my 6,000 word goal for the week. Instead, I clocked in at 4,140. Onward I press, hoping for 6,000 next week. My plan is for the book to be about 99,000 words, the same length as Library Lost.  74,000 is my current word count.

25,000 more words to go!



What’s on Your Bookshelf: March 18

This Friday, I’m joining Donna at Retirement Reflections and some of her blogging friends for their monthly What’s on your Bookshelf?

Even though I’ve read five books this month, I decided to focus on just two of them, both set in Maine but very different. That way, I could go into a little more detail about each book. For future What’s on Your Bookshelf?, I will probably continue to focus on two or three books.

Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes

Confession time: Romance novels aren’t my thing. I don’t mind reading books that include a romance, but I usually want some larger plot to bind it all together. However, Evvie Drake Starts Over is indeed a romance novel, with the central story being the relationship between Evvie, a young widow, and Dean, a baseball pitcher who can no longer pitch.

I decided to read this novel because I’m an admirer of Linda Holmes, one of the hosts of the excellent podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour. Despite not being a fan of romance books, I stayed up late to finish Evie Drake. Holmes makes us care about Evvie and her struggles with depression and anxiety as she deals with the her husband’s death and the memories of her unhappy marriage. Meanwhile, Dean is dealing with his own issues, and I cared about him, too. I wanted things to turn out well for Evvie and Dean. Do they? You’ll just have to read the book to find out.

One final note: This book is set in Calcasset, a fictitious Maine town. And—not to put too fine a point on it—Linda Holmes is “from away,” as we would say in Maine. Because of this there were a couple of missteps. Evvie calls her father Pop, and I’ve never heard any Mainer call his or her father Pop. Usually, it’s Dad. Also, I’ve never heard crickets sing in Maine in the spring. As far as I know, late summer is when they begin their sad, sweet songs. But these are small errors that most people wouldn’t catch, and overall Holmes did a fair job of portraying Maine, albeit from an outsider’s point of view.

We Were Not Spoiled: A Franco-American Memoir by Lucille Verreault Ledoux with Denis Ledoux

We Were Not Spoiled: A Franco-American Memoir is a quiet book about growing up in Maine from the 1920s, when Lucille Verreault Ledoux was born, to the 1950s, when she was a young adult with a family of her own. While nothing exciting happens—this is a chronicle of everyday life—I found it compelling nonetheless. Perhaps it’s because I’m Franco-American, too.

A quick note for readers unfamiliar with the Franco-American ethnic group. Between 1840 and 1930 nearly one million French Canadians came to the United States. The largest number of these  immigrants settled in New England. The immigrants worked in factories, in brickyards, in shipyards, and on farms. They formed French-speaking communities that were known as Little Canadas. Today in Maine, Franco-Americans comprise 25% of the state’s population.

In 1920, toward the end of the French Canadian migration, Ledoux’s parents settled in Lewiston, Maine’s Little Canada, where French was the common language. They were originally from Thetford Mines in Québec. Ledoux, born in Lewiston, was the eldest of twelve children. In We Were Not Spoiled, she describes how they were crammed into small apartments and homes where the children often slept three to a bed.

We Were Not Spoiled is not a nostalgic book about how magical life was in the old days. Instead, Ledoux writes frankly about the hard times she and her family endured and how poverty and class limited her opportunities. Her parents valued work over education, and Ledoux dropped out of school when she was sixteen, working at odd jobs to help support the family.

When Ledoux marries and begins her own family, she and her husband, Albert, who also dropped out of high school, vow to do everything they can to encourage their children to finish high school.

In addition to the hard times, Ledoux also writes about the good times—skating, playing with her friends, joining a Drill Team. She notes how despite the challenge of feeding fourteen people, nobody went hungry in her family. No small accomplishment when you have to feed that many people on a tight budget.

The book ends when Ledoux is thirty and is about to move out of Lewiston to nearby Lisbon Falls to begin a new life with her husband as a chicken farmer.

I was sorry to come to the end of this book, to not be able to read about Ledoux’s years in Lisbon Falls.

But then again, wanting to read more is the sign of a good book.









What’s on Your Bookshelf—October 2021 Edition

With today’s post, I am joining Donna, of Retirement Reflections, for October’s What’s on Your Bookshelf challenge. Thistles and Kiwis is also taking part in the challenge, and one book on her list was written by a Maine author. How about that? A Maine book in New Zealand.

Below is a photo of the books I read in October, and it illustrates my eclectic tastes. I am a reader who likes stories about everyday life, but I also like stories that feature myths, magic, and archetypes. However, whether a book is a slice of life or high fantasy, everything I read shares the same requirement: It must be character driven. I really dislike books with one-dimensional characters who are marched through the plot.

Marcia Willett, an English author I discovered via A Corner of Cornwall, writes about everyday life in Cornwall and Devon. Romance figures heavily in her stories, and I must admit that romance is not my favorite genre. However, when it comes to her characters, Willet is both sympathetic and shrewd, a winning combination for this reader.

Although at times overwritten, Willet’s books are usually a bon-bon of a read. The Courtyard, with its swirl of characters, young and old, certainly falls into this category. Old age and poverty are addressed with compassion. Infidelity rears its ugly head, but there is also forgiveness. The extreme difficulties of some of the characters are perhaps too neatly resolved, but the book’s message of friendship and generosity never gets old.

Alas, the same cannot be said of First Friends, a tedious chronicle of the many infidelities of navy wives and their husbands. This is Willett’s first book, but fortunately I had read several other of her books before First Friends. Pardon the tangle of puns, but if I had read First first, it would have been last.

Speaking of last…I have saved the best for last—Katherine Addison’s goblin/elf books.

Uncharacteristically for fantasy, both books, set in the same magical steampunk realm, are primarily character driven. In The Goblin Emperor, Maia, the main character, half-elf, half-goblin, is the unloved child of his father, the emperor. When Maia’s father and brothers are killed in an airship crash, Maia, young and inexperienced, becomes emperor. Struggling to remain decent, Maia must navigate the intricacies of court life while dealing with various treacheries and plots.

Densely and beautifully written, The Goblin Emperor is referred to as a fantasy of manners, where, according to Wikipedia, “The protagonists are not pitted against fierce monsters or marauding armies, but against their neighbors and peers; the action takes place within a society, rather than being directed against an external foe; duels may be fought, but the chief weapons are wit and intrigue.”

For those who don’t read fantasy, The Goblin Emperor would be a good way to ease into the genre.

The Witness for the Dead is set in the same world as The Goblin Emperor, but with a different protagonist— Celehar, a minor yet important character in the first book. Celehar is able to get thoughts, impressions, and memories from those who are newly dead and is therefore able to help solve crimes, settle disputed wills, and in general tidy up the loose ends that those who have died sometimes leave behind.

There is still political intrigue in The Witness for Dead, but the story is also a murder mystery, another genre I don’t usually read.

But with these two books, Addison proves that genre is not important when the writing is good and the story revolves around a vivid character.





What’s on My Bookshelf?



A little belatedly, I am joining the What’s on  your Bookshelf challenge hosted by Donna, of Retirement Reflections as well as her friends Sue Loncaric, Debbie Harris, and Jo Tracey.  The challenge, open to anyone, is for folks to share their love of books by posting  what they’ve read each month. Catnip to this book nerd, that’s for sure. On Donna’s post, there are basic guidelines for readers who are interested in joining the challenge.

Recently, when I expressed interest in the Bookshelf challenge, Donna generously suggested I could start by featuring my own books. I must admit that this had not occurred to me. But after considering the idea for about two seconds, I thought, “Well, why not?” As an indie writer, I am always grateful to have venues for sharing my books, especially during this fourth wave of Covid, when we are staying pretty close to home.

Thanks, Donna, for letting me toot my own horn. Next month, I’ll feature what I’ve been reading rather than what I have written.

So here are the three YA fantasy novels in my Great Library Series, in order from left to right:

For readers who are unfamiliar with my books, here is a brief synopsis:

In my Great Library Series, two forces—Time and Chaos—battle each other for control of the Great Library, that mysterious place at the center of the universe where all information flows. When the series begins, Time is in charge of the Great Library, where the sentient Books of Everything are made. Then, the Books are sent to various planets to help guide the inhabitants.

Earth has a Book of Everything, and it is in big trouble. The Book is being pursued by Chet, aka the man who doesn’t smile. Chet  belongs to a shadowy organization called APO, which wants to kidnap the Book and stop it from helping Earth.

When Maya and the Book of Everything opens, Maya Hammond, a teenager, is on a train heading to Maine to visit her grandparents. On the train, she inadvertently gains possession of Earth’s Book of Everything. Once at her grandparents, Maya discovers the Book can take her back in time, and she goes to Waterville, Maine, in the 1970s, where she meets a boy named Andy.

From Waterville, Maine, it’s off across the universe—actually two universes—where Maya is caught in the battle between Time and Chaos. There are some victories, but there is also heartbreak and destruction. With strong forces working against her, it seems unlikely that Maya will prevail.

But onward Maya goes, despite her doubts and fears.

I am currently working on the fourth book in the series, and the planned release is fall of 2022.



From Books to Wine to the Patio

Last weekend the weather was fine—hot, but not too hot, and dry. Cooler weather from Canada had pushed the horrible heat and humidity away. Many thanks, Canada! Exactly the way summer in Maine should be, and perfect for everything we had planned.

On Saturday, Clif and I set up a book table at The Art Walk, one of the nicest gift shops in the area. Readers who live nearby, do keep this store in mind when you want a special gift for a special person, including yourself. (I might have bought a present for a special person who lives far away.) The prices and selection are fantastic, and everything is handmade by local artists and crafters.

Barbara Walsh, another Winthrop writer, set up next to me.

Unfortunately, the day was slow, and not many people came by. Never mind. I had a great time chatting with Barbara as well as Nick and his mother Terry, who run the store. Terry even brought a box of cannolis and shared them with us. So nice and so tasty.

After that, it was on to getting together with our friends Dawna and Jim, who recently bought a new house, a sweet little ranch with beautiful gardens. We brought a bottle of wine, glasses, and a wine opener. That way we could toast them and wish them many happy years in their new home. (Their house is pretty darned empty as they will be moving in next week.)

Sunday was another fine day, and I spent a couple of hours on the patio. I read the paper and caught up on blog reading and commenting. Naturally, I took pictures. I might have even snapped several photos of little zipping visitors, but you will have to wait until Wednesday to see those.

In the meantime, the view from my chair…

The predominate color is still green but we are soon approaching the time when my gardens are at their best—June and July—when yellow and red show their pretty faces.

Alas, the irises are on their way out, but here’s a final shot of couple of this year’s bloom.

Farewell, my lovelies.



Busy, Busy, Busy and Books, Books, Books

Spring is galloping toward summer, and I am scrabbling to keep up. I’m not behind, which is a win for me. But there is a lot of planting to do, and that will be my focus for the next couple of weeks. Onward, ho!

However, I did take the time to visit our local Barnes & Noble this weekend. Shane Malcolm Billings, who once worked at our town’s library, alerted me that a certain series was displayed not once but twice in the store—with local writers and in the YA fantasy section. (Shane now works at Barnes & Noble as well as at another library.)

First, with local writers. What a treat for this indie writer to see her books displayed all in a row—Maya and the Book of Everything, Library Lost, and Out of Time.

Then in the Young Adult fantasy section. There was even a blurb/recommendation written by none other than Shane. Many thanks, Shane, for your wonderful support!

When the staff became aware of who I was and why I was there—to photograph my books—they asked if I would sign all the copies.

This I did, and the books received an “autographed” sticker.

After which Clif and I went out to celebrate with ice cream.

And here this short post will end. Usually, I feature links to other blogs, but until the plants are planted and spring chores are finished, I must be brief.

When this crazy but wonderful season is over, I will be back to a more normal blogging schedule.

Until then…

A Review of Out of Time by Piranha T.

While it’s wonderful to get good reviews from adults who have enjoyed my books, I especially like to hear from younger readers such as Piranha T. of Rapunzel Reads, a blog that features “Book Reviews By & For Kids.” (Piranha T.’s sister, Super Kitty, also writes for the blog.)

Recently, Piranha T. wrote a review of Out of Time, and her description of my book is so concise, thoughtful, and precise that I’m tempted to use snippets of what she wrote whenever I want to promote it. (Piranha T. has graciously given me permission to do so. )

Here is the beginning of Piranha T.’s review, complete with a spoiler alert:

Out of Time is the third book in Laurie Graves’s ongoing Great Library Series, preceded by Maya and the Book of Everything and Library Lost. If you haven’t read the other books, skip the description here—there will be spoilers about events in them!

The Great Library Series begins with Maya Hammond, a fifteen-year-old girl thrust into an ancient conflict between Time and Chaos. The mysterious Great Library is part of it, as are the wise Books of Everything, sent to many different worlds to help Time triumph. In the first two books in this series, Maya travels across the universe to aid the Books of Everything and Time in their quest to defeat Chaos once and for all.

If, like me, you read books written for children and teens or have young people in your life, Rapunzel Reads is definitely worth checking out. To my TBR list, I have added several books that the sisters have reviewed. Their posts are well written and to the point and have a clarity that is sometimes missing from the pieces of older writers. Also, sprinkled within their blog are interviews with authors of some of the books that have been reviewed.

Only time will tell what these two sisters will do when they are adults, but I can certainly see them going on to become authors and professional reviewers.

Write on, Piranha T.  and Super Kitty!


Quercus’s Review of Out of Time

As I have noted before, one of the great pleasures of blogging is having friends all around the world and seeing places that I will probably never visit. To add to that pleasure, blogging friends who have a fondness for YA fantasy often read my novels. Occasionally they will even write a review of my books.

My blogging friend Quercus, who lives in England, recently read Out of Time, the newest book in my Great Library Series, and took the time to write a review. Here is an excerpt:

According to the Amazon details the book has 276 pages. It didn’t seem like it. Time flew,and although I spread it over two nights, it finished too soon. If there was another in the series I would definitely buy it right away. Unfortunately, there isn’t.

That’s really all you need to know. It’s less than £3 on Kindle, so what are you waiting for?

Of course, book reviews are supposed to be slightly longer than that so I’ll just add a bit of waffle. The action takes place in a magic county called Elferterre (somebody is showing their French roots again!) , which is a convincing place, and has an excellent talking cat. There are very few books that can’t be improved by the addition of a talking cat, so this is good to see.. Even  a talking cat couldn’t improve Don Quixote, but I won’t go into that..

Click here to read the rest of the review.

It really tickled me that Quercus caught Elferterre’s French connection. I was also very pleased to read that he would have immediately bought Book 4 if it had been available.  (I’m working on it!)

Many thanks, Quercus,  for giving Out of Time a close reading and then writing a review of it.



A Not So Timely Out of Time

Recently, some of my blogging friends in the United States have mentioned that books they ordered from Hinterlands Press have just been delivered. As the books were mailed a month ago, it seems that Out of Time delivery has not been very timely. Sorry!

When books are ordered directly from Hinterlands Press, they are shipped within a day or two of when the order is received. The pandemic has spurred us into being completely set-up for processing orders from home. We have a scale, and we print labels directly, which include postage. Finally, our postal service picks up packages six days a week directly from our very own mailbox.

What we can’t control is what happens when the packages get to the post office. I think the postal service was extremely stressed over the holidays, and I expect they did their best, given the circumstances.

I hope now that the holidays are over, packages will arrive in a more timely fashion. In normal circumstances, books should arrive within five to seven days of when they are ordered.

Anyway, thanks for your patience and understanding.


Last Day for the Wicked Good Deal on Out of Time

As the title of this post suggests, today is the last day for the holiday discount on Out of Time—in the United States, 20% off and free shipping.  This comes to a grand total of $12 per book, a real bahgain as we Mainers would say.

I want to thank everyone who has bought the book—sometimes more than one! Because of your support and generosity, this season has turned out far better than I expected.

Let’s face it: 2020 was not the best time to publish a new novel. In a normal year, we would go to different fairs and events, where we always sold a goodly number of books. However, 2020 was not a normal year. Covid-19 put a stop to going to fairs, and home we have stayed. (I’ve watched far too many Star Wars movies over the past week.)

But lo and behold, through my blog and social media, I sold more copies of Out of Time than I thought I would, to friends far and near.

Again many, many thanks.

I appreciate your support so very much.