Monday, June 26, 2017

It's Monday 6/26! What Are You Reading?

Happy Monday! Did you miss me?? I missed two What Are You Reading Mondays, so it's been awhile. My husband and I took a week-long trip to Vermont with our camper, while our sons went to the Firefly music festival here in Delaware. We had a wonderful vacation - peaceful and fun. You can check out photos from our trip and the natural beauty in Vermont, my picks for great food in Manchester, VT (more posts coming with other restaurants elsewhere in VT), and a recap of 3 independent bookstores we visited in Vermont - the state has a lot of them!
One section of the fabulous Northshire Bookstore in Vermont
Back home, last week was a crazy whirlwind of activity, with everyone home. I helped get our sons ready for another trip, restocked food, took my father-in-law to the doctor, ran errands, had everyone over for dinner, and with my son, ran dozens of loads of laundry! Now, though, the flurry of activity has passed and I am here in the quiet house all ALONE. Our sons are away for two weeks on their grandparents' sailboat, and my husband is traveling for work this week. Ahhh...the quiet solitude is lovely after the exhausting activity last week. Now, I hope to finally get caught up from vacation, with e-mails (still over 200 unread ones left!), writing, blog posts...and of course, what we've been reading! Here's the recap from the past three weeks:
  • I finished The Atlas of Forgotten Places by Jenny D. Williams, a review book for Shelf Awareness (you can check out my first Shelf Awareness review here). It was an amazing novel that I recommended to my editor for their Top 10 Books of 2017 list. It takes place in war-torn Uganda in 2008 (during the height of Joseph Kony's reign), where a young American aid worker who left on a 3-week vacation in the area goes missing. Her aunt, who also worked for an aid organization in Uganda, comes from Germany to look for her. It's full of action, suspense, moral questions, and intrigue, and the setting was fascinating to me, since I knew nothing at all about Uganda or its culture or history.
  • I finished my first Big Book of the Summer, The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater, a teen/YA novel. Although I didn't love this novel as much as Stiefvater's others, her amazing writing, unforgettable characters, and suspense pulled me in as always, and I did end up enjoying it.
  • I also finished my my second Big Book of the Summer, Shift by Hugh Howey, book 2 in the Wool series. The first book, Wool, just blew my husband and I away, and book 2 was just as good. I gobbled up its 570 pages on our vacation. Now I am dying to read book 3, Dust, while the events of the first two books are still fresh in my mind, so I may sub that in for one of my other Big Books this summer. You must read this series!
  • Next, I read a quick novel for my neighborhood book group this week: Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf. This was an entirely different kind of story - quiet, gentle, and warm - but just as compelling. It's about a 70-year old widow who asks her widowed neighbor if he will spend the nights with her (platonically) because she is so lonely. The two of them gradually get to know each other and become closer, with both of their lives deeply enriched. I absolutely loved this book!
  • Now, I have gone back to a book of short stories that I started for Booktopia last month, The World to Come by Jim Shepherd. His stories take a unique approach. They are historical fiction, often focusing on some horrible disaster that occurred in real life, but he adds fictional characters and delves into their feelings, thoughts, and states of mind. They are very good so far, though - as you might imagine from the subject matter - some of them are devastating.
  • On audio, I finished listening to Scar Island by Dan Gemeinhart. It's a middle-grade novel about a boy sent to a creepy reform school set on a rocky island by itself and what happens when all the adults on the island are gone. I really enjoyed Gemeinhart's Some Kind of Courage and especially The Honest Truth. Scar Island grew on me, and I ended up enjoying it, too.
  • On our trip, my husband and I started listening to Exo by Fonda Lee, a teen/YA sci fi novel. It takes place about 100 years after an alien race has colonized Earth, Some people were selected to work alongside the aliens and help them, while others have resisted the alien invasion and continue to fight against them. It's very good so far, and we are both enjoying it. I guess we will have to finish it on our next road trip, in a few weeks!
  • Back at home, this weekend, I started listening to The Goldfish Boy by Lisa Thompson, a middle-grade novel about a 12-year old boy, Matthew, with severe obsessive-compulsive disorder who is housebound (and often won't even leave his own bedroom). He spends hours at his window, watching the neighbors on his street. When a toddler goes missing from next door, Matthew may be the only one who can piece together what happened to him. It's an issue-driven novel, delving into Matthew's OCD, crossed with a mystery. I've been hooked right from the start!
  • My husband. Ken, finished his first Big Book of the Summer, Paul of Dune by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson. This is a kind of spin-off novel from the classic Dune series, written by the original author's son and a co-writer. Dune is one my husband's favorite novels, so he enjoyed this novel and has now passed it on to our son.
  • Next, Ken read a novel we bought at Northshire Bookstore in Manchester, VT, The Fold by Peter Clines. We were supposed to be picking out books for our son's birthday, but we saw this one and couldn't resist it for ourselves! It's a sci fi thriller about the development of a device that allows "folding" of dimensions, making teleportation a reality. Ken said it was just as good as it sounded - I can't wait to read this one, too!
  • Now, Ken is reading In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware, another novel purchased at Northshire Bookstore! I bought this one when I was there for Booktopia and gave it to Ken on Father's Day during our trip. This is a psychological thriller by the author of The Woman in Cabin 10.
  • Jamie, 22, finished re-reading the Tunnels middle-grade series by Roderick Gordon, and also finished reading the last book (#6) of the series, Terminal.  He really enjoyed revisiting this old favorite series and finally finishing it!
  • Now, Jamie is reading Dune by Frank Herbert, the classic sci fi novel, inspired by his dad! Jamie read Dune once before, but he was very young (about middle-school age) so he is enjoying re-reading it. Next, he will read Paul of Dune by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson, which his dad just lent him.
Whew, quite an update! Here are my blog posts from before and after my vacation:
TV Tuesday: Anne with an E - wonderful adaptation of Anne of Green Gables

Nonfiction Review: The Journey of Crazy Horse: A Lakota History by Joseph M. Marshall III

Fiction Review: How To Be Human by Paula Cocozza - reviewed for Shelf Awareness

Fiction Review: The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery - I finally read this classic!

TV Tuesday: The Fall - dark & creepy Irish thriller series

3 Bookstores in Vermont - we visited 3 of VT's 20 independent bookstores!

Saturday Snapshot: Vermont State Parks - some highlights of VT's natural beauty

Weekend Cooking: Great Restaurants in Manchester, Vermont - so much good food!

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.

What are you and your family reading this week?  

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

Remember to sign up for my Big Book Summer Challenge! You have plenty of time (until September) to read just 1 book (more if you want) with 400+ pages. Everyone has a chunkster like this (or dozens of them, like me!) on their shelves or TBR list. I hope you'll join the fun! (you don't need a blog to sign up - see the challenge page for details)


  1. That's quite a list of books! Yesterday I started Jodi Picoult's Small Great Things and I am hooked!

    1. Oh - my son just gave me Small Great Things for Mother's Day! I can;t wait to read it - Picoult's novels always grab me like that - enjoy!

  2. Vermont is a place I love the sound of and enjoyed some romance books set there. Always a great way to advertise a place! Pleased to see you are enjoying the Anne series on Netflix, I haven't seen it but mostly heard dissatisfied reviews so yours is refreshing.

    1. That makes sense - it is a lovely, romantic setting :)

      I've been hearing from lots of people who are loving Anne with an E - I can;t imagine why anyone would be dissatisfied with it - it is so far very true to the book, and the actors are just perfectly cast!

  3. Souls at Night is a quick read, but sad and sweet. I tried to read Goldfish Boy, but didn't quite get into it. Maybe I'll have to give it a second shot.

    1. Oh, interesting - I found Goldfish Boy immediately riveting. And once the mystery happens, it's even more compelling.

      Yes, I hated the ending of Souls at Night!

  4. So much fantastic reading here. I hope you read Haruf's other books if you haven't yet. I love his work.

    1. I haven't yet! I've had Plainsong on my bookshelf FOREVER...I think it;s time to finally blow off the dust and read it! i just loved his writing.

  5. The Goldfish Boy is on my wishlist. It's been a busy week with a cracked toilet, day camp, and paperwork for cross country. Come see what I'm reading

    1. It's really great so far - hope you find time for it soon.

  6. There are so many interesting books on your list today Sue. The Crazy Horse title looks very interesting. The Atlas of Forgotten Places sounds pretty intense. I just put a hold on Our Souls at Night. I learned from my mother that loneliness is the hardest challenge for the elderly.

    1. I hope you enjoy Our Souls at Night as much as i did! Now I need to read some of Haruf's other novels.

    2. Cherlee - we discussed Our Souls at Night at my book group last night & we talked a LOT about loneliness & the elderly, especially after losing a spouse.