Monday, April 06, 2020

It's Monday 4/6! What Are You Reading?

I hope everyone is safe and healthy and coping well with the current stay-at-home orders! We had a little scare last week but are fine. My chronic illness has been acting up lately; for the past two weeks, my stamina has just been a bit lower, and I am often a bit achy. I know that sounds frightening right now, but it is a "normal" symptom of my immune system disorder, a sign that my immune system is over-reacting. But, on Friday, I woke up seriously relapsed (what we call "crashed") - exhausted, severe aches, mild sore throat. Again, all within the realm of normal for me, though pretty rare these days with the treatments I am on. So, of course, we got a little worried. The thing is that if I over-exerted (it doesn't take much) or was exposed to an ordinary cold or was exposed to coronavirus, it would probably feel the same way for me - my immune system over-responds, and I get exhausted, achy, and a sore throat (if I actually caught COVID-19, it would be different, with the fever, cough, etc.). Luckily, after a day of serious resting, I felt a lot better this weekend. I'm still a bit achy today, even though I woke up feeling great. Our latest theory is that the bad allergy season (my nose has been running and my eyes watering nonstop for weeks) could be triggering this slight downturn for me. Who knows? My usual guessing game is a bit more complicated these days! This is a time of uncertainty for us all. But, I am OK, just slightly more symptomatic that my usual these days.

I have been trying something new for both this blog and my chronic illness blog and posting videos on my Facebook pages (the Facebook page for this blog is here). Last week, I did a mini tour of our To-Be-Read Bookcase. I figured we could all use a bit more personal interaction, even if it's virtual, right now!

Thank goodness for books during this challenging time. Here's what we've all been reading this past week:

I finished reading For Once In My Life by Colleen Coleman, a British romcom, as I was in the mood for something light. I was very surprised when my husband gave it to me for my birthday last year, since it is so different from what I normally read, but this was the perfect time for it. Lily is a young woman who was left at the altar when her soon-to-be-husband revealed he was in love with her best friend (while an entire church waited for them to exchange vows), and she loved him, too. Flash-forward three years later, and Lily is clearly still damaged from the experience, though she is happy working as a journalist for the local newspaper and living in her cozy little cottage. Upper management visits from the head office and threatens to shut down the paper unless there is a huge turn-around in ad sales and readership. Lily is now at the helm as Editor-in-Chief, working with a "transitional consultant" sent by management. I was pleased that the focus of the story is on Lily taking charge and diving into her new role (though there is a new romance budding, too), and I enjoyed witnessing Lily turn her life around.


Next, I read a book I've been meaning to get to for decades: Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut. My dad loved Vonnegut, and I can remember him reading all of his novels back in the 70's. I've been meaning to try one ever since. For years, I avoided this one because of the yucky title, and then just last year I heard it is actually a time travel story (which I love). Our copy is actually from the 70's, purchased by my husband for 50 cents at a used bookstore in his hometown, probably when he was a teen! So...how to describe this unique novel? It's about a man named Billy Pilgrim, who "comes unstuck in time." Billy sometimes suddenly time travels to a different time (and place) in his life. Oh, and he was also abducted by aliens at one point and living in a zoo on the planet Tralfamadore. Billy was a prisoner of war in WWII and present at the devastating firebombing of Dresden, an event which clearly affected him for the rest of his life. He was also an optometrist, a husband, and a father, so he was an ordinary man who lived through some extraordinary things. I really enjoyed this quick read of a novel that is a strange but entertaining mix of both horrifying and funny, using some sci fi plot devices to examine real life.


Now, I am onto The Late Show by Michael Connelly because I felt in the mood for fast-paced escapism (as I think many people are right now). I haven't read a Connelly novel in ages, but my husband and I both love his Harry Bosch series (and the TV show adapted from it). I gave this one to my husband for Christmas a few years ago. It's the first book in a new Connelly series, featuring female LAPD detective Renee Ballard. She works the midnight shift ("the late show") in Hollywood, which means she and her partner respond to calls all night, collecting evidence and writing reports, but then turn their cases over to the day shift. I've only just started this one last night but am already loving it. It begins with a long night of new cases, including two that Ballard really wants to be able to investigate herself instead of turning them over. I'm looking forward to some good immersive suspense!


On audio, I finished listening to Notorious by Gordon Korman. I enjoyed Korman's Masterminds series, and this one is completely different but also enjoyable so far. Keenan normally lives an exciting, international life moving from one country to another with his mother, who teaches in international schools. But he caught TB (seriously!) and was sent to his father's home on Centerlight Island to recuperate. Centerlight is located right on the US/Canadian border so the island is split (and not in a straight line) in every way. Keenan knows no one there and finds the slow pace very different from his normal life, but he makes a new friend, a girl named Zarabeth (ZeeBee, for short), whose dad works for the Canadian Border Patrol. The island has a rich criminal history as a key part of a Prohibition smuggling route. ZeeBee asks Keenan to help her solve a mystery; she believes that her beloved dog, Barney, was murdered (and considers her new dog, Barney 2, a poor substitute). The two kids set out to solve the mystery of Barney's death, while also diving into the island's gangster past. This middle-grade mystery was a lot of fun, with the added plus of a unique setting and a backdrop of intriguing history.

This morning, I started a new audiobook, Oona Out of Order by Margarita Montimore, a newly released novel. At the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve 1982, a young woman named Oona who is celebrating her nineteenth birthday is suddenly transported 32 years into the future, where she is a 51-year-old woman, married to a man she's never seen before. From then on, each year at the same time, Oona jumps to another age and time in her life. This plot sounds right up my alley! As I've mentioned, I love time travel and alternate timeline plots in novels, so this sounds like a perfect escape for me right now. It did just occur to me as I was listening to Chapter 1 that I just finished Slaughterhouse Five, which is also about someone time traveling in his own life! But that's OK. I think this will be a very different kind of novel, and I'm excited to listen to it.

My husband, Ken, finished reading a novel from an old favorite series 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 our 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 loved revisiting this old favorite character and appreciated its quick pace and well-written but not overly complicated plot. It was just what he needed right now. If you enjoy mysteries and somehow missed the Kat Colorado series back then, we definitely recommend it!

Now, Ken has moved onto a novel I gave him as a gift, Live to Air by Jeffrey L. Diamond. This is a thriller about a television news producer named Ethan Benson. Although he hates crime stories, he gets pulled into a big one when his boss assigns him to cover a bloody murder in the meatpacking district that grabs headlines. As he investigates the story, which has ties to organized crime, he criss-crosses New York, from one borough to another, as things get more and more dangerous. His wife and son have to go into hiding, and his own life is in danger, as he follows the story to its end. This sounds like a suspenseful, tense thriller.

Our son, 25, is reading Master, book 5 in the Sanctuary series by Robert J. Crane. We gave him book 1, Defender, for Christmas 2018, and he loved the series so much that he quickly read books 2, 3, and 4, also. So, this past Christmas, we gave him book 5. The series is epic fantasy about a world called Arkaria and features dragons, titans, goblins, and more. He loves the series, and is thoroughly enjoying this next book right now. Staying homebound is giving him some much-needed downtime to take care of his health and finally get to some of these tomes he's been wanting to read! He's already got plans for his next book and his next and...


Last week's blog posts:
Movie Monday: We Own the Night - gripping crime thriller with a great cast

Teen/YA Review: OCD Love Story by Corey Ann Haydu - excellent novel about mental health with a great sense of humor & a dash of romance

Fiction Review: For Once in My Life by Colleen Coleman - fun, uplifting rom-com



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?


21 comments:

  1. I'm so glad to hear you didn't have to make a rush hospital visit. It must be so difficult to distinguish the difference between something potentially deadly or your regular crashed system. :( Thanks for the link to your Facebook page, Sue. There's something so personal about getting to see one another talk on camera. And yet I struggle to do this. I'm often so introverted that I may not leave the house for a couple days (and therefore don't fix my hair or make-up). My mom sends me a MarcoPolo video chat pretty regularly and I won't answer her back right away because I need to go make sure I'm actually presentable. LOL I really enjoyed seeing your TBR shelf. We're not good at this. We buy a ton of books and just mix them in with the rest of our books. But I like the idea of setting them aside like this so that it's easier to find are next great read. Hope you have a wonderful reading week!

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    1. If it makes you feel more comfortable about video, Shaye, I rarely wear any make-up (weddings, funerals, etc.) and do very little with my hair, either! Plus I am about 2 weeks past my usual haircut time right now! lol As Popeye would say, I yam what I yam! :)

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    2. Yeah. My apprehension probably has a lot to do with growing up the only daughter of the preacher (of a good-sized church in the south). LOL My mom was meticulous about looking her best at any time. And her mom before her, also the wife of a preacher/pastor, was the same way. I will overcome! ;)

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    3. ha ha OK, I get that! My mom can be very high-maintenance at times but - especially when I was a kid - can also be really down-to-earth. I did wear make-up when I was younger...it's just too much trouble now! ha ha Hey, I'm 54 and have wrinkles and growing amounts of white hair! I'm OK with that :) Actually, not too many wrinkles yet, since I have stayed out of the sun for decades (unlike my mom!) and taken good care of my skin. I just prefer the au naturel look (and it's too much work ha ha). Anyway, hope you and your family are doing well!

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  2. I'll have to read Notorious, it sounds great and I've enjoyed the other books I've read by Korman. I'm glad that you're on the mend and feeling better. Have a great reading week!

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    1. I really enjoyed it! Hope you do, too!

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  3. You know, I've never read a Kurt Vonnegut book. There's a confession for you. It seems a bit heavy a read for our current situation.

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    1. Oh he is mostly hilarious!

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    2. Yeah, like Cheriee said, he's very funny and not at all heavy, in spite of the subject matter - with the time travel and aliens and the way he writes, there is a layer of absurdity and silliness over the whole thing!

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  4. I remember loving Slaughterhouse 5 in college and going through a bunch of Vonnegut novels. I have been thinking about re-reading them. I was happy to read your review of Notorious and I hope to read that one in the next month or so. Thanks for the great post!

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    1. I'd like to read more Vonnegut now. Hope you enjoy Notorious!

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  5. Glad to hear you enjoyed the Rom com book and the Oona audiobook sounds interesting. I do hope you will be feeling much better soon. I understand it must be difficult with your chronic illness playing games and worrying you at this time. Take care and rest up! Will check out your Facebook page when I change I go there.

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  6. I hope you continue to improve. I too worry over illness both for myself and my husband as we are in complete curfew which is very strictly enforced. Stay safe.

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    1. Hope you and your husband continue to stay safe & healthy!

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  7. I loved The Late Show by Michael Connelly and have read most of his books. I am going to my Library's website to see if I can get Oona Out of Order, that is my kind of book! Thanks for sharing and have a great day!

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    1. I'm really enjoying The Late Show - just the kind of escapism I needed! Loving Oona Out of Order - my kind of book, too!

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  8. I read Slaughterhouse-Five a few years ago and was really surprised by it. I guess I didn't know it was about war.

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    1. Same, Anne! I was put off by the title and then just last year I heard what it was actually about! I'd like to read more of his novels now.

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  9. I am still a Kurt Vonnegut fan. I read everything of his when I was in my teens and early twenties. His dark humour is briliiant.

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    1. Agreed! I want to read more of his novels now.

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