Monday, July 23, 2018

It's Monday 7/23! What Are You Reading?

Happy Birthday to me! 53 years old today and don't feel a day over 80 - ha ha, just kidding (sort of)! Both of my sons are home and spent the night, which is rare these days, and one of them even got out of bed briefly this morning to wish me a happy birthday! I am spending my morning writing a review for Shelf Awareness and writing this post - work that I love. Tonight, we have a family dinner planned (OUT - no cooking!), so all in all, a good day.

This is a two-week catch-up post because last week, my husband and I went on a whirlwind 5-day trip to my home state of New York for a double-reunion weekend. We spent two days in Potsdam, NY, where my alma mater, Clarkson University is, for my annual sorority weekend. My husband is a good sport, hanging out on the porch with me and my old friends while we reminisce, catch up, sing old songs, and LAUGH - so much laughter! I brought my old photo albums from 30 years ago, which were a big hit. These are such amazing women and friends - we get together, and it's like it was just yesterday that we were there at the house together in college (it wasn't). We rushed to Rochester on Sunday for a family reunion but arrived 6 hours late! There had been 90 people there earlier, and luckily, a few were still left, so I was able to reunite with a few family members and meet some new ones I'd never met before. My dad's family is HUGE - he would have loved this revival of the old summer reunions, and I've been thinking about him a lot.

So, not a lot of reading time the past two weeks, but as always, we have been enjoying our books. Here's what we've all been reading:
  • I gave up on The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe after about 120 pages. It was the choice for one of my book groups this month and is a memoir Wolfe wrote in 1968 about a road trip with Ken Kesey (author of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest) and a bunch of other drug-addled hippies in a psychedelic school bus. It is written in 60's slang (groovy is just the tip of the iceberg), including some rather offensive racial terms, but mostly its stoned/high stream-of-consciousness style just drove me a little crazy. I missed the book group meeting, but it sounds like almost no one finished it.
  • So, next I needed to read my next review book for Shelf Awareness, Red, White, Blue by Lea Carpenter. That's the review I've been working on this morning. It's an unusual kind of spy novel with a unique narrative style, alternating between the current life story of a woman who recently lost her beloved father and a CIA case officer talking about aspects of her father's life and work. Intriguing and unique.
  • And now I am back to my Big Book Summer Challenge! Yay! This weekend, I started Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld, a YA novel that's been on my shelf for way too long. Once again, as with all my Big Books...why did I wait so long? I am LOVING this novel!! It has two intertwined narratives that are both great - a teen girl participates in NaNoWrMo (a month-long writing challenge every November), writes a paranormal YA romance, sells it to a publisher, and moves to NYC and the other story is the actual novel she wrote. The two stories are told in alternating chapters, and both are totally engrossing. I actually stayed up until 11:30 pm Saturday reading, which is a wild late night for me!
  • On audio, I finished listening to Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, a freebie from SYNC in 2015. I last read this novel in 9th grade and remember enjoying it, but I absolutely loved revisiting it on audio! It has in-depth characters you care about, a multi-layered and intriguing plot, suspense, and humor - some passages had me laughing out loud. I thoroughly enjoyed every minute (my review at the link).
  • On our road trip, my husband and I listened to Dragon Teeth by Michael Crichton. This historical novel was found - complete - after Crichton's death. It's different than most of his sci fi thrillers, but we enjoyed it very much. It tells the story of two feuding paleontologists in 1876 who each head out west with a team to try to find the next big thing in dinosaur bones. It's historical fiction set in the Wild West with the dangers of warring Indian tribes, the US Army, bandits, and more. Based on a true story with plenty of suspense and intrigue, it kept our attention on our long trip.
  • Now, I am listening to Made for Love by Alissa Nutting, a novel with some strange elements that I am enjoying so far. It's about a young woman escaping a bad (and weird) marriage to a tech mogul, after he demands she has a chip implanted in her brain so he can "meld their minds," so she moves to her father's trailer in a senior citizen trailer park, where her dad is happily setting up housekeeping with his new lifelike sex doll, Diane. Yup, a little weird, but so far it is good, with suspense and humor mixed in.
  • My husband, Ken, is reading his second Big Book of the summer and one of my all-time favorites, Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell. This was one of my Big Book Summer reads a few years ago, and Ken gamely watched the movie adaptation with me, even though he found it pretty confusing (I loved the movie). It's a complicated but engrossing book, with multiple interwoven stories that show how we are all connected across space and time. He's enjoying it, even though his reading time has been limited.
  • Our son, Jamie, 23, is reading book 10, Crossroads of Twilight, of the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan. He has been plowing through this series, one huge book at a time. It's Big Book Summer all year-round for him; he rarely reads a book with under 400 pages. Most of the books in this series are between 900 and 1200 pages!
Blog posts from the past two weeks:
Movie Monday: Lady Bird - Moving, funny coming-of-age story

TV Shows We Are Watching  Summer 2018 - some old favorites and new shows we are currently enjoying

TV Tuesday - Alias Grace - Netflix show based on historical novel by Margaret Atwood

Fiction Review: Dragonfly in Amber - Wonderful sequel to Outlander - love this series!

Fiction Review: Great Expectations - I loved revisiting this old favorite - so good!

Saturday Snapshot: Camping in Northern New York State - highlights from last weekend - sunset, kayaking, and a glimpse of reunion fun

Fiction Review: The Possible World - stories of 3 characters intertwine in Rhode Island

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? 

The 2018 Big Book Summer Reading Challenge is on, and there is still plenty of time to join! It's easy-going, like summer - you only need to read one book with 400 or more pages sometime between now and the end of summer (early September) to participate (though of course, you can read more Big Books, if you want to). It's great motivation to tackle some of the bigger books on your shelves or TBR that usually get overlooked. Check out the details at the link and join the fun!


  1. I'm glad you brought up Cloud Atlas again this week because I just discovered I'd forgotten to add it to my list. I'm also back into the Big Book Summer Challenge with Ember book #3. I started the first few chapters last night just to make sure I got into it before the week got into full swing. Have a wonderful reading week, Sue! I'll see you over in the challenge group...

    1. Glad you added Cloud Atlas to your TBR - I really love it - so very clever, thoughtful, and funny. It took my husband longer to get into it, but he's enjoying it, too.

      Enjoy your next Big Book!


  2. I know what you mean about reunion fun. We had our 50th high school reunion this past weekend. It was great to see so many people I haven't seen for 50 years. I enjoyed Afterworlds too. Come see my week here. Happy reading!

    1. Oh, wonderful, Kathy! Glad you enjoyed your reunion.

      Yes, I am loving Afterworlds so far - just what I was in the mood for - a compelling, fast-paced book.

  3. Happy birthday! I’m glad you had a fun trip/reunion. Have a great week!

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

    1. Thanks, AJ!

      You have a good week, too!

  4. I turned 53 on Friday so we're only 3 days apart! Happy Birthday!

    1. Happy Birthday, Helen!! I forgot from last year that our birthdays were so close :) Hope you had a great day!

  5. Happy birthday!!! I am so glad you loved Great Expectations the second time around. That is wonderful. I don't like when I reread a book and it doesn't pan out as well the second time. I hope you have a great week!

    1. I was just a kid the first time I read it so was thrilled that I enjoyed it so much as an adult!

  6. Sue if you can email me at thebookdate(at)gmail(dot)com I'll send you the instructions I received from Beth Fisher and they worked wonderfully for me to get my comments coming from my blog to my email.

  7. HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!!!!!!!!! :)
    I love Westerfeld, but haven't read that series yet.
    And P.S. I wrote you back over on UR :)

    Happy reading this week!

  8. Belated birthday greetings!
    I am 2/3rds into Grapes of Wrath, one of my big books. My partner and I were listening to it while on our recent road trip. I didn't want to have to get out of the car. I think I have that audiobook of Great Expectations but just never find time to get to it.