Monday, March 23, 2020

It's Monday 3/23! What Are You Reading?

So, we are living in a different world now! Many states have locked-down or issued shelter-in-place orders (or the same with different labels), and many more are sure to follow. Our own state of Delaware has been gradually closing things down, and a full "stay at home" order, with only essential businesses open, officially starts tomorrow morning. Our situation has been fluid! We sort of started staying at home last Saturday, but I had to take my son to one last out-of-state medical appointment last week (the office was great & being very careful to protect patients and staff) and stock up on groceries (I had avoided last weekend's panic-buying crowds). So, I have been home since Friday now, though my husband needed to go visit his 94-year-old father for an emergency this weekend (but a non-medical one). My husband, our son, and I are all home now for the foreseeable future. We got a kick out of an article in our local paper on "100 things to do during self-quarantine" because boredom is not a problem here! My husband is working from home and on the phone constantly. This is pretty much life as normal for me, except that I have to cook for three people three times a day, so I am actually pretty worn out this morning. And the news and social media have been way too distracting. I promise to get back to visiting blogs this week!

We got the official word last week that Booktopia 2020 is cancelled. We all knew it was coming, but it was still disappointing--not only to miss the wonderful annual event but also to miss seeing all of the great friends who return to it every year! They are putting together some sort of Livestream replacement, so I am still reading some Booktopia selections.
The third one was just right!

I do have some good news, though! The third proof of my book was delivered yesterday and was finally good! Hurray! Like Goldilocks, the first spine was too narrow, the second was too wide, and the third was just right. This is a huge deal for me, after struggling with formatting and publishing the paperback for well over a month now. I will post here when the paperback is officially released (in a day or two), and the e-book has been available on all platforms for a while now. And now everyone has plenty of time to read, right?

Speaking of reading, we are enjoying our books. Here's what we've all been reading this past week:

With all that's going on in the world and after reading a thought-provoking memoir, I was in the mood for something lighter and quick, so I dove into my TBR shelf of mostly very old middle-grade and YA books! I read OCD Love Story by Corey Ann Haydu (published back in 2013), a novel I have wanted to read for ... well ... seven years. It's about Bea, a teen with just-diagnosed OCD who doesn't want to admit this is her correct diagnosis nor that it's getting worse. She meets a boy named Beck at a school dance, and he turns out to be in her new group therapy (not a big coincidence when you read how they met!). Beck is also struggling with OCD, also newly diagnosed. Their compulsions are very different, but they understand each other in ways that no one else can. As their relationship develops, Bea's OCD continues to worsen, though she tries to hide the worst of it from everyone, including Beck. I loved this novel! It's so much more than a quirky teen romance, and I learned a lot about what it is like to live with OCD (spoiler: it's private torture).

Next, though I was still yearning for fiction, I started a nonfiction book for my neighborhood book group, Women Rowing North: Navigating Life's Currents and Flourishing as We Age by Mary Pipher, even though we clearly won't be able to meet next week. Pipher is best-known for her ground-breaking book on adolescent girls, Raising Ophelia. I am about halfway through this one that, as the subtitle explains, is all about women and aging. It covers grief and loss, staying connected and nurturing community, finding small joys in a life that may be more restricted than before, and more. My first impression was that it is very much like the book I just wrote and published! Just substitute "aging" for "living with chronic illness." So, of course, I agree with much of what she writes about, since I wrote a lot of the same stuff. That, plus my urge to read fiction now, has made me a bit impatient with the book, if I'm being honest, though I have marked a lot of passages to add to my Quote Journal, so clearly, I am finding a lot of value in it, too. Now that I know book group will be postponed (I was trying to set up a virtual meeting but more seem in favor of postponing), I may set it aside. We'll see - I'm a rule-follower who likes to finish what I start! I still feel guilty for setting aside Catch-22 last summer.

On audio, I am listening to a Booktopia selection, The Lost Book of Adana Moreau by Michael Zapata. This is an unusual novel that features a realistic story and a book-within-a-book that is science fiction. It begins with a Dominican immigrant, a young woman, who settles in New Orleans with her pirate husband in the early years of the 20th century. They have a son named Maxwell, and she writes a sci fi novel called Lost City. Before her death, she and her son burn the only copy of her sequel, A Model Earth, which she just finished. Then the action shifts to 2005. Saul, a Jewish immigrant, discovers Adana's second novel--supposedly destroyed--after his grandfather's death, in an envelope addressed to Maxwell. The book leads Saul and a friend to New Orleans to try to find Maxwell, just after Hurricane Katrina. I am enjoying this novel with a unique and lyrical writing style and loving the New Orleans setting.

My husband, Ken, finished Shell Game by Sara Paretsky, book 19 in the popular V.I. Warshawski series, featuring a female detective (Kathleen Turner played her in a movie adaptation in 1991). We don't think either of us has read a novel in this series before, though who knows? This one was a super-early review copy I received back in 2018--have I mentioned how overflowing our TBR bookcase is? With all the stress lately in our family, Ken wanted something fast-paced and escapism-focused, so he grabbed this one when he saw a blurb by Lee Child (his favorite author) on the front. This version isn't even bound like most ARCs; my husband says he felt like he was reading a movie script! He enjoyed it and said it did its job, providing some fun, mindless escape, though he did say it was a complex story.

Still in the mood for fast-paced action, Ken has now turned to an old favorite of ours, Wild Kat, by Karen Kijewski. Back in the 80's and 90's, my husband and I both loved this series about a female PI named Kat Colorado. In fact, these books (and also Sue Grafton's alphabet series) were our go-to's for backpacking trips. We'd slip a lightweight paperback in the pack and take turns reading aloud to each other at night in out tent...good memories!! So, when we spotted this one in a used bookstore last year, we were very excited to revisit Kat and her escapades. My husband is loving it so far and appreciating its quick pace and well-written but not overly complicated plot. Just what he needed right now. If you enjoy mysteries and somehow missed the Kat Colorado series back then, we definitely recommend it!

Our son, 25, is very close to finishing 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. He has been enjoying it very much, but life has been hectic for him lately, so it is taking him longer than usual to finish it. As he pointed out, it is not only a long book with many pages but a BIG book with long pages! Maybe these next weeks will give him some downtime (which he needs anyway for his health) and more reading time.

Blog posts from last week:
TV Tuesday: Spring 2020 TV Preview - shows we will be watching this spring

Fiction Review: The Atomic City Girls by Janet Beard - young people working at the secretive Oak Ridge facility in TN during WWII

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. I am so glad your book finally is the right size and getting published! What an ordeal. We've been locked down for a week in California, but luckily can go outside in the garden and for walks.

    1. Thanks, Helen! Glad to hear you are managing OK and can get outside. Lots of walks around the neighborhood here!

  2. Let go of your guilt about Catch-22! :D

    I'm not one to talk. I finally finished White Teeth by Zadie Smith, which although I really liked it, I let sit with about 40 pages to go for months! I would see it and think, yes, I should finish that one, and then pick up something easier and lighter.
    Congratulations on your own book! How exciting is that? I will watch for your official launch!

    1. Thanks, Laurie! The paperback is now available - yay! Click the book pic in the sidebar if you want to know more.

      ha ha - thanks for helping me feel better about unfinished books! I still keep thinking I should really pick up Catch-22 again...

  3. Good news on the book front! One of the titles that you shared OCD Love Story reminds me of a book I just finished Sara and the Search for Normal, its a prequel of OCDaniel. In both books, MG characters deal with mental health issues. I think I will check out OCD Love Story. Good luck with the book, and thanks for the post!

    1. Oooh - those two sound really good, Aaron - thanks for the heads up! Hope you like OCD Love Story!

  4. So much unknown right now, but I am so glad you got such great news!
    Be safe and happy reading this week :)

    1. Thanks, Kellee - I hope you and your family are all well and managing OK now, too.

  5. I'm so happy to hear about your Goldilocks proof! What a relief!! LOL And I'm going to have to see if I can hunt down some local Kat Colorado -- I've never heard of this series, but I loved hearing about your and your hubby's read alouds. So sweet! Have a wonderful reading week, Sue!

    1. Thanks, Shaye!

      I think you'll enjoy the Kat Colorado books - lots of fun if you like mystery/suspense - most libraries should still have them.