Monday, February 10, 2020

It's Monday 2/10! What Are You Reading?

BIG news here today! My new book, Finding a New Normal: Living Your Best Life with Chronic
Illness was published last week! If you are a regular reader of my blog, you know I have been working hard on this, so I was thrilled to finally share it with the world. Visit my writer's website for more details about the book and the links to buy it. It is currently available as an e-book on multiple platforms, and the print paperback will be available in the next two weeks. The book is all about not only surviving with chronic illness (of any type) but thriving and finding joy and peace in your life, and it is based on my own experiences, those of my family, and many other people living with chronic illness whom I have interacted with over the years. So, if a loved one (or you!) has some sort of chronic medical condition or disability, please share the book information with them.

The book's release was the big event of last week, and I didn't have much extra time for anything else, so I apologize for not making the rounds to all the blogs I wanted to visit - I hope to make up for it this week!

Health-wise, I am doing much better. My Lyme disease recurred/flared up recently, but I finally got to a stable point in the treatment last week, so my joint (hip) pain is improving, and I am feeling better overall. Trying to catch up and get back to "normal" (my new normal, as the book says!).

As always, we have been reading lots of good books at our house this past week:

I finished reading An Indigenous People's History of the United States for Young People, the YA version of the nonfiction book of the same name by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz. This (the adult version) was the January choice for one of my book groups, but the meeting got postponed until March. I actually have both versions of the book here, from the library, so I mostly read the YA version but also dipped into the adult one sometimes, when I wanted more detail on a certain topic (though I was surprised to see that the YA version had two excellent chapters at the end on modern issues/advocacy that were missing from the original). A friend clued me in that the YA version includes maps, graphics, photos, and other visual information that really enhances the book; I don't know why they wouldn't include all that for adults, too! The maps are especially helpful. The book is just what its title suggests: a history of the U.S. from the perspective of Native Americans. As you might expect, it is absolutely horrifying but also quite enlightening. Did you know that it was actually the colonists, not Native Americans, who began the practice of scalping? Leaders of the new colonies offered cash for scalps (i.e. proof of killing an Indian), including those of children. Ugh. Whichever version you choose, this is such an important book, but it is very heavy reading.

After that, I needed some comfort, and I had the perfect book for it. I am re-reading my Favorite Book of 2019, Hum If You Don't Know the Words by Bianca Marais (my review at the link). This outstanding novel is set in South Africa during apartheid in the 1970's. It's about the loving relationship between an orphaned white girl, Robin, and the black nanny, Beauty, who cares for her while also searching for her own missing teen daughter. I am loving the novel even more the second time around, and knowing the basics of the plot is also allowing me to notice more fully the beautiful writing. I am so glad to be immersed in Robin's and Beauty's lives again. It is, at times, a heart-breaking story, but it is also filled with warmth, love, hope, and even humor. Bianca has a particular (often hilarious) talent for capturing the internal life of a little girl. I met and got to know the author last year at Booktopia, and I've invited her to videochat with my book group next week. Favorite books are like old friends.

On audio, I am still listening to State of Wonder by Ann Patchett. Somehow, I missed it when it was published in 2011 and just found the audio files sort of hidden on my laptop and unlabelled--a pleasant surprise! It's the story of Dr. Marina Singh, a pharmaceuticals researcher from Minnesota who has been tasked with traveling to a remote area of Brazil. Another researcher at her company, Dr. Annick Swenson, has gone missing there and cut off all communication with the company, and the first guy sent to find her has now died. It's a very intriguing story with in-depth characters and an immersive and fascinating sense of place. I'm sure there will be plenty more interesting plot twists as Marina heads into the Amazon with her former mentor (I am sensing some Heart of Darkness themes here). I'm enjoying it so far.

My husband, Ken, finished a Christmas gift from me, Blue Moon by Lee Child. This is his all-time favorite author and series, so he was excited to read this latest book (number 24!) about Jack Reacher, just released in October 2019. According to the blurb, this one involves an elderly couple who get into financial trouble, both Ukrainian and Albanian gangs, loan sharks, thugs, and assassins! Ken enjoys the writing and the suspense and fast-paced action of these novels, and this one was no exception. He enjoyed immersing himself in his favorite fictional world and flew through the novel in record time.

Now, Ken has moved onto another Christmas gift book, End of Watch by Stephen King. This novel is the end of the trilogy that began with Mr. Mercedes and continued with Finders Keepers, so he said he wanted to read book three while the rest was still fresh is his mind from last fall. According to the blurb, it's about a serial killer with a traumatic brain injury who is in a persistent vegetative state. Behind his still body, though, his mind is working fast thanks to a new experimental drug, and he is scheming to get revenge on those who crossed him, including retired police detective Bill Hodges, the hero of the trilogy. After reading The Outsider last year and realizing that one of my favorite characters in that novel was from the Mr. Mercedes trilogy, I now want to read this series, too!

Our son, 25, is still reading The Dragonbone Chair by Tad Williams, book 1 in the Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn series, one of the books he bought recently with a Christmas gift card. Sounds like this one features dark sorcery, an elf-like race, royals and servants, a deadly riddle, and plenty of swords--all right up his alley! I can't remember, but I don't think he's read this author before. This first book is almost 700 pages, so that should keep him busy, though I don't think he had much time for reading last week, as he was visiting his girlfriend in another state. He did mention he's enjoying it so far, though.

Last week's blog posts:

 TV Tuesday: Lincoln Rhyme: Hunt for the Bone Collector - new TV series based on one of our favorite book series is great so far!

Fiction Review: Recursion by Blake Crouch - another time-twisting, mind-bending thriller

Fiction Review: Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokarczuk - a quirky, funny mystery set in Poland

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?


  1. Oh Sue I am so happy to hear that all the book trials and tribulations are finally gotten through and it is published. Congrats and I do look forward to reading it at some point.

    1. Thanks, Kathryn!! Yes, you are right - it's been a rollercoaster of a process! Not quite through it yet - struggling to format the print book myself after the person I hired quit halfway done! Not my area of expertise for sure! ha ha

  2. Congratulations on your book!
    I sort of want to read An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States for Young People. I have read Thomas King's adult version of it in The Inconvenient Indian, but am always up for learning more.
    I enjoyed State of Wonder a couple of years ago and still have to get to Hum If You Don't Know the Words.

    1. Thanks, Cheriee!

      Definitely make time for Hum If You Don't Know the Words - I am LOVING it the 2nd time, too - just SO good! My top book read all last year.

  3. Congratulations on the release of your book! That's so exciting. I really want to read the Indigenous history and I have already read Hum and really liked it. I have the sequel on my TBR shelf.

    1. Thanks, Helen!

      Glad you liked Hum. The second book If You Want to Make God Laugh is excellent, too, though it isn't a sequel. It's a separate story ... though Robin and Beauty both make cameo appearances, which is a thrill! :)

  4. Congratulations on your book! Sounds like a special book.

  5. CONGRATULATIONS on your book, Sue! How fantastic to finally see the fruit of your labor! <3

    1. Thanks, Shaye!! I am still hard at work formatting the print book - learning a lot but encountering some problems! Something entirely new for me :) but I am almost done!