Monday, August 10, 2020

It's Monday 8/10! What Are You Reading?

I'm very late with my post today and I didn't get around to visit many blogs last week, but I have a good excuse ... our power has been out for 6 of the last 7 days! It is STILL out, and I can only write this post now because my husband finally found a small generator (they have been sold out in all area stores since last Tuesday). It's not big enough to run our refrigerators/freezers, but at this point, most of the food is a lost cause anyway. So, we are using it to run fans (what marvelous inventions!), and we just restarted the internet router. 

All this excitement began last Tuesday, when Tropical Storm Isaias came right through our tiny state. We rarely get a direct hit like that and two tornadoes set down in Delaware, including one with a record-setting 22-mile long path. There was lots of damage, and we lost power, along with 115,000 other local households. Luckily, it wasn't very hot out, and our power was restored about 25 hours later on Wednesday. Since that storm, though, our cell service has also been spotty, so I can't make calls from our house, though I can sometimes get a text through.

Thursday was fine, giving me enough time to restock at the grocery store (and refill the fridge/freezers), and then an unexpected second storm hit on Friday that was surprisingly powerful, with gusts up to 95 mph and lots of flooding. So, we lost power again on Friday. This time, the temperature and humidity has been rising each day since then, so it has been not only inconvenient but very uncomfortable. The power company sent an automated message Sunday at 5 pm, saying, "Your power has been restored!" Only it wasn't. So, here we are, Monday at 5 pm, still waiting. Only now we have fans and internet!

So, that was my week! Off-line and old-school. I've had time to read, though; in fact, I even read the Sunday paper on Sunday--it usually takes me all week to finish it.

Here's what we have all been reading this past week:

I finished my non-Big-Book-palate-cleanser, Normal People by Sally Rooney. This was a gift from my husband, and I've been hearing all the rave reviews of both the book and the new Hulu TV show, so I was excited to read it. It's about a man, Connell, and a woman, Marianne, in Ireland. They grow up in the same small town and go to school together and begin a long, complicated on-and-off relationship during their last year of high school/secondary school and on into college. It's clear that they care about each other, and they have a uniquely close relationship, even when one or both of them is seeing someone else, but they both have issues that keep getting in the way of a strong, healthy romantic relationship together. It was very good, well-written and it felt like I knew the characters by the end. I'm looking forward to watching the TV show (someday, when we have power again).

Now, I have returned to my Big Book Summer Challenge and am reading David Copperfield by Charles Dickens, a Big Book and a classic that I have been wanting to read for ages. I love Dickens, read several of his books in school, and so many people have told me that this one is their favorite. I was immediately pulled into the story and am loving the title character, who--like many of Dickens' characters--is a good person who is suffering through horrible mistreatment as a child. David's father died before he was born, but he has a warm, loving relationship with his mother and with the maid/nurse who helps care for them both. The trouble begins when his mother remarries (nice to see an evil stepfather, for a change). I am really enjoying the novel so far, though it is a BIG Book physically, so large that I'm having trouble reading it in bed, where I usually do all my reading (well, on a futon in our basement, where it is cooler, for the moment).

On audio, I finished The Dutch House by Ann Patchett and enjoyed it very much. The audiobook is read by Tom Hanks, and it is incredibly soothing and entertaining to have Hanks read a story to me in my earbuds in his familiar voice. It's about a boy, Danny, and his sister, Maeve, growing up in a big house originally built by Dutch immigrants and known in town as the Dutch House. Their mother leaves when they are young, so it is just the children and their somewhat distant father, plus the two women who care for the house. But when their dad remarries a woman who clearly does not like them (and the feeling is mutual), their lives change in unexpected ways (yes, an evil stepmother!). The story is told by Danny as an adult, so parts of it are told in the past, as he experienced things as a boy and young man, and parts as he and Maeve look back on their childhood and the house that meant so much to them. It was wonderful from start to finish, with some unexpected twists, and was extra-special read by Hanks. 

I haven't started it yet, but this morning, I moved a new audiobook onto my iPod (again, it's good to be old school), American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins. I think probably everyone has heard about this one! This novel, released in January 2020, caused some controversy, since the author is a white woman, writing a novel about Mexican immigrants. The story is about a woman, Lydia, and her son who live in Acapulco. She runs a bookstore and has a happy life, until her husband publishes a tell-all article about the city's biggest drug cartel leader. Lydia and her son are forced to flee for the United States, with their lives in grave danger. The novel follows them on their harrowing journey. I have no problem with Cummins writing this novel: it's an important story to tell, and, from what I have heard, she writes it well. The book has certainly attracted many accolades and much attention (controversy aside). I've been looking forward to it and can't wait to start listening.

My husband, Ken, is still reading a Father's Day gift from me, The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith (aka JK Rowling), book two in her Cormoran Strike mystery series. We both enjoyed the first book, The Cuckoo's Calling, so I was excited to give him the next one ... and when he opened it, he did not remember the series at all!! Now that he's into the book, though, he's enjoying it. He commented to me that he really likes the main character, Strike, and that I would also. I reminded him that I already read the first book and remembered it, and I did like the character. This one involves a missing writer who just finished a novel with "poisoned pen" barely-disguised descriptions of just about everyone he knows, which means there are plenty of suspects! This sounds like a great set-up for a mystery, so I will probably read this one this fall, too.

Our son, 25, is such an avid reader that he has taken full advantage of the power outages! He is loving the series The Mageborn by Michael G. Manning. He started with book 1, The Blacksmith's Son, when he was on vacation last week. Here's the description from Amazon: "Mordecai’s simple life as the son of a blacksmith is transformed by the discovery of his magical birthright. As he journeys to understand the power within him he is drawn into a dangerous plot to destroy the Duke of Lancaster and undermine the Kingdom of Lothion. Love and treachery combine to embroil him in events he was never prepared to face. What he uncovers will change his understanding of the past, and alter the future of those around him." Our son loves this series, and this week, he's quickly read through books two and three, The Line of Illeniel and The Archmage Unbound, and is now reading book four, The God-Stone War.

Blog posts from last week:

Movie Monday: Transsiberian - a suspenseful thriller set on a train through snowy Siberia

Fiction Review: Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert - a fun, funny romance featuring a character with a chronic illness

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. Ouch -- sorry about the loss of air conditioning. I grew up in the South, and understand how bad that would be in August! Here's hoping power is restored soon.

    I haven't tried JK Rowling's adult stuff, and now I'm a bit soured on her for various mean-spirited stuff she's said. But I am reading another Big Book that I hope to finish this week, and I started a different one that might take a few weeks.

  2. What a nightmare of a week! Reading your post has reminded me to go and make a note that I have started my 8th big book. I'm reading Germs, Guns and Steele. It's for my book club, but I'm happy that it is also a big book!

  3. Oh my word that is a long time without power. I hope no more storms for you. Normal People is a book I've seen so many places so good you enjoyed it. Take care - enjoy the next books on the agenda.

  4. Oh no, I can’t imagine being that long without power! I hope it’s on soon.

    Wishing you a great reading week

  5. What a week you had! Hurricane, tornadoes, power outage, oh my.

    I loved David Copperfield and hope it turns out to be a good read for you--it's quite a chunkster, but with so many memorable characters and scenes.

    Normal People does sound good - putting that on my library wish list now!

    Loved Tom Hanks reading The Dutch House - I am a fan of Ann Patchett anyway, but Hanks reading the book just made it so special.

    I decided to pass on American Dirt, although I'll be interested in reading what you think about it.

    Hope this week is treating you better - stay safe and read on!

  6. Yikes!!! Thank goodness for books. I sent you an email with some book suggestions ....

    I love the Cormoran Strike books and I also decided to pass on American Dirt.

  7. Glad you liked Dutch House. It sounds like you liked it as much as I did. I felt like Normal People was a guilty pleasure, not sure if I should recommend it to anyone since there was so much SEX. Ha!

  8. I hope your power is back soon. That's an awfully long time to go without power.

  9. I can't believe you've had no power for 6 of 7 days! And in the heat and humidity of the east that cannot be fun. We're actually having a heat wave here and it's humid, which we never have. No fun.