Wednesday, December 31, 2008

and A Happy New Year!

Happy New Year, everyone!

This is the time of year that we know there are certain things we can count on: Sentimentality seems to rise to a high level, we're encouraged to reflect on our lives, and we make lists. This nudge to do these things seems to come from all corners, including subliminal messages from our own brains. Why is that?? Is it because we've been programmed into a "Old Year/New Year let's reflect, let's make lists, let's watch a soppy movie and cry" mode over the years? Whatever it is, its all O.K. with me 'cause I am a constant list maker, I tend to over-analyze every action or inaction I make in my life, and I'd rather boo hoo over a soppy movie, or book, better than most anything I can think of.

Lists. This is indeed the time of year when lists are popping up all over the place. How many of you join me in being an avid list maker? I can’t pack for a trip without a list – even for a weekend. If I do, invariably I’ll get to wherever I’m going without my toothbrush or favorite jammies. But aside from all that, my very favorite lists are "Best of" lists.

Since most of the blogs I follow are written by writers and/or book lovers, it’s not surprising that most of them are doing their “Best of 2008” books. I love these! It is too fun to see how some of the same books show up on several lists, but even more fun to spot a book I’ve somehow missed and never heard of on some of them. And, of course, there are all sorts of additional “Best of 2008” lists up and running. Movie lists are also biggies. This isn't one I'm quite as interested in. We don't seem to get to the movies too much any more, and would rather just rent one to watch at home, or re-watch old ones on the classic movie stations - especially those old classics that I know I'm going to need a box of Kleenex next to me while we watch. And of course, there's always that list of "Favorite Classics." Or the "The Best Tear Jerker Movies." I love those! Firmly place "Imitation of Life" at the top of both these lists for me.

These lists go on endlessly, and I think they're all terrific fun. Janet Reid puts her own clever spin on it and has written about 8 things she loved in ’08.

And then there are the pieces being written about reflections on our lives. Not all of these are sentimental pieces, of course. And some of them aren't really reflections in the true sense of the word, but more of a "preview." One of my favorite writers also happens to write one of my very favorite blogs. Check out J.D. Rhoades' "What Fresh Hell is This?" for a preview of 2009.

And Laura Lippman has done her annual (this is #2, but its quickly becoming a tradition, I think) "One Word Resolution Challenge" at her Memory Project Blog.

So. I see I've gotten off on a tangent. Imagine that. But this blog IS after all named "Meanderings and Muses," so bear with me please while I meander and muse.

I knew I wanted to write a New Year's piece, but opened up this composing window to write without a clear thought in my head about what on earth it might be.

My friend Ken Lewis suggested I write about Uncus. Uncus was the dachsund we had when I was in high school. When I left for college Uncus took over my bedroom. The first weekend I came home from school for a visit I went out with friends one evening and when I came home, everyone was in bed. Including Uncus, who was loudly snoring away in my bed. Which, he, unfortunately for me, now considered (quite selfishly) to be his bed. And when I tried to get into "our" bed, he growled at me. Growled. At me. I was stunned. It scared me a little bit, but mostly it hurt my feelings. I'd only been gone a few weeks! I had shared this bed (when it was mine) with him for many years! I knocked on Mother and Dad's bedroom door to share my dilemma, and get a little help, but to no avail. "Oh, he's just kidding. Isn't that cute? ha ha. Just go to bed - he'll be fine." harumph. I don't remember all the details about how I convinced Uncus to share "the" bed, but we apparently came to an understanding about it all.

But I don't want to write about that.

I want to make my own list. My 10 Favorite Books of 2008. But its hard! Don't you think its hard to do a "Ten Best?" I admire those of you who can do that. I'm not going to try to do that. And instead of including just books in my list, I'm adding writers I've discovered this year who moved onto my "new favorite writer" list. Actually, because my memory is so bad, there may be some writers here who I actually discovered last year. But. Since this is my first year blogging, and so my first year for doing this list, who on earth is gonna know - right?! Well, in the spirit of transparency - I do do one of these lists every year at DorothyL, but I'm counting on everyone there having a memory as bad as mine.

In absolutely no particular order - - -

Friend of the Devil, Peter Robinson

Another Thing to Fall, Laura Lippman

Red Knife, William Kent Krueger

Death's Half Acre, Margaret Maron

The Drifter's Wheel, Phillip DePoy

Where Memories Lie, Deborah Crombie

Swan Peak, James Lee Burke

The Cluttered Corpse, Mary Jane Maffini

Buried Lies, Peter Rennebohm

Mightly Old Bones, Mary Saums

Another Man's Moccasins, Craig Johnson

Baby Shark's High Plains Redemption, Robert Fate

In a Dark Season, Vicki Lane

The Cruelest Month, Louise Penny

The Murder Stone, Louise Penny (available in the U.S. in Jan. under the title "A Rule Against Murder"

Killer Heat, Linda Fairstein

14, JT Ellison

The Black Hand, Will Thomas

Stalked, Brian Freeman

The Price, Alex Sokoloff

Defending Angels, Mary Stanton

Death Will Get You Sober, Liz Zelvin

The Fault Tree, Louise Ure

Hank Phillipi Ryan

Roberta Isleib

Sharon Wildwind

J.D. Rhoades

Brett Battles

Robert Gregory Browne

Zoe Sharp

Toni McGee Causey

Steve Hamilton

Evelyn David

Reed Farrel Coleman

Pari Noskin Taichert

Ken Bruen

Lee Child

(I know. I'm the last person on God's green earth to discover Ken Bruen and Lee Child. What can I say? I am an eejit).

O.K. - now I have to make myself not go back and re-read this list because I know there are books and writers I've just forgotten. One of the things I think I need to do is start keeping a log of what I'm reading. I do sort of do that at but its not done by year, so its no help for end of the year "Best of" lists. But. Then again, since this "is" my blog, after all, I guess I can just come back and add to my list any ol' time I want to, huh? Cool!

Now its your turn! Let's hear your favorite books for the year, and what new writers did you discover in 2008 that went immediately on your favorite writers list? Let's see your lists. Or heck, if you have a totally different list you want to share with us, that'll be fun too. Whatever you want to do. Reflect? o.k. - go right ahead. And here's my New Year's hug to each of you.

p.s. - Yes, I did get new earbobs for Christmas! They're gorgeous honey amber drops, with a pendant to match. Santa is a lovely man.


Anonymous said...

Happy New Year, Kaye. It was nice reading your blog after so long a DL hiatus. I've been doing laundry all morning in celebration of the New Year. :)
Tonight we will probably watch a funny movie and go to sleep early. I haven't thought much about my ten best books this year. Tana French was the author who most impressed me. Hope you and everyone reading this has a great New Year.
Jen Wendel

Louise Ure said...

Hi Kaye,

Happy New Year to you! I'll be ducking the fireworks here in San Francisco tonight and trying to calm my tranquilizer-laden pooch.

Msmstry said...

Gadzooks! Kaye. You're asking me to give you a LIST?@#! I can hardly remember (ok, I have to go and search) where I put the book I'm reading right now, let alone chose a few from the many I read in a YEAR.

I will say that I'm really enjoying a new (to me) author right now, Leighton Gage and the book is an advance copy of BURIED STRANGERS. Set in Brazil, the protagonist is Chief Inspector Mario Silva.

I've been working on a new library program, "Crime Beat," which features journalists as sleuths. It's been fun getting it together and I've even renewed acquaintances with a couple of authors with whom I'd lost touch.

You folks with lists, roll on! I do like to read 'em. Just don't like to make 'em!


Elizabeth Zelvin said...

Happy New Year, Kaye! We're picturesquely snowed in in the country--not looking forward to what might be an icy drive back to the city tomorrow. I've already read two winners that are recent acquisitions: Linda Barnes's Lie Down with the Devil, which was a Xmas present, and Julia Spencer-Fleming's I Shall Not Want, which I confess to snagging (with permission) from Ruth Cavin's office at her 90th birthday party. How's that for a lucky-to-live-in-New York story? Anyhow, both are terrific reads of the she-just-keeps-getting-better variety. Oh, and thanks for including me in such great company on your list of authors. You're very high on my favorite-readers list!

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Happy New Year, my dear Kaye!

What a treat to get to know you..and whoa. To be on your list? I'm having a t-shirt made of it.

And wearing it as I toast to you and all the M&M pals..

love love love and see you soon

Anonymous said...

Have a wonderful, wonderful New Year.

Thank you for including me on your list; I'm truly honored.

May 2009 shine bright for you and all those you love.

Julia Buckley said...

Hi, Kaye! I am impressed by the sheer number of books you read this year. Mine is much, much shorter, but I have a "more reading time" goal for 2009!

I love the picture of Harley at the top of the page!

We are having a staid New Year's celebration with our next door neighbors (neither of us have to travel that way, so I can drink my yearly White Russian) :)

I am putting my sons in charge of entertainment. We'll see how that goes . . .

Best of New Years to all of the Barleys!

Vicki Lane said...

Happy New Year, Kaye! How lovely to find IN A DARK SEASON on your list!

I'm still undecorating our tree so don't have time to make a list. I will say that I received Barbara Kingsolver's ANIMAL, VEGETABLE, MIRACLE for Christmas and was completely blown away. I finished it at lunch today and am tempted to turn back to the first page and begin again.

Oh, and there's BLACK SHAWL by Katheryn Stripling Byer -- our own NC poet laureate. This is a series of poems that reads like a novel. And how could I forget Ron Rash's SERENA -- I carried on enough about it on my blog.

Must stop; there are candy canes and ornaments yet to remove if the tree is to make it outside before dark.

I wonder what this New Year has in store for us all?

Anonymous said...

Happy New Year, Kaye!

I'm hopeless at these type lists because, like Molly, I can't remember what I've read in the last month, much less the last year. However, just this month I have discovered a new-to-me author, Craig Johnson, whose Cold Dish I finally read, which led to immediately searching for the next books in that series at the library and in the bookstores. He's become an auto-buy now.

His books have been discussed on DL frequently, and I see he's on your list, so he's not new to all the DLers - it just took me a while to read him. Isn't it a wonderful feeling when you find and love a series enough for it to become an auto-buy?

Bill Cameron said...

Happy New Year, Kaye!

I tend to think of the New Year as beginning in September, a probably side effect of so many first days of school for my younguns. In recent years, I've tended to treat New Year's Eve like any other, falling asleep early with a book or watching a movie.

This year is a bit different though. I've got pork shoulder smoking, with big plans for pulled pork sandwiches. Black-eyed peas cooking on the stove. I will still probably fall asleep early, but there will be a modicum of celebratory eating snuck in there some where.

I also did a 2008 wrap up on my own blog, first time I've ever done something like that. So maybe New Year's is sneaking away from September for me after all.

One of the very nice things about 2008 was getting to meet you, that's for sure! Here's hoping for a good 2009 for all of us.

Wendy said...

Oh, I'm so glad you listened to Ken and wrote about Uncus!

My two big happy discoveries this year were Peter Robinson's Inspector Bank series and Reginald Hill's Daziel series.

Happy Happy Joy Joy!!!! I can't read them fast enough.

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

Many of you know the always delightful Bo Parker from DorothyL. Bo has a lovely new lady in his life, along with one of his lovely stories to tell.
Check him out here -

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

I just love it when so many of my favorite people drop by!

Thanks, everyone.

And see there - you've brought me names of MORE new books to try! AND you've reminded me that there are quite a few books in the TBR stack next to the bed by "new to me" writers that I thought I'd get read in '08, but didn't. Including one by a guy who happens to be getting quite a bit of buzz - Mr. Bill Cameron. (the bbq sounds delish, Bill!)

Julia. You made me hoot with your line about your yearly White Russian. That just happens to be my very favorite all time drink. Ever. I know we have some Kahlua around here. Maybe Donald and I will kick up our heels tonight and join you in a White Russian. I swear, I do not know WHEN we became so dull!!!!!

And yes Jen - today is laundry day in Boone also. We just got back home yesterday, and doing laundry was a task at the top of the list today. We're exciting ol' things, aren't we?! ha!

Louise - I'll be thinking about pooch. We have a friend in Atlanta with a pup who gets so upset with fireworks it breaks your heart. He hops into the bathtub for some reason. I'm not sure it helps, but anyway - that's where he goes.

Molly - you are a hoot.

Liz - DO be careful on your drive back into the city!!!

Hank - I love ya back.

Pari - you, dear woman, just keep on writing. Please!

Vicki - I've been loving reading about your holidays at your blog! And the pictures are a special bonus - thanks for sharing your bit of heaven with us.

Deborah - I'm going to be very interested in hearing how you feel about Craig Johnson's writing! Man - I am over the moon about this man's work. And if you haven't been reading his blog - please do. His pieces there are priceless.

WendySis! I'm so glad you stopped by!!!! Hugs to Evan and I'll be chatting with you.

Happy New Year hugs to you all.

The Stiletto Gang said...

Happy New Year!

Your story about Uncus touched my heart. Being a better person that I am, I'm sure you had a reasoned discussion with the sweet little dog instead of taking a shoe to his backside like I would have!

Evelyn David - both halves - is thrilled to be on any list you write! Thanks.

aka The Southern Half of Evelyn David

Lesa said...

Let's see. I've already done the top 10 mysteries of the year, which I really would have liked to make top 12 or 15.

So, here are this year's discoveries - in various categories.

Favorite series debut -
Leighton Gage
Liz Zelvin
Julie Hyzy
Sandra Ruttan

Favorite return of a missing series -
Les Roberts' Milan Jacovich

Favorite debut of a new series by an author with a long-running one -
Betty Webb's The Anteater of

Favorite discovery of a long-running series -
Steven F. Havill's Posadas
County mysteries

Favorite juv crime novel -
Chris Grabenstein's The

Favorite reprint - (non-mystery)
My Lady of Cleves by Margaret
Campbell Barnes

Favorite novels - (non-mystery)
The Guernsey Literary and Potato
Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann
Schaffer & Annie Barrows
The Last Queen by C.W. Gortner

Favorite picture book -
Bats at the Library by Brian

And, favorite Internet friend in Boone, NC - Kaye Barley

Happy New Year's, Kaye. I'll raise my glass of sparkling cider to a year of good reading for all of us!

B.G. Ritts said...

Have a joyful and safe New Year, Kaye!

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

Rhonda! Ooooh - you are a devil woman!!! Now you know, if I had taken even a small swat at Uncus a couple of things might have happened. One; I would have lost a hand. (probably not, but it "could" happen!). Two; Mother & Dad would have somehow found out (they knew "everything"), and I would have been sleeping outside!

Lesa - GREAT list!!!!! If there's anyone here who is not familiar with Lesa's book critiques and her blog and her reviews which are picked up by major newspapers and news services, check her out ( I've discovered some true gems through Lesa.

BG - Hey! Are you home from PA now? Good trip, I hope!!! Happy New Year to you, my friend.

Lesa said...

Thanks for the shout-out, Kaye! And, I had to add that list to my blog, so I credited you and linked to your blog.

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

Thanks very much, Lesa.

Y'all - i just love this blogging stuff.

Anonymous said...

Happy New Year, Kaye!

Please give Harley a hug for me. That's an adorable photo of him in the snow.

Wow, you put MOB on your list. You're a dearheart! I hope 2009 will bring you many excellent reads. And good chocolate. Maybe a little nip or two of outstanding liquid refreshment as well. :)

Mary S.

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

Mary - Hey! You kidding?! Mighty Old Bones is in my Top Ten! I adore those two women - as any woman, especially a southern woman, would. Chocolate. big sigh. I am starting my new year off talking about losing the weight I've gained over the holidays, but stuffing the fudge Donald made into my mouth the whole time I'm talking. Now - where IS that bottle of Kahlua . . .