Monday, February 25, 2019

It's Monday 2/25! What Are You Reading?

February 25. A day I have known well since I was a little girl - my dad's birthday. I miss him every day but especially on significant days like today. It's impossible to see that date and not get hit with the sadness of missing him. I'll include a couple of photos at the end of this post in memory of all our good times together!

I finally had plenty of quiet writing time last week! I've been working on a book, about treatments for the chronic immune disorder my son and I have, and I had several good writing days last week when I was able to finish one chapter and start and finish another - progress!

And we had a nice weekend, with a good mix of getting things done and relaxing. Books are always a part of that! Here's what we've all been reading this past week:
  • I have about 6 pages left of Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver, for my neighborhood book group this week. I am already loving it! It's a split narrative that takes place in one house in Vineland, NJ, which was created as a utopian community in the 1860's (in real life). One side of the story takes places back then, when a high school science teacher who's not allowed to teach about Darwin's theories lived in the house, with a female botanist who corresponded with Charles Darwin living next door. The other half of the story takes place in the same house in the present, with a family dealing with a lot of crises - the husband's father is very ill and living with them, and their two adult children have both had to move back home (along with a newborn baby). I love Kingsolver's novels to begin with, and her way of connecting the two parallel stories in different time periods is so clever & engaging. 
  • I finished listening to The Devil's Highway by Luis Alberto Urrea. I am writing a book column for Shelf Awareness for Cinco de Mayo that includes this book. It's the true story of an attempt in 2001 by 26 Mexican men to cross the border into Arizona through a desolate stretch of desert known as the Devil's Highway. It was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for Nonfiction and is certainly relevant to the immigration controversies and challenges rocking our nation (and the world) right now. However, the author really doesn't address political or moral issues related to immigration - his focus is on telling this harrowing story from the facts collected through interviews and police reports and on the human toll. It's fascinating, compelling, and eye-opening.
  • Now, I am listening to The Blinds by Adam Sternbergh, a unique thriller. It's about an isolated town in Texas where all its citizens (about 50 of them) are in witness protection, either criminals or innocent witnesses. The Blinds is an experiment where each person's memory - or at least portions of it -  is erased before they arrive in town, so no one knows who is who or what they did before. It's been a dull, sleepy town for eight years but now there's been both a suicide and a murder and Sheriff Calvin Cooper must try to keep the peace as the outside world threatens to interrupt their uneasy harmony. It's excellent so far!
  • My husband, Ken, finished Edge by Jeffrey Deaver. Though we both love Deaver's Lincoln Rhymes series, this is a stand-alone novel, so we were intrigued by it. He said it was kind of slow to start but he ended up enjoying it.
  • Our son, Jamie, 24,wants to read book 4, Kingdom Blades, of the series A Pattern of Shadow and Light by Melissa McPhail, a favorite series of his. But, being him, he decided to first re-read the first 3 books in the series. So, he's just re-started book 1, Cephrael's Hand, a mere 780 pages. He says he's enjoying it and is glad he decided to re-read because he's remembering details he'd forgotten...and the series is sooo good!
Blog posts from last week - catching up!
Teen/YA Review: The Beautiful Lost by Luanne Rice - road trip novel that deals with mental illness and family problems

2019 Reading Challenges - better late than never!

Nonfiction/Graphic Novel Review: Escaping Wars and Waves by Olivier Kugler - original, powerful true stories in words and drawings of Syrian refugees

Fiction Review: Finding Dorothy by Elizabeth Letts - delightful, engrossing historical fiction about the wife of the author of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

My summary of Books Read in January - great reading month & good start on my challenges

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?  

A few memories of my dad - as you can see, he was a very hands-on dad and grandpa!

Dad and I in Canada circa 1969

Grandpa with his grandsons (my sons)
Dad hiking & geocaching with us


  1. I haven't ever read a book by Kingsolver but thisone sounds good. Come see my week here. Happy reading!

    1. Never, Kathy? Start with The Poisonwood Bible or The Bean Trees...two of her earliest...and best!

    2. I think you should start earlier than those. I loved her early work. There is an intimacy to it that I miss in her later work. I did adore Prodigal Summer which seems to me to be a turning point for her work.

    3. The Bean Trees was her very first novel! Its sequel, Pigs in Heaven, was her third, and Poisonwood Bible her 4th.

      I enjoyed Prodigal Summer, too.

  2. I'm so sorry for the loss you're feeling today. I lost my dad very unexpectedly six years ago and it's amazing how fresh it can still feel. Sometimes it hits me when I least expect it. I love your photos and I'm thinking of you as you face another of his birthdays. I got a chance to check out your review of The Beautiful Lost and I'm adding that to my list, right now. Thanks so much, Sue!

    1. Thank you so much, Shaye - I'm sorry to hear that you, too, have been through this loss & understand how I'm feeling - thank you for sharing that.

      Hope you enjoy The Beautiful Lost!

  3. Good luck with your book on that interesting and important topic.

  4. Some losses ease, but never go away. My father died when he was 58. We are coming up to the anniversary of his death soon. I think of him less now than I used to, but he is always in my heart.
    Escaping Wars and Waves was one of those books that stunned me. I especially appreciate how the format heightened our understanding of what being a refuge is like.

    1. Cheriee - Oh, wow, 58 is very young. My dad was 70, and that felt much too young, too. Sorry for your loss.

      I agree - stunning is the way to describe Escaping Wars and Waves - I was really blown away by that book.


  5. Birthdays of loved ones who are gone are tough; sending hugs and thoughts to you today. You seem to have some really good books going this week. The Blinds is a particularly interesting premise.

    1. Thanks, Helen - at least I have so many wonderful memories to sustain me - he was the best dad and grandpa :)

      The Blinds just gets better and better! It is totally engrossing, and I find myself grabbing my iPod every time I have a free moment - even if I'm just going to the bathroom - ha ha!!

  6. Sue it's a tribute to those we love that we feel their loss often but especially at times like birthdays. I would like to try a Kingsolver book at some point and I see your advice above to Kathy.

    1. A agree, Kathryn.

      Yes, definitely start with her earlier work (Bean Trees was her first novel & Poisonwood Bible her 4th) - her newer work is not to everyone's liking...though I enjoy it!

  7. I am so excited to read Unsheltered, and relieved to hear you love it. I am a Kingsolver fan—she is so creative and broad in the subjects she tackles, and the premise of this one is right in my wheelhouse!

    Happy March!