Monday, February 22, 2021

It's Monday 2/22! What Are You Reading?


I'm late on my Monday post today, but for a good reason! I was occupied all morning with preparing for and then having a phone consultation with my Lyme specialist this morning (very glad they gave me the option for a phone visit with snow coming down AGAIN here today). She ran loads of lab tests at my last visit, so we reviewed the results. All kinds of immune problems showed up (the result of both Lyme and my immune disorder, ME/CFS), plus a bunch of reactivated viruses. You might think that's bad news, but I love knowing more and having some options for treatment! Gives me hope 😀. Just in starting to implement the new treatments she suggested last month, I am already feeling much better, after a really horrible past year.

My big news last week was that I started up my YouTube channel! I've been working on it for several weeks behind the scenes--learning how to edit videos, make graphics, etc.--and I finally launched it Friday evening. So far, there are two book-related videos there (did you know #Booktube is a thing?), plus an interview about my book. I plan to post bookish videos regularly, with things like #FridayReads videos (my first is up now), end-of-month summaries, and more. This week, look for my #BookTubeNewbie video! So please visit my channel and take a moment to like, subscribe, and comment to tell me what you think. And let me know what other kinds of videos you'd like to see!

So, that's why my reviews and blog visits got short-changed last week. I'm going to have to figure out how to manage the extra time required to maintain the channel without dropping other stuff!

Here's what we've all been reading this past week, in between shoveling snow:

I finished reading a YA novel I've been meaning to read for years, Honestly Ben by Bill Konigsberg (it has a heart on the cover, so it seemed like a good choice for Valentine's Day). He's a very well-known and acclaimed YA author that I've never read before. The novel is about a seventeen-year-old named Ben Carver who grew up on a farm in New Hampshire in a very reticent family: they love each other but they don't talk about their feelings. So Ben feels he has no one to confide in about how confused he's feeling lately. Last semester, he really connected with a guy named Rafe at his boarding school (Ben is there on a scholarship). Their deep friendship turned into more, but Ben felt betrayed when he learned that Rafe had been openly gay at his old school, something he never shared with Ben. Ben is certain that was a one time thing and he is not gay. Besides, he just met this wonderful girl named Hannah, whom he really likes ... and is very attracted to. Ben is very likeable, and I enjoyed the novel, which delves into issues of sexual orientation, labels, and identity.You can listen to me describe more about the novel on my first #FridayReads video.

I also finished reading a YA graphic novel that I kept forgetting to mention in my Monday posts, A Map to the Sun by Sloane Leong. The story follows the friendship of two girls in California, Ren and Luna. They met when they were middle-school age and were inseparable friends for one wonderful summer. Then, Luna abruptly moved back to Oahu, and Ren never heard from her again. Now, as juniors in high school, Luna is back, but Ren is still deeply hurt that she never returned her calls. Meanwhile, Ren is dealing with serious issues in her family and worsening grades at school. She's great at basketball, though, so when a teacher forms a girls' basketball team (with a lot of pushback and derision from the boys' coach), both girls agree to play. They and three other girls from diverse backgrounds come together in this ragtag team. They're terrible at first, but they train and work hard and push themselves to make the team better. Along the way, they learn about friendship, teamwork, and trust. It's a great story with a unique, colorful, immersive look to the illustrations.

Now, I have started on my neighborhood book group's next selection, The Heart's Invisible Furies by John Boyne. I have been hearing great things about this novel for years, and I loved Boyne's The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, so I was thrilled when the group chose this one from my several suggestions. It's an epic novel, covering the life of one man in Ireland, starting in the 1940's, before his birth, and moving through the decades to the present. I'm still at the very beginning, when his mother, a teen girl from a small town in County Cork is publicly shamed by the local parish priest for her pregnancy (as you might guess, it was not consensual but she was blamed) and then thrown out. She gets on a bus to Dublin, makes a new friend, and settles into the unfamiliar city with a new job while she waits for the baby to come. It's great already, and the main character's only just now been born!


On audio, I am still listening to The Night Watchman by Louise Erdrich, an author I always enjoy. She is a Native American author who writes novels about Native American people, families, and their lives. In this case, her latest novel is based in history and the life of her own grandfather. Did you know that in 1953 Congress passed a resolution to disband and abolish all tribes, take all land from Native Americans and "relocate" them to urban areas? I didn't, and the historical backdrop here is stunning and horrifying. But, as always, Erdrich focuses in on one Indian community, a group of families, and what happens to them because of that push from Congress. Her focus is on one older male character (based on her grandfather), who takes charge of giving the local tribes a voice, and on one young Indian woman. I also love that Erdrich always reads her own audiobooks, so the accent and cadence of her speech is authentic (this novel is about the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, of which she is part). So, far, it is immersive and engrossing, as are all of her novels. You can hear my description of this wonderful novel in my first #FridayReads video.

My husband, Ken, is reading one of his Christmas gifts, taking a break from his usual thrillers to read Erik Larson's latest nonfiction book, The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz. As the subtitle indicates, this book is focused on the year-long bombing campaign that Hitler waged on London during WWII, with a focus on Churchill's leadership of the British people during this horrific period. He says it's very good and has begun reading me interesting tidbits (always a good sign with nonfiction). Did you know that Churchill had a black cat named Nelson? He's trying not to read me too much of it, though, because he knows I'll be reading it myself. Ken is enjoying it so far and already learning a lot.

Our 26-year-old son re-read Spellslinger by Sebastien de Castell so that he could read book 2 of the Spellslinger series, Shadowblack, which he also finished. The series is about a mage named Kellen who loses his magic and goes on a quest to reclaim it. In the second book, he is forced to live as an outlaw. The description says this series is "bursting with tricks, humor, and a whole new way to look at magic." No wonder our son likes it!

Now, he has moved back to another favorite series, The Demon Cycle by Peter V. Brett. He absolutely loved the first two books in this series, The Warded Man and The Desert Spear, and now he is enjoying book 3, The Daylight War. The series is about a world where frightening demons rule the night, and humans try to stay safe inside magical wards, though their protection is fragile. Three of those humans leave the safety of the wards to uncover the secrets of the past and try to take back their world. He's loving it so far!

 

Blog posts last week:

Movie Monday: Grandma - a warm, funny movie starring Lily Tomlin and Julia Garner

Fiction Review: The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde - a classic play filled with fun word play and farce

And be sure to check out my new YouTube Channel!

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?

 

16 comments:

  1. It is wonderful that you have some answers and can begin to have some treatments that are making a difference for you. I can certainly understand the mixed emotions. When I was diagnosed with MS, it was actually somewhat of a relief to understand that there was an explanation for my weird symptoms and there were treatments that could be tried. I hope you continue to have a path to healing as much as possible. The Heart's Invisible Furies sounds incredible. I am putting that one on my TBR list. Have a great reading week!

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    1. Thanks for the kind words, Andrea. Sorry have to deal with chronic illness, too. Yes, diagnoses are always a relief!

      The Heart's Invisible Furies is great so far! He;s such a good writer.

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  2. I tell you what, I'm tremendously grateful for the virtual doctor visits our family has had over the last year. It's helped us out so much. I hope you continue to find answers, Sue. And CONGRATULATIONS on your new Youtube channel. I've subscribed and I'll look forward to checking in on you. I continue to think about starting one with my children, but I just don't think I have the energy right now. Plus, I tend to become a perfectionist when it comes to video editing. So maybe that will be something I'll hold off on for now. LOL Hope you have a great reading week, Sue!

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    1. Thanks for the kind words, Shaye. I have always been too much of a perfectionist, but chronic illness is a great teacher in that respect! I've had to lower my standards and have found that's OK - a silver lining :)

      Thanks for subscribing to the channel and enjoy your books this week!

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  3. Enjoy the snow while you have it, I could sure do with some here as its well hot but well not really the kind of heat I think you get in summer! Will check out your YouTube, I usually watch videos from there as I eat my breakfast each morning. Mostly quilting but I can add a book one! Have yuo ever thought of podcasting?

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    1. I really don't mind the snow, Kathryn, having grown up in the snow belt, but my husband hates it (he grew up in the south)! And, of course, spring is always a lovely thing to look forward to, with flowers and new growth and - hopefully - sunshine!

      I sometimes watch book videos on YouTube while I have breakfast, too! I joke with two friends that have a books podcast and post videos that we have breakfast together. Podcasting seems like it has a MUCH larger barrier to entry, requiring lots of specialized equipment and sound editing, etc. I am really not good with the technical stuff, so I think I'll stick to this for now. I'm just recording my videos on my phone and editing on my laptop - pretty simple.

      Enjoy your books this week, Kathryn, and stay cool!

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  4. I'm sorry that the results of your tests were not ideal, but I'm glad that they open some doors for treatment! Also, congrats on your new YouTube channel—that is so cool! A Map to the Sun sounds like a book I should already have read, so I'll try to get it crammed in! Honestly Ben sounds great as well! Thanks for the great post!

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    1. In my world, with a disease that is very hard to measure or quantify, we LOVE to get abnormal lab results! ha ha I know that sounds strange, but it's concrete information and a starting point for treatments (which are hard to come by with this).

      Hope you enjoy both A Map to the Sun and Honestly Ben - both have plenty of emotional depth, which I love.

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  5. I loved Konigsberg's Out of Pocket years ago. Hope you are feeling even better. It's always good to at least have a place to start so you can make some progress. I'm glad to see you've kept on reading!

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    1. I'll have to look for that one - thanks!

      Yes, books have been a huge comfort and joy to me (even more than before) since I got sick 19 years ago!

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  6. For the last couple of years I've participated very little in the book blogging world, but for a variety of reasons have decided to get back into it (at least for now). One difference I've noticed is how many people are doing youtube and instagram. I'm going to go take a look at your video, but honestly, I'm a reader--I want words and I want them fast. I'd rather read three paragraphs you wrote than listen to you say the same thing. Evidently I'm in the minority. Enjoy your new venture.

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    1. I'm with you. I can read much faster and get more information that way.

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  7. I see RAnn said what I was going to say! You're the second book blogger I follow who has started up a BookTube channel. Scrolling through Instagram, I see more videos about books than photos lately, too. I guess that's the trend, and I'll have to give it a try. I never watched much on YouTube, but BookTube is the most likely thing to get me there!

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  8. I just signed up to be able to look at my own medical tests. It has been a revelation. I've been having trouble with tachycardia so my dr has done bunches of tests. Mostly they all come back showing that I am disgustingly healthy. This time I got an H pylori positive test. It turns out that this can be the cause. I talk to my dr this week and am crossing my fingers that after a couple of weeks of antibiotics I will be back to normal. I would love to be able to drink coffee again!
    Honestly Ben sounds like a sequel to Bill Konigsberg's Openly Straight. I'll be looking for it. A Map to the Sun sounds good too.

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  9. What a great set of books you've all got going this week! And good news on information about your treatments.

    I am going to head over to your youtube channel and see what you're like in person :-) I realize we all read one another's words, but don't know what they are like coming from the actual person.

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  10. I glad you are feeling better. Any little improvement is a great thing, right?

    How exciting, a YouTube channel! I'm impressed. I'll go check it out.

    Have a great week and happy reading.

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