Monday, April 22, 2019

It's Monday 4/22! What Are You Reading?

I'm back! I missed two weeks of What Are You Reading Mondays because my husband and I had three trips in the past two weeks - it's been an exhausting whirlwind of chaos! We started with a very nice and relaxing few days of vacation, camping in Virginia, with plenty of reading time. We had planned on a full week, as we usually do in April when the weather warms up enough to camp again, but we cut it short and rushed home to unpack, do laundry, and repack. My husband's first cousin had died the previous week of a heart attack, so we flew to Oklahoma for the funeral and to help clean out the house (which used to be his and my husband's grandparents' house). It was complicated because we discovered the house was still in their Grandma's name (she died in 1990!), so we also had to meet with a local estate lawyer. It was a tiring weekend but a much more tiring trip home - it took us 18 hours to get home last Monday, through 4 airports, on 3 planes (I was in the back, non-reclining row on 2 of those), with everything delayed everywhere we went and several runs down concourses with heavy backpacks. We finally arrived home at 2 am Tuesday! Then we had just a couple of days at home - unpack, do laundry, repack again! - and headed to the Poconos in PA this weekend for Easter with my family. I am SO hugely relieved to be back home now (though I leave again in 10 days for Booktopia!) and to be getting caught up - my to-do list for this week is a mile long!

So, this is a longer-than-usual reading update from my family - I will try to keep it as brief as possible!
  • I finished re-reading Mudbound by Hillary Jordan for my neighborhood book group. I first read it in 2010 and remembered liking this novel set after World War II in rural Mississippi, but OMG, IT IS AMAZING! Populated by three-dimensional characters that I quickly came to care about, it is the story of a white family and a black family, sharing land (and success or failure) but culturally separated in the still very racially divided Deep South. A must-read, if you somehow missed it - or a re-read if you don't remember the details (like me).
  • I finally moved onto my Booktopia 2019 (click Events and scroll down) reading - about time! I read Leading Men by Christopher Castellani, a local Delaware author. It's an engrossing and fascinating fictional account of the real-life relationship between famed playwright Tennessee Williams and his lover for 15 years, Frank Merlo, a working-class Italian-American from New Jersey. Much of the novel takes place in Italy. I really enjoyed it and can't wait to meet the author.
  • I needed a paperback for the plane trip, and I picked the perfect one, another Booktopia selection, Hum If You Don't Know the Words by Bianca Marais. It takes place in South Africa in 1977 during apartheid, about Robin, a 10-year old white girl who loses her parents, and Beauty, a 50-ish black woman whose own daughter is missing and who takes care of Robin. It is a stunning, moving, thoughtful, funny, amazing novel! It helped pass those long (and painful) hours crammed into tight plane seats.
  • This past weekend, I had to set aside the Booktopia books to read a review book (due this week), Last Day by Domenica Ruta. It's about a slightly-altered history where the world celebrates Last Day every May 28, with a nod to ancient myths and stories about the end of the world. The novel follows several very different characters with intersecting stories during the Last Day celebrations, including a teen girl, a tattoo artist, a special needs adult woman, and an astronaut on the International Space Station. I'm enjoying it so far.
  • On audio, I finished listening to On the Come Up by Angie Thomas - finally! This one is about a 16-year old girl named Bri who wants to be a rap star (and she's quite good at it), but her family is struggling and she's always getting sent to the principal's office in her mostly white school. As her local fame grows, there are unexpected consequences. It was just as captivating and thought-provoking as The Hate U Give - highly recommended.
  • On our road trip to Virginia, my husband and I listened to Sunburn by Laura Lippman, a thriller by the talented author. Though most of her novels are set in Baltimore, we were surprised to find that this one was set on our own small state of Delaware! It's about a mother who walks out on her husband and young daughter and starts a new life, and it was filled with all kinds of unexpected twists and turns, as her secrets are slowly revealed. Great suspense, and it kept us engaged through both Virginia and Oklahoma!
  • Now, I am listening to another Booktopia book on audio (trying to cram them all in!), Soon the Light Will Be Perfect by Dave Patterson. It is set in a small, impoverished town in the 1990's, at the start of the first Gulf War, and is a coming-of-age story about a twelve-year-old boy's summer, with his older brother, his father who works at a local military tank factory, and his mother, who is very sick with cancer. It's good so far, and I am immersed in their story.
  • My husband, Ken, finished the third and final book in the Themis Files trilogy by Sylvain Neuvel, Only Human. He and I both LOVE this unique and thrilling sci fi series that begins with Sleeping Giants, when a giant robotic hand is found half-buried in South Dakota. It got even better with book 2, Waking Gods, and he and I have both been excited to read the conclusion. He said it was good - my turn next!
  • On our camping trip, Ken read Hope Never Dies: An Obama Biden Mystery by Andrew Shaffer, a tongue-in-cheek mystery novel featuring our former President and Vice-President as the detectives trying to find answers in the mysterious death of one of Joe's favorite Amtrak conductors. It is set here in Delaware (all these Delaware books are rarities!), so Ken enjoyed the humor, suspense, and local references.
  • Now, Ken is reading The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware, a suspenseful thriller that I enjoyed last fall (review at the link). It's about a woman on a cruise with just 12 passengers who thinks she saw/heard a woman go overboard. She's a classic unreliable narrator, and no one believes her. I really enjoyed it, though my husband says it's a bit slow for him so far (he likes more action, and this is more of a slow, creepy build-up).
  • Our son, Jamie, 24, has been reading the series A Pattern of Shadow and Light by Melissa McPhail, a favorite of his. He first re-read book 1, Cephrael's Hand, book 2, The Dagger of Adendigaeth, and book 3, Paths of Air. He is now reading book 4 (for the first time), Kingdom Blades, and he's really been enjoying it.
Some blog posts from the past few weeks:
TV Tuesday: Manifest - intriguing, suspenseful show with some supernatural twists

Fiction Review: My Dear Hamilton by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie - outstanding, compelling historical fiction about Hamilton's wife

TV Tuesday: The Enemy Within - excellent thriller series with a great cast & twisty plot

My Summary of Books Read in March - a good reading month!

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? 

My husband reading Hope Never Dies while camping.

Me reading Leading Men by the campfire - ahhh, bliss!


  1. Sounds like you had a hectic couple of weeks. I hope things settle down for you soon. Come see my week here. Happy reading!

  2. That air travel sounds really awful!! Nice to see you back, you sure had a lot of travelling in between. The Angie Thomas book sounds very good, I should give her a try to see if its my taste.

  3. Whoa! What a crazy time. Glad you're back home. I've read at least a couple of the books you mentioned and really liked them. Leading Men is on my list, for whenever I have that nonexistent slow time.

  4. Wow, what a whirlwind you've been through. I'm sorry about your husband's cousin and your loss. Thank for taking time for your post, too! I bookmarked Mudbound & Hum If You Don't Know The Words, really do not need more to read, but they sound great, Sue. I have On The Come Up, need to read it soon! Hope your holiday weekend was nice. Thanks for all!

  5. What a whirlwind of traveling; it sounds exhausting. I can't believe that in about a week you're off again. But, at least it's for books! I remember loving Mudbound.

  6. Glad you are back but what an insane time for you. I have On the Come Up here and need to get to it!

  7. I am truly excited about On The Come Up - thinking of giving it to my teenage daughter as a birthday gift end of the year - she loved THUG. :) Great photos! :) And very sorry for your loss, too. :(

  8. Wow have you had a VERY busy two weeks! I'm so sorry for your family's loss, Sue. That must have been a shock to discover the home being in their grandmother's name. I'm surprised that wasn't caught during her probate and I imagine it's a little complicated to sort it out this long after-the-fact. I definitely have Mudbound on my list after your mentioning it a few weeks ago. I enjoyed On the Come Up, too. I thought it was cool that it was set in the same neighborhood as THUG. I hope you enjoy your downtime until your trip for Booktopia! lol