Saturday, June 22, 2019

Saturday Snapshot: First State National Historic Park

Saturday Snapshot is hosted by Melinda at A Web of Stories (same host as always but with a new blog - check it out!).

Most of the past few weeks has been an exhausting blur of crises and urgencies, with new and serious issues with our son's health, suddenly needing a new car (immediately!), internet out all this week, etc. However, there was one oasis of a day in all that - last Saturday - when our family of four spent the whole day together, relaxing and enjoying each other's company. My husband left on Sunday morning for a business trip, so we spent Saturday together for an early Father's Day and enjoyed a nice picnic-style dinner that night here at home with my father-in-law. In the morning, the four of us took a hike together,  a rarity these days that we used to enjoy every week.

We decided to check out the brand-new First State National Historic Park, Delaware's first (and only) National Park! It was just designated a year or two ago and includes several historic areas, but we set our sights on the natural part of the park, the Beaver Valley area. This is just minutes from our house, so the area's not new to us, but this particular hike was. We climbed a sloping hill to gorgeous views of the surrounding valley, walked through woods, and alongside horses and neat rows of corn, just shin-high. The weather was perfect, and it was lovely to just enjoy each other's company and the beautiful surroundings. Here are some highlights:

Covered bridge near us, adjacent to the new National Park

My namesake: Brown-eyed Susans!

Gorgeous view of the valley

Horses along (and on) the trail

Brandywine Creek - VERY high compared to normal levels!

Male Ebony Jewelwing Damselfly

Father & Sons

Another month and we'll have local corn!

Back home on our deck

Enjoying our newly-cleaned and spruced up screened porch!

Hope you are enjoying a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Fiction Review: True Grit


My favorite books podcast, Book Cougars, recently hosted a readalong of the classic Western novel, True Grit, by Charles Portis. Since I am behind on my Back to the Classics 2019 Challenge, and I enjoyed the most recent (2010) movie adaptation of the novel, I decided to join the fun, and I picked up a copy at Browseabout Books, one of our favorite independent bookstores, in nearby Rehoboth Beach. My husband was interested, too, and he read it before I did. I finally fit it into my reading schedule in May. I remembered only the barest outline of the plot from the movie and was pleasantly surprised by how good the novel was – not only action-packed and suspenseful, as I expected, but also riveting and very funny.

Fourteen-year-old Mattie Ross travels from her farm in Yell County, Arkansas, to Fort Smith to avenge her father’s recent murder. On a trip to Fort Smith to buy some ponies, her father was shot in the head by their hired hand, Tom Chaney, in a drunken fury. Mattie wants to return the ponies, get their money back, and make sure that Tom Chaney is arrested and punished for what he did. She finds, though, that Tom is on the run with some other criminals, off into Indian Country (which would later become Oklahoma). Mattie inquires as to the meanest, most ruthless of the U.S. Marshals, and she hires one-eyed Rooster Cogburn to help her track Tom. Gruff Rooster isn’t too happy to be traveling with a fourteen-year-old girl, but Mattie pays him well, and she soon wins his grudging respect, as they track the killer across the wild, dangerous country.

Mattie is one of the best literary characters ever – she’s in a class with Scout Finch for spunk, personality, and intelligence, only with a big helping of courage added in. Determined to see her father avenged, Mattie is single-minded and fearless and keeps up with Rooster and the other rough, experienced men they team up with later. I remembered the fast-paced action and suspense of the story from the movie, but what I loved best was the dry humor of Mattie’s narration. Her very serious, precocious attitude plus a touch of young girl naiveté makes for a very amusing account that often had me laughing out loud, as in her assessment of the temperaments of animals:
“I had hated these ponies for the part they played in my father’s death but now I realized the notion was fanciful, that it was wrong to charge blame to these pretty beasts who knew neither good nor evil but only innocence. I say that of these ponies. I have known some horses and a good many more pigs who I believe harbored evil intent in their hearts. I will go further and say all cats are wicked, though often useful. Who has not seen Satan in their sly faces?”

Portis is an absolute genius to so perfectly capture the voice of this young girl. The straightforward tone and deadpan telling (Mattie tells the story as an adult, looking back) make for a subtle yet amusing tale of a classic Western adventure, complete with bandits, gunfights, and rattlesnakes. I had never heard of Portis’ other four novels, but now I am eager to read them. Thanks, Book Cougars, for the inspiration to read this wonderful classic!

224 pages, The Overlook Press

If you have also read True Grit, you can listen to the readalong episode on Book Cougars, where the two hosts discuss the book.

Listen to a sample of the audio book - which sounds wonderful! I bet it's great to listen to Mattie tell her story. 

You can purchase True Grit from an independent bookstore, either locally or online, here:
 Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org

Or you can order True Grit from Book Depository, with free shipping worldwide.

Monday, June 17, 2019

Movie Monday: Murder Mystery

My older son was home last night, and we were both pretty worn out, looking for a light, fun escapist movie, so we watched the new Netflix original, Murder Mystery, which fit the bill perfectly.

Jennifer Aniston plays Audrey, a hairdresser who loves to read mystery novels, and Adam Sandler plays her husband, Nick, a NY cop who's failed the detective exam three times. They've been married for 15 years and have never been on a honeymoon, so they take a long-dreamed-of trip to Europe. On the flight over, Nick falls asleep and when Audrey wanders up to first class, she meets Charles Cavendish, a very wealthy man played by Luke Evans. After chatting on the flight, he invites Audrey and Nick to come on his yacht and sail around the Mediterranean. The two New Yorkers are treated to luxury like they've never seen before, with other guests on the yacht including a beautiful movie star and a famous race car driver. It turns out that the purpose of the voyage is the wedding of Charles' elderly uncle to a beautiful young woman. The uncle surprises the small group of family and close friends by announcing that he is writing them all out of his will and instead leaving everything to his fiance. Soon, the uncle is dead. At the next port, Inspector de la Croix (sounding very much like Inspector Clousseau) boards the ship and begins to question its guests. Nick and Audrey find themselves the prime suspects in a murder, and as they race across the region to try to clear their names, the body count continues to grow.

This playful film takes a classic whodunit (and a closed-room mystery, since there was only a small group on the yacht) and turns it into a fast-paced farce. All of the characters are exaggerated stereotypes, in a classic mystery style (some reviewers have said it reminds them of Clue). Audrey's experience reading mystery novels is used in humorous ways, as is Nick's police experience (and lack of detective status). The settings are gorgeous, as are most of the people. As is often the case on TV and movies, it's sometimes hard to imagine how Nick ended up with beautiful and poised Audrey, but hey, we went along for the ride. That's what this movie is - a fast ride through the water and streets of Europe, as Audrey and Nick try to solve the mystery. There are car chases (in amazing cars), gunshots, and other typical mystery tropes, as well as lots of dead bodies to keep the amateur detectives busy. Parts of the movie feel a bit predictable but the mystery itself kept surprising us. It's not a great movie but a fun little romp when you feel like some mindless escape...which was exactly what we needed last night.

Murder Mystery  is a Netflix original so is available exclusively on Netflix.

It's Monday 6/17! What Are You Reading?

This summer continues to be busy, busy, busy here! It was another week with our sons in and out (they are both sort of half living home and half living in their apartments in the nearby college town) - I only ask that they give me some notice if they'll be home for dinner! It's nerve-wracking not knowing if I'm cooking for 2 or for 4 (or for 6 or...) each day. We had a very nice weekend together as a family, something we haven't been able to do for a long time. My husband left on a business trip Sunday morning, so we celebrated Father's Day on Saturday. All four of us took a hike on a perfect day to a nearby trail we'd never tried with great views. I have sooo been hankering for some camping and vacation time, so this gave me a little taste. In the evening, my father-in-law joined us, and we enjoyed a nice picnic-style dinner and gifts and some time in our newly-cleaned and spruced-up screened porch. All in all, it was a lovely day. Then, everyone cleared out, and by 8:30 am on Sunday, I was alone...which was also very nice! Both sons came back home for dinner (leftovers - no cooking!) and both are heading out of town tomorrow. With my husband gone this week, I am hoping to get caught up on writing, household stuff, and everything else that hasn't been getting done lately. You know how this goes...I probably won't manage a fifth of what I've planned, but a girl can dream! (and, yes, my dreams involve fierce productivity).
A Father's Day hike

We have all been enjoying our (mostly Big) books this past week - here's what we've been reading:

Surprise! I am still reading my first Big Book of the Summer, a 959-page chunkster, Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell. This is a readalong for the Book Cougars podcast for June, plus a classic (I am behind on my Classics Challenge), and from my own shelves, so it counts for several challenges. I've never read the novel, though I saw the movie many decades ago, and I am enjoying it so much. I'm surprised (though I shouldn't be) by how wonderful and well-written it is. I'm completely engrossed in the story, in both the personal dramas as well as the detailed perspectives of the Southerners during and after the Civil War and what that time period and culture was like. I'm about two-thirds of the way through now (they are very big pages with dense text) and still looking forward to reading it every evening! The story has been wholly engrossing so far, and I can't wait to see what Scarlett does next. I will need to set it aside this week to re-read a favorite novel for my book group.

I forgot to mention last week that although I've been reading the same book for three weeks now, I did squeeze in a graphic memoir in small increments over the past couple of weeks: A Fire Story by Brian Fies. It's the fascinating, horrifying, and eye-opening story of Brian and his wife's experiences with the 2017 California wildfires. They were awakened in the middle of the night and could see the fire quickly approaching, so they packed a few things and evacuated. Within hours, there was nothing left of their neighborhood - every single house burned to the ground, leaving just ashes. As an author and illustrator, Brian began drawing and telling this story immediately in the days after the fires, with some cheap drawings tools he bought, so there is an immediacy, level of detail, and personal touch to the book that is stunning. It brings a whole new understanding of these disasters, way beyond what you get just from watching a news story.


On audio, I finished listening to another Big Book, Harry's Trees by Jon Cohen, a novel I've wanted to read ever since it was released last year. It's two intersecting stories about Harry, a man who works for the Forest Service whose wife dies suddenly, and Amanda, a woman who lives in a nearby rural area whose husband also died unexpectedly. Harry goes to the woods and ends up meeting Amanda and her daughter. It's a story about healing...and trees! It's intriguing, compelling, heartfelt, and even a bit magical, with fairy tale elements woven in, thanks to the imagination of the young girl. I really enjoyed it and recommend it.

My husband, Ken, finished his second Big Book of the summer, The President Is Missing by James Patterson and Bill Clinton, a recent political thriller that's gotten a lot of press. The fast-paced novel is set over the course of three days and deals with cyber-terrorism and espionage of such a magnitude that the whole nation is at risk. Even the President himself is a suspect, as the investigators try to root out a traitor in the cabinet. Word is that Clinton's inside knowledge of the workings of the White House and government make this political thriller extra-chilling and suspenseful. Ken enjoyed it and just finished it in time for his trip.

Ken took a slim paperback on his trip, The Good Son by You-Jeong Jeong. This thriller was given to me by one of the booksellers in our local bookstore who runs an international mystery book group at the store. Each month, they read a mystery or thriller set in a different country, and this was a favorite in the group. Jeong has been called "the Korean Stephen King" and the novel has been described as "The Talented Mr. Ripley meets The Bad Seed." It begins with the main character waking up, with no memory of the night before, to find his mother's dead body in a pool of blood....ooooh! Enticing, right?

Our son, Jamie, 24, was reading a new series, The Runes of Issalia, by Jeffrey L. Kohanek, but he gave up in the middle of book 2, The Emblem Throne: A Quest of Magic. He said it was all plot with no character development or depth to it. It's a shame because he did like the premise, but he just wasn't enjoying it much. Instead, he has gone back to a favorite series, Sorcery Ascendant Sequence by Mitchell Hogan, and is re-reading the first book, A Crucible of Souls (a Big Book, like most that he reads!) in preparation for reading book 2. He's enjoying it so far but probably won't have much reading time this week with travel, his girlfriend, and a weekend-long outdoor concert!


Last week's blog posts:
TV Tuesday: Weeds - funny, suspenseful & irreverent show about a suburban mom who deals pot to make ends meet

Booktopia 2019 - my wrap-up of this unique and awesome event - plan to attend in 2020!

Teen/YA Review: On a Sunbeam by Tillie Walden - original graphic novel about an all-female sci fi adventure and romance

What Are You Reading Monday is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date, so head over and check out her blog and join the Monday fun! You can also participate in a kid/teen/YA version hosted by Unleashing Readers.

You can follow me on Twitter at @SueBookByBook or on Facebook on my blog's page.   

What are you and your family reading this week?

Remember to sign up for the Big Book Summer Challenge! It's easy-going, like summer - you only have to read one book of 400 or more pages between now and September (though you can, of course, read more!) It's lots of fun and a great way to add extra enjoyment to your summer! All the details are at the link - you can sign up there if you have a blog or, if not, just leave a comment on that page or sign up at the Goodreads group linked from that page. Join the fun!

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Teen/YA Graphic Novel Review: On a Sunbeam

I really enjoyed Tillie Walden's first YA graphic memoir, Spinning, a coming-of-age and coming-out story about figure skating, so I was eager to read her second book. This one is a graphic novel, On A Sunbeam, and entirely different from her first book. This creative story is set in space, in a world of all females, though it is still a coming-of-age story.

A young woman named Mia joins the crew of a fish-shaped starship. The rest of the crew includes Alma, Jules, Elliot, and Char (short for Charlotte), and their job is to travel through space to old, crumbling sites and restore them. The others welcome Mia into their ranks, and she gets a bunk in a room with a great view of space outside the window. The team begins to teach Mia how to do their restoration work. In an alternate storyline, we see Mia as a younger student, just starting out at a new boarding school. She meets a girl named Grace, and the two of them bond in trying to deflect a group of mean girls. Grace and Mia become good friends and eventually girlfriends, until Grace suddenly leaves under mysterious circumstances without saying good-bye, leaving Mia devastated.

Sample page from On a Sunbeam
The narrative moves back and forth between the two timelines, gradually filling in Mia's backstory as the team in the present works on their project and then moves on. Walden has created a wholly original world here, unlike anything I've ever seen. The spacecraft look like elaborate fish, the buildings and worlds the girls work to restore look both old-fashioned and futuristic, and the entire world is populated only by females. None of the underpinnings of this unique society are ever explained - they just are what they are. The hefty book (a great choice for Big Book Summer!) is illustrated in shades of mostly blue-gray, purple, and pinkish-orange, with occasional splashes of yellow, and the very detailed pictures on every page invite studying and lingering. The story can be a bit complicated at times, but it has plenty of depth and emotion for a graphic novel. While this sort of wholly-created-in-space science fiction is not always my kind of thing, the intriguing story and interesting characters pulled me in and kept me reading. I can't wait to see what Tillie Walden comes up with next!

533 pages, First Second


Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher in return for an honest review. My review is my own opinion and is not influenced by my relationship with the publisher or author.

Note: This post contains affiliate links. Purchases from these links provide a small commission to me (pennies per purchase), to help offset the time I spend writing for this blog, at no extra cost to you.

You can purchase On a Sunbeam from an independent bookstore, either locally or online, here:
 Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org

Or you can order On a Sunbeam from Book Depository, with free shipping worldwide.


Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Booktopia 2019

Northshire Welcomes Booktopians!
Finally! It was over a month ago now (a busy month!), but here is my summary of the annual Booktopia event, held the first weekend in May each year at Northshire Bookstore in lovely Manchester, VT.

Ann and Michael, who started Booktopia, in 2015
A little history: Ann and Michael of the sadly now-retired Books on the Nightstand podcast (you can still listen to or download episodes at the link) began Booktopia almost a decade ago. It was always hosted at the amazing Northshire Bookstore, but at its height, they were coordinating 3 Booktopias each year, in different parts of the country. Listening to the podcast every week, I yearned to attend one of these incredible book-centered weekends, and in 2015, I invited my mother along (as a joint birthday gift for me and her), and we were blown away! We skipped it in 2016 when it fell on Mother's Day but attended again in 2017, 2018, and most recently, 2019. Ann and Michael ended their wonderful podcast a few years ago, and with it the 3 Booktopia events each year (can you believe they were too busy with full-time jobs, kids, the podcast, and hosting 3 major events a year??). Luckily, Northshire Bookstore decided to pick up the reins on their own and continue hosting the Vermont event.

My mom and I at Booktopia 2019
So, what is Booktopia? It's a wholly unique gathering of book lovers, booksellers, and authors. Unlike trade shows like BEA or the typical author events at bookstores, here the readers and authors spend the weekend together, sharing meals and conversation, and the author sessions are more like book groups, with in-depth discussions and Q&A's. If you love books and love to read, it's paradise! You can read more about our experiences at Booktopia 2015, Booktopia 2017, or Booktopia 2018, including photos and lists of the books and authors featured.

Booktopia 2019 was just as amazing! By now, we've gotten to know lots of other Booktopians, so we look forward to reconnecting with old friends (and meeting new ones) just as much as meeting the authors and hearing about great books. There are many of us who return every year (or most years). This year's list of featured books and authors included:




I read all but two of the books for Booktopia this year, and you can read my reviews at the links. As always, every book I read - chosen by the brilliant booksellers at Northbrook - was excellent.

Author Bianca Marais kicks off Booktopia 2019
So, the event began Friday morning with an introductory talk that was interesting and funny by Bianca Marais, who after her 2018 appearance at Booktopia now feels like an old friend. If you haven't yet read her first novel, Hum If You Don't Know the Words, you must! It is moving, powerful, funny - one of my favorites of this year. Her second novel, If You Want to Make God Laugh, will be released on July 16 - I've already pre-ordered it through Northshire!

Next the Northshire booksellers each took a turn recommending 4-6 of their favorite recent books, adding many new books to everyone's TBR list! The attendance fee for Booktopia includes a $50 gift card to the store, and those gift cards don't last long. Mine was spent before the event even began.

Me with Christopher Castellani, a Delaware native, after his session
All day Friday and Saturday are author sessions. You can choose which ones to attend. As I said, these are less like typical author talks/book signings and more like a book group discussion with the author present. Usually, many people have already read the book, so the author talks about his or her inspiration in writing it, the writing process, and answers questions from the group.

Our table Friday night - lots of old friends & a couple of new ones!
Friday night, there's always a big group dinner for everyone - readers, authors, and booksellers - where we play book trivia and do a Yankee book swap. For other meals, you are on your own, but Manchester is filled with wonderful restaurants, and smaller groups of Booktopians get together to share meals.

Readers with Stephen Mack Jones after the Yankee Book Swap
Saturday is more author sessions and then the big wrap-up in the evening, where each author gets 10 minutes to talk to the entire crowd - this portion of Booktopia is free and open to the public. Veteran Booktopians always laugh when every year, each author stands up there and says something to the effect of, "I had no idea what Booktopia was - this is such an amazing event! I've never been to anything like it." It is truly unique, and I think the authors love it as much as the readers who attend - after all, they are rock stars to this crowd of bookworms! Finally, all of the authors are available to sign their books.

Me with Sarah Blake (no, not sitting on her lap, just awkwardly crouching!)
On Sunday, exhausted but happy, we headed for home (an 8-hour combination drive and train ride for me!) after one last breakfast at Manchester's incredible Up for Breakfast restaurant. Mmmm...

It really is a unique and wonderful event. If you can manage the trip (people come from all over the country - and a few from other countries!), put it on your calendar for the first weekend in May 2020 - I'll see you there!

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

TV Tuesday: Weeds

My husband's not a huge fan of comedies, but we usually have at least one comedy show in progress that we watch together, when we don't have time for a full hour-long drama. This winter we finished up House of Lies starring Don Cheadle (which is very raunchy and funny!) and decided to try another Showtime comedy, Weeds. We just started season 3 and are enjoying its edgy comedy and mild suspense very much.

Nancy Botwin, played by Mary-Louise Parker, recently lost her beloved husband to a sudden heart attack and is struggling to support her two sons, Silas and Shane, on her own. She lives in Agrestic, an upper class California suburb with cookie-cutter McMansions (and seemingly cookie-cutter lives for its residents). Nancy knows that many of her outwardly straight-laced neighbors and fellow parents indulge in smoking pot, so she decides to make some money on the side to help her maintain the lifestyle they are used to. She asks her friend Conrad, played by Romany Malco, to introduce her to his aunt, Heylia (played by Tonye Patano), who is a dealer. Nancy's brother-in-law, Andy, played by Justin Kirk, moves in ostensibly to help her with the boys, though he's actually broke and quite a pothead himself and very much like having a third kid around! Kevin Nealon plays Doug, Nancy's accountant, who also likes to get high and helps Nancy set up her business. Elizabeth Perkins stars as Celia, a haughty and self-absorbed neighbor (and sometime-friend) who ends up running an anti-drug campaign in their neighborhood, with no idea that Nancy is dealing.

Just the set-up is funny: as the opener to the show (accompanied by the song "Little Boxes") indicates, Agrestic is filled with identical houses and almost-identical families living seemingly perfect lives. Just below that perfect surface, though, are marriages falling apart, affairs with fellow residents, and lots and lots of people getting stoned to get through their lives. Mary-Louise Parker is wonderful in the lead role, with an excellent and entertaining supporting cast. The plot reminds us a bit of Breaking Bad, in that Nancy gets started in the drug business to support her family but ends up getting pulled further and further into the criminal world, until she is in over her head. It's one of those shows where just when you thought things couldn't get any worse...they do. But it's less dark and more funny than poor Walter's story. There are, of course, some silly stoner scenes, especially when Andy and Doug hang out together, but most of the plot centers on Nancy (who doesn't usually get high) and her efforts to run a business without getting pulled into the dark side of the drug scene. She is fearless (sometimes stupidly so!), and there are plenty of laugh-out-loud moments in every episode, plus some suspense as to whether she can manage to get out of whatever current crisis she is mired in. We are thoroughly enjoying it, and it makes a nice change from the one-hour drama shows we mostly watch - a fun palate cleanser.

There are 8 seasons in total, and we are currently on season 3 (though it's hard to imagine how much worse things could get for Nancy!). Weeds is a Showtime original, so it is available on their streaming service and also on Netflix. It is also available on Amazon for $1.99 an episode or $9.99 for the first season of 10 episodes, and it is available on DVD.



Monday, June 10, 2019

It's Monday 6/10! What Are You Reading?

Last week was characterized by huge amounts of stress and pressure during the week and then a very nice weekend! We've been struggling with several family crises with our son's health the past few weeks and we had to buy a new-to-us SUV in order to manage our weekend trip to see family - our old one just wasn't going to make one more trip! Our 2003 Honda Pilot had 217,000 miles on it, and we got to the point where the repairs needed outweighed its value by far. It was a scramble last week to get everything done in time, but we managed to buy a 2017 Nissan Pathfinder and get all the paperwork together so we could take it to Rochester, NY, (my hometown) for a family-filled weekend. The trip was just what we needed! We are all feeling more relaxed and less stressed, we had a wonderful time with a couple of different branches of the family, and by Sunday, our son was feeling much better. And now, I feel ready to face a new week, with a fresh outlook (unlike last week!).

As always, our books provide comfort in the hard times and fun in the happy times! Here's what we've all been reading this week:

No surprise that I am still reading my first Big Book of the Summer! I kicked things off with a doozy - a 959-page chunkster - Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell. This is a readalong for the Book Cougars podcast for June, plus a classic (I am behind on my Classics Challenge), and from my own shelves, so it counts for several challenges. I've never read the novel and saw the movie many decades ago, and I am enjoying it so far. I'm surprised (though I shouldn't be) by how wonderful and well-written it is. I'm completely engrossed in the story, in both the personal dramas as well as the detailed perspectives of the Southerners during the Civil War and what that time period and culture was like. I'm almost halfway now and still looking forward to reading it every evening! The Yankees have just taken Atlanta (and therefore won the war), and the story has been wholly engrossing so far.


On audio, I am still listening to another Big Book, Harry's Trees by Jon Cohen, a novel I've wanted to read ever since it was released last year. It's two intersecting stories about Harry, a man who works for the Forest Service whose wife dies suddenly, and Amanda, a woman who lives in a nearby rural area whose husband also died unexpectedly. Harry goes to the woods and ends up meeting Amanda and her daughter. I am loving it so far. It's a story about healing...and trees! It's intriguing, compelling, heartfelt, and maybe even a bit magical - and set in the forest, so what's not to like?
My husband, Ken, is reading his second Big Book of the summer, The President Is Missing by James Patterson and Bill Clinton, a recent political thriller that's gotten a lot of press. The fast-paced novel is set over the course of three days and deals with cyber-terrorism and espionage of such a magnitude that the whole nation is at risk. Even the President himself is a suspect, as the investigators try to root out a traitor in the cabinet. Word is that Clinton's inside knowledge of the workings of the White House and government make this political thriller extra-chilling and suspenseful. Ken is enjoying it so far, and my stepmom, who we stayed with this weekend, also enjoyed it.

Our son, Jamie, 24, finished a novel that we put in his Easter basket, The Wolf, by Leo Carew, book 1 in the Under the Northern Sky series. I picked it out for him at an awesome indie bookstore at the beach in Delaware, Browseabout Books, because the epic fantasy sounded right up his alley. He loved it and wants to read more in the series (book 2, The Spider, will be released on July 30, just in time for his birthday!). Jamie thinks my Big Book Summer Challenge is hilarious because almost everything he reads (including this one) counts as a Big Book!

And here's the exception to that...Jamie just started a new series, The Runes of Issalia, by Jeffrey L. Kohanek, and each book is normal-sized at about 300-ish pages - but he is reading the whole series at once since the boxed set was on sale for the Kindle. He has already finished (the lucky boy can read in the car!) book 1, The Buried Symbol: A Discovery of Magic, and is now reading book 2, The Emblem Throne: A Quest of Magic. He's enjoying the series so far.





Blog posts last week:
Movie Monday: Like Father - warm, funny, delightful movie about an estranged father and daughter who reconnect

TV Tuesday: Dead to Me - suspenseful, darkly comic, twisty story of female friendship

Fiction Review: Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl by Andrea Lawlor - unusual coming-of-age story that is warm, tender, and thought-provoking

What Are You Reading Monday is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date, so head over and check out her blog and join the Monday fun! You can also participate in a kid/teen/YA version hosted by Unleashing Readers.

You can follow me on Twitter at @SueBookByBook or on Facebook on my blog's page.   

What are you and your family reading this week?


Remember to sign up for the Big Book Summer Challenge! It's easy-going, like summer - you only have to read one book of 400 or more pages between now and September (though you can, of course, read more!) It's lots of fun and a great way to add extra enjoyment to your summer! All the details are at the link - you can sign up there if you have a blog or, if not, just leave a comment on that page or sign up at the Goodreads group linked from that page. Join the fun!